Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Citizen Science with Marine Megafauna Foundation

Published

on

Citizen Science

The Marine Megafauna Foundation Ray of Hope Expedition 2015 included a marine biologist (USA), a geneticist (Japan, living and working in the US), a biologist from the Maldives (a Scot by birth), a scuba instructor from the Maldives (a Kiwi), a Penn biology major (from Mexico), a videographer (South Africa), and those of us, scuba divers and/or photographers, who care deeply about our watery world, both Canadian and US. Our mission was to photograph animals (Whale Sharks and Manta Rays) for Identification, upload to Whaleshark.org and MantaMatcher.org, and to take genetic samples from the Manta Rays of the Yucatan. We were not entirely successful with the Mantas…the elusive creatures… well, they eluded us! We did manage to get 7 or so, but we fell far short of the desired 30 samples.

Whale Sharks, on the other hand, were in abundance. The Yucatan is one of the world’s largest aggregations of whale sharks, if not the largest. We headed out in the mornings for a 90 minute boat ride to the shark area, typically just before sunrise, and seeing the dawn out on the calm Caribbean Sea was a serenely beautiful experience. Once out to the shark area (wherever the whale sharks are gathering and feeding that particular day) it became disheartening to see all the tourist boats. There must have been 50 boats on some days.

Citizen Science

I took this photo of the vertical, pregnant whale shark and our Kiwi!

Please do not get me wrong. We are trying to conserve and preserve these animals by showing how valuable they are to tourism, and valuable they certainly are. Tourists are out in droves to see and to swim with them. 40 or 50 boats at a time can seem pretty excessive, though. The first day we hung out on the edges, swimming with the sharks who were on the periphery of the tourists. We were on a scientific vessel and had a permit to be in the water with them for study. The first day was very shark rich, and I was able to get several ID shots, as did other members of the group. The best day was ahead, however.

Citizen Science

A lot of boats in there!

On the third day of the expedition we headed out looking for mantas, and skipped the whale sharks until around noon. By that time, the boats were gone. We had 30 or so whale sharks to ourselves, and one other boat. It had to have been one of the best animal encounters I have ever had. Without the hoard of boats, one could be patient, waiting for feeding whale sharks to swim by. We didn’t have to chase them, or even swim that hard to stay up with them (they may look as though they are moving slow, but they are really going much faster than you think) because they were lazily filtering the surface of the water, knowing they were pretty much alone and in no hurry. With several boats, it gets confusing, and the sharks often have to change course to avoid snorkelers, but on this day, they were content and feeding happily on tuna spawn. Every time we got out of the water we had to brush off tuna eggs from our wetsuits and hair.

Citizen Science

Passing the boat

I have not been happy with the whale shot photographs I have taken over the years. On this glorious day, alone with whale sharks, I took the best photographs I have ever taken of these spotted, gentle giants. Just incredible!

My dream has always been to watch a whale shark vertically feeding in the water, and to capture photos of it.  My dream came true with a huge, pregnant Whale Shark who had to be 40 feet long. She was immense, and it was amazing to watch her, vertical and still, while she filtered tuna spawn. Ah, she was such a beauty! And lucky for me, Dr Andrea Marshall (the Director of Marine Megafauna Foundation and Ray of Hope) was in the water and captured an incredible, once in a lifetime photo of me with the whale shark. Yes, I will be framing it! I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to have a photo of this quality! Thank you, Andrea!

Citizen Science

Andrea’s photo of me with a whale shark

I took several ID photos and uploaded them to www.whaleshark.org. It was exciting to receive a few matches, telling me that I had photographed a shark who had been photographed several times over the past 5 years. It’s also exciting NOT to receive matches, meaning I uploaded photos of sharks who were new to the system. I am thrilled to be able to assist conservation science by being a Citizen Scientist.

Citizen Science

Whale Shark ID shot: these spot patterns are unique to each individual.

“In today’s world, it’s clear that our natural environment cannot be preserved and protected by the few people officially designated with this task. It will take all of us, in all parts of the world. We all need to find ways to help in this monumental task.

Citizen Science offers each of us a path to find special ways in which we can each help protect our part of the world. It’s an elegant, efficient, and engaging solution to the huge environmental problems we face in the 21st century.” www.citizenscientists.com

I cannot begin to express the wonder and the thrill of being near to these ocean pelagics. It is truly awe-inspiring… and I am so grateful I can help in their conservation. Check out http://www.citizenscientists.com/ and check out how many ways there are to help!

For more from Tam, visit www.travelswithtam.com.

 

Tam Warner Minton is an avid scuba diver, amateur underwater photographer, and adventurer. She encourages "citizen science" diving, whether volunteering with a group or by one's self. For Tam, the unexpected is usually the norm!

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Marine Biologist and Underwater Videographer Jake Davies (Watch Video)

Published

on

In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jake Davies, Marine Biologist, HSE Professional scuba diver, underwater videographer (using videos and 360 clips for VR) and CAA licensed drone pilot. 

Jake grew up on Pen Llŷn, North Wales and coming from a maritime family meant that from a young age the underwater world and marine life have played a major role in his life. His interest in marine life and the sea led to him studying Marine Biology at Bangor University where he was successful in obtaining a year in industry with the Intertidal & Coastal team at Natural Resources Wales.

In 2017 Jake was successfully awarded a Sea-Changers Grant to run ‘Dive Into Monitoring: Seagrass’ surveys with SeaSearch North Wales. The surveys aimed to gather updated information on the Seagrass bed in Porthdinllaen with volunteer divers and local dive clubs.

As a media diver, Jake has worked as part of the dive team (Marine Ecosol) filming for BBC Wales Hidden Wales with Will Millard (Lazerbeam Productions & Folk Films).

Footage which Jake has filmed off the Welsh Coast, as well as the Canary Islands, has been featured for a variety of BBC programmes including an episode of Countryfile where he was interviewed about the Seagrass in Porthdinllaen, Wales along with the rest of the Project Seagrass team. He is also a blogger and contributor to Scubaverse @JDScuba, and a co-director of Under Water Wales @dandwrcymru.

As well as being a HSE Scuba Diver Jake is also employed as the Project Coordinator for Angel Shark Project: Wales. He is also a Project Leader on a Save Our Seas Foundation Project.

Through sharing underwater videos and photos of amazing and unique wildlife/habitats that are found beneath the waves along the Welsh Coast as well as abroad Jake hopes to inspire people to go beneath the waves and making the underwater world more accessible for all.

Find out more about Jake and his work at: https://jakeddavies1996.wixsite.com/jdscuba


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Once in a lifetime magical sighting of an Albino Risso’s Dolphin… (Watch Video)

Published

on

Is there anything more rewarding during your surface interval after a great dive than seeing unusual animals in your surroundings?

It was November and we had been for a great dive with big fishes and a lot of macro animals in one of our favorite dive sites here in Anda, Bohol. After the dive, we immediately got our coffee and started chatting and debriefing our dive, exchanging thoughts, when our boat captain spotted something not so far from the resort. We rushed to the scene and it there we had the magical experience to see a pod of dolphins in front of us with a surprise sighting of an albino dolphin! Witnessing an albino animal in the wild is such a rare phenomenon – could anything be more exciting?!?!

Albinism results from the animal’s cells failing to produce the melanin pigment responsible for some body part colorations. Hence, this animal lacks the skin cell pigment resulting in it being a pinkish-white dolphin.

As we rushed to look at the dolphins after our dive, we noticed something white. It was so obvious that we could clearly see the white animal mixed with the grey individuals at a certain distance before we arrived. The first question that raised in my head was: “What species of dolphins are these?”

As I looked and observed, I noticed the recognizable lines or scratches all over their bodies (all of them that is except for the white one). Then, looking at their faces when we were closer, it was then I realized that they were Risso’s Dolphins. The white animal that we saw was a rare juvenile Albino Risso’s swimming with them. Ohlalah…. JACKPOT!!!! This was the highlight of a lifetime!!!

I started screaming with joy calling the beautiful animal “PUTI” which literally means white. With them swimming, we went close by to appreciate PUTI and the rest of the pod every time they surfaced for breathing. Together we shared about 20mins of full excitement. And we ended our surface interval incredibly happy and ready for the next exciting dive, waiting to be surprised underwater.

I will never forget this magical moment of the albino dolphin. Hopefully, PUTI and I will meet again sometime and I will be seeing this white beauty again, healthy and adorable.

Written by: Marlon Managa – dive center manager and Marine Biologist at Magic Oceans Dive Resort.


Visit Magic Oceans Anda, Bohol and Magic Island Moalboal, Cebu… find out more at www.magicresorts.online.

Also on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular