TCS Daily


Coral Bleaching: What (or Who) Dunnit?

By Gary Sharp - April 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Thanks to a Senate hearing on global warming this week, Americans can expect a plateful of charges about dangers to our oceans and, in particular, coral reefs. They should take it all with a pinch of sea salt.

It's not that the objects of alarms -- particularly the condition of reefs in the Indian Ocean region, raised by such nongovernmental organizations as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Pew Charitable Trusts -- aren't of concern. Coral reefs are appropriately compared to the world's rain forests as habitats for wide varieties of life. They deserve protection.

But against what? Before we blame global warming, yet again, for a change in a species behavior or environment, we need to look closely at what is most likely to affect the reefs, and what is not.

The dying off of coral reefs is known as coral bleaching. This bleaching occurs when corals expel the symbiotic algae -- or Zooxanthellae -- that live in their tissues. This is usually in response to environmental stress, in particular high sea-temperatures, but also high solar radiation, fluctuating salinities, extremely low tides and often a combination of these factors. Then, of course, there are the several instances of pollution associated with several island locations -- mostly those with poor local sewage treatment and/or luxury liners dumping their sewage within close vicinity.

Global warming had nothing to do, for example, with elkhorn and staghorn corals becoming the first species to show rapid die-offs in the Florida Keys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. An extremely cold winter in 1977-78 wiped out large areas of cold-sensitive corals. By 1981, diseases had killed most of the remaining elkhorn and staghorn colonies. Three more cold winters ensued.

The environmental organizations' conjecture about global warming today killing the reefs is based on the belief that surface sea temperatures will increase about 2 degrees C (3.6 F) over the next 100 years, and that rising carbon dioxide levels are making the oceans more acidic.

The temperature increase, though, would fall within the range of temperatures along the reef today -- from 29-30 degrees Celsius (84-86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the north to around 23 degrees C (73 degrees F) in the south. And yet reefs exist nearly everywhere along this 6 to 7 degree C (11-13 F) gradient.

So all the corals aren't likely to die from their projected warming. But how likely is it that the sea surface temperatures will rise the 2 degrees C, 3.6 F, they claim.

The answer is: Not very.

The ocean's response to extensive heating is "ejection" of the major localized surface heat loads by way of Deep Convection -- intense expulsions of heat for the upper ocean wherever the sea surface temperatures exceed about 27.5 C. These expulsions create huge cloud towers up over 60,000 feet into the sky readily observed by satellite. The upper level Hadley Circulation carries this energy away from the equator, eastward and poleward. The associated surface winds also cause upper-ocean mixing that blends the cooler deep waters with the warmer surface, rarely allowing the surface to exceed 30degrees C for any significant length of time.

At the poles, heat is always lost, somewhat more in the dark winter months, but unceasingly. This cooling results in Polar Subsidence, with the cool air sinking, sending huge cool surface wind lenses eastward and equatorward along the surface. These lenses suck up heat as they flow along.

This circulation pattern is how the Earth maintains its relatively narrow temperature bounds, and it runs in cycles not of our choosing. It is extremely unusual for sea surface temperatures in the open ocean to exceed 30 degrees C, due to these and related processes.

Furthermore, the oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling. Since the 1997-98 El Nino/Southern Oscillation, an enhanced pole-to-equator atmospheric motion due to enhanced Polar subsidence events has increased super-cooling events, in accordance with the typical 55 to 70 year dipolar Warm/Cool cycle. Of course, where it warms or cools depends on where you are standing within these large scale processes.

The trend is ongoing and will dominate the Global Circulation by 2008-2012, in accordance with its ~55 year periodicity. The Russian Arctic Institute is monitoring this transition, with their scientists' Atmospheric Circulation Index measuring the latitudinal versus meridional transport of energy by surface winds.

The effect of this cycle can be seen in this and last year's long, cold winters with extra near record low temperatures caused by extensive highly mobile polar cold fronts measured as cold high pressure regions in various places.

Now, if history and our experience can be trusted, we can expect an increase in seasonal cold outbursts along the western USA into the southeast, from Moscow south into Eastern Europe and the Middle East, as well as parts of lower South America and South Africa, and even south Australia, during their winter times. These will continue, per their usual time scales of about another 20-25 years, before we emerge from this cool phase and begin the transition into another epoch of generally warmer, remedial climate phases.

But what about the claims by Pew that CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels is "acidifying" the oceans?

The alarms raised are based on a finding this month in an National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration study that the average pH sampled in the oceans had declined from 8.2 to approximately 8.175 -- 0.025 units -- over the last 15 years. Scary? Hardly. Recent studies also show that the pH difference was 12 times that miniscule change at the time of the last glaciation, at 8.5 units -- and the reefs have thrived under that falling pH.

It would take pH a drop of 47 times that sampled by the NOAA to reach the 7 pH level when neutrality would occur. And that would require that the oceans not only absorb billions more tons of CO2 than mankind is going to emit, but that its buffering agents -- such as carbonate, nitrate and other radicals that minimize ocean acidity by accepting and expelling hydrogen ions -- disappear.

Fortunately for corals, as all marine species but unlike modern man, they have been through cycles such as this before, on all time and space scales. Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all. It is their and our friend, generally, not the enemy.

What coral reefs have not had to deal with before -- 6-plus billion people, all leaving their fingerprints, or worse, behind -- very likely will continue to cause problems. And that is where the Congress, environmental organizations and world community should focus their concern -- against the real pollutants and real human damage caused to these rain forests of the sea. (That is, not global warming.)

Dr. Gary D. Sharp is the Scientific Director of the Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study in Monterey Bay, California He was senior editor of the fourth Edition of the FAO Atlas on Living Resources of the Sea. http://sharpgary.org

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39 Comments

Coral bleaching and nutrient pollution
The mechanisms of coral bleaching are as yet not fully understood, but the phenomenon is worldwide and unprecedented. One might suspect man-made tinkering of some sort as these corals have survived and prospered throughout climate changes over the past several hundreds of millions of years. But the only thing we can say with certainty at this time is that there is no single, simple reason for the bleaching. And it is a matter of grave concern.

One factor contributing to bleaching seems to be nutrient pollution. Heat and salinity also play vital roles, as does sedimentation. And whatever the causes, something unique has developed over the past twenty years.

One has to wonder where the author is going with his piece, as he asserts that future projected warming does not play a role. Of course not! Last I heard, future events do not influence present conditions. We have a serious, worldwide problem right now, and we need to understand it before coral decline becomes irreversible.

Understanding...I can get behind that
Well, RB, you finally said something I can agree with. We need to understand what is happening to our oceans and our atmosphere. I believe that is the author's message as well. What we don't need is to run out and do something, anything, because of political expediency. I would include Kyoto and most of what the so-called "environmentalists" prescribe. By all means, let's find out whether we as a species are, in fact, harming the globe. If so, how do we correct our behavior. But let's not play Chicken Little. Let's pinpoint the problems and then suggest solutions that are not based on our personal philosophies, but on what will actually solve the problem.

Need a Problem
There are some people that need to have a problem to solve in order to justify their existence. If they solve the problem, they are no longer needed.
Therefore, the problem must be perpetuated, not solved.

reality check
The author never denied that bleaching is occurring.
The point of the article was to show that significant future warming of the oceans is unlikely.

In the last paragraph he specifically called on congress to pass laws protecting corals from real dangers, not imagined future ones.

Anthropogenic CO2
Ocean acidity rising, NOAA research finds
Kodiak Daily Mirror, April 17, 2006

...a U.S. Navy ship operated by the University of Washington, sailed from Tahiti to Kodiak to take samples of ocean water for a research project funded by the NOAA and the National Science Foundation.

"We observed measurable DECREASES IN pH, a measure of the acidity of the water, as well as measurable INCREASES IN DISSOLVED INORGANIC CARBON over a large section of the northeastern Pacific," said Richard Feely, an oceanographer with NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

The higher acidity may pose a problem for ocean animals that build calcium shells for protection, other scientists noted. "The EFFECTS OF DECREASED CALCIFICATION IN MICROSCOPIC ALGAE AND ANIMALS could impact marine food webs and, combined with other climatic changes in salinity, temperature, and upwelled nutrients, could substantially alter the biodiversity and productivity of the ocean," said Victoria Fabry of California State University San Marcos.

She and Robert Byrne of the University of South Florida measured how fast pteropods -- tiny free-swimming clams -- were LOSING THEIR SHELLS IN WATER WITH HIGHER CO2. "As humans continue along the path of unintended CO2 sequestration in the surface oceans, the impacts on marine ecosystems will be direct and profound," Fabry said.

http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/?pid=19&id=2972

What we know & what we don't know
I'm not saying anything new. Yes, we can assume that we are causing problems that contribute toward the mass bleaching of corals around the globe. Why? Because we're responsible for recent and profound changes in all the factors we've identified that can contribute to bleaching-- not to mention having destroyed plenty of reefs through dynamite fishing, channel dredging, poor seamanship and all the other blunders that come with the reefs sharing the planet with billions of people.

So obviously our priority is to first find out exactly what is going on. And next, to try to get people to alter their behaviors so it doesn't continue to happen. Lots of luck there.

You seem to have a lot of baggage surrounding the notion of "personal philosophies". I think what you mean is you've read a lot of inflammatory material about the evil greenies in the GW-is-a-hoax press. Like here, for instance. I would suggest what I say to everyone-- forget the advocacy media and try to stay current on the science instead.

We do know that warmer waters will in themselves precipitate bleaching. We also know there's a lot more going on than just that. But I think you'd be off base to go blithely along thinking it's not been proven that humanity has had an adverse effect on the oceans in general and the coral reefs in particular. We do know a lot-- and what we know is mostly bad.

Manufacturing problems
Coral reefs are in fact dying off worldwide. Is that a problem only because some people need to have problems? Or is it a real problem that needs to be solved?

Try gaining some knowledge about coral bleaching before tackling that question.

Significance
What is the signficance of a coral reef?
They are great for diving, but generally make poor fisheries.
They build islands.
What else?

Polar subsidence
From the article: "Furthermore, the oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling. Since the 1997-98 El Nino/Southern Oscillation, an enhanced pole-to-equator atmospheric motion due to enhanced Polar subsidence events has increased super-cooling events, in accordance with the typical 55 to 70 year dipolar Warm/Cool cycle. Of course, where it warms or cools depends on where you are standing within these large scale processes."

This sounds like imaginary gobbledegook. Atmospheric subsidence occurs when ever cold air masses and warm air masses come together. Cold sinks, heat rises. This normally takes place at the higher latitudes.

So what has changed, that "super cooling events" should be taking place and cooling off the ocean surface temps? A bit of study will show that there is now a tendency toward a tighter circulation of cold air around the poles, with less of it moving into the lower latitudes. But this is a slender reed to support the idea that the oceans are now getting colder again and we can stop worrying.

In the tropics, subtropics and temperate waters we're seeing an increase in insolation that translates directly into more heat in the surface layers. Theory should also lead is to expect a weakening of circulatory currents. That means the cold water will tend to stay where it is while the hot water will tend to get hotter.

Where are the corals? In hot water.

Even in the event the cold water was staying in the Arctic, how to explain the melting of the ice shield every summer now? The water's getting colder yet the ice is melting?

The author's contention needs some fleshing out-- or at least support from some other authority than "sharp gary".

http://sharpgary.org/GCCFuture.html

A key question
That's a great question, mj. It points out a key difference in the assumptions of different kinds of people.

For those who think that man is the measure of all things, and that man has free license to exercise dominion over all things, according to their utility, corals are the insignificant subjects of nature videos, and a vacation destination for scuba divers.

For those who think we share the planet with God's other creatures and feel our role is to act as caretaker, corals and the multiplicity of other inhabitants of the reefs are our fellow creatures. Without them the world would be a poorer place. Start knocking down major ecosystems like the reef habitat, tropical forests, etc and after a while all you have left is us, food animals like chickens, and trash creatures like the rats and the pigeons. Maybe you wouldn't mind living in such a world, I don't know. But I would mind.

I would particularly mind if my grandkids had to live in such a world-- and they may very well have to. It took half a billion years for life to evolve this far, and the world is a marvelous place. I'd hate to have to say our generation was the one that screwed everything up.

What is your baseline
My main problem with the direness of global warming measurements is the lack of an accurate baseline and the ability to accurately measure temperatures to separate the signal from the noise.

When anyone starts talking about ocean salinity, buffering, coral reef population etc. my alarm bells start ringing off the wall.

We just don't have enough good data on coral populations, ocean chemistry, air and water circulation and a host of others to make accurate statements, especially to blame it all on global warming.

Get some solid science first. And be careful. If it's true that the bug that's killing off lots of frogs is being spread by zealots trying to "save the frogs" and unwittingly introducing the killer to a hitherto undiscovered and unprotected species, that should give us all pause.

T-rex
There are no longer any T-rex dinosaurs roaming the planet.
And I don't believe humans had anything to do with their extinction.
Any time any creature on the planet is now thought to be at risk, humans are presumed to be the culprits. What if it is beyond our control?
An interesting example is the pygmy owl in southern AZ. They were considered endangerd there, but not in northern Mexico, their primary habitat.
And I agree coral systems should be studied, which should include what is their significance to the ecosystem.
The bird flu virus has an ecological niche. Why should is its eradication be so important?

roy's gut
Roy has told us that he has a surefire method of determining the truth, when the science is unsure.

He listens to his gut.

funny thing
In times past, CO2 concentrations have been much higher than today, and marine animals did just fine.

good grief
roy, get thee to a physics book.
Subsistence has nothing to do with warm and cold masses meeting.

Subsistence happens whenever something cools to a point lower than the surrounding environment.

The know-nothing approach
Do you actually think that environmental zealots are unwittingly spreading some kind of bug that kills frogs? If so, the fungus under suspicion gets there before the zoologists do. Most molds, spores, etc. travel by air circulation, thus their distribution is worldwide. Additionally, frogs tend to not succumb to fungi such as chytrid unless there are other stressors. You have to ask yourself what's new in their world, not what's always been there.

There has also been much inquiry made into increases in UV light, as teratogenic acticity tends to strike species laying their eggs in shallow water.

It's pretty easy to see whether corals are being killed off. First, there are corals. Then, there are no corals. People do have a very good idea of where there are now corals, where there have been corals, etc. We have excellent information on that, based on milennia of exploration.

We also have good info on ocean chemistry, the general circulation of the oceans (remember Matthew Fontaine Maury?) and all the other data you claim are missing. I would suggest the area where data are most lacking is in your understanding of the state of our knowledge.

We do not "blame it all on global warming". Haven't you read a single word of any of my posts? There is no single magic bullet responsible for mass coral bleaching. But nearly every contributing factor we can find is anthropogenic.

Your general approach to science seems to be since we don't yet know it all, let's give up on it. We do know an incredible amount of information, and what we know is disturbing. We know that never in recorded history has there been blue water at the north pole in summer-- just to mention a single item. Put together everything that is known and you come up with the obvious fact that we are making a world very different than any our ancestors knew.

Wait until we know everything there is to know about the death of coral reefs, and it will have been completed by the time the papers are published.

We live in a world where more often than not, people must act on incomplete knowledge. Where, for instance, do you put your own life savings? Do you know everything there is to know about investing? I would suggest not, but that you act anyway in light of what your best judgment is telling you. Same here.

The question has been posed: So what?
Your comment comes across as contentious babbling. The reasoning is analogous to saying if we don't save something like the smallpox virus, why should we save the reef ecosystem. It fails to convince me.

The role of corals within their ecosystem has been studied in exquisite detail. The finding is that their existence is central to the maintenance of a world of thousands of unrelated species in many different families, including fish, vertebrates, algae, nanoplankton and you name it.

Could life go on without the reef system, or without tropical forests? Of course it could. It could go on if everything died but the bacteria. But would it be as rich? Not to me it wouldn't.

If you just don't care about the reef world, fine. That's your opinion. I do care.

Adaptation requires time
The situations are marekedly different. In the past, the changes to pH did not happen within the span of a century or two but over many thousands of years, So while some current organisms may adapt, the pace of change will likely be too fast for many others.

Slow learner
Two points, beknighted fellow. First, it's subsidence. Subsistence refers to the able to eat enough to exist.

Second, you can't have an air mass subsiding unless it is in contact with an air mass warmer than itself. Thus when you say subsidence "happens whenever something cools to a point lower than the surrounding environment" you are referring to its coming into contact with an air mass warmer than itself-- i.e. the meeting of a warmer mass and a colder mass.

Just a minor point
Do you agree that humans are not the cause of ALL species extinction or endangerment?

Fungus
"The fungus is commonly found in plant material and soil in tropical and subtropical areas. Singapore health officials noticed an increase in reports of infection in January and discovered 39 cases involving contact lens users from 2005 to February of this year. Cases have also been reported in Malaysia and Hong Kong."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12257519/

How is this fugus causing eye infections?

Answer: not yet known.

Would you agree that this should be a very controlled environment to conduct analysis?

Coral have only recently been grown in aquariums, yet you believe you think the science behind coral reefs is well established?

I don't disagree that more study needs to be done and dynamite fishing and anchorages should be used to minimize known damage.

A very odd question
The way you pose the question makes the assumption that one of us is an idiot. Human civilization and the rest of the environment interact. There is very little that is one hundred percent one and zero percent the other.

Species do go extinct from time to time. But every observable datum makes biologists believe that the background rate of extinctions (from wholly nonhuman causes, as during prehistory) is very low. There is disagreement in fact on how great a degree obvious human-linked extinctions are solely our fault. For example the postglacial extinctions on North America in the Holocene. The climate was changing rapidly from natural causes, while Folsom hunters were also spreading across the continent. A dozen species of large game animals were snuffed out, all at the same moment. Was it us? Of course. Was it also due to other stressors? Quite likely.

Whenever humans have reached another island, massive extinctions follow. New Zealand is a blatant example, Hawaii another, Madagascar another. And we have become so pervasive in every corner of the planet that it is now just one big island.

In what remains of the central African bush, the last remaining populations of many monkey species are being harvested now as bush meat. This has always happened, but the populations have grown so small that extinctions are predictable in the very near future. Bonobos, for instance, among our closest relatives (and not monkeys), may already be extinct in the wild.

The cause of their demise in most instances is habitat destruction rather than direct predation. We are disturbing so much of the total acreage of the planet that there are no more places for wild animals to live. In the American West, mountain lions are reduced to eating dogs and cats in people's front yards before they are snuffed out. In the Smokies, bear habitat is turning into suburbs. We're all over the place.

But you want the short answer. Okay, so far as we know, frog species are being decimated by phenomena that are not directly related to human activity. And small relict populations like solenodons would have been rare even before human colonization of the Greater Antilles.

Studying life in a test tube
I don't get your drift. The eye infection recently linked to contact lenses is a brand new phenomenon.

Coral reefs have to be studied in situ. You can't necessarily observe a natural ecosystem by taking isolated species from it and putting them into an artificial environment. But I would agree there are some things one could learn in a lab. They would be gross simplifications of a complex reality.

Suffice it to say that many biologists are very interested, and from their collective efforts we're rapidly learning more.

Your last sentence seems garbled. But if you mean maybe poor folks should stop dynamiting reefs to put fish on the dinner table, your task is to convince hungry Filipinos there are values more important than feeding their families. First they will destroy the last reefs in their areas-- then they will starve.

What?
"Species do go extinct from time to time. But every observable datum makes biologists believe that the background rate of extinctions (from wholly nonhuman causes, as during prehistory) is very low."

So you are saying that of all the species that have become extinct, most are caused by humans?

In situ
"Coral reefs have to be studied in situ. You can't necessarily observe a natural ecosystem by taking isolated species from it and putting them into an artificial environment."

So unless coral reefs are fully instrumented, how will they know all the factors involved in coral reefs?

In an aquarium, factors can be changed and results observed. A real experiment.

Also, if you have ever tried hydroponic farming, one gram of a nurient for 1/4 acre of tomatoes can have an impact.

Most are currently being caused by humans, yes
I'm saying that your mental categories seem a little blurry to me on this issue. Let's divide recent time up into two periods. One is the most recent ten thousand years. The other is the million years previous.

If you measure in terms of either total acreage of habitat destruction or total number of species lost from extinction, I think as much damage has been done in the last ten thousand as has been done in the previous million. The rate of destruction has been ratcheted up.

If you measure in terms of conversion of living biomass into inert, nonliving carbon compounds, I think there has been nothing to compare this extinction episode to since the K-T boundary event, 65 million years ago. Most particularly if you also include the conversion of higher, multicellular forms into low creatures such as bacteria and algae. The whole habitat has become degraded, both in the oceans and on land.

If you want to cite some specifics to the contrary, I'd be glad to discuss them.

Life span of coral and algae?
The shorter their lifespan, the more opportunities for change.
It is interesting that some animals have no trouble adapting to humans: coyotes, rats, mice, opposum, deer,...

Adaptation requires time
How do you know that the source of acidic gases are anthropogenic and not natural, e.g., through ocean floor volcanic activity, which can and does change rapidly? We are currently in a period of hightened volcanic activity, worldwide.

The worth of in situ experimentation
Lab testing does have its place. And they can simulate a fairly good coral reef right now in an aquarium-- the key is establishing wave motions, which can be done with a mechanical paddle. Some times you have to, because it's just impractical to fiddle with a test subject surrounded by real ocean.

But for the most part it's hard to test a carburetor on a desktop. If you want to see how well it works you have to put it in an actual auto engine. That's why reef biologists frequently have to put on their flippers and mask, and jump in.

roy describes his belief system perfectly
It's already been shown that the fungus that is killing frogs was spread by eco-tourists and scientists.

Your belief that those who claim to want to do good, can do no harm is most amusing.

There was research into increases in UV light, but it came up empty.

time
Even a few thousand years is way to short for something as basic as shell chemistry to be affected.

slow to learn wrong facts, and proud of it.
As usual roy, you are wrong. You do need contact, but the contact need not be generated by an outside mass.
If one patch of sky starts to cool relative to the masses around it. It sinks.

Simple physics. Perhaps you should try learning some.

Carbon 13
How do we know that recent CO2 increases are due to human activities?
RealClimate.org, December 22, 2004

...Another, quite independent way that we know that fossil fuel burning and land clearing specifically are responsible for the increase in CO2 in the last 150 years is through the measurement of carbon isotopes. Isotopes are simply different atoms with the same chemical behavior (isotope means "same type") but with different masses. Carbon is composed of three different isotopes, 14C, 13C and 12C. 12C is the most common. 13C is about 1% of the total. 14C accounts for only about 1 in 1 trillion carbon atoms.

CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels or burning forests has quite a different isotopic composition from CO2 in the atmosphere. This is because plants have a preference for the lighter isotopes (12C vs. 13C); thus they have lower 13C/12C ratios. Since fossil fuels are ultimately derived from ancient plants, plants and fossil fuels all have roughly the same 13C/12C ratio -- about 2% lower than that of the atmosphere. As CO2 from these materials is released into, and mixes with, the atmosphere, the average 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere decreases.

...Furthermore, we can trace the absorption of CO2 into the ocean by MEASURING THE 13C/12C RATIO OF SURFACE OCEAN WATER. While the data are not as complete as the tree ring data (we have only been making these measurements for a few decades) we observe what is expected: the surface ocean 13C/12C is decreasing. Measurements of 13C/12C on corals and sponges -- whose carbonate shells reflect the ocean chemistry just as tree rings record the atmospheric chemistry -- show that this decline began about the same time as in the atmosphere; that is, when human CO2 production began to accelerate in earnest.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=87

this just proves that realclimate is not real science
The source of the carbon that is being released by volcanoes is organic material that was subducted along with the rocks.

Try a little harder, please
Remember, its a ratio of Carbon 12, 13 & 14, and there is a difference between the man-made and organis sources.

American Chemical Society,March 5, 2005

Determination of Microbial Carbon Sources in Petroleum Contaminated Sediments Using Molecular 14C Analysis

Understanding microbial carbon sources is fundamental to elucidating the role of microbial communities in carbon cycling and in the biodegradation of organic contaminants. Because the majority of anthropogenic contaminants are either directly or indirectly derived from fossil fuels that are devoid of 14C, radiocarbon can be used as a natural inverse tracer of contaminant carbon in the contemporary environment...

http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/esthag/
2005/39/i08/abs/es048669j.html

We have the proof, at last!
Mark, your attempts at scholastic research are a joke. This is the only reference I can find to eco-tourists and/or scientists spreading a deadly fungus:

"The fungus may have been newly introduced to frog habitats, or environmental changes may have made the frogs susceptible to a parasite they had previously resisted. "Maybe the fungus got stuck on a shoe or a camera tripod of an American tourist, or even in the digestive systems of birds, and was brought in. It's not certain," says Green."

Elsewhere this quote was reported as

"How this sinister fungus found its way into so many environments, even unsullied ones, is anyone's guess. "Maybe the fungus got stuck on a shoe or a camera tripod of an America tourist, or even in the digestive systems of birds, and was brought in. It's not certain," says Green."

See? It was an utter speculation by one Earl Green, of the National Institutes of Health. Further, it is very doubtful that the fungus in question is in fact the sole contributor to the many frog deaths currently being studied. Read this article and see what the state of our knowledge looks like:

http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0020389

Oh, the Earl Green quote? It's in here:

http://www.annexed.net/notes/acnanne12.html

Great work, Mark.

before you cut and paste
at least try to read the article to ensure that it is relevant.

Corals are very long lived

How about billions
of dollars in economic contributions

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