Coral reefs sustain about a quarter of all marine life and are shelter for more than 4,000 species. The fish that live within coral reefs are an important food staple for about 500 million people around the world.
Yet despite their crucial role in the marine ecosystem, coral reefs are mostly unmapped. Hand-mapping or photographing reefs is incredibly tedious, time-consuming and potentially inaccurate, while satellite imagery gets muddled by waves. Radar can’t penetrate the water’s surface and sonar fails in shallow areas.
To get around these limitations, Palumbi and Stanford aeronautics graduate student Ved Chirayath developed a tiny, remote-controlled drone that can film coral reefs from up to 200 feet (61 meters) above the ocean.
But ripples on the water create distortion and blur that make the drone images difficult to interpret. So after the images were gathered, Chirayath used a technique called fluid lensing to digitally remove those distortions and sharpen the images.
“The lensing takes a huge problem in looking through the surface of the water and turns it into an advantage,” Palumbi said. “It not only removes the ripples, but uses their magnification to enhance the image,” he added, referring to the fact that objects underwater tend to appear closer than they are because of how light bends when it moves from air to water.
The researchers then used a 360-degree camera to photograph the reefs from underwater.
Combining the images from both the drone and the underwater camera, the team produced gorgeous panoramic images of the reefs surrounding a marine protected area in American Samoa around Ofu Island.
The corals, some of which are 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 m) wide, live in a reef called the “Village of Elders” that seems perfectly suited to these ancient corals.
As a follow-up, the team plans to combine data on water temperature and water flow with the images to see how climate change alters the reef ecosystem.
Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida
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).
Dive Worldwide introduces three new resorts ahead of Go Diving Show
Ahead of Go Diving (2-3 March, Stoneleigh Park), the leading scuba diving exhibition that marks the start of the dive season, Dive Worldwide has introduced three new resorts, each one set in a world class diving location. Among them is Coral Eye Resort in Indonesia, an eco-friendly island retreat with a welcoming community vibe where like-minded people get excited about the marine world and all its wonders.
Dive Worldwide has the largest programme in the UK of tailor-made and small group liveaboard and resort-based diving holidays to over 200 destinations worldwide, catering for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Founded as an outpost for marine studies, Coral Eye is a boutique resort on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra, which has been transformed into a diver’s paradise. Today Coral Eye, set in the heart of the Coral Triangle, attracts a community of visitors who share a passion for the sea. Its eco-friendly villas are designed to blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings.
From Coral Eye and the Coral Eye Dive Centre, it is possible to discover more than 30 world-class dive sites– each within 40 minutes of the beachfront dive centre – along with the fascinating volcanic topography and varied marine life around Bangka Island in North Sulawesi. From the beautiful house reef to steep coral-covered pinnacles, charming critters, turtles, and abundant reef fish, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Dives, up to four per day, are guided in groups of four by local guides with a wealth of experience and keen eyes.
Price: 9 nights at Coral Eye Resort from £2,775pp based on 2 sharing including Full board, transfer, 10 dives, tanks and weights
This resort is an oceanfront haven where luxury meets adventure. Against a backdrop of lush greenery and a white sand coast in Playa del Carmen, The Fives Beach Hotel’s location in Riviera Maya provides access to a plethora of renowned dive sites, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the world-famous Cenotes. Within the resort is The Fives Dive Centre with its range of SSI courses, from beginner to advanced. Guests can dive with eagle rays and look for a splendid toadfish in Cozumel. Puerto Morelos has such a cool vibe above the water, but below the surface the National Park is also the best the Caribbean has to offer.
With a diverse range of accommodation, choose from stylish rooms with balconies to vibrant suites and oceanfront residences providing more privacy and a panorama of the Caribbean Sea. Beyond diving, guests can indulge in the hotel’s array of restaurants, relax with a cocktail by one of the hotel’s seven outdoor pools, explore the vibrant local culture at the nearby Mayan ruins or enjoy the hotel’s numerous cultural offerings.
Price: 7 nights at The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences costs from £3,145pp based on 2 sharing, all inclusive, including 8 ocean dives and 2 cenotes dives, tanks, weights and transfers
Located in Puerto Aventuras, these stylish marina and lagoon view apartments, each with tasteful Caribbean interiors, are the perfect location for an ocean and Cenotes diving adventure. The 19 marina apartments offer views over the marina, while eight luxury lagoon apartments overlook a private bay in the lagoon and benefit from a small private beach and a swimming pool.
Diving the magical caves and passages of the world-famous Cenotes in Mexico is conducted with Maya Blue Dive Centre while ocean dives are provided through a local dive centre. The Mesoamerican reef system along the Riviera Maya is home to colourful coral gardens and marine life aplenty, providing an exciting and varied week of diving experiences including plenty of hawksbill turtle encounters. Travel between June and September and add in a snorkelling trip to see the incredible gathering of whale sharks around Holbox Island or Isla Mujeres.
For further information visit Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com, 01962 302087).
Blogs2 months ago
‘Simply the Best’ – a shark lover’s dream!!!
Blogs3 months ago
Pure Tranquility: a well needed Winter Red Sea liveaboard getaway
Blogs3 months ago
Unveiling Indonesia’s Dive Gem: Welcome to Bunaken Oasis, Where Adventure Meets Luxury
News3 months ago
Indo siren destroyed by fire
Blogs2 months ago
‘Simply the Best’ – Quintessential Red Sea Diving
Blogs3 months ago
The healing powers of adaptive diving
News3 weeks ago
Hone your underwater photography skills with Alphamarine Photography at Red Sea Diving Safari in March
Blogs3 months ago
Hunting Lionfish Safely and Responsibly in Curaçao