Mediterranean Coral Reef

Even Doom & Gloom has a romantic, esthetic angle, as the Rolling Stones reminded us (once again), in the song by that title. Coral reef in the Mediterranean will be pretty. Until July 2014, I thought that would take another 50 years. To my amazement, I found otherwise.

I was swimming in an area I know well. I don’t swim on the surface, that’s too bourgeois and destructive of what one is trying to achieve when visiting the sea. I was baffled by the sea floor. I could not recognize it. It was weird: it was full of arches (!), mushrooms, grottos… Some structures a meter high, or across. I could not figure out what that meant. Did the rising sea erode the rocks?

But the rocks in the area are made a solid orange granite. And how could the sea erode rocks ten meters below the surface?

Plage De L’Escalet Crushed By Rising Sea

Plage De L’Escalet Crushed By Rising Sea

Because, yes, the sea is rising. This beach above was 60 meters across, 50 years ago. Now, in some parts, it’s only 5 meters. Waves are crashing into tree roots. As I said, this is a rocky shore, it has no telluric activity, it is not subsiding. So, when rocks get submerged, it’s because the sea rose.

In their gilded palaces, our great leaders, basking into their oligarchic medium, receive the news from scientists who know their careers depend upon telling their masters what they want to hear. And scientists are way down on the totem pole, as the collapse of American research under University of Chicago Law professor Obama shows (the University of Chicago, fief of Milton Freidman, always taught that things human are best left to private enterprise… meaning the destruction of non-immediately financially profitable research; plutocratic law has been evolved accordingly).

American research is collapsing (affecting research worldwide, as it used to be a third of it, or so), meanwhile American banking is thriving, applauded by consciously liberal Paul Krugman. But of this, another day.

Scientist speak of a reassuring sea rise of only 4 millimeters a year. Average. But in Bangla Desh, precise measurements of high tides just showed the rise is now 17 millimeters, a year.

(OK, the scientists have to say, it’s probably the fault of levees, precisely erected to compensate for sea rise, etc. They have to say that, or their masters would be too unhappy. One does not want the masters too unhappy: they can cut entire fields of study, to satisfy the great god of “Fiscal Responsibility”, aka Austerity.)

On the beach pictured above, the sea level has gone up at least 30 centimeters. Maybe two feet. The old beach is still there, with all its wonderful fine white sand, three feet below.

It’s eerie.

So here I was, contemplating small, but spectacular arches, holes and mushrooms of stones below, as if I were flying over a submarine version of Arches National Park. I grabbed the yellow rock, full of holes. It was sharp. As a climber I recognized immediately limestone. Coral limestone, on which I climbed many times, while religiously communing with my apish roots.

Except this coral was not fossil, lifted out of a Jurassic sea, thousands of meters in the sky by immense tectonic forces. It was alive, covered with mini flowers. It reminded me of diving off Kailua, Hawai’i. It was coral, coral reef!

In some places, one could see patches up to a meter or more of coral clinging to the solid granite below. Off that French coast, apparently unbeknownst to all, in a few years, thousands of tons of coral appeared.

One unique specimen, hidden below an overhang, was 50 centimeter across, and looked a bit like a gorgon (sea fan), except it was not a sea fan, but something solid that I have seen in the tropical seas (I am looking for its name).

There you have it.

Some changes from global warming affecting the Mediterranean are official (barracudas, invading tropical algae). Up to this month, if someone had presented me with the possibility of coral reef on the French Riviera, I would have laughed cynically, and pointed out that, when it appears, 50 years from now, it may convince climate deniers.

Well, as far as the Mediterranean sea is concerned, the 50 years are over in a flash. Coral reef is now growing, in Southern France.

Where exactly? Well, on the same peninsula where Sea Turtles started to reproduce again recently.

Dire warnings about the biosphere do not just serve probable truth, but also may well mitigate catastrophe. Canadian, Russian, and even American leaders, reading this, may well scoff: after all they own giant real estate up north, and seeing it melt may serve them, or their successors, well.

Indeed there are positive aspects to the incoming Jurassic climate: agriculture in Siberia, Greenland and Antarctica. The biosphere is by far the largest system upon which human beings have an impact.

The Human Effect led to mass extinctions in the last million years. Homo made the Earth into a pleasant garden for himself. Homo destroyed his closest competitors first, a million years ago or so, most other Hominidae and primates, such as giant apes and giant baboons. Those who, like Rousseau the philosopher, accused civilization, were rather stupid. The Douanier Rousseau had it more right.

Now the biosphere is in full mass extinction mode. Thus it is adapting with tremendous speed.

I am not a trained marine biologist, a specialist of coral. But I dove around, and kept manipulating and contemplating. It seemed that several species of different coral had appeared. Some yellow, some pink, some white, all with different textures. I even found one starting to grow like hard white little trees, just as proverbial Polynesian coral. (The precious indigenous Mediterranean coral is pink or red, and has been exploited to near extinction; it used to color the sand pink in the area.)

The force exerted by humanity on the biosphere keeps on augmenting. But the biosphere has enormous inertia. This means that the changes we see now are little relative to those which are already coming… those which are already baked in. For example, West Antarctica will melt. It’s just a matter of time.

So some changes will be positive, and they will come with more force than people expect.

Not to lose sight of the essential. From a hill above the sea, hundreds of pleasure boats can be observed, some of them, gigantic yachts for multibillionaires.

A sort of armada appears: maybe 50 boats, some large yachts, others fast “cigars”, all together, with fifty long white wakes. Two huge yachts dominate the armada. One can see their helicopter decks. Several helicopters are accompanying the fleet. Suddenly the two gigantic pleasure ships turn around, as if the lesser boats did not exist.

The plutocrat in command had changed his mind, catching his minions by surprise. Probably part of his power trip. Confusion ensued among the lesser kind. All scrambled to follow the master. Wakes crisscrossed, collisions barely avoided. The magnificent power parade reforms in minutes, and headed back to Cannes and Nice, there to impress fellow satanic entities, heads of states, and other servants.

Such are the creatures molding world public opinion, by their control of generalized media. All politicians and other members of the world’s oligarchy are anxious to please them, so that they can get financial crumbs.

All are to conclude the CO2 crisis is in full control. Just a matter of extracting more fossil fuels, and everything will be OK. So frack and burn, baby, frack and burn. No more gloom and doom. Or we will shoot the messenger, and burn the message.

What is sure out of control are the magnificent forests of the Southern Alps. The combination of higher CO2, and massive precipitation makes for very green, fat trees.

What a funky little universe.

Patrice Ayme’

Note: a) This is not deep sea coral reef (discovered in the Mediterranean by Pola in 1891, Le Danois in 1948; see also). Clearly the shallow sea coral species I discovered need the temperature is high. It was not found in places where the water is clearly colder. Even if that was only 100 meters away (because of cold sweet water springs). The part where the coral deposition was most massive is a uniquely warm stretch, only 500 meters long. And it definitively was not there last time I patrolled it, three years ago.

b) Red Coral (Corrallium Rubrium) experienced mass mortality in 1999, apparently caused by high temperatures in North West Mediterranean. That happened above 30 meter depth. So the apparition of the corals I saw is inversely related to Red Coral.

c) The definition of coral is not strict. What’s sure is that there were giant coral reefs in the Mediterranean 60 million years ago (when it was part of the Tethys Sea). And that if it builds a reef, that’s it.

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15 Responses to “Mediterranean Coral Reef”

  1. richard reinhofer Says:

    We need to quickly reduce our population or mother nature is going to do it for us, but she’ll do it slower.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Richard! The problem is that the human population is going up, and down, in all the wrong places. Africa, presently one billion, will soon be two billion. In Niger, about the world’s poorest country, living off French uranium extraction, each woman has eight children.

      When Algeria became “independent”, in 1962, it had nine million people (including several millions who wanted to flee ASAP, and could not). Now it has 40 millions, living off the gas and oil dole (which won’t last forever; then they will try to flee more desperately than ever). Just an example I know well.

      Egypt is not doing much better, and the prospects look worse, especially now that the 100 million people upstream are erecting dams.


  2. Paul Handover Says:

    This morning it was announced that the West Antarctica Ice Sheet has now passed the point where mankind can do anything to prevent it sliding into the ocean. Goodbye Florida. It was great knowing you.


  3. Ken Says:

    I live at sea level in eastern Aussie. Have to wait for her parents(who don’t believe is climate change,sea levels rising peak oil) to croak.but where we live if the ocean rises only 6 inches the house and land is worthless.I hate it, but she wants to wait till her parents are sorted.Priorities right?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Ken: Typically humanity does not expect fast sea rise. But it has happened in the past. The Black Sea flooded in a few years. Sumer cities went under water overnight. OK, these were special cases. But the climate is highly non linear.
      Some scientists say the rise averaged only 3mm/year over the last 50 years. Others are now talking about 5mm/year now. But, as I said, precise measurements of 17mm/year just came out (OK, Bangladesh, one of the countries where sea level rise is impacting severely already).

      Personally, if I owned anything at an altitude less than ten feet above sea level, I would sell it ASAP. The total lack of control in CO2 production means tremendous effects extremely soon.

      If her parents are “sorted” within five years, it will work, because the system has so much inertia. It’s immensely painful to live one’s home, the fruit of one’s life. It’s like the ultimate failure. My grandparents died shortly after having to live Algeria. My grandmother actually stopped eating.

      Maybe the way to do it is to make it so that it is an improvement in their condition…


  4. gmax Says:

    Totally awesome, as Andrej wanna say. Strange nobody noticed. Reassuring about the acidification.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The strangest thing is that I observed several types of coral never seen before, in what are pretty shallow waters. One would expect others to have noticed.

      The building reef is hidden in plain sight. However, this is along a continent, so, where sweet water is seeping, the temperature is MUCH lower (by at least 5 degrees Celsius). Another point is that people tend to gather on sand beaches, where no coral can grow, from lower temps and lack of bedrock.


  5. Dominique Deux Says:

    Fairly fascinating.

    Did you gather samples for identification?

    Also I’d be cautious about giving a location to unauthorized types or the general public. Coral fisheries worldwide are the Triads’ turf. And those guys are not interested in saving the environment. Their record on isolated coral communities is pretty bleak.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique: Yes, I did not give the coordinates.

      Gathering samples would have required me to break coral (I broke just a small piece by hand, but I know no marine biologist, so I left it). There was indeed a magnificent specimen, about 50 centimeters across, a highly collectable item, hidden from divers below that overhang.

      All this is within a national park boundary, but notoriously unprotected…

      Speaking of lack of protection, same thing in the Alps, BTW, I went through a large piece of the Ecrins National Parc, and, in just one run counted two huge flocks of hundreds of sheep, complete with shepherds and giant anti-wolf dogs (patous). Patous are notorious for feeding off wildlife. I also met unattended, unattached large shepherd dogs watching isolated chalets shepherds use as base (still miles within the Parc). I also met no less than 6 herds of cows, between the flocks of sheep, complete with electrified fences, and mooing bulls. I have never seen it so bad. There is no money for research, but plenty for shepherds.

      What we need is to reintroduce cave lions to hunt the shepherds.(In truth shepherds are employed by richer people.)


  6. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to RSN.]
    Although I spent two years campaigning for Obama (because he is a personal friend), I got trashed on all progressive fora, when I discovered, even before he became president, that he had sold his soul to the Devil.

    Extinguishing the biosphere is a crisis much greater than the one fascism caused in the 1930s. The madness of criminals such as Hitler will become just a detail of history, relative to what we are risking now (nota bene: my family was on the victim side of the Holocaust).

    So I write in my site, in spite of a small readership. Doing the right thing ought to be the first thing.

    By accident, and to my surprise, I found, while diving, coral reef building up fast in the Mediterranean.

    While this is not in the MSM, does not surprise me. Under Obama, and sitting next, I saw how viciously the smell of power drives most people, even splitting families asunder.

    Putting the biosphere, and even the oxygen generating system under attack, basically transforming the entire atmosphere into a giant gas chamber, is an insanity that goes to the bottom of the darkest side of the human condition.

    To mitigate that disaster will require to change all our philosophy, and even all our psychology, let alone our knowledge base. It will require to become hyper critical in many ways, and to enjoy that activity.

    That will be hard work, and it will require hard thoughts, hard moods, and hard sites.


  7. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Scientific American censored and removed a comment I made on Coral in the Mediterranean. They claimed I “promoted my blog”, by doing so. I sent them the following.]

    I was “not promoting my blog”, I was referring to a scientific observation I made. You will be unable to find it anywhere else, because that is a genuine first. Five new species of shallow coral in the Mediterranean. Thus, I consider that you exerted censorship of a scientific observation.

    The scientific observation I made, differently from your outfit, is not for profit. I know this well, as I do contribute to your commercial outfit with a financial contribution, and have done so for decades. By contrast, my scientific observation is in no way connected to any financial, or personal gain.

    Thus I will suggest that you reconsider your position.


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