The Injustice of Blowing-Up Turtles, for Convenience

Reposted from Jennifer Marohasy’s Blog

June 8, 2021 By jennifer

It is World Ocean Day, an opportunity to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef and also artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is an injustice that turtles are blown-up in the Gulf of Mexico because American oil companies choose a particular and inappropriate method for undertaking surveys before setting explosives. If they did underwater, rather than aerial surveys, it would be difficult to ever justify blowing-up biological diverse artificial reefs that are old spent oil rigs. It is also an injustice when aerial surveys are undertaken to falsely conclude the Great Barrier Reef is more than 60 percent bleached, when underwater surveys give a completely different and true assessments. It is also an injustice that the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) had a perfectly good methodology for coring corals under-the-water and calculating an accurate overall average coral growth rates for the Great Barrier Reef, but then they changed the methodology and when the new methodology was shown to be flawed by Peter Ridd they did nothing about it. Last week I was told a new and better overall coral growth rate will soon be published for the Great Barrier Reef – but the methodology is not, and will not, be available for scrutiny, especially not to Peter Ridd who was sacked by James Cook University for suggesting their needs to be some checking – some quality assurance. Let me explain in more detail, including about the turtles.

Late last year I went to sea for a week with Shaun Frichette. I’m a biologist, and I was searching for 400-year-old corals that can be 10-metres wide and have annual growth rings, like tree rings, they are in the genus Porites. Large and very old Porites corals used to be cored to calculate an overall coral growth rate for the Great Barrier Reef. Shaun came on the trip at short notice, wanting to know first-hand the state of the Great Barrier Reef; he had heard it was dying. He was working as a volunteer at a turtle rehabilitation centre on Fitzroy Island, which is just to the south-east of Cairns and part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Ten years ago, he worked as a deep-sea diver in the Gulf of Mexico.

He got into deep sea diving in his late twenties because he had developed a passion for environmental issues especially marine conservation. At the time, he figured if an oil pipe was leaking on the sea floor it took a diver to go down and fix it, so he trained as a commercial diver and went to Louisiana. He did lots of diving on the oil rigs as well as working topside on saturation systems and diver tending. His goal at the time was to become a saturation diver and live life ‘like an astronaut’ except on the sea floor. To achieve that goal, Shaun knew he would have to put in years of hard work proving himself in the industry, but he never realized that the industry would meanwhile prove to care so little for life under-the-sea. For example, the oil companies, trained him to cut through steel with torches that burn at over 10 thousand degrees so that spent oil rigs could be dismantled safely – but instead they sent him down to the bottom of the ocean to plant explosives because it was faster to decommission a rig that way.

Shaun remembers:

The oil companies would send ‘turtle girls’ up in a helicopter to scout dolphins and sea turtles and if they gave the ‘all clear’ charges would go off and we would return to location. The problem was those oil rig platforms become like coral reefs after years of being submerged and the sea life around them is so biodiverse and special.

The turtle girls could only see 5 meters underwater on a good day so what I witnessed was horrific. Turtles cut in half, wounded dolphins and thousands of floating fish stunned from the explosions.

Something changed inside of me after seeing that and it’s altered my life path ever since.

Shaun quit and soon found himself back in California, in the High Sierra, at Lake Tahoe where he first learnt to Scuba dive. He bought into a dive business doing boat salvage and dock repairs during the summer months – while volunteering for marine conservation projects during the winter months when the lake froze over. The bushfires happened in Australia during the 2019-2020 ‘off season’ and after hearing news reports, Shaun volunteered as a fire fighter and came to Australia. Covid hit, and so he stayed-on. First helping with wildlife rescue, before travelling north to see the Great Barrier Reef.

I meet Shaun late November 2020 at a café in Cairns. It was the day before we set-off with underwater photographer Stuart Ireland on a hurriedly arranged week at sea. The plan was to look for, and film, a particular type of coral known as Porites with annual growth rings, like tree rings, so they are potentially a time capsule of the ocean’s climate history. We wanted to find the oldest and largest of these corals that AIMS used to core, all the way to Myrmidon reef where there was once an extensive coral coring program.

Some of these Porites corals are huge. Just last year I measured a healthy Porites coral seven metres in width and three metres high, at an inshore reef called Pixie Reef just 40 kilometres to the northeast of Cairns. This is a reef that is classified in the peer-reviewed literature as one of the very worst bleached (more than 60%), yet I’ve struggled to find any bleaching at all at that reef. I’ve also seen Porites large and healthy, in fact dozens of them, in Bowen Harbour where all the corals are meant to be dead from global warming and ocean acidification and poor water quality – yet they are very much alive, or were, when I was there in April and then August 2019. Just three weeks ago at Lady Elliot Island to the east of Bundaberg I found a Porites that was 4 metres in height and so healthy. I asked the local divers if it has ever bleached and I was told by an old guy who has worked on the island for thirty years that it once went blue in colour after a cold snap, that was a few years ago, but that it has never bleached.

Shaun swimming over massive Porites at the Great Barrier Reef in November 2020.

We are repeatedly told, most recently by the Australian Academy of Science, that most (somewhere between 50 and 99%) of the hard corals of the Great Barrier Reef are now dead yet this is not my experience as someone who snorkels and dives. I have seen very large and dead Porites, but not often. Perhaps as often as a I see a dead tree in my favourite national parks.

One of my frustrations with the official reporting on the health of the Great Barrier Reef is that much of it is based on aerial surveys. Not by turtle-girls, but by a university professor. Like the aerial surveys in the Gulf of Mexico, the surveys might be best described as convenient. They are certainly not scientific; despite being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The fly-past aerial surveys give the impression they are quantitative and claim that the entire Great Barrier Reef is more than 60% bleached, but the only numbers actually recorded by Professor Terry Hughes looking out the plane window are rankings of 1, 2, 3 or 4 based on his impression of the state of the corals from that high altitude.

At 150-metres altitude he might be just able to just make-out the very large Porites at Pixie Reef on a good day. I sent my drone up and took photographs at 40 and 120-metres altitude of that monster coral that measures 7 metres in width on 25th November 2020. It appeared white and possibly bleached from the air. Yet under the water and up-close it was beige in colour, with healthy zooxanthellae. There was absolutely no bleaching. I gave the coral a score of D3 on the University of Queensland Coral Watch Health Chart (www.coralwatch.org). But who else actually goes to check?

To lament the dying Great Barrier Reef is politically correct, to question this is to risk being labelled a climate change contrarian. Yet my experience over 50 years of diving at the Great Barrier Reef – since January 2020 I have had the opportunity to SCUBA dive almost the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef from the Ribbon Reefs to Lady Elliot Island including dozens of reefs in-between – is that they are still exceptionally diverse and beautiful. The 2016 bleaching event was reportedly the most severe on record, particularly in the northern section including at the Ribbons Reefs, yet most of the reefs appear to be fully recovered.

When university professor Peter Ridd explained the extent of the misrepresentation back in 2015 in an email to a News Ltd journalist, specifically that there are still healthy live corals in Bowen Harbour, while calling out a colleague claiming otherwise, he was reprimanded by James Cook University. To publicly demand some quality assurance of claims the reef is dead and dying is professional suicide. The professor’s dismissal from James Cook University in 2018 – essentially on the basis that he broke the enterprise bargaining agreement by being un-collegial – has been appealed all the way to the High Court of Australia, with that hearing scheduled for 23rd June 2021. The Peter Ridd case is focused on issues of freedom of speech. Not because Peter does not care about the truth, but because the only way we might be able to get to the truth about the health of the Great Barrier Reef is if he can put his evidence – he needs to first have the opportunity to be heard beyond the academic journals that are behind paywalls.

Back in 2013 Peter Ridd published an analysis of how the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) has changed the method they use for coring the Porites corals to calculate an average growth rate for the Great Barrier Reef. The method has essentially been changed for convenience. The data then showed a drop after 1990 that is conveniently consistent with the narrative that the Great Barrier Reef is dying – never mind that the new method is flawed.

Coral growth rate (calcification rate) on the GBR for the 20th century.Left Chart: Coral growth rates calculated by AIMS showing drastic reduction after 1990 and prediction (red dot) for 2020. Right Chart: Reanalysed to account for measurement errors and sampling problems by Peter Ridd. Green dot is the alternative prediction for 2020.
Note: There is no data of the GBR-average growth rate since 2005.

In the 2013 research article in Marine Geology, Peter Ridd explains that firstly there are instrumental errors with the measurements of the Porites annual growth rings undertaken in the early 2000s. This is especially the case for the last layer at the surface of the coral, which was often measured as being much smaller than the reality. This created an apparent drop in the average calcification for the corals that were collected in the early 2000s – falsely implying a recent calcification (growth rate) drop. Secondly, an ‘age effect’ was not acknowledged, specifically the coring program in 2003, 2004 and 2005 focused on smaller colonies, many just a few tens of centimetres in diameter. In summary, while coring in the 1980s focused on large old corals and their growth bands were accurately measured, coring in the early 2000s focused on small young corals and when some of the measurements were checked they were found to be in error.

Yet the two datasets (from the 1980s and early 2000s) were spliced together, and wholly unjustifiable assumptions were implicitly made, but not stated – in particular that there is no age effect on coral growth. Coral growth rates are a potential measure of reef health, but the methodology needs to be consistent. When the data to 2005 is filtered for only the largest and oldest Porites corals, it shows an increase in calcification rates (coral growth rates).

I have made a short film about all of this: showing the Porites, how they used to be cored with archival footage, and also Peter Ridd is interviewed explaining the inconsistencies in the methodology. Towards the end of the film Peter Ridd is actually interviewed by turtle-man Shaun Frichette, and Shaun shows what we found during that week at sea last November all the way to Myrmidon reef in search of the oldest and largest Porites. Myrmidon is nearly 200 kms to the north north-east of Townsville. It is a detached coral reef exposed to the full force of the Pacific Ocean and to continual upwellings from the deep.

In the film we lament that the large old corals at Myrmidon are no longer cored by AIMS to know the climate history of this coral reef on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Last Thursday (3 June 2021), I received a phone call from an AIMS scientist, who told me that he still cores some of the old and healthy Porites. He claimed my new film is potentially misrepresenting the AIMS coring program.

I had been trying to talk with someone at AIMS about their coring program for months. In an email sent to AIMS director Paul Hardisty on 10 November 2020, Peter Ridd asked permission for me to film their largest and oldest coral cores and interview Janice Lough for my film – Peter Ridd began his career at AIMS in the 1980s, and was once a colleague of Janice, which was back when many of these cores were first collected. Paul Hardisty never replied to that email.

The scientist who phoned me last Thursday morning explained AIMS will soon be publishing a new overall coral growth rate for the Great Barrier Reef, and that the coring program has not stopped. I was appreciative of the phone call and asked to see the data since 2005 because in my new short film, Peter Ridd explains the coring program to calculate an average coral growth rate for the Great Barrier Reef stopped in 2005 – and that the data to this point is flawed.

In response to this request, I was sent a research paper about coring young Porites corals that was published in 2014, based on coral coring data collected in 2003, 2004 and 2005. I replied to the scientist that it was now 2021! Where is the data for the last 16 years – and how does the new data address the methodological issues detailed by Peter Ridd in his paper published in Marine Geology back in 2013?

What I found most interesting about the technical paper sent to me last Thursday afternoon, is that it laments coral bleaching as something that can cause a ‘growth hiatus’ in the large old Porites, but nowhere does it suggest coral bleaching actually kills these old corals. Also, the paper claims bleaching is a new phenomenon while presenting no data for the period before 1980. Yet AIMS has coral cores that date back to the 1600s, potentially providing 400 years of data including on the incidence of coral bleaching.

Deceit when it comes to issues of great public interest is not new. We have the choice as individuals to close our minds to new information that doesn’t necessarily accord with established narratives, or alternatively reflect on information that at a first glance appear anomalous. We are no better than those who choose to do aerial surveys knowing full well that turtles live under-the-sea, if we only hear and read that which accords with preexisting narratives that keep us conveniently connected to the status quo while misunderstanding the true state of the Great Barrier Reef. If we really care about something, we should want to know everything about it.

Today, on World Ocean Day, my short film starring both Peter Ridd and also Shaun Frichette, will premiere at The Majestic Theatre, in Pomona, not far from where I live. I am so grateful to the ninety people who have already bought their tickets. The bar opens at 2pm, the screening will be at 3pm.

Last Thursday I did extend an invitation to the AIMS scientist who phoned me, I suggested that he come to this screening. I explained that it would be possible to hold a questions and answers session after the screening, that we could even invite some local media so AIMS could clearly explain and hopefully show the last 16 years of data. I was told that this would not be possible.

On 10 June 2021, the IPA will premiere ‘Finding Porites’ on YouTube and also Facebook.

Jennifer Marohasy and Shaun Frichette onboard Kiama during the filming of ‘Finding Porites’

***
The feature image, at the very top of this blog post, shows Jennifer Marohasy with a turtle at the Great Barrier Reef in April 2006.

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Ron Long
June 7, 2021 6:11 pm

Let’s see some of the documentation Shaun has accumulated, because him saying dolphins and turtles were mutilated by reckless oil companies in a hurry to decommission old platforms with explosives, without safeguards, does not ring true to me.

DonM
Reply to  Ron Long
June 7, 2021 7:35 pm

I don’t care about the documentation.

Creating artificial reef(s) where none were before, even with some short term collateral damage, is a big plus.

Those that expect pluses all the way through, in any process, will be disappointed. If they complain, they should be ignored when it is other peoples money that is used and end product a plus. In this case the end justifies the means.

Redge
Reply to  DonM
June 7, 2021 11:16 pm

Creating artificial reef(s) where none were before, even with some short term collateral damage, is a big plus.

I don’t think that is what Shaun was saying.

My understanding is the oil rigs were built, the coral followed and became well established, and then the oil rigs were blown up which destroyed the corals and led to the demise of the turtles, dolphins, and fish.

LdB
Reply to  Redge
June 8, 2021 1:16 am

You return it back to how it was you get criticized
You leave it how it was you get criticized.

So the solution is obvious get both sets of critics to meet there and then blow it up.

DonM
Reply to  LdB
June 8, 2021 1:17 pm

I don’t think they return it back to how it was.

The stuff left will remain a growing medium and shelter for the stuff that the turtles and the dolphins like to ingest.

DonM
Reply to  Redge
June 8, 2021 1:12 pm

HI Redge,

He may be saying that, and he may well even think that, but in ‘blowing it up’, it does not disappear. It is not completely disintegrated. It goes below the surface and (depending on depth) re-establishes an area where turtles and dolphins can come; to an area that allows them to easier bite & eat (I couldn’t say k*ll) their food.

Last edited 1 month ago by DonM
Owen
Reply to  DonM
June 10, 2021 5:20 am

If what they say is true why not just leave the decommissioned rig? Like an old jetty or pier it probably doesn’t do any harm. I guess it would have to be marked on nautical maps so that it would not cause shipwrecks

Analitik
Reply to  Ron Long
June 7, 2021 8:34 pm

You only have to look at ships deliberately sunk to create artificial reefs to know what Shaun says is true. They teem with aquatic life in very short order after being sunk due to the protection provided and an abandoned oil rig will provide the same opportunities.

Duane
Reply to  Analitik
June 8, 2021 5:29 am

There are huge differences between artificial reefs and offshore oil rigs.

Purposely sunk vessels for the purpose of serving as artificial reefs go through a careful review process to ensure that the vessels will not be obstacles to navigation, and that the structures have been thoroughly cleaned of any pollutants including oils, greases, fuel, asbestos, PCBs, and a whole host of other pollutants that can leak or leach out into the seawater.

An oil rig by definition will be an obstacle to navigation because it penetrates the entire water column and projects above the surface. Also, it is practically impossible to clean such a rig of all potential pollutants when underwater. Oil rigs must be removed when their duty is done.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Duane
June 8, 2021 6:43 am

First of all, you need to distinguish the “rig” (derrick, draw works, mud pumps, shakers, etc.) and the “topsides” (living quarters, production equipment, cranes, etc.), all of which are removed from the “platform” itself before demolition. The last item is comprised predominantly of steel and concrete and is probably “cleaner” than any ship that has ever been sunk. As for the actual wells, each well bore is hydrostatically killed (if not already dead after years of production), followed by “squeezing” off any perforations in the casing with cement and then sealed with a couple hundred feet of cement and a “packer”. As for being obstacles to navigation, obviously ships made their way around the platforms while they were producing, so that shouldn’t be a big deal when the platforms are demolished, particularly in deep water.

Duane
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 8, 2021 7:38 am

Dude – it is impossible to steam clean and decontaminate anything in or on the underwater portion of the rig.

Don’t be an idiot – the above water portion of an oil rig is both marked on all updated sea charts and is easily visible, both optically and on radar. Remove that, and leave something behind underwater and that IS an obstacle to navigation to not only surface ships but submarines, and it will not show up on radar or be visible optically. Only an active sonar can pick up an oil rig underwater. Submarines don’t operate active sonas.

You’re being stubbornly idiotic. The oil rigs ARE demolished and removed – fact. They would make terrible permanent artificial reefs, and would never ever pass environmental muster or from the USCF or USACOE.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Duane
June 8, 2021 9:39 am

Duane,

Everything you said can be classified as either an incorrect, irrelevant or an ad hominem statement. I should have recalled your virulent offerings on recent posts re. the GHE before posting. My bad.

lower case fred
Reply to  Duane
June 9, 2021 7:46 am

Rigs are removed because they deteriorate, collapse, and become dangerous if left in place. Steel and concrete have a limited life in salt water.

lower case fred
Reply to  lower case fred
June 9, 2021 8:08 am

That was not intended for Duane.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 8, 2021 2:12 pm

Frank from NoVA –
Pretty good description, except that structure of a typical Gulf Of Mexico (GOM) platform consists of a “jacket” that is pinned to the seafloor by driven piles and extends to around +15 feet elevation, and one or more “deck” sections that extend from the jacket to above the wave zone at about +50 feet elevation and carry the topsides.
When GOM platforms are abandoned, decks and topsides are removed completely. Shallow water jackets are completely removed. In deeper locations, companies negotiate with state officials to:
a) Remove completely and bring to shore for scrapping or reuse.
b) Cut piling and topple in place as an artificial reef
c) Cut piling, move and sink in a new location as an artificial reef
d) Remove jacket down to elevation -85 feet to eliminate navigation risk

Regarding navigation, platforms carry mandatory Aids To Navigation (ATN) consisting of both lights and horns. When abandoned, ATNs must be maintained until the structures are removed.

DonM
Reply to  Paul Johnson
June 8, 2021 2:46 pm

b & c may be using explosives for the cut.

I have no idea regarding the use of explosives for item a.

Item d generally doesn’t use explosives.

Last edited 1 month ago by DonM
Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Paul Johnson
June 8, 2021 3:04 pm

Thanks Paul,

Very informative and civil. Hopefully, none of Duane’s submarines runs into the artificial reef.

PCman999
Reply to  Ron Long
June 7, 2021 9:12 pm

Good comment, maybe the down-voters lack reading comprehension skills. You called BS on the reckless decommissioning, and said nothing about the rigs as coral reefs. Still it’s a shame that the rigs bottoms weren’t left in place. The sea creatures would have loved it, the bottom parts wouldn’t have been worth salvaging, and the oil companies would have had bragging rights, pretty pictures for brochures and advertisements, and could even have gone hat-in-hand to govt looking for subsidies or write-offs for the good conservation work thay had done. Oil companies are just not creative enough these days, not compared to the unicorn dreams from the greens.

Ron Long
Reply to  PCman999
June 8, 2021 3:06 am

Thank you, PCman999, my issue is only with the reckless destruction killing and maiming dolphins and turtles. I have been on several Technical Advisory Committees for companies, and the issue of killing and maiming dolphins and turtles would be a hot-button issue demanding resolution. So, I ask again, where is the documentation? Environmentalists, greenies, concerned citizens are everywhere and they film/record everything, so where is the documentation?

Duane
Reply to  Ron Long
June 8, 2021 7:44 am

So how much disclosure and transparency and unbiased outside technical review did BP provide on Deepwater Horizon before it blew out? I mean, besides none at all.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Duane
June 8, 2021 1:33 pm

Deepwater Horizon was a mobile drilling rig and completely irrelevant to any discussion of fixed platform abandonment.

Duane
Reply to  Ron Long
June 8, 2021 5:35 am

He’s a first person witness. It doesn’t get any better documented than that, other than video footage I suppose, which his employers would naturally expressly prohibit and likely enforce with confidentiality agreements and lawsuits if necessary.

It certainly rings true that explosives kill underwater life.

Water is incompressible. Any explosion underwater wreaks utter havoc with any sea life nearby.

That is the reason why, in World War Two, if a naval destroyer or destroyer escort was attacked and was sinking, one of the most important acts the officers and crew attend to was to disable all of the depth charges. Because if even a single depth charge were to detonate as the ship goes down (they’re triggered at set depths, typically somewhere between 100 feet and 300 feet in those days), every single survivor in the water would be instantly killed and dismembered and disemboweled.

Ron Long
Reply to  Ron Long
June 8, 2021 11:32 am

I’m calling BS on Shaun’s comments. Since 1987 NOAA/Fisheries has maintained a [“Platform Removal Observer Program” , which has monitored 2,800 decommissioning oil platform structure removals. See: http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov. His comments sound like anti-capitalism nonsense. For sure my questioning Shaun has nothing to do with Jennifer Marohasy who appears to be doing good work, especially as regards supporting Peter Ridd.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Ron Long
June 8, 2021 7:36 pm

When was Shaun diving in the Gulf of Mexico? There was a pretty infamous incident in the mid-80’s when dozens of dead sea turtles washed ashore in Texas after several small platforms had been removed. It led to a significant tightening of regulations and increased oversight of removal operations.

lower case fred
Reply to  Ron Long
June 9, 2021 7:38 am

It’s not so much that they are “reckless” as that there is no other easy alternative. Cutting up a rig with “torches” is an enormously dangerous task – more from the difficulty of getting it to collapse in a predictable manner and time than in the job of operating a “torch”. Shaun may not be concerned about the dangers, but he does not speak for all (I am not a diver, but I have worked with divers).

We long ago gave up on being able to drive sea life away from explosives before charges were detonated. Years ago someone came up with the idea of setting off a small “warning” charge to drive animals away. Guess what that did. It kills a few close-in small species and is like ringing a dinner bell, attracting predators from all over the place, including birds and dolphins to be killed by the larger demolition charge.

Sending divers down may be marginally more effective than helicopter spotters, but it is no panacea – animals are constantly on the move and you have to get the divers out of the water before you detonate the charges. This is a time consuming task.

There are no easy answers. Understanding and accepting this does not equate to callousness or recklessness.

H. D. Hoese
June 7, 2021 7:01 pm

Poor management does occur and loggerheads do hang around platforms, but don’t recall hearing of such carnage. Bad management does end up in court. My name is on one of the early platform fish papers so I once got a request about concern when platforms were destroyed the poor fish were reported to get disoriented. There were no platforms there in the first place and they are used to moving around. Platforms are the new artificial reefs, companies can’t afford to keep them without production, used to be you could get one free if you could afford upkeep. Am currently reading the first paper concerning fishes successfully using the vertical structure. Pay walled, but the second is not, concludes that there are a lot more snapper there than they (modelers) thought and they are using habitat other than platforms and reefs. Turtles are also a success story, their number increased with the number of platforms. Tell your friend to check these of many studies, researchers took longer than oil platform workers, among others, to find out that there are more fish than the modelers thought. It’s called field work as you guys seem to understand. 

Reeves, D.B., et al. Abundance and Distribution of Reef-Associated Fishes Around Small Oil and Gas Platforms in the Northern Gulf of Mexico’s Hypoxic Zone. Estuaries and Coasts 41, 1835–1847 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-017-0349-4

Stunz, G. W., and 17 other authors 2021. Estimating the Absolute Abundance of Age-2+ Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, NOAA Sea Grant. 439 pages.
https://www.harte.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/GRSC%20Report.pdf

Analitik
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
June 7, 2021 8:36 pm

So you are saying the modelling of a natural system failed? Gosh, when has that ever happened before?

Zig Zag Wanderer
June 7, 2021 7:16 pm

To lament the dying Great Barrier Reef is politically correct, to question this is to risk being labelled a climate change contrarian.

I’m pleased I say that this is not my experience of those who live near the Reef. Most people who actually visit it regularly will tell you that it’s fine.

I always tell potential visitors that it’s the last last chance to see the Reef, until the next last chance, so come quickly, and bring tourist dollars!

Analitik
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
June 7, 2021 8:38 pm

I heard that some tour operators were concerned with falling tourist numbers since the widespread notion was that the GBR was no longer worth visiting. This was pre-CoViD gutting the tourism industry, of course.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Analitik
June 8, 2021 1:04 am

Yes

LdB
Reply to  Analitik
June 8, 2021 1:19 am

Tourism isn’t eco friendly, the reef could do with a lot less tourists.

Drake
Reply to  LdB
June 8, 2021 9:43 am

Tourism is FUN for the tourists, and a way to make a living for those who serve their needs and wants.

Please specify WHY “the reef”, or any reef “could do with a lot less tourists”.

Eco friendly is, by nature, “don’t touch”, “leave nothing behind”, etc. not “don’t go there”.

So, are you one who thinks that disposable income, through being a highly advanced civilization, is the root cause of all evil, eco or otherwise? Just asking.

OweninGA
Reply to  Drake
June 8, 2021 1:41 pm

I don’t know about the GBR, but on some of the Islands in the Pacific, the tourists absolutely destroy the reef tops. Reefs don’t like to be walked on, but fringing reefs get walked on by tourists all the time. When I lived on Guam, the line where the tourists stopped walking about 10 yds from the drop off was desolate on the tourist areas. Over on the wilder side of the island where tourists feared to tread the top reef was vibrant. There was a ridge that was exposed at low tide that I expected dead coral, but it also made me suspect that sea level had been a couple of feet higher in the not too distant past (Medieval Warm Period?) . We lost two or three tourist every season to waves that hit the ridge while they were walking on it.

I also saw tourists in scuba gear hanging onto the reefs instead of hovering near it. They just had no respect for the environment.

Of course the tourists had nothing on the idiot dynamite fishermen! I never came on it, but I didn’t do any dive excursions other than around Guam, but some of the guys I dived with showed pictures of the reef damage those folks did. I never understand people who destroy their futures like that.

Drake
Reply to  OweninGA
June 8, 2021 6:53 pm

Agreed, again eco friendly is “don’t touch”. A lot of people are jerks, on reefs, or dropping gum and/or wrappers while walking down the sidewalk at home. Same people.

Look at the after pictures from the TEA party and other conservative events and occupy wall street and other leftist demonstrations and events.

We know who the NON-ECO group is. The leftists. By their very nature they want you and I, productive members of society, to fund their every desire, and to clean up after them when they are done telling us what to do.

Joel O'Bryan
June 7, 2021 8:48 pm

I’m thinking that when Krakatoa went Ka-blooie 140 (or so) years ago, no one warned the sea life then either. Shit happens.
Chinese drift netting right this second are undoubtedly destroying lots of marine life, like turtles and dolphins. I don’t like it. But then how can I (or any Western power short of nuclear war) stop Chinese fishermen from doing what they’ve always done? Making the world energy poor for land crops and animal protein will only send out more fishermen for protein from fish to feed hungry humans. And Bill Gates and the rest of the climate scammers have no answers on how to stop Chinese fishermen from r a p ing the world’s oceans.

Drake
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 8, 2021 9:59 am

Is it time to “sequester” China then?

Force their “fishing” vessels to follow international law and treaties?

Remove them from the WTO?

Cancel their US bonds and other investments? (Due to they Chinavirus)

Stop all imports?

Remove their bases from all internationally recognized foreign areas of the South China Sea?

All doable.

Just asking.

(As a US nationalist I think the answer to the first five questions is yes, the 6th would lead to war DIRECTLY, so not that yet. but declaring Taiwan at a SEPARATE nation is essential for US international relations, much as declaring Jerusalem the capitol of Israel was, in my opinion. But I don’t own an IPhone so MY phone parts are not all made in China and I am not “invested” in maintaining trade with China.)

Greg
June 7, 2021 9:23 pm

Great arcticle Jennifer. Many thanks to you and Peter Ridd for you efforts to correct the falsification of science and data on GBR. You do the world a service.

John
June 7, 2021 11:11 pm

Many in the oil industry would like to leave the old structures and obsolete pipelines as marine reef and fish support systems

But here in Australia the so called environmentalists yet again have said everything must be removed as it is not natural

As indicated pipelines on baron sandy sea beds are now major eco systems

Don’t blame the O&G industry, blame the Fishermen who don’t want marine snags and blame the environmentalists George Clueless and the David Frontal Lobotomy etc of the world

Removal is environmentally destructive and costs everyone especially the marine residents who now call these structures home

saveenergy
June 8, 2021 12:39 am

When do we get the result of the Peter Ridd heresy trial ???

2hotel9
June 8, 2021 6:39 am

Funny, each of the rig drops I got to see they set off small charges to drive sea life away before the big shoot. Oh well.

lower case fred
Reply to  2hotel9
June 9, 2021 8:17 am

It was learned that the small warning charges killed a few small fish and were like ringing a dinner bell. I have witnessed pelicans (at the time “endangered”) diving into the water as the main charge detonated. Bye-bye pelican.

Bill Rocks
June 8, 2021 11:03 am

JM,

Thanks for the good news about the Great Barrier Reef.

As to the claim that blowing up Gulf of Mexico production platform substructures harms turtles and dolphins, the claim seems like at least a reasonable concern. The USA has multiple powerful agencies to permit and regulate the process. I trust they are doing their job.

ATheoK
June 8, 2021 11:27 am

Sorry Jennifer, the narrative here stinks.

The oil companies would send ‘turtle girls’ up in a helicopter to scout dolphins and sea turtles and if they gave the ‘all clear’ charges would go off and we would return to location. The problem was those oil rig platforms become like coral reefs after years of being submerged and the sea life around them is so biodiverse and special.

The turtle girls could only see 5 meters underwater on a good day so what I witnessed was horrific. Turtles cut in half, wounded dolphins and thousands of floating fish stunned from the explosions.

Something changed inside of me after seeing that and it’s altered my life path ever since.”

The vast majority of the Gulf of Mexico is gin clear blue water.

Only in shallow waters near the Mississippi River, Slidell River or the Rigolets are the waters murky. Even there, river water rides on top of saltier Gulf of Mexico clear blue water.
Water exiting the Rigolets meets up with the water exiting the Slidell River and makes the near shore water murky along the beach into Alabama.
I don’t believe there are many, if any, oil rigs in the waters that close to beaches.

There are multiple Mississippi River exits to the Gulf, the primary ones are Main Pass, North Pass, South Pass and the Southwest Pass.
There are many oil rigs in East Bay and West Bay on both sides of the Southwest Pass that are in murky water. Only the water is quite shallow for GOM waters, twenty feet to sixty feet (5 to 15 meters) deep.
The river channel inside of the Mississippi river’s exit into the Gulf is where there is deep murky water. Only, there are no oil rigs in the various mouths of the Mississippi.

There are oil rigs in shallow water and rigs in deep clear blue Gulf waters.

Turtles cut in half”. Most of the Gulf of Mexico’s sea turtles are Federally and State protected.
Companies and individuals get fined and sometimes prosecuted for harming or killing protected animals.
The way the law works is that companies are supposed to self report harm/death to protected animals. If someone reports an endangered animal’s harm that was not reported is when prosecution rears it’s ugly head with larger fines.

When endangered animals are harmed, the violator must tell the government how they will prevent other harm/deaths in the future. And the company can expect inspectors to periodically check that the promised changes are in effect.

Sea Turtle Observations at Explosive Removals of Energy Structures

The observers are employees of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS). “Turtle girls is not only a sexist diminution, it denigrates employees hired and trained to perform specialist activities.

Then there are the explosives used.
Directional charges are used to cut through pipe and the explosives are supposed to be enough to do the job, not blow the area up.
There is a picture on the “Sea Turtle Observations” paper that shows a narrow spray of water which is likely water contained in the well pipe.

Which indicates that to harm animals as described the animals would have to be immediately on top of the explosive charges when they are fired.

I suspect you might have heard exaggerations in several ways.

I hope these big boys are hard to kill!
June 8, 2021 12:20 pm

“repeatedly told, most recently by the Australian Academy of Science, that most (somewhere between 50 and 99%) of the hard corals of the Great Barrier Reef are now dead yet this is not my experience as someone who snorkels and dives.”

dk_
June 8, 2021 1:19 pm

There may be a tall tale in Jennifer’s blog post that was not at all necessary to the story. Until Shaun on his own names dates, companies, projects, and juridictions that the alleged events happened in, I will assume that he’s a fraud.

Last edited 1 month ago by dk_
WXcycles
June 8, 2021 5:54 pm

$450 million worth of new ‘truth’.

Ardy
June 8, 2021 6:00 pm

I am keen on seeing the outcome of the Peter Ridd case as it impacts so much in Australia.
The GBR was fine when I last dived it and more southern coral such as Solitary islands north of Coffs Harbour in NSW were fine with no exceptional bleaching in 2015.
see this report by divers: https://www.surg.org.au/sites/surg/files/attachments/media20release20surg20coral20health20feb202014.pdf quote from pdf “There has been no evidence of widespread bleaching events in the Solitary Islands Marine Park during the study to date and all common coral families are generally in good condition.”

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