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Marine Life & Conservation

Summer Boating Safety for Manatees and Boaters Alike

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Save the Manatee Club is proud to be a partner of National Safe Boating Week, the official launch of the 2021 Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes recreational boating safety, such as wearing life jackets and not boating while under the influence of alcohol. Save the Manatee Club also uses the campaign to remind boaters of manatee-safe boating tips.

During the summer, manatees are found in shallow estuaries, bays, rivers, canals, and coastal areas throughout Florida and in neighboring states – most commonly Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Because imperiled manatees are generally slow-moving and must surface to breathe air, they are especially vulnerable to collisions with fast-moving watercraft. Boat accidents are the primary cause of human-related manatee deaths. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), most manatee deaths from watercraft collisions are caused by blunt-force impact, meaning that the speed at which boaters are traveling are causing strikes with deadly force. Those manatees that survive bear scars from their injuries. In fact, most living manatees have some sort of scar from a boat collision.

These tragic accidents are preventable with education, awareness, and the care of the boating community. Posted slow speed “manatee zones” indicate the likely presence of manatees and should be navigated through carefully. Boater’s guides usually list the location of manatee zones and can be reviewed before each boat trip. In addition to obeying posted speed zones, those on board should keep a lookout for manatees in the water by wearing polarized sunglasses to see below the water’s surface, and scanning for manatees’ snouts, backs, tails, flippers, or “footprints” – the flat, circular spot on the water created by the manatee’s moving tail. Following these tips, along with the Safe Boating Campaign’s guidelines, can help keep both boaters and manatees safe.

Boaters, paddlers, or those who spend time near the water are also encouraged to be a voice for manatees by immediately reporting injured, malnourished, orphaned, entangled, stranded, or dead manatees to the FWC or their local state wildlife officials. Manatees that have fresh pink or red wounds, are breathing more often than every 30 seconds, or are unable to submerge or tilting to one side, may be injured and should be reported. Boaters should not attempt to remove entanglements, such as monofilament fishing line, crab trap lines, or other marine debris, from manatees themselves – instead, they should report them so a trained biologist can assess the situation. In Florida, boaters can contact VHF Channel 16 on their marine radio or call the FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Learn more tips on spotting and reporting sick or injured manatees at savethemanatee.org/rescue.

Save the Manatee Club offers a number of free materials available upon request to help safeguard manatees and increase awareness of manatee-safe boating tips. Shoreline property owners as well as park and marina managers can order aluminum signs alerting others to the presence of manatees in the area. And boaters and paddlers can request packets that include a safety tips card, a waterproof boat banner, and a decal to adhere to your vessel with the number to report manatees in distress. Order free materials at savethemanatee.org/resources.

Join Save the Manatee Club on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to learn more and get involved.

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

Ghost Fishing UK clean up at the Plastic Free Awards

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The ocean conservation charity Ghost Fishing UK has netted the ‘Best Plastic Campaign’ prize at the ‘Plastic free Awards 2021’ for their voluntary work cleaning up our oceans of lost fishing gear.

It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of lost fishing gear or ‘ghost gear’ is lost into our oceans each year. Modern fishing gear is primarily made of plastics and not only continues catching and killing wildlife once it has been lost, but leaves a legacy issue of broken down plastic circulating in our oceans. These fragments known as microplastics can be ingested by animals and ultimately end up in our food chain.

The Plastic Free Awards returned for their second year to celebrate those making the biggest waves in the fight against plastic pollution. The awards are a unique opportunity to recognise the achievements of campaigners, innovators, small businesses and communities across the UK leading the charge on plastic.

Partnering with Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, the awards are designed to bring together environmental champions and leaders of the plastic free movement. With 12 award categories covering all areas from Best Plastic Campaign to Youth Activist Award, anyone can be nominated; yourself, a friend, family member, school, community, or business – anyone you think is a plastic free hero. Shortlisted nominees are chosen by a panel of expert judges.

Volunteer divers from the charity Ghost Fishing UK are carefully selected to survey and recover lost fishing gear which is reported through their website. Both divers and fishermen are invited to report fishing gear losses so the team can recover them, stopping the cycle of death and pollution in its tracks.

The materials are then stored until they reach sufficient quantities to be recycled into various items, including plant pots.

Operations Officer and trustee for the charity Fred Nunn is based in Cornwall and said: “It’s so humbling to be recognised by the community when there are so, so many others all doing truly amazing things all towards a common goal.”

Scuba divers who make the grade are put through an intensive training course over three days to prepare them for dealing with ghost nets. The job underwater can be dangerous, often with poor visibility, hard physical work and the ever present risk of the divers becoming entangled in the nets themselves.

On the day of the awards ceremony, many of the divers missed the event as they were finishing up a project in Brighton to remove a huge net form the wreck of the Cairndhu, operating from Channel Diver. They were assisted by a trawling vessel who heard the team were in the area and offered to help, using his fishing boat to haul the net on board. The fishermen are hoping to be able to repair and re-use the net depending on how badly it has been damaged whilst entangled in the wreck. If not, the net will be sent for recycling.

Trustee Christine Grosart said: “Today was a fantastic day! It was brilliant to have a trawling vessel offer assistance to our mission to get the net off the Cairndhu but to go on and win this award in the evening was the cherry on the cake.

Many people think we do this for a living but we don’t – we all have day jobs, families and normal lives to work around. It takes special individuals to give up what free time and cash they have spare to this cause and that is why they are so deserving of this award.

I was watching the awards from the middle of the Danish north sea on board a sat diving vessel and they could hear me shrieking from the Bridge!”

Chair Dr Richard Walker was also out on Channel Diver, photographing the day’s mission as it unfolded. He was travelling home when the winners were announced: “To actually win this award means more to me than you can imagine. It means that I can publicly thank all of our dedicated volunteers, who scuba dive to recover lost fishing nets from the reefs and shipwrecks around the United Kingdom and the huge contribution that our divers make in keeping the projects happening.

I can praise our instructors who teach our divers how to be safe and effective on our projects and show my appreciation to our committee who look after our administration, who send our message to the public, who make links with the fishing community and other groups.”

 Ghost Fishing UK this weekend is rolling out a new reporting system dedicated to fishermen and fishing vessels to be able to report lost fishing gear anonymously. The charity is very keen to work with the fishing community in harmony to help solve the problem of ghost fishing by getting accidentally lost gear out of the sea as soon as possible.

To report lost fishing gear, please head to the charity’s website: www.ghostfishing.co.uk/report

If you are a fisherman and know of any lost fishing gear, please report it anonymously here:

Ghost Fishing UK – Fishing Community Reporting Form

Richard Walker said “I want to thank each and every one of the Ghost Fishing UK team, and all of our supporters. They are all a key part of the job to reduce our dependence on plastics and preventing it from getting into our beautiful oceans.

And finally, a big thank you to the Surfers Against Sewage and the Plastic Free Awards for this prestigious award.”

For more information about Ghost Fishing UK visit their website by clicking here.

Header image: Richard Walker

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Marine Life & Conservation

123 Baby Sea Turtles Released in the Maldives

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Kagi Maldives Spa Island has celebrated the first turtle hatching of the season with the release of 123 sea turtles.

Guests, associates and team members from Euro-Divers Kagi Maldives gathered on the beach to witness nature’s wonderful event as the resort’s ‘Green’ team took the lead to carefully guide 123 Hawksbill hatchlings to their first journey to the ocean on Tuesday, 15 June 2021, one day before the WWF’s World Sea Turtle Day.

For more information visit the Euro-Divers website by clicking here.

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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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