I got a charge from "The Shocking Truth" (March 22, by William Jordan), about electric rays at Naples Reef off Santa Barbara. Naples Reef has much more to offer than electric rays. It supports a rich community of seaweed, finfish and shellfish galore. Therefore, it has been the object of intense multiple use: scientific, educational, recreational and commercial.
But now I fear that the "Old Naples" may succumb to accelerated offshore oil development. Perhaps the greatest threat is the proposed siting of another oil platform about two miles away. My colleagues and I are concerned, for example, that waste muds and cuttings accumulating during construction and drilling will be resuspended by violent wave action and move onshore over Naples later. Thus the reef may be particularly vulnerable during winter and spring storms, just as new crops of plants and animals burst forth.
So, we worry about Naples--and for the fate of electric rays. Even these shocking beasts deserve their place in the precious remnants of our natural coastal environment.
Alfred W. Ebeling
Marine Science Institute
UC Santa Barbara