Is the Seafriends web site uninformed opinion?

Because the findings on this web site often run against popular opinion and beliefs, there are people who think it too is based on uninformed opinion. This web site also brings together a vast array of knowledge and thinking from many disciplines in science in order to give you, the reader, a full understanding of what is happening in the natural world around you, and as such it transgresses the boundaries of many scientists' training. Peer review for instance is next to impossible. But those specialised and knowledgable in their subjects, are invited on every page and document to correct mistakes, documented by compelling scientific evidence. This web site prides itself in providing well-researched reliable information that is independent of government policies, United Nations conventions, beliefs, fads, religion, political correctness, green environmentalism, big business, middles-class morality and majority rule. We work hard to keep this a reality, and we can't afford mistakes. This we owe to our children. In this document you can find the correspondence with those who think otherwise. To them the challenge to prove us wrong. Why are we still waiting?
Reader please note that some attackers have in the meantime offered their apologies, and their attacks have been removed from this page.
We are not alone when it comes to organised attack from the scientific community. Look what has happened to Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg, author of the well researched book The Skeptical Environmentalist, because he disagreed on established viewpoints. Read how Scientific American magazine attacked, and sued him for defending himself. The only thing they needed to do is point out where his data was inaccurate, and why. For the Public this affair gives an important message about science and scientists, and it does not look good.
lomborg1.htm: Lomborg's defence against Scientific American's critique, January 2002. (33p) Lomborg's web site with more information.


-- Seafriends home -- Rev 20041029,20041105,20041115,20041119,20060201,20060806,20060926,

A letter from Russ Babcock answered by Floor Anthoni
6 Oct 2003 (arrived 9 Oct):
Dear Floor,

I was amused, but not altogether happy, to see what you have to say in your recent posting to the NZMSS list.  The style of writing and the naivety of some of the ecological interpretations you have made are reminiscent of some of the most outlandish writings of "creation science" advocates.  Do you not care that your musings have made you an object of ridicule among the scientific community (and increasingly among the general public)?

You should, because they only serve to discredit the cause of marine conservation and play into the hands of those who wish to ignore the consequences of continued environmental degradation.  The fact that you continue to do this suggests that notoriety, rather than real concern for the environment, is the real motivation for your actions.

Such speculation aside, I challenge you to scientifically refute any of the work you have chosen to highlight in your web pages. To do this, you will have to take Sam McClatchie's advice, and enroll in some basic ecology papers at University. You will find that the topics that concern you have been the subjects of intensive research for some time. Actually collect some data, display and analyse it, and test some of your ideas; you might begin to get somewhere.  Write up your results in a coherent form and submit them to review by your peers.  If the work passes scrutiny it might even get published.  All of the papers you have placed (often illegally) on your site have been thru this process, which is not something that can yet be said about your ideas.  Your claim that "scientific data is missing" smacks more than a little of hypocrisy.  If you devoted half as much energy to constructive enquiry as you do to your current style of sensational and ill founded exposition I am sure you would achieve much more positive outcomes for the marine environment about which you claim to care so deeply.

Yours etc  Dr. Russ Babcock
10 Oct 2003
Dear Russ,
I knew you would be unhappy with the marine research criticised by me on the Seafriends web site, because much of it relates to the work done by you. I have taken your own work and refuted it on your own findings, with my observations added, which are there for all to see and to refute if possible. You must be aware that as long as you are speculating that the environmental changes you are observing in marine reserves are related to their long-term 'benefit', you lay yourself open to this kind of rebuttal. In your letter you mention environmental degradation, but you don't seem to recognise it in your work.

You (and other scientists) must start by taking each of the points you disagree with and refute them one by one. I will publish this on the net to let people make up their minds. In the end, science does thrive from discussion. I will change what I have written if you are right and I am wrong. It is as simple as that. Every page on this web site asks for scientific input and correction. But don't forget that I too have done my homework and done a lot of studying and research of published scientific fact. Study the references and 'further reading' to satisfy yourself. Also don't underestimate my knowledge of New Zealand's seas.

To say that I have made myself the ridicule among the scientific community, is true particularly with those who profess to be scientists but are not in their way of thinking. What you fail to recognise is that I have also gained a lot of respect from those scientists who care to be challenged. I write about new ideas and pass these on for scientists to investigate. I have many letters of appreciation from overseas scientist.

Your statement that I don't care for the environment but am out to gain notoriety, is hurting. Just look at what I have been through so far in the past 13 years. Can you mention anyone with this amount of commitment for no pay? It is not easy to be the one noting the emperor has no clothes, and having the courage to say so. But I carry on because in the end, we must do the right things for the right reasons at the right time. We owe it to our children.

So, take a positive step and take some time to comment or criticise each of the points on the Seafriends web site that you find is wrong; provide proof; send it to me and I will correct my mistakes. For if you don't, you have said nothing at all. Invite others to do so too.

Regards, Floor Anthoni.
Why are we still waiting?
Reader, please note that Dr Babcock is co-author of the article that Dr Trevor Willis tried to gag and may well have played a role there too. If not, he should have advised Dr Willis against such a reprehensible approach.

What is this exchange of words all about?
Dr Babcock explains the sudden invasion of the barren sea urchins habitat zone by the stalked kelp (Ecklonia radiata) as being caused by long-term protection in marine reserves (red areas on map) [1,2]. His top-down control theory goes like this: along NZ's east coast one finds snapper (a sea bream), and these can crack sea urchins (a grazer). Because fishermen depleted the snapper stocks, they thereby allowed sea urchin numbers to explode, which ate the kelp and caused urchin barrens. In marine reserves where fishing is prohibited, snapper return and once big enough, eat the sea urchins, allowing kelp to return. Kelp good, urchins bad. The return of rocklobsters is also a factor.
However, Dr Babcock conveniently overlooks earlier studies by him, which document the sudden death of the entire kelp forest (1993), followed by sea urchins being poisoned by a dinoflagellate slime (1995 onward). We contend that what he has been observing are all the effects from degradation rather than from top-down control. In fact, he has not proved that his observations were NOT caused by degradation. Other observations and research results also refute his theory. See our extensive rebuttal in conservation/science_exposed.
But the debate is settled quite simply and conclusively by looking at nearby coasts which are not protected, but which have also lost their urchin barrens (yellow areas on map, and more not shown). These scientists have still not looked at these coasts, even though today (2006), the evidence there is overwhelming. This misadventure in science is used politically by our Department of Conservation, and now all NZ school children are learning it as if it were accepted science. How much worse can science become?

[1] Marine reserves demonstrate top-down control of community structure on temperate reefs, Nick T Shears & Russell C Babcock, Springer Verlag May 2002
[2] Shears NT, Babcock R C (2004): Indirect effects of marine reserve protection on New Zealand's rocky coastal marine communities. DOC Science Internal Series DSIS192.

Subject: Discussion of points on seafriends
   Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 17:36:56 +1200
   From: "justin shervell" <>

Hello Floor!
I have just been checking out your website, it makes for interesting reading. I can definately see your point regarding the contamination of the oceans with soil run off but most of the information on your site appears to be just your opinion, with little or no justification let alone referencing for the points that you have provided. It is unfortunate that alot of people will see your site (particulally children) and take it as fact and in the process become misinformed with regard to the oceans and in particular marine reserves.

Obviously you think marine reserves in their current form are flawed but because of our lack of understanding of marine systems the precautionary approach needs to be taken, so in this respect what we have now is alot better than nothing!

I would be interested to know in what area you are qualified?

Thanks for your time, Regards Justin
Dear Justin,
I think you have not quite read in depth what my web site says, and that you run head-on into conclusions. You also forget to mention your own qualifications to support what you are saying.

The vast amount of the Seafriends web site is pure science as it has appeared in books and scientific articles. Most of it is so well established that having references makes no sense, but even so, each chapter is headed by 'further reading' of the references used. People more knowledgeable in their areas of expertise won't need these. Where we venture further into logical extensions of existing knowledge, this is clearly mentioned wherever it occurs - we also wish to challenge present and often lazy thinking. So your argument of opinion does not hold.

For your information, this web site is used by over a dozen universities world-wide, not because it is based on opinion. Furthermore, each page begs those in the profession to find possible errors (for which I am solely responsible) because I aim to provide absolutely reliable and independent information. So far, in over 6 years, it has not been challenged. But the challenge remains there for you. It is no good to write a letter like you did, but to actually point out what is wrong and to provide the evidence to support this. For if you fail to do so, you have not said anything at all. So, go to it. Attack it wherever you can, with supported facts. I welcome that.

When it comes to the science of degradation, I have to rely on my own observations and scientific mind, because little if anything has been done by scientists world-wide. For 15 years I have been trying to get the scientific establishment interested in this very pressing subject. Later this year I will finish the first ever science on this subject, exposing it to the scientific world for rebuttal, including yourself.

You mention the value of our web site to school children who are at present mostly imbued with ideological indoctrination. But wouldn't you agree that schools should let students think independently about all aspects of an issue? Isn't that what education is all about?

Then you mention the precautionary approach because of our lack of understanding of marine systems. A lot of people indeed take refuge in this kind of thinking rather than upgrading their knowledge. They also reason that something is better than nothing, even though that 'something' does not work better than 'nothing', while also being very costly. Don't let yourself get fooled so easily.

So, quoting what so many people have written to me, this web site is the best there is. If not, prove me wrong and I WILL correct it.

I hope you'll rise to the challenge.
We are still waiting whereas it's so easy to prove opinion wrong.

uninformed statements. 29 Oct 2004: Cath Wallace <>
Dear Cath,
On 22 Oct 2004 you wrote to Jim Mikoz: ". . . See you at a meeting or at Makara - and why not recognise how marine reserves help the environment you are so concerned about - not-with-standing Floor Anthoni's ill-informed assertions."

I'm sure that you, as a responsible scientist can back this accusation up with informed facts. If the writings on the Seafriends web site, which are there for all to see, are ill-informed, then it must be so easy to point out where they are wrong. You have now given yourself the task to point out my mistakes with scientific proof or overwhelming evidence to the contrary. For if you fail to do so, a retraction of your accusation, accompanied by an apology is in place.

Your time starts now. We are waiting. Regards,

Re Seafriends web site. 29 October 2004: To Kevin Hackwell <>
Dear Kevin,
Your letter to Tony Blomfield of 3 Aug 2004 has come to me and urges me to reply because it is so typical of the attitude of Forest and Bird. As Conservation Manager for this organisation it is your responsibility to inform yourself AND your members. As I am an F&B member too, I have not seen any such attempt in the F&B literature so far.

You state: "Floor's reasoning amounts to 'things are bad - therefore it's no use doing anything'. This is obviously a load of nonsense." Kevin, think again. What I say is that if not ALL unnatural threats are taken away, then conservation cannot work. This, by the way, is an ecological law. If you take away the rats but leave the cats, land conservation will not work either. This is why our National Parks are of little use to conservation IN THE LONG RUN.

You state: "Floor argues that 'marine reserves do not protect against the sea's foremost threat [landbased pollution] and that they offer no protection against 'hurricanes, oil spills, chemical poisons, global warming, and poisonous plankton blooms' and then uses these as reasons for not having marine reserves. This sort of reasoning doesn't do your case many favours. It's like saying that being a wildlife reserve doesn't protect Little Barrier from hurricanes, global warming or air pollution. - Bleeding obvious but so what? It's a huge leap to say that because it doesn't provide this sort of protection there's no point in trying to save the little spotted kiwi, kokako, kaka, etc which live on Little Barrier." Again Kevin, you seem to miss the point. On Little Barrier we have taken all unnatural threats away [pigs, goats, possums, cats, rats, stoats] and therefore it works - sort of. However, populations still remain too small to be called viable in the long run, when such populations must adapt to changing climate, etc. Likewise, conservation in the sea will work only if we are able to take its foremost threat, landbased pollution, away (and manage fishing sustainably). In the meantime, having more marine reserves is a waste of time and effort. DoC's own monitoring results show that too. Read myths11.

You state: "I was very disappointed reading right through the website and finding it overwhelmingly negative.  Where are the positive, constructive suggestions for how we can support marine conservation and ensure sustainability in the marine environment?"  Unlike F&B we are not in the business of providing sugar-coated poison pills. You too want your doctor to be forthright with the bad news, so have praise and respect for Seafriends. But we go a long step further by providing the necessary science and understanding of what causes the bad news. From here it is but a small step to the solutions. Had you spent more care reading the Seafriends web site, you could have seen the many solutions already mentioned. What's more, with the understanding gained, you could even have found some yourself. Also remember that the Seafriends web site is a private undertaking, entirely funded by myself, and already counting well over 2000 pages and 4000 diagrams and pictures, it is still by no means complete.

The main point is that the Seafriends web site is for all ages a well-researched and reliable source of information which is independent of government policies, United Nations conventions, beliefs, fads, religion, political correctness, green environmentalism, big business, middles-class morality and majority rule. Can you say that of F&B? or DoC? or ECO? or Greenpeace?

By criticising its writings, you have given yourself the task of identifying mistakes on this web site and providing scientific proof to the contrary. If you fail to do so, an apology is expected. We welcome rebuttal as it can only make things better, and we invite all your F&B friends to take part. One day you may even inform your members truthfully.

Your timer is starting now. Tick tick tick. Regards,

Subject: Your comments on my feature
   Date: Thu, 04 Nov 2004 17:43:15 +1300
   From: Dave Hansford <>
[this letter refers to a rebuttal of Hansford's letter in . Read it first]


My attention was drawn to the comments you've published on your website trying to discredit my feature "More fish anyone?" The feature was published in the Barrier Bulletin in April this year, but it was not written expressly for it as you assert. It was published widely around the country.

You're correct on one point; the feature was indeed written under a science transfer programme with the Department of Conservation ­ I was paid by DoC to write it.

My feature was based upon, and supported by, benthic surveys, stock assessments and peer-reviewed scientific literature performed by qualified marine biologists. It also draws on my own observations at Kapiti (Unfortunately, I didn't take a tape measure down with me ­ you seem to have an obsession with size).

I have a tertiary background in biology and ecology, and I have been diving for the last 27 years. I am not a "frontman." I am a freelance environment writer and photographer; neither am I "uniformed" (nor indeed "innocent").

I can supply published literature, peer reviewed naturally, that supports every single statement in my feature. It is not standard editorial style to provide references in newspaper features, but I can certainly do so.

What published science supports your claims Floor?

You're fond of anecdotal and derogatory attempts to dismiss people's research and writing as "myths", and frequently cite "science" in the vaguest terms (which presumably comes your "scientific mind". Remind us of your academic qualifications again, Floor)

But we've yet to see a single peer-reviewed paper from you, nor references to anyone else's which might otherwise lend credibility to what you have to say.

In my feature, I also went to members of the fishing community for their views (did I mention I was once a fisherman myself?). If the work was a piece of "DoC propaganda", why did they leave the fishers' comments in  the story?

This Floor, is called BALANCE. Try it sometime.

I don't know what the rest of the world has done to make you so bitter, but it's a pity you don't invest the amount of energy you put into conspiracy theories, baseless slander and ridicule and use it to do something worthwhile.

I find your relentless efforts to piss on everyone's parade tedious, offensive (not to mention libellous) and baffling from someone that calls themselves a "sea friend."

The sea has enough enemies without friends like you.

Dave Hansford
Writer, Photographer, Cameraman
Origin Natural History Media
P.O. Box 24 150 ; Wellington ; New Zealand
Ph;   +64 4 476 2078; Cell; +64 21 67 4445
E-mail;  ; Check us out at;
5 Nov 2004
Dear Dave,
He who sows nonsense will reap ridicule - your main problem. Sadly, your article was published widely. You are making the main mistake by attacking the messenger rather than the message, and in order to find credibility, you are boasting your ego beyond what you can sustain.
The solution is quite simple. If you are an expert as you say, attack what I am saying with proof to the contrary. Take my whole web site down if you can. And as reward, I will change it, where you are right and I am wrong. So, your timer goes in now, tick, tick, tick.
Regards and good luck,
Floor Anthoni

A UK publisher attempts to gag Seafriends
A New Zealand scientist attempts to gag criticism on his work with the Baited Underwater Video
Subject:  Journal of Applied Ecology
   Date:  Fri, 12 Nov 2004 15:02:29 -0000
   From:  "Wilson Laura" <>
     To:  <>

Dear Mr Floor Anthoni,

By way of introduction my name is Laura Wilson and work at Blackwell Publishing in the Rights dept.

Dr Trevor Willis, one of our authors, has contacted me regarding what he feels is an infringement of both his intellectual and moral rights. The material in question here is a publication entitled Protection of Exploited Fish in Temperate Regions: High Density and Biomass of Snapper Pagrus Auratus (Sparidae) in Northern New Zealand Marine Reserves, by Trevor J Willis, Russel B Millar, Russ C Babcock. This article features in the Journal of Applied Ecology volume 40 issue 2.

From further investigation it appears that material has been lifted from this article and posted on your website, without any due acknowledgements and without prior permission from Blackwell Publishing.

According to our records, we have not granted permission for such usage. If this is not the case and you believe you have received permission
to use the article in this way, please can I ask you to send me a copy of the permission granted (address details below)?

If you do not have permission I will have to ask you to remove this article from your website with immediate effect. In addition to this I do not
think it unreasonable to ask you to post an apology on your website to the authors concerned.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Yours sincerely,
Ms Laura Wilson.

Laura Wilson
Permissions Co-ordinator
Blackwell Publishing
PO Box 805
9600 Garsington Road
Oxford OX4 2ZG
United Kingdom
Fax: 00 44 1865 471150
Permission requests can now be sent to
14 Nov 2004: Seafriends' reply to <>

Dear Ms Wilson,
Thank you for your e-mail of 12 November which raises some critical issues. Let me explain.

The first impression it creates is that of a Big League player running to his mother for comfort. Dr Willis plays in the Big League of Science but cries when his work is criticised, even though critique is so essential to the good functioning of Science. Must we therefore conclude that Dr Willis is not a capable scientist? Dr Willis should welcome peer review and criticism.

You claim that the work copied from your journal was not referenced or acknowledged, but this is incorrect as our readers must be able to find the entire original article with due reference, from our web site. By the way, is this article freely accessible to anyone? Most likely not.

You claim that no permission was sought from your journal, whereas the entire tone of your letter proves that such permission would not have been granted for the issuing of critique. It would have been an empty gesture as you would have used it as a gagging instrument.

Your letter  infers that even had I requested permission that it would have been denied. I find myself wondering at the reasons why you are reluctant to have other interested parties offering opinion on Dr Willis' work. Surely at worst, my words amount to the equivalent of a book review? Reviews and criticism are the rule in the world of science.

I venture going one step further that, if we raised the issue in a letter to your editor, it would not have been published for reasons unrelated to the issues themselves. May I also remind you that the information copied is in the public domain, and that such knowledge is not owned but shared. Perhaps unimportant to you but not left unnoticed by the New Zealand public, is that this research has been paid for by NZ taxpayers, which gives the NZ public and myself an unalienable right to its findings. This is particularly true of politically contentious issues such as Marine Reserves. In the end, scientists are accountable to the Public, rather than their Publishers.

The New Zealand law is very protective of whistleblowers like ourselves who may divulge sensitive information in the interest of the Nation, the Public, Security, Justice or Fairness. We may remind you that the Seafriends organisation is entirely independent, open, righteous and truthful and its information is free to all people in the world. We value our total independence and the freedom of speech highly and will vigorously pursue any steps necessary for its continuation, strengthened by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers". How much of this can be said of your journal?

It also seems to me that you have been somewhat remiss for not verifying the issues concerned, which may not seem important to you, but they are to the New Zealand Public. At the centre of our concerns stands Dr Willis' technique for counting fish with the Baited Underwater Video (BUV), a technique which is at odds with scientific principles for measuring apparatus. As such it is a dubious measuring technique which renders all results obtained with it, equally dubious. This should have been picked up by your Editorial Board and the chain of Peer Review. Must we therefore conclude that there is something awfully awry in this area?

You are perhaps unaware that the BUV has been used uncritically and extensively to 'prove' that marine reserves are working, serving a political objective. For Dr Willis it would have been better to allay our concerns in a scientific manner rather than using back-door gagging. May I inform you that every page on the Seafriends web site asks scientists to do so? Dr Willis has had ample time to respond, and this option is still open to him and any other scientist for that matter.

As you can see, your organisation may need to do some soul-searching before it engages in a similar practice again.

I am disappointed that Dr Willis seeks through you to prevent me from reviewing and critiquing his work. I do have serious doubts as to the validity of Mr Willis' work, and I reserve the right as a citizen and scientist to offer my criticisms in the true spirit of freedom of speech. This is particularly important in such a political subject as marine reserves. I know that in our country there are many thousands of people like myself that would seriously doubt Dr Willis' work, and these people have the right to voice their opinion just as I have, and they have the right to hear the truth.

If your journal and Dr Willis are serious about science, I challenge you to publish our exchange of letters in your journal as this will undoubtedly invoke further dialog on the subject.

In conclusion, I am somewhat astounded that Dr Willis is concerned about my criticism of his work, and can only conclude that in hindsight he is embarrassed about the publication. I am particularly amazed at your request which amounts to little more than a Gag Order.

As for your last sentence, please figure out who owes an apology to whom?

Regards, Dr J Floor Anthoni, director Seafriends.
Follow this link:  and click on paper3 but read the whole.
To contact Dr Trevor J. Willis, Laboratori Scienze Ambientali, Universita di Bologna, <>
Subject: RE: Seafriends' reply
   Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 08:42:04 -0000
   From: "Wilson Laura" <>
     To: <>

Dear Mr Anthoni, 

Thank you for your prompt response to my e-mail. However, I am slightly concerned by the fact you using the material without prior permission from Blackwell Publishing does not appear to be of utmost concern to you. You are indeed infringing copyright. As Blackwell Publishing handles permission requests on behalf of the British Ecological Society, the owner of this journal, it is crucial that anyone wishing to re-use the copyrighted material seeks permission from us before doing so. Many of the journals we publish require us to seek author consent before we can proceed and grant a third party the permission to re-use. The Journal of Applied Ecology is one of these titles and it would be left to the author to decide whether or not he was agreeable to his material being used in such context. 

Blackwell Publishing is not concerned with the critique of the journal article displayed on the website, simply by the fact that you are using material illegally.

Your concerns about the journal article not being accessible to all are unproven, since the article is available on our website

I will then have to ask you again to remove the material from your website with immediate effect as you are posting this material illegally and are infringing copyright. If I have not heard from you by Friday 18th November, I will be taking this issue further.

Yours sincerely
Laura Wilson
Permissions Co-ordinator; Blackwell Publishing; PO Box 805; 9600 Garsington Road; Oxford OX4 2ZG; United Kingdom
Fax: 00 44 1865 471150
Permission requests can now be sent to
Friday 19 Nov 2004: Seafriends second reply

Dear Ms Wilson,
Thank you for pointing out that Dr Willis' concerns are not yours, which leaves Dr Willis out of the equation, and we can now focus on your selfish interests.

It worries me that you really think the (JAE) article and all other articles on your web site are freely available, which they are not. Outsiders must sign up to an expensive subscription before being able to read the full article, which is entirely incompatible with our philosophy of free access to educational information and information affecting the future aspirations of the New Zealand people. A direct link to the article is therefore also futile.

You claim copyrights but for this you will need to prove intellectual property in a Court of Justice. Did you do the research? No. Did you write the article? No. Did you fund the research? No, but the NZ public did. Are you affected by the findings in the article? No, but the NZ public is. I will take one further step. If I were to use the findings from this research for my own benefit, copied methods and contraptions, I would not need permission from you. This shows that your intellectual right does not cover the contents of research done in the public domain. That leaves your intellectual right to little more than the shape of ink on paper. A Court of Justice will weigh this against the inalienable wider rights of 4 million New Zealanders and my own human rights of freedom of speech, and the rights of schools to wider education.

In a Court of Justice you will need to prove that I took much more than what is reasonable for fair review, to which I as an author and writer am entitled. The fact that your publications are not freely accessible and the fact that these occur in proprietary PDF format, will remain a major hurdle for you. We had to translate the text to the public domain HTML format and drawings to fast loading GIF Graphic Internet Format, in order not to waste our readers' time. The way the information now appears on our web site is friendly to our readers and no longer resembles that of your publication. Remember also that proof rests upon you, whereas we only need to raise reasonable doubt.

You may need to prove an act of theft. Did we steal the article? No. Did we claim it is ours or the ideas expressed in it are ours? No. Did we provide proper reference? Yes. Did we list the authors? Yes.

You may need to prove economic disadvantage. Did we debase or harm your company? No. Did we reduce circulation? No. Did we give more prominence to the article and your journal? Yes.

Your problems will not end here, for you must also prove to a Court of Justice that the information 'taken' by us was not in the public interest, since New Zealand law protects us as whistleblowers where information must be disclosed in the public interest for the sake of the Nation, the Public, Security, Justice or Fairness.

In the meantime you have taken a course of action that civilised society frowns upon: assault by your unwarranted threats, stealing my precious time, causing stress to me and my family, denying my human rights, heavy-handedness and not taking due care in the exercise of your authority and discretion. In popular terms this is called bullying. In the process you have implied and soiled the good name of the British Ecological Society. Imagine newspaper headings running: BRITISH ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY GAGS EDUCATIONAL WEB SITE, or BRITISH JOURNAL CRIPPLES PENSIONER?

My advice to you is to discuss the matter with the BES before taking precipitate self-mutilating action, for if you won't, we will. You have already wasted too much of our precious time.

I trust this concludes the matter.
Yours sincerely,
Dr J Floor Anthoni, Seafriends

Peer review does not stop at publication

Marine mammals scientist Dr Steve Dawson attacks but fails to make a point

Subject: Problems of seafriends website
   Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 12:58:27 +1300
   From: Steve Dawson <>

Dear Floor,
You may not know that I teach an MSc course in Marine Conservation biology here at Otago University. It includes a 2 hour session in which we critically evaluate the evidence and potential for marine reserves to act as effective management tools. To kick it off, I asked the students to have a look at the Seafriends website for 20 minutes, and tell me what they thought. We spent only about 40 minutes on this in total, then moved on to something more positive. However, here's a list of their points

Problems of seafriends website

Extraordinary and unsupportable claims

General problems

Note that these points were all raised by the students. All I did was write them down.

I looked further at the website and was dismayed by what I found. I agree wholeheartedly with the students' criticisms. Let me give two specific examples of something I find particularly disturbing. You frequently, based on a subjective observation or extremely simplistic analysis, discard a very carefully researched observation or prediction. One specific example is your statement (made about Maui's dolphin) that  "the scientist's claim of maximally one fisheries induced death in five years, is hard to substantiate". Frankly, you are not equipped to say. This result comes from a model by Dr Paul Wade (1998. Calculating limits to the allowable human-caused mortality of cetaceans and pinnipeds. Marine Mammal Science 14, 1-37.) It doesn't sound l ike you'd read the paper. Your criticism here is way off beam. It should have been that this model is not applicable, as it is intended for populations that are MUCH bigger. There is no such thing as a calculable sustainable take from a population this small, simply because at small population sizes demographic problems such as sex ratios, environmental change and Allee effects could cause extinction even in the absence of the fishery. We do know that these dolphins are taken surprisingly often in gillnets. Therefore it only makes sense to get rid of the gillnets.

Another specific example is your treatment of the North Island population being raised to subspecific status. You need to read and understand the genetic work. In its mt-DNA, the NI population is more different to either of the South Island east and west coast populations than the latter two are from each other. Further, the NI ones are noticeably bigger (about 10% in adults). These changes are not trivial. You say that the analysis is based on just a few samples. Well, that's not surprising, there are just a few of these dolphins left.
To my knowledge there was no political drive behind the analysis. To say that there was is an unfair slur on the folks doing the work.
Further, I think all this misses the point. There are about 110 left, and they are certainly a separate population that will not be rescued by immigration of South Island Hector's dolphins. It doesn't matter what label you give them. So let's stop bickering and solve the problem.
Let's address the impacts. First to go has to be gillnetting, because it is known to be involved. Let's work also on the other candidates, including trawling (which does occasionally catch Hector's dolphins), and pollution.

There are many other aspects of your website that I am very concerned about. I acknowledge that it has some useful information, but overall it is appallingly biased and selective. If you want it to be considered educational, you must strive much harder for neutrality.

I challenge you to place this letter, in its entirety, on the Seafriends site.
Dr Steve Dawson
Senior Lecturer
Trustee: New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

Department of Marine Science, Otago University
P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9001, New Zealand
Street address: 310 Castle Street, Dunedin

ph:   (03) 479-7468
Fax:       (03) 479-8336
Mobile:    (027) 447-4418
Home:     (03) 476-0080

Marine Science Department

Marine Mammal Research group

NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust
19 Nov 2004: Seafriends reply
Dear Steve,
I am only delighted to place your letter on the Seafriends web site, for all to see, for rather than showing any defects in our web site, it shows the poor quality of marine education in NZ. It is rather strange to spend 20 minutes on a web site that took 18 years of study, 6 years of writing, 2000 pages of reliable scientific information bringing together over six different scientific disciplines for fast and convenient learning. What similar kind of knowledge do students have to field criticism? How unscientific and unhelpful!

It is sad that you did not verify the points made by your students, since none is actually true. More thorough readers can ascertain this with ease. If I were you, I would not be proud of this. Fortunately the quality of my work is a few steps above your assertions.

However, you do make an effort to point out two possible mistakes, for which I am grateful. Alas you use emotional sentences, which make it more difficult to place this with the Hectors' Dolphin News item, and I will need to trim your contributions in order to make them more relevant.

The first extensive criticism relates to the use of a computer model which produces an unrealistic result. I am familiar enough with computers and models to know that what they produce depends on the assumptions and rules put in it. Most computer models therefore are not reliable, so the result must always be weighed against common sense. To say that a population of 110 cannot sustain one unnatural death in five years (against 40-70 natural births in five years), is poppycock. Death is death, whether natural or unnatural. You then state that a sustainable take cannot be calculated for such a small community, but what is the difference between sustainable take and unnatural death? Your answer cannot convince thoughtful readers.
My motto is: "Don't believe what you think", something that scientists should imitate.

The second extensive criticism relates to mitochondrial DNA differences, and you try to be pedantic about knowing when a subspecies is a subspecies and when it is not. In biology, this is still a contentious area, but I have explained your point in the Hector's Dolphin article, and warned readers of the amount of contention and arbitrariness and the small sample size, which you agree with. You say that the differences are not trivial - a matter of opinion, as scientists cannot have irrefutable proof from this small sample size. In any case they are irrelevant to the survival of the species. Visit the Maui dolphin discovery article and West Coast Marine reserve proposal rebutted

Your final remark shows quite some ignorance of the state our coastal seas are in, and it pays to read the Seafriends web site more carefully than you have. You simply close your eyes to landbased degradation, which is rather high in the area where Maui dolphins are found. A good scientist would take this into account and prove that this is not the invisible but major cause of their demise, before attacking gillnets, the deaths of which are highly visible.

In conclusion, you have made a major attack on the Seafriends web site and my integrity, which is either totally false, or it did not contribute to new information, or convincingly proved me wrong. But I'm glad you made an attempt and I expect further but better contributions from you.

For an update to the Hectors Dolphin article, visit
For an update to 'is the SF web site a load of uninformed opinion?': where this criticism has been placed.

I'd question how one can be a truly good scientist if we stay stuck in just one discipline - Tony Blomfield (2004)

Tick, tick, tick, we are waiting.

6 August 2006: my reply of 22/11/04
Dear Floor,

Twice via email, and once in person I have asked you to post the reply I sent to you on 22/11/04. yet you still have not. Further, under your reply to me you still show:

"Tick, tick, tick, we are waiting."

As I have said before, you have to play with a straight bat. Either publish all the criticisms, or don't pretend that you are waiting for scientists to respond.

If you fail to post it, you show only that you are a charlatan.

In case it has become mislaid, I have pasted the reply below. When you post in on your site, please show the date when I originally sent it.


22 November 2004

Dear Floor,

I'm not surprised you did not like the graduate students' criticisms. Are they qualified to comment? Well, they have a formal and thorough training in biology and ecology (which, let's be honest,  you don't have). I do think that the comments are fair, and I think that critical readers of your site will quickly see the lack of balance shown in your opinion pieces. For example, your opposition to marine reserves is far beyond rational.

The reason we spent only 20 minutes on this site is so that the rest of the time can be devoted to going over the key scientific papers in detail. In this, the students form their own analysis of strengths and weaknesses. This is far more "scientific" than reading someone else's critique, simply because they have to think more.

With reference to my two specific points about Hector's dolphin (and Maui's dolphin):

Your first point shows only how little you know about these animals, and the kinds of demographic and genetic problems that can occur at very low population sizes. But first, you are wrong about the reproductive rate. No population of 110 dolphins can produce 40-70 natural births in five years. South Island Hector's dolphins, which we have now been studied in detail for 20 years, have a maximum population growth rate of around 2-4%. That's maximum, and before human-caused impacts are factored in. The North Island subspecies is not likely to be different (indeed 2-4% is about typical of dolphins generally). That 2-4% "surplus" is needed to cope with natural impacts such as fluctuating food supply, predation and disease. In such small populations, the growth rate is likely to be less, because, simply due to chance, sex ratios are unlikely to be equal, and the age distribution may be distorted. There may be additional genetic factors like inbreeding, and loss of genetic variability, which can increase susceptibility to disease, and lower resilience to environmental change. The full impact of these factors cannot be modelled accurately, because there are too many unkowns. That's why the NMFS model (which suggested one human-caused death every five years would be okay) is supposed to be applied only to MUCH larger populations. As I said before, even in the absence of human impacts, this population could easily go extinct. Hence even one human-caused death in five years might not be sustainable. If we acknowledge this possibility, the course for action is clear. Quite obviously we should remove what human impacts we can - so at least the population has the best chance.

With reference to the second point, I am not trying to be pedantic about what subspecies are. Rather, the opposite is true. I wrote  that "Further, I think all this (the debate about whether they are a subspecies) misses the point. There are about 110 left, and they are certainly a separate population that will not be rescued by immigration of South Island Hector's dolphins. It doesn't matter what label you give them."

By the way, where were the emotional sentences?

Floor, in all honesty you have to admit that you are a long way outside your expertise. Instead of being defensive about folks pointing that out, why don't you acknowledge the problems, and the lack of balance, and take steps to fix them. Then, maybe, your website could be fairly described as educational.
Dr Steve Dawson
Senior Lecturer
Department of Marine Science, Otago University
P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9001, New Zealand

Tick, tick, tick, we are still waiting . . . .

Floor Anthoni explains
Some people do not read enough of the Seafriends web site to inform themselves
10 December 2004

Dear Steve,
This letter is addressed not to you in particular, but to the critics like you, who do not take sufficient time to inform themselves of what the Seafriends web site says, and why. I've learnt that one can take a horse to water but one cannot make it drink. So there is no point in communicating with people who do not have an open mind, for reasons of strong beliefs or other. For most readers, this letter is superfluous, but for the likes of you, necessary.

I often hear from scientists like you the critique that my qualifications do not come from the institutions they went through and they want me to go back to university to obtain a degree in marine biology or so. This would be such a waste of time, since universities are not very effective educational establishments. And after all that, I would come out waddling and quacking like you - not an attractive proposition. Besides, none of these people would be able to answer the pressing question I have: Why are we losing so much so fast?
Instead, I have surrounded myself with the thoughts and writings of the most productive and innovative minds of our century, as you can see by studying the Seafriends library. Fifteen years ago I embarked on a course of self-study, unimpeded by time schedules, travelling and the lowest common denominator. By comparison and MSc takes only five years.

The critique often centres on my existing knowledge, without verifying what that knowledge really entails. With my background in electronics I am trained in the hard sciences of mathematics, physics, thermodynamics, control theory and information theory which are all necessary for understanding the world we live in. Yet your university did not pay attention to these in your training.
I continued my studies in computer science, discovering important principles for operating system design, which awarded me with a PhD. Yet I consider this only the beginning for the remainder of my life. My very long experience in software design and systems analysis taught me how to tackle very large problems and to break these into their component parts; then to reassemble the ideas to a working whole. I extensively used the software techniques of virtual machines to make my software reliable and adaptable to the future. This is akin to creating theories and paradigms in science. It helped me to see the gaps in science and the bridges between disciplines and to view a very wide window in science. It also helps me to divide the overwhelming complexity of underwater life into its component parts to see what is odd.

I hear the critique that I should publish my ideas and subject them to peer review. I notice great reverence of scientists for their colleagues who outperform them in their number of publications, some scoring over 500 to their names. Yet when I look at their work, not one of those 500 publications is worth reading, as none bring anything really new. I look at the real great men of science. How many publications did Darwin spawn, or Newton or Einstein? Were these peer-reviewed? No! It is odd that the likes of you pay so much homage to the very qualities that one does not find in the great scientists. Furthermore, notice how much nonsense passes peer review and how really new science is stifled by it.

I am quite happy to call yself an amateur for that means someone who does it for the love of it, rather than for pay. It is important that my readers do not believe me on account of my perceived authority, but that they think critically about what I say and evaluate this. I want them to understand why things are rather than that things are, because in the end they have to decide for themselves how they can best make a difference.

Some critics find my style of writing unscientific. Why? My task is to make hard science understandable without dumbing it down. I use normal English sentences and simple words, for which my readers are very grateful. I work with figures, diagrams and cartoons to make the ideas stick. I aim not to waste the precious time of my readers because I want to encourage them to find pleasure in their newly acquired knowledge. In the end, we all need to learn more and faster, in order to save the environment.

I hear critique that I do not support what I observe with numbers and that I should experiment and prove what I say, yet how many numbers are found in Darwin's The origin of species, by means of natural selection or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. (1859)? Did he experiment? Did he prove the principles of evolution? No!
Rather than experimenting, I draw scientists' attention to my observations and discoveries, for them to elaborate on; to prove me right or wrong. For me, life is just too short. On the Seafriends web site you will find a large number of issues that need further investigation, a source for many MSc and PhD theses. On my web site you'll also find a number of non-trivial discoveries, one of which is the plankton balance hypothesis and the most basic environmental laws of this planet, discovered with a new plankton tool. Yet the waddling and quacking ones do not recognise its importance. Why?
You are concerned with the decline of Hectors' dolphins and attribute this to setnets and other means of fishing. Yet did you know that bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins experience a similar decline as do thousands of marine species? Did you keep track of these dolphins? Yet you reject land-based marine pollution as the most likely cause, without further investigation. How smart is that?

I hear the likes of you exclaiming that my observations are but anecdotal opinion, a bit like saying the same of Darwin's work. The reality is that in the life sciences, observation is still the most important source of knowledge. The science of taxonomy is not experimental but relies almost entirely on observation. Look at your own work with dolphins. It too is based on observation. Did you do any controlled experiments?

I hear your own accusation of extraordinary and insupportable claims. Yet isn't this the Cave Man's argument against anything modern man tells him? What does this say of Cave Man? The solution is quite simple: prove me wrong. Where is the science to prove me wrong? If it isn't there, then what I say is the best science there is, until something better comes along. I have no problems with that.

I hear people say: Why do you think you are always right? I don't, as I doubt everything I think. Knowledge does not belong to me but to everybody. But the acid test is in asking yourself how much others address the very causes and origins of our problems. Do they really? Do you?

Some confusion arises from the growth of Seafriends web site, from its original plan to document New Zealand seas, to discover the most important threats to our seas and to understand how these work, towards something much larger. Already counting 2100 pages with 4800 files (Dec 2004), this web site will grow much larger than originally intended. Part of the reason is the war for marine reserves in which bureaucracies and scientists serve themselves with propaganda and lies. For the future of our children, we cannot tolerate these to proliferate, and the fight is on - not of my own making. Read carefully where the real nonsense originates - not from me nor from fishermen but from those who waddle and quack. What are YOU going to do about this?

Floor Anthoni, 12 January 2009
11.04.08: In a discussion forum about global warming on the web site ( ), Carol Stewart director of Greenpeace, writes:
"As for Jennifer Marohasy, if you live in Australia you must know that she is locally famous for ignoring climate science and making up her own. As your example so beautifully shows. She is completely missing the point about ocean acidification. And I love that her website has a supporting comment from Floor Anthoni!! Anyone who has even a fleeting acquaintance with marine science in New Zealand will know that Floor is the Ken Ring of marine science. Heh heh."
Followed by another response a little further:
"I did follow the link you provided, to Jennifer Marohasyís site. And who should she cite in support of her theory that CO2 is actually rather good for the oceans but Floor Anthoni? Floor is completely deluded and - to be charitable - doesnít have a good grasp of basic marine science at all (lots of parallels to Ken Ring there). Heís never had any of his work published and has no, and I mean no, credibility among marine scientists. He doesnít understand the carbonic acid/bicarbonate/carbonate equilibrium system in seawater and concluded - in opposition to every oceanography textbook that Iíve ever read - that adding increasing levels of CO2 to the oceans actually increases the amount of carbonate. Wrong. Drastically wrong."Oops, this is called Le Chatelier's Principle: Adding CO2 to a CO2/carbonate equilibrium (including carbonate rock) will drive the reaction  towards the formation of MORE carbonates, not less
It is not so smart to attack a person, rather than the science and the underlying arguments. Since you sound so sure about what you are saying, you have now given yourself the job to pinpoint the errors on the Seafriends website, complete with scientific justification. Your time goes in now
tic, tic, tic . . ..

And your second task is to provide a list of 'anyone' who thinks I have no good grasp of marine science at all. New Zealanders and my readers have a right to know. Your time goes in now . .tic, tic, tic . .

Should you fail this task, you owe Jennifer Marohasy and myself an apology, for at the moment a dark smudge rests on Greenpeace and yourself.