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Marine Life & Conservation

The Dolphin’s Cry

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Sometimes, the sound of dolphin cries wakes me in the night. That sound haunts me, and I have no doubt that it will remain with me until my dying day. But remaining with it is the knowledge that I diplomatically worked with, and lived amongst, local villagers in a foreign land to educate and potentially stop those dolphin cries.

I don’t remember the first time I saw the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove, or the first time I heard of the annual dolphin slaughter that happens in that natural finger of water along the Japanese coastline. It seems to have simply always been known to me; to have always been a part of my soul.  But I never thought that I would go there; never thought I would witness the slaughter with my own eyes or hear the dolphin cries with my own ears. Yet in November 2010, I found myself standing on the rocky shore of the Cove in Taiji, Japan, gazing out over the water of that small bay, watching dolphins thrash in utter panic and then float still as their blood colored the Cove red.

My Call-to-Action came when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society asked me to serve as their Cove Guardian Campaign Leader on the ground at the Cove in Taiji, Japan. My initial response was to turn down this offer because I was set in my life in Seattle, Washington State. I didn’t think it was a possibility for me to leave my full-time photography career, my husband, our animals and our life in general in order to spend four months in Asia. But I longed to accept this offer, to board a plane to Japan, to stand up for my beliefs, to live my passion for active marine conservation. It broke my heart to turn my back on my dream when it was finally being presented to me.

Life continued on as usual and each time I punched the time clock like a drone, the light in my soul was extinguished a bit more. It finally took some words of wisdom from a friend and co-worker to make me fully comprehend what I had just turned down. It’s not often, it’s extremely rare actually, that we get the chance to become what we have always dreamed of becoming. This was my chance. I accepted Sea Shepherd’s offer and found myself jobless, husbandless and on a plane destined for a country I had never thought twice about until that very moment. I was going to live in Japan for four months. I was going to work at the infamous Cove where I would actively participate in marine conservation. I had been chasing this dream since I was a tiny child and announced to my second grade teacher that I was going to save every dolphin and whale in the ocean, and here I was flying toward that dream. I suppose I should have been terrified, and while I was nervous and apprehensive, never once was I scared because I knew that this was what I was born for. I had no doubt then, and no doubt now, that I made the right decision when I left my ‘American Dream’ behind and ran, with my flags unfurled, toward my destiny.

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Arriving in Japan was surreal and being at the Cove was something that words can never define. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by like-minded individuals who completely understood, admired and respected my decision to radically change my life in order to come watch dolphins die. But it was so much more than that; each and every one of us was standing, conscious and present, bearing witness to the tragedy that takes place in that beautiful corner of the earth, so that we could serve as the voice of the voiceless; a conduit so the world could hear the dolphin’s cry.  We were the only hope those sentient beings had for raising awareness towards the heartbreaking slaughter. Every September through March, volunteers flock to the Cove in the hopes of spreading the word and making a difference.

Since my departure from Japan in early 2011, I’ve joined Ric O’Barry and his organization, Save Japan Dolphins, and have founded my own group, Blue Ocean Foundation. Both of these groups put heavy stock into the education aspect of conservation and take a diplomatic approach to their presence at the Cove. Working with the local people, including the men who hunt the dolphins, is a major focus of time spent in Japan. In addition, speaking to schools in the Seattle area and hosting education-awareness events has become a way for me to spread the word during my time at home.

The Cove forever changed me. I sacrificed a great deal in order to pursue my passions, but I gained so much more and never once have I regretted the choice I made to stand on that beach. The slaughter is harrowing, haunting, disturbing, disgraceful and horribly, horribly tragic, but I, and the vast majority of people who have stood vigil at the Cove as well, feel that it would be even more tragic for those dolphins to die alone, with no one to remember them and no one to spread the word about their deaths.

Life is too precious to live the way someone else says you should. Never, ever be afraid to follow your dreams, to stand up for what you believe in and to be your true self.

Spread the word. Raise awareness. Speak out.

For more information about the Cove, watch the Academy Award winning documentary of the same title. You can also visit the websites for Save Japan Dolphins and Blue Ocean Foundation.

Blue Ocean Foundation: http://blueoceanfoundation.blogspot.com/

Save Japan Dolphins: http://www.savejapandolphins.org/

This article is from Liberty Miller. She is a photojournalist from Seattle, Washington State. Due to her love of marine conservation and her involvement in the Seattle music scene, she has created a way to join her two passions via organizing music festivals that benefit marine conservation. For more information, visit her website: http://libertyeliasmiller.weebly.com/

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Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater

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In the vast and vibrant underwater world of Costa Rica, there’s a peculiar creature that often goes unnoticed but holds a special place in the hearts of divers: the frogfish. This enigmatic and somewhat odd-looking species is a master of camouflage and a marvel of marine life. Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is not just a dive; it’s an adventurous treasure hunt that rewards the patient and observant with unforgettable encounters. Let’s dive into the world of frogfish and discover what makes these creatures so fascinating and where you can find them in Costa Rica.

The Mystique of Frogfish

Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae, a group of marine fish known for their incredible ability to blend into their surroundings. They can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, red, green, black, and white, and they often have unique spots and textures that mimic the coral and sponges around them. This camouflage isn’t just for show; it’s a critical survival tactic that helps them ambush prey and avoid predators.

One of the most remarkable features of the frogfish is its modified dorsal fin, which has evolved into a luring appendage called an esca. The frogfish uses this esca to mimic prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, enticing unsuspecting victims close enough to be engulfed by its surprisingly large mouth in a fraction of a second. This method of hunting is a fascinating spectacle that few divers forget once witnessed.

Where to Find Frogfish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is dotted with dive sites that offer the chance to encounter these intriguing creatures. Bat Islands (Islas Murciélagos), Catalina Islands (Islas Catalinas), and the area around the Gulf of Papagayo are renowned for their rich marine life, including frogfish. These sites vary in depth and conditions, catering to both novice and experienced divers.

The key to spotting frogfish is to dive with a knowledgeable guide who can point out these master camouflagers hiding in plain sight. They’re often found perched on rocky outcroppings, nestled within coral, or even hiding among debris, perfectly mimicking their surroundings.

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Diving Tips for Spotting Frogfish

Go Slow: The secret to spotting frogfish is to move slowly and scan carefully. Their camouflage is so effective that they can be right in front of you without being noticed.

Look for Details: Pay attention to the small details. A slightly different texture or an out-of-place color can be the clue you need.

Dive with Local Experts: Local dive guides have an eagle eye for spotting wildlife, including frogfish. Their expertise can significantly increase your chances of an encounter.

Practice Buoyancy Control: Good buoyancy control is essential not just for safety and coral preservation but also for getting a closer look without disturbing these delicate creatures.

Be Patient: Patience is key. Frogfish aren’t known for their speed, and sometimes staying in one spot and observing can yield the best sightings.

Conservation and Respect

While the excitement of spotting a frogfish can be thrilling, it’s crucial to approach all marine life with respect and care. Maintain a safe distance, resist the urge to touch or provoke, and take only photos, leaving behind nothing but bubbles. Remember, the health of the reef and its inhabitants ensures future divers can enjoy these incredible encounters as much as you do.

Join the Adventure

Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is just one of the many underwater adventures that await in this biodiverse paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or taking your first plunge, the waters here offer an unparalleled experience filled with wonders at every turn. Beyond the thrill of the hunt for frogfish, you’ll be treated to a world teeming with incredible marine life, majestic rays, playful dolphins, and so much more.

So, gear up, dive in, and let the mysteries of Costa Rica’s underwater realm unfold before your eyes. With every dive, you’re not just exploring the ocean; you’re embarking on an adventure that highlights the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our marine ecosystems. And who knows? Your next dive might just be the one where you come face-to-face with the elusive and captivating frogfish. Join us at Rocket Frog Divers for the dive of a lifetime, where the marvels of the ocean are waiting to be discovered.

About the Author: Jonathan Rowe

Are you looking to make a splash online? As a seasoned diver and digital marketer, I specialize in crafting bespoke websites and innovative marketing strategies for dive shops worldwide. With my expertise, your business will not only be seen but also remembered.

From deep-sea to digital depths, I navigate the complex waters of web development and online marketing, ensuring your dive shop stands out in the vast ocean of the internet. Contact Scuba Dive Marketing for more information.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.

The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.

The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”

The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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