[Coral-List] effect of sunscreen on corals

Curtis Kruer kruer at 3rivers.net
Fri Feb 22 16:42:54 UTC 2019

Dear List,


The discussion about sunscreens and whether or not some are jumping on that bandwagon as a feel good action led to the comment on the list:


"Potentially, yes, if it's a smokescreen for governments (and others) appearing "to do something", while largely ignoring a long list of tougher issues that are more important”."


That statement caught my eye.  In my opinion such smokescreens can detract from much more serious issues at hand, and are easily and gratuitously picked up by the media.  The time has passed to spend so much time addressing minor issues. That may have been helpful 30-40 years ago but such distractions today are not helpful in my view.   


I've copied a few other media headlines that have appeared in various media outlets recently - re how to "save" coral reefs.  Good for a chuckle maybe.  Headlines are underlined.  


Curtis Kruer




New Robot Could Protect Caribbean from Lionfish Invasion

Undergraduate students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are building an autonomous underwater robot that could help reduce the threat posed by an invasive species of fish that, unchecked by ... 

 BBC News


A Floating Robotic Jellyfish Has Been Designed To Protect Coral Reefs 

HuffPost UK 

The free-swimming soft robotic jellyfish can be deployed to spy on delicate marine ecosystems like coral reefs without damaging them because it's ...


Robot jellyfish could save the world's coral reefs 


The world's coral reefs are in dire need of some love. Global warming and ocean temperature spikes have left massive stretches of vital coral reefs ...

Meet jellybot, the flexible friend of imperiled coral reefs - The Times 


Scientists Are Trying To Save The Great Barrier Reef By Zapping It With Electricity 


An environmental group is looking into a novel way to repair the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia – they want to use electricity to accelerate coral ...

Australia Hopes to Save the Great Barrier Reef with Starfish-Killing Assassin Robots - The Manual  


Scientists think that maybe electrically shocking coral reefs is a good idea 

BGR The Guardian

It's no secret that the Earth's coral reefs are in dire need of some TLC. Combinations of severe weather and manmade global warming have left ...

Back from the brink: the global effort to save coral from climate change - 


The Great Barrier Reef May Be Restored Using Electricity 

Interesting Engineering 

On the minds of many has been the fate of the Great Barrier Reef, the large coral reef system which has been directly impacted by climate change.                     


This robotic jellyfish could help save our reefs from climate change


The squishy bot is designed to collect critical information without harming reefs or disturbing marine life.


Using Steel "Spiders", We Can Revive Large Swathes Of Coral Reefs 


Considered a "biodiversity hotspot", this 2,200,000 square-mile expanse of coral reefs is directly linked to the livelihoods of nearly 120 million people ...                                 


3-D Printing Might Save Coral Reefs 

New York Magazine 

Coral reefs are in trouble. I mean, every ecosystem is in trouble, but coral reefs especially: ocean acidification, white band disease, rising sea ...


Coral reefs, at risk from climate change, also imperiled by rats 


LANCASTER, England (Reuters) - Coral reefs, the delicate marine environments threatened by global warming, are also suffering huge damage from  



We can save coral reefs by putting them on ice 

Popular Science 

The planet's coral reefs are in trouble. Thanks to warming and acidifying oceans, the animals that make up coral reefs are dying, turning the reefs ...


Scientists: 'Rats Causing Big Damage to World Coral Reefs' 

Voice of America 

Rats are a problem in towns and cities world-wide. But they're also causing huge damage to the world's embattled coral reefs, according to a new ...


Robots to the Rescue on the Great Barrier Reef 

Sierra Magazine 

At least that's what happens on healthy parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Back-to-back heat waves in 2016 and 2017, however, killed off half the reef's ...


Deep Seagrass Bed Could Stall Climate Change, If Climate Change Doesn't Kill It First 


Amid a sea of dire climate change news, researchers say they've found a rare bright spot. A meadow of seagrass among Australia's Great Barrier Reef ...


Coral 'probiotics' could prevent bleaching on GBR 

The Cairns Post 

An international research team has received funding from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to develop bacteria for corals to protect them from heat ...


Underwater robot repopulates damaged Great Barrier Reef 

Chinadaily USA 

SYDNEY - Scientists are using an undersea robot to repopulate damaged sections of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, according to media reports.

Great Barrier Reef rescue: Southern Cross University Prof Peter Harrison and QUT Prof Matthew ... - Gold Coast Bulletin                              


Robot releases baby corals to revive Great Barrier Reef 

The Times 

An underwater robot has spread baby corals over the Great Barrier Reef to save the world's largest living structure from dying. Scientists believe that ...




-----Original Message-----

From: Coral-List [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Mussman via Coral-List

Sent: Friday, February 8, 2019 12:18 PM

To: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

Subject: Re: [Coral-List] [EXTERNAL] Re: effect of sunscreen on corals


Hi all,


I would just like to clarify a point that is particularly frustrating to a non-scientist like myself as I try to navigate this issue. 


Terry Hughes nailed it for me and I think one comment he made is worth repeating. 

“So is there any harm in banning sunscreen use for visitors to reefs? Potentially, yes, if it's a smokescreen for governments appearing "to do something", while largely ignoring a long list of tougher issues that are more important”. 


I believe this holds true not only for governments, but for specific industries as well. 


Not long ago an article appeared in a popular scuba diving periodical under the heading “Sunscreen Pollution” “A serious and increasingly clear threat to corals”. (I can provide a link, but I have no intention of broadly discrediting the source). The article went on to make a number of statements that I believe deserve scrutiny. 


Here are a few examples:

(Sunscreens) “threaten the capacity of local subsistence fishermen to access the abundance of food that healthy nearshore reefs once provided”.


“Not only does intense sunscreen pollution threaten the survival of these reefs, but it also can prevent the recovery and restoration of already degraded reefs”.


“Oxybenzone and many other common sunscreen ingredients are now known to damage corals, even in extremely low concentrations”.


The article went on to conclude that “as with many marine environmental issues, divers are uniquely positioned to both lead by example and benefit from healthier more vibrant reefs”.


This last statement I couldn’t agree with more, but for the fact that as this industry rails against sunscreens it remains virtually silent on the issue of climate change. I don’t know if this qualifies the appeal as a smokescreen, but I can’t help but wonder.








Sent from my iPad


> On Feb 8, 2019, at 3:26 AM, Jean Jaubert via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:


> Hi all,


> There is insufficient evidence that sunscreens harm corals.This fact seems obvious to me and I like Terry and Christine I think we need more studies on the effect of UV filters on reef organisms.


> Cheers,


> Jean

> -----

> Jean Jaubert

> Ph. D., D. Sc.

> Past Professor of Marine Biology

> University of Nice (France)

> Founder of the Monaco's coral Lab

> Centre Scientifique de Monaco

> Past Chief Scientist and Expedition Leader The Cousteau Society Past 

> Director of the Monaco's Oceanographic Museum


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>> corals

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>> Hi all,

>> I think that Terry's article just wanted to highlight the fact there are not enough studies on the effect of UV filters on reef organisms to know what are their actual effects. More importantly, future studies should aim at precisely measuring the concentrations of UV filters in the different compartments of the reef ecosystem (water, sediment, living tissue, etcŠ) because for now, we absolutly don't know what is the fate of the different compounds of a solar cream once they are released in the environment. In a recent paper, we showed that measured concentrations of organic UV filters are often significantly (and quickly) lower than nominal concentrations, due to the lipophilic nature of the compounds.Therefore it's difficult to know what you are testing if you don't follow these concentrations- some products have no effect just because they "disappear" from the seawater very quickly! But UV filters are certainly not the main threat on corals, unfortunately.

>> Christine


>> the paper is on open access in Coral Reefs: Fel, J. P., Lacherez, C., Bensetra, A., Mezzache, S., Béraud, E., Léonard, M., ... & Ferrier-Pagès, C. (2019). Photochemical response of the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata to some sunscreen ingredients. Coral Reefs, 38(1), 109-122.


>>> Le 6 févr. 2019 à 15:28, Bargar, Timothy via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> a écrit :


>>> Mike - I agree that I don't understand the basis for Professor Hughes'

>>> article.  Perhaps he is saying the bans on the use of some sunscreen 

>>> chemicals is premature because of uncertainty about large scale effects?


>>> A number of articles have demonstrated that, given sufficient 

>>> exposure, some active ingredients are harmful to aquatic organisms, not just corals.

>>> The key phrase is "sufficient exposure".  To quote Paracelsus, "sola 

>>> dosis facit venenum", or, "the dose makes the poison".  In other 

>>> words, at some point, the chemicals could result in a toxic 

>>> response.  Many studies of the

>> > toxicity for sunscreen chemicals, not just the ones referenced by 

>> > Professor

>>> Hughes, have exposed organisms to concentrations greater than what 

>>> has been reported for marine surface waters.  But, some of the data 

>>> in those studies, particularly in the articles by Craig Downs, show 

>>> a response by coral at exposures close to some of the higher 

>>> concentrations we found in the USVI.  In my humble opinion, this is 

>>> not enough to suggest widespread risk, but it is sufficient to merit further investigation.



>>> On Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 5:21 PM Risk, Michael via Coral-List < 

>>> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:


>>>> Hi Doug.


>>>> I find this screed by Terry to be deeply disappointing. Not only is 

>>>> it scientifically misleading, it epitomizes an attitude all too 

>>>> common among reef biologists, namely: "the most important stress on 

>>>> coral reefs is the one on which I am personally working." This 

>>>> attitude prompted my by-now ancient paper, Paradise Lost-not only 

>>>> has little changed since then, it seems things are even worse.


>>>> Now, to the science.


>>>> I urge you all to read one of the key papers, Downs et al 2016 Arch 

>>>> Env Contam Toxic 70: 265. It is simply not true that authors bathed 

>>>> their corals in unrealistically high concentrations of oxybenzone, 

>>>> nor is it true they lack real-world data. They report high 

>>>> concentrations of oxybenzone in VI waters, along with zero coral 

>>>> recruitment. This stuff is death to coral larvae, at unbelievably low concentrations.


>>>> We need here to beware of some sort of false dichotomy. No one is 

>>>> saying, forego sunscreens. American readers will be surprised (or 

>>>> not) to learn that Europe banned the use of the known carcinogen 

>>>> oxybenzone in sunscreens, but American companies were allowed to 

>>>> get away with it. The research mentioned above has come under heavy 

>>>> criticism from the chemical industry in the US, quelle surprise. 

>>>> The answer is quite simple: avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone.


>>>> Criticisms of the research seem based not so much on genuine 

>>>> scientific issues as some sort of zero-sum game attitude, that 

>>>> attention to sunscreen will detract from whatever flavour of the 

>>>> month turns your particular crank. This is a small thing we can all 

>>>> do for reefs whilst still working on the big things.


>>>> Full disclosure: Craig Downs is a friend of mine, and in my opinion 

>>>> a brilliant scientist.


>>>> Mike

>>>> ________________________________________

>>>> From: Coral-List [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] on behalf 

>>>> of Douglas Fenner via Coral-List [coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]

>>>> Sent: February 5, 2019 1:18 AM

>>>> To: coral list

>>>> Subject: [Coral-List] effect of sunscreen on corals


>>>> There's insufficient evidence your sunscreen harms coral reefs.


>>>> By Terry Hughes



>>>> https://theconversation.com/theres-insufficient-evidence-your-sunsc

>>>> reen-harms-coral-reefs-109567


>>>> Open-access.


>>>> Cheers,  Doug


>>>> --

>>>> Douglas Fenner

>>>> Ocean Associates, Inc. Contractor

>>>> NOAA Fisheries Service

>>>> Pacific Islands Regional Office

>>>> Honolulu

>>>> and:

>>>> Consultant

>>>> PO Box 7390

>>>> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA


>>>> How to win public support for a global carbon tax


>>>> https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00124-x


>>>> Global warming will happen faster than we think.


>>>> https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07586-5


>>>> Nations falling short of emissions cuts set by Paris climate pact, 

>>>> analysis finds



>>>> http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/nations-falling-short-emissi

>>>> ons-cuts-set-paris-climate-pact-analysis-finds?utm_campaign=news_da

>>>> ily_2018-11-28&et_rid=17045989&et_cid=2515903

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>>>> https://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list




>>> --

>>> ***********************************************

>>> Tim Bargar, Ph.D.

>> > Research Ecotoxicologist

>>> The USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

>>> 7920 NW 71st Street

>>> Gainesville, Florida 32653

>>> T - (352) 264-3520

>>> F - (352) 378-4956

>>> **********************************************


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>> Christine Ferrier-Pages

>> Centre Scientifique de Monaco

>> 8 Quai Antoine 1°

>> MC98000 MONACO

>> Tél. : +377 97 77 44 80




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-----Original Message-----

From: Coral-List [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Risk, Michael via Coral-List

Sent: Saturday, February 9, 2019 5:12 PM

To: Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>

Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

Subject: Re: [Coral-List] effect of sunscreen on corals


Hi Steve.


I will try to help here, although I am now far removed from any levers of power (as if I was ever in a position of influence!). Let's see if this message gets past the digital demons...


Your concern seems to be that scientists should do a better job setting the media straight. I wish it were that easy-and what would be "straight?" Right now, the work is new, and novel, and getting a lot of press. Next week, there will be another shiny object for the media to pursue, and the focus will shift. Yes, the media tend to popularise things, and provide (mostly) superficial coverage. We have no control over that, nor would we want any. By asking scientists to leap in here, you are asking a lot. And I think many of our colleagues would object.


No one I know is saying sunscreen is a bigger threat than sewage, sediments, OA, blah blah. They ARE saying, "look, this is a new threat-we just found out about it, there's time to do something about it", an attitude with which it is hard to quarrel.


Frankly, some of the pushback is very surprising. Some of it is just the usual disappointment with people mouthing off who have never read the papers, but some is determined. I suspect the fine hand of the chemical industry in some statements.


To say "we need more research before we can act" is just fatuous time-wasting. No doubt those same people taking that tack will tell you, about THEIR favorite stress: "If we had only known earlier..." That these chemicals profoundly impact coral biology has been demonstrated. The areal extent of the influence is not yet clear, but for xxxx's sake (in deference to NOAA's no-profanity policy), the fix is simple. Buy different sunscreen.


People like Terry say yes, but this may allow governments to ban sunscreens and claim victory. This is a curious attitude. The fix is dead easy, and would already have been implemented in many other jurisdictions were it not for the dogged resistance of the chemical industry. It is quite clear this is an additive stress, a new face of LBSP-BUT one we can fix.


As I say, I find some of the pushback curious-and perhaps some of the motivation can be seen in Doug Fenner's posts. He worries about resources going into sunscreen research while there are "bigger problems." He feels it's a zero-sum game, with winners and losers. Maybe what's going on here is simple jealousy.


This is something that should have been fixed by the coral reef biological community rising up with one voice and saying "Thank God we found out about this before it's too late. Now let's fix it and get back to work."


Quelle surprise.


This sort of organised response has always been beyond them. Phil Dustan's dead right.


You ask "why did your colleague write that “(sunscreens) threaten the the capacity of local subsistence fishermen to access the abundance of food that healthy nearshore reefs once provided”. I have not the faintest idea what that means. It certainly seems improbable (were these fishers using sunscreen???) You will have to ask him.




From: Steve Mussman [sealab at earthlink.net]

Sent: February 9, 2019 12:29 PM

To: Risk, Michael

Cc: coral list

Subject: Re: [Coral-List] effect of sunscreen on corals


Dear Mike,


I still cannot buy into your argument.


I don’t believe that anyone is saying that researchers are claiming that harmful ingredients in sunscreens are a “greater threat” to coral reefs than climate change (or over-fishing or land-based pollutants), but I can provide evidence that media spin can and does distort things to that end. When such misconceptions become pervasive, I would think that researchers/scientists have some responsibility to set the record straight lest they will appear to be complicit.


Let me provide you with a specific example by way of an excerpt from an article that appeared in a diving periodical entitled “Sunscreens Linked to Coral Bleaching”.


Let’s say you are layperson without vast knowledge of the issues at hand. What would you glean from the following passage regarding the relative significance of the various stressors involved in coral bleaching?     “Many factors threaten corals, including physical damage from anchoring, fishing with explosives, excess heating of the ocean's surface and pollution. Somewhat recently, a new emergency has been added to the list of the top-10 threats to coral reefs around the globe: sunscreens. Scientific investigations conducted at several reefs around the world — in the Caribbean, Fiji, the Red Sea and the Coral Triangle — indicate that the effects are almost immediate and generally lead to coral death within 48 hours”.    (By the way, the above was written by a professor of marine biology and ecology).


If I am not well versed on the subject, this may well convince me that harmful sunscreens are on par with climate change and land-based pollutants. If I were a coral scientist or even just a concerned and educated environmentalist, I would demand clarification! Scientists can’t control all the media spin, but they can certainly take steps to correct any obvious misrepresentations of the facts at hand.


As for hidden agendas, seems to me that almost everyone has their pet focus. Climate change, invasive species, restoration, plastic trash, African dust and overall water quality among them. So what’s the bottom line?  If we are ever going to have half a chance to save coral reefs in the Anthropocene we have to set egos aside, get over our narrow differences and set clear and unambiguous priorities. As least one of the goals of science is to communicate effectively with the broader society. As I see it, up until now,  the marine sciences as a discipline seems to be falling far short of that important and consequential objective.





P.S. If this isn’t about fish why did your colleague write that “(sunscreens) threaten the the capacity of local subsistence fishermen to access the abundance of food that healthy nearshore reefs once provided”?    I ask these questions respectfully and with great admiration for your work.





Sent from my iPad


> On Feb 9, 2019, at 8:46 AM, Mike Jankulak - NOAA Affiliate via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:


> Listers, this morning there was another blank post from Mike Risk, the 

> original of which I now forward to you in full, unedited. This one had 

> different headers from the others so I'd hoped the software would be 

> kinder to it, but it seems I hoped in vain. The very weird thing is 

> that Mike's first post on Tuesday came through without problem so 

> whatever is triggering this, it is intermittent.


> Enough from Mike J+, here now I bring you Mike R.


> ---------- Forwarded message ----------

> From: "Risk, Michael" <riskmj at mcmaster.ca>

> To: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>

> Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

> Bcc:

> Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2019 01:34:19 +0000

> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] effect of sunscreen on corals

> Doug:


> This whole thread has been full of straw men and hidden agendas. Allow 

> me to mow just a couple of the straws.


> Craig Downs did NOT say sunscreens were a greater threat to coral 

> reefs than climate change. The NYT reporter said that. (I asked Craig 

> specifically about that quote, because it was so obviously untrue.)


> None of us is responsible for what spin the media choose to put on our 

> research.


> I hope to heaven that managers don’t make policy from reading magazines.

> (Wait…given the evidence, maybe they do.)


> HUGE strawman alert: No one, as far as I know, has claimed that 

> banning oxybenzone will save reefs. What some have suggested is: 

> banning this stuff is easy, so why not do it. The argument that 

> focussing on oxybenzone will divert attention from “more serious” problems is an exercise in “Look!

> Squirrel"-ism. (I wish it to be noted that I was the first to coin 

> this new

> noun.)


> Then there are the usual meeching “objections”, like: "we need more 

> research." Lord love a duck. Find me ANY field where that could not be 

> said. These are comments generally made by people who (a) haven’t read 

> the research or (b) don’t like attention being diverted from their 

> favourite area.


> And finally: this isn’t about fish.


> Mike


> ps-to my few remaining friends out there, re those blank messages: no, 

> I wasn’t being censored by the -list. In fact, management tried their 

> best, but there were formatting errors beyond my ageing analog brain.



> On Feb 8, 2019, at 1:56 PM, Douglas Fenner 

> <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>

> wrote:


> Mike,

>   It didn't take any digging to read that less than one-page piece on 

> Downs' website, it was featured on the home page.  The scientific 

> article is a bit different, 24 pages long.  The introduction does 

> refer to many studies on oxybenzone which found damaging effects at 

> some concentration on a wide variety of organisms,scary stuff, 

> obviously real, some in temperate waters, essentially none corals, and 

> no effects on corals in the ocean other than inside plastic bags (if I 

> got that right).  The decisions about management are made by 

> government people who will be unlikely to wade through the scientific 

> paper.  The general public and perhaps managers will be the main 

> readers of the website.  I reread that web page and I see nothing that 

> indicates it is talking about local areas.  You have the advantage of 

> having read the scientific paper, which the public will not have read, 

> so you know he's talking about local effects, quite appropriately.  It 

> is surely just a inadvertent error to not have made clear on that web 

> page that he's talking about very small areas compared to the world's 

> coral reefs.  Sorry I hadn't caught that, but if he doesn't want the 

> general public or government people considering regulations or rules 

> to misinterpret it as I did and think he's talking about the whole world's reefs, he might want to add that.  That has been my main point.

> The web article, taken literally, says that the effect of sunscreens 

> is greater than bleaching, and for the general public I still think 

> that will mislead them, however unintentional it may be.  The web page 

> does not refer to the original scientific article, it refers to the 

> New York Times article.  So my concern is about the general public, 

> government, and any scientists who are not reading the toxicology 

> literature, who could misinterpret that web page.

>     My views on whether sunscreens threaten the world's reefs or are 

> limited to small local areas are unchanged.  I think a lot of people 

> have jumped to the conclusion that they are a big threat to the 

> world's reefs, hence my comments on that.

>     If there are hundreds of people working on the effects of 

> sunscreens on corals, they must have started working on it very 

> recently, unless I've missed a huge number of new papers.  I know of 

> only 4 papers published on the effects of oxybenzone on corals so far, 

> the Downs article, one by Danovero, and two by He.  Perhaps the 

> hundreds of studies are mostly about organisms other than corals.  I 

> am not in contact with research in progress on this topic, perhaps new 

> papers will all replicate this finding.  Even if a paper has not 

> proved something to everyone's satisfaction, that doesn't mean its 

> conclusions are wrong, further work may confirm them.  But wait a 

> minute, if there are hundreds of people working on the effects of 

> sunscreens on corals, that takes some serious funding and involves a 

> lot of researchers.  Or is it hundreds of people working on the 

> effects of oxybenzone on all sorts of things but a much smaller number 

> working on the effects on corals?  The funding that has to be spent on 

> hundreds of people studying can't be spent on other things, the real, 

> big threats to coral reefs.  Same for the researcher time, effort and 

> ingenuity.  All spent on one of the most trivial threats to coral 

> reefs instead of one of the more important threats.  That is a 

> zero-sum game for reef research, and if hundreds of people are working 

> on a trivial threat, that's an effort and expense that could much 

> better be spent on an important threat to coral reefs.  That's the 

> principle of triage, the high priority threats are the ones you put your most effort into, unless you don't mind losing your patient.

>     I have always supported using the precautionary principle, which 

> for me comes up most often with fisheries.  I am safe in supporting 

> it, no risk anyone is going to implement it.  Nobody is going to use 

> the precautionary principle with reef fisheries, you'd have to shut 

> down all the world's reef fisheries.  Locally, there are reef fish 

> stock assessments done quite a while ago (led by Jerry Ault) that show 

> clearly that several predatory reef fish species in Florida are 

> overfished.  Yet to my knowledge there has been NO management efforts 

> by the state or local government to restrict fishing even enough to 

> bring stocks up to maximum sustainable yield (MSY).  That is a known 

> local damaging effect on reef ecosystems which Key West, the state, and other jurisdictions have not applied the precautionary principle to.

> There may be others that Key West has not tackled, I certainly haven't 

> heard that they have a plan to bring their greenhouse gas emissions 

> way down.  Why not??  Because there would be huge public and corporate 

> outcry and likely they'd get booted out in the next election.  Classic 

> case (as with nearly everywhere else) of treating the scratch while 

> letting the patient die to a gun shot wound to the chest.  It is 

> possible that any and all fishing, which kills and removes reef fish, 

> damages the reef ecosystem.  Commonly, we focus on "overfishing" but 

> in fact fishing that is less than Maximum Sustainable Yield may also 

> damage the reef ecosystem, though presumably less so.  A myriad of 

> other things humans do probably or in some cases, clearly do, damage 

> coral reef ecosystems, few of which are regulated or banned under the 

> "precautionary principle."  Walking on reef flats to glean or even do 

> research damages them.  Divers damage them, we've all broken a coral 

> from time to time.  Snorkelers do as well.  Small boats do damage by 

> anchoring or running aground.  There are a myriad of major damages 

> from people on land, sediment, nutrients, etc.  Then there is 

> releasing all those greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, cutting 

> forests, and on and on.  Sunscreens are low hanging fruit, easy to ban 

> those with particular chemicals in them as a precautionary approach.  

> Will it make much difference and will we be as zealous tackling the 

> things that really threaten worldwide reefs?  (if not, it is not your 

> fault, Mike, we all want to reduce human impacts, but for most such 

> things the opposition is enormous.  Which is why we have been losing 

> for so long.)  So in effect, this ban on sunscreens is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, a feel-good exercise, in my opinion.

>    I just realized that the precautionary principle can be in conflict 

> with triage.  The scratch on the hand might get infected, so take the 

> precautionary approach and treat it.  But if you do that, you may not 

> treat the gunshot wound to the chest at the same time (unless you have 

> lots of medical staff), and the patient will die very quickly.  Our 

> problem is our patient is dying and we are vastly underfunded and 

> understaffed, so what are we going to do, treat the scratch while the reef dies?

>    Sorry, I tend to think banning oxybenzone is a feel-good exercise 

> that will not make a dent in saving world reefs.

>     Cheers,  Doug


> On Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 1:10 PM Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:

> Doug.


> You are correct, that post is far too long-especially as you could 

> have read the freakin paper in the length of time it took you to 

> compose it. I had expected better from you.


> You have dug into Downs' website and quote-mined from an article which 

> was clearly discussing local stresses. We scientists don't go by blog 

> posts, we go by the literature. To save you the trouble, here is a 

> quote: "BP-3 contamination from beaches can travel over 0.6 km in 

> distance from the pollution source. The threat of BP-3 to corals and 

> coral reefs from swimmers and point and non-point sources of 

> waste-water could thus be far more extensive than just a few meters 

> surrounding the swimming area." Sound reasonable? And, if I can read that paper and understand it, so can you.


> This is a large field, with by now a voluminous literature. Those to 

> whom I have talked have always said, this is a local problem, one that 

> may be larger than we had thought-and it's easy to fix. What is wrong with that??

> What is wrong with those who would challenge that?


> I am also disappointed that you managed to slide in the suggestion 

> that Craig's results were coloured by his finances. Doug, there are 

> hundreds of people working on this! If you are going to chuck around 

> driveby's you will be very busy. Yes, Craig supports his foundation on 

> donations and contracts. Please don't go after him for this.


> My original post has only been up for a few hours. Here is one 

> off-line response I have received, from a well-known reef scientist 

> with 8,000

> citations: "This article is really upsetting. Glad you responded. I'm 

> a tad shocked that Terry wrote this. Seems that ignoring 

> 'precautionary principles' is what often gets us in these messes in 

> the first place and then its too damn late."


> What's wrong with saying, we can fix this and move on?


> Mike



> --

> Douglas Fenner

> Ocean Associates, Inc. Contractor

> NOAA Fisheries Service

> Pacific Islands Regional Office

> Honolulu

> and:

> Consultant

> PO Box 7390

> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA


> How to win public support for a global carbon tax


> https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00124-x


> Global warming will happen faster than we think.


> https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07586-5


> Nations falling short of emissions cuts set by Paris climate pact, 

> analysis finds


> http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/nations-falling-short-emissions

> -cuts-set-paris-climate-pact-analysis-finds?utm_campaign=news_daily_20

> 18-11-28&et_rid=17045989&et_cid=2515903

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