[Coral-List] Fragging should be banned

Risk, Michael riskmj at mcmaster.ca
Tue Apr 16 15:46:02 UTC 2019

Full disclosure: we all do dumb things when we are young.

In the 70's, I did some work on the coral reef at Cahuita, Costa Rica. It was a remote are, national park: few (if any) humans within 10's of km.

The nearshore reef had been taken out by logging, years before, and corals were then prevented from recolonizing by sediment load. There was a healthy patch of palmata way offshore. I wondered: inshore WQ was still good, above the sediment bedload-what if...

So in...1978?? I took a few fragments of A palmata off the patch, and transplanted them to the inshore. I think maybe a half-dozen. Tied them on with nylon rope. When I checked the next year, all of them had cemented down and started regrowth.

Fifteen years later, there was an enormous patch of palmata there, and the area was labelled "hazardous to navigation."

If WQ is good, this sort of thing works. If not-doomed to failure.
From: Coral-List [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] on behalf of Eugene Shinn via Coral-List [coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]
Sent: April 15, 2019 12:38 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Fragging should be banned

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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