Alina Szmant alina at cisme-instruments.com
Fri Jul 31 20:38:52 UTC 2020

Hi Steven:

I agree with the gist of your post, but feel the need to restate one of your messages:

 Coral reefs are not unique in their state of deterioration.  Glaciers and ice caps are melting away, temperature zones are migrating poleward seriously affecting all terrestrial ecosystems, forests are being felled at alarmed speeds with less than half of forests remains on Earth,  oceans are vastly overfished, coastal zones are polluted and modified by urbanization and other major development.  Less and less is left of the natural world as the human plague spreads over the Earth .

Yes fossil fuel emissions is one way in which we are killing Gaia, but everything every one of us does in being alive each day is a part of the problem.  The equation describing human impact on the global, regional and local environments is an integration of the sum of everything we do. And human population has almost tripled since scuba was invented and the study of coral reefs began. Thus no wonder coral reefs are in decline along with every other ecosystem on Earth (the exception may be deserts which seem to be doing well).

And yet everyone still focuses on fossil fuel and not direct human impact.  Overfishing has nothing to do with fossil fuels. Plus, fossil fuels and numbers of humans are intricately intertwined.  We will never be fossil fuel independent if we (human society) is always playing catch up with increased numbers of humans to support.

Covid will not do its job of culling our numbers because a cure and vaccine will soon be found as we have for all earlier diseases.  We've killed off most of natural predators.  Many societies refuse to consider population control.  So the human species is breaking all the laws of ecology and sustainability. We are a hoard of lemmings headed towards rhe cliffs. And coral reefs are just one of the many victims of our hubris.



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

-------- Original message --------
From: S Miller via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Date: 7/31/20 2:17 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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

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


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 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
>>> **********************************************************
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>>> -----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
>> 1305 East West Hwy., N/ORM62
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