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Marine Life & Conservation

Nudibranchs: what do you know about them? (Watch Video)

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The second in an exciting new series of blogs introducing some of the amazing marine life you can encounter at Magic Resorts in the Philippines…

Some interesting facts!

Who doesn’t love nudibranchs? These tiny little creatures catch everybody’s interest because of their cute appearance, bright colors and last but not least, there are thousands of different species!

Although the word “nudibranchs” sounds as cute as the creature itself, the word actually comes from both Latin and Greek: Nudus (naked in Latin) and bránkhia (gills in Greek). The reason? The gills on their back are completely uncovered! Some things are just so simple.

Nudibranchs are also called nudis or sea slugs. All the nudibranchs are sea slugs, but not all sea slugs are nudibranchs. Some can swim and some are even toxic (or pretend to be!) But don’t worry, they won’t have enough toxin to harm humans: it’s only to protect themselves from predators or those who pretend to be toxic.

Another funny fact about nudibranchs is that they are hermaphrodites, which means they are intersex: all nudibranch (“male” or “female”) can be pregnant and can lay a million eggs at one time!

Although there are thousands of different species, there are basically only two major types of them: Dorid & Aeolid nudibranchs.

Dorid nudibranchs breathe through the gills on their back, which look like a little tree of gills. Aeolid nudibranchs have cerata or finger-like strings on their back that function as breathing, digestion, and defense apparatus. They also have variations of shapes: rose-like, club-shaped, clustered, thread-like, and branched. Aeolid nudibranchs can use their cerata for defense and some kinds of nudis can excrete toxin or acid from their body if they are threatened.

Come and dive with Magic Oceans Dive Resort and let the guides show you their nudibranch paradise! On top, their in-house marine biologist can tell you much more about these creatures during the seminar (free of charge)!

Some general facts!

  • There are more than 3000 species of nudibranchs worldwide and new ones are discovered almost daily. Which ones have you already seen
  • Their size varies from less than 0.5 inch (Shaun the Sheep) to 35 inch (Spanish Dancer)!

  • Nudis can be found in many places all over the world: coral reefs, seagrass beds or sandy bottoms. Did you know that you can also find some species in the Southern/Antarctic Ocean?
  • Nudibranchs don’t live very long. Some die within a month, others survive for only a year.

Visit Magic Oceans Anda, Bohol and Magic Island Moalboal, Cebu… find out more at www.magicresorts.online.

Also on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

Magic Resorts Philippines has two dive resorts: Magic Oceans Anda, Bohol and Magic Island Moalboal, Cebu. Have the Magic experience in two different locations. Rely on the same atmosphere, service and standards during every vacation! Blogs are supported by Marlon Managa, Dive Master and Marine Biologist at Magic Oceans.

Marine Life & Conservation

UK Shark Fin Trade ‘dead in the water’

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The government has today signalled the end of the UK’s involvement in the global shark fin trade with an announcement that new legislation will require all imported and exported shark fins to remain attached to the shark carcass and only traded as a whole commodity.

The news has been welcomed by Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation and its supporters including wildlife TV presenter Steve Backshall MBE and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who both endorsed the charity’s No Fin To Declare campaign, calling for a post-Brexit ban of the personal import allowance of shark fins to the UK.

Before Britain left the EU it had been bound by outdated legislation that permits anyone to carry up to 20kg of dried shark fins into and across European borders as part of their personal import allowance. According to Bite-Back, this loophole has been exploited by the shark fin trade to legally ‘smuggle’ fins undetected for decades.

Campaign director at Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “This news puts the UK at the forefront of shark conservation and represents a further blow to a global industry that is forcing sharks closer to the brink of extinction. We applaud the government for using Brexit to side-step this archaic EU legislation and instead lead the world in the conservation of sharks and the oceans. We hope and believe this announcement will encourage other European countries to impose similar constraints.”

It’s estimated that global fishing fleets hunt and kill 73 million sharks every year. As a result one in four shark species is now either endangered or threatened forcing populations of iconic shark species including great whites, hammerheads, oceanic whitetips and threshers to a tiny fraction of those recorded 50 years ago.

Over the past decade shark fins — used as the title ingredient in shark fin soup — have become one of the most valuable seafood items in the world, a fact the charity says, has created a ‘marine gold rush’ to catch and separate sharks from their lucrative fins.

Shark fin soup is widely regarded as a controversial dish. Not only are the cartilaginous strands from the fins tasteless, fishermen are known to cut the fins off the sharks they catch and throw the rest of the shark overboard to die.

Bite-Back first exposed the personal import allowance loophole in 2015. Alongside the detrimental environmental impact the NGO also highlighted that no other item on the ‘green channel’ list compared in terms of volume or value. In fact a 20kg consignment of fins is enough to make 705 bowls of shark fin soup and has a black market value of around £3,600.

Spain, France, Portugal and the UK all feature in the top 20 shark fishing nations in the world. Remarkably though, for years, the UK has exported around 25 tonnes of shark fins to Spain for processing and onward sale to the Far East.

However, it will soon become illegal to import or export individual shark fins making it extremely costly and inconvenient to buy and sell a product that is contributing to the decimation of vital shark populations.

Wildlife TV presenter and Bite-Back patron, Steve Backshall MBE, said: “Today’s news is a fantastic outcome for shark conservation and the culmination of years of campaigning from Bite-Back. The government’s decision to effectively ban the trade in shark fins will be significant in helping to restore the balance of the oceans. At the same time it sends a clear message to the world that shark fin soup belongs in the history books and not on the menu.”

Support shark and marine conservation at www.bite-back.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Ground-breaking Shark Research conducted in St. Maarten waters

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In April 2021 members from the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), and Beneath the Waves conducted multiple ‘scientific firsts’ as part of the “Shark Shakedown” project. The research expedition was a part of a wider research project into tiger sharks in the region funded by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NL) through the Biodiversity Funds and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. The researchers tagged eleven sharks, including for the first time a female pregnant tiger and endangered Caribbean reef shark in the Dutch Caribbean. The data will provide vital information for conservation strategies not only in St. Maarten, but for the wider Caribbean.

The expedition lasted five days in which three species of sharks were tagged, including tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier), Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi), and nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) all ranging from sub-adults to adults.

Participants received hands-on training with experts from Beneath the Waves in preparation for the upcoming expedition to the Saba Bank in August 2021. The goal of this upcoming expedition is to determine whether the Saba Bank is a breeding area for tiger sharks in the Eastern Caribbean. The high-definition ultrasound technology the team used was created by E. I. Medical Imaging and pioneered by collaborator Dr. James Sulikowski, of Arizona State University. This technology has successfully been used to identify maturity state and the stage of pregnancy in various shark species, a first for shark science in the region.

The scientists successfully confirmed early pregnancy stage in a large female tiger shark, as well as placed a satellite tag on the shark during the workup process. Using satellite tracking over the next few months, the scientists hope to confirm evidence of Sint Maarten being a breeding location for these globally threatened animals. In another shark tagging ‘first’, Beneath the Waves’ Chief Scientist, Dr. Austin Gallagher, placed the first camera tag on a tiger shark in the Dutch Caribbean. The team successfully recovered the camera package during the expedition, and the animal has already shown promising results regarding shark behavior in the region.

Both the satellite tag and camera tag have shown that these tiger sharks prefer to travel in the area between St. Maarten and St. Barths; however, these are only the first detections. No assumptions can be made yet regarding the movement of these animals.

The information gained from this research will provide a better understanding of the importance of both the status of sharks in Sint Maarten’s territorial waters and in the Yarari Sanctuary and the role these ecosystems play in the life-cycle of tiger sharks in the wider Caribbean region. Tiger sharks are currently categorized as Near-Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature while Caribbean reef sharks have very recently been upgraded to Endangered. Sharks play key roles in maintaining the balance within local and regional marine ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity and therefore their protection is crucial.

Follow the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance’s Facebook, Instagram (dcnanature) or DCNA’s website (https://dcnanature.org/news/) to learn more about the shark expedition and other nature news from the Dutch Caribbean.

Photo credit:  ©  Sami Kattan/Beneath the Waves (all rights reserved)

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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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