I well remember the Marine Conservation Society starting up in the late 1970s. It coincided with the early days of my TV filming career when marine conservation was quite a new concept in the eyes of the general public and little understood for the importance it held. With the development of the web and social media, marine conservation issues are now easily communicated to the masses and finally people are beginning to realise that the sea is not a limitless resource of food as well as not a bottomless pit for waste.
The Marine Conservation Society is a UK charity for the protection of the seas around the United Kingdom, and for the protection of our shores and wildlife.
Richard Harrington is the communications Officer for the MCS.
Jeff: Can you tell us more about the Marine Conservation Society and what being communications manager entails?
Richard: MCS is the UK charity for the marine environment, and we have a lot to say when we stand up for the life beneath the waves. I am in the privileged position of working at MCS to get our work noticed – through media, digital, printed resources etc – and harnessing the support of people who are interested in seeing marine life better protected in joining with us in our important work.
Jeff: What kind of people support the MCS?
Richard: That’s a challenge to answer! We started off with the support of scuba divers, and scientists, who still make up a good percentage of our supporter base. But the work we’ve branched out into on beaches, in schools etc. means we have a great variety now, and it really is hard to label our supporters as one type or another.
Jeff: What age groups are they mainly?
Richard: There’s a broad range of ages, with a peak in numbers for our paying supporters in the age ranges between 45 – 64. This might sound old! But actually, in comparison with some other charities, it is relatively youthful.
Male and female split is almost precisely 50:50. I like to think we have universal appeal!
Jeff: How do they support the MCS?
Richard: There are those who simply donate a couple of pounds a month and trust us to do our work, and we simply keep them informed of our work. A lot of people like to get much more involved, and we have several thousand volunteers who clean beaches, dive with Seasearch, and we also have around 250 “Sea Champions” – super volunteers who are the local voice of MCS in UK regions and countries. We encourage our supporters to get behind our campaigns, too, and always have ways for people to get involved.
Jeff: Are all MCS members from the UK or do you have people interested from other countries?
Richard: Mostly UK, as we are a registered charity here, but we have a good number of supporters who live overseas, too. Several live in Europe, a handful in the US, and a smattering of others is spread across the continents!
Jeff: Can you tell us about the MCS’s most recent projects?
Richard: The biggest has been with marine reserves (see my later answers). The Seasearch underwater surveys have gone from strength to strength, mapping out many new seabed sites with volunteer divers. We’ve been cleaning and surveying beaches with the biggest ever national event this spring, when nearly 10,000 people turned up around the UK. Working to make the UK largely carrier bag-free, successfully in every country other than England – so far!
Jeff: Do you have a favourite project?
Richard: I really enjoy seeing the results of our sustainable seafood work – our lists of fish to eat and avoid are used by chefs and supermarkets, and the public are definitely picking up on the need to buy sustainable. I’ve enjoyed working with Fish Fighters (and the “End of the Line” documentary makers before this). We’re making a Good Fish Guide App for Android at the moment, and looking at rating retailers on their sustainability in the Autumn. Watch this space!
Jeff: Are there ongoing issues that never seem to get resolved?
Richard: One big theme of our last few months has been trying to get marine reserves around UK waters; we enlisted the support of TV’s Fish Fight, marched on parliament, and really pulled out all the stops to make them a priority for government. At a crucial time, we’re seeing all the hard work turn into rather vague commitments from government for English seas, and Wales’ waters too. We’re focusing on Scottish seas over the next few months, which stand a good chance of being better protected if we succeed.
Jeff: A few years ago we were all very excited about the Marine Bill initiative but as time went on it slowly disappeared from public news. Can you tell us what is happening with it now and what the MCS involvement is?
Richard: That bill became an Act in 2010 (2011 for Scotland) and some good things have come of it. There is more of a joined-up approach to managing our seas by government, for example. But – and it is a big but – the network of protected sites that was enabled by the legislation is slow in coming to fruition. We’re keeping the pressure on!
Jeff: If people have a special marine environment or species they want to protect, how can they get started?
Richard: Talk to us! Don’t feel helpless, there’s lots you can do. Depending on where your favourite place might be, and what species you have concerns for, there is always something you can do to help. For a small site off the UK coast, you could garner support amongst locals and sea users for protecting it, or simply help spread the word about how valuable it is.
Jeff: Most of our readers are divers, how can they best support the marine environment?
Richard: Join MCS – you won’t be disappointed! www.mcsuk.org
Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater
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.
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.
Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida
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).
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