Brian Skerry responds to a reader question about poaching and Bohar snapper

Reader Shari posted a question for Brian Skerry in the comments section of this post. Here is that question and his response (in blue).

Hi Brian,
I'm glad to see the coral is coming back but surprised that there would be so much bleaching in such a remote and mostly pristine archipelago.

The Phoenix Islands, I have learned, are located right in the middle of the place where El Nino events begin; the genesis of hot water spreading out into the Pacific Ocean. The scientists on this expedition state that the hot water event that occurred in 2002/2003 was the most severe and intense thermal event and longest lasting that has ever been recorded on Earth. So the reefs here were substantially stressed in a way that no other reefs have ever been. And still, they are showing signs of recovery becuase they were healthy prior to the event.

Dr. David Obura measures a new table coral growing amidst fields of dead coral at Kanton Island in the Phoenix Islands (Photo: Brian Skerry).

Do you think the effects of long lining are from before the Islands were protected, or could there still be poaching going on?

There clearly has been a lot of shark fishing here too. Long liners have hit several of these islands hard in recent years, prior to the creation of the Marine Protected Area. So the combination of these things has obviously had a devastating impact. But this place has the resiliency to bounce back and is already doing so. I think this is the important story here. Protecting intact ecosystems is the best way to insure their survival from events that we have little control over.

Gray Reef shark cruises in to check out photographer Brian Skerry during as sunset dive on Nikumaroro Island in the Phoenix Islands. (Photo: Brian Skerry)

And finally where is my good friend the Bohar snapper? They are conspicuously absent from all the photos, an anomaly for the Line Islands! I'm enjoying diving vicariously through the blogs!

Best, Shari S.O.H.

As for your friends, the Bohars ... they are here for sure! I must say that they were far and few between on a few of the islands, but plentiful on others. I sent them your regards!


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