Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

World Reef Day: Best Reef Conservation projects and dives from around the world

Published

on

Top Coral Reef Hope Spots

Around the world, destinations are running coral conservation programs that both local communities and visitors can play a direct role in. The results so far have been nothing short of inspiring, proving that hope is not lost in saving coral. Here are PADI’s top coral reef hope spots and how you get involved next time you visit.

1. Maldives: Adopt a Coral Program

PADI Dive Resort Sheraton Maldives Full Moon & Spa is empowering guests to plant hope and become coral champions during their stay.  Known as “Adopt a Coral”–which is part of Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy in collaboration with Reefscapers, the goal is the program is to invite guests to help in planting coral on one of the largest man-made coral structures in the Maldives. Families can also take part in guided house reef snorkeling tours with the resort’s in-house marine biologist Amélie Carraut and kids can take part in her Little Marine Biologists for the day.

2. Tahiti: Pristine Reef Discoveries

© Jim Winter

Hope was certainly found in Tahiti at the beginning of 2022, when PADI Divers and scientists discovered one of the largest healthy reefs now on record, with two miles of rose-shaped coral spanning the ocean floor as deep as 100ft! The discovery has reminded us all of the importance of exploration and the role it plays in scientific discoveries that can help create ocean change.

Further supporting a healthy coral reef ecosystem in Tahiti are the Coral Gardners, a program designed to plant one million corals and restore life back into the ocean. You can even adopt or gift ten different species of coral and receive growth updates.

3. Fiji: Communities Championing Coral Restoration

© Tourism Fiji and Markus Roth

Did you know that Fiji is home to 42% of the world’s coral species that span over 10,000 square kilometers throughout the country? There is a reason why the destination is known as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” and there are numerous coral restoration projects dedicated to preserving it.

In partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries, the non-profit Aquaculture Development for the Environment has launched the One Million Coral Planting Program throughout the 333 islands of Fiji. Teaming up with over 20 different coastal villages, each community has a target of collectively planting 1,000 corals per week.

There are also numerous resorts that have programs designed on educating visitors on how they can play a role in rejuvenating and protecting the surrounding coral reefs they are visiting.  One of the best places to do this is at PADI Dive Resort Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji, where their onsite marine biologist teaches guests how to coral plant and help nurse nearly 100 fragments of live coral back to full health.

For those visiting with families, PADI Dive Resort Outrigger Fiji has one of the best reef restoration programs for youth, who host a coral conservation program for kids and teens every Wednesday–with the goal of having them return back home as official eco-warriors.

4. Bonaire: The Coral Pledge to Tourists

The island nation of Bonaire has created a pledge known as ‘The Bonaire Bond’ to help preserve and protect its natural beauty above and below the surface of their surrounding tropical waters.Those who visit the island are asked to sign their pledge to respect the island’s rules designed to help sustain the environment; in return, Bonaire pledges to adopt coral trees through  Reef Renewal Bonaire for every visitor who signs the pledge, with the long-term goal of restoring both the coral reefs surrounding the island and marine animals who call it home. Each coral tree is predicted to help nurture 100 pieces of coral.

5. Australia: Become a Reef Ranger at the Great Barrier Reef

© Tourism and Events Queensland

Australia’s greatest natural icon–the Great Barrier Reef– stretches 2300 km down Queensland’s coastline and covers more than 344,400km in total. Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is also the only living organism that can be seen from space and is bigger than the countries of the UK, Switzerland, and Holland combined?

You can become an actual Reef Ranger for the Great Barrier Reef with PADI Dive Centre Keppel Dive & Snorkel, where you will not only get to snorkel over pristine local corals surrounding Keppel Island but have a real role in conducting reef surveys and monitoring reef health.

Or, you can take your PADI Open Water Diver course out at Ludy Musgrave HQ in Bundaberg, where you will learn to dive at some of the most remote and untouched sites only accessible from their pontoon. After you are certified you will also get to take part in citizen science initiatives led by their Master Reef Guides. After a day of exploring in the turquoise waters, you will spend the night out at sea floating under the stars in their zero-carbon accommodation that is 100% powered by wind and solar.


PADI’s Favorite Reef Dives

One of the most magical parts about diving is having the opportunity to have an intimate experience examining and appreciating the wonderfully colourful world of coral reefs and all the life that calls it home. Here are PADI’s favorite reef dives around the world to put on your bucket list for this year.

1. Indonesia: The Coral Triangle

Raja Ampat is located at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, right in the heart of the prestigious Coral Triangle. The powerful deep sea currents funnel nutrients into the coral reefs, making Raja Ampat a “species factory.”  Home to over 600 species of hard coral, or about 75% of the total in the entire world, Raja Ampat contains the richest coral reefs on the earth and, thus, welcomes in everything from sharks to manta rays and whales.

Best time to dive in Indonesia: October – April 

2. Australia: Coral Conservation Expeditions

Sign yourself up for an all-immersive, multi-day expedition through the Great Barrier Reef with No Limit Adventures. The itinerary is created to offer a deep dive into conservation, where you will get your PADI Open Water Diver certification, help monitor the resilience of the surrounding reefs and support the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Led by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, you will get over a dozen dives while upon this multi-day liveaboard.

Best time to dive in Australia: year-round, but November is the best month for coral spawning

3. Fiji: The Soft Coral Capital of the World

Leading the way in nature-based tourism are the 333 islands of Fiji, which have taken a destination-wide approach to ensure that Fiji remains the Soft Coral Capital of the World. Even after Cyclone Winston ripped through the South Pacific in 2016,  the damaged reefs have completely rebounded thanks to the extra love and nurturing from locals and tourists alike.

One of the best success stories–and places to dive with coral–in Fiji is Waya Island in the Yasawas. With house reefs creating a sparkly sensation of underwater hues as soon as you enter from the shoreline, you can easily spend hours snorkeling, diving and simply admiring the purples, oranges, pinks and blue corals.

Best time to dive in Fiji: July to December

4. Belize: Corals Fit for Royals

The Belize Barrier Reef is perhaps one of the most amazing success stories, having actually been removed from the UNESCO list of World Heritage in Danger. The conservation efforts led by local communities have shown the true power that grassroots efforts can have for real ocean change. In fact, earlier this year Prince William and Kate Middleton dove into the Belize Barrier Reef and surfaced absolutely praising the country for their incredible marine conservation work.

While the Blue Hole is the most iconic spot within the world’s largest reef system, there are tons of other great spots within the reef to explore as well. This includes the Turneffe Atoll, which is the largest atoll in Belize and has a perfectly formed ring-shaped reef creating crystal clear lagoons to dive in.

Best time to dive in Belize: April to June

5. Phillippines: The Seventh Wonder of the World

Tubbataha National Park has just recently been dubbed as the Seventh Wonder of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site–and for good reason. With there being a special array of over 100 different types of coral and home to a dozen different species of whale, words really can not describe how sensational diving here is.

Best time to dive in Phillippines: March to June

6. French Polynesia: A Photographer’s Paradise

The Fakarava Atoll in French Polynesia is not only a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve but equally the dream spot for any underwater photographer. With an abundance of diversity in healthy reefs teeming with hard corals and home to grey reef sharks, humpback whales, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, and mantas–it can be overwhelming to choose what shot you want to capture.

Best time to dive in French Polynesia: year-round, with July-December, also being humpback whale season

7. Egypt: The Speedy Success Story

The Red Sea is one of the world’s most recent success stories, with corals so healthy and in such abundance, you will find it hard to believe that the coastline is a sandy, barren desert.

The current here plays a big factor in keeping the corals clean and bringing in a steady flow of zooplankton to keep the reefs nourished,  making the coral gardens some of the fastest-growing on the planet. The best case study for this is Sharm el Sheikh, which now thanks to the healthy reef ecosystem is now welcoming back larger marine species like grey sharks and whale sharks back home. One reef not to miss is the Ras Nasrani long coral wall, which is perfect for all experience levels in the ocean.

Best time to dive in Egypt: March-May or September-November


Header IMage: © Grégoire Le Bacon Tahiti Nui Helicopters

PADI  is the world’s largest ocean exploration and diver organisation, operating in 186 countries and territories, with a global network of more than 6,600 dive centres and resorts and over 128,000 professional members worldwide. PADI embodies a global commitment to ocean health and enables people around the world to seek adventure and save the ocean through underwater education, life-changing experiences and travel. Find out more at www.PADI.com

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Book Review: Plankton

Published

on

Plankton: A Worldwide Guide by Tom Jackson and Jennifer Parker

This is a book that jumps off the shelf at you. The striking front cover demands that you pick it up and delve further, even if you may not have known you wanted to learn more about the most diminutive life in our ocean, plankton!

Small it might be. Much of the imagery in the book has been taken under huge magnification. Revealing stunning beauty and diversity in each scoop of “soup”. There is lots to learn. Initial chapters include interesting facts about the different vertical zones they inhabit, from sunlight to midnight (the darkest and deepest areas). I loved finding out more about the stunning show that divers oft encounter on night dives – bioluminescence.

The black water images are wonderful. So this is a book you can have as a coffee table book to dip in and our of. But, these tiny organisms are also vital to our very survival and that of all the marine life we love. They provide half the oxygen produced on our planet. They are also responsible for regulating the planets climate. And for a shark lover like me – they are food for charismatic sharks and rays like the Basking Shark and Manta Ray, along with a huge number of other species. This book contains great insight into their biology, life cycles, migration, and how the changes in currents and sea temperatures affects them.

This is a book that is both beautiful and packed with information about possibly the most important group of organisms on our planet. Anyone interested in the ocean should have it one their shelves.

What the publisher says:

Plankton are the unsung heroes of planet Earth. Passive drifters through the world’s seas, oceans, and freshwater environments, most are invisible or very small, but some are longer than a whale. They are the global ocean’s foundation food, supporting almost all oceanic life, and they are also vitally important for land-based plants, animals, and other organisms. Plankton provides an incomparable look at these remarkable creatures, opening a window on the elegance and grace of microscopic marine life.

This engaging book reveals the amazing diversity of plankton, how they belong to a wide range of living groups, and how their ecology, lifestyles, and adaptations have evolved to suit an enormous range of conditions. It looks at plankton life cycles, the different ways plankton feed and grow, and the vast range of strategies they use for reproduction. It tracks where, how, and why plankton drift through the water; shares perspectives on migrations and population explosions or “blooms” and why they happen; and discusses the life-sustaining role of plankton in numerous intertwined food webs throughout the world.

Beautifully illustrated, Plankton sheds critical light on how global warming, pollution, diminishing resources, and overexploitation will adversely impact planktonic life, and how these effects will reverberate to every corner of our planet.

About the Authors:

Tom Jackson is a science writer whose many popular books include Strange Animals and Genetics in MinutesJennifer Parker is a zoology and conservation writer and the author of several books. Andrew Hirst is a leading expert on plankton whose research has taken him around the world, from the Antarctic to Greenland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Book Details

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Hardcover

Price: £25

ISBN: 9780691255996

Published: 9th April, 2024

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Butterfly Rays

Published

on

In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.

As we’re currently in butterfly season, this month we decided to concentrate on the Butterfly Rays!

Within the family Gymnuridae, there are two genera and 12 species of Butterfly Ray. These species are morphologically different to lots of other rays because of the width of the disc and pectoral fins – in contrast to many other species of Butterfly Ray, their bodies are much wider than they are long, especially considering their very short tail. This gives them the appearance of gliding or flying across the sand.

Gymnura altavela – Spiny Butterfly Ray

Gymnura australis – Australian Butterfly Ray

Gymnura crebripunctata – Longsnout Butterfly Ray

Gymnura japonica – Japanese Butterfly Ray

Gymnura lessae – Lessa’s Butterfly Ray

Gymnura marmorata – California Butterfly Ray

Gymnura micrura – Smooth Butterfly Ray

Gymnura natalensis – Backwater Butterfly Ray

Gymnura peocilura – Longtail Butterfly Ray

Gymnura sereti – Seret’s Butterfly Ray

Gymnura tentaculata – Tentacled Butterfly Ray

Gymnura zonura – Zonetail Butterfly Ray

Spiny Butterfly Ray, Gymnura altavela. Playa La Granadella, Spain, Mediterranean Sea.

Today we’re taking a look at Gymnura altavela, the Spiny Butterfly Ray. Like all Butterfly Rays, the Spiny Butterfly Ray is a demersal species, meaning it spends the majority of its time on the bottom of the seabed. Butterfly Rays are known for their burying behaviour in the sand, a technique they use to camouflage themselves when they are resting during the day. This protects them from predators, in some areas larger sharks. It also aids them in their ambush hunting technique – by hiding themselves under the sand they are able to easily snatch up their dinner – usually crustaceans, molluscs or other small fish – as they swim by unawares. This behaviour can leave tell-tale butterfly-ray shaped imprints in the bottom of the seabed.

Spiny Butterfly Rays can grow up to 260 cm (disc width (wingspan)), although average is around 200 cm. They give birth to live young, and each litter consists of 1-8 pups. This species has also been found to aggregate, likely for mating. One study found that aggregations of primarily females in the coastal regions off Gran Canaria may correlate with the shifting water temperature.

It is estimated that the species has undergone a population reduction of 50-79% over the last 33 years. This is primarily due to fishing pressure – the Spiny Butterfly Ray is targeted and bycaught in both industrial and artisanal fisheries types using a variety of gear types. The species is now Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean and Southwest Atlantic.

Scientific Name: Gymnura altavela

Family: Gymnuridae

Maximum Size: 260 cm (disc width)

Diet: crabs, shrimps, various invertebrates, fishes, small crustaceans, and molluscs.

Distribution: throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Habitat: muddy and sandy substrates down to 150m.

Conservation status: Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean and Europe, Endangered Globally.

For more great shark information and conservation visit the Shark Trust Website


Banner Image: ©Tomas Willems. Main image: ©Andy Murch

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular