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/

25 May 2007

Wind shifts devastate ocean life

By Jonathan Fildes, Science and technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

The delicate interplay between the oceans and atmosphere is changing with catastrophic consequences.

That is the conclusion of researchers investigating 'dead zones' off the coast of the US, where populations of marine life were suddenly wiped out.

These vast graveyards occur where there are disturbances to currents driven by coastal winds, they say.

Dead zones have been recorded off the coast of California and Oregon every year for the last five years.

The most intense event, which left the ocean floor littered with the carcasses of crabs, happened in 2006.

'It was unlike anything that we've measured along the Oregon coast in the past five decades,' said Dr Francis Chan of Oregon State University (OSU).

Dead zones have also been seen in the waters off Chile, Namibia and South Africa."

Read more at BBC News...


21 May 2007

Global Warming Fast Facts

Global Warming Fast Facts

Global warming is a hot topic that shows little sign of cooling down. Earth's climate is changing, but just how it's happening, and our own role in the process, is less certain.

Check out these fast facts and pictures for a snapshot of Earth's evolving climate.

• There is little doubt that the planet is warming. Over the last century the average temperature has climbed about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 of a degree Celsius) around the world."

More at National Geographic... Global Warming Fast Facts

17 May 2007

United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme has prepared five communication tools that can be used to educate tourists about the importance of protecting coral reefs during their holidays.

The tools are available free of charge on CD ROM and can be used to print attractive and informative materials. They are intended primarily for tourists but can also be used for tourism industry employees and local residents. more information.


( available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and French)

12 May 2007

Beer Crisis!

Bula All,

I have grave news. As some of you may know, there was a coup d'etat in Fiji in early December last year. Originally scheduled for December 3rd it was postponed to December 6th when coup leaders realised that there might be ramifications for the Police v. Army annual rugby match due to be played on Dec 4th.

The coup duly went ahead on the Monday, and the local regional powers (I'm not sure its terribly exact to describe Australia and New Zealand in such glowing terms, but I can't think of a less emphatic word for "powers") promptly spat the dummy about the horrendous affront to global democracy. Having of course completely ignored the coup in Thailand, and having sweet fa to say about such joyous democracies as Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan, they slapped a travel advisory on Fiji one level below that on Iraq and Afghanistan and threatened to stop poaching Fijian rugby players for their national team. This has had the pincer effect of strangling Fiji's major import (tourists) and major export (rugby players).

Now the double pronged attack is starting to bite, and has indeed causes a major humanitarian crisis. Yesterday, it was announced that the brewery is to stop making beer for one week and the distillery to stop producing spirits for one month. This statement was immediately followed with the important notice that we weren't to worry as there was enough beer and spirits in the bonded warehouses to last out this period. However this failed to stop frenzied crowds panic buying crisis supplies at local supermarkets* and a subsequent drunken rampage through the night**.

Perhaps this horrendous event will persuade world leaders of the magnitude of the problems here in paradise and we can all start working together to return Fiji to being the way the world should be.

Meanwhile, I'm sure that some of you have experience in humanitarian crises, disaster relief and the airlifting of vital supplies. Please send beer.



*Well, me anyway.
** Me again. Sorry.

9 May 2007

Stop Distribution of Shark Fins

It is about a soup

Although it is about a seemingly innocent dish, a soup many Asians consider a delicacy, the ongoing controversy (to eat the soup or not to eat it) really boils down to the global threat shark populations are facing, even in marine sanctuaries such as the Galapagos Islands.

Sharks are being killed at an ever increasing rate, mainly to satisfy the rising demand for shark fin soup. While many Chinese allege that shark fin soup is part of their 'culture', we say: The health of this blue planet is part of ours! Now, if that should amount to yet another 'clash of cultures', so be it.

Alibaba.com is one of the largest online traders of seafood and other products, especially shark fin - without regards to source or sustainability.

The practice of shark finning, where a shark is captured, the fins removed, often while the shark is still living and the body discarded, is a brutal practice that is decimating shark populations worldwide.

This lucrative market for shark fin is creating huge incentives for poor nations- as represented by scores of businesses on Alibaba.com- to remove the ocean's shark populations. Without any control, it is likely that endangered and threatened shark species are traded in great volume at great profit.
As a web based business gateway, Alibaba.com is collusive and partner to this criminal and wasteful practice.

Sign the petition to stop this slaughter here.

Full petition:

Stop Distribution of Shark Fins

Dear Sirs.

On behalf of those undersigned concerned about our oceans and oceanic predators we are protesting Alibaba.com as the promotor of sellers, importers and exporters of SHARK FINS.

This action is taken in view of the fact that ALIBABA is one of the world's foremost web suppliers of dried SHARK FINS.

  • The practice of shark finning is causing huge incentive for the unsustainable and often illegal removal of shark populations world wide.
  • Removing sharks from the oceans will result in an ecological imbalance and is causing irreversible damage to the marine ecosytem.
  • Finning sharks and discarding the body is a brutal practice and is taking food from the mouths of poor nations who fish for sharks. The profiteering driven by the demand for shark fin soup is unconscionable, and any consumer of shark fin soup, without knowledge of the source of the shark fin is criminal by association.

It is for this reason that this Organization and its members will be taking the following actions:-

1) Global Boycott of the ALIBABA Company.

2) Global Boycott to any Importer or Exporter that deals with Alibaba.

3) Global Boycott to any shop, outlet or restaurant that offer shark fins.

4) Global Boycott of all known Shark Fin Suppliers.

We will also be spreading the word to all our contacts via the media and the Internet.

More information about Shark Finning can be seen at www.sharkmans-world.org/sos.htm and www.sharkstewards.com, or see the film Sharks:Stewards of the Reef.

Yours respectfully

Tags follow 'Nemo' fish to home

Scuba Diving Fiji

The remarkable homing instincts of some coral reef fish have been revealed.

A team tagged two species of reef fish larvae to see where the juveniles were going after spending weeks and even months maturing in open sea.

It found most of the orange clownfish - made famous by the Finding Nemo movie - and vagabond butterflyfish returned to the reef where they had first hatched.

Writing in the journal Science, the team said the discovery could have implications for marine protection.

"Marine fish lay very small eggs, and when they do, they are released into the water column," explained co-author Professor Geoff Jones from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.

"They develop into a really tiny little larvae that we think drift around in the water currents, sometimes for months.

"The missing link in our understanding of coral reef fish has always been: where do the larvae go?"

Help from Mum

But until now, finding this out has been extremely tricky - attaching tags to miniscule larvae is not an easy task.

So the international team of researchers tackled the problem by getting the mother to help.

Satellite image of the Kimbe Island  (Science)
The study took place on a small reef in Kimbe Bay
They did this by collecting female coral reef fish from a small 0.3 sq km reef in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, and injecting them with a rare, stable barium isotope.

The females pass this isotope to their developing offspring where it accumulates in their bones, giving the baby fish unique chemical signatures.

A few weeks later, the team returned to the reef and collected young fish to test them to see if they carried the "tag".

"We found that 60% - well over half - were coming back to the small island reserve, which was an unexpected result," Professor Jones told the BBC.

Navigational feat

The scientists are uncertain how the vividly coloured orange clownfish and vagabond butterflyfish perform this feat but hope to find out with further research.

An adult butterflyfish (Science and R. Patzner)
"Perhaps they are somehow remaining in sensory contact with their home island and are able to maintain their position and not end up drifting too far away," said Professor Jones.

"Or maybe they are getting carried away, but they have a homing mechanism to swim back to their home reef."

Although the study was carried out on two species, Professor Jones believes the finding may apply to other coral reef fish too, and if this is the case, it could have consequences for marine conservation.

It shows that small no-take marine reserves are a good way to protect over-fished species, he said, because there should be enough juveniles returning to the area to sustain numbers over time.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/05/04 15:14:23 GMT


8 May 2007

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Wind shifts devastate ocean life

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Wind shifts devastate ocean life: "Wind shifts devastate ocean life
By Jonathan Fildes
Science and technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

The Oregon researchers watched crab populations crash

Enlarge Image
The delicate interplay between the oceans and atmosphere is changing with catastrophic consequences.

That is the conclusion of researchers investigating 'dead zones' off the coast of the US, where populations of marine life were suddenly wiped out.

These vast graveyards occur where there are disturbances to currents driven by coastal winds, they say.

Dead zones have been recorded off the coast of California and Oregon every year for the last five years.

The most intense event, which left the ocean floor littered with the carcasses of crabs, happened in 2006.

'It was unlike anything that we've measured along the Oregon coast in the past five decades,' said Dr Francis Chan of Oregon State University (OSU).

Dead zones have also been seen in the waters off Chile, Namibia and South Africa."

7 May 2007

Scarborough Today News - Lake fish killed by amorous toads

Scarborough Today News - Lake fish killed by amorous toads

By Ian Duncan

AMOROUS toads have caused the deaths of scores of fish at a lake near Scarborough.
In one incident around 70 carp, worth about £3,000, were lost after male toads tried to mate with them on the Wykeham Estate.

Manager Mike Heelis said the situation became so bad last weekend he had to cancel two club competitions.

The toads clamp themselves on to the carp’s face and push its eyes into the sockets – and, if several reptiles are involved, the carp drowns due to its gills being closed.

Mr Heelis said the fish had encountered the toads after swimming into the lake’s warmer, shallow waters during the recent mild weather."

Scarborough Evening News... read more there if you want! Only in Scarborough!

4 May 2007

IYOR 08 Logo contest

International Year of the Reef 2008: Logo contest

The International Year of the Reef 2008 (IYOR 08) is looking for a logo and is calling on the creative - coral reef - community to come up with our new design.

Put your originality to the test and send us a logo design (info@iyor.org) that we can use on all IYOR materials (including our website, promotional material, conference banners, and anywhere else our name might appear).

Go here for full Guidelines...

2 May 2007


Leading German Brand to Join Forces with SCUBAPRO® and UWATEC®

JOHNSON OUTDOORS INC today announced it is adding the popular German brand, Seemann Sub™, to its portfolio of winning outdoor recreational brands. The family-owned and managed German company was acquired from Robert and Ella Stoss. The transaction, which closed on April 2, 2007, continues Johnson Outdoors’ strategic focus on acquisitions that complement its businesses, have market-leading potential and strengthen long-term profitability.

Seemann Sub™, founded in 1979, is one of Germany’s largest dive equipment providers, offering a complete line of dive gear for the price driven consumer. The acquisition enables Johnson Outdoors for the first time to go to market with a full range of innovative, quality dive equipment and gear representing the best value at every price point for the retail and rental channels. Over the next six months, the Company plans to relocate its existing SCUBAPRO® and UWATEC® business in Germany into Seemann Sub™ operations located in Wendelstein, Germany. The acquisition is expected to become accretive to JOUT earnings in fiscal 2008.

“Continuous innovation and strategic, targeted acquisitions are key to achieving our future growth vision,” said Helen Johnson-Leipold, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Outdoors. Germany is the #1 dive market in Europe, and establishing a strong presence there is essential to returning our diving business to historic levels of profitability. As a result of this acquisition, overnight Johnson Outdoors has become one of the top three competitors in this important regional marketplace. The opportunity beyond Europe is even more exciting as we look to leverage the SCUBAPRO® global dealer network to expand distribution of Seemann Sub™ around the world.”

Seemann Sub™ was purchased by Robert Stoss in 1997 following a successful 10 year career with SCUBAPRO® during which he directed diving operations first in Germany and then in the United States. Stoss has been active in the diving industry for nearly three decades, and is currently the licensee of the new Scuba Schools International (SSI®) European Distribution Centre. Under his guidance, Seemann Sub™ has earned a reputation as an innovation leader in the price/value dive gear segment with products such as the SL400™ second stage regulator, and the new Extender™ dry suit which was recently featured among the top 2007 product recommendations by Unterwasser, a premier German dive publication. Stoss has entered into a special agreement to work with Johnson Outdoors in the future on a variety of diving product design, marketing and sales efforts apart from his current ventures.

Johnson Outdoors is a pioneer in the scuba diving industry known for innovative product firsts, such as: underwater breathing regulators; user-friendly, nitrox dive computers; and, patented split-fin hydrofoil technology. The Company commands the #2 position worldwide in an estimated $1 billion global retail marketplace and, with the addition of Seemann Sub™, is now a leading competitor in every major segment of the estimated $63 million dive market in Germany.


Johnson Outdoors is a leading global outdoor recreation company that turns ideas into adventure with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Marine Electronics, Diving and Outdoor Equipment. Johnson Outdoors' familiar brands include, among others: Old Town® canoes and kayaks; Ocean Kayak and Necky® kayaks; Lendal™ paddles; Escape® electric boats; Minn Kota® motors; Cannon® downriggers; Humminbird® and Fishin’ Buddy® fishfinders; SCUBAPRO® and UWATEC® dive equipment; Silva® compasses and digital instruments; and Eureka!® tents. The Company has 23 locations around the world, employs 1,300 people and reported annual revenues of $395.8 million in fiscal 2006.