[Coral-List] Carysfort

Gregory Boland g_boland at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 28 20:32:13 UTC 2020

Phill and Coral List,

The video you sent to us really brought back memories. Pretty good footage for back then, maybe 16 mm film? I also worked and lived at the Carysfort Lighthouse in July of 1975. It was the first of Tom Bright's Atlantic coral reefs ecology graduate course including his other students Jack Thompson, Rob Abbott and others. We were the first to open up the lighthouse for this purpose. Had to unbolt rusty windows and doors to get inside (and much needed air flow). I clearly recall the beautiful Acropora reefs all around the lighthouse (along with a mound of lead batteries). Funny story, when a couple of us had Boston Whaler boat problems near the lighthouse and called the coast guard for a tow, and after waiting an hour, they called back and said "Could you describe the lighthouse to us?"  We said it was the big one on the NE corner of the park and had been there since 1852 😊. It was indeed tricky to snorkel/dive your way across the palmata to the forereef, almost impossible at low tide. I was starting my potential Master's research on coral behavior and developed a time-lapse Super 8 movie camera set-up for documenting coral polyp behavior in response to the application of a variety of drilling muds. We made several remarkable discoveries when looking at the time-lapse movie film at high speed including mucus production and the coordinated pulsing of entire colonial tissue cover to shed the applied sediments. Also, the presence of "sweeper tentacles" of cavernosa where some polyp tentacles could extend across numerous adjacent polyps (Alina Szmant published on this interesting morphology). Harold Hudson and Gene Shinn came by. Harold helped us cement experimental coral heads to blocks. Gene gave us a great lecture on coral reef zonation illustrating on the lighthouse walls (I have the recording!). His coral head coring and x-ray dating using growth bands was just beginning at the time.

I'll make a comment related to Alina's idea for compiling a list of reefs in good shape. Likely many others will chime in with this as well, but the Flower Garden Banks (about 110 miles SSE of Galveston TX) are in extraordinary condition. I started work there in 1975 as well. Ended up with 547 dives in the Sanctuary and miss it. The live coral cover on both the East and West Flower Garden Banks has remained above 50% for the last 45+ years. At deeper stations >100 ft it can reach 70 - 80% live cover. I was on the Texas A&M University team that started MMS-funded continuous monitoring there in 1988 when we installed all the monitoring stations at the EFG and began repetitive still imagery of about 8 sq m at both banks still ongoing today. One image in a recent annual monitoring report available on the web sites for the Sanctuary or BOEM has an incredible sequence of the same station actually showing extensive increase in live coral cover.  Of course, depth and distance from shore are saving characteristics. I expect it will be in good shape 40 years from now.

Thanks Phill

Greg Boland
Retired Biological Oceanographer
Loveland Colorado (yes, it is wonderful here)

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