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Marine Life & Conservation

New report highlights actions on how UK Government can save a dolphin a day

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Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) has launched a campaign to stop around a thousand whales, dolphins and porpoises dying in nets and other fishing gear each year, a new report issued today from experts at WDC and co-sponsor of the study HSI (Humane Society International), outlines action the UK and devolved Governments can take now to lead the world on preventing bycatch post Brexit and save a dolphin a day suffering death by suffocation. 

Based on recent figures, it is estimated that around 1,000 porpoises, hundreds of dolphins and tens of whales suffer and die in UK fishing gear in waters around the coast every year. WDC’s campaign seeks to highlight that urgent action is needed and is critical in particular for populations such as the harbour porpoise in the Celtic Sea and English Channel, humpback and minke whales in Scottish waters, and common dolphin populations in the Bay of Biscay, and Celtic Sea.

Whilst the EU drags its heels on tackling this matter, the new report – https://uk.whales.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/02/cetacean-bycatch-uk-fisheries-problems-solutions.pdf – sets out a range of solutions that the Government and the fishing industry could adopt to reverse the death toll in UK waters and elevate the UK to the world leader in tackling this horrific and unnecessary issue.

Implementing the recommendations in the report now could help to reduce the death rate by the end of 2023 so that bycatch incidents involving marine mammals are all but eradicated (reduced to the occasional accident) by 2030. 

WDC’s campaign encourages the UK and devolved Governments to adopt measures to reduce bycatch and increase independent at sea monitoring on fishing vessels by the end of 2021 to track progress. A key action is to start to phase out gill nets (which cause the most deaths) in UK waters, so that alternatives are found for those fisheries with the highest levels of bycatch by 2026.

Bycatch in fisheries is the biggest single killer of whales and dolphins worldwide with several species now close to extinction as a result. Effective solutions developed for UK fisheries could also be used to address the problem elsewhere. 

Sarah Dolman, WDCs Bycatch programme lead, said: “No one wants to catch dolphins, porpoises and whales. But bycatch has continued much the same for decades and the research highlights some effective solutions. Now is the time to take action. The Fisheries Act 2020 requires the UK to ‘minimise and where possible eliminate’ dolphin, porpoise and whale bycatch. The UK and devolved governments can fulfil this legal obligation and show global leadership by implementing fleet-wide solutions at sea that will prevent individual dolphins, porpoises and whales suffering, save lives, as well as providing confidence to consumers and the wider public and so benefit fishers.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: “The seas around the UK are like an assault course for marine mammals, causing largely unseen suffering and death. We would like to see government work with the fishing industry on a plan to phase out fishing gears that are known to be whale, dolphin and porpoise death traps, such as gillnets. Monitoring and reporting of bycatch must also be stepped up, so that timely and effective changes can be put in place to deal with gear or location hotspots. A growing proportion of consumers expect transparency and responsibility in food production, and we fully support WDC’s new campaign to ensure that the suffering caused by the fishing industry will not remain ‘out of sight, out of mind’.”

Russell Leaper, scientist who wrote the report, said: “Good fisheries management involves preventing bycatch. With the changes that are happening in UK fisheries management, there is a real opportunity to make this happen. The best way to do this is by moving away from fishing methods that are the highest risk to our cetaceans.”

For more information about WDC visit their website by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

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

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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.

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Marine Life & Conservation

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

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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.

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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

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