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Calling All Citizen Scientists

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Citizen Scientists

Capture1What is a Citizen Scientist?

A Citizen Scientist is an individual who voluntarily contributes time, effort, and resources toward scientific research in collaboration with professional scientists or alone. These individuals don’t necessarily have a formal science background.

Why everyone who visits the Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS) should become one.

Unquestionably the BHS is beautiful; it also contains the most bio-diverse, intact coral reef systems on the planet. Divers rave about the reefs, and a trip to the BHS is on every diver’s “bucket list”. But with over 225,000 square kilometers of marine area (including 11 Marine Protected Areas, which cover over 36,000 square kilometers), the region is simply too large for NGOs, local organizations and the regional government to monitor adequately. Without your help, collecting data to support scientific and conservation issues is an overwhelming task.

Citizen Scientists

Only a few people had traveled to Raja Ampat before 2002, when Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy completed their initial surveys of the region. Finding unprecedented numbers of marine species and amazingly habitats, these organizations began working on conservation plans. A network of MPAs was established, and patrol teams were empowered to enforce the rules. Word of the region’s marine riches spread beyond the scientific community, and soon intrepid divers began exploring Raja Ampat, Triton Bay and Cenderawasih Bay. Numerous travel articles and two guidebooks, “Diving Indonesia’s Raja Ampat” and “Diving Indonesia’s Bird’s Head Seascape” led to increasing numbers of marine tourists. In 2014 the website, www.birdsheadseascape.com, began promoting diving, photography, and tourism, while providing an internet platform for sharing and archiving all the scientific data being produced in the Bird’s Head, as well as reporting scientific, conservation, and regional news.

In the past year, the BHS site has added new features that enable a traveler to become part of the conservation action in the Bird’s Head. You can become a Citizen Scientist by uploading your images into the site’s Manta Ray and Whale Shark photo ID databases. This is not about “selfies”, or “sharing”, this is about actively engaging in real science and conservation. In order to protect these creatures, scientists need to know the movement of these animals, their health, and their numbers. Unfortunately, scientists cannot to be in the field every day, but divers can. By regularly contributing to these databases, you help us dramatically expand our knowledge of the populations of these charismatic giants in the Bird’s Head – which in turn will help us better design management actions to ensure their continued well-being.

Citizen Scientists

Additionally the Raja Ampat Environmental Watch (RAEW) is designed so that visitors can report an incident such as fish bombing, garbage dumping, or harassment of marine life. By reporting incidents through the app, tourists become virtual patrol team members. Positive encounters, a sighting of unusual marine life or reef & fisheries recovery, are also encouraged.

By becoming involved and using these databases, you, the Citizen Scientist, take an active role in in ensuring the wellbeing of this unparalleled region. Without your involvement your visit is only about you; if you participate, everyone and everything, especially the environment you love, benefits.

WE NEED YOU!

www.birdsheadseascape.com

 

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock are award-winning marine life photographers whose assignments have taken them around the world to portray diverse subjects including the world’s longest underwater cave in Mexico and nesting sea snakes in Borneo. Their photographs have been published internationally, and Secret Sea, a collection of their photographs, was honored with the Benjamin Franklin award as the best book printed world-wide. Burt and Maurine’s lively and informative teaching style and their “Stop Taking Pictures and Start Creating Images” seminar, which they present on their Secret Sea Visions “Scuba Safaris”, have helped hundreds of marine life photographers improve their technique. Burt and Maurine are renowned “critter spotters” and their images often reveal habits and habitats of creatures many people never see for themselves. In June 2008 they began working with Conservation International as consultants on sustainable marine tourism. Burt and Maurine’s long-term project is to explore, photograph, and to produce guidebooks and website content for the remote and uncharted dive sites around Raja Ampat and the rest of the Bird’s Head Seascape in West Papua. Their guidebook, Diving Indonesia’s Raja Ampat, was released in late 2009. A revised and expanded sequel, Diving Indonesia’s Bird’s Head Seascape, was published in late 2011. The Bird’s Head Seascape website, www.birdsheadseascape.com, launched in June, 2014. To learn more about Burt and Maurine, their images and scuba safari programs visit their website, www.secretseavisions.com.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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