Caribbean Coral Reefs used to be made up of fields of coral

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  1. Avatar Maureen McConnell says:

    I’m so glad to see these photos. i snorkeled these reefs in the 1970s, and have a hard time describing them to divers today. i was in both the florida reef tract and Jamaica. The top photo looks just like what I remember from Florida. The elkhorn coral was in thickets or forests that ran along the reef crest as far as you could see.Acres of it. Like a very wide hedgerow growing by the side of a road in the english countryside. the picture must be from high tide. you had to be careful of the tides, because as the tide went out, the tops of the corals would surface, and you could get stuck, even as a snorkeler, like being trapped in a maze. sometimes you barely escaped by filling your lungs, sucking in your stomach and barely floating over the razor sharp tops. The waves would break on these coral tops if it was rough with waves and swell, so you could only snorkel in this zone if it was fairly calm. The elkhorn coral separated the fore reef from the back side of the reef. and the fish were nestled in all the shelves and crooks and holes provided by the elk horns! You had to remember where you crossed in order to get back if the tide ebbed. when the tide was up, fish fluttered above the reef like birds above a forest canopy. A passing shadow or bigger fish or a snorkeler would make them drop into the reef fronds as birds do with a passing hawk. The view up to the surface glittered with these movements like wind through autumn leaves.

    I didnt see plate like coral as in the second photo. i didnt dive that deep, though I was certified. Not enough money!

    The third photo reminds me of what i saw in Jamaica. There was a fringing reef that you could swim to, you didnt need a boat. Access through the reef would be afforded where there was a freshwater stream or an outfall pipe. That would make a break in the reef. There I saw more staghorn and elkhorn together like in the picture. The elkhorn grew closer to the surface, with the staghorn fringing it. you had to search for eels and different fish and look out for urchin spines sticking out from the coral.

    im so grateful to my parents and professors for taking me to these places. I was SCUBA certified in 1968 and will keep diving as long as i can. but though i can return to those places, I can never return to those reefs. Im a diver from the Holocene, revisiting in the Anthropocene. They are the stuff of dreams, lost in shifting baselines.

    I just wanted to tell you.

    Maureen McConnell
    Inverness FL

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