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.
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.”
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.
Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
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.
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:
The Economist – Turning oil rigs into reefs saves money and marine life. Yet many greens oppose it. Jun 14th 2014 | SANTA BARBARA WHEN an offshore well stops producing oil, what should be done with the rig? One option is to haul it ashore, break it up and recycle it. This is expensive. For a big, deep-water oil or gas platform, it can cost $200m. Just hiring a derrick barge massive enough to do the job can cost $700,000 a day. But there is an alternative: simply leave most of the structure where it is. That is what you would expect a greedy oil firm to do: despoil the ocean just to save a lousy few million dollars. The surprise is, the cheap option may actually be greener.
For a start, it takes a lot of energy to move a rig. The ships that would be needed to shift California’s largest one would emit 29,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide, by one estimate. And moving a rig disturbs the organisms that have attached themselves to its underside, or jacket. Far better, some say, to turn old rigs into coral reefs.
“Reefing” typically involves bringing a platform’s above-water parts ashore and cropping the lower parts to leave at least 26m of clearance: deep enough for ships to pass over, yet shallow enough for photosynthesis to nourish organisms on its upper reaches (see picture). Oil-rig reefs may shelter and feed up to eight tonnes of fish. In 2009 Shell moved a jacket in the Gulf of Mexico ten kilometres (six miles) away. The fish followed.
More than 490 platforms in American waters have become reefs in the past three decades. The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement urges states to issue reefing permits. State coffers gain: oil firms typically hand over half the money they save by reefing.
Those savings vary greatly. Small platforms in shallow waters can often be removed for $10m, but sometimes for as little as $1m, according to DecomWorld, a consultancy. But for states with lots of offshore oil rigs, the windfalls soon add up. Mississippi pocketed an average of $625,000 for each of the 12 permits it has issued, according to Melissa Scallan of the state’s Department of Marine Resources. Louisiana’s take has averaged $270,000 per reefing—and the state has seen 336 of them, says Mike McDonough of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Currently, less than a tenth of America’s old oil and gas platforms are reefed. Sometimes the reasons for this are practical. For example, platforms may be removed if waiting for a permit means weathering another hurricane season (in 2005 150 defunct platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were toppled by winds and waves). Operators typically favour reefing but it is not always economical or allowed, says David Welch of Stone Energy Corporation. The firm has only reefed 12 of the 60 Gulf of Mexico platforms it has decommissioned.
That share is likely to grow. Within five years oil firms will be reefing one offshore rig in four, predicts Quenton Dokken of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group. Gulf states, particularly Louisiana and Texas, are making “a big push” to streamline the permitting process, he says.
Far bigger savings are possible in the deep waters off California. Four years ago the Golden State passed a law allowing reefing. Operators are loth to estimate costs publicly, but the Tulane University Energy Institute reckons that reefing the state’s 27 platforms could save $2 billion. A platform or two could be retired as early as next year, though rising oil prices may mean they keep pumping longer.
The California Ocean Science Trust, a research group that has advised lawmakers, thinks that platforms increase marine life and should not all be removed. Skyli McAfee, the group’s director, describes this conclusion as “a big fat duh”. Studies by Milton Love, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, support it. Oil platforms serve as “excellent nursery grounds” that boost fish populations, he says. The bocaccio, a rockfish whose numbers are worrying fishing authorities, is one big beneficiary.
Yet the odds of preserving most oil-rig reefs look bleak. Public opposition is robust. Not one platform off California has been reefed. Activists quote the findings of scientists such as James Cowan, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University, who studied isotopes, tissue caloric densities and the stomach contents of creatures from both natural and artificial reefs and concluded that the latter generate no extra biomass. The Environmental Defence Centre in Santa Barbara, a group that files anti-development lawsuits, advocates the complete removal of oil platforms. Linda Krop, its chief counsel, says that abandoned structures might damage anchors, rob natural reefs of fish and even leach poisons. She does, however, acknowledge the environmental damage associated with complete removal.
When reefs cause grief
Greenpeace, a pressure group, makes a different argument. John Hocevar, its head of ocean campaigns, concedes that in some locations reefed platforms, if non-toxic, may increase marine life. But they should be banned anyway, he says, because they save the oil firms money and therefore encourage them to drill more.
The debate is likely to intensify. In the Gulf of Mexico some 400 platforms are now being decommissioned each year. Divers and many fishermen want more to be reefed; shrimpers complain that reefs prevent them from dragging nets across parts of the ocean floor. In California operators must decide quickly if they wish to turn redundant rigs into reefs. Until 2017 firms can keep 45% of the savings. After that the figure falls to 35% until 2023; then it drops to just 20%.
For now, the evidence suggests that reefing is a rare policy. It is both eco-friendly and pays for itself.
To: Eric P. Summa, Chief, Environmental Branch, Planning and Policy Division, US Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
From: Thomas J. Goreau PhD, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
Re: Finding of No Significant Harm for Broward Segment II Beach Project and failure to require an Environmental Impact Statement
The US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) issued on August May 14 2014 a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the placement of sand on Broward County Segment II, and stated that this project “will have no significant impact on the quality of the human environment”, that it “will not jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species of adversely impact any designated “critical habitat”” and therefore “does not require an Environmental Impact Statement”.
The first two claims are entirely incorrect, and therefore the failure to require a full environmental impact assessment amounts to dereliction of ACE’s responsibility to the public.
The coral reefs of the hard ground ridge closest to the beach from Lauderdale-By-The-Sea (LBTS) to the Port Everglades channel have the largest area and highest live coral cover of any coral reefs now remaining in Florida, and the only ones that can be swum to from shore.
These reefs have spectacular forests of endangered and threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) and huge ancient colonies of pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus), star coral (Montastrea annularis), great star coral (Montastrea cavernosa), and more than a dozen additional reef building coral species.
The best reef is on the ridge closest to the beach, with up to around 40% live coral cover, almost certainly the largest area of coral remaining in Florida. This reef and was entirely unknown to the scientific community until it was first described by T. J. Goreau & D. Clark, 2001, Reef Protection in Broward County, Florida, Global Coral Reef Alliance White Paper:
This fundamental study is not cited. The reason the reef was unknown to Florida reef scientists and coral reef monitoring programs until then was because they dived from boats, and dived only on the reef ridges further from the beach, which average only around 1% live coral cover. Nevertheless the reef was well known to shore divers because it was closest to shore. This area is where the reefs come closest to shore, and are therefore most vulnerable to being buried by sand and damaged by turbidity from fill dumped on the beaches.
Most importantly the coral reef area nearest to the beach is overwhelmingly dominated by the endangered staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, which is THE MOST SEDIMENT SENSITIVE CARIBBEAN CORAL SPECIES. No discussion is made of the abundance of this coral or it’s extreme sensitivity to sediments in this document!
The stretch of beach from LBTS to Port Everglades is the only remaining nearshore coral reef habitat in Southeast Florida because it is the only stretch of shore where sand has not been dumped on the beaches. In all other parts of SE Florida the nearshore reefs were killed when they were damaged by dredged sand dumped on the beaches, and no prior baseline studies were ever done in those areas. Only the oldest divers now remember the magnificent reefs that were killed. The reef adjacent to Segment II is the last remaining nearshore reef in SE Florida.
The claim by ACE that there will be no damage to the adjacent endangered and threatened species habitats is based on the claim that the sand will not move from the beach and bury the adjacent hardground. This is based on mathematical models that “show” that the sand will not move beyond an “equilibrium toe of fill”, but this result is due to faulty mathematical assumptions in models that consider average conditions, but do not include hurricanes or winter storms. The fact is that in every other place where sand was dumped on the beach the sand quickly buried the nearshore hardground and killed the corals, as the old divers can tell them.
There are many erroneous statements regarding coral reefs in this document. Specifically some of the most egregious are:
1. Once again the claim is made (page 75) that there will be no sediment movement beyond the Equilibrium Toe Of Fill. This is an artificial line that has no natural basis in reality whatsoever, being purely the artifact of a totally inadequate mathematical model that does not describe reality at all, because this model represents average conditions and does not include hurricanes or winter storms, which are consistently observed to bury offshore hardgrounds next to beach dredge-fill dumping (“renourishment”) projects. I have personally observed this on Broward Segment III and Broward Segment I, and USACE promised that no dredge-fill dumping would be allowed on Segment II unless the environmental impact assessments of Segments III and I showed no hardground burial. Why has this promise been ignored and why was the burial of hardground communities in those areas not documented in the EA and FONSI? The amount of sand dumped on the beach is well known, and most of it was immediately eroded away, even before the dumping was finished. The beach profiles before, during, and after should have been documented. Why were they not used to calculate the mass balance of the sand dumped, that which remained, and that which was eroded away to adjacent habitats?
2. The irresponsible claim (page 83) that sediment will cause no harm to staghorn coral is totally false (see above), and the claim that dumping sand will cause more erosion that will uncover more previously buried hardground is reductio ad absurdum.
3. The claim (page 103) that this project does not violate E.O. 13089 is clearly false because of 2 above.
4. The alleged “mitigation” is a costly joke, because the laboratories involved and the methods they use simply won’t work in the medium or long term.
5. The best coral reef restoration project in Florida, the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Biorock project, which has around 40% live coral cover, is directly threatened by the proposed Segment II beach dredge-fill dumping project. That is to say at a time when corals are under severe threat, efforts made to restore them may be destroyed by this project.
In effect ACE, by accepting this grossly inadequate EA, has buried its head in the sand by denying the impacts this sand will have in burying the immediately adjacent areas of the best populations of threatened and endangered coral reef species left in Florida. This is a serious dereliction of their public responsibility in an age of environmental awareness, and a violation of E.O 13089.
We cannot allow the last good nearshore reefs in SE Florida to be killed like all the rest! We call on the Army Corp of Engineers to revoke this irresponsible “Finding Of No Significant Impact” and failure to require a full Environmental Impact Statement.
Sea level rise continues to destroy last good coral reefs on Majuro for landfill, eliminating their Shore Protection:
Please sign Dean Jacobson’s petition against the destruction of the last good coral reefs on an island being flooded by the sea. Click HERE…
Dean Jacobson was arrested for documenting the destruction of the reef, and requesting that an environmental assessment be carried out. He was then fired from his job as Professor of Biology at the Coral of the Marshall Islands and officially deported. At time of posting he is packing up his research materials and possessions prior to be expelled from the Marshall Islands.