Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation

Unraveling the mysteries of the Saba Bank

Published

on

For the first time on the Saba Bank, an expedition team was able to successfully assess the shark diversity by attaching five satellite tags and confirming pregnancy stages by ultrasound of two species of sharks. This research advancement resulted in assessing 56 sharks, including 16 Tiger sharks with one confirmed early-stage pregnancy, and the first tagged male in the region. These details indicate that the Saba Bank’s important role in the shark populations of the North-Eastern and wider Caribbean Region have yet to be unlocked. This information is crucial to better protect sharks within the Dutch Caribbean’s Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary as well as beyond.

Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) along with the Protected Area Management Organizations of the Dutch Caribbean: Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), Nature Foundation St. Maarten (NFSXM), St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA), STINAPA Bonaire, the Aruba National Parks Foundation (FPNA), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature- The Netherlands (WWF-NL) led a team on the Saba Bank in collaboration with Arizona State University, University of Groningen, Beneath the Waves and funded by the Biodiversity Fund of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature- The Netherlands (WWF-NL) .

This week-long ocean research expedition aimed to understand the stages of the reproductive cycle of tiger sharks on the Saba Bank. Tadzio Bervoets, Director of DCNA and expedition leader adds: “It is critical to collect the data necessary to advance the conservation actions for species of sharks in the Caribbean Region and with the data collected over the last week we have been able to get a clear picture of the important role the Saba Bank plays.” 

This expedition built upon previous research and expertise from collaborating scientists.

Throughout the week, the team was able to deploy five satellite tags on the dorsal fin of tiger sharks which will allow tracking of the animals over an extended period of time. The ultrasounds which were taken using high technology imagery to determine the maturity and pregnancy stage supported by Brooke Anderson, Ph.D. candidate of Dr. James Sulikowski’s Lab, Arizona State University show that the Saba Bank is a reproductive area for IUCN Near Threatened listed species tiger and the IUCN endangered listed Caribbean Reef Shark. One of the female tiger sharks was confirmed with an early stage pregnancy and boasted a total length of 251cm. This multidisciplinary research approach is necessary for taking the first steps in understanding the reproductive life cycle for the species in the region.

One of the mysteries which resulted was the first tagged male on the Saba Bank sized at 306 cm and later named Maestro Angelo. While it is common to find females, it was surprising to encounter male tiger sharks during the research. Due to the lack of research done previously on these sharks on the Saba Bank, it became evident as to why there is a need to emphasize the importance and need for scientific research into these species.

Expeditions brought forward by the protected area management organizations, such as this one, support the necessary research needed for data-driven management solutions. These results will be used to help steer future research activities, inform local governments on the significant impact these species and their habitats have on ecotourism, and ultimately strengthen conservation policies. Ayumi Kuramae, Saba Bank Management Unit Officer shared the importance of this study:

“Through previous tagging expeditions it was clear that the tiger sharks tagged on the Saba Bank can travel as far south as Grenada, crossing many nations’ borders. This shows the importance of protecting the species not only in our waters, but region wide. Seeing male and female tiger sharks together of different life stages, shows us that protection of these species in our water is vital since we may be protecting the future generation of tiger sharks in the region. A decrease in the number of sharks can affect the overall fish stocks which leads to a disturbed natural balance in the sea. Saba, for example, highly depends on fisheries and dive tourism as part of the local economy which also relies on a healthy fish stocks. Thus, understanding the role of these apex predators is extremely important.”

After gazetting, the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary will encompass the exclusive economic zone waters of the Saba Bank along with Saba, Bonaire and Statia. This sanctuary has the intention to provide a safe place for these animals, but without supportive data and knowledge, it is difficult to ensure they receive the appropriate protection measures. In order to survive, tiger sharks may use the Saba Bank as a key habitat for different stages of their life cycle but are known to travel to other regions during different life stages, making them a transboundary species. This expedition will help identify where larger, multi-national marine protected areas across the Caribbean should be to protect these species during their whole life cycle.

For more information about the work of the DCNA visit their website by clicking here

Images: Daniel Norwood

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

Marine Life & Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation announce Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant

Published

on

Stories spark the imagination and nurture ideas. They are, without doubt, our most powerful form of communicating and connecting, both with each other and with the world around us.
The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) have a strong history of supporting marine conservation and education projects and believe that to truly translate knowledge into effective, meaningful change we must communicate through engaging stories. An inspiring or compelling story can spur positive action in ways that no presentation of facts can.

SOSF are delighted to introduce their new emerging Ocean Storyteller Grants, which will focus on photography in its inaugural year. The photography grant is led by our own director of storytelling and National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak, in collaboration with Kathy Moran and Jennifer Samuel from National Geographic.

While they are looking specifically for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the call is not limited to underwater photography. Applicants should think broadly – story topics can range from the animals themselves to fisheries or the communities whose lives are intertwined with marine life. Four successful grantees will each receive a fully funded assignment to shoot a conservation photo story on location (including day rate and travel), under the direct mentorship of the Ocean Storytelling Grant team.

To learn more about the grant and application process click here.

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Project Cornwall and PADI partner to educate the next generation of Ocean Torchbearers

Published

on

Dive Project Cornwall’s vision is simple – eliminate plastic pollution and protect the marine environment to save all life in our oceans for future generations to enjoy and cherish. 

“We are delighted to be working with PADI as a key partner to deliver Dive Project Cornwall, a new not-for-profit community interest organsiation,” says Andy Forster, Project Director of Dive Project Cornwall. “For a long time, I have considered it should be the right of every child to walk on a beach and feel the sand between their toes. Dive Project Cornwall aims to give young people that experience and take it one step further: giving them sight of the amazing underwater world. 

Through their own appreciation of the wonders of the marine environment, we inspire thought as to how we will look after our beaches and oceans and preserve them for future generations to enjoy. The success of this lies in educating hundreds of thousands of young people today, and we are delighted to be able to launch a comprehensive introduction to the ocean and marine conservation for young people and adults alike, in the form of Dive Project Cornwall.”

The plight of our world’s oceans is well documented, and through its global network of torchbearers, PADI® is committed to playing a prominent role in taking action to heal the planet, shining a light on what’s possible, and leading communities towards a sustainable future. The collaboration between PADI and Dive Project Cornwall brings this shared ocean conservation mission to life. 

Dive Project Cornwall will educate hundreds of thousands of young people by delivering an education programme directly into schools across the UK, raising the awareness of the importance of the planet’s marine environment and its vital role in our very existence.

At the heart of Dive Project Cornwall is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the experience of a lifetime; a 6-day, life-changing trip to Cornwall where they will learn to scuba dive, enjoy outdoor adventures, take up beach-related activities and attend presentations from leading marine industry experts. The aim is for these teenagers to become PADI Open Water Divers and PADI Torchbearers – ocean influencers who positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet.

PADI is delighted to partner with Dive Project Cornwall to provide the 400 winning students with PADI Open Water Diver eLearning. PADI Dive Centres in Cornwall will work with the students to complete their in-water training and PADI certification. Scuba diving opens up the underwater world for young people and helps them to develop an understanding and appreciation for it, inspiring them to want to explore and protect it.

“Saving the ocean requires all of us to act together, and it’s crucial that we engage the younger generation in this work. Partnering with Dive Project Cornwall enables PADI to deliver such an important project, educating young people in the UK on the far-reaching impact that local action can have,” said Rich Somerset, Territory Director, PADI EMEA.

Dive Project Cornwall are currently looking for sponsors, media partners and collaborating charities to build the project to formal launch across the UK in January 2022. To find out more and get involved visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or email Andy Forster andy@diveprojectcornwall.co.uk

“We look forward to working with PADI and all of our sponsors (those already on board and those to come) to positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet,” says Forster.

For more info visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or www.padi.com

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Egypt | El Gouna | 10 – 17 November 2021 | Reefs & Wrecks staying at the Three Corners Ocean View Hotel

Set in the Abu Tig Marina, this all-inclusive, adults only, resort features 2 outdoor pools overlooking the clear waters of the Red Sea

Stylishly modern yet giving traditional services, this hotel is cleverly designed to be almost surrounded by the sea with a fabulous poolside terrace. There is a choice of restaurants and bars and a health club. Diving is with the renowned Emperor Divers

Price from just £845 per person based on sharing a twin room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in twin/double standard room
  • Bed & breakfast meal plan
  • 5 days’ 2 tank boat diving with Emperor Divers, guide, 12ltr tank & weights
  • All Transfers

*Marine Park Fees and extras payable locally

Subject to availability.

Email info@diversetravel.co.uk to find out more!

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular