[Coral-List] Media hyperbole in coral science

sealab at earthlink.net sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 29 13:36:57 UTC 2020

That’s true Bill, but facts are still facts and we can’t allow those who reject the truth demoralize us. They should be marginalized, not accommodated.

We need to leave them behind and move on. Theoretically, in democratic societies we just need a clear majority. That’s what we should work for. Here in the US I have to believe that Trump and his tribe will soon be deposited on the trash pile of history. Let’s hope so anyway.


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On 4/28/20, 10:05 PM, Bill Allison <allison.billiam at gmail.com> wrote:

The fact that it is so hard to get unified action wrt the immediate, palpable threat of covid-19 does not augur well for climate change action.

On Tue, Apr 28, 2020 at 1:45 PM Steve via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov (mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov)> wrote:

Hi Benjo,

I think it’s hugely important to consider the impacts of “media” hyperbole as it applies to coral reef science. Public perceptions are everything when it comes to developing political will and if we are to have any hope of bringing about the changes necessary to save coral reefs public perceptions must change. At present the messaging has been woefully inconsistent, ambiguous and confusing. Outside of the scientific community the idea that abounds seems to be that restoration in combination with genetic engineering can save the world’s coral reef ecosystems. Perhaps the 2012 ICRS Consensus Statement could stand as unifying tenet. It seems to me that it provides a set of principles that could form the basis of a more authentic and effectual message. In summary it proclaimed that to ensure the future of coral reefs we will need global action to reduce carbon emissions as well as improved local protections to address land-based pollution, sedimentation and over-fishing. Although scientists certainly have a right to promote their work with enthusiasm, the question arises as to whether or not they also have some level of ethical responsibility to see to it that a more concise message is delivered as to what really needs to be done to “save coral reefs”. In the post-truth, internet-based world of today the importance of precise and factual messaging has become more important than ever.



Steve Mussman

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On 4/24/20, 11:08 AM, Benjamin Cowburn via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov (mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov)> wrote:

Hyperbole are what the media do best! It happens every day. Here in the UK,

a chief medical scientist said with lots of caveats that '*SOME *of the

lockdown measures *COULD* continue for *UP TO* 6 months time'. Headlines in

the paper the next day: UK WILL BE IN LOCKDOWN FOR 6 MONTHS. I don't know

how we as scientists can combat this misrepresentation! At least they are

hyperbole and not bare faced lies e.g. 'I always new this was a pandemic'

or 'Let's inject people with disinfectant'

This is a debate I'd like to continue, if people think there is any use in




On Fri, 24 Apr 2020 at 15:35, Keri O'Neil via Coral-List <

coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov (mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov)> wrote:

> Hello all,


> Thank you for sharing the article Doug. I can provide a little more

> background from the scientific perspective. The corals that have been

> releasing larvae are Mycetophyllia lamarkiana. We have also been

> monitoring M. aliciae but no larvae have been released from them yet. These

> corals have been held ex-situ for 18 months at this point. They were

> collected as part of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Coral Rescue

> Project led by Florida FWC and NOAA Fisheries. We have held all

> Mycetophyllia we have close together in a recirculating aquarium system,

> hoping that if sperm was released it would have enough residence time in

> the tank to fertilize nearby corals before being removed by filtration.

> The parent corals are held in greenhouses and get natural sunlight (in the

> Tampa area, which is close in timing but not exactly the same as the

> Florida Keys). We manually change their water temperature setting monthly

> to mimic a 10 year average of water temperature from data from Key Largo,

> FL, with extremes highs removed such as major bleaching years. They do get

> natural moonlight, but there is a fair amount of light contamination from

> nearby streetlights and even small LEDs in the greenhouse on various

> electronics. Soon we will look at the recruits from this event to confirm

> that cross fertilization did occur, as genetic samples have also been

> collected from parent colonies in this project.


> Also we definitely did not intend to imply that no work had ever been done

> on MLAM, and can’t control the exact wording in all of the news articles,

> so I do apologize if we did not pay appropriate tribute to previous

> investigations in this species. We have read the thesis by José Antonio

> Morales Tirado from Ernesto Weil’s lab in 2006 and also Alina’s coral

> reproduction paper from 1986, and these were critical to us even knowing

> when to start to look for larvae in these species, but I think we can all

> admit there is still a lot to document and learn about Mycetophyllia.

> Although this one event certainly will not “save coral reefs”, we are

> simply hopeful that we can continue to keep an ex-situ population of corals

> with a high level of genetic diversity, and promote annual spawning even

> when those corals are held ex-situ for an extended period of time.

> Although no one wants to be faced with pulling corals off of the reef to

> ensure their future, we believe this type of intervention can in fact help

> prevent localized extinction of some species in Florida, and preserve

> genetic diversity in the population, most notably in the wake of Stony

> Coral Tissue Loss Disease.


> As Les said, we are celebrating our small success.


> With regards,


> Keri O'Neil






> Keri O'Neil, MS

> Manager & Senior Scientist, Coral Conservation Program

> 701 Channelside

> Drive

> Tampa, FL 33602

> P:813-425-1679

> W:

> flaquarium.org (http://flaquarium.org/)

> _______________________________________________

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