Connect with us
background

News

Not all Entanglements End Happily

Published

on

Don’t you love seeing whale and animal rescues on YouTube or on TV or the News?  I know I do.  Like the one with the whale that was freed and thanked her saviors by giving them a breaching display for over an hour?  Not all of these stories end happily, though.  In fact, most of them don’t.

Most ocean lovers or divers dream of saving an animal in dire circumstances.  Fish hooks, plastic, fishing nets, fishing lines… they are all enemies of our underwater friends.  When these items are found in a national park, where no fishing is supposed to be permitted, it is that much more tragic.  The number one killer of our cetacean and fishy friends?  Fishing nets.  Dolphins, whales, mantas, whale sharks…. these are large species who are in grave danger from these carelessly placed nets by fishermen who do not care about the possible casualties of other species.  Did you know that the bodies of 300,000 whales and dolphins wash ashore each year, killed by fishing nets?  Just try to imagine the hundreds of thousands who disappear into the depths… the ones that don’t wash ashore.  And what a horrible death – long and drawn out, suffering from exhaustion, from asphyxia, and from the terrible fear and horror of being unable to get free.

I am in Ecuador at the moment, volunteering as a diver to take Identification photos of Manta Rays, Humpback Whales, Mola Molas, and turtles for the Marine Megafauna Foundation, and yesterday was quite a day for whale sightings.  The Humpbacks were out in force – blowing and breaching! How can someone fail to be touched by the sight of pods of whales with their babies, waving, flipping, breaching?  Right now, the whales are migrating through this area of Ecuador, off the coast of Puerto Lopez, a fishing village where 3 major currents converge.  We go out daily in a boat to dive Isla de la Plata, where Mantas aggregate in huge numbers at this time of year.  The sight of the whales coming through is an incredible bonus to our work every day.  Until yesterday.

Yesterday it became personal. Our group came across an adult Humpback Whale, tangled in fishing net over it’s mouth, eyes and blowhole.  The odds of freeing it were slim, and we had to choose: snorkel with feeding mantas on the surface (always exciting), or try to free the whale?  Of course we went for the whale.  Two of the foundation’s leaders, Andrea and Janneman, suited up and jumped in to help.  They went in four times, managing a few cuts of the net, but the whale was just too fearful to allow them to help.  It was heartbreaking, watching this magnificent animal struggling to survive.  We were at Isla de la Plata, in the heart of the Machalilla National Park located in Ecuador, a park which forbids fishing for 2 miles out in every direction from the island.  There were a dozen fishing boats.  At least.  They are there every single day.  And not one of them stopped to help. In fact, we saw one of the boats hook a manta (they released it, but they usually leave the hook and line in the animal).

Tam 2

Larry, Andrea Marshall and Janneman, waiting for the whale to surface again.

You know, putting aside our compassion for other creatures, (especially animals of such high intelligence and social behavior), humpback whales, mantas, whale sharks, and dolphins bring in tremendous amounts of tourist dollars.  They are worth a lot more in dollars in the ocean, unharmed, than they are dead. The deaths of these animals are not just senseless and cruel, they are harmful to the local economies they could be supporting!  If you want to help, and I hope you do, please go to the Marine Megafauna Foundation’s website here or visit us.whales.org/support-us-1.  Adopt an animal, be a volunteer, boycott businesses who sell illegal products! I can tell you this: I know the folks at MMF personally, and every dollar goes to research and helping these animals.  No one is living the high life in this organization.

Tam 3

Trying to save the Whale

It was not possible to save the animal. The danger to Andrea and Janneman was immense….a full grown humpback whale could break a person’s bones easily; these animals are huge, and a fearful dive could drown a person who could not free their hand from the net in time.  We were all saddened to leave the animal, but there was nothing further to do.  The other volunteers – Ralph, Larry, Peg and Tina – had been involved here in a successful whale rescue a few years ago… but yesterday there was no happy ending.

Tam Warner Minton is an avid scuba diver, amateur underwater photographer, and adventurer. She encourages "citizen science" diving, whether volunteering with a group or by one's self. For Tam, the unexpected is usually the norm!

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

Published

on

Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving 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 run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

Published

on

There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

More Less

Instagram Feed

Facebook Feed

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Popular