Nurseries bring coral reefs back to life

These coral reefs are not just spectacular sites to behold; they’re also essential to the ecosystem, providing a habitat and breeding ground for countless species of fish, and protecting land from erosion.

When I took my first scuba lessons in the Florida Keys about a decade ago, I was ready for it to be a new and exciting experience. What I wasn’t ready for, however, was an entirely new world — one that I could barely wrap my head around. It was a world that would quickly become a personal and professional passion.

These days, if I’m not on the water or under it, I’m reading about it or researching it. But 10 years after that first lesson, those very same reefs that I fell in love with are in serious jeopardy.

In fact, they are dying.

“When I first started diving down here in the 1970s, you’d get to some of these reefs, and there was elkhorn coral as far as you can see,” Ken Nedimyer, a longtime local diver, recalled. “You go out to a lot of those reefs now and they are all dead, or they are 90% dead. It just breaks my heart.”

“To see that happening in my lifetime is really depressing.”

Rather than sit by and watch the reefs die, Nedimyer decided to do something about it. He created a nonprofit conservation organization called the Coral Restoration Foundation, which aims to bring coral reefs back from the brink of death by employing a technique Nedimyer pioneered: reproducing disappearing species of coral in underwater nurseries and then replanting them in the dying reefs.

After humble beginnings, the foundation’s success has been staggering.

“We started with one species and now we are working with seven or eight,” Nedimyer said. “We started with just three genetic strains of staghorn coral, now we have about 150 genetic strains. … It’s just getting a lot bigger.”

Fighting against climate change

The Coral Restoration Foundation uses what’s called an asexual reproduction technique: Nedimyer and his team plant thimble-sized pieces of coral in their nursery that grow to be as large as a footballs within a year.

Three-quarters of those football-sized pieces of coral are then planted back in the reef, while the remaining 25% is cut into even smaller pieces that are used as a sort of coral fertilizer in the foundation’s 2-acre nursery, located 25 feet beneath the sea, some 3 miles off the coast of Key Largo.

Nedimyer took me on a tour of the nursery in May. Seeing the rows of living, breathing coral hanging from plastic piping was awe-inspiring.

“It never ceases to amaze me how fast we can grow those corals and how well they are doing,” said Nedimyer, who told me he and his volunteers are underwater any “good diving” day.

Now in its 10th year, the foundation boasts some eye-popping numbers.

“We started with three corals and built that up to 5,000 corals,” said Nedimyer. “We have at any given time 40,000 corals in our nurseries in Florida. Last year we put 20,000 corals on the reef.”

Success doesn’t come easy. Much of the work is trial and error, and much of it is a battle against the seemingly unstoppable. Climate change wreaks havoc by rendering once vibrant, multicolored coral reefs colorless.

“Corals bleach when they have been subject to really hot or really cold water,” explained Nedimyer. “Last year there was tremendous sunshine, low wind and day after day of that.”

Many of the area reefs have lost 99% of their coral due to bleaching, he says.

But Nedimyer is as much a problem-solver as he is a pioneer. He and his teams dove for weeks searching for the 1% of coral that did survive — and that’s what they are growing now: the “survivors.”

“So now we are growing corals that are resistant to the heat,” he said. “We took advantage of really bad conditions to find something that is going to survive.”

‘I don’t want to be the only one’

Emboldened by the success in Florida, Nedimyer has taken his fight global, helping to start nurseries near the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Jamaica and Mustique, as well as off the coast of Colombia in South America. He has plans to start programs this summer in Curacao, Barbados and St. Lucia.

“The goal is to set up a program, train these people, and let them own it,” he said. “That’s already happening in two of the countries we’ve been in for a while. I don’t want to be the only one doing it. That would be a failure if it were just me.”

The day I joined Nedimyer in his nursery 25 feet below the sea, I experienced just how difficult — and how rewarding — his work can be. It wasn’t easy battling the current and navigating the perils of fire coral, but as we chipped away the rock to make room for our new coral, I had a tremendous sense of pride. It may have only been a few tiny pieces, but knowing that it would one day grow and help restore the ecosystem was a humbling experience.

“I’m just wondering if I have enough lifetime left,” Nedimyer said. “Can I train enough people? … Can we plant enough of those to be able to bring the corals back to life?”

A rhetorical question, though he answered himself.

“I think we can.”

Empathy and sympathy: therapeutic distinctions in counseling.

At various times in the treatment process, mental health counselors

may inadvertently equate the concepts of empathy and sympathy This

confusion is” understandable because there is ambiguity between the

two terms that could contribute to miscommunication in counseling. This

article clarifies the therapeutic distinctions between empathy and

sympathy through the dimensions of aim, appraisal, apprehension, and


As expressions of caring and compassion, empathy and sympathy are

sometimes confused by mental health counselors and may mistakenly be

equated (Chismar, 1988). Although both involve attempts by a counselor

to sensitively respond to what a client is experiencing, there are

qualitative differences between the two processes that have therapeutic

implications (Clark, 2007). Blurring the distinctions and failing to

differentiate empathy from sympathy may contribute to misdirections in

the treatment process.

Empathy offers a way for a mental health counselor to grasp the

feelings and meanings of a client and convey this understanding to the

client (Myers, 2000; Pearson, 1999). In contrast, sympathy is important

in human relationships as an expression of concern or sorrow about

distressful events in a person’s life (Meier & Davis, 2008).

In the counseling and psychotherapy literature, empathy is widely

recognized as a prominent variable in the development of a positive

treatment relationship

Arthur J. Clark is affiliated with St. Lawrence University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Professor

Arthur J. Clark, Coordinator, Counseling & Human Development

Program, St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, New York

13617. E-mail:

(Norcross, 2010; Lambert & Barley, 2002). In terms of the

importance of the therapeutic alliance, Ridley and Udipi (2002) found

that the quality of the client-counselor relationship was the most

significant discriminating factor for predicting treatment outcome. With

varying degrees of emphasis, empathy is endorsed and practiced in

counseling across a diverse range of contemporary theoretical

orientations (Clark, 2007, in press; Cochran & Cochran, 2006).

Although the use of empathy is broadly supported in counseling, it

is essential for a counselor to be aware of both its strengths and its

limitations (Feller & Cottone, 2003; Kohut, 1982). In particular,

empathy is subject to misuse when a counselor semantically confuses

empathy and sympathy. The uncertainty is understandable because in

research, as in everyday life, lack of specificity in the meaning of the

two terms can contribute to treatment misapplications (Aring, 1958;

Gruen & Mendelsohn, 1986). The purpose of this article is to

differentiate between and clarify the functions of empathy and sympathy

in counseling.


Through the consideration of four comparative dimensions in the

counseling experience–aim, appraisal, apprehension, and agreement–it

is possible to distinguish empathy from sympathy.

Aim. In counseling, the primary intent in employing empathy is to

express understanding of a client, whereas the focus of sympathy is a

client’s well-being in difficult or challenging circumstances

(Black, 2004; Wispe, 1986). Empathy emphasizes an active sharing by the

counselor of what a client is experiencing while maintaining some level

of emotional detachment. In contrast, a counselor’s sympathetic

response has the more circumscribed function of expressing compassion

for an individual’s distressful condition or situation (Eisenberg,

2000; Olinick, 1984).

In a counseling example, Stanley, 46, an electrical engineer,

expresses feelings of anger and dismay over the possibility of being

relocated by his company. He has been an employee at the same

manufacturing site for 12 years.

Stanley: I can’t believe it. Because of my job, there is a

possibility that I will have to move with my family to another part of

the country. I’m so upset. I don’t even want to talk about it.

Counselor (Sympathy): I am so sorry to hear this. Why don’t we

talk about something else that is less upsetting for you?

In reaction to the client’s distress, the counselor

demonstrates sympathy as a caring gesture by offering to change the

topic of discussion. In this instance, it is not the initial expression

of sympathy that is the problem (“I am so sorry to hear

this”). It is the fact that the counselor then changes the focus of

the session away from the essential issue in order to sympathetically

protect the client’s well-being and alleviate his immediate


In the next example, the counselor communicates empathic

understanding by acknowledging what the client is experiencing in a

purposeful and sensitive way that may prompt him to continue discussing

the troubling topic.

Counselor (Empathy): This is hard for you to talk about, and it

doesn’t make any sense to you. The prospect of this change seems

overwhelming to you at this point.

Certainly, a counselor can get caught up in the feelings of a

client in employing either empathy or sympathy. However, as a counselor

strives to empathically understand what a client is experiencing while

maintaining emotional detachment, this posture potentially provides a

broader perspective that extends beyond a client’s situational

distress. Accordingly, the counselor’s empathic understanding may

at times evoke a therapeutic direction in the longer-range service of

the client.

Appraisal. A counselor’s empathy entails attunement with a

client’s feelings and meanings (Gruen & Mendelsohn, 1986;

Pearson, 1999). Through a subjective process, a counselor may appraise a

client’s functioning by identifying with the person on a transitory

basis (Clark, 2007, 2009, in press). In contrast, rather than involving

a sharing of experiencing, sympathy instead proceeds from a

counselor’s judgment of a client’s emotional needs. Sympathy

is thus a reaction to a client’s distress that becomes manifest in

mild to intense expressions of feelings of sorrow for the plight of an

individual (Gribble & Oliver, 1973; Switankowsky, 2000). A counselor

may say, for example, “I’m sorry to hear about your recent

loss of your cat.” It is appropriate for the counselor to

communicate this authentic response, even without a full understanding

of the client’s feelings toward the cat. In other instances,

however, a counselor may express sympathy in a way that excessively

focuses on his or her appraisal of the client. Judgmental statements,

such as “You sure have it rough,” “It pains me to see you

going through all of this,” or “This is a terrible thing for

you,” involve an evaluation that primarily reflects the

counselor’s perceptions.

To continue with the example, Stanley begins to disclose more about

the potential effect of moving on his family if he has to change jobs.

Stanley: What this means is that my two kids will be uprooted and

have to move over a thousand miles from home. I’m worried sick

about what this would do to my children.

Counselor (Sympathy): That’s so sad. There are so many things

you are worrying about right now. 1 feel very badly for you.

This response overemphasizes the counselor’s personal

appraisal of Stanley’s situation and diverts the focus of the

session away from the client. The one-sided line of discussion also

inhibits momentum in moving forward with the therapeutic conversation.

In the next statement, the counselor expresses an empathic

understanding of the client in a more balanced way that may prompt

further discussion.

Counselor (Empathy): This move involves a major change in the lives

of your children, and it creates uncertainties that are troubling for


Although the examples set up a best case situation for empathy and

a worst case for sympathy, counselors need to be aware of the

possibility of overemphasizing their own reactions when expressing

either response. Attempting to accurately evaluate a client’s

perceptions often facilitates a more open exploration of therapeutic


Apprehension. A deeper way of knowing an individual is more likely

to occur when a counselor attempts to empathically understand a client

from multiple perspectives (Clark, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009, in press).

For instance, through their identification and imaginative capacities

counselors can subjectively apprehend what clients are experiencing.

From a different perspective, counselors may employ an interpersonal

modality by striving to grasp the verbal and nonverbal communications of

a client (Rogers, 1975). In contrast, when expressing sympathy it is not

necessary for a counselor to “enter into” a client’s

experiencing or to have a deeper knowledge of the person in order for

the process to be effective (Gribble & Oliver, 1973)–a counselor

may only have a general understanding of a client’s plight but

still be able to be sympathetic.

However, in other instances, if a counselor does not more fully

apprehend a client’s experiencing and expresses sympathy in a

perfunctory or superficial way, misdirections may occur. That is why

highly sympathetic expressions, such as “I was a teenager once, and

I know what you’re going through” or “I went through a

divorce, and I know how you feel,” are often rejected because

clients see them as presumptuous or shallow. Further, unless the

counselor has a deeper understanding of a client, it is possible for the

client to construe some sympathetic comments, such as “You have an

inner strength that you can always call upon” or “Things will

improve in time,” as trite or too generalized to be valid. Although

it certainly is possible for a counselor’s employment of empathy to

be inaccurate, apprehending a client’s functioning from multiple

perspectives frequently enhances empathic understanding.

In a continuation of the counseling example, Stanley discusses how

he was informed about the relocation plans within his company.

Stanley: I can’t believe how they told us about it. Last week,

the higher-ups gathered us all together in a room and said that a number

of employees would be reassigned to another plant. A couple of hours

later, my supervisor told me I was on the list of people who would have

to move. What an insult! I’ve given my heart and soul to my job.

Counselor (Sympathy): That’s really unfortunate, and I know

exactly how you feel. Once when I was in the service, I was called into

an office and told that I would be deployed within a month to a new post

in a different part of the country.

Although the self-disclosure of a counselor could contribute to

therapeutic gain, the technique may prove to be ineffective when

counselors assume that their own experience matches or equates to that

of the client (Egan, 2010; Ivey, Ivey, & Zalaquett, 2010). It is

possible, for instance, that Stanley perceives the counselor’s

disclosure as focusing more on the needs and personal perspectives of

the counselor. Also, for any number of reasons (the counselor was

single; the counselor was young; or that’s the way it is in the

service), Stanley might dismiss or reject the counselor’s


In the next example the counselor expresses empathic understanding

that is grounded in an immediate and extended apprehension of the


Counselor (Empathy): It hurts to be treated this way when you feel

that you’ve been a devoted employee for so long.

Apprehending a client’s subjective functioning, as in the

illustration with Stanley, often involves an attempt to grasp the

experiencing of the person within a broader context. Although a

counselor may be less than accurate when employing empathy, striving to

empathically understand a client’s experiencing in a cultural

context often lessens this possibility (Miville, Carlozzi, Gushue,

Schara, & Ueda, 2006; Ridley & Udipi, 2002).

Agreement. A counselor’s accurate and appropriate use of

empathy involves expressing an empathic understanding without implying

agreement with the client. In contrast, in expressing compassion and

commiseration, it is possible for a counselor to sympathetically convey

agreement with the views and perspectives of a client (Egan, 2010). With

the intent of alleviating distress a counselor may side with a client

and support the person’s point of view (Szalita, 1976). As an

unintended consequence, however, the counselor’s perceived

agreement with a client may subsequently hinder the exploration of

alternative perspectives. It is also possible for a counselor to agree

that a client should feel bad, angry, or even hopeless, and this

implicit endorsement can contribute to the client’s assuming a

victim role (Knapp, 2007).

Continuing with the counseling example, Stanley relates additional

information about his job relocation:

Stanley: I’m so ticked off about work. This week it got even

worse because I found out that unless I take the position in the other

plant, I could lose my job altogether. I was informed about this in an

e-mail rather than face-to-face. I’m about ready to tell them all

where to go.

Counselor (Sympathy): What a terrible way to treat you. How much

more can you be expected to take? 1 don’t blame you for being angry

and wanting to tell them off:

In this interaction, the counselor intensely affirms the

insensitivity of the message; however, it also makes it difficult for

Stanley to reverse his confirmed choice without losing face or appearing

inconsistent and weak.

In the next exchange, the counselor empathically responds to the

client’s communication without implying agreement. The counselor

also conveys a more balanced and open reaction that seems to capture the

client’s meaning.

Counselor (Empathy): The prospect of having to either move or lose

your job is even more painful for you when your supervisors seem to act

in an impersonal way about it.

A counselor’s undue expression of sympathy may negatively

influence a client by appearing to agree with the client. Agreement with

a client may have the detrimental effect of foreclosing the exploration

of therapeutic issues.


When a mental health counselor equates empathy and sympathy, this

confusion may contribute to misdirections in counseling. Empathy is a

prominent factor in promoting positive treatment outcomes; sympathy has

an essential role in human relationships. It is possible to clarify

distinctions between empathy and sympathy through the dimensions of aim,

appraisal, apprehension, and agreement. A counselor’s awareness of

the appropriate use of empathy and sympathy has potential to foster

therapeutic gain.


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Arthur J. Clark is affiliated with St. Lawrence University.

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Arthur J. Clark, Coordinator, Counseling & Human Development

Program, St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, New York

13617. E-mail:

Amazon is worth more than Microsoft: Market value surges past $700B, now 3rd largest U.S. company

Amazon is worth more than Microsoft: Market value surges past $700B, now 3rd largest U.S. company GeekWire

Jeff BezosAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (GeekWire File Photo)

Amazon’s market value surged to more than $702 billion on Wednesday, making the Seattle-based company the third-largest U.S. public company by that measure — surpassing its regional neighbor Microsoft for the first time.

The milestone underscores Amazon rise as a tech giant, expanding well beyond its core e-commerce business into cloud computing, artificial intelligence, consumer devices, entertainment, package delivery and many other areas. Amazon is now behind only Google ($745 billion) and Apple ($849 billion) in market value.

Amazon’s shares rose more than 2.5 percent on Friday to close at $1,451.05. Its shares are up more than 9 percent over the past month, boosted in part by a strong earnings report for the fourth quarter.

The company reached the milestone despite Microsoft shares rising 1.5 percent on the day to $90.81. Microsoft’s market value is hovering right around $700 billion.

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