Blame For The Corals

The coral reefs along the Yucatan are in bad shape, and have degraded significantly over the past decade.  I have spoken with lots of local people (including naturalists) about this, and none of them mentioned anything about climate. They blame snorkelers, pollution and most of all sunscreen oils from snorkelers who swarm the reefs.

It is sad hearing about how vibrant the reefs here used to be, and seeing how much they have deteriorated.

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25 Responses to Blame For The Corals

  1. Stewart Pid says:

    Tony what kind of pollution? Sewage from the resorts?
    I wonder about the sunscreen story since in the ocean u would think the dilution would be so great as to preclude any effects but perhaps the SPF stuff is toxic in parts per quizillion.

    • R. Shearer says:

      I’m somewhat skeptical also. Here’s a piece from Time on it. http://time.com/4080985/sunscreen-coral-reefs/

      Anyway, I’d guess raw sewage would be worse.

    • oeman50 says:

      Also, sunscreen is made to not be water soluble, so it physically washes off but stays as a separate, organic phase. When it encounters the nearest solid object, which may be coral, it will tend to go to the water-solid interface, which is at the surface of the coral. So you do not get the full impact of dilution.

  2. I can believe sunscreen lotions as being one of the problems. Most of them are nasty and many may be carcinogenic to humans and potentially other forms of life (which is ironic for purporting to help prevent skin cancer). Hope you’re having a great time and keep the photos coming. I may need to upgrade to your camera one of these days (still using my aging Nikon P520).

    In case you or anyone else here may ever be interested, there is a great website for sharing observations of flora and fauna anywhere the world and for helping to get the right ID (it’s also a great resource even if you don’t join for free):
    https://www.inaturalist.org

    I post my observations here:
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/oz4caster

  3. Walter says:

    We are sinking!!! Sinking I say. Or should I say the slueths at CNN say.

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/12/world/sea-level-rise-accelerating/index.html

    • garyh845 says:

      (CNN)Sea level rise is happening now, and the rate at which it is rising is increasing every year . .

      Well not every year – especially the last two years:

      • Steve Case says:

        garyh845 says:
        February 13, 2018 at 1:41 am
        (CNN)Sea level rise is happening now, and the rate at which it is rising is increasing every year . .

        Well not every year – especially the last two years:

        Climate scientists are busy cooking the books, look to see claims of acceleration in sea level rise in the near future. Satellite data is being manipulated in such a fashion that rates in the earlier part of the time series are being lowered and bumped up in recent years.

      • AndyG55 says:

        “and the rate at which it is rising is increasing every year ”

        No they have spliced CORRUPTED satellite data onto tide data that is actually DECELERATING.

        • Jackson says:

          In this paper where they find the acceleration, they first admit the actual data shows a deceleration, but then they adjust the data for a volcano (just one) and– viola! the acceleration that was requested to be found was found.
          http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/02/06/1717312115

          I think in most science getting the result one desires by altering the data is considered bad form.
          It is the only form of climate science apparently.

  4. gator69, says:

    Wow. The linguistic and illogical contortions this lowlife “metorologist”, Brandon Miller, had to go through to create his headline is truly an art form that needs no patrons.

    Satellite observations show sea levels rising, and climate change is accelerating it

    Satellite observations show sea levels rising… True, this claim is observable.

    … and climate change is accelerating it… False, this claim is based upon failed models.

    Ms Brandon makes a disgusting attempt at conflating satellite data with predictions from failed models that arev based upon a failed hypotheis. This is nothing short of fraud, veiled as journalism.

  5. garyh845 says:

    Here’s a rare read (especially in the MSM). Bottom line – corals are doing fine where there is no direct human impact on them (pollution run-off, anchors, building islands over them – S China Sea – etc.).

    “These scientists studying coral reefs were brought to tears — but in a good way.”
    http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-coral-reef-health-20160324-story.html

  6. KTM says:

    Apparently the insurance companies are so unconcerned about climate change that they’re willing to insure the coral reef for ~5 cents on the dollar what they would have to pay out each year that climate change causes damage.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/20/mexico-launches-pioneering-scheme-to-insure-its-coral-reef

  7. Jackson says:

    I’ve read the trouble for coral reefs comes from over fishing.
    I guess a bunch of people floating around turning the area into an exotic chemical bath totally foreign to anything normal for the area can do harm as well.

  8. The loss of the keystone herbivore in 1983 was the seminal event. From Bermuda to Brazil about 90% of long spine urchins (Diadema antillarum) died in one year, I watched the die off happen in the Bahamas.

    Detailed information is here: http://www.reurchin.com

    We hope that by returning culture raised Diadema to the reefs, reduction of algae cover will foster coral resettlement.

  9. richard says:

    The 5% of world coral that is protected is in good condition

    Coral At Bikin Atoll ( where man does not go) is in pristine condition and growing like a forest.

    The Coral around Cuba is in pristine condition. Cuba does not use pesticides or fertlilizers that leach into the sea.

    Around the Maldives Coral was decimated from use as a building material due to a massive increase in tourism from the 1970s onwards. UNESCO flagged up that at that rate it would be gone in another 30 years. A ban was put on the stripping of Coral in the early 90s. Of course it was so far gone that the Maldives were in trouble from erosion by the sea but it suited the needs of the greenies who blamed it on sea level rise. Today the coral has grown back and the islands are doing fine.

    Along the Yucatan-
    “Pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, shampoo, toothpaste, pesticides, chemical run-off from highways and many other pollutants infiltrate the giant aquifer under Mexico’s “Riviera Maya,” research shows.

    The wastes contaminate a vast labyrinth of water-filled caves under the popular tourist destination on the Yucatan Peninsula. The polluted water flows through the caves and into the Caribbean Sea”

    So not hard to see that climate change is not a factor in destruction of coral. A bad El Nino year can give it a whacking though. Mass mortality in Coral fields was observed back in the 19th century.

  10. Bob Hoye says:

    Warm part of Mexico. Nice.
    Bitter cold in Vancouver at -1 C.
    Sigh

    • Robert Austin says:

      Cold is all relative. If -1C is bitter, what is the -17C I awoke to in London Ontario? But the sun is shining and we get to see Tony’s pictures of the Yucatan. Life is still good!

  11. Mark Fife says:

    Still on topic, in a very general manner. I found this rather interesting bit of data from the World Monthly Surface Station Climatology data set used at BET. This is raw data by the way. You have two cities in the south west US with records running from 1880 to 2004, Phoenix and El Paso, which are only 350 miles apart. The two records are nearly identical (averaging within 0.1°) from 1880 to about 1960. From 1960 to 2004 Phoenix became obviously warmer.

    I conjecture the reason why is population growth. In 1950 El Paso actually had a few more people. After 1960, Phoenix became one of the fastest growing cities in the US.

    So, I derived two metrics. One is the annual difference in population. The other is the difference in annual average temperature. I then derived a correlation coefficient between the two metrics. That came to .998. Meaning extremely high correlation.

    I then calculated a linear equation to describe the temp delta as a function of the population delta and then looked at how well that estimated the measured values. It was about as perfect a fit as you could imagine.

    I think this is actually a pretty informative study. El Paso is typical of smaller cities in the dataset. And part of what little past 1970 warming which occurred is in fact due to growth. Other, big cities such as San Francisco and San Diego show continuous warming going back a long way. When you average those together you get this strange stair step looking graph that shows some warming in the 30’s, a little cooling, then a big jump into the 2000’s. Which doesn’t actually accurately describe any of the real, underlying data at all.

    If you were to average all these cities with completely different histories and sizes you would have to determine a correction factor to compensate for increasing population.

    Either than, or you would need to make several graphs, grouping locations together based upon population densities, population growth, and so forth. Otherwise you are just averaging apples and oranges.

    And I hope my graph shows up.

    • Mark Fife says:

      By the way, the slope of that equation comes to a little over .4° per 100,000 people added.

      I assumed by looking at the difference between two fairly close sites other factors held in common, such as regional climate trends, increase down welling radiation from evil CO2, and fairy farts would cancel out.

      I have no doubt, within the same area and within some range of variability, .4° per 100,000 people is a decent estimate. I doubt it is a decent estimate in other regions.
      I also would guess there comes a point where the heating elements are saturated for a given monitoring location. In other words, I wouldn’t assume linearity over all ranges. I would guess a graph of the effects of increased population and development would resemble a tensile stress strain curve which achieves linearity for a time.

  12. NavarreAggie says:

    Water quality is almost certainly an issue, but not the only issue. I’m sure sunscreens, agricultural runoff, and sewage all play a part. Other factors that can have a significant impact are changes in salinity (due to freshwater use and runoff) and turbidity. As a reef aquarist with 10 years of experience, I can tell you that reduced water quality is probably the biggest threat to corals.

    However, let’s not forget category 5 hurricane Mitch in 1998 ravaging the area followed by category 5 hurricane Wilma literally sitting over the island of Cozumel in 2005. When I visited the island of Cozumel in 2007, the hurricane damage was far more extensive than damage from other anthropogenic factors.

  13. RonnyLee says:

    If it weren’t for dead coral, we wouldn’t have the Dolomite Mountains of Italy–or the Kaibab limestone of the Grand Canyon. Coral is not an immortal species. It goes through phases of die off and regeneration of new coral gardens on the dead substrate from coral eggs transported afar by ocean currents. The time frame for these events is greater than the human life, so dead coral may seem alarming when not examined and resolved through the lens of geologic time.

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