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Marine Life & Conservation

The Bahamas to Ban Plastic Bags

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On January 3rd, 2018, the Bahamas Plastic Movement’s youth delegation from the island of Eleuthera, travelled to Nassau, New Providence to meet the Minister of Environment and Housing, The Hon. Romauld Ferreira, to propose the need for a nationwide ban on plastic bags for the country. The self-proclaimed “Plastic Warriors”, members of the environmental NGO Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM), visited the Ministry of Environment’s Charlotte House office in Nassau, where they presented a thorough presentation on the economic and environmental implications of plastic pollution in The Bahamas.

Single use, disposable plastic items such as plastic bottles, straws, cups, styrofoam and plastic bags are known to be a nuisance in the environment. Plastic bags in particular are used in abundance within the country, globally up to 1 trillion plastic bags are used annually.  Used on average for around 12 minutes, these extremely lightweight and aerodynamic plastic bags escape with the wind, evading trash cans and local landfills before eventually polluting our environment and finally making their way to the ocean before severely harming marine life such as whales, turtles and seabirds.

“In our country, single use plastic items are commonly used and is very bad for the environment because it is a non-biodegradable material, so it just persists in our environment for an extended period of time, especially on our beaches where they may deter tourists”, states BPM’s Ocean Ambassador Genderia Francis.

Approximately 70% of visitors to the Bahamas said that their decision to visit was influenced by its beaches. Recent scientific research suggests that if the rate of litter on a beach increases to 15 litter items per square meter, that would deter 85% of users, causing up to US$8.5 million in tourism losses annually. “Plastic bags are a major issue in this country as they are commonly used in businesses, so we wanted to confront this issue head on and propose a nationwide ban on plastic bags”, continued Francis.

Leading up to their meeting with Minister Ferreira, the students participated in a Youth Activism Workshop hosted by BPM. Over the course of four days, students learned to conduct social science surveys to gather data on the amount of plastic bags used by locals on a daily basis. They also learned about the legislative process of The Bahamas. After reviewing several case studies of countries around the world with effective plastic bag bans in place, the students successfully drafted a legally binding bill for a plastic bag regulation for The Bahamas, which was then presented to the Minister. The first phase of the proposed regulation requested a levy on plastic bags for businesses and an imposed plastic bag tax for consumers wishing to receive a plastic bag at the point of sale.

Combining their knowledge of plastic pollution with their research findings, proposed draft bill and effective communication skills, these plastic warriors successfully built an engaging and informative presentation that was a call to action for Minister Ferreira and a guide to leading The Bahamas “Towards a Plastic Free Future . Courageously, the “Plastic Warriors”, composed of, Charma Morley (15), Traliyah Carey (15), Glenderia Francis (16), Abigail Ramnarine (10) and Tarryn Johnson (14), marched into the Minister’s office and clearly outlined what action steps were required of the Ministry of Environment. The team recommended 1) a partnership between the Ministry of Environment and Bahamas Plastic Movement to launch a national plastic pollution education campaign, 2) The Hon. Romauld Ferreira, Minister of the Environment and Housing agrees to push legislation for a plastic bag ban in The Bahamas by the end of the first quarter 2018 and 3) The Bahamas agrees to join the UNEP Clean Seas Initiative which is a global Call to Action for governments to introduce regulations and incentives to tackle marine debris.

“Someone has to make the change for our generation and if we don’t do it, no one else will, so we have to be the voice of our community and make a change in society” says, Charma Morley, BPM Ocean Ambassador.

Following the presentation, Minister Ferreira, expressed his gratitude, contentment and pride for the courage and commitment displayed by the “plastic warriors”. To the surprise of the group, he proposed to ban plastic bags completely in The Bahamas, followed by various types of single use plastics such as Styrofoam. The Minister revealed that the Ministry of Environment has been working diligently on formulating and pushing regulations with Parliament that address plastic use in the country and agrees that through laws and swift action, we will be able to mitigate plastic pollution in The Bahamas.

At the 2018 Abaco Science Alliance Conference hosted by Friends of the Environment on January 4th, Minister Ferreira publicly announced his plans to move forward with a plastic bag ban for The Bahamas, joining a growing list of more than 40 countries who have already implemented plastic bag bans.

To learn more about the organization and ways to decrease your plastic footprint, visit www.bahamasplasticmovement.org.

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Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater

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In the vast and vibrant underwater world of Costa Rica, there’s a peculiar creature that often goes unnoticed but holds a special place in the hearts of divers: the frogfish. This enigmatic and somewhat odd-looking species is a master of camouflage and a marvel of marine life. Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is not just a dive; it’s an adventurous treasure hunt that rewards the patient and observant with unforgettable encounters. Let’s dive into the world of frogfish and discover what makes these creatures so fascinating and where you can find them in Costa Rica.

The Mystique of Frogfish

Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae, a group of marine fish known for their incredible ability to blend into their surroundings. They can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, red, green, black, and white, and they often have unique spots and textures that mimic the coral and sponges around them. This camouflage isn’t just for show; it’s a critical survival tactic that helps them ambush prey and avoid predators.

One of the most remarkable features of the frogfish is its modified dorsal fin, which has evolved into a luring appendage called an esca. The frogfish uses this esca to mimic prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, enticing unsuspecting victims close enough to be engulfed by its surprisingly large mouth in a fraction of a second. This method of hunting is a fascinating spectacle that few divers forget once witnessed.

Where to Find Frogfish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is dotted with dive sites that offer the chance to encounter these intriguing creatures. Bat Islands (Islas Murciélagos), Catalina Islands (Islas Catalinas), and the area around the Gulf of Papagayo are renowned for their rich marine life, including frogfish. These sites vary in depth and conditions, catering to both novice and experienced divers.

The key to spotting frogfish is to dive with a knowledgeable guide who can point out these master camouflagers hiding in plain sight. They’re often found perched on rocky outcroppings, nestled within coral, or even hiding among debris, perfectly mimicking their surroundings.

frogfish

Diving Tips for Spotting Frogfish

Go Slow: The secret to spotting frogfish is to move slowly and scan carefully. Their camouflage is so effective that they can be right in front of you without being noticed.

Look for Details: Pay attention to the small details. A slightly different texture or an out-of-place color can be the clue you need.

Dive with Local Experts: Local dive guides have an eagle eye for spotting wildlife, including frogfish. Their expertise can significantly increase your chances of an encounter.

Practice Buoyancy Control: Good buoyancy control is essential not just for safety and coral preservation but also for getting a closer look without disturbing these delicate creatures.

Be Patient: Patience is key. Frogfish aren’t known for their speed, and sometimes staying in one spot and observing can yield the best sightings.

Conservation and Respect

While the excitement of spotting a frogfish can be thrilling, it’s crucial to approach all marine life with respect and care. Maintain a safe distance, resist the urge to touch or provoke, and take only photos, leaving behind nothing but bubbles. Remember, the health of the reef and its inhabitants ensures future divers can enjoy these incredible encounters as much as you do.

Join the Adventure

Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is just one of the many underwater adventures that await in this biodiverse paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or taking your first plunge, the waters here offer an unparalleled experience filled with wonders at every turn. Beyond the thrill of the hunt for frogfish, you’ll be treated to a world teeming with incredible marine life, majestic rays, playful dolphins, and so much more.

So, gear up, dive in, and let the mysteries of Costa Rica’s underwater realm unfold before your eyes. With every dive, you’re not just exploring the ocean; you’re embarking on an adventure that highlights the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our marine ecosystems. And who knows? Your next dive might just be the one where you come face-to-face with the elusive and captivating frogfish. Join us at Rocket Frog Divers for the dive of a lifetime, where the marvels of the ocean are waiting to be discovered.

About the Author: Jonathan Rowe

Are you looking to make a splash online? As a seasoned diver and digital marketer, I specialize in crafting bespoke websites and innovative marketing strategies for dive shops worldwide. With my expertise, your business will not only be seen but also remembered.

From deep-sea to digital depths, I navigate the complex waters of web development and online marketing, ensuring your dive shop stands out in the vast ocean of the internet. Contact Scuba Dive Marketing for more information.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.

The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.

The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”

The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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