Sharks need you. Don’t fear sharks! Fear an ocean without them… Domino Albert, Project AWARE® Associate Director, Global Communications, kindly lets us share her latest blog…
We’ve come a long way since the horror-filled days of the 70s Jaws film that has promoted widespread fear about, not just great whites, but sharks of any kind. But thanks to new science, advocacy and media tools – conservationists are busting long-standing shark myths and securing much-needed protections for some of the world’s most vulnerable shark species.
1. Sharks – Predators or Preys?
Think twice – Humans should be the ocean’s caretakers, and yet could actually be considered the real “monsters of the deep”. In too many places, we’re emptying the ocean of sharks. According to the results of the first-ever global study of extinction risk conducted by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, 25% of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.
2. There are 1000+ known shark and ray species globally
Some eat plankton, others love sea lions. Humans are not part of a shark’s natural diet but tens of millions of sharks are killed each year for their meat, fins, liver, and other products. As many fisheries are unregulated, catches are significantly under-reported. Scalloped Hammerheads are classified by IUCN as Globally Endangered on the Red List, making them amongst the most threatened of all highly migratory sharks. While not out of the woods, White Sharks are amongst the world’s most protected sharks.
Their closest cousins however, aren’t faring so well: wide-ranging mako sharks are heavily fished around the world without any international or even EU limits, while porbeagle sharks can still be landed in the US and Canada despite needing many decades to recover from overfishing.
3. Fishing, trade, and market controls are lacking
Demand for shark fins is driving the wasteful practice of finning while interest in shark and ray meat is growing in many places. Largely uncontrolled fishing and bycatch are driving many shark and ray populations to the brink of collapse. It’s up to us to use our power as citizens and consumers. Urge your policymakers to promote shark and ray safeguards, and don’t open your wallet to shark and ray products unless you’re sure they’re sustainable.
4. Diversity is key. There’s no single silver bullet for shark conservation
Different regions have different issues, resources, and approaches. It requires a strong portfolio of science-based and/or precautionary catch limits, effective shark finning bans, bycatch mitigation, area protections, trade measures, and consumer awareness at all levels – international, regional and local – to safeguard these diverse species. That said, even small steps can help. Donating to shark conservation goes a long way towards protecting the most vulnerable shark species.
5. Respect your elders
In 2016, scientists estimated that Greenland sharks are incredibly long-lived, reaching sexual maturity at ~150 years of age and living 400 years or more. This finding and inferences about the species’ vulnerability led to widespread calls for conservation action. They were heavily fished in the first half of the 20th century for their liver oil. Today, they are taken primarily as incidental catch in a variety of fisheries, and also targeted by vessels from Greenland and Iceland to supply the demand for dried and fermented meat.
Divers are some of sharks and rays’ closest and most influential allies. Together, we are creating a powerful, collective voice to influence change. With your support, we’ve secured some amazing victories for our underwater friends. But we’re far from done. Join the movement and support shark saving strategies for the future.
Sharks need you. Don’t fear sharks! Fear an ocean without them… #HealthySharksHealthyOcean
Find out more at www.projectaware.org.
Top 5 Party Guests: The Magic of Night Diving in Cozumel
A blog by Pro Dive International
*Header image: On the day of our planned night dive at the Allegro Cozumel, we had to reschedule, as any water activity during thunderstorms and lightning is considered dangerous. We still thought it was worth sharing this breathtaking spectacle with you.*
Have you ever gazed out at the open ocean at night wondering what happens down there as the sun disappears over the horizon and darkness sets in? If all marine life will be sleeping, or if there’s anything creeping along the reefs?
Here’s what really happens, including a list of our Top 5 Party Guests that make you want to add night diving in Cozumel to your bucket list.
While the Caribbean Sea is not calming down at night due to the effectively constant trade-winds in the tropics that drive ocean wave trains and cause waves to break throughout day and night, a vibrant party under the sea is just about to begin, as huge basket stars unfurl their arms into the night, parrotfish create their mucus bubble beds, giant lobsters, king crabs and octopus prepare for hunt, and bioluminescence sparkles up the scene.
TOP 5 Party Guests
1. Basket Stars
These sea stars can only be observed in their true glory at night when they unfurl their many branched arms into the darkness to filter food from the water. Some reach nearly a meter in size! Shine your torch on them and watch them curl their huge arms back towards their mouths as they eat the small creatures attracted by your light.
The perfect party costume, do you agree?
2. Cephalopods – Octopus & Squid
These fascinating creatures are rarely spotted during day dives, but at night you can see them out and about hunting the reef for their next meal. Watch as they move about changing colors and patterns in the blink of an eye! Below is a picture of an octopus spreading its body wide over the reef like a net to encircle its prey.
Did you know that octopuses were that colorful?
Safely tucked away in the back of a crevice during the day, these creatures venture out under the cover of darkness to hunt. A fantastic opportunity to finally get a close-up look at all those king crabs and plenty of lobsters you have only seen as small eyes peering out from the back of a cave.
Up for a dance?
Many fish only half sleep, needing to be alert to the dangers 24/7, but parrot fish have evolved an ingenious warning system so they can get their eyes shut. As night draws in, they find a nook to rest in and start to create a mucus like a bubble encircling their whole bodies. They can rest safely in this for the entire night, but if anything disturbs this veil, they are off like a shot into the dark!
How did this sleepy guy make it into our Top 5?
For those not familiar with this natural phenomenon, bioluminescence is a chemical process which allows living creatures like plankton, tiny crustaceans, some fish, squid and algae to produce light in their body to either attract prey, confuse predators, or lure potential mates.
As the bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a breaking wave or a splash in the water at night, for most of our divers the best part is covering up the torches and waving our arms about disturbing the bioluminescence into sparkling blue points of light.
This makes the perfect party glitter!
Already in a party mood? Pack your dive gear!
How to join the underwater party in Cozumel?
- Join Pro Dive International’s Cozumel Night Dives as a certified diver.
- Boost your skills and make your night dive one of the 5 Adventure Dives of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.
- Contact us for guidance.
8 Places to Seek Adventure with Octopus
A Guest Blog by PADI.com
World Octopus Day on 8 October 2021 highlights the need to continue to explore and protect the ocean so that the 300 recognized species of octopus can continue to live in rock formations, coral reefs and throughout the seas.
Octopus have long been one of the most fascinating marine encounters to have as a diver. With three hearts, blue blood, the ability to camouflage on demand and their high levels of intelligence, these curious creatures place high on many divers’ bucket lists.
They can be found in a range of ocean climates around the globe, making diving with octopus attainable worldwide.
Here are eight of some of the best places to dive with octopus:
1. Canary Islands
Offering warm and clear water all year round, the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa and the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean are a great place to dive with octopus, who are often hiding under the rocky terrain below the surface.
2. The Maldives
This low-lying nation offers white sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs and plenty of opportunity to dive with octopus. The rich water in the Maldives feed the soft coral that clings to rock slides, providing a range of locations for octopus to build their home. They are a common sighting there amongst those who both snorkel and dive.
3. French Polynesia
Octopus are an essential part of French Polynesian culture—they have an octagonal building referred to as the “Octopus Church” on the island of Mo’orea and the island archipelago is home to the Micronesia mythology octopus god referred to as Na Kika. Beneath the surface of these low-lying atolls in French Polynesia are marine creature clusters that often include octopus hiding amongst the rocks or coral beds.
4. South Africa
This destination put diving with octopus on the top of the list for many after last year’s release of the Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher. False Bay near Cape Town, as highlighted in the film, is one location to dive with octopus. But the varied climates and currents provide a range of opportunities for close encounters with these marine creatures across the coastline.
As the epicenter of biodiversity beneath the surface of Indonesia’s waters, octopus are just one of the many marine animals that call this collection of 17,508 islands home. Lembeh Strait is often full of various species, including the mimic octopus, who can change into and act like a variety of other marine species like lionfish and sea snakes.
The Philippines offers divers thousands of dive sites to choose from. But those wanting to dive with an octopus should plan a visit to the Sea Explorers House Reef in Dauin, where blue ring octopus are known to be found during the month of October, often amongst the colorful soft coral.
7. United States
Off the California coastline are thousands of tidepools that offer a sanctuary for octopus and a great place for those with their fins off to have an encounter with them. Those wanting to dive deeper can do a shore dive at Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach, where octopus are known to hang out around the underwater statue dubbed Shelley of Shaw’s. And farther North up the Pacific Coast off the shores of Washington, divers can encounter giant Pacific octopus in the waters of Olympic National Park.
For those wanting to find the world’s smallest octopus, the blue ring octopus can be found off the coast of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. This tiny octopus is known for its beautiful blue marking and will flash bright blue and black rings to warn predators to stay away. The world’s smallest octopus is also the most venomous, so make sure to admire them from a safe distance.
To explore these dive sites and more, get in touch with your local PADI Dive Center or Resort and become a PADI Open Water Diver. And for those wanting to help protect octopus, other marine species and the ocean they call home, join the community of PADI Torchbearers to learn more about how to get involved and help restore ocean health.
Photo credit – Annie Crawley, PADI AmbassaDiver and Master Scuba Diver Instructor / @anniecrawley_oceanannie
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