[Coral-List] Fragging should be banned

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Mon Apr 15 16:38:23 UTC 2019

Interesting post about dangers of fragging. In today’s environment, 
especially in the Florida Keys banning fragging makes a lot of sense. 
Note I say, “todays environment” because at present Florida Keys corals 
continue to be in decline.It was different in the past. For example I 
monitored the recovery of several reefs, especially Grecian Rock Reef, 
following devastation by hurricane Donna in 1960. All the /Acropora/ , 
especially /cervicornis/ were almost fragged to death. Huge thickets 
were broken and scattered as if run over by a lawn mower. Surprisingly 
the fragging in fact enlarged the /cervicornis/ thicket because the 
scattered fragments quickly recovered and created new healthy colonies. 
I published a paper describing the rapid recovery. The results were 
similar after hurricane Betsy in 1965.Corals quickly recovered, 
including head corals, until the late 1970s. The situation changed 
radically in the early 1980s and decline has continued to the present. 
The same was observed in Jamaica following a 1980s hurricane (I think it 
was Gilbert). I advised friends there not to worry. I told them fragged 
/Acropora/ there would soon recover. I was dead wrong. Algal infestation 
took hold as it now does most everywhere in the Caribbean. With the 
Caribbean-wide death of/Diadema/ in 1983 algae proliferated along with 
microbial infestations. As everyone knows most Caribbean reefs remain in 
decline. Decline was attributed to water quality issues that began 
before global warming became an issue. As most coral researchers know 
1983 was an El Nino year and also the peak year for African dust 
deposition throughout the Caribbean. DDT is still used in North Africa 
and the dust contains mercury, arsenic, copper, phosphate, and 
Beryllium-7 is still present in the dust including many dozens of 
microbes that ride the dust particles. Under these conditions fragging 
is probably a waste of time and money.Gene

Ball, M.M., Shinn, E.A., and Stockman, K.W., 1967, The geologic effects 
of Hurricane Donna in south Florida: Journal of Geology, v. 75, no. 5, 
p. 556-591.
Shinn, E.A., 1976, Coral reef recovery in Florida and the Persian Gulf: 
Environmental Geology, v. 1, p. 241-254.


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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