[Coral-List] A Swim Through Time on Carysfort Reef; EFFORT TO ASSEMBLE A LIST OF REMAINING HEALTHY CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS
riskmj at mcmaster.ca
Sat Aug 1 12:51:18 UTC 2020
I dove on Carysfort in 1961, and the few hairs I have left are all
off-white. Allow me to comment, because I am not prepared to absolve
reef biologists from all blame. (I already wrote one paper on this, so
I will be brief.)
Surely the main point of Phil's video is that decline started early,
far earlier than any significant climate excursions. As an example: in
your paper, you mention "threats" to Florida's reefs, including cold
water-which puts you in the amusing position of defending them at both
ends of the thermometer. You do not mention nutrients or water quality,
you do not cite Lapointe, but you do observe that the majority of your
transplants kark in a few years.
Fifty years ago, those pesky geologists showed us that bioerosion was
far more important than grazing, yet most American reef biologists of
following generations simply ignored the process. The evidence of
impacts from land-based sources has been around since Columbus, who
knew to approach coastlines along river mouths: yet we now have a
generation or two of reef biologists who believe the reefs will come
back if the grazers come back.
Reef biologists never learned to speak with one voice. We have now been
deprived of the results of the one experiment that would have been of
the most use: what is the effect of climate change on healthy reefs?
From: Coral-List <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> on behalf of
S Miller via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2020 9:22 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] A Swim Through Time on Carysfort Reef; EFFORT
TO ASSEMBLE A LIST OF REMAINING HEALTHY CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS
Hi Phil and Coral-List
Great historic record from Carysfort Reef. How do you like being
historic? The second generation of coral reef scientists is now old. I
remember one of my mentors saying early in his career that there
many gray-haired coral reef scientists. Now? Many gray hairs across
I saw Carysfort in the late 1980s and Carbbean reefs in the 1970s.
There's no question about what we lost.
There's also no question about what we continue to lose and why.
But I'm confused about your comment that "we have not figured out how
keep reefs from disappearing." If by "we" you mean coral reef
scientists, then you are putting too much on the shoulders of our
community. If you mean society as the collective "we," then you are
correct that reefs are viewed as a resource to exploit.
Still, it's a good question to ask if our community has failed coral
reefs. Is it our fault because we didn't explain things well enough,
fast enough, or because we lack emotion or sex appeal in our outreach?
Or, did we fail because we monitored reef decline instead of doing
something else? My view is that we did everything that could be done.
Could we have done more? Could we have communicated more effectively?
Probably. Would it have mattered? No.
After all, damage across most of our planet from global warming
continues despite dozens of NGOs spending tens of billions of dollars
educate and influence policy makers. They failed, too.
You didn't exactly say it this way, but our society values other things
more and it's not even close.
So what happens now? What choices do we have?
It's not that complicated, in my humble opinion. We do what most of us
have always done.
Act local and think global still matters. Just about every coral reef
benthic ecology paper today addresses this idea in one way or another,
with a plea at the end about the need to stop carbon emissions.
I also believe that restoration has a role to play, despite the
relentless advance of global warming.
Thanks for posting the Carysfort Reef video.
You can read about our restoration views in a recent paper on
restoration results in Florida.
PLOS ONE, May 2020 Survivorship and growth in staghorn coral projects
in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
On 7/28/2020 11:05 AM, Phillip Dustan via Coral-List wrote:
> I made this video to open eyes about the dramatic changes that have
> occurred in a short time.
> Many of the current crop of reef biologists have no idea of what
> All the nature films to increase people's love for the sea, all the
> monitoring projects that increase our resolution, all the management,
> the restoration, all the rhetoric about protecting reefs, etc.... on
> have not worked.
> The mantra that people protect what they love has proven false.
> It's more like, "People exploit what they need to make money, then
> to richer places to do the same over and over...."
> While the scientific community has greatly increased our resolving
> watch reefs degrade, we have not figured out how to keep reefs from
> This is the point of my offering at this time - more of an
> plea than a documentary.
> I've always thought a coffee table book titled :How they Die" about
> human activities that kill coral reefs would be interesting as all
> current and past books are eye candy divorced from current reality.
> Maybe a website of such atrocities would help jar people into
> Reefs are ecosystems, not resources.
> On Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 9:03 AM Steve Gittings - NOAA Federal <
> steve.gittings at noaa.gov> wrote:
>> Alina - I was part of that 1981 group with Tom Bright at Carysfort
>> It was with mixed feelings thatI had to leave a couple weeks early
>> attend my wedding! Still, looking back, it was such a privilege to
>> such a seemingly healthy place just a few years before the coral
>> changed so dramatically.
>> I like the idea of hearing about places that haven't changed much
>> the 70s or before. I'll put the Flower Garden Banks out there. The
>> earliest dives and pictures there were in the early 60s and the
>> measurements of coral cover in the early 70s. Very little has
>> though macroalgae is more persistent since the *Diadema *dieoff.
>> cover, which when first measured was just under 50% on the reef
>> now closer to 60%. There are lionfish, but impacts to native fish
>> evident yet, and they are trying to control abundance with culling.
>> certainly not without threats, but the banks seem to benefit from
>> On Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 8:45 AM Alina Szmant via Coral-List <
>> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
>>> Thanks Phil for the nostalgia. I first visited Carysfort in 1981
>>> stayed for two weeks out at the lighthouse with Tom Bright's group
>>> nutrient uptake experiments with A cervicornis, and it was
>>> beautiful. The US Coast Guard had trouble bringing their boats to
>>> lighthouse pier because the coral was so thick and shallow
>>> the light house tower, one could watch giant blue and rainbow
>>> swimming among the A palmata colonies that extended seaward for 100
>>> more on the reef flat. When I returned with Peter Glyn and a class
>>> students the spring of 1984, there wasn't any live Acropora coral
>>> (we did transects). It was shocking! In the mid 2000's Margaret
>>> I tried to do our coral larval rearing research working from the
>>> lighthouse, and still almost no coral, and the large Orbicella
>>> were mostly dead as well. I am glad I had a chance to see this reef
>>> many similar ones in Puerto Rico) back in the day, because I am
>>> they won't recover within what is left of my lifetime. There may be
>>> live coral gardens in places like the Solomons, but the situation
>>> Caribbean is dire and getting worse in my experience.
>>> That said: I think it would be useful for Coral-List researchers to
>>> a list of places within the Caribbean that are still close to what
>>> norm back in the 1970s. If there are clusters of localities that
>>> been impacted by bleaching, disease epidemics, flattened by major
>>> but recovered, that would be a worthwhile list to compile and serve
>>> basis for investigating factors that have allowed some places to
>>> while others have succumbed.
>>> I volunteer to assemble such information if anyone out there is
>>> to share, and I send out an updated list monthly to all on Coral
>>> you know of sites that still look like the 1975 version of
>>> can document this with short video, collection of photos or even
>>> data... and want to be part of such an effort, please contact me.
>>> Dr. Alina M. Szmant, CEO
>>> CISME Instruments LLC
>>> 210 Braxlo Lane,
>>> Wilmington NC 28409 USA
>>> AAUS Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Awardee
>>> cell: 910-200-3913
>>> Videos: CISME Promotional Video 5:43 min
>>> CISME Short version Demo Video 3:00 min
>>> CISME Cucalorus 10x10 Sketch 4:03 minhttps://youtu.be/QCo3oixsDVA
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Coral-List<coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> On Behalf
>>> Phillip Dustan via Coral-List
>>> Sent: Monday, July 27, 2020 8:47 AM
>>> To: Coral List<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>> Subject: [Coral-List] A Swim Through Time on Carysfort Reef
>>> Hi Listers,
>>> We talk a lot about management and conservation but the reality is
>>> humanity lacks the political will to address the fundamentals
>>> is a direct and instant return on investment.
>>> Science tells us that coral reefs are ecosystems, not resources.
>>> adaptations that enable them to thrive in nutrient poor tropical
>>> leaves them vulnerable to humans. Maybe one day we will act on that
>>> reality, but right now I fear we are just trying to make ourselves
>>> better, or develop a more and more precise way to document the
>>> reefs all the while increasing the level of funding for our
>>> This approach has not, and is not working.
>>> Something to think about while most of us are out of the water
>>> Phillip Dustan PhD
>>> Charleston SC 29424
>>> 843-953-8086 office
>>> 843-224-3321 (mobile)
>>> "When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is
>>> by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything
>>> universe. "
>>> * John Muir 1869*
>>> *Raja Ampat Sustainability Project video*
>>> *Bali Coral Bleaching 2016 video*
>>> TEDx Charleston on saving coral reefs
>>> Google Scholar Citations:
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Dr. Steve Gittings, Science Coordinator
>> NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
>> 1305 East West Hwy., N/ORM62
>> Silver Spring, MD 20910
>> (240) 533-0708 (w), (301) 529-1854 (c1), (301) 821-0857 (c2)
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