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Marine Life & Conservation

Every Little Helps

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A nice glassy morning dive before the promised wind due to arrive in the evening. I was once again out with Mark from Atlantic Scuba and we were going to look at a small reef area that was by all accounts pretty well un-dived. It’s always exciting going into new areas. You never know what will turn up, could be something amazing and then again, maybe not.

The visibility was poor but we were only diving in 19 metres of water. The bottom was a mixture of rock and broken shell and the kelp was starting to loose its fine summer gloss.

Our first encounter was with a couple of Cuckoo Wrasse. A male and female. The female was a little timid at first while the male had no reservations about coming close to see what we were and what we were doing.

It was the Cornish fishermen who gave the name Cuckoo to the Wrasse as the blue markings reminded them of bluebell flowers. In the Cornish language a bluebell is “bleujenn an gog” literally the cuckoo flower.

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The Cuckoo Wrasse are all born as females and it is only in adulthood that some change into males for breeding. They then build a nest and attract a female with a courtship display.

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Moving across the reef a lobster caught my eye while trying to slowly hide behind a frond of kelp and back up slowly into the nearest hole. It was in perfect condition and looked as if it had moulted recently. The younger lobsters, up to about 5 years old, can moult approximately 25 times a year. They do this because they have an exoskeleton and it is impossible for them to grow inside it. Hence they regularly shed the old shell or skeleton and grow a new one to fit the new body size. The old shell is then eaten for the calcium which will help strengthen the new one.

The lobster is a very opportunistic feeder and will consume a great variety of foods. Crabs, mussels, starfish, even slow moving fish are all part of its diet. In hard times they will even eat sea weeds and sponges as well as carrion found on the sea floor. Hence it is easy to lure them into a lobster pot with a piece of dead fish.

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As I moved away from the lobster and turned to where I knew Mark was waiting, a small dogfish broke from its cover and glided further along the reef and out of sight. They usually like to sleep in the day and hunt at night.

Mark had his back to me and as I came around to see what he was doing a young Spider crab scuttled away between his legs. He had just freed it from a bundle of discarded nylon fishing net. The crab had obviously been trying to feed on the remains of an earlier victim of the net and in doing so had been caught itself. The cycle would have gone on for years into the future, silently killing all that became entangled. The Wrasse, the Lobster and the Dogfish could well have been next.

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Mark brought the net up to the boat and once back at dock disposed of it. Not a world changing action on its own but if we all do the same then every little helps.

If you would like more information on ‘Ghost Fishing’ visit www.ghostfishing.org

Jeff is a multiple award winning, freelance TV cameraman/film maker and author. Having made both terrestrial and marine films, it is the world's oceans and their conservation that hold his passion with over 10.000 dives in his career. Having filmed for international television companies around the world and author of two books on underwater filming, Jeff is Author/Programme Specialist for the 'Underwater Action Camera' course for the RAID training agency. Jeff has experienced the rapid advances in technology for diving as well as camera equipment and has also experienced much of our planet’s marine life, witnessing, first hand, many of the changes that have occurred to the wildlife and environment during that time. Jeff runs bespoke underwater video and editing workshops for the complete beginner up to the budding professional.

Marine Life & Conservation

Leading UK-based shark conservation charity, the Shark Trust, is delighted to announce tour operator Diverse Travel as a Corporate Patron

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Corporate Patrons provide a valuable boost to the work of The Shark Trust. The Trust team works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, and their close cousins, the skates and rays, engaging with a global network of scientists, policymakers, conservation professionals, businesses and supporters to further shark conservation.

Specialist tour operator Diverse Travel has operated since 2014 and is committed to offering its guests high quality, sustainable scuba diving holidays worldwide. Working together with the Shark Trust will enable both organisations to widen engagement and encourage divers and snorkellers to actively get involved in shark conservation.

Sharks are truly at the heart of every diver and at Diverse Travel, we absolutely share that passion. There is nothing like seeing a shark in the wild – it’s a moment that stays with you forever!” says Holly Bredin, Sales & Marketing Manager, Diverse Travel.

We’re delighted to celebrate our 10th year of business by becoming a Corporate Patron of the Shark Trust. This is an exciting partnership for Diverse and our guests. We will be donating on behalf of every person who books a holiday with us to contribute towards their vital shark conservation initiatives around the world. We will also be working together with the Trust to inspire divers, snorkellers and other travellers to take an active role – at home and abroad – in citizen science projects and other activities.”

Paul Cox, CEO of The Shark Trust, said:

It’s an exciting partnership and we’re thrilled to be working with Diverse Travel to enable more divers and travellers to get involved with sharks and shark conservation. Sharks face considerable conservation challenges but, through collaboration and collective action, we can secure a brighter future for sharks and their ocean home. This new partnership takes us one more valuable step towards that goal.”

For more information about the Shark Trust visit their website here.

For more about Diverse Travel click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Trust Asks Divers to help with Shark Sightings this Global Citizen Science Month

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Whether you are stuck for ideas of what to do with the kids or are off on the dive trip of your dreams. You can get involved in Citizen Science Month and help the Shark Trust by providing vital data about sharks are rays both close to home and further afield.

In addition to reporting the sharks and rays you see on your dives, the eggcases you find on the beach, the Shark Trust is looking for some specific data from divers who are asked to report any Oceanic Whitetip and Basking Sharks.

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

The Shark Trust are looking specifically for Oceanic Whitetip Shark sightings over the coming weeks and months. So, if you are diving anywhere in the world, please report your sightings via the website or app.

Website: https://recording.sharktrust.org/

App: Search The Shark Trust in your app store

The Oceanic Whitetip. Known for their incredibly long dorsal and pectoral fins, this species was once the most abundant oceanic-pelagic species of shark on the planet.

Large and stocky, they are grey or brown above, and white below and famous for their huge rounded first dorsal fin and paddle-like pectoral fins. The fins also highly prized within the shark fin trade. Whilst they are mostly solitary, Oceanic Whitetips do occasionally hunt in groups.

An inquisitive species, they were easy prey for fisheries. Combined with their low reproductive rate, they were inevitably at high risk of population depletion. And declines of up to 99% have been reported in certain sea areas. They are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Redlist (2019).

Conservation efforts to discourage further declines include listing on CITES Appendix II and CMS Appendix I. They’re also the only species prohibited from take by all the Tuna RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations). However, these measures do not mean that Oceanic Whitetips are not still caught – whether targeted or as bycatch – in some parts of the world. With populations declining at such a high rate, effective implementation of management measures is essential to ensure that the species can recover.

If you are lucky enough to get an image of an Oceanic Whitetip and you record your sighting on the Shark Trust app or website YOU CAN WIN! All images submitted with sightings, that also give consent to use in conservation messaging, will be in with a chance to win an Oceanic Whitetip T-shirt and mug. The competition will run until the end of “Shark Month” in July – so keep those sightings (and images) coming in.

Basking Sharks

Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) season is upon us, and the Shark Trust is asking everyone to keep an eye out for these majestic giants over the summer months. If you see any, you can record your sighting to the Basking Shark Sightings database.

Each year, these mighty fish return to British waters to feed on plankton. You may see one, (or a few if you’re really lucky) from around April-October. They can be seen feeding at the surface of the water, where they look like they’re basking in the sun. Thus, their name!

Sighting hotspots around the British Isles include southwest England, Isle of Man, north coast of Ireland, and western Scotland. The Sea of the Hebrides is the most prolific sightings area in Scotland, but they have been spotted all around the coast and have even ventured into some of the sea lochs. The Shark Trust has received thousands of sightings since the Basking Shark project began, but more data is needed to truly understand what is going on with population numbers and distribution. You can help by recording your sightings this summer.

Great Eggcase Hunt

The Shark Trust has an Easter Egg Hunt with a difference for you to try. Take part in the Great Eggcase Hunt and get involved with a big citizen science project that helps shark, ray and skate conservation. And it’s an enjoyable activity for all the family.

The Shark Trust also want snorkellers and divers to record their underwater eggcase findings. Underwater records help pinpoint exactly where sharks and skates are laying their eggs and can help link to beach records. Learning the depth and substrate that they lay on also helps better understand the species.

Find out more: https://www.sharktrust.org/great-eggcase-hunt

Whether you are diving, snorkelling or exploring on the beach you can take part in Citizen Science Month and get actively involved in shark and ray conservation. Find out more: www.sharktrust.org

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