24 Dec 2007

WWF South Pacific | Villagers take lead in financing their I qoloqoli in Macuata, Fiji

- By Ashwini Prabha
Fishermen from Kia Island, Fiji, with their catch. Kia has one of the 9 Marine Protected Areas (tabu) areas. © WWF Fiji.

The people of the qoliqoli (fishing grounds) of the vanua Nabekavu, Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa and Mali have, in the past 2 years, implemented set actions for the use of their I qoliqoli.

They have successfully set aside 9 areas, totaling to 117 kms2 within the I qoliqoli as tabus(protected areas), for the purpose of restocking the I qoliqoli. Already, the people of the I qoliqoli are talking about larger fishes caught near shore as in the past and different types that had not been seen in the recent years have begun to come back.

“This week we went out fishing everyday and came back with a full catch compared to few years ago when we would go out one day and have a good catch and the next three to four days we would hardly catch anything. These changes have also attracted increasing illegal fishers into the I qoliqoli and into the 'tabu' (protected areas) areas.”

- Emosi Baya, one of the I qoliqoli committee members from Nakawaga, Mali Island.

“These changes have also increasingly attracted illegal fishers into the I qoliqoli and into the tabu areas,” said Baya.

Currently WWF Fiji and partners are working with the Macuata communities by assisting in the development and implementation of resource management plan, educating and training of community members to undertake activities outlined in their management plans, training fish wardens and building community capacity (through household financial literacy training, community messaging, community biological and socio-economic surveyors etc).

With WWFs support to come to an end in three years, there is a commitment by WWF to assist the qoliqoli committee to secure funding with which the qoliqoli communities will continue to manage their I qoliqoli’s.

Long term self financing of Marine Protected Areas

A 12 month Fund Raising Plan (May 2007 to June 2008), with 4 activities, targeting FJD100,000, has been developed to generate funding for the management of the qoliqoli, spearheaded by the Qoliqoli Committee of the Vanua Nabekavu, Tikina Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa & Mali.

“A review of the 2004 management plan showed that the Qoliqoli committee lacked dedicated funds or a plan to seek funds for the implementation of this plan which includes the actions by fish wardens in stemming illegal fishing.”

- Sanivalati Navuku, Project officers, WWF Fiji Programme

The first fundraising event is the upcoming Great Sea Reefs (GSR) Sevens Rugby Tournament, in November (9th to 10th) at the Subrail Park, in Labasa. The tournament targets to raise $15,000.00.

Ten top national teams will be invited to participate, with part of their travel and accommodation costs supported by the Qoliqoli Committee through sponsorship.

A total of 56 teams are expected to participate, including boys teams of 17, 16, 15, 12, 9. The inclusion of the boys team is expected to pull in parents and families to travel to the games venue in Labasa.

Mr. Baya who is involved in the fundraiser said,

“the GSR sevens is not just to raise money but will help qoliqoli owners to come together to work towards the protection of their natural resources. Working to manage our qoliqoli has brought many of us together, from the inland villages and coastal villages for the first time. Some of us are visiting some qoliqoli villages for the first time as well.”

“When WWF started this project (MPA) in 2004, I was the only representative from the island of Mali. Today the number of representatives from Mali and other villagers has increased. These efforts are helping re-establish our traditional links.” he said.

Other fundraising activities by the Qoliqoli committee includes- Honorary Qoliqoli Owners by Invitation, targeting $9,000.00, Connecting qoliqoli members living outside of Fiji (3), targeting $10,000.00 and Village based fund raising & dinner by invitation, targeting $42,000.00.

“Effort is being made to increase the communities’ involvement and participation in the management of their resources. The communities need to take ownership in protecting their natural resources starting with MPA projects.”

- Sanivalati Navuku, Project officer, WWF Fiji.

Fiji’s precious marine ecosystem is under attack from over fishing, unsustainable and destructive harvesting of live coral and exotic fish for aquariums, and increasing levels of pollution. Climate change is also playing its part in the degradation of the marine environment as warmer sea water.

In November 2005, seven chiefs of the province of Macuata launched the first of the country’s networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the Great Sea Reef, the third largest barrier reef in the world. This came about as a result of the Great Sea Reef survey, a first in the area, conducted in 2004 with the support of WWF and partners, which highlighted its unique biodiversity.

WWF has witnessed the benefits of MPAs to biodiversity and marine resources and the people who rely on them around the world. Hence it is supporting the Government and the people of Fiji in the development and implementation of its commitment to have 30%of the country’s EEZ under MPAs by 2020. Together with FLMMA and other key organisations, WWF is facilitating policy dialogue, scientific research, community capacity building and financing.

Source: WWF Fiji

12 Dec 2007

DAN Europe safety and prevention campaign


The DAN Europe safety and prevention campaign aims at increasing safety awareness and cautious behavior by boat operators and drivers.

The Problem
Whoever dives with a certain frequency knows only to well the danger of surfacing due to heavy boating, which quite often with high speeds, criss-crosses over into scuba diving areas, despite the presence of diving warning buoys or dive support boats equipped with dive warning flags.
Vain are the screams and gestures in warning those on dive boats from those monitoring their companions in the water, as often the noise of arriving boats cover up the cry of warning or simply because the boat pilot isn’t paying any attention. . . .
The snorkeler, who contrary to scuba divers, who effect repeated dives, are more prone to such accidents, since they are more often at the surface.
Thus, every year, unfortunately, there are recorded cases of divers run over by boats in transit and even more cases of near misses.

The Regulations
All this despite legislation regulating each Nation, with precise standards concerning dive warning buoys and the required minimum distance to be kept of such warning signs.
The diving community is perfectly aware of these norms of which the large majority of divers scrupulously apply.

The Consequences
When a motor boat, even of small dimension, hits a diver, the injuries caused by the boat and propeller are devastating and often result in death.

What can be done
The only way to reduce the number of these tragic deaths is through an awareness campaign and the advertising of the minimum distance standards to be kept, in such a way the majority number of boat operators are aware of the fact that the diver buoy and/or diagonally white striped red flag means a diver is in the water and therefore warned to avoid hitting them with the boat or worse yet, with the propeller, and is required to transit at a distance.

The DAN Europe Safety Campaign
DAN Europe (Divers Alert Network) has for years promoted a campaign in offering free of charge and for the asking, dive warning stickers to attach at dive centers boards, resorts, the entrances of piers of tourist ports, boat rental areas, or where ever they may be most visible by the majority of people who operate boats in any tourist area where divers may be present.
The campaign is based on the wide and capillary distribution of a simple message of immediate visual warning effect which conveys at first sight, vital information on the prevention of accidents and the observing norms set in place.

How to participate?
The invitation we are extending to all divers and those who love the sea, is that of distributing this message on safety as much as possible and collaborating with us by indicating newspapers, magazines, organizations, web-sites, TV shows who could become involved in this safety prevention campaign of boat propeller accidents.

10 Dec 2007

Mares Unveils HOT New Dive Watch

MARES Diving introduces Force Dive Watch: Just in time for the holidays.

NORWALK, CT (November 12, 2007) at the recent DEMA show, Mares introduced its new dive watch: Force. The Force will be produced in limited quantities and available just in time for the holidays.

An extensive feature list makes this both a stylish and quality timepiece; exclusively Mares.

The Force Dive Watch features:

  • Solid Marine –grade 316L stainless steel construction
  • Screw down crown and crown guards
  • Superluminov dial markings and hands
  • Stainless steel screwbar band to case interface
  • Triple secure stainless steel clasp
  • Solid forged type 316L stainless steel case back
  • Unidirectional rotating bezel for safe, accurate bottom times
  • Japanese quartz movement accurate to ±15 secs. per month
  • 200M/660Ft. depth rating for worry-free underwater performance
  • 2-year Unconditional warranty

The Mares Force dive watch, which was specially created by the Reactor Watch group, has a suggested retail of $350.00 and will be available at MARES dealers soon.

For additional information on this product and the complete line of Mares products for 2007 contact your MARES District Sales Manager, Customer Service or go to www.mares.com for your nearest Authorized MARES Dealer.

HEAD USA is part of the HEAD NV Group, which is based in the Netherlands and listed on the New York and Vienna Stock exchanges. The HEAD NV Group is a worldwide sporting goods company that manufactures and markets products under the HEAD brand (racquet and winter sports), Penn (world’s #1 tennis ball and racquet ball brand), and Tyrolia (wintersports bindings), in addition to the three diving brands (Mares, Dacor and Sporasub). HEAD NV’s Chairman is Johan Eliasch. The telephone number for the Diving Division is 203 855 0631; fax 203 866 9573; website www.mares.com. For HEAD USA information, log onto www.head.com

4 Dec 2007

Book on the status of coral reefs in the Pacific launched at USP

Source: http://www.usp.ac.fj/news/story.php?id=200

IMR Director Dr Ken Mackay
at the launch of the book
The health of coral reefs in the Southwest Pacific is the subject of a new book which was launched at the University of the South Pacific this week.
Status of Coral Reefs in the SouthWest Pacific: 2004, which has been edited by Reuben Sulu, brings together reports from Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, prepared under the auspices of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). It was published by the Institute of Pacific Studies Publications at USP in collaboration with the University's Institute of Marine Resources. 

The book was launched by IMR director Dr Ken MacKay who pointed out that book carried important information on coral reefs in this part of the world.
"The book is based on a 2004 coral reef monitoring report results of which were condensed into a global report which came out two years ago, said Dr MacKay.
He pointed out that coral reefs played an essential role in maintaining strong and healthy ecosystems, and which also contribute to local communities by way of providing food supplies, protecting coastlines and generating tourism opportunities. 

The book reports on the status of coral reefs of the region and discusses threats to the reefs, before offering suggestions and recommendations for their ongoing management. The major issues in the region were commercial exploitation of marine resources, cyclone damage and coral bleaching. In face of these threats, survey results revealed that overall coral cover has increased since the major bleaching events (2000, 2002) to almost pre-bleaching levels and recognition of commercial exploitation and other anthropogenic impacts has led to awareness programs and establishment of small Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) throughout each island country. A similar report is currently being prepared and results of the 2007 surveys will be published in 2008. 

Status of Coral Reefs in the Southwest Pacific: 2004, was financially supported by the Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development Programme, with further editing funded by the Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP). It is available at IPS Publications, the Institute of Marine Resources and the USP Book Centre (all at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus) or online at www.ipsbooks.ac.fj (ISBN: 9789820203860, 274pp, illus. col. RRP $34).

19 Nov 2007

SeaLife Cameras upgrade and get even better

These are the cameras for rent at Diveaway Fiji!


SeaLife introduces new Digital PRO Flash and repositions Reefmaster Mini

Digital PRO Flash

At DEMA 2007, Sealife introduced the Digital PRO Flash – SL961, which replaces the Digital Flash – SL960D.

The Digital PRO Flash is compatible with any Sealife camera as well as all other brands of digital underwater cameras. It also features a new AUTO mode setting, which automatically adjusts the flash brightness for the optimal image exposure. A variable power adjustment setting allows the user to manually fine-tune the brightness for the desired effect.

“The best underwater photographs capture a whole other world,” said Joe Ifi, Sealife Cameras director of sales and marketing. “This flash enables the photographer many different options in both settings and uses thus making that other world so much more accessible.”

Depth tested up to 200 feet (60m), this flash has an effective underwater distance range up to about 8 feet (2.5m), which makes it one of the most powerful flashes available in the market. Its flexible, rubberized arm allows for a sure grip and easy aiming. The flash is operated by 4 AA batteries for approximately 100 flashes.

The Sealife Digital PRO Flash includes a universal mount, an optical cable connection which attaches to any camera as well as a deluxe carrying case. The Digital PRO Flash has a suggested list price of $399.95 and MAP of $349.95.

New Pricing

As of November 1, 2007 Sealife has repositioned its ReefMaster Mini and Ecoshot cameras, just in time for the Holidays. The ReefMaster mini will now have a Sugg. Retail of $279.95 while the Ecoshot will be at $229.95 Sugg. Retail. Both cameras are in stock and available for immediate shipment.

For more details, visit the Sealife Cameras website at www.sealife-cameras.com

Material posted and distributed through DiveNewswire

13 Nov 2007

Goatfish shot!

A pretty good snap shot by Alice of goatfish at the Casbah!

See more of our pics online at www.Flckr.com


12 Nov 2007

Fiji’s reefs in spectacular condition!

Fiji’s reefs in spectacular condition!

Fiji’s reefs show high coral health after recovering from a coral bleaching event.

Coral reefs have frequently been in the news over the past few years, usually for all the wrong reasons, in articles about dying corals across the globe. However, Fiji has had reason to celebrate, with recent scientific reports suggesting that the reefs here are remarkably resilient, and currently in the best condition recorded. (this millennium!)

Fiji is a large archipelago with a great variety of reef types, spread across the country. While not denying that reefs have their ups and downs, the Fiji branches of the Global Coral Reef Network (GCRMN) and Reef Check have just published the results of eight years of study, where reefs have been seen to recover from events such as Cyclones, Crown of Thorns Starfish and High-temperature Coral Bleaching, within five years.

Dive operators around the Fiji Islands have supported and carried out scientific reef surveys on their dive sites, which have shown reefs affected by coral bleaching in 2000 were back to normal amounts of coral cover by 2005, and even better than normal by 2007.

Many reefs are currently showing a spectacular array of hard corals, with more than 80% coral cover, and 40% Acropora branching and table corals, the most attractive to fish, marine animals, and divers. This suggests that corals in Fiji can survive quite catastrophic events as long as they do not occur too often, a nice cause for optimism for the South Pacific reefs.

Detailed reef health reports can be found at:

By: Helen R Sykes

Director Marine Ecology Fiji

Fiji Co-coordinator Reef Check

Fiji Co-coordinator GCRMN

4 Nov 2007

Great Manta Diving in Fiji

2 Nov 2007

In Fiji locals grow “live rock” for aquarium trade with university help

In Fiji locals grow “live rock” for aquarium trade with university help

In Fiji locals grow “live rock” for aquarium trade with university help
Press release from Georgia Institute of Technology

In a unique project that combines environmental conservation, economic development and drug discovery research, scientists and policy experts led by the Georgia Institute of Technology are collaborating with the villagers of Tagaqe and the University of the South Pacific to explore, protect and generate income for islanders from their shallow fringing coral reef.

In the South Pacific islands of Fiji, coastal villagers are beginning to reap much-needed financial benefits from conserving the beautiful tropical environment they treasure as a family heirloom.

In a unique project that combines environmental conservation, economic development and drug discovery research, scientists and policy experts led by the Georgia Institute of Technology are collaborating with the villagers of Tagaqe and the University of the South Pacific to explore, protect and generate income for islanders from their coral reef. The project is funded primarily by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Read full article here:

In Fiji locals grow “live rock” for aquarium trade with university help

29 Oct 2007

Video from Coral Coast

Ok not our best example of video from our sites, but thought I would play with positng a video here...

24 Oct 2007

Coral Reefs And Hybrid Cars

Love it that someone is actually talking about this in real terms!


EarthTalk Reader's Q&A: Coral Reefs And Hybrid Cars

Q: I’ve heard about the die-off of coral reefs due to global warming. I’ve also read that coral reefs themselves store carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main global warming gases. So if coral reefs are dying out, isn’t that a double whammy that increases the CO2 in the atmosphere? -- Tom Ozzello, Maplewood, MN

According to marine scientists, the world’s coral reefs—those underwater repositories for biodiversity that play host to some 25 percent of all marine life—are in big trouble as a result of global warming. Data collected by the international environmental group WWF (formerly World Wildlife Fund) show that 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been effectively destroyed and show no immediate sign of recovery, while about 50 percent of remaining reefs are under imminent or long-term threat of collapse.

Most scientists now agree that global warming is not a natural phenomenon but a direct result of the continual release of excessive amounts of CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases into the atmosphere by human industrial and transportation activity. And the small but prolonged rises in ocean temperature that result cause coral colonies to expel the symbiotic food-producing algae that sustain them. This process is called “bleaching,” because it turns the reefs white as they die.

But researchers working with the Coral Reef Alliance have found that while coral reefs do store CO2 as part of photosynthesis, they tend to release most of it back into the ocean (so they are not what are known as “carbon sinks”). As such, the release of CO2 from dying coral reefs is not a major concern.

Of course, the ocean itself is a large carbon sink, storing about a quarter of what would otherwise end up in the atmosphere. Landmasses (and their plants) soak up another quarter of all the CO2 emanating from the Earth’s surface, while the rest rises up into the atmosphere where it can wreak havoc with our climate.

Recent findings indicate that the Antarctic Ocean is getting less efficient at storing CO2, and this raises serious questions about the ability of our oceans to handle everything we throw at them. The study’s authors fear that “such weakening of one of the Earth’s major carbon dioxide sinks will lead to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long-term.”

Not everyone is forecasting gloom and doom. Some Australian researchers believe that coral reefs around the world could expand in size by up to a third due to increased ocean warming. “Our finding stands in stark contrast to previous predictions that coral reef growth will suffer large, potentially catastrophic, decreases in the future,” says University of New South Wales oceanographer Ben McNeil, who led the controversial 2004 study that was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters. “Our analysis suggests that ocean warming will foster considerably faster future rates of coral reef growth that will eventually exceed pre-industrial rates by as much as 35 per cent by 2100,” he adds.

In spite of such theories, the majority of marine scientists remain pessimistic about the future of coral reefs in a warmer world. One can only hope that the optimists are right.

Short of buying a new hybrid or other “green” car, are there ways I can make my existing vehicle more eco-friendly? I bought my car recently and am not quite ready to give it up. -- Bettie Hilliker, Lansing, MI

Choice of vehicle may well be the biggest factor in determining the environmental impact of your automobile-based travels. But a considerable amount of energy is used—and pollutants emitted—in the production of any new vehicle, including hybrids and other more fuel-efficient options. As a result, many environmentalists believe that practicing good driving habits and performing adequate maintenance on an older car are probably better options for the environment than causing the production of a new vehicle.

According to the website
GreenerCars.org, there are many ways to green up one’s driving habits. Obeying speed limits, utilizing cruise control and avoiding jackrabbit starts will maximize fuel economy and minimize tailpipe emissions while also preventing unnecessary wear-and-tear. Staying off roads during rush hours is also advisable, as stop-and-go driving burns excess gasoline and promotes smog. Opening vents and windows to cool off instead of using the air conditioner, an inherently inefficient appliance that consumes more fuel and leads to more emissions, is also good advice.

Drivers can also help minimize their environmental impact by keeping their cars well maintained. According to GreenerCars.org, getting regular tune-ups—where a qualified mechanic changes fluids and checks for and corrects problems such as worn spark plugs, under inflated tires, dragging brakes, misaligned wheels and clogged filters—can significantly improve fuel economy and minimize harmful emissions. GreenerCars.org also recommends seeking out low-rolling-resistance (LRR) replacement tires, which are specifically designed to improve a vehicle’s fuel economy, when the original ones wear out.

Beyond regular maintenance, a handful of small companies now sell green-friendly fuel additives that purport to increase fuel efficiency while reducing emissions. Such products—including Bluestar Environmental’s Omstar D-1280X gas additive and Suntec Bio-Energy’s diesel additive—are normally targeted at fleets of vehicles, but individuals are free to use them as well. Owners beware, though: Use of such products could invalidate automakers’ warranties, so read the fine print in your owner’s manual before pouring anything out-of-the-ordinary into your fuel tank.

Of course, getting out of your car altogether—or most of the time—is a far greener choice than driving even a well-maintained new or old car conscientiously. Some employers now offer federally-subsidized “commuter choice” incentives whereby workers can derive financial benefits by telecommuting (working from home), or by walking, biking, using public transit or carpooling to and from the office.

Another option is to join a car sharing service like Zipcar or Flexcar, whereby you pay a modest monthly membership fee and can then rent cars parked nearby by the hour only when needed. The companies operate on both U.S. coasts, as well as in major Midwestern and Canadian cities.


GreenerCars.org “Green Driving Tips,” www.greenercars.org/drivingtips.htm

Bluestar Environmental, www.ablustar.com

Suntec Bio-Energy, www.suntecbioenergy.com

Zipcar, www.zipcar.com

Flexcar, www.flexcar.com

Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881;
submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/ , or e-mail: earthtalk@emagazine.com

Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php

19 Oct 2007

Reef Check’s International Declaration of Reef Rights Receives Presidential Attention

Reef Check - Reef Check News - Saving Reefs Worldwide

The Declaration takes a monumental leap forward with its first official Governmental signings! Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, Emanual Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia and Kessai Note, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, have all pledged to protect coral reefs by signing the Declaration. All three presidents added their signatures to the Declaration and pledged to protect coral reefs at the 7th Micronesia Presidential Summit on September 5, 2007. These three distinguished men proudly signed the Declaration and vowed to be at the forefront of marine conservation.

According to President Remengesau, “The Presidents and people of Micronesia recognize that the preservation of our coral reefs is critical to not only our economic survival, but also to our cultural survival. Taking into consideration the fact that 2008 will be the International Year of the Reef, we felt it was totally appropriate that Micronesia take the lead in combating the degradation of coral reefs throughout the world by signing the International Declaration of Reef Rights.”

We would like to thank Tommy E Remengesau, Emanual Mori and Kessai Note for acknowledging the importance of our world’s reefs. We would also like to send a large thank you to Larry Goddard and Susi McConaghy for making this monumental occasion possible.

To join the likes of these three world leaders, please add your name to the Declaration of Reef Rights at http://www.reefcheck.org/petition/petition.php

1 Oct 2007

Nurses Notes

Bula (Hello), and welcome to the autumn edition of Nurses Notes.

From the greeting in the opening line, you may or may not have guessed that I am in Fiji mode and will endeavour to stay that way as long as I possibly can. I have just returned home after a marvellous (and much needed) 10 day holiday at the fabulous Hideaway Resort on the coral coast of Fiji.

While at Hideaway, I refreshed my scuba diving skills with Diveaway Fiji, and went on to complete my Advanced Open Water Scuba Diver course. My passion for scuba diving was well and truly re-ignited and I plan on returning to Hideaway next year and completing my Rescue Diver course with them. The diving team at the resort were spectacular and are very passionate about showing you the magnificent treasures that await you in the underwater world. I know it sounds odd but some of the diving spots are just like they are from the movie ‘Finding Nemo’.

One site known as ‘Casbah’ was particularly like it. The diving was just wonderful and the water so lovely and warm. The lowest temperature was 29 degrees at a depth of 30 metres (diving here in Port Phillip Bay, although good, is never warm, and you are lucky to get a water temperature above 20 degrees during summer). It was lovely to come back from my dives each day and share my wonderful adventures with my family and friends who were excited to listen to my tales.

A picture from Alan Walton's dive!

The staff at Hideaway are just so beautiful and warm that they quickly become like family and you never want to leave. To give you a small glimpse of paradise, I have uploaded a link to some photos I took of the trip and the websites for Hideaway Resort and Diveaway.

13 Sept 2007

DAN Funds Major New Research Study

DAN , through its partnership with subsidiary AGI, has contributed $100,000 to fund a study of the causes of immersion pulmonary edema, a lung injury identified in water enthusiasts. Richard E. Moon, M.D., DAN senior medical consultant, will conduct the study, which is targeted for completion in late 2008.

Moon is also professor of anesthesiology and medicine at Duke University Medical Center and medical director of the DUMC’s Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology

IPE, an accumulation of water in the lungs of swimmers and divers, causes cough, shortness of breath and reduced blood oxygen levels. It occurs in both military and civilian swimmers and divers during heavy exertion, most often in cold water.

DAN President and CEO Dan Orr and DAN Board Chairman Dennis Liberson presented the check to Moon on Aug. 30. "We are very proud to support Dr. Moon's important research project,” Orr said. “This is just one of many projects that DAN will support in the future, expanding the body of knowledge in dive medicine and improving diving safety."

Moon said studying divers or swimmers with IPE to understand the causes has been difficult, because once the subjects have been removed from the water and given first aid treatment, the conditions that precipitated the condition are no longer present. “For the study, we will recruit recreational divers who have experienced IPE, test them in the experimental apparatus that we have constructed and look for specific genetic anomalies,” Moon said.

Formerly believed to be rare, IPE has been reported to DAN with increasing frequency over the past three years. Typically it resolves completely in less than a day, but it has been fatal; in other cases, immersion pulmonary edema has recurred. Its exact cause is not known, although scientists believe IPE may be caused by high blood pressure within the vessels of the lung, specifically in the pulmonary artery and capillaries.

The study will supplement a Navy-funded study presently being conducted at Duke.


For more information on this release contact DAN Communications at editors@DiversAlertNetwork.org or call +1-919-684-2948 ext. 626 or 629.

8 Sept 2007

APEC officials agree on global warming statement

Environmental News Network

SYDNEY (AP): Pacific Rim nations on Friday reached agreement on a joint statement on global warming, overcoming bickering between rich and poor nations about whether to include targets on emissions, two Asian officials said.

Experts from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum approved the wording of a final draft statement on climate change that would be handed to leaders at their summit starting Saturday, the officials said.

Read whole article at Environmental News Network

5 Sept 2007

Promoting Water Security in the Pacific

Environmental News Network

Managing and protecting freshwater resources is of vital importance for the Pacific region’s health and wealth. A recent mission by the IUCN Water Programme is leading to the development of the Nadi River Catchment area, to help both secure water supply and prevent downstream flooding.

With the opening of IUCN’s Oceania headquarters in Fiji, January 2007, Director Taholo Kami aims to work with regional partners and members to develop the IUCN’s Water Programme to support the many water challenges the region faces.

“We want to work in the Nadi River catchment. We are looking at one or two of the other islands and will work towards agreements with local communities on specific improvements in their water situation,” said Dr Bergkamp, Head of the IUCN Water Programme. IUCN hopes to have specialist water program staff in place over the next year to look into water projects with its partners. Dr Bergkamp believes key for the region is to look at the chain of supply for water from the mountains to the reef, and its role in development, economics and good governance.

Read full article here...

Environmental News Network

2 Sept 2007

Scuba Books

26 Aug 2007

Zooplankton move to the moon's tune - life - 08 July 2007 - New Scientist

NewScientist.com news service

How do ocean animals that live below the depth to which moonlight penetrates migrate in phase with the moon?

Hans van Haren of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in Den Burg used sonar to track zooplankton movement over 18 months. They migrate up and down the water column on daily and seasonal cycles, and van Haren also identified a strong monthly movement that coincided with lunar cycles (Geophysical Research Letters, vol 34, p L12603). But the zooplankton remain at or below 800 metres, while moonlight penetrates no deeper than 150 metres. "This has nothing to do with physical processes," say van Haren, "but a biochemical clock could explain it."

Other studies have shown that zooplankton kept in the dark can retain light-induced biorhythms for several weeks. Van Haren's work suggests that biorhythms can be preserved for far longer.

Zooplankton move to the moon's tune - life - 08 July 2007 - New Scientist

20 Aug 2007

Conquest Of Land Began In Shark Genome

Science Daily

Scientists at the University of Florida have identified genetic activity in sharks required for the development of hands, feet, fingers and toes in limbed animals. The finding shows what was thought to be a relatively recent evolutionary innovation existed eons earlier than previously believed, potentially providing insight for scientists seeking ways to cure human birth defects.

Sharks (like this Great White off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico) have the recipe for fingers in their genetic cookbook, researchers have found. (Credit: iStockphoto/Keith Flood)

When the first four-legged animals sprouted fingers and toes, they took an ancient genetic recipe and simply extended the cooking time, say University of Florida scientists writing in Wednesday's issue of the journal PLoS One.

Even sharks -- which have existed for more than half a billion years -- have the recipe for fingers in their genetic cookbook -- not to eat them, but to grow them.

While studying the mechanisms of development in shark embryos, UF scientists identified a spurt of genetic activity that is required for digit development in limbed animals.

ScienceDaily: Conquest Of Land Began In Shark Genome

8 Aug 2007

MARES introduces the NEMO EXCEL dive computer

Next generation NEMO EXCEL builds on popular advanced dive computer in a major way.

Building on the success of the original NEMO, the NEMO EXCEL is a natural evolution using upgraded components for a tougher computer with a more technical look. A larger segmented display and flat, recessed mineral glass provides improved contrast at wider viewing angles. The non-reflective mineral glass is scratch resistant, shock proof and tempered for better durability and visibility in all conditions. Large textured buttons make NEMO EXCEL’s 4-button intuitive menu operation even easier than its predecessor. A pre-shaped ergonomic strap allows the NEMO EXCEL to fit more comfortably on the wrist.

NEMO EXCEL has 4 Dive Modes: Air, Nitrox, Bottom Timer and special Free Dive functions. Equipped with the most advanced RGBM Mares-Wienke algorithm, considerably lowering the risks associated with the formation of micro-bubbles by introducing deep stops. An active, timer-controlled display light is easily turned on by the pressing of a single button. Strap extension is included. Watch functions include dual time zones, alarm clock function, stop watch and calendar.

“The new design of the NEMO EXCEL is the perfect integration of an advanced featured dive computer and stylish wrist watch. It is ideal for below and above the surface” states Phil Mintz, Vice President of Diving, MARES USA.

Recently tested by the world’s most widely published underwater photographer Stephen Frink; Stephen states:

“I just came up from my first dive with the MARES NEMO EXCEL. I loved the ease of navigation and general ergonomics. The screen is very informative, logical, and easy to read. It is small and handsome enough for daily wear while on a dive trip, yet packs an informational punch while underwater”.

The NEMO EXCEL has a suggested retail of $600.00 and will be arriving at MARES dealers in early August 2007.

For additional information on this product and the complete line of Mares products for 2007 contact your MARES District Sales Manager, Customer Service or go to www.mares.com for your nearest Authorized MARES Dealer.

6 Aug 2007

Olympus Stylus 770SW 7.1MP Digital Camer

Salt water spray has claimed two of my previous cameras so when I read about this camera and the Pentax Option W30 I decided one of the two would be a very valuable investment. The next question was deciding which one to buy.

The Pentax is a superior camera. Colors are more saturated, and it has lower noise higher up the ISO range. Also, the Pentax produces videos that are 30FPS (the Olymmpus only goes up to 15FPS) which is a huge advantage. Also, the Pentax uses SD cards, which are available at higher density and faster speed.

The Olympus, on the other hand, is much more bulletproof.

First of all, it will survive down to 30' whereas the Pentax is limited to 10. I wanted a camera that could survive light snorkeling. I routinely breath-hold dive to 12'-15' and I'd hate to have a camera on me that I would worry about. With the Olympus I just do whatever I want.

Second, the Olympus is crush proof. I can slap the thing in my backpocket and sit on it and not break it (I weigh about 190#). I can get on my boat, throw the thing on the deck with the rest of my gear, and watch it bounce around unharmed. The Pentax is just not that strong.

In the end, since I already have a camera that takes brilliant, vivid pictures with great resolution and also takes great video (a Canon SD550) I decided rugged was more important than marginally better optical rendition. I figured the Olympus would take acceptably good pictures and I went with the Olympus.

I'm not disappointed, but I'm not thrilled.

The camera is every bit as waterproof and bulletproof as is claimed. I've slapped it around, thrown it, had it around the boat, seawater, sun, kids, and it's just fine. I can take this camera with me on the boat, take it with me swimming and snorkeling, and it will work when I'll want it. A camera is only useful when you have it and I'm not afraid to have the Olympus with me at all times in any environment.

Having said that, the picture quality stinks, I suspect as a result of the lens design dictated by the water resistant qualities of the camera. In bright sunlight, with the ISO set to 100 (and even up to 200 it's not bad) there is no significant noise. On the other hand, the colors appear washed out and dull compared to similar pictures taken with the Canon. Its resolving power is also inferior to the Canon and there's no question but that I'll continue to use my Canon in environments that are friendly to it (like, no salt water spray risk). On the other hand, since I can't take my Canon everywhere, I love having this camera; I recently went to see America's cup practices in Valencia and I'm happy to say I have a couple of shots of Alinghi that will make decent poster prints. They'd look better taken with my Canon but....right, I would not have taken my Canon in that environment, so...

Focusing delay is very short, as is shutter delay. If you prefocus, the shutter delay is non-existent. Without prefocus, it's less than a second: not bad. On the other hand, shot to shot delay is annoyingly long, a couple seconds at full resolution.

Image compression is average. In the best quality mode you can still see some compression artifacts but the average person will not notice. If you do know what to look for, you'll find it annoying but not a deal-breaker.

I bought a 2Gb H Xd card, and it's pretty fast but not as good as high speed SD. Also, it's nowhere near the density that SD has reached, but 2Gb will go a pretty long way.

In short: buy this camera to take it in places where other cameras fear to go. Don't buy this camera if all you want is great pictures for the backyard or the trip to Disneyland.

Ah, almost forgot. Buy a large styrofoam float and attach it to the lanyard. If you lose the camera over the side of your boat, it's nice to be able to go back and pick it up.

Variation Parent: Olympus Stylus 770SW 7.1MP Digital Camera with Dual Image Stabilized 3x Optical Zoom (Silver)

26 Jul 2007

100 Ways to Save the Environment

100 Ways to Save the Environment

In Your Home – Conserve Energy
  1. Clean or replace air filters on your air conditioning unit at least once a month.
  2. If you have central air conditioning, do not close vents in unused rooms.
  3. Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120.
Read them all here: 100 Ways to Save the Environment

19 Jul 2007

Camera Housing Maintenance

Housing Maintenance

"Maintenance of Ikelite Housings

Housing Assembly:

The general rule for all housings with multiple lid snaps is opposite snaps MUST be fastened simultaneously. Check that the cover is completely into the housing body with the 'O' ring touching everywhere before fastening the lid snaps. Most of our housings allow you to see that the 'O' ring is sealing as the snaps are fastened because the 'O' ring will show a blacker compression area around the entire face of the housing if properly sealed.

Housing 'O' Rings:

The port 'O' ring of our SLR housings will need a very slight film of lubricant to assure proper installation, but we recommend no lubricant on most of our housing 'O' rings. Please note that some lubricants may cause the Ikelite 'O' rings to soften and swell in size. A good quality silicone grease should be fine, or use genuine Ikelite lubricant to be sure.

The lubricant may be used to clean the 'O' rings, but most of it should then be wiped off. Be careful to not stretch the 'O' ring while pulling it between your fingers when cleaning.

Housing Controls:

Check the knob set screws occasionally to be sure they are tight, but do not over tighten. A very light film of lubricant should be placed on the shafts every few dives or every week of a vacation, then rotate the shaft while moving it in"

Housing Maintenance

11 Jul 2007

Moon Handbooks Fiji

If you want to travel to any of the 322 islands in the Fiji archipelago, Moon Handbooks Fiji has everything you need.

From coverage of Fiji's top-rated resorts to the newest adventure tourism facilities and little-known backpacker areas, travelers of all interests will find the destination to suit them.

This guidebook includes vivid descriptions of the islands' dazzling beaches, rainforests, and reefs, with a special focus on scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, windsurfing, rafting, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, and golf.

Complete with practical essentials, including photographs, illustrations, and 53 easy-to-use maps and transportation tips for island hopping by sea or air, Moon Handbooks Fiji is the guide for a uniquely personal travel experience.

X-Ray Mag - International Dive Magazine. Subscription is free

First buoy to monitor ocean acidification deployed

The Gulf of Alaska has a new occupant: a buoy that will monitor ocean acidification, with attached sensors that can measure climate indicators.
Photo credit: NOAA.
"The instruments will measure the air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen gas in addition to the pH, a measure of ocean acidity, of the surface waters," said Steven Emerson of the University of Washington, the project's lead scientist.

"This is the first system specifically designed to monitor ocean acidification."

The buoy, measuring 10 feet in diameter, is anchored in water nearly 5,000 meters deep. Once it hit the water, the buoy immediately began to transmit data via satellite.

"Information from this buoy will lead to a better understanding of ocean acidification - a growing threat to the world's oceans - by helping scientists determine exactly how physical and biological processes affect carbon dioxide in the north Pacific Ocean," said Fred Lipschultz, program director in NSF's division of ocean sciences.

The goal of the research is to examine how ocean circulation and ecosystems interact to determine how much carbon dioxide the north Pacific Ocean absorbs each year.

"The Gulf of Alaska region is particularly important because it is likely to be one of the first regions to feel the impacts of ocean acidification," said Christopher Sabine, an oceanographer from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

9 Jul 2007

The Coral Reef Alliance - Coral Reef Tourism Protects Its Pot Of Gold, Taipei Times, 06/22/07

The Coral Reef Alliance - Coral Reef Tourism Protects Its Pot Of Gold, Taipei Times, 06/22/07

By Bonnie Tsui

Source: Taipei Times


Green sea turtles, cascades of glittering reef fish, blooming coral pillars -- countless travelers have come nose to nose with a thriving undersea universe while on vacation.

But increasingly, divers and snorkelers are swimming over bleached hunks of coral devastated by shore runoff or overfishing. From the South Pacific to the Caribbean, coral reefs -- which are among the most delicate of marine ecosystems -- are bearing the brunt of climate change and other human-driven activities -- including coastal development, deforestation and unrestricted tourism.

Now, many in the tourist industry are trying to halt the damage and it is no wonder. The dollars involved in reef-based tourism are significant: Australia's Great Barrier Reef alone draws about 1.9 million visitors a year, supporting a US$4.2 billion industry. According to the Nature Conservancy, the annual economic value of coral reefs to world tourism is US$9.6 billion.

Growing awareness of environmental issues means that the tourism industry has lately been a partner to conservation efforts in major reef areas. Though the Great Barrier is the most famous reef, it is not the"

The Coral Reef Alliance - Coral Reef Tourism Protects Its Pot Of Gold, Taipei Times, 06/22/07

SCUBA Travel: The Independent Guide to Diving around the World

SCUBA Travel: The Independent Guide to Diving around the World:

"Welcome to the impartial guide for divers who like to travel.

The best dive sites, accommodation options, diving centres, when to go, how to get there, travel tips...personal views written from experience.

Every month we send out SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011). As well as all the diving news it includes dive and travel articles, features a marine 'creature of the month', reviews recent diving books and keeps you up-to-date on new destinations added to the SCUBA Travel site. To receive your free copy enter your e-mail below."

7 Jul 2007

Reef Check - Reef Check News - Saving Reefs Worldwide

Reef Check - Reef Check News - Saving Reefs Worldwide

"Reef Check Serves as NGO coordinator for IYOR2008

In 2006, Reef Check Executive Director, Dr. Gregor Hodgson, proposed that 2008 be declared International Year of the Reef. The proposal was approved by the International Coral Reef Initiative, the highest level government and non-government organization working on coral reefs and subsequently by the NOAA US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF). IYOR 2008 is intended to increase public awareness, and actions to conserve coral reefs. One of the major activities is the signing of the International Declaration of Reef Rights with a goal of 1 million signatures, and formal signing by coral reef country leaders. Please show your support for coral reefs and sign the Declaration and send it to your friends.

For IYOR 2008, NOAA is working through the USCRTF to organize governmental activities, and Reef Check has been asked to serve as the non-government organization (NGO) coordinator. Our task is to reach out to as many NGOs as possible, including nonprofit organizations, academic centers, and businesses, and get them involved in this effort.

If your organization or business would like to participate, please contact Mary Luna at: iyor2008@reefcheck.org and see: IYOR-NGO2008.reefcheck.org.

We look forward to having you as a partner in IYOR 2008!

5 Jul 2007

scuba diving vacation blogs

scuba diving vacation blogs:

"The Fijian Islands are very close to Vanuatu, and are known for their coral reefs. There are over 300 islands making up the Fiji group of islands, the two major islands in the group are known as Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Almost 80 percent of the population live on these two islands.

Scuba Duba says this about a Scuba Diving Vacation in Fiji

Fiji scuba diving offers tremendous crystal clear visibility, huge marine life like giant rays, reef sharks , tarpins, and uncrowded low trafficked dive locations which remain pristine. The Fijian islands are a tropical paradise rarely matched with a lovely culture. The fact that it is more remote means fewer tourists cluttering the beaches and resorts and marine life that hasn't been scared off by a freeway of dive traffic. Check out the great selection of featured listing below and our Scubaduba directory that will help you discover the best of scuba diving in Fiji ."

3 Jul 2007

Hurricanes may be unlikely saviours of coral reefs - earth - 02 July 2007 - New Scientist Environment

Hurricanes may be unlikely saviours of coral reefs - earth - 02 July 2007 - New Scientist Environment

"Hurricanes Katrina and Rita may have been unlikely saviours for the coral reefs under their paths, say researchers. They have found evidence that the cooling effect hurricanes have on sea temperatures may help corals recover from the bleaching caused by warming oceans.

Coral reefs get their colour from tiny algae called zooxanthellae that live within them.

The corals and the algae live in symbiosis, but if the corals become stressed they can expel the algae – which results in coral bleaching. One source of stress to corals is high sea temperatures, which is why global warming is predicted to bring about widespread coral bleaching.

In the North Atlantic, warmer temperatures at the ocean surface also help hurricanes form. Now, Derek Manzello, at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and colleagues have shown that hurricanes cool temperatures and may assist coral recovery."

18 Jun 2007

Technical Diving in Depth by B. R. Wienke

A long-awaited and much-needed title has just been released by BPC. "Technical Diving in Depth" by Bruce R. Wienke is the most complete and comprehensive reference work published to date on technical diving.

It contains a mixture of technical topics, with each one self-contained and developed in relationship to diving. The topics span many disciplines and focus on a number of technical arenas.

Topics Include:
Thermodynamics, pressure and density, mechanics, gas kinetics, free and dissolved phase transfer, energy and matter interactions, nucleation and cavitation, bubbles and surfactants, oxygen dose, gas mixtures, buoyancy, gauges and tanks, compressors and regulators, maladies and drugs, statistics, risk and probability, binomial distributions, waves, transport, currents, geology, oceanography, geophysics, solar energy and radiation. References and Appendix are also included.

Targeted Audience:
Technical diver, commercial diver, diving instructor, underwater researcher, doctors, hyperbaric technicians, physiologist, physicist, chemist, mathematician, engineer or biologist.

14 Jun 2007

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II

This is one of those rare books that you know within the first dozen pages it's going to be a great read and you're going to be disappointed when it ends. Robert Kurson's tremendous research combined with a great historical narrative style results in learning not only about the lives of the living players such as Chatterton and Kohler, but the dead sailors on the submarine as well.

While this is Kurson's book, you can see the extensive contribution provided by Chatterton, Kohler and others who shared the experience. This book fits beautifully with "The Last Dive", which I reviewed here a few years ago. I did learn things here, which surprised me relative to "The Last Dive". I thought they had been doing mixed-gas diving much longer on U-869 then just before the Rouse's arrival. Chapter 2 is about the dangers of wreck diving and sets the stage of what to expect throughout the remainder of the book.

Kurson makes sure the reader understands this wasn't just a bunch of treasure hunters looking for some "stuff". These guys respected this dive site as sacred resting place for these German sailors and their actions (including their own research) supported that belief. And in the end, I was right...it was a disappointment to see it end.

10 Jun 2007

Sharks of the World (Princeton Field Guides)

It's finally here -- THE DEFINITIVE and COMPLETELY (yes, very literally) EXHAUSTIVE shark guide. I've just picked up my copy and it still feels like a dream. As a serious shark enthusiast, this is the book that I have always dreamed about but has never existed, until now. If you're a shark enthusiast, it would be a tragedy not to acquire this book.

Here's why:

(1) There are lavish full color illustrations of every single species of shark known today -- 404 described species and 49 as-yet-undescribed species on 64 plates, each species in oblique view (not the usual profile shot), giving invaluable information on its shape in 3 dimensions. In addition to the most popular species (such as the great white or the blacktip reef shark), the least well known are also included in this book, such as Deania quadrispinosum or Etmopterus pusillus, or new species, such as Isistius labialis or Somniosus antarcticus. There are 3 plates of 18 species of angel sharks (Squatinidae)! All 5 species of Oxynotus are included! Nine species of saw shark (Pristiophoridae)!

(2) All breath-takingly accurate illustrations are by the same artist, ensuring consistent style. Mark Dando is among the most accomplished of shark artists; his attention to detail is truly astounding. As a discriminating and accomplished fellow natural history artist, I know what I'm talking about. Having said that, please understand that the illustrations chosen for the cover, while wonderfully accurate, are not representative of the exquisite skill demonstrated in his illustrations of more colorful species, such as the ornate wobbegong (Orectolobus ornatus). Therefore, at the risk of sinking in the mire of cliche, I nevertheless urge you not to judge this book by its cover!

(3) The work is truly exhaustive, not only in the number of species depicted. Where there is sufficient variation within a species, additional color illustrations depict sexual dimorphism, juvenile forms and races. All species are presented to scale with each other and a scale bar is provided for easy size comparisons.

(4) For those with a taste for the traditional practice of depicting sharks in profile line drawings, the illustrator satisfies in the textual portion of the book. Again, every single species is beautifully presented in a fine ink line drawing from the side (or from the top in angel sharks and saw sharks). With every species is included a detailed range map, and for most species the teeth are also illustrated. For many, the ventral view of the head is also presented.

(5) The text reads like a field guide, providing detailed notes on the measurements, distinguishing features, distribution, habitat, behavior, biology and status of each species, written by leading authorities on sharks. It even includes a checklist at the end so that shark watchers can record their sightings in the field.

I am completely confident that no shark enthusiast will be disappointed in this book. Seriously folks, the editorial review provided by the publisher for this book underestimates its worth. It's truly a gem and will probably remain the definitive reference and the ultimate field guide for a long, long time.

8 Jun 2007

Thank you!

Bula, Alex & Alice!

I just wanted to send you a quick "hello" from Chicago. We had a great time in Fiji, and really enjoyed our stay at the Hideaway.

One of the absolute, unexpected highlights of our vacation was scuba diving with Diveaway Fiji. As you know, we (myself, Ashley and Kyra) had never before been scuba diving in our lives, and we never even imagined that we would be able to scuba dive while we were in Fiji in March 2007.

Thanks to your positive encouragement and comprehensive instructions, we found ourselves about 30 feet deep in the Pacific Ocean before we knew it. The entire experience was truly amazing. I'll always remember the absolute calm and beauty of being immersed in the fascinating under water world for the very first time!

We can't wait to get back into the water. I'm sure we will plan many of our future vacations with scuba diving opportunities in mind. You have definitely infected the three of us with scuba-fever.

Best of luck to you, and we wish you continued success with your diving business and experiences.


Larry, Judy, Ashley & Kyra

6 Jun 2007

Nudibranchs and Sea Snails by Helmut Debelius

A beautiful book containing over 1020 color photos, depicting gastropods from the West Coast

of the US to the Red Sea to South Africa.

Half of the book is devoted to gastropods with shells and half of the book concerned with

those without shells(nudibranchs) all live and in their natural habitat. There is nothing so

brightly colored as a nudibranch and to see one "swim" is pure joy. A must have for divers,

aquarists and those who love nature.

Although there is some animals misidentified I find it still a good field guide and should

be well received by anyone who appreciates beauty.

1 Jun 2007

Breweries back in action

FOSTER'S Group Pacific Ltd breweries have resumed production following a temporary one-week closure, the company said this week.

General manager Ross Shaw said the closure of the production facilities proceeded as planned.

"The breweries in Suva and Lautoka closed for one week from May 14 to May 21. Both facilities have restarted production. The South Pacific Distillery in Lautoka was scheduled to close for one month from May 14 until June 19," he said.

Mr Shaw the distillery was expected to restart on June 19.

He said sales and administration at all sites had continued without interruption.

Mr Shaw said the group temporarily closed its SPD plant in Lautoka for a month due to the downturn in the economy.

Meanwhile, company director Robert Rogers has resigned from the FGP board.

He was replaced by Anthony Neil Davie, managing director of Foster's Asia, New Zealand and Pacific, effective from Wednesday.


31 May 2007

Diving in your later years……

Today I had a great experience! I took Helen and her daughter on a PADI Discover Scuba Dive! Helen is a 72 year old lady who suffers from post viral fatigue syndrome. We had to make a few adjustments of our dive plan, rather than doing a backwards roll entry into the water we made a slow shore start, and then during the dive we would swim a few meters then stop kneel down and look at the fish and coral.

It was so refreshing to take our time, we were able to look at the different colours and textures of the corals, fish who dwell in different areas, a turtle who was resting in a hole came out and gently cruised around us. After a study of a sleeping puffer fish, and a small cray in a hole we came across 2 resting white tip sharks, Helen was anxious to move on but we sat quietly then moved forward (to her dismay) until we were kneeling a meter away from them! Helen couldn’t believe she was sitting with the sharks!

Moving on we passed 2 more sharks, a large school of snappers, forty minutes had passed and Helen signalled she was tyred, so we slowly moved our way up on top of the reef before surfacing. On surfacing I checked her air gauge she still had 110 bar left not bad for a beginner!!

Helen's scuba dive was the highlight of her holiday and an eye opener to me, a dive I have done 100’s times, this is one I will defiantly remember.

30 May 2007

Whales & Dolphins (Smithsonian Handbooks)

A beautifully illustrated guide to every species of whale, dolphin and porpoise. Covers their identification, evolution, biology, behaviour, reproduction and social lives. Includes tips on how and where to watch whales, dolphins and porpoises, and information on their conservation.

From the great illustrations and quick-reference title bar that includes taxonomic, habitat and population information, to the range maps and behavioral information, this book was such a steal. I received this book shortly before starting cetacean surveys in the south pacific and it was an incredible source of information. I have used many field guides and, although I never tested its 'water-proofness", it is simultaneously concise yet complete. It not only gives identification keys for individual species, but also keys to identifying individual animals. If you are a teacher, student, biologist or enthusiast, get it, wherever you are in the world.

26 May 2007

Ten Delicious Ways to Dip into Diving

On Away.com By Paul McMenamin

"The conditions that make for great diving—warm, translucent water, good weather, and tropical locales—also make for a terrific getaway vacation. You'll find great bargains at the big Carribean resorts, while exotic destinations such as Borneo and Micronesia promise true underwater adventure.

Fiji: South Pacific Paradise
Ask divers who have sampled most of the world's leading dive spots where they would go for a perfect dive vacation, and more often than not, Fiji is the answer. Topside, Fiji is Polynesia at its best—unspoiled and uncrowded. The water is warm and clear, and there is every imaginable shape and variety of coral in all colors of the rainbow. The variety of dive sites is staggering—from the air, Fiji appears as a vast patchwork of coral, covering hundreds of square miles.

Fiji is one destination where there is no clear choice between live-aboard and land-based options. Both offer advantages and disadvantages. On a live-aboard you will be able to explore the more remote dive sites, and log the most dives per day. On the other hand, you will miss the experience of living on a tropical island, which is one of the best reasons to visit Fiji in the first place. The outer islands are quiet, idyllic retreats where civilization truly slips from your consciousness. The Fijians are a wonderful people, fun-loving and warm-hearted."

Read the whole article on Away.com...

Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) observatory

Oceanographers have completed an important step in constructing the first deep-sea observatory off the continental United States. Workers in the multi-institution effort laid 32 miles (52 kilometers) of cable along the Monterey Bay sea floor that will provide electrical power to scientific instruments, video cameras, and robots 3,000 feet (900 meters) below the ocean surface. The link will also carry data from the instruments back to shore, for use by scientists and engineers from around the world.

The Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) observatory, due to be completed later this year, will provide ocean scientists with 24-hour-a-day access to instruments and experiments in the deep sea. The project is managed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Currently, almost all oceanographic instruments in the deep sea rely on batteries for power and store their data on hard disks or memory chips until they are brought back to the surface. With a continuous and uninterrupted power supply, instruments attached to the MARS observatory could remain on the sea floor for months or years.

"MARS represents the first step in a long-planned process to transform the way the oceans are studied," said Julie Morris, director of NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences. "Marine scientists will no longer be required to go out to the ocean for their studies. The ocean is about to come into their offices."

If something goes wrong with the instruments, scientists will know immediately, and will be able to recover or reprogram them as necessary.

Slightly thicker than a garden hose, the MARS cable is buried about 3 feet below the sea floor along most of its route, so it will not be disturbed by boat anchors or fishing gear.

The cable itself contains a copper electrical conductor and strands of optical fiber. The copper conductor will transmit up to 10 kilowatts of power from a shore station at Moss Landing, Calif., to instruments on the sea floor. The optical fiber will carry up to 2 gigabits per second of data from these instruments back to researchers on shore, allowing scientists to monitor and control instruments 24 hours a day, and to have an unprecedented view of how environmental conditions in the deep sea change over time.

"After 5 years of hard work, we are thrilled to bring the age of the Internet to the deep ocean, so we can understand, appreciate and protect the two-thirds of our planet that lies under the sea," said MBARI director Marcia McNutt. "We are grateful for the help of our talented partners and visionary sponsors. MARS has truly been a team effort."

At the seaward end of the MARS cable is a large steel frame about 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and 15 feet (4.6 meters) on each side. This "trawl-resistant frame" will protect the electronic "guts" of the MARS observatory, which will serve as a computer network hub and electrical substation in the deep sea. The researchers hope to install these electronic components into the trawl-resistant frame in the fall of 2007.

After the electronics package is installed and tested, scientists from around the world will be able to attach their instruments to the observatory using underwater extension cords. These instruments will be carried down from the surface and plugged into the science node using MBARI's remotely operated vehicles.

MARS also will serve as a testing ground for technology that will be used on more ambitious deep-sea observatories. As planned, such observatories will use thousands of kilometers of undersea cables to hook up dozens of seismographs and oceanographic monitoring stations. They will provide scientists with new views of sea floor life, and a new understanding of the global tectonic processes that spawn earthquakes and tsunamis.

"MARS is the harbinger of an international ocean observatory network that will enable scientists to study ocean features and changing conditions," said Morris. "New ocean observing capabilities will provide knowledge about the ocean, and information to better manage and preserve ocean resources."

The MARS project was initiated in 2002 with $8 million in grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $1.75 million from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. NSF also contributed an additional $2 million to meet permitting and homeland security requirements. Components for the observatory are being designed and built by MBARI, the University of Washington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Nautronics Maripro, and Alcatel.


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF (703) 292-7734 cdybas@nsf.gov
Kim Fulton-Bennett, MBARI (831) 775-1835 kfb@mbari.org

Related Websites
MARS Observatory: http://www.mbari.org/mars/

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $5.91 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 1,700 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes nearly 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Receive official NSF news electronically through the e-mail delivery and notification system, MyNSF (formerly the Custom News Service). To subscribe, visit www.nsf.gov/mynsf/ and fill in the information under "new users".

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/