Saturday, May 7, 2011

Belize Expedition: Shifting Baselines (from Walter)

Belize Expedition, 2011

Bud - I’ve just read your question on the previous blog entry. Let me try to give you what I’ve learned in the few days I’ve been here.

First, the corals I’ve seen are beautiful and I’m not even close to being able to identify their species nor am I capable of making an assessment of their health. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m in a foreign country as everyone else here is speaking a language I don’t know.

Anyway, what I do now know is that coral reefs are healthy when there is diversity in species, they are in abundance and, of course, alive--and you don’t see a lot of disease. In my opinion, I’ve seen very healthy coral here in Belize but the scientists seem to be concerned. Of course I’m seeing it for the first time--and it is beautiful--but those that have been here before have seen a decline in their health. One of the purposes of the work being done here is to determine whether corals around Carrie Bow will benefit from the protected area established just a few years ago. We’ll see. I hope it does.

Did you ever think I’d be answering a question like that? Strange things happen. -Walter

[Note: Dr. Randi Rotjan discussed this issue of shifting baselines in this 2009 post from the Phoenix Islands.]

A healthy Diploria labyrinthiformes brain coral colony with Bluestriped and French grunts. 
(Photo: R. Rotjan)

1 comment:

  1. Off the coast of Kenya 10 years ago, I saw nothing but dead coral, lots of lionfish and a smattering of other fish. I wondered what it had looked like 100-200 years ago!