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Reef Conservation Month at Divetech

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During the month of October, Divetech is focusing its efforts on conservation issues which concern the dive community. In conjunction with Eco Divers and Vivo restaurant, Divetech are hosting a Coral Conservation workshop on Sunday 28th of October 2018, all proceeds from which will go the Eco Divers Coral Reef Foundation.

Ocean and reef conservation is a hot topic across the global media. The constant reminder of coral bleaching, lionfish invasion and plastic pollution has put this high on the agenda for all divers.

Joanna Mikutowicz, owner of Divetech Grand Cayman, has been a leader in the Cayman Islands fighting for conservation issues. Divetech has given her a platform from which to educate and the tools with which to implement and co-ordinate conservation programs. Her primary focus to date has been organizing lionfish culls. Recently, the Divetech team caught over 560 lionfish in one day, at depths of up to 330ft while using rebreather equipment.

Joanna Mikutowicz explains: “This month I wanted to raise awareness about some of the issues that are close to divers’ hearts. I want Divetech to be educating and leading the conservation efforts in the Cayman Islands. We cannot ignore the issues we see before us every day and I want to give the local community the opportunity to get involved and try lionfish culling for themselves! We are offering 20% off our Department of the Environment approved Lionfish Culling course throughout October 2018. We are also offering 20% off our Freediving courses as a way to re-engage divers with the natural beauty of our ocean and the issues affecting it.”

Divetech will be hosting the conservation event on Sunday 28th of October 2018. The event will consist of a workshop where divers will learn about the coral nursery at Lighthouse Point and issues facing the coral reefs on the island in recent years. Aaron Hunt from Eco Divers will be co-ordinating the workshop. Aaron has dedicated years to the coral restoration issues in Grand Cayman and his work at the coral nursery since 2016 has resulted in the growth of over 1,000 pieces of coral, with more than 100 pieces being out planted as part of the restoration efforts. Following the workshop, divers will be taken on a scuba dive to the nursery to see first-hand the work that is taking place.

To conclude the event, Vivo restaurant, based at Lighthouse Point, will be offering a special 3-course dinner from their new menu, to include some of their signature lionfish dishes.

Michele Zama, owner of Vivo restaurant, explains “Lionfish are a menace to Caribbean waters. Native to Asia, these striped fish arrived to the Americas as visually striking additions to in-home personal aquariums. However, once released into the wild in foreign waters, the lionfish had no natural predators. Their subsequent ascension up the Caribbean food chain has unfortunately disturbed the ecosystem and harmed coral reefs. Spearing these reef-dwellers is encouraged, but it has not been sufficient to entirely curb the spread of lionfish populations across the Caribbean.”

Vivo’s eco-friendly menu offers vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options and will be the perfect complement to the conservation event. Event tickets are $75ci which includes the Coral Conservation workshop, a dive to the coral nursery & Vivo’s 3 course dinner.

For more information about the event or Divetech’s “Reef Aware Month”,  contact Divetech on (345) 946-5658 or email info@divetech.com or follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/DiveTech

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks the Ocean’s Greatest Mystery – Part 2

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Sharks are an incredibly significant animal in human culture of both the past and present, they are an animal that have been embodied in our culture for millennia. They are represented in formats such as books and clothing, but most notably in our TV and films, which is where a large portion of their negative reputation stems from. A popular TV representation of sharks comes from Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, and I believe sharks are possibly the only animal on our planet to have an entire week dedicated to them every year. However, despite this, we still know more collectively about the surface of the Moon and Mars, about Galaxies outside of our own, and even about animals that have been extinct for millions of years, than we do about sharks.

Sharks are our Ocean’s top predator, and they represent just how little we know about our blue planet. We have put more money into exploring outer space than we have exploring our seas and whilst many people call space the final frontier, I believe the final frontier is our Oceans. There are people that have lived in space for over a year, yet we aren’t able to stay underwater for more than a few short hours, and with each dive, scientists are discovering something new in the deep sea, giving us a better understanding of our oceans and the top predator that lives within them.

What we do not know

It is easier to talk about what we do not know and the implications of not knowing it, we still don’t know where most shark species mate or give birth, knowing this would accelerate conservation efforts for sharks in a huge way as these areas could then have realistic protections placed on them, allowing us to preserve key stages of the Sharks life cycle.

Marine Biologists have stated that the discovery of a White Shark breeding ground would be the holy grail of Ocean Science, but the only reports of White Sharks mating come from a handful of sightings from Fisherman and Sailors, so these cannot be used as an official record.

We know that Sharks mature late in the same way as us humans, it is estimated that some species are estimated to not be sexually mature until their late 30’s and 40’s, which means that these species are at extreme risk of disappearing due to fishing, as they aren’t able to replenish their numbers fast enough when put under extreme fishing pressure. There is a lot of debate over whether Sharks mature at a certain age or a certain size, for example it was estimated that White Sharks mature at four metres in length, however, in South Africa in 2017 a female White Shark was killed by Orcas, and it was determined that she was either immature or hadn’t mated, as there was the presence of a Hymen.

We are also still unsure about the impacts of human activities on Sharks and how losing Sharks, or their habitat, would affect the habitats and environments on land, environments in which we depend on for our survival.

What we do know

New Shark discoveries are made every year, and scientists are predicting that in the next 15-20 years we will be entering the golden age of ocean and shark discoveries. We already know that sharks are the oceans top predator and we have determined that they affect the very mechanics and functions of the Ocean, if we were to remove them, we would be putting the worlds ecosystems at risk of collapsing. Sharks are an integral part of the balance of the oceans, they help by controlling populations of other species, if we were to lose sharks, species such as turtles would have an increase in population, therefore leading to more seagrass being eaten, which is a prime food source for many animals. Thus, other smaller animals would not be able to feed, and their population would decrease, also the decrease of sea grass would affect us humans on earth as the oceans plant life helps to absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and actually up to 75% of the oxygen we breathe is created from the oceans.

We know that some Shark species have complex social relationships that aid in their survival, although this has only been observed in a handful of species. Lemon Sharks form bonds as pups and hunt together in the shallow mangrove swamps of the Bimini Atoll, and will learn and hunt together and learn vital skills needed in their future survival. Hammerheads are possibly the most famous for social interactions as they form huge schools off places such as the Galapagos Islands and it has been observed that the more dominant females swim in the centre of the school and display for the males.

Some shark species, such as the Zebra Shark, have been known to mimic other animals. Zebra sharks are born with stripes (which fade as they get older) and they have the second longest tail (after the Thresher Shark), this helps them to mimic the highly venomous, White-Banded Sea Snake in order to trick predators into avoiding them, they have even been reported to mimic taking a breath at the surface like a sea snake would do.

It has recently been discovered that Greenland Sharks are now the longest lived Vertebrate on our Planet, they are believed to be able to exceed the age of 500, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old. This was discovered by examining special proteins in their eyes that do not degrade with age. Determining age and sexual maturity are crucial for understanding and managing shark populations as knowing what age a Shark can breed will allow us to gauge what protections a species needs.

It has recently been discovered that female Whale Sharks are able to store sperm to use over a period of time, this is in order to ensure their chance of reproducing, even without recently mating. This is a huge advantage for conserving the species, as Whale Sharks are classed as an endangered species and so, with the number of whale sharks declining, this ensures the species can continue. Along with this, Whale Sharks have also been found to be pregnant with up to 300 pups, and these pups can be at different stages of development due to the staggered use of stored sperm.

Of all things we know there is one thing that is certain, a Shark, no matter the species, is unique and worth more to our world alive than dead. In the next blog we will explore the threats that Sharks face and how we can help Sharks through the tough times ahead.


Follow Donovan on Instagram at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

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Nauticam NA-α1 Housing for Sony α1 Camera now shipping

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The Sony α1 is the company’s flagship full-frame interchangeable lens camera.  Designed around the new 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processor, the α1 is truly a camera which can do it all.  It’s 759 point Fast Hybrid Autofocus system offers advanced subject tracking and real-time eye autofocus on both humans and animals.  The optimized processing within the α1 allows it to achieve 30fps continuous shooting at full resolution along with 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording.

Nauticam has supported the Sony Alpha full-frame line since the original a7 with professional grade aluminum housings that offer intuitive access to all the controls and functions of the cameras. As the cameras have evolved, so have the Nauticam housings. The NA-α1 underwater housing provides fingertip access to all key camera controls in a rugged and reliable aluminum underwater housing. Ergonomic camera control access is one of the defining strengths of a Nauticam housing, and the NA-α1 continues this tradition.

Integrated DSLR-housing styled handles with ergonomic rubberized grips and stainless steel stiffening brackets add stability and accessory mounting points. The NA-a1 also features dual rear thumb-levers that are easily reached from the handle that access three of the most-used controls on the rear of the camera. The right lever actuates the AF-ON and RECORD buttons while the left lever is mapped to the PLAY button.

Atop the housing on the left side are controls in the form of a MODE dial and FOCUS mode lever. The C1, C2 buttons as well as the EV compensation dial also have direct access from the top of the housing. The C3, which is typically assigned to control switching between the EVF and the LCD screen is easily reachable on the rear of the housing from the left handle.

For more information visit the UK Nauticam website by clicking here 

or to visit the USA Nauticam website click here.

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Competitions

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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