[Coral-List] Bleaching

John Ogden jogden at usf.edu
Mon Apr 11 20:19:36 UTC 2022

Dear Friends on Coral-List,

The good news that Austin Bowden-Kirby highlights in his recent post concerns the global growth surge in reef restoration schemes and programs and shows clearly that people care about coral reefs and are unwilling to wait for government to act and watch them die without trying to do something to help.  This kind of hands-on volunteerism is too rare and important not to take full advantage of on the political stage.   In my opinion Coral Gardeners and other reef restoration programs acting in concert provide a potent political opportunity to influence their national governments to support the UN-based global efforts to control greenhouse gases and other factors inimical to the survival of coral reefs.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Coral-List <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> On Behalf Of Austin Bowden-Kerby via Coral-List
Sent: Friday, April 8, 2022 8:21 PM
To: Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca>
Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Bleaching

Dear friends on Coral List,

As Michael mentioned, the approval this week of massive new offshore drilling by Trudeau and the Canadian government amounts to planetary treason.  The development is located on the ecologically sensitive and vastly important Grand Banks, near the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Marine Refuge. https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fthenarwhal.ca%2Fbay-du-nord-newfoundland-approved%2F&data=04%7C01%7Cjogden%40usf.edu%7C31ca097bf9a144daba6208da1a12549b%7C741bf7dee2e546df8d6782607df9deaa%7C0%7C0%7C637850963297105951%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=M4PhZbFEw3V7beubstWGbtV5w3wTdMh163ftss2PRbc%3D&reserved=0

These sorts of decisions are the "lies and broken promises" spoken of just a few days ago by UN Chief, Antonio Guterres

Horrific, but rather than getting depressed we need to get active!

Whatever we have been doing, it is not enough!  Should we just do more of the same, or is it time for a change of strategy?

A group of youth from Moorea, French Polynesia, concerned by what they see on their own reefs, and growing tired of waiting for their governments and scientists to act, have created a youth-based activist movement "The Coral Gardeners", with the goal of saving corals from extinction.

By looking at films and information on the internet, these young islanders developed their own coral restoration methods, based on saving broken coral fragments and growing them.  Not knowing how to apply for grants, they created a web based donation and marketing campaign, which has raised significant funds for them to expand.  In 2018, they wrote to me and asked if they might come to Fiji for scientific training, but before that could happen, the World Surf League paid my way to Moorea in 2019.  Other restoration scientists like Dave Vaughn have also come in since to train them. They are eager to learn and are receptive to new ideas.

The Coral Gardener's vision of youth activism is now going global: they are actively writing groups involved with community coral reef conservation and coral restoration, proposing that they all come together to form a mass youth activism movement to save coral reefs. They have asked for scientific backup, and their team will arrive in Fiji soon to discuss strategies about how to best cause a massive shift of youth activism at the local level to save coral reefs.

Friends, we have clearly run out of time. We are experiencing the destructive forces of climate change invading coral reef systems, and in only 3-4 decades we will clearly see the local and perhaps planetary genocide of most species of corals.  The justification for breaking with "traditional" means to save coral reefs is based on the failure of the system to provide results- the scientific community is not doing enough!
If the traditional ways of operating will not save the coral reefs, then it is time for us to get up off our butts and become activists, to come back out of retirement, to resign from secure jobs, to donate our fortunes
sacrificially- anything and everything!

Just look at what is at stake!  If we lose coral reefs, we lose the whole world.  We hold in our hands the one system that is the most important in stopping this insane human driven mass extinction event!

For those of you on the list who still have hope for this world, we need your support for this movement!
You can join and donate to Coral Gardeners via their website.

Thanks and kind regards,


PS: more background as to the need for doing much more

The frontline in the collapse of coral reefs is Kiribati, the most heat impacted reefs on the planet, with 30 months of condition-two bleaching temperatures over a 60 month period, and the mass death of >90% of corals.
Still there has been virtually no scientific or management response- no battles, no defending armies, no troops, only a few isolated skirmishes, and with minimal data from just 6 of 32 atolls, even six years after the disaster.  This is the present reality on the leading edge of the
collapse!   There is no war!

The only strategies to combat the predicted extinctions of coral species that I know of are the Coral Bio Bank, and the 50 Reefs Initiative, both of which are good initiatives, and commendable, but if that is all we do then we are abandoning the front lines, where the lessons might be learned, pulling back in retreat, and admitting defeat.  Doesn't this amount to
hiding in our bunkers and losing the war without firing a shot?    We have
been proposing for some time that what is missing is a well coordinated, coral-focused war to combat the decline of corals due to warm water bleaching, with generals and sergeants, well trained troops, war plans, battle strategies, weapons, and ammunition.

The really big, well funded efforts target land-based threats and overfishing. This tells us that the majority of scientists and donor orgs have not faced the facts: that pristine reefs with clean water and abundant  fish populations, although that might help with recovery, have been clearly and repeatedly shown to NOT be any more resistant to mass coral death due to bleaching temperatures.  Can we please stop fooling ourselves that this is enough? Otherwise, will we be satisfied with coralline algae dominated reefs, or perhaps in some areas a phase-shift to low biodiversity Porites reefs, with Acropora corals locally extinct and with hundreds of associated species missing?

Coral-focused scientific approaches that are comprehensive, coordinated, well-funded, and scalable are now needed.  This is what we are working to create.  Coral focused strategies must be adaptation based, not simply restoration based, and the goal should be to secure the life of coral species on reefs for another 30+ years, in spite of warming seas, giving time for governments and society to hopefully defeat this enemy called climate change.

Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation, Fiji

On Sat, Apr 9, 2022 at 1:24 AM Risk, Michael via Coral-List < coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

>    A sad day. The Canadian gov't, despite its brave words about
>    decarbonisation, to-day approved the massive Baie du Nord offshore
>    development for our East Coast.
>    Canada is one of the best-educated nations in the world. If we can't
>    get it together, what hope is there?
> __________________________________________________________________
>    From: Coral-List <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> on behalf of
>    Steve Mussman via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>    Sent: Wednesday, April 6, 2022 3:53 PM
>    To: Eugene Shinn via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>    Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Bleaching
>    Dear Gene,
>    Although it is increasingly difficult to remain optimistic, the
>    takeaway message should be clear. The sooner we can muster the
>    political will to reduce atmospheric CO2 the better. The debate should
>    have ended decades ago, but that is no excuse for complacency and/or
>    inaction.
>    [1]https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftheconversation.com%2Fhow-fast-can-we-stop-earth-from-warming-&data=04%7C01%7Cjogden%40usf.edu%7C31ca097bf9a144daba6208da1a12549b%7C741bf7dee2e546df8d6782607df9deaa%7C0%7C0%7C637850963297105951%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=nxluRizLRXn8ImGE%2F%2Fwc%2BGSqkBAROK%2Bmc9MSdnIlFDQ%3D&reserved=0
>    178295
>    Regards,
>    Steve
>    On 4/5/22, 12:49 PM, Eugene Shinn via Coral-List
>    <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
>    Thanks Austin, I have become so used to broken promises by governmens
>    and businesses that it just bounces off. I recall many climate change
>    authors claiming that if all sources of Co2 were stopped today it would
>    take about half a century for Co2 levels to drop to pre-industrial
>    levels. Reducing present levels in 8-years is not realistic. Gene
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> References
>    1.
> https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftheconversation.com%2Fhow-fast-can-we-stop-earth-from-warming-178295&data=04%7C01%7Cjogden%40usf.edu%7C31ca097bf9a144daba6208da1a12549b%7C741bf7dee2e546df8d6782607df9deaa%7C0%7C0%7C637850963297105951%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=lwwxxsWJD2uRE3xw9dMxYN5R26df5EZeCNYS3zSKz94%3D&reserved=0
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>    3. 
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