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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

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Deep coral: a future listed species?

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Perhaps due to the passions of recreational snorkelers and divers worldwide, threats to tropical coral receives substantial attention, contributing to Endangered Species Act listing determinations for elkhorn and staghorn coral species.  But another class of coral may soon warrant ESA-listing consideration: "deep sea" or "cold water" coral.  According to a peer-reviewed National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) report, The State of Deep Coral Ecosystems of the United States (2007), "deep coral communities can be hot-spots of biodiversity in the deeper ocean, making them of particular conservation interest."  However, as NMFS also explained, "Currently, no deep-water coral species are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, nor are any presently under consideration for listing,"  
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Ivory bush coral photo from NOAA.

At this time, one species, Oculina varicosa or ivory bush coral -- frequently damaged by rock shrimp and calico scallop trawlers -- is recognized by NMFS as a "Species of concern.”  Although NMFS clearly has concerns regarding status and threats for this deep coral species, NMFS also concluded that "insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the Endangered Species Act.."  See definitions..  Climate change information remained notably uncertain, because, as NMFS explained,  "there have been no studies on the sensitivity of deep corals to CO2-associated ocean acidification."  However, as climate change science reveals ever greater concerns of ocean warming, the threats to deep water coral could increase, and NMFS may soon need to consider the listing of these (and other) biologically significant deep water coral species as threatened or even endangered species.

The implications of global warming for individual species, and the earth's ecosystems, continue to grow; and so, too, does the evidence that the ESA may be ill-designed to handle the predicted environmental changes ahead...