[Coral-List] Mixed Messages

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 31 16:19:23 UTC 2019

Hi Mike,

I just found and read this paper entitled “The unnatural history of Ka ̄ne‘ohe Bay: coral reef resilience in the face of centuries of anthropogenic impacts”.


It references one of the two reefs that you mentioned as having been the subject of studies showing what happens to coral reefs when water quality improves. Unfortunately it doesn’t provide an answer to my question although it does emphasize the need for “future research and better understanding”. 

Among the paper’s conclusions were these interesting points: 

“Recovery from natural perturbations tends to occur on the scale of 5–20 years in Ka ̄ne‘ohe Bay, but can be prevented by presence of chronic anthropogenic stressors (Jokiel et al., 1993). Thus, future recovery and persistence of these reefs will require continued attention to local pollution, sedimentation and harvest issues.  Ka ̄ne‘ohe Bay is now faced with the ultimate anthropogenic stress of global climate change. The reefs of Ka ̄ne‘ohe Bay have shown remarkable resilience to a wide variety of natural and anthropogenic insults over the centuries, but the pressing new question centers on whether coral reefs can survive continuously increasing temperature and ocean acidification which will be punctuated by a series of perturbations including bleaching events and fresh water kills. One aspect of this question is whether or not recovery from these events can occur under conditions of increasing temperature and increasing ocean acidification along with changes in sea level, precipitation and more severe storm activity predicted under climate change models. Local stressors can be diminished, but climate change stressors will continue and are only expected to increase with time”. And this: “As climate change and ocean acidification erode the resilience and increase the vulnerability of coral reefs globally, successful adaptive management of coral reefs will become increasingly difficult.”  

As you know, I’m not a scientist. That is why I’m reaching out to you and others here for guidance. I believe that water quality is most certainly an important consideration, but this paper doesn’t give me confidence that modern day coral reefs will be able to adapt/recover or withstand the impacts of climate change by addressing local stressors. That is why it seems to me that although we most certainly should confront local threats, addressing climate change has to be (with emphasis) priority number one.


Sent from my iPad

> On Jul 31, 2019, at 10:15 AM, Risk, Michael <riskmj at .ca> wrote:
> Kaneohe Bay Hawaii

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