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LAMAVE joins Philippine Siren in Tubbataha for a special Shark/Ray behaviour trip

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siren-fleet (1)While the Tubbataha 2016 season is barely over, Siren Fleet are already looking forward to the coming season, which is already filling up swiftly. Check out this exciting event in spring 2017: hop on board the Philippine Siren on Siren Fleet’s 29 March – 4 April 2017 6-night cruise and get even more out of your Tubbataha liveaboard dive trip.

  • Assist the LAMAVE team in monitoring tiger shark and gray reef shark behaviour.
  • Join in for exploratory dives to deploy new acoustic receivers to track individual (whale) sharks, manta rays and analyse the gathered data from existing receivers.
  • Help with identifying individual tagged species of (whale) sharks, manta rays and turtles to be able to count their numbers.

logo-2014-smLAMAVE – Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines – is the largest independent non-profit non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation of marine megafauna and the protection of their habitats in the Philippines. They have been working with the Tubbataha Management Office and it’s rangers since 2015 to assess the biodiversity, shark/ray behaviour and study the whereabouts of shark/ray species in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. You can find out more about LAMAVE at www.lamave.org.

One of the main goals of this expedition on the Philippine Siren is to retrieve and deploy acoustic monitoring stations, and download the data for the first time to see how tiger sharks and gray reef sharks use the North and South Atolls of Tubbataha Reefs.

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Working in close collaboration with the park rangers, LAMAVE apply several research techniques to gather their data. The divers will be trained in these data collection methods, especially in Photo-Identification. This technique aims to identify single individual animals based on the distribution of the unique spots and stripes patterns on their body. Divers will be able to match each of their photos taken during the encounter with the national and international catalogue to learn more about the history of each individual mantas and whale sharks and directly contribute to the conservation of the species.  The so called Citizen Science does not stop with whale sharks and mantas. LAMAVE, in collaboration with the Tubbataha Management Office, use divers’ photos and reports to assess the biodiversity of these amazing corners of paradise.

To date, LAMAVE’s research has shown the presence of 23 different species of sharks and rays within the park. Besides their research activities, an equally important part of their work is providing information, education and raising awareness. LAMAVE’s researchers visit local schools, offer film screenings, conduct community art projects and give lectures on plastic pollution, sustainability, coral reefs and (whale) sharks.

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Whilst on board, Gonzalo Araujo, who is one of LAMAVE’s executive directors, will give several presentations on LAMAVE’s research. Gonzalo has been working in the Philippines since 2011 and joined LAMAVE in July 2012. Ever since, he has supervised whale shark research and conservation across different sites in the Philippines. He is interested in the movement and ecology of marine megafauna and how we can study them through minimally to non-invasive methods. This includes the use of lasers – photogrammetry, satellite and acoustic tags, remote cameras and new technologies involving DNA. Understanding a species presence and whereabouts is essential to advise the authorities and ensure their conservation.

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Worldwide Dive & Sail embraces LAMAVE’s work and objectives and will donate a portion of all income of this cruise to them. So sign up for this special cruise, in order for you to participate and contribute in multiple ways to help this NGO continue their valuable work. Contact the Worldwide Dive and Sail team today at philippines@wwdas.com for more information and bookings.

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Mares EOS LRZ Torch Range

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What does LRZ stand for I hear you ask? The answer is: LED lights, Rechargeable, Zoomable. Mares have created a versatile set of seven underwater lights in the new range to suit all needs and budgets.

I tested the most powerful of them – the EOS 32LRZ at Capernwray on a cold but bright spring day. I was diving with Alex Mustard, and so all the underwater images are by him, showing me trying out the torch in both the shallows and in some of the wrecks at this site.

All the torches in the new line have an LED visual battery charge indicator that allows you to keep the battery level under control.

Want to use it out of the water? No problem! The new EOS LRZ torches feature an innovative temperature control system that allows you to use them both underwater and on land. I can see myself using this on gloomy dog walks later in the year!

As you can see from the video I filmed just after getting back from a dive, the torch is easy to use, even with thick gloves in cold water. The zoomable light beam means that you can highlight a particular spot, or have a wide beam, which is great for both modeling for a photographer, and exploring different underwater environments.

The EOS 32LRZ has a powerful beam with 3200 lumens of power and 135 minutes of burn time. Perfect for some of the darker dives you can experience in the UK, but also for exploring overhead or enclosed environments. I easily got 2 long dives out of a single charge, and then was able to recharge it in my car using a USB cable on the way home, ready for the next day of diving.

The look and feel of these torches are great. In your hand you can feel the quality of the torches. They are solid and well built. They also look great. Each torch in the range comes with a padded case to keep them safe during transport.

For more, visit the Mares website by clicking here.

All underwater images by Alex Mustard

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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World launches Green Fins Japan!

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The Reef-World Foundation, the Onna Village Diving Association, the local government, and Oceana are delighted to announce that Japan is now the 14th country globally to implement the Green Fins initiative – a UN Environment Programme initiative. Onna Village in Okinawa is the first Japanese tourist destination to adopt Green Fins environmental standards to reduce the threats associated with diving and snorkelling on the marine environment.

Green Fins is piloted in Onna Village, Okinawa prefecture, an area renowned for its marine sports and has been working to protect its reefs for many years. Green Fins is implemented as part of the national Sustainable Development Goals project, which aims to manage and illustrate to the local industry how sustainable tourism can play a role in reef conservation. The economic benefits of the reefs benefit not only the fisheries industry but also the tourism industry as it has rocketed in recent decades.

If the project is successful – proving the value of sustainable tourism – the model has the potential to be escalated to a national level. A wide rollout would allow Reef-World to focus on uptake and expansion into other marine tourism and biodiversity hotspots across Japan. Green Fins implementation in Japan would provide practical solutions to many of the common problems faced in the area. It would also help to promote high standards for diving in the country. Improving the quality of the diving industry through Green Fins would demonstrate the added value of Onna Village’s tourism product. This, in turn, will encourage tourists to spend more time and money diving in the region.

Following a week of training by Reef-World (23 to 28 May 2022), Japan now has a national Green Fins team comprised of four fully certified Green Fins Assessors and two Green Fins Coordinators from Oceana and the local government. They will be responsible for recruiting, assessing, training and certifying dive and snorkel operators to become Green Fins members in the country. This involves providing training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs, simple and local everyday solutions to these threats and Green Fins’ environmental standards to dive and snorkel operators. Green Fins membership will help marine tourism operators improve their sustainability and prove they are working hard to follow environmental best practices as a way of attracting eco-minded tourists.

James Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We are really excited to finally introduce Green Fins in Japan. We have been planning this for almost three years, but the travel restrictions related to the pandemic hindered progress. The diving industry in Okinawa and the marine life upon which it has been built is so unique, it must be preserved for generations to come. The Okinawa diving community is very passionate about protecting their marine environment, and Green Fins has given them an opportunity to collectively work to reduce their environmental impact and pursue exemplary environmental standards.”

Diving and snorkelling related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris and the effects of climate change. Based on robust individual assessments, the Green Fins initiative helps identify and mitigate these risks by providing environmental consultation and support to dive and snorkel operators. Through Green Fins implementation in Japan, Reef-World aims to reduce negative environmental impacts in the region by reaching 10 marine tourism operators, training 50 dive guides and raising awareness of sustainability best practices among 10,000 tourists in the first year.

Yuta Kawamoto, CEO of Oceana, said: “Green Fins will help to unify all the conservation efforts in Okinawa by applying the guidelines in many areas and raising tourists awareness. We hope this will increase the sustainable value in the diving industry and in turn increase the diving standards in the country.”

Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. Green Fins provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.

To date, four dive operators in Onna Village have joined the global network of 600+ trained and assessed Green Fins members. These are: Benthos Divers, Okinawa Diving Center, Arch Angel and Pink Marlin Club. There has also been significant interest from other operators, even those that are not located in Onna Village, for Green Fins training and assessment.

Suika Tsumita from Oceana said: “Green Fins serve as an important tool for local diving communities to move towards a more sustainable use of their dive sites; so that they can maintain their scenic beauty and biological richness to provide livelihoods for many generations to come.”

For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or  www.greenfins.net/countries/japan. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up for Green Fins can find the membership application form at: www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.

Dive and snorkel operators in Japan interested in signing up to be Green Fins members can contact the Green Fins Japan team at japan@greenfins.net.

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