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Marine Life & Conservation

MCS want you to report jellyfish and turtles on our shores 

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The Marine Conservation Society’s Wildlife Sightings programme focusses on two key marine animals: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of changes in our ocean, like warming waters.

Since 2003, when the Marine Conservation Society’s Wildlife Sightings programme began, the charity has had 18,580 sightings reported – 18,357 of jellyfish and 223 of turtles.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK and Irish seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2022 show that the most frequently reported jellyfish species were the moon jellyfish, accounting for 22% of sightings, followed by the barrel jellyfish at 21%. The compass jellyfish and lion’s mane jellyfish were also commonly sighted, comprising 19% and 15% of the reports, respectively. These findings provide valuable insights into the prevalence of jellyfish species in UK and Irish seas.

Sightings of jellyfish and turtles should be reported online when spotted by beach or sea goers to support ongoing research. Identification and reporting take just a few minutes using the charity’s easy identification cards and online form.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK and Ireland’s warming waters to feed, feasting on plankton blooms and the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which are common at this time of year.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Many species, from tuna to turtles, will feed on jellyfish of various sizes. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

The charity’s data shows an increasing trend in some species being spotted on our shores over the last 20 years, such as Portuguese man o’War. Research has suggested that an increase in some jellyfish numbers around UK could be related to climate change, however, currently there isn’t enough evidence to make this link. The Marine Conservation Society’s Wildlife Sightings programme aims to collect long term data which can be used as a reference to study the reality of jellyfish trends in UK waters.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles to eat. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas, some of which arrive due to large abundances of jellyfish in spring and summer. The charity also reported an increase in marine turtles earlier this year, when strong currents and winds potentially blew turtles off their usual course and into our seas. The charity has a Turtle Code information sheet which shows what to do with a beached turtle.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK and Irish seas, is the leatherback, which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how better to protect them.

The charity’s volunteers submitted 223 turtle sightings since 2003, which feeds into a national database which recorded nearly 1,000 (946) turtle sightings over the same period. The research is used to inform policies and introduce conservation strategies to better protect our ocean and its inhabitants.

Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“Without your data, we wouldn’t be able to prove that our ocean is facing problems, or push for solutions that are backed by science. Data on jellyfish and turtles helps us build a picture of life in UK and Irish seas and track any changes that may occur because of things like climate change.  

“Since 2003, when our Wildlife Sightings programme began, you’ve reported over 18,000 sightings of jellyfish and turtles. We want to reach 20,000 sightings to mark our 20th year of tracking these species. Every contribution to our database is crucial in learning about our seas and helps us fight to protect them.”

The Marine Conservation Society uses wildlife sightings by citizen scientists to:

  • Discover how jellyfish and turtle populations are changing around the UK – specifically when and where they are occurring each year
  • Investigate trends in turtle sightings to find out more about how they use our waters
  • Explore whether jellyfish distribution can tell us more about where leatherback turtle feeding grounds may be

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website: www.mcsuk.org/sightings

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Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater

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In the vast and vibrant underwater world of Costa Rica, there’s a peculiar creature that often goes unnoticed but holds a special place in the hearts of divers: the frogfish. This enigmatic and somewhat odd-looking species is a master of camouflage and a marvel of marine life. Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is not just a dive; it’s an adventurous treasure hunt that rewards the patient and observant with unforgettable encounters. Let’s dive into the world of frogfish and discover what makes these creatures so fascinating and where you can find them in Costa Rica.

The Mystique of Frogfish

Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae, a group of marine fish known for their incredible ability to blend into their surroundings. They can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, red, green, black, and white, and they often have unique spots and textures that mimic the coral and sponges around them. This camouflage isn’t just for show; it’s a critical survival tactic that helps them ambush prey and avoid predators.

One of the most remarkable features of the frogfish is its modified dorsal fin, which has evolved into a luring appendage called an esca. The frogfish uses this esca to mimic prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, enticing unsuspecting victims close enough to be engulfed by its surprisingly large mouth in a fraction of a second. This method of hunting is a fascinating spectacle that few divers forget once witnessed.

Where to Find Frogfish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is dotted with dive sites that offer the chance to encounter these intriguing creatures. Bat Islands (Islas Murciélagos), Catalina Islands (Islas Catalinas), and the area around the Gulf of Papagayo are renowned for their rich marine life, including frogfish. These sites vary in depth and conditions, catering to both novice and experienced divers.

The key to spotting frogfish is to dive with a knowledgeable guide who can point out these master camouflagers hiding in plain sight. They’re often found perched on rocky outcroppings, nestled within coral, or even hiding among debris, perfectly mimicking their surroundings.

frogfish

Diving Tips for Spotting Frogfish

Go Slow: The secret to spotting frogfish is to move slowly and scan carefully. Their camouflage is so effective that they can be right in front of you without being noticed.

Look for Details: Pay attention to the small details. A slightly different texture or an out-of-place color can be the clue you need.

Dive with Local Experts: Local dive guides have an eagle eye for spotting wildlife, including frogfish. Their expertise can significantly increase your chances of an encounter.

Practice Buoyancy Control: Good buoyancy control is essential not just for safety and coral preservation but also for getting a closer look without disturbing these delicate creatures.

Be Patient: Patience is key. Frogfish aren’t known for their speed, and sometimes staying in one spot and observing can yield the best sightings.

Conservation and Respect

While the excitement of spotting a frogfish can be thrilling, it’s crucial to approach all marine life with respect and care. Maintain a safe distance, resist the urge to touch or provoke, and take only photos, leaving behind nothing but bubbles. Remember, the health of the reef and its inhabitants ensures future divers can enjoy these incredible encounters as much as you do.

Join the Adventure

Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is just one of the many underwater adventures that await in this biodiverse paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or taking your first plunge, the waters here offer an unparalleled experience filled with wonders at every turn. Beyond the thrill of the hunt for frogfish, you’ll be treated to a world teeming with incredible marine life, majestic rays, playful dolphins, and so much more.

So, gear up, dive in, and let the mysteries of Costa Rica’s underwater realm unfold before your eyes. With every dive, you’re not just exploring the ocean; you’re embarking on an adventure that highlights the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our marine ecosystems. And who knows? Your next dive might just be the one where you come face-to-face with the elusive and captivating frogfish. Join us at Rocket Frog Divers for the dive of a lifetime, where the marvels of the ocean are waiting to be discovered.

About the Author: Jonathan Rowe

Are you looking to make a splash online? As a seasoned diver and digital marketer, I specialize in crafting bespoke websites and innovative marketing strategies for dive shops worldwide. With my expertise, your business will not only be seen but also remembered.

From deep-sea to digital depths, I navigate the complex waters of web development and online marketing, ensuring your dive shop stands out in the vast ocean of the internet. Contact Scuba Dive Marketing for more information.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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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).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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