Jim Hendee jim.hendee at noaa.gov
Mon Aug 3 13:31:56 UTC 2020

Good morning, Phil and colleagues, whom I wish I could have seen at the 
2020 July 14th ICRS!

Considering our illustrious Congress has to fight tooth-and-nail just to 
approve of a package to save millions of people from dying of covid-19, 
it's unfortunately unrealistic to think they could all suddenly "wake 
up" and realize it's too late, or almost too late, to save our beautiful 
coral reef ecosystems. (I love that statement:  "Coral Reefs are 
ecosystems not resources.")  We can't seem to protect the bees or the 
birds or the Amazon forest either.  It's like the whole planet is taking 
all the other organisms that live on earth for granted, that they will 
just keep on keeping on, while we struggle with politics and back rent 
and late mortgages and unemployment.  One of these days The Life Switch 
is going to be turned off, and very suddenly all our organisms won't 
just be left in the dark, they'll be dead, including us.


On 7/31/20 2:55 PM, Phillip Dustan via Coral-List wrote:
> Hey Steven,
>   Since you asked in public:
>   The We I refer to is everyone. It's We scientists because we played too
> much loading dock science and  nasty stick-in-the-back politics with our
> peers when we should have been speaking with one voice. Now the We thinks
> that "funding our labs" is of paramount importance. How fine a micrometer
> is needed to measure the ecological collapse of a reef like Carysfort? How
> many thousand photographs are needed to replace a simple line transect?
> It's We for people who have the hubris to think that reefs can be managed
> as a commercial resource "sustainably". It's the We  who think we can
> restore a reef without fixing the fundamentals of the environment first.
> "Reef Restoration" is just another way to keep people enthusiastic and to
> employ marine biologists in a similar vein as is coral reef monitoring for
> management.  It  has become one of the newest forms of eco-tourism.
> In 1996, We built the finest, most precise, and scale independent
> monitoring project in the world for the USEAP, NOAA, and State of Florida.
> Within 4 calendar years coral cover decreased 38% and diseases had
> increased their geographic range by 400%. So, I ask you, "How did the
> locals, state, and federal governments respond?".  Basically they
> ignored it, pushed it to the back shelf and refused to accept that the real
> loss was in the neighborhood of 92% since the 1970's.  Then the cover
> continued to decline, so the resolution of the monitoring was reduced and
> global warming was blamed.  Why kill a dying ecosystem when it is still a
> money maker?  Then the final few colonies began to die a terrible death
> that we can't seem to understand but we need more money to study it and to
> "rescue" healthy corals so they can live in aquarium refugia. Now many of
> the same We want to spend 100 million dollars on "reef restoration"
> outplanting innocent corals into a place where tens of thousands of their
> relatives died and can barely continue to live there.
>   We do know the answers  but We are not willing to speak with one voice and
> reveal the current schemes of "management" to be a sham. Until we accept
> that the very adaptations that enable corals and coral reefs to
> flourish make them vulnerable to humans and act accordingly the money being
> thrown at "reef restoration" in the Florida Keys is a waste. Coral Reefs
> are ecosystems, not resources. And one day we will realize how much we
> needed them but did not care enough to act in their interest.
> So I guess the We is all of us and the environmental degradation driven by
> human reproductive success and greed.
> Might I suggest reading Richard Power's The  Overstory for another point of
> view.........................
> Phil
> On Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 2:18 PM S Miller via Coral-List <
> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
>> Hi Phil and Coral-List
>> Great historic record from Carysfort Reef.  How do you like being called
>> historic?  The second generation of coral reef scientists is now old. I
>> remember one of my mentors saying early in his career that there weren't
>> many gray-haired coral reef scientists. Now?  Many gray hairs across
>> generations.
>> 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 to
>> 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 to
>> 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.
>> Best Regards
>> Steven
>> You can read about our restoration views in a recent paper on
>> restoration results in Florida.
>> https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231817
>> 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 we've
>> lost.
>>> All the nature films to increase people's love for the sea, all the
>>> monitoring projects that increase our resolution, all the management, all
>>> the restoration, all the rhetoric about protecting reefs, etc.... on and
>> 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 move
>> on
>>> to richer places to do the same over and over...."
>>> While the scientific community has greatly increased our resolving power
>> to
>>> watch reefs degrade, we have not figured out how to keep reefs from
>>> disappearing...
>>>      This is the point of my offering at this time - more of an emotional
>>> plea than a documentary.
>>> I've always thought a coffee table book titled :How they Die" about all
>> the
>>> human activities that kill coral reefs would be interesting as all the
>>> current and past books are eye candy divorced from current reality.
>>>     Maybe a website of  such atrocities would help jar people into action?
>>> Reefs are ecosystems, not resources.
>>>    Phil
>>> 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
>> Light.
>>>> It was with mixed feelings thatI had to leave a couple weeks early to
>>>> attend my wedding!  Still, looking back, it was such a privilege to see
>>>> such a seemingly healthy place just a few years before the coral world
>>>> changed so dramatically.
>>>> I like the idea of hearing about places that haven't changed much since
>>>> 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 first
>>>> measurements of coral cover in the early 70s.  Very little has changed,
>>>> though macroalgae is more persistent since the *Diadema *dieoff.  Coral
>>>> cover, which when first measured was just under 50% on the reef caps, is
>>>> now closer to 60%.  There are lionfish, but impacts to native fish are
>> not
>>>> evident yet, and they are trying to control abundance with culling.  It
>> is
>>>> certainly not without threats, but the banks seem to benefit from their
>>>> isolation.
>>>> Steve
>>>> 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 when I
>>>>> stayed for two weeks out at the lighthouse with Tom Bright's group
>> doing
>>>>> nutrient uptake experiments with A cervicornis, and it was incredibly
>>>>> beautiful. The US Coast Guard had trouble bringing their boats to the
>>>>> lighthouse pier because the coral was so thick and shallow everywhere.
>> From
>>>>> the light house tower, one could watch giant blue and rainbow
>> parrotfishes
>>>>> swimming among the A palmata colonies that extended seaward for 100 m
>> or
>>>>> more on the reef flat. When I returned with Peter Glyn  and a class of
>>>>> students the spring of 1984, there wasn't any live Acropora coral
>> anywhere
>>>>> (we did transects). It was shocking! In the mid 2000's Margaret Miller
>> and
>>>>> I tried to do our coral larval rearing research working from the
>>>>> lighthouse, and still almost no coral, and the large Orbicella colonies
>>>>> were mostly dead as well. I am glad I had a chance to see this reef
>> (and
>>>>> many similar ones in Puerto Rico) back in the day, because I am pretty
>> sure
>>>>> they won't recover within what is left of my lifetime. There may be
>> great
>>>>> live coral gardens in places like the Solomons, but the situation in
>> the
>>>>> Caribbean is dire and getting worse in my experience.
>>>>> That said: I think it would be useful for Coral-List researchers to
>> start
>>>>> a list of places within the Caribbean that are still close to what was
>> the
>>>>> norm back in the 1970s. If there are clusters of localities that
>> haven't
>>>>> been impacted by bleaching, disease epidemics, flattened by major
>> storms
>>>>> but recovered, that would be a worthwhile list to compile and serve as
>> a
>>>>> basis for investigating factors that have allowed some places to
>> survive
>>>>> while others have succumbed.
>>>>> I volunteer to assemble such information if anyone out there is willing
>>>>> to share, and I send out an updated list monthly to all on Coral List.
>> If
>>>>> you know of sites that still look like the 1975 version of Carysfort
>> and
>>>>> can document this with short video, collection of photos or even
>> better...
>>>>> data... and want to be part of such an effort, please contact me.
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Alina
>> *************************************************************************
>>>>> 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
>>>>> Website:www.cisme-instruments.com
>>>>> **********************************************************
>>>>> Videos:  CISME Promotional Video 5:43 min
>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAYeR9qX71A&t=6s
>>>>> CISME Short version Demo Video 3:00 min
>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa4SqS7yC08
>>>>> 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 Of
>>>>> 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 unless
>> there
>>>>> is a direct and instant return on investment.
>>>>> Science tells us that coral reefs are ecosystems, not resources. The
>> very
>>>>> adaptations that enable them to thrive in nutrient poor tropical seas
>>>>> 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 feel
>>>>> better, or develop a more and more precise way to document the
>> collapse of
>>>>> reefs all the while  increasing the level of funding for our
>> labs/agencies.
>>>>> This approach has not, and is not working.
>>>>>    Something to think about while most of us are out of the water this
>>>>> summer.
>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCPJE7UE6sA
>>>>> --
>>>>> 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 bound
>> fast
>>>>> by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in
>> the
>>>>> universe. "
>>>>> *                                         John Muir 1869*
>>>>> *Raja Ampat Sustainability Project video*
>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RR2SazW_VY&fbclid=IwAR09oZkEk8wQkK6LN3XzVGPgAWSujACyUfe2Ist__nYxRRSkDE_jAYqkJ7A
>>>>> *Bali Coral Bleaching 2016 video*
>>>>> *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxOfLTnPSUo
>>>>> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxOfLTnPSUo>*
>>>>> TEDx Charleston on saving coral reefs
>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwENBNrfKj4
>>>>> Google Scholar Citations:
>>>>> https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=HCwfXZ0AAAAJ
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>> --
>>>> Dr. Steve Gittings, Science Coordinator
>>>> NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
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>>>> Silver Spring, MD  20910
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