Coral Arks, Climate Strategy: Saving coral reefs in the short and long term


May 7 2017. The Global Coral Reef Alliance / Soil Carbon Alliance urgently seeks funding during 2017 to support leadership in Geotherapy: global ecosystem regenerative development to reverse climate change, and for the Biorock Electric Reef Coral Ark Program with Indigenous Peoples (below).


Coral reefs are the most sensitive ecosystem to global warming and will be the first to become functionally extinct due to excess atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, imminently threatening the major marine biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, and shoreline resources of over 100 countries. The threat was fully understood by 1990, but was deliberately ignored for nearly 30 years by governments unwilling to solve the global climate change problem. As the result the current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a death sentence for coral reefs. Restoration of lost reefs is a life and death matter for the Small Island Developing States, and especially the atoll nations.
Massive coral mortality from heat shock took place across the globe in 2015 and 2016, record hot years, at precisely the temperatures forecast nearly 30 years ago by the Goreau-Hayes satellite sea surface temperature HotSpot method. 2017 will probably be even hotter, and many of the few Great Barrier Reef corals that survived the severe 2016 bleaching have bleached and died unusually early in 2017. Many new more regions will bleach this year as the equatorial and northern regions warm up. Since hotter years will certainly follow, we now have only a few years left to protect the last of the most critically threatened natural resource of the ocean.
Even if all fossil fuel use stops today, we will still face millions of years of high temperature, sea level, and CO2, continuing long after IPCC’s model projection time horizons of 50 or 100 years, condemning future generations to extinction of coral reefs and flooding of low lying coasts where billions of people live, unless CO2 is urgently reduced to preindustrial levels.
Biorock Coral Arks are the only way known to save corals from high temperature stress during the interim period until regenerative development strategies can reverse CO2 increase. During 2016 almost all the corals on Biorock Coral Arks in Indonesia survived the bleaching mortality of more than 95% of corals on nearby reefs, and they grew back a severely eroded beach naturally in just months. Indonesian fishing villages with Biorock reef projects have not only restored their fisheries, they have been transformed from the poorest villages on their island to some of the most prosperous, because so many tourists come from all over the world to swim over their spectacular Biorock corals and fish.

An immediate crash program is needed NOW to restore our damaged reefs using methods that 1) greatly increase coral growth rates, and 2) greatly increase coral survival from high temperature stress, and 3) work directly with coral reef communities. Biorock technology is the only method that does so, and can be powered on any scale by developing our vast but untapped clean and sustainable wave, wind, solar, and ocean current energy. Biorock methods greatly increase coral settlement, increase coral growth rates 2-6 times, prevent coral death after bleaching from heat shock, speed up coral recovery, and result in much higher survival, up to 50 times higher (5,000%) in the worst cases.
All marine organisms and ecosystems, not only corals, benefit from Biorock electric fields because they directly stimulate natural biochemical energy production. Biorock reefs greatly increase fish populations, create new sustainable mariculture opportunities, and build growing, self-repairing reefs of any size or shape that turn severely eroding low island beaches into growing ones naturally in just months, allowing them to grow despite global sea level rise. All other methods of coral reef restoration and shore protection will eventually fail catastrophically under global warming and global sea level rise.
In order to prevent catastrophic loss of fisheries, shore protection, tourism, and biodiversity in the coming years a massive program of coral reef restoration is needed in all the coral reef countries, and especially the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Biorock Coral Arks are our last hope to maintain coral reef ecosystem services until global warming is reversed. There is no time to waste: failure means condemning around a billion people to become climate refugees.This should be under the direct control of the countries affected, using the state of the art Biorock methods, which have been developed in the SIDS, without any help at all from the rich countries or funding agencies. This is a long-term task, and only those really committed to

This should be under the direct control of the countries affected, using the state of the art Biorock methods, which have been developed in the SIDS, without any help at all from the rich countries or funding agencies. This is a long-term task, and only those really committed to long-term restoration of their immediate environment can do so. Only local people are seriously dedicated to restoring their own fisheries, shorelines, and natural resources over the generations that will be needed until global warming can be brought under control. To be truly effective, all funding should be put directly into community- based environmental management initiatives supporting local efforts to restore and manage the resources they have lost, not to foreign or even national institutions, who will waste the money on bureaucracies, foreign consultants, and big international NGOs (BINGOs).

They should specifically NOT be under the control of those programs funded and controlled by the rich countries, which have spent 40 years systematically denying the massive declines of reefs that were already long known in the SIDS, denying their clearly proven linkages to global warming, and actively preventing any effective action to restore coral reefs with fiction about “resilience”. These groups are now attempting to control all reef funding, and if they succeed they will waste all the money by repeating their past failures.

GCRA Community-managed Coral Ark projects will be designed and built working directly with indigenous fishing communities who have already shown they want to act to restore their marine resources, and whose trust we have won through years, decades, or generations working with them on their coral reefs. These sites will be used to train other community-based environmental management groups who want to restore their coral reefs, fisheries, and beaches in their regions. Our first priorities are:

Jamaica is where coral reef diving research first began and where the decline of coral reefs, and all their causes, were first documented and understood. Jamaica is also where Biorock electric coral reef restoration was invented by GCRA researchers Wolf Hilbertz and TG 30 years ago, but unfortunately there have been no Biorock projects in Jamaica for 25 years. We have worked closely with Jamaican fishermen documenting changes on the reefs for 65 year., TG, a native speaker of Jamaican patois, wrote the integrated whole watershed and coastal zone management plans for both ends of Jamaica. We will focus on coral reef and fisheries restoration in Westmoreland, where the fishermen still remember the amazing coral growth and fish and lobster populations attracted to solar powered Biorock reefs we built with them 25 years ago. The former reef is now a barren wasteland, and the locals want to restore their collapsed reefs and fisheries.

The Guna Indians of Panama are lobster divers who live on 50 low islands, a quarter of which they are now abandoning due to erosion caused by global sea level rise. They are already global warming refugees! Our work there focuses on restoring coral reef growth to restore the lobster and fish populations, and growing Biorock shore protection reefs to save their islands from erosion and grow new islands. The Guna are a remarkable traditional culture that never lost their independence, have preserved all their cultural and political institutions, yet greatly value education and modern knowledge. Although TG is of Ngobe Indian descent (the largest and poorest indigenous community in Panama), his family have worked closely with the Gunas for generations, and he has complete authorization by the Guna Government to do environmental restoration projects there, something no other outsider has. The local will is there, but funding is nonexistent for independent Indigenous communities.

The Comca’ac (Seri) Indians of the Sea of Cortes are the smallest and most remarkable Indigenous culture of Mexico. They survived for hundreds of years in barren desert islands by diving for seafood, in particular, several unusual endemic species now on the verge of extinction. TG dived with them to understand the growth conditions of their unique biological resources and is working with them to develop their remarkable tidal energy resources to produce electricity, fresh water, Biorock building materials that consume CO2 from the atmosphere, and much more productive Biorock mariculture of their threatened native species.

Indonesia has the world’s largest, richest, and most biodiverse coral reefs, yet around 95% have been badly damaged. Our Indonesian team has built around 300 Biorock coral reef restoration projects in many islands of Indonesia, including Bali, Lombok, Flores, Sulawesi, Sumbawa, Java, and Ambon. These have created prosperous ecotourism communities, restored fisheries, preserved coral reefs from dying from global warming, grown back severely eroded beaches in months, and won many international environmental awards, including the United Nations Equator Award for Community-Based Development and the Special UN Development Programme Special Award for Oceans and Coastal Management. The Biorock Indonesia team is developing plans for large Biorock mangrove restoration projects in areas destroyed for shrimp farms that will become Orang Utan habitat in Kalimantan (Borneo) as well as major mangrove peat carbon sinks, restoring areas damaged by mining in Sulawesi and Halmahera, and restoring eroded beaches in Raja Ampat, West Papua. We have trained hundreds of Indonesian students in the new restoration methods, but there is no funding for them to help the fishing communities all across this nation of 17,000 islands and 250 million people that are asking for training to also re-grow their reefs, fisheries, and shorelines as the first communities we trained have done.

In Vanuatu, TG trained a fishing community to build a dozen Biorock reefs to restore their own coral reefs, which were dynamited, dredged, turned into an airstrip by the US military in 1943, and never recovered. Fishing villages all around Vanuatu, concerned about their reefs, have tried all other methods of coral reef restoration, and found that they all failed. Now, having seen the results of the Biorock pilot projects, they all want training too to develop their own community reef fisheries mariculture projects. Their eagerness to learn methods to be more productive and less destructive is incredible, and we are delighted to help them!

TG’s family has worked with local Aboriginal communities to document the health of their corals on the Great Barrier Reef for generations, and have photos of the same reefs from 1927, 1950, 1967, and 1998. We need to repeat these photos and videos again, now that most of the corals have died from global warming in 2017, exactly as we had predicted would happen. We will work directly with the Kuku Yulanji Aboriginals of the Daintree Forest, owners of Low Isle, where we stayed and photographed each time, to restore their dead coral reefs and establish their Sea Rights to all of their territory, underwater as well as above. TG is a hereditary member the Dhuwa Yolngu Aboriginals of Arnhem Land, the oldest culture in Australia, which has preserved knowledge of all the places they lived in the last 50,000 years, including those drowned by the sea after the last Ice Age.


GCRA is helping The Commonwealth Secretariat (CS), 52 countries with 2.5 billion people, a third of the Earth’s population, develop a strategy of Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change, for presentation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December. This aims to stabilize CO2 at pre-industrial levels in decades, to prevent runaway climate change impacts. Our Geotherapy book and recent FAO papers on factors controlling rates of regenerative drawdown and long-term storage of CO2 in soils provide the scientific basis of the strategy. We have also developed superior Biorock electric restoration methods for mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes, whose peat soils are the most cost-effective carbon sinks on the planet.
There won’t be any operational funding for strategy development or implementation until after approval by the Commonwealth Secretariat in June, and UNFCCC in December, but the CS has asked TG to advise them on marine issues and present the scientific foundations of the strategy to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon in March 2017 in Rome, the Society for Ecological Restoration Conference in Brazil in August, and at UNFCCC.
It will also be very important to make other such strategically critical presentations where needed to help support the strategy development in the coming months, especially with the majority of the Commonwealth nations, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific, Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. GCRA has worked directly on coral reef issues in almost every single SIDS in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean, and has close contacts with may SIDS environmental groups and governments, starting with Jamaica, where GCRA originated. GCRA is therefore extremely familiar with the local environmental management problems and can identify the specific locations that would most benefit from regenerative development strategies in each of these countries.


GCRA, and its partner, the Soil Carbon Alliance, seek funding to complete three documentary films, and books, of critical importance to climate strategies:
DIRT RICH by Marcelina Cravat, Passelande Films, Berkeley. Shows how soil carbon is being increased by many methods around the world, and how it can reverse global climate change. Filming is already complete, and funding is needed for final editing and production phases, including soundtrack, narrators, promotion, etc. We have previously collaborated on ANGEL AZUL, about underwater art, tourism, coral reefs, dolphins, algae, and sewage in Cancun.
CORAL GHOSTS by Andrew Nisker, Take Action Films, Toronto. The history of coral reefs, the most climatically threatened ecosystem, from life to death, and hopefully to regeneration. Funding is needed for filming at critical sites around the world, in the Great Barrier Reef, Jamaica, Bahamas, Indonesia, Micronesia, Panama, the Red Sea, and others to compare with our underwater photograph collection, the world’s largest and oldest, in order to understand the causes of the changes at each reef, and show how to reverse them. We will focus on training local Indigenous fishing communities to restore their coral reefs and fisheries, especially the Kuku Yulanji Aboriginals of the Great Barrier Reef. We have previously collaborated on GROUND WARS, in production for The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, on health and environmental impacts of golf course chemicals on coral reef and human health.

SCIENCES OF LIFE, TECHNOLOGIES OF DEATH: THE 1970 MIT STUDENT STRIKE AGAINST WEAPONS RESEARCH AND THE MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SCIENCE by Tom Goreau & Videosphere, Cambridge, MA. MIT students in 1970 went on strike specifically over the issue of weapons research on campus, at a time when all other campuses were focused on the Viet Nam War. MIT succeeded in stifling debate on the issue by expelling the student leaders, but the undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty, and administration led the formation of many organizations focused on the social responsibility of science and engineering. The moral issues raised nearly 50 years ago are just as relevant today in the era of mass bombing and global warming, but have been effectively ignored since 1970. The various points of view of the many participants from all sides are being explored by interviews with the surviving leaders of the 1970 events on all sides.

GCRA/SCA is a global non-profit network of volunteers working with essentially no funding on direct action projects with local communities to protect and manage coral reefs, and all other ecosystems, all around the globe. For more than 25 years GCRA has provided cutting edge research on community-based ecosystem restoration and management in developing countries and indigenous communities, the impacts of global climate change on ecosystems, and helped invent important new technologies to reverse them and regenerate the ecosystem services providing our planetary life support systems, founded on restoration of natural biogeochemical recycling processes.

GCRA activities in 2016 are briefly summarized in:

GCRA planned programs for 2017 are briefly outlined in:

GCRA projects with Indigenous Peoples are summarized in:

For more information contact Thomas J. Goreau, PhD, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance, at

Dolphin Enclosures and Algae Distributions at Chankanaab, Cozumel: Observations and Recommendations

Dolphin Enclosures and Algae Distributions at Chankanaab, Cozumel: Observations and Recommendations

Thomas J. Goreau, Ph.D. President, Global Coral Reef Alliance

Reposted from: June 6 2003

NOTE: Videos showing the conditions around the site at the time of this study, and at other similar locations, can be seen in the accompanying video:

Tourism, Water Quality, and Coral Reefs


Even though Cozumel has been a major diving destination since the late 1960s, there have been few long-term studies of change in Cozumel reefs, as regular monitoring by the Cozumel Marine Park only began in recent years. Algae overgrowth that kills corals has been an increasingly severe problem around the Caribbean for several decades, but has not been reported to be a major problem in Cozumel until recently.
In 1968, soon after the first dive shop, Aqua Safari, opened in Cozumel, a set of underwater photographs of Cozumel reefs were taken by the late Robert Harper. In 1999, his widow, Katherine Harper donated them to the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Soon afterwards, Harper’s photographs of these sites, primarily from Paraiso and Palancar Reefs, were shown to groups of the oldest divers on the island, including those shown in the original photographs. They were able to identify all the sites precisely and to recognize many of the individual sponges, gorgonians, and corals shown in the photos as still surviving. These sites were recorded in digital video film by Thomas J. Goreau, in cooperation with Aqua Safari and the Cozumel Marine Park, along with sites at Colombia Reef and Micro Atolones, to develop a permanent record of long term change. Later, Dr. Goreau examined even older underwater photographs from Cozumel taken by the late Ramon Bravo, with the help of Maria Bravo.
Comparison of the 2000 videos with the 1968 and older photographs indicated that although the reefs of Cozumel had changed less than any other sites known in the Caribbean, clear changes were nevertheless obvious. The most dramatic change was a clear increase in the abundance of sponges and a decline in corals. While most of the corals appeared to be very healthy, and showed low signs of disease overall, many were being over-grown, under-grown, or bored by sponges. This change is likely to be due to relative changes in the food supply of sponges with regard to corals. While corals rely on capturing zooplankton for their food, and on the photosynthesis of their symbiotic algae, sponges are extremely specialized filter feeders that eat bacteria, as shown by the work of Henry Reiswig in Jamaica around 1970. The dramatic increase of sponges in Cozumel, which has also been noted by the author in Jamaica, is therefore most likely due to increased concentrations of bacteria in the water. While in Jamaica the kinds of sponges on the reef have dramatically changed, in Cozumel the main change appears to be in increased abundance rather than different kinds of sponges. In Jamaica, ocean currents are slow and land runoff is high, so the source of bacteria feeding sponges is probably related to increasing coastal pollution. In contrast, Cozumel sponges and corals grow in very rapidly flowing open Caribbean waters with little surface runoff. The increase of sponges therefore suggests that large-scale, long-term changes in open water food chains has taken place in open Caribbean waters, leading to increases in bacterial food supplies for sponges. This hypothesis needs to be checked by direct studies of the bacteria, zooplankton, and nutrient availability in the waters flowing past Cozumel.
Although algae cover in 2000 was still very low in comparison with other sites in Quintana Roo (Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Contoy, Puerto Morelos, and Banco Chinchorro) and other areas of the western Caribbean (such as Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, Florida, and Panama) fleshy algae had distinctly increased since the late 1960s. Very high levels of fleshy algae, that had overgrown and killed large amounts of large corals in shallow water, were found at only two sites, Colombia and Micro Atolones. The high algae levels at Colombia appeared to be localized in areas near the entrance to the Colombia Lagoon, and are thought to be due to elevated nutrient outflows from the lagoon probably caused by septic tank drainage into the lagoon from increasing development around it. In contrast, large dead corals overgrown by fleshy algae at Micro Atolones could not be ascribed to local nutrient sources. This area faces the open Caribbean, has no local population along the shore or water inputs from lagoons, and is subject to minor fishing effort due to its high wave exposure.
This unusual pattern was also found at Banco Chinchorro, where the reefs along the protected and heavily fished western side, which faces populated mainland coasts, were coral dominated, while the eastern side of the atoll was almost completely dominated by fleshy algae. This suggests a remote nutrient source from the open Caribbean water. It was proposed that the most likely source was the massive erosion of soil and nutrients from Honduras following Hurricane Mitch, which caused catastrophic flooding and severe erosion of deforested mountain soils. Runoff from Honduras heads east in coastal currents, but then turns westward at Cabo Gracias a Dios when it encounters the main Caribbean currents, and heads directly towards Quintana Roo. If this hypothesis is correct, long distance sources of nutrients, not local ones, may have caused the algae overgrowth of corals in eastern Cozumel and Banco Chinchorro, as well as the outer reefs of Belize, which have also become algae dominated in recent years (McClanahan, personal communication). Nutrient measurements in these water masses are needed to confirm this hypothesis.
In 2002, new problems were noticed in Cozumel by local divers and by the Marine Park staff. These included a dramatic increase in algae near Chancanaab, apparently after the new dolphin and sea lion enclosures had been established as tourist attractions, and the apparent “bleaching” and mortality of around 90% of the hard corals at reefs near Colombia Lagoon.
On May 14 2003 the author worked with Jose Juan Dominguez Calderon to view the Cozumel Marine Park’s photographic archive of “bleached” corals and algae, and a rapid survey was made of areas where algae problems were reported.


Algal species abundances were examined in the lagoon at Chancanaab, along the coast both north and south of the dolphin enclosures, and all around the enclosures.
The lagoon (cenote) had clear water with low turbidity and phytoplankton, and while most of the bottom was clearly visible, there were large mats of algae visible in some shallow well-illuminated areas. These algae were of marine species, largely composed of Chaetomorpha linum and Hypnea sp. (probably H. valentiae). The first species is an indicator of high phosphorus, and the second of high nitrogen. However, both species were senescent and dying back at the time they were observed based on their color and form. When they are growing fast in response to high nutrients the former is dark green and the latter is dark red. But when observed the first was pale yellowish green and the latter pale reddish brown. At the time they were observed it was late in the dry season. It is likely that these algae had grown rapidly in response to nutrients in the freshwater layer during the previous rainy season, and were dying back, but they could grow very rapidly again if nutrients are added in fresh water during the next rainy season. While there did not appear to be significant nutrient inputs to the cenote or the adjacent seawater from the overlying freshwater lens of the island at the time of these observations, this is likely to have a strong seasonal variation.
The area south of the dolphin cages showed high abundance of algae indicative of high nutrients. These increased steadily from the southern edge of the park towards the dolphin cages. By far the most abundant algae were large gelatinous clumps of the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) Lyngbya penicilliformis. These were especially common covering the rock ledges as deep as 7-8 meters, perhaps because they are likely to be washed away by wave action in shallower water. Corals were being overgrown by Lyngbya, and there were large numbers of dead gorgonians overgrown by Lyngbya. High densities of cyanobacteria are indicative of excessive pollution, in particular of phosphorus, and are common near sewage inputs. Macro-algae that were common included species indicative of moderate or high nutrients like Hypnea musciformis, Enteromorpha flexuosa, Bryothamnion triquetrum, and Ulva fasciata. On deeper sand areas the algae were more typical of lower nutrients, primarily Halimeda, Udotea, and Penicillus species.
The area to the north of the dolphin cages had a dramatically different algae population. Lyngbya was rare, and most corals and gorgonians had little algae overgrowth. The dominant macroalgae were species indicative of moderate or low nutrients, primarily Dictyota pinnatifida, Laurencia poiteaui, Halimeda sp., Udotea sp,. and Penicillus sp.
The fencing material that made up the outer and inner parts of the dolphin cages were completely covered with thick mats of Lyngbya on the southern side, and along the western side except for the very northern end, where it was notably less thick. The northern side of the cages had much lower abundance of Lyngbya. Lyngbya mats were dislodged to see which way they were transported by the currents. On the northern side of the dolphin cages they moved slowly into the cages, from north to south. On the southern edge they moved in the same direction, that is away from the cages. On the western side they moved parallel to the cages. This shows that although there is a very strong south to north current offshore, the inshore areas have a weak countercurrent moving in the opposite direction, from north to south. This is supported by observations of water turbidity. Water turbidity south of the cages steadily increased from south to north and was highest next to the cages. In contrast the water to the north of the cages was much clearer. Large schools of fish were observed congregating around the southern side of the cages, but not on the north, presumably reflecting available food supplies being carried by the currents out of the dolphin cages.


The types of algae found and their spatial distributions, in conjunction with the turbidity and the movement of the water, suggest that there are excessive nutrients, especially phosphorus, that are coming directly from the dolphin cages. These are likely to be due to a mixture of dolphin excrement and the rotting of uneaten food (frozen fish). Excess nutrients carried by the currents from the dolphin cages appears to be causing serious coral reef overgrowth by weedy algae (eutrophication), especially by cyanobacteria, in the reefs to the south of the Chancanaab dolphin cages. Although this decreased southward, it extended as far as observations were carried out (the point at the edge of the park), and the southern limit of its effects were not determined.
During the dry season there appeared to be little nutrient input to the coastal zone from the freshwater lens of the aquifer. But such inputs could be significant during the rainy season, especially wherever the aquifer is polluted from septic tank overflows.
The “bleached” corals in Cozumel in 2002 were in fact not bleached but killed by White Plague disease. This bacterial disease is rapidly spreading across the Caribbean, and is of great concern because it kills more species of corals, at a much faster rate, than any other coral disease. Outbreaks tend to be localized and most intense in the warmest times of year. The fact that this outbreak was limited to a small area that had unusually high water temperatures, according to the surveys made by the Cozumel Marine Park, fits this pattern. The epidemic appears to have ended, but killed about 90% of the corals in the affected area, according to Jose Juan Dominguez Calderon. Continued monitoring of diseases and water quality is needed to understand the impact of such diseases, but few management recommendations can be made at this time.


The dolphin cages appear to be a point source of nutrients that are damaging the coral reefs to the south, based on the species of algae, their abundances and distributions, the turbidity of the water, the water movement patterns, and the fish distributions. This should be confirmed by direct measurements of nutrients (ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate) in the cages, and in north-south transects north of the cages and south of them. Chlorophyll measurements would indicate if phytoplankton growth is being stimulated, as well as bottom-living algae. Oxygen measurements would indicate if decomposition is depleting oxygen in the water. The patterns of nutrients from land offshore should also be measured, especially during the rainy season, to determine if land-based sources of nutrients are also contributing. Nutrients should also be measured on the eastern side of Cozumel to determine if the algae overgrowing corals at Micro Atolones result from transport from long distance nutrient sources. The distribution of algae in west Cozumel reefs indicates that nutrient sources are limited to the vicinity of local point sources. Systematic water quality studies should be carried out at different seasons of the year to identify all point sources of nutrients, and the backgrounds of nutrients from groundwater and from ocean currents should be determined. These data should be used to devise management strategies to reduce nutrient inputs to the reef and prevent the sort of severe eutrophication that now is typical of most western Caribbean coral reefs. Such steps are important to maintain Cozumel’s reputation as a superior quality diving destination.
The most cost-effective way of making such measurements would be to use portable, real-time, continuous monitoring devices (see appendix). One instrument is needed to measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, chlorophyll, turbidity, and possibly hydrocarbons. A second instrument is needed to make instantaneous measurements of ammonium, nitrate, and phosphorus nutrients on extremely small samples. These instruments, which would cost approximately around $20,000, would allow each source of nutrients to be determined all along the coastline, using small boats. Nutrient pollution could be tracked directly to the sources (such as sewage pipes, lagoons, and cruise ship dumping) and the instruments could be used to determine if management measures to reduce sources are having the desired effects. Such instruments could be used to rapidly measure all major water quality parameters along the entire western coast of Cozumel in a few hours. They would be very cost effective if they were shared between the Cozumel Marine Park, the Isla Mujeres Cancun Marine Park, the Contoy Marine Park, the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and the Puerto Morelos Marine Park on a rotating basis. Such instruments would allow the Parks to rapidly monitor the water quality along the entire coast and determine the effectiveness of control strategies for the first time, revolutionizing the practice of coastal zone management.
These observations indicate that dolphin enclosures, which are increasingly common in tropical tourist areas, are a significant local source of nutrient pollution and ecological damage to coral reefs. There appear to be only two ways of reducing their impact. The first is to close them down. The second is to enclose them with solid walls to prevent nutrients escaping into the coastal zone. Fresh seawater could be pumped into them, but the effluents should not be permitted to flow back into the sea until they have been treated to remove the nutrients. This could be accomplished by pumping the effluent into large shallow tanks or flow-through raceways, exposed to full sunlight, in which marine algae are grown at high densities to take up the nutrients. To prevent the nutrients entering the coastal zone these algae could be used on land. Composted algae make an excellent source of nutrient rich fertilizer for agriculture or ornamental plants once the sea salts have been leached out by rainfall on concrete platforms. Recycling the nutrients on land would have many environmental benefits, including preventing pollution and damage to coral reefs, eliminating the need to import costly fertilizers, and greatly improving the organic material, nutrients, and water holding capacity in poor soils such as those found on Cozumel.
The cenote should be monitored for increases in algae (and nutrients) during the rainy season. This would indicate if there are significant inputs of nutrients to the sea from freshwater flow from the Cozumel aquifer. This would be highest in areas where septic tanks leach into the aquifer.


The author thanks Maria Bravo of Isla Mujeres for first bringing this problem to his attention; Jose Juan Dominguez Calderon, Subdirector of the Cozumel National Park, for showing photographs and discussing field observations; Robert Cudney Bueno, Director of the Cozumel National Park, and Elvira Carvajal, previous Director of the Cozumel National Park for detailed discussions and encouragement; Ignacio Cureno Munoz, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Hernandez, and the staff of the Fundacion de Parques y Museos de Cozumel for discussions and help viewing the site and other locations on Cozumel; Bill Horn and the entire staff of Aqua Safari for discussions and help diving around Cozumel to examine long term reef change; Jens Ambsdorf of the Lighthouse Foundation of Hamburg Germany, and Rudolf Bittorf, Honorary Consul of Germany in Cancun, for assistance getting to Cozumel and suggestions. I also thank Prof. Robert K. Trench who first encouraged me to look at environmental problems in Cozumel, Roberto Iglesias Prieto of UNAM in Puerto Morelos for discussions, and Katherine Harper for donating the old photographs of Cozumel reefs taken by her late husband Robert Harper. I also thank Gerardo Garcia for the invitation to work in Quintana Roo, and the entire staffs of the Cozumel Marine Park, Parque Marino Isla Mujeres Cancun, Banco Chinchorro Marine Biosphere Reserve, the Contoy MarinePark, and the Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico Marine Lab at Puerto Morelos for assistance in the field. This project would not have been possible without all their help.


The appendix below regarding instrumentation for a portable water quality monitoring facility was written more than three years ago. It needs updating regarding the latest instruments and costs.

May 14 2000 (updated June 4 2003)

To: Franciso Ursua, Parque Nacional Isla Mujeres-Cancun
Tomas Camarena, Parque Nacional Banco Chinchorro
Elvira Carvajal, Parque Nacional Cozumel
Parque Nacional Contoy
Reserva Biologico Sian Ka’an

From: Thomas Joaquin Goreau Arango, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance

A real-time portable system for analyzing nutrients (ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate) along with chlorophyll, oxygen, temperature, and salinity is proposed for regular monitoring of changes of all land and ocean based nutrients to the coastal zone of the Mexican Marine Parks and related waters. This system will consist of two instruments packaged into a portable waterproof case, which can be deployed from a small boat. With addition of a GPS system, the results can be used to map, in real time, water quality and pollution sources on GIS maps. This equipment would allow continuous recording T, S. O, and Chl, and nutrients to be analyzed within a few minutes at any chosen site. It could be used in a small boat to produce complete records along 10s of kilometers in a day all along the coastline, identifying every source of nutrients, whenever needed.
The instruments recommended for this are:
a) A YSI-MA Model 6600 Multi-parameter water quality monitor, measuring temperature, salinity, oxygen, and chlorophyll simultaneously. Uses C batteries or 12V DC. With 12-hour data collecting and logging capability downloadable to a laptop computer, this will cost around $9,000.
NOTE: Newer versions of this instrument now also allow simultaneous turbidity and hydrocarbon analysis, and the cost has come down.
b) A portable nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate analyzer using a pumped through 12 v DC system to analyze these nutrients in-situ in near real time, using flow injection analysis with fiber optics spectrophotometer with computer data-logging capability, from Constellation instruments, around $30,000. This system would fit in a weatherproof suitcase and be powered by 12 Volt batteries, and would contain the housing for the other instrument as well. The sensitivity to nutrient levels would be to oceanographic levels, i.e. less than 0.1 micromoles per liter. The nitrate analysis would use an enzymatic reduction method, eliminating the costly and failure prone copper-coated cadmium columns, which generated toxic wastes and were a major cost and lab problem to maintain in top condition. These instruments, which use miniature fibre-optics spectrophotometers use very small samples, but give the full analytical sensitivity needed, using amounts of chemical reagents that are hundreds to thousands of times smaller than used in conventional labs, while eliminating all sample storage and handing errors. They are therefore far more economical and accurate.
NOTE: There are now many more manufacturers of this sort of equipment, and the costs for a basic field instrument (without telemetry features needed only for long term remote deployment) have come down considerably since the above was written. I can look into current prices and capabilities if there is real interest.


10% of GDP for shore protection against global sea level rise? There’s a better and cheaper solution!

Dear Ruben Carlo Asuncion and Minsoo Lee,

Your excellent January 2017 Asian Development Bank Economics Working Paper Series No.507, Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Economic Growth in Developing Asia, in concluding that shore protection could use up 10% of the GDP of Developing Asian countries, makes the point that shore protection against global sea level rise may be the largest, and the most ignored, cost of runaway climate change.

I have argued this very point in vain for nearly 30 years, but yours is the first systematic discussion I have ever seen of the crippling economic costs of shore protection against global sea level rise!

More than 25 years ago I met with UNDP, GEF, and other international agencies to find out who was helping countries with shore protection against rising sea level, and discovered that NO agency took any programmatic responsibility for the problem, but all were incorrectly sure somebody else must be……..

As a result there is essentially no proactive planning, only disaster responses, asking for immediate aid after existing seawalls fall down and roads, trees, beaches, houses, hospitals, and airports fall into the sea, in order to throw more concrete and rocks into the water, which only postpones the repetition until the next extreme storm event.

When I searched on “shore protection” to find out what the world spends to keep the waves from washing their beaches away, every single hit I got was for “offshore asset protection”: I learned nothing about shore protection, but found long lists of all the money-laundering banks in the world.

Your seawall cost estimate of $6 million per meter height protected per kilometer is close to typical figures of $10-15 million dollars per kilometer for typical sea walls that are 2-3 meters high.

In my view, your long term cost estimates are too low, because they assume sea level will rise at the present rate, when in fact dramatic increases are inevitable if we don’t reverse CO2 increase soon, which can be done at low cost and with great benefits:

Regenerative Development To Reverse Climate Change: Quantity And Quality Of Soil Carbon Sequestration Control Rates Of CO2 And Climate Stabilization At Safe Levels

New Soil Carbon Alliance White Paper presents first calculations of how fast climate can be stabilized at safe levels

The problem with sea walls is 1) they don’t work, and 2) they cost many times more than alternatives that do!

Every single seawall built in an atoll country has collapsed, or soon will, many fell down before they finished building them.

All coastal engineers know that sea walls are inevitably doomed to collapse and repeated rebuilding, because they concentrate erosive forces that wash away all sand in front of them, and then under them, until they fall down, but they think they have no other option. Our methods work like coral reefs do, dissipating wave energy that passes through them without being reflected.

I have worked with local teams on coral reef, sea grass, mangrove, and beach restoration projects in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Viet Nam, and many Pacific Small Island Developing States, including the Marshall Islands, Palau, Vanuatu, Samoa, and Fiji.

Restoring these habitats works far better to protect shores at much lower cost than sea walls do, while providing vast additional economic benefits in ecosystem services like fisheries habitat and ecotourism.

In 2016 in Indonesia we had almost no coral mortality on our properly maintained projects while more than 95% of the corals in nearby reefs died from heat stroke, we grew back a severely eroded beach naturally in just a few months, and socioeconomic studies showed that these projects had turned the poorest villages on their islands into some of the most prosperous because of the huge number of people coming from all over the world to swim in beautiful corals and fishes.

Our methods work rapidly where all other restoration methods fail because only our method causes much higher settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to environmental stress of all forms of life. These results are because only our method directly enhances their natural biochemical energy generating mechanisms.

Adapting to sea level rise need not be as costly as your study indicates when the new state-of-the-art ecosystem restoration measures are considered as an alternative to hard shoreline protection.

The sooner that they are, the sooner we can move forward to much more effective solutions with lower costs and higher benefits.

Best wishes,

Thomas J. F. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
President, Biorock Technology Inc.
Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance
Coordinator, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Skype: tomgoreau
Tel: (1) 617-864-4226

Coral bleaching prediction capacity may soon be destroyed by US Government, Great Barrier Reef bleaching imminent

For nearly 30 years we have been able to predict mass coral bleaching accurately with the Goreau-Hayes Satellite SST HotSpot method (Goreau, 1990 US Senate Hearings on Climate Change; Goreau et al., 1993; Goreau & Hayes, 1994). We have routinely predicted, and confirmed, bleaching events that have never been documented by the coral list or NOAA. There were many such bleaching events last year in places that were hotter for longer than the GBR, but dive shops are now routinely concealing bleaching as “bad for business”.

In one large area of the Pacific where bleaching was certain last year, only one single dive shop would admit it had happened, but did not send photos, not one of the other dive shops would respond to a request for confirmation if bleaching was happening.

The NOAA data base and the web site that documents the HotSpot data is still up, but this may simply be an accidental oversight, as all US Government sites documenting climate are being shut down because the data contradicts the politically-motivated lie that climate change is not happening!

It is very important that other countries take the data leadership role that the US regime is now destroying, because otherwise no-one will have warning when their corals are about to bleach or die.

We can only hope that the European Union, Japan, and China take up the responsibility of real time HotSpot mapping needed to provide alerts.

If there is no database documenting coral death from heat stroke, Governments will continue to falsely say that 2 degrees C further warming is “acceptable”, they will continue to sentence coral reef ecosystems to death, and billions of people living along low lying coasts to become desperate migrants, so many that no walls will be high enough.

Below is the latest Pacific HotSpot map. In case it is the very last one that we will ever see it is important to realize that a large area of the South Pacific from the Great Barrier Reef, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga is warming rapidly and now is at or just below bleaching thresholds, although of course it will take about a month at present conditions for it to be generally noticeable, sooner if it continues to warm up, as normal at the very start of the hot season.


The current rate of warming is greatest in the GBR, bleaching temperatures have been reached unusually early in the season, and the hot season in Australia has not even started yet!

Barring miraculous cooling, there may be little coral left in the GBR later this year.

Ray Hayes and I have always pointed out that it is extreme events that cause bleaching, not mean changes, and the model based predictions of bleaching, which are based on mean rates of change, which say that bleaching might be a problem in the GBR in another 50 years, have proven falsely optimistic yet again.

When lies trump truth, the new dark ages begin.

East Quogue Civic Association Meeting To Discuss ‘The Hills’ Turns To Screaming Match

Bahamas, Cervino, Goreau, GCRA, phosphorous , nitrogen,  Great Guana Cay,  Discovery Land,
Dr. James Cervino

By Amanda Bernocco

Accusations, denials, gag orders and shouting—all were part of Saturday’s East Quogue Civic Association meeting.

The CAC gathering was originally scheduled so that New York City-based marine scientist Dr. James M. Cervino could share his own study’s conclusions: that nitrogen and phosphorous from a luxury golf course resort built in the Bahamas a decade earlier by Discovery Land Company, the same firm looking to build a similar development in East Quogue, has damaged a nearby reef. Saturday’s meeting took a turn toward the tense when supporters of the local project showed up to defend the developer.

As part of his hour-long presentation, Dr. Cervino shared a photograph of the coral reef that he said was taken near Discovery Land’s Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club in the Bahamas—a complex that features 125 homes, 240 estate lots, and an 18-hole golf course on 585 acres located on the island of Great Guana Cay—before ground was broken on the project. The reef in the photo was brightly colored and did not show any evident signs of damage.

Then Dr. Cervino showed a second picture of the same reef that he said was taken after the development and golf course were built; the reef in the photograph was covered in what appeared to be a layer of fuzz.

“You don’t need to be a scientist to determine what is happening here,” Dr. Cervino said while working the slide machine, adding that the fuzz in the second photo means that the reef is diseased.

“I knew it was going to happen,” he said, referring to damage to the coral reef, while explaining his interest in the Discovery Land project. “So I said, ‘Let me get to the crime scene before the crime.’”

Mark Hissey, vice president for Arizona-based Discovery Land, which is now seeking a special change of zone from the Southampton Town Board in order to build a similar 118-home luxury resort featuring an 18-hole golf course on nearly 600 acres in East Quogue, attended Saturday’s meeting, held inside the hamlet’s elementary school. He maintained that Dr. Cervino’s presentation was skewed, adding that his company’s development—particularly, the golf course—is not responsible for the damage to the nearby coral reef.

“Frankly, it was filled with inaccuracies and distortions,” Mr. Hissey said of Dr. Cervino’s presentation.

Dr. Cervino defended his research, noting that other scientists—including Dr. Thomas Goreau, president of Global Coral Reef Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to growing, protecting and managing coral reefs, and Brian Lapointe, principal investigator and research professor at Florida Atlantic University—support his allegations.

Dr. Goreau and Dr. Lapointe did not attend Saturday’s meeting. But Dr. Goreau wrote a letter that was read aloud during Saturday’s meeting, which attracted about 100 people, in which he pointed out that he was wrongly listed as a key contact on Discovery Land’s environmental impact statement for the Baker’s Bay golf course—a mistake later acknowledged by Mr. Hissey.

“My name was used without my permission or knowledge, which I totally reject,” Dr. Goreau wrote in his statement. “I have studied the Discovery Land Company on-site for 10 years, and I would like to comment on my reports.”

He went on to explain how the coral reef in Guana Cay was tested before Baker’s Bay was built, and that the testing continued in the years after construction began. Like Dr. Cervino, Dr. Goreau said the health of the coral reef severely declined after the golf course was built.

Ron Kass of East Quogue, who opposes Discovery Land’s plan for his hometown, also shared an email at Saturday’s meeting that he said was written by Dr. Kathleen Sealey, a professor from the University of Miami who served on Discovery Land’s Environmental Assessment and Environmental Management Team from 2004 until 2007, when her contract ended, according to Mr. Hissey.

In her email, which was read by Marissa Bridge of East Quogue, Dr. Sealey said that Discovery Land did not follow her plans or recommendations.

“As a Bahamian citizen (with dual U.S. citizenship), I am even more embarrassed that the government of the Bahamas did not enforce the Heads of Agreement and the original environmental management plan,” Dr. Sealey wrote. “In my opinion, [Discovery Land Company] did not act in good faith on their agreements, and actively tried to subvert the monitoring protocols and government site visits.

“I am deeply saddened that [Baker’s Bay] turned out to be so destructive to the island of Guana Cay,” she continued. “This is not the way the project started in 2004.”

After emailing Mr. Kass, Dr. Sealey received a letter from Robert K. Adams, partner at Graham Thompson, a law office in the Bahamas that is representing Discovery Land in its Baker’s Bay project. In the letter. Mr. Adams states that Dr. Sealey’s email to Mr. Kass made “serious defamatory allegations against Discovery in connection with” the Baker’s Bay development.

The letter demanded that Dr. Sealey, and the University of Miami, stop publishing or republishing letters about the developer without Discovery Land’s prior review and approval. Mr. Adams also demanded a public apology from Dr. Sealey and also wants her to pay the developer damages and legal fees.

East Quogue Civic Association President Al Algieri, who organized Saturday’s meeting, then stood up and announced that Dr. Sealey could not offer additional information due to the letter from Mr. Adams, a copy of which was provided to The Press. “The truth is out—but you can’t hear it,” Mr. Algieri said.

This week, Mr. Hissey said that Dr. Sealey had, in fact, complied with the developer’s demands and both retracted her comments and issued a public apology to Discovery Land.

During Saturday’s meeting, Mr. Kass and several other attendees asked Dr. Livingston Marshall, senior vice president of environmental community affairs at Baker’s Bay, who showed up with other project supporters, why his company is threatening a scientist who is critical of their project.

Dr. Marshall said that Dr. Sealey was never threatened, but he said he could understand “her being terrified, because it was a very, very serious matter, which I explained to her. That it was a serious matter.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Hissey said he was disappointed to hear an allegation that Dr. Sealey was threatened. “I think Ron Kass’s accusation toward Dr. Marshall—I think it was completely out of order,” he said. “Dr. Marshall never threatened Dr. Sealey. And for him to make comments like that in public is absolutely shameful.”

Saturday’s meeting briefly turned into a shouting match when supporters of Discovery Land’s East Quogue project, dubbed “The Hills at Southampton,” entered the elementary school, some wearing shirts featuring the words “The Hills.” At that point, several attendees, including Mr. Kass, started asking the Discovery Land representatives questions about the company’s resort in the Bahamas—namely, if the golf course at Baker’s Bay played a role in damaging the coral reef.

“My answer to what you say is, ‘No,’” Dr. Marshall said.

His response prompted several minutes of shouting as attendees fought to be heard over each other. The exchanges spurred Mr. Algieri to grab the microphone and announce that officials representing Discovery Land were not welcome at his meeting.

“It’s obvious that Discovery Land, that had a breakfast this morning, has sent over a number of people, not to ask questions but to make statements that may not be true,” Mr. Algieri said. “Everyone can speak, but if you came to make a statement because you work or have some association with Discovery Land, you are in the wrong place.”

At 9 a.m.—about an hour before the CAC meeting began—Discovery Land served breakfast and held an informational meeting about its East Quogue project at the New Moon Cafe on Main Street, about a half mile away from the elementary school. Discovery Land’s meeting was originally scheduled for 10 a.m.—the exact same time as the civic’s meeting—but several days before the event the developer ended up pushing up the start time of its meeting by an hour.

In addition to blaming the golf course for damaging the reef, Dr. Cervino said he believes that harmful red and brown algae now appearing in the water near the Baker’s Bay golf course can be traced back to the nitrogen coming from the golf course that is located “a football’s throw away” from the pollution he has observed.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Dr. Cervino said. “No scientist can debate this. Add nitrogen into the water and this is what you get.”

Read original article here…


T. Goreau comments on Bahamas golf course impacts to Town Board of Southampton, NY

February 22 2016

To: Jay Schneiderman, Southampton Town Supervisor and the Town Board
From: Dr. Thomas J. Goreau, President, GCRA
Re: Discovery Land golf course environmental impacts

Dear Mr. Schneiderman and the Southampton Town Board, Nelson, Pope, & Voorhis, LLC, in their submission to the Southampton Town Board (paid for by the Discovery Land Company LLC), listed me as an expert “key contact” on the environmental impacts of the DLC golf course developments on Guana Cay, Bahamas, and on its relevance to their proposed project at East Quogue in Southampton.

Although they used my name without my knowledge or consent, I have studied the DLC Bahamas site for 10 years, and would like to comment on their report.

In the early 1970s I helped create the Benthic Ecology Laboratory at Yale University to study long term changes to bottom-dwelling biodiversity in Long Island Sound, and our team’s work found that the entire area had been severely degraded since it had first been studied in the early 1950s. While my own personal work on restoration of degraded Long Island marine ecosystems (oyster reef and salt marshes) has been limited to the opposite end of the island, in Queens, my father founded the SUNY at Stony Brook Marine Science Program, and I have long been familiar with the work of researchers there, in particular that of the late Professor Larry Slobodkin on scientifically-sound community management of coastal resources in eastern Long Island.

Besides the work of Stony Brook researchers in Long Island, there is a vast scientific literature on estuarine coastal ecosystems in ecosystems very similar to the eastern Long Island, done for many decades at Narragansett Bay (RI), and Cape Cod (MA). This research clearly shows that these ecosystems are primarily threatened by excessive land based sources of nutrient pollution. Excessive nutrient inputs from fertilizers and sewage cause harmful algal blooms that overwhelm and kill sea grasses and shellfish beds, and damage coastal fisheries. The primary need in coastal estuary management is to greatly reduce nutrient inputs, not to increase them, as a golf course inevitably would.

With regard to Bakers Bay, the coral reefs near where the golf courses were built were assessed independently at different times prior to the start of construction by three different coral reef researchers with decades of worldwide experience, Dr. Michael Risk, Dr. James Cervino, and myself. All three of us found that the coral reefs were in exceptionally good condition compared to other sites in the region, and specifically none of us were able to find evidence of coral diseases or harmful algae blooms. The algae that were found on the reef before construction were all species typical of low nutrient concentrations, and were not indicative of pollution. Based on their own personal experience, all three experts independently predicted that if the golf course, marina, hotel, and villas were built, nutrient input to the reef would become excessive, causing coral diseases, harmful algae blooms, and loss of live coral.

It should be noted that the baseline scientific assessment done by the University of Miami ended before construction began, and was not continued as DLC had promised, nor have the data from DLC’s own paid consultant’s monitoring ever been released to the public, as promised. Furthermore these water quality studies did not include the nutrients that specifically cause harmful algae growth, only simple measurements like temperature and salinity that have little relevance.

Soon after the land had been bulldozed clear of vegetation, the mega-yacht marina dredged out of the mangrove forests, the sediment and soil washed around and under the silt curtains into the sea grass and reefs had settled, and the golf course seeded and fertilized, local divers began to report unprecedented appearance of coral diseases and harmful algae blooms on the reef.

Dr. James Cervino and I confirmed their observations and have followed the changes since then. Coral diseases, which had been absent before the DLC development, began to spread and kill corals in the summer, but stopped in the winter season, only to resume the following year when the water warmed up. The mortality has progressively killed about a quarter of the corals over this period, particularly the large coral heads that build the reef framework, and shows no sign of disappearing. Blooms of algae indicative of high levels of nutrients (what we call “end of the sewage pipe indicators” because that is where they are most commonly found) began to appear on the reef and overgrow, smother, and kill corals. We have hundreds of photographs documenting this sad degradation. Coral diseases and harmful algae blooms were not found in coral reefs far away from the development, either up-current or down-current, the effects appear to be worst nearest the DLC development, so there is no other obvious cause.

Harmful algae blooms are well known to marine biologists to be caused by excessive land-based sources of nitrogen and phosphorus, the two elements that limit algae growth in the ocean due to their scarcity. DLC claims that the algae were naturally caused by hurricanes is the opposite of the truth, hurricanes remove the excessive algae due to the heavy force of breaking waves, and it takes some time for them to grow back unless the site is heavily enriched with nitrogen and phosphorus from sewage, fertilizer, or agricultural wastes (the last is not present at Bakers Bay).

To determine whether nutrients specifically coming from the DLC development were the cause of these changes, or if they were due to nutrients transported from populated areas further away, we have made four years of measurements of the nitrogen and phosphorus contents of algae at sites all around the island, and measured the ratio of nitrogen isotopes in the algae, which are diagnostic of different kinds of nitrogen sources. We found that algae nearest to the DLC golf course / marina / villas / hotel development have consistently the highest levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, and distinctively different nitrogen isotope ratios that are typical of the type of fertilizer being used by Bakers Bay, while algae found on other parts of the island have ratios that are typical of natural nitrogen sources (from decomposition of vegetation on land) and not of sewage pollution. It is therefore clear that the source of the nutrients causing the problem comes from the DLC site, and is not transported from other places as DLC and NPV claim.

Our data have been presented at the Abaco Science Conference and at the Bahamas Natural History Conference, and the data will be published in the scientific literature as the first clear proof ever obtained of the negative impacts of golf course developments on coral reefs. It is astonishing that this is the first such direct evidence, because every competent coral reef researcher would say that building a golf course next to a reef would inevitably cause algae problems, but to our surprise we found that we were the first ever to directly document these effects, only because they had never actually been looked for before!

Our study was done pro-bono because DLC’s paid consultants failed to evaluate the coral reef health or assess the impacts of nutrient inputs. In fact, out of the hundreds of golf courses built directly overlooking coral reefs, not one ever had a scientifically-sound environmental impact assessment that evaluated nutrient impacts, and none ever assessed coral reef health BEFORE development, and then re-assessed it again afterwards to compare the differences, with the sole exception of our work at Bakers Bay. None of the hundreds of environmental impact assessments done by hired consultants for golf course developers ever measured or evaluated the impacts of nutrients, the key factor known to cause algae blooms, on local marine ecosystems. They simply asserted that no harm could possibly result, without any direct studies. I made extensive searches of the literature for such data and was unable to find any.

DLC has built at least two other huge golf courses at locations where their fertilizer runoff drains directly onto coral reefs, the Makena Golf Course Resort on Maui, and the Kuki’o Golf Course Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. In both cases these areas had some of the best coral reefs left on those islands. Coral reefs at both sites are now severely degraded, overgrown with weedy algae as the result of land-based nutrient inputs. No serious study of the nutrient impacts on the algae or the coral reef was done in either case, but they are likely worse than Bakers Bay because these are high wet islands with much greater groundwater and surface water runoff into the sea (Guana Cay is a dry and low island so there are no rivers and only a shallow groundwater layer).

I am therefore confident that our findings at DLC’s Bakers Bay Golf Course Resort on Guana Cay, that algae blooms and coral disease had not been present before construction, and began to have a severe impact right afterwards, could have been found at any one of these hundreds of other golf courses had people ever bothered to look for them. That our study was the first to find what was obvious is an appalling indictment of the fact that EIA’s paid for by developers systematically tell the client what they want to hear and avoid scientifically sound assessment of local ecosystems.

While the character of the marine ecosystems at East Quogue, and their sensitivity to nutrients, are different than at Bakers Bay, our study has clearly relevant lessons for Southampton. It is impossible to heavily fertilize a golf course near the coast without nutrients building up in the groundwater and flowing into the ocean, even with the efforts that DLC made at Bakers Bay to slope many of the greens inland and to place liners under the turf. Claims that this can be done at East Quogue, or that they can actually “clean up the groundwater”, appear to be PR hype, not scientifically sound. Instead these new nutrient sources can be expected to fuel weedy algae growth that will further damage seagrass and shellfish in Southampton waters.

In summary, the scientific claims made in the NPV report are entirely false. The rest of the report appears to have been plagiarized word for word from previous DLC public relations material, and also seems to have little relationship to reality. They do not augur well for the protection of Southampton’s sensitive marine ecosystems if the East Quogue development is permitted.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance

Electrical Stimulation Greatly Increases Settlement, Growth, Survival, and Stress Resistance of Marine Organisms

Thomas J. Goreau
Global Coral Reef Alliance, Cambridge, USA Email:
Received 23 May 2014; revised 26 June 2014; accepted 5 July 2014
Copyright © 2014 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).

Increasing stress from global warming, sea level rise, acidification, sedimentation, pollution, and unsustainable practices have degraded the most critical coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, oyster reefs, and salt marshes. Conventional restoration methods work only under perfect condi- tions, but fail nearly completely when the water becomes too hot or water quality deteriorates. New methods are needed to greatly increase settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to envi- ronmental stress of keystone marine organisms in order to maintain critical coastal ecosystem functions including shore protection, fisheries, and biodiversity. Electrolysis methods have been applied to marine ecosystem restoration since 1976, with spectacular results (Figures 1(a)-(c)). This paper provides the first overall review of the data. Low-voltage direct current trickle charges are found to increase the settlement of corals 25.86 times higher than uncharged control sites, to increase the mean growth rates of reef-building corals, soft corals, oysters, and salt marsh grass— an average of 3.17 times faster than controls (ranging from 2 to 10 times depending on species and conditions), and to increase the survival of electrically charged marine organisms—an aver- age of 3.47 times greater than controls, with the biggest increases under the most severe envi- ronmental stresses. These results are caused by the fundamental biophysical stimulation of natu- ral biochemical energy production pathways, used by all organisms, provided by electrical stimu- lation under the right conditions. This paper reviews for the first time all published results from properly designed, installed, and maintained projects, and contrasts them with those that do not meet these criteria.

Electrical Stimulation Greatly Increases Settlement, Growth, Survival, and Stress Resistance of Marine Organisms

Brief overview of Biorock Technology Applications

revised: July 10 2014

Biorock® Technology:
Cost-effective solutions to major marine resource management problems including construction and repair, shore protection, ecological restoration, sustainable aquaculture, and climate change adaptation

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance


BIOROCK® technology is a innovative technology that uses safe, very low-voltage, electrical “trickle” charges to grow and repair marine structures at any scale and to rapidly grow or restore vibrant marine ecosystems.

The BIOROCK® process was originally invented by the late architect Professor Wolf Hilbertz to produce natural building materials in the sea (also known as Seacrete, Seament, and Mineral Accretion), and developed by him and biogeochemist Dr. Tom Goreau to restore degraded marine ecosystems, fisheries, and beaches.

BIOROCK® provides greater benefits, faster results, and lower costs than any other alternative to solve a wide range of crucial marine management problems: