30 June 2005

Durban gripped by Sardine fever - Sardine Run in full swing

The phenomenal sardine run is awaited by fishermen, commuters and tourists every year and it's been dubbed the Greatest Shoal on Earth.

Each year, millions of sardines leave the southern Cape coast and journey 1 000km along the Wild Coast to KwaZulu-Natal waters, according to the Scottburgh tourism website.

As the shoal makes its way up the coastline, sharks, dolphins, seals, gannets and humans alike gather for this short-lived feeding frenzy. According to the website, the phenomenon is natural and has been happening forever.

Each year the shoal gets bigger and better and when the first fish are netted, crates of the silvery fish can fetch up to R220. But at the height of the sardine season, a dozen fish can sell for as little as R2.

Once the fish are sighted, life as many know it becomes a frenzy. Fishermen head out to sea hoping to net hundreds of the long awaited silvery fish, while the old and young flock to the beaches to witness and take part in the action.

Local businessman Sagie Naidoo has been netting sardines for more than 10 years and says that this year the sardine run will last longer.

As a seafood distributor, Naidoo nets sardines on a daily basis during the sardine run and sells the fish to commuters, some of whom re-sell them.

"It's an event that almost everyone awaits and, if you have the opportunity, why not partake in the fun? When all the fish aren't sold, some fisherman use them as bait," he said.

He said the sardine run is more of a cat-and-mouse game. You have to be at the right place at the right time to catch them.

"Fortunately this year is proving to be a good run thus far, and that's an indication of a long run ahead."

The sardine run also provides a boom for businesses and the hotel industry on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Tourists, according to the website, visit the coast each year hoping to catch a glimpse of the fish.

Source: www.iol.co.za
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Durban gripped by Sardine fever - Sardine Run in full swing

Baby dolphins never sleep

Sleep-deprived mothers of newborn babies should spare a thought for bottlenose dolphins and killer whales.

Dolphins and killer whales have different sleeping habits to other mammals. They start off life without sleep and gradually build up sleep as they become adultsAn international study has shown the young of those two species don't sleep during the first month of life.

Unlike other mammals, they are active 24 hours a day, and their mothers have learned to cope.

Scientists from the US and Russia publish their findings in today's issue of the journal Nature.

"Somehow these seafaring mammals have found a way to cope with sleep deprivation, facilitating rather than hindering a crucial phase of development for their offspring," says author Dr Jerome Siegel, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Siegel and his colleagues say the developmental pattern they discovered in the dolphins and whales is different to other mammals.

All other mammals studied so far sleep the most as newborns, and need less sleep as they grow into adults.

But as the calves of dolphins and killer whales grow, they sleep more, until they reach adult levels.

"Their bodies have found a way to cope, offering evidence that sleep isn't necessary for development and raising the question of whether humans and other mammals have untapped physiological potential for coping without sleep," Siegel says.

The scientists believe the newborns' lack of sleep has several advantages.

Their constant movement reduces the danger from predators and helps to maintain their body temperature until they develop greater mass and blubber.

It also allows them to swim to the surface frequently to breathe and helps their body and brain to develop.

Source: abc.net.au
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Baby dolphins never sleep

Global warming kills our wildlife - humans are the cause

Global warming is the greatest threat to wildlife, according to Sir David King, chief scientific adviser to the British government.

Writing in Birds, the magazine published by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, King listed four serious man-made dangers to wild animals, putting climatic change at the top.

The other threats to biodiversity were habitat destruction, invasion by non-native species and human over-exploitation, he said.

"The pattern of climate change that has been seen over the past one hundred years or so cannot be accounted for, unless human activities are included in the calculations," he said.

He pointed to pending rises in sea levels, the melting of snow, ice and glaciers, severe flooding and hotter summers.

King noted that British birds were breeding earlier, which he interpreted to mean that insects also appeared earlier.

Looking to Antarctica, Kings said the Adele penguin was in rapid decline, pointing to the decline in sea ice.

"The warming could take place so quickly that many species will not be able to adapt quickly enough to leave successor species, or, trapped in local environments, these species will be unable to migrate to more hospitable areas of the planet," he said.

King, who has made global warming a regular theme in recent months, called for a concerted international effort to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

"Effective action requires international agreement to curb future emissions radically, a process that would eventually need to engage the entire population," he said.

Boundaries moving
Independently a team at East Anglia University in eastern England said fish species were being driven from the North Sea as a result of warmer waters.

The study surveyed data relating to more than 90 species of fish living at the bottom of the North Sea and focused on commercially important species, concluding that Atlantic cod, sole and whiting could disappear within 50 years.

The team led by Alison Perry found that the distribution of 15 out of 36 species shifted in relation to warming, with distances ranging from 50 to 400km.

For half of 20 species with a southern or northern range limit in the North Sea, the boundaries moved significantly, with most movements being in a northerly direction.

Six species were moving territory boundaries by 2km a year.

"This study shows that climate change is having detectable impacts on marine fish distributions, and observed rates of boundary movement with warming indicate that future distribution shifts could be pronounced," Perry said, predicting that "these findings may have important impacts on fisheries".

From 1962 to 2001, the North Sea warmed on average by 0.6 of a degree Celsius. Predictions are that the rate of temperature increase will at least treble by 2080.

Source: www.news24.com
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Global warming kills our wildlife - humans are the cause

Global warming could shift sands of African desert areas

One of the first studies to examine how climate change might alter the land surface of Africa has been published by scientists from Oxford University.

Their research details how the immense dunefields of the Kalahari could be stirred up by global warming.

The investigation, reported in the journal Nature, warns that large areas of currently productive land could become engulfed by shifting sands.

"The social consequences of these changes could be drastic," they say.

The team, led by Professor David Thomas, urges politicians in the region not to pursue development policies that might exacerbate the coming problems, turning currently semi-arid areas into desert.

"We've seen in Botswana, for example, with European Union support, an enormous growth in livestock production using groundwater. That in itself has put great pressure on the Botswana landscape," Professor Thomas told BBC News.

"[The shifting sands] will make those Western-sponsored programmes very unsuccessful into the future."

All outcomes
The Oxford team took data from three different computer models that are used to forecast likely climate change over the course of the next century.

The scientists ran this information through their own simulator, which has been specifically tuned to the dynamics of the Kalahari dunefields.

These dunes punctuate 2.5 million sq km of Africa - from the northern end of South Africa, right up through Angola, Botswana and Namibia, to western Zimbabwe and western Zambia.

They were built up thousands of years ago and are now reasonably well covered by vegetation.

But Professor Thomas and colleagues found that no matter which general climate model data they used, their simulator came out with projections for dramatic increases in dune "activity" - they will start to erode and move as precipitation falls and wind speeds increase.

The southern dunefields of Botswana and Namibia become activated by 2040, while the more northerly and easterly dunes in Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia begin to shift significantly by 2070.

By the end of the 21st Century, all the dunes from South Africa to Zambia and Angola are likely to be reactivated.

Changing world
Tens or even hundreds of thousands of people would be affected by such changes, the team said.

"The Kalahari is a large area that supports a reasonably big rural population that lives by farming," Professor Thomas explained.

"It's these people who are vulnerable to their currently savannah-like environment becoming a rather more hostile, active, dune landscape than it is today.

He added: "There has been little work done on how the landscape is likely to evolve under climate change impacts.

"We've had a lot of work done on ice-cap melt and glacier retreat; there's been a lot of interest in changes around coastlines, particularly Europe and North America, and the low-lying islands of the Pacific, of course. But relatively little concern has been expressed with regard to the way the landscapes of Africa are likely to change in the 21st Century.

"What we're saying here is that these landscapes are potentially very dynamic and they can kick in with a form of activity that is rather hostile to farming."

The leaders of the major industrial countries, known as the G8, meet in Scotland on 6 July to discuss African development and climate change.

Last week, an alliance of 21 UK-based charities and environment groups issued a report which claimed any G8 strategy to alleviate poverty in Africa was doomed to failure unless urgent action was taken to halt climate change.

Source: BBC News
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Global warming could shift sands of African desert areas

29 June 2005

Seven scuba diving deaths recorded in past two weeks

Officials with CoCo View resort announce the deaths of two divers Tuesday near Pirates Point. One was a guest on a guided tour, the other was Divemaster Tulio Gomez. Both occurred minutes into the excursion.

There were no witnesses to either incident.

In a statement, resort management says diving was suspended Tuesday until all systems could be evaluated, but boat diving would resume Thursday morning.

Authorities are investigating what caused the mishaps, with autopsies ordered on both divers. The equipment used during the dives has also been taken into evidence. Footage from web cams is also under review.

Other scuba diving deaths:
On Monday, a 34-year-old crew member on a private dive boat in the Bahamas died. Officials say D.J. Pottorf was aboard the Nekton Rorqual and decided to "free dive" without scuba equipment. Fort Lauderdale police say witnesses tried unsuccessfully to revive Pottorf.

An autopsy is being performed. Last Friday, retired New York City police officer, Frank Langon, went missing while on a dive excursion at "Hole in the Wall" in South Florida's Jupiter Inlet. U.S. Coast Guard and local police searched for days before calling off rescue operations on Tuesday.

The latest deaths bring the number of scuba diving fatalities in the past two weeks to at least seven.

Source: www.allheadlinenews.com
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Seven scuba diving deaths recorded in past two weeks

The new Jaws era...a chance for divers to play a new role

Based on the successful 1975 film of the same name, Playstation's new game, Jaws lets you play as a great white shark who must defend his territory from underwater drillers. The game features locations from the movie and destructible underwater environments.

The game storyline is not unfamiliar: Amity Island is growing, making corporate connections with prestigious companies like Environplus to improve the Island's economy. Unfortunately the increased population around the Island and recent industrial activity has also attracted YOU--one of Earth's most fearsome creatures--a Great White Shark.

When the Environplus CEO's son falls prey to your deadly attacks, the CEO hires renowned shark hunter Cruz Ruddock to track and kill you. Meanwhile, Marine Biologist Michael Brody tries to capture you for research. Can Ruddock and Brody stop you from causing havoc and killing more people before the 4th of July celebration?

Damage the surrounding vehicles, enemies, and structures with your underwater and surface attacks. With "shark vision," you can see your victims before they know you're coming. In addition to being the predator, you must solve puzzles, battle bosses, and overcome a variety of challenges. It is scheduled to be released in the United States in October 2005.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of JAWS the movie just hit store shelves. This exclusive double DVD set contains deleted scenes and outtakes, a never-before-available interview with director Steven Spielberg, a two hour documentary on the Making of Jaws and much more.


  • Take control of Jaws the Great White Shark while playing out themes and in locations from the JAWS film universe

  • More than 10 meticulously detailed, destructible environments, each with unique designs and intense action

  • Unleash real-time damage on intelligent enemies, vehicles and structures

  • Perform a variety of stunning underwater, surface and air attacks via a user friendly combat system

  • Dismemberment engine provides multiple points of disconnection allowing for characters and objects to be torn apart piece by piece

  • Follow story-based missions or choose to freely roam the island and its surroundings causing havoc

  • Encounter multiple side missions/challenges including timed destruction, stealth, chase and others

  • Face fearsome arena bosses including killer whales, powerful boats and more

  • See your victims before they know you’re coming and target lock on enemies from afar with Shark Vision

  • Created by Appaloosa Interactive, developer of the award-winning Ecco the Dolphin series

To learn more about the game and play a demo version, visit Playstation's dedicated website: http://www.jawsthegame.com

Source: www.divenews.com
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The new Jaws era...a chance for divers to play a new role

Bull Sharks blamed for attacks in Florida

The past 10 days have seen three extraordinary incidents involving sharks in the waters of Florida.

The extreme western sector of Florida's Gulf Coast has seen two shark attacks on recreational swimmers, one fatal. In addition, a salt-water shark was found deep in the interior of the state, in a fresh-water lake far from the ocean coastlines.

The lake shark was a bull, and it is suspected that the animals involved in both of the attacks ( which took place in the Gulf of Mexico) were bull sharks as well.

The bull shark is known locally as a very aggressive and unusual species, stopping at nothing to fill its belly and indiscriminate in its appetites. The bull's willingness to devour anything, including the decaying animal carcasses that often make their way from interior waterways to ocean outlets, often results in bite victims developing severe infections from the bacterial colonies in the bull sharks' mouths.

These three events have begun to focus local divers' (and other aquatics enthusiasts') attention on the Florida bull shark population, with increasing concern that Federal regulations imposed during the 1990's to protect the inshore shark species may now be resulting in overpopulation pressures which induce the bulls to range farther, and hunt novel prey in search of nourishment.

Source: www.deeperblue.net
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Bull Sharks blamed for attacks in Florida

Florida attacks spotlights the real, but rare danger of shark attacks

Two shark attacks in three days off the Florida Panhandle have left one teen dead and a second seriously injured. The tragedies spotlight the real, though rare, danger of shark attacks.

Yesterday a shark nearly severed the leg of 16-year-old Craig A. Hutto of Lebanon, Tennessee, as he and two companions fished in chest-deep water 60 feet (18 meters) off Cape San Blas.

Hutto was airlifted to a hospital in Panama City, where doctors amputated his severely damaged leg. Hutto remains in critical but stable condition and is expected to recover.

"There's a good chance that the fact that they were fishing played a role," said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Florida. "It's speculative at this point, but they might have had a bucket of bait in the water or even caught fish on them."

Yesterday's attack followed the death on Saturday of Jamie Marie Daigle. The 14-year-old from Gonzales, Louisiana, was fatally bitten by a shark as she boogie-boarded with a friend near Miramar Beach.

Daigle "was [reportedly] well offshore in a sandbar area where sharks are known to prowl," said Burgess, who believes a bull shark was the likely culprit. "Baitfish were sighted in the area as well. So two contributing factors were isolation and baitfish activity."

Scientists collect such clues to further their understanding of why sharks occasionally attack.

"We're not trying to point figures at people or suggest that they did something wrong," Burgess said. "These are just important contributing factors, because shark attacks happen for a reason."

The two shark attacks occurred some 80 miles (130 kilometers) apart.

Attacks Rare But Rising
Shark attack numbers have risen over recent decades. The reason is not more aggressive animals but booming human populations and increased coastal recreation.

"It's sad, but it's natural that the more people … get into the water, the more chances there are for these things to happen," said Ramón Bonfil, a shark researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Bonfil, whose recent work includes the hand capture and tagging of great white sharks, said people should arm themselves with information before taking to the water.

"I'd never say that the sea is absolutely safe. I'd say assume the responsibility and the knowledge that there is a potential danger of encountering a shark," he cautioned.

"If we go to the Serengeti and walk in the bush, we should know that we might encounter a lion. But for some reason people assume that the sea is safe and that we have the right to play safely," he said. "We tend to forget that it's the natural habitat of sharks and other predators."

Still, statistics suggest that fear of shark attack shouldn't deter beachgoers.

The United States averages only about one shark-attack fatality every two years. By comparison, lightning kills more than 41 people each year, on average, in the coastal U.S. alone.

Each year there are 50 to 70 confirmed shark attacks and 5 to 15 shark-attack fatalities around the world, according to the International Shark Attack File, which is maintained by the American Elasmobranch Society and the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Though Florida has been a relative hotbed of shark activity, with an average of 21 annual attacks since 1990, the death on Saturday of Jamie Marie Daigle was only the fourth fatality in the state in the past 15 years.

"Statistically it's like the lottery … . I'm cautious but conscious that my chances of being that one-in-millions-guy are very low," Bonfil, the Wildlife Conservation Society shark researcher, said.

Shark experts say media coverage of shark attacks is unfailingly heavy-handed and tends to spike fear of sharks in a predictable summer pattern.

The summer of 2001, for example, saw an explosion of shark-attack media hype and was even heralded on the cover of Time magazine as the "Summer of the Shark." Yet 2001 was statistically average: The year saw 76 shark attacks and 5 fatalities worldwide, compared to 85 attacks and 12 fatalities in 2000.

"It's frustrating to try and understand why so much attention is focused on sharks [rather than other dangerous animals]," Bonfil said. "When these [attacks] happen so close to each other, that's when the paranoia starts."

"We've had two serious attacks back-to-back," Burgess added. "It's a tragedy, and we can't short-change the implications of that. But the reality is that this is still a very rare event. Our chances of being attacked are very slim, and those of being killed are slimmer yet."

Sharks, themselves, don't enjoy such favorable odds.

Although they kill fewer than 20 people a year, sharks suffer greatly at human hands. According to the American Elasmobranch Society, between 20 and 100 million sharks die each year due to fishing activity.

Source: National Geographic
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Florida attacks spotlights the real, but rare danger of shark attacks

Stranded bulk carrier's cargo to be removed

The bulk carrier Kiperousa was still stranded on the coast near East London on Tuesday, three weeks to the day after running aground.

Repeated attempts to re-float the vessel have failed.

SA Maritime Authority (Samsa) spokesperson Peter Kroon said the latest effort on Friday to pull the vessel was unsuccessful.

He attributed this to the good weather.

Most of the attempts to re-float the ship have been planned around spring tide when the waves were at their most tumultuous.

"Salvors don't like good weather. They want swells and waves," he said, adding that calm weather was no good in a rescue attempt of this nature.

He said Friday's attempt had been abandoned and the salvors would now start removing the ship's 8 000-log cargo to make her lighter.

"We will possibly try pull her off within the next week or two," Kroon said.

The Kiperousa - a 14 921-ton log-carrier - ran aground on a reef off Bhenga, south of Hamburg, in the Eastern Cape, three weeks ago while en route from Gabon to Durban to take on fuel oil.

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Stranded bulk carrier's cargo to be removed

Three new world heritage sites on the cards for South Africa

Three new sites in South Africa may become United Nations world heritage sites.

They are the Vredefort Dome in the Free State, the Taung Skull fossil site in North West and the Makapans Valley in Limpopo.

The nominations were unveiled in Johannesburg on Tuesday by Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan at a briefing on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting to be held in Durban next week.

"The prestige of having world heritage sites in a country raises awareness of heritage and conservation," said Jordan.

"The ultimate goal of having the sites recognised is to enhance the quality of collective existence and preserve them for future generations."

He said each site was chosen because it had something to offer.

The Vredefort Dome was formed by a meteorite hitting the earth - thought to be the biggest meteorite strike yet known - and is regarded as valuable for scientific research.

Taung is where an early Hominid skull was discovered.

The Makapans Valley was home to some of the earliest settlements in South Africa that range in age as far back as three million years.

South Africa is already home to six world heritage sites and hopes are high that the new three nominations will be approved by the world heritage committee, said Jordan.

To prevent these sites from being de-listed as world heritage sites, an African World Heritage Fund will be set up to maintain and preserve them.

These sites include Robben Island, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, the Cradle of Humankind at Sterkfontein near Krugersdorp, Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo and the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.

"Robben Island is one such site that was in danger of being de-listed because the WHC inspectors found it was not well preserved," said Jordan.

"This fund will ensure that this site and others are well preserved and will not be de-listed."

Contributions towards the fund will come from the public and private sector, as well as other governments and international organisations, said Jordan.

There are over 788 world heritage sites situated in 134 countries, with 63 sites in Africa.

"South Africa's six existing sites and the nomination of three others does not only bring prestige to the country, but impacts on other significant factors like economic development, tourism and sustainable development," said this year's chairman of the WHC, Themba Wakashe.

He said all national sites would be branded, linking the sites together as opposed to being seen in isolation.

"By clustering them the opportunities for retail and tourism can be enhanced. It is hoped that the branding will have positive effects on the individual sites as well as on the communities around them," Wakashe said.

"Our African Heritage" was chosen as the logo to be used on all heritage sites.

Source: www.iol.co.za
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Three new world heritage sites on the cards for South Africa

Tortoise thieves running amok on Zanzibar

Thieves are taking advantage of lax security and the docile nature of giant Aldabra tortoises to purloin growing numbers of the protected reptiles from Zanzibar's Changu Island, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Despite efforts to stop the thefts, nearly half the estimated 200 Aldabra tortoises that troll the sun-drenched tourist stop have been picked or hoisted up and stolen over the past eight years, he said.

At least 80 of the slow-moving, placid herbivores, second in size only to the mammoth Galapagos tortoise, have been stolen between 1998 and 2004 and only eight have yet been returned, Zanzibar tourism minister Mussa Ame Silima said.

"We are working hard to prevent theft of tortoises, one of the best tourist attractions in Zanzibar on Changu Island," he told lawmakers, pledging to curb the rampant theft of the animals.

Silima said eight stolen tortoises had been recovered and returned but another 21 seized by authorities on the Tanzanian mainland had yet to be brought back due to an ongoing legal battle with the alleged owners.

His comments came in response to a question from MP Ramadhan Pandu who represents the Zanzibar South constituency in the semi-autonomous Tanzanian island's parliament and demanded to know how if the government took tortoise theft seriously.

"We want the government to be serious in protecting our tourist attractions, like those in Changu Island," he said, lamenting the decline in numbers of the tortoises which tourists often attempt to ride during beach excursions.

Silima said his office was working with private sector tourism industry to step up enforcement of laws intended to protect the tortoises from nefarious animal collectors and vowed greater patrols.

The tortoises, which can often grow to weigh more than 225kg, are a main attraction on Changu, also known as Prison Island, just off Zanzibar, that used to house slaves pending their transport to other markets.

Source: www.iol.co.za
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Tortoise thieves running amok on Zanzibar

28 June 2005

Meet the newly appointed BSAC Council members for 2005 - 2008

Following the BSAC Annual General Meeting in May of this year, the BSAC has some newly elected Council members.

You can meet all of Council at www.bsac.com/about/meetcouncil.htm and see where their interests lie and also their contact details.

In July the Council are meeting and will be allocating their teams and their objectives for the next three years. Once these teams are formed the email addresses for team leaders will be promoted and if you have anything which you would particularly like to raise specific to that team for discussion you will be able to do this.

In the meantime, existing and new Council members are keen to attend local branches and carry out Regional Visits and meetings if you would like to meet them. In some areas this is already happening.

Over the next few months you will see more about the BSAC Council and hopefully meet many of them.

Bob Healey, a newly elected member is keen to carry out any visits, meetings, formal or informal or attend an event if you wish him to in his area, North West England. Please do contact Bob directly at bob.healey@bsac.com or north.sdo@bsac.com or northwestsnorkeller@ntlworld.com or telephone on 0161 292 6243. Bob would be delighted to hear from you.

To contact other Council members for visits please email them on the email address provided on the website.

Source: www.bsac.org
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Meet the newly appointed BSAC Council members for 2005 - 2008

Shark attacks in perspective - article

Say the word "shark" and the first image most people conjure up is a Jaws-inspired white shark devouring unsuspecting bathers while well-meaning authorities and scientists helplessly stand by.

Shark attacks are probably the most feared natural danger to man, surpassing even hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes in the minds of most beach users and sailors. Among the earth's large animals implicated in the attack and consumption of humans, only sharks have not been "controlled" by man.

Even the fiercest of terrestrial predators, the large cats and bears, are extremely susceptible to a rifle and "problem" animals simply have been eliminated, leaving many of these species endangered. Some crocodilians, especially the Nile and saltwater crocodiles, are certainly as dangerous as sharks, but these reptiles have never captured as much "press" in part because their populations are largely limited to Third World countries and they, too, are vulnerable to human hunting pressure.

The sea's only other creatures with the capability of consuming a human, killer and sperm whales, are not normally considered threats to man. Sharks, on the other hand, have been documented attackers (and sometime consumers) of humans around the world throughout recorded history and have remained relatively immune from human intervention.

Shark attacks did not become a subject of particular public interest until the twentieth century. Several factors have contributed to the upswing in public awareness of shark attacks during the last sixty years. First and foremost has been the evolution of the press from a parochial to a cosmopolitan news-gathering system that covers a larger portion of the world in a more rapid and comprehensive manner.

Increased competition and a shift of journalistic values in certain quarters additionally has contributed to more active searches for "shock" stories, i.e. those that titillate the public and promote sales. Needless to say, an examination of current weekly tabloids confirms that "shark eats man" is a best-selling story line.

World War II, with a plethora of air and sea disasters never before encountered during previous confrontations or in peacetime, regrettably spawned large numbers of shark attacks and spurred research to find an effective shark repellent. The general worldwide trend towards more intense utilization of marine waters for recreational activities during this time period has also increased the chances of shark-human interactions with a resulting increase in the total number of attacks. Add in fictionalized shark accounts in the popular press and movies and it's easy to see why shark attack is a hot topic.

Shark attack is a potential danger that must be acknowledged by anyone that frequents marine waters, but it should be kept in perspective. Bees, wasps and snakes are responsible for far more fatalities each year. In the United States the annual risk of death from lightning is 30 times greater than that from shark attack.

For most people, any shark-human interaction is likely to occur while swimming or surfing in nearshore waters. From a statistical standpoint the chances of dying in this area are markedly higher from many other causes (such as drowning and cardiac arrest) than from shark attack. Many more people are injured and killed on land while driving to and from the beach than by sharks in the water.

Shark attack trauma is also less common than such beach-related injuries as spinal damage, dehydration, jellyfish and stingray stings and sunburn. Indeed, many more sutures are expended on sea shell lacerations of the feet than on shark bites!

Nevertheless, shark attack is a hazard that must be considered by anyone entering the marine domain. As in any recreational activity, a participant must acknowledge that certain risks are part of the sport: jogging offers shin splints, camping brings ticks and mosquitoes, tennis may result in sprained ankles, and so on.

Beach recreation has its inherent risks as well, and shark attack is simply one of many that must be considered before entering the water. Most people agree, however, that the extremely slim chance of even encountering a shark - much less being bitten - does not weigh heavy in their decision-making.

Article Source: Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department
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Shark attacks in perspective - article

Master the Zen of diving with peak performance buoyancy

What's the quickest way to tell the difference between a novice diver and an experienced diver underwater? The answer is easy - just observe their buoyancy skills.

You can tell in an instant if divers are truly comfortable in the water. Inexperienced divers are easy to spot – they're still trying to master staying in one place. But with practice and the right training, anyone can effortlessly hover over the reef like a zen master.

PADI's Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course can significantly improve your dive skills in as little as one day. Here are just a few examples of how Peak Performance Buoyancy can improve your dive experience:

Reduce air consumption by adjusting your position in the water - without swimming or using your BCD. Learn how proper weighting can help you float effortlessly above the reef in the perfect horizontal position.

Hone your underwater photography skills by practicing the perfect hover. You can earn a free PADI Excursion kit by enrolling in a PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course during the month of July.

Visit your PADI Dive Center or Resort, or click here for more information.

Source: SportDiver Magazine
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Master the Zen of diving with peak performance buoyancy

Shark attack scare hits the United States

A shark mauled a 16-year-old boy fishing in knee-deep water off the Florida coast on Monday, causing panic just three days after a teenaged girl was killed in another attack.

A number of beaches were closed because of the attacks.

The youth was fishing on a sand bar off the Gulf of Mexico resort of Cape San Blas when he was seized by a shark, which inflicted critical injuries to his leg.

Gulf county spokesperson Dalton Upchurch said the boy, who was not named, had waded out from the beach with a friend to go fishing.

A spokesperson at the Bay Medical Centre hospital told US media that following an operation the youth would survive.

Upchurch said all beaches in the county had been closed until Tuesday as a precaution.

On Saturday a 14-year-old girl, Jamie Marie Daigle, was killed in an attack about 100km down the same coast in neighbouring Walton County.

Walton County beaches were closed on Sunday but reopened Monday.

Daigle had been playing on a boogie board with a friend, Felicia Venable, about 180m offshore when they spotted a "dark shadow" in the water.

Venable swam frantically to shore after she saw Daigle being pulled underwater, police said.

A nearby surfer Tim Dicus found the girl, who came from Louisiana, unconscious in the water and put her on his surfboard to float her back to shore even as the shark made repeated attempts to stage a new attack.

Dicus, 54, said he heard a scream and found the girl in the centre of a circle of bloody water and that much of the girl's thigh had been cut to the bone. Daigle died from wounds suffered in the attack.

"The shark kept coming back around," Dicus said. "I've never been so scared in my life. It was like the movie 'Jaws' except I was in it."

Erich Ritter of the Shark Research Institute said the girl was probably attacked by a 1.85m-long bull shark, based on measurements of the bite wounds.

"This was a rare case where the shark hits many times," said Ritter, whose organisation campaigns to protect the predator.

Shark attacks remain rare, with just 61 unprovoked attacks in 2003, including seven deaths: two in Australia; two in the United States; and one each in Brazil, Egypt and South Africa, according to the International Shark Attack Files.

In Florida there were 12 recorded shark attacks last year, down from 30 in 2003, when it had the largest number in the world, according to the University of Florida.

But scientists have warned that the number has been rising in recent decades because of the growing number of swimmers and surfers at sea.

Ritter said warmer water could have drawn sharks closer to the two teenagers attacked in recent days.

Source: www.news24.com
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Shark attack scare hits the United States

Australian fishing group attacks shark dive fee plan

There has been a mixed reaction to a NSW Government plan to introduce a fee to dive with grey nurse sharks in marine parks.

As part of its campaign to protect the endangered species, the Government wants to introduce a $20 fee per diver.

All diving with the grey nurses would be under the supervision of commercial operators.

The NSW Fishing Clubs Association has condemned the move, claiming it is a smokescreen to ban all activities in marine parks.

But a commercial diver based on the north coast, Peter Hitchens, believes the tax is a good idea and another way of protecting the shark.

He says his only concern is how the revenue would be spent by the Government.

"I feel all divers up the coast would be very keen to contribute to something if it's going to...help the shark out - personally I'd like to see where the money would go to and what help it's going to give the shark," he said.

The fee would apply to 10 critical habitat sites along the NSW coast, including those in South-West Rocks, Byron Bay, Forster and Seal Rocks.

The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, says the money raised by the fee would contribute to the ongoing costs of research and breeding programs for the grey nurse.

It is believed that less than 500 of the sharks remain in NSW waters.

Mr Macdonald says the exact cost and the means of administering the fee will be determined in consultation with dive operators and other stakeholders, but a date for implementation has yet to be set.

"It would be used exactly for what I'm saying, that is research and supporting programs for the grey nurse shark on those sites, and that is the absolute guarantee that I give," he said.

"That we will be doing further research into the survival of this shark and this money will be...dedicated to research and development."

Source: www.abc.net.au
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Australian fishing group attacks shark dive fee plan

27 June 2005

DAN and International ATMO offer scholarships

The DAN America Recompression Chamber Assistance Program (RCAP) and International ATMO, a leader in hyperbaric medical education, have joined together to offer scholarships to send candidates to the International ATMO Hyperbaric Safety Director Course in San Antonio, Texas.

The course scholarship is available to all staff members of remote chambers affected by RCAP; the course is held twice a year, the dates for the next class is Oct. 19-22.

To promote the appropriate education of recompression chamber personnel, DAN RCAP will provide at least two scholarships for attendance at the course. Assistance will be in the form of transportation, housing and subsistence. International ATMO, Inc. will provide the fee for course attendance.

This 30-hour program, which is offered at the Nix Medical Center in downtown San Antonio, is designed to provide necessary tools and resources to fulfill the responsibilities of the hyperbaric safety director as defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 99, Standard for Health Care Facilities).

This course is appropriate for hyperbaric technologists, respiratory therapists, nurses and physicians. The curriculum includes classroom instruction and practical exercises.

The selection of a suitable candidate will be based on a number of requirements. For scholarship selection criteria and an application form, check the DAN website.

Through its Recompression Chamber Assistance Program, DAN assists recompression chambers in the DAN America region in areas of equipment, training and emergency assistance or helps those chambers maintain or reach levels DAN America believes appropriate. DAN also assists those chambers that may otherwise not be able to financially provide what is needed.

Founded in 1979 under the guidance of Dr. Jefferson C. Davis, International ATMO is one of the oldest continuous providers of hyperbaric medicine services. It has provided technical, nursing, and management services for comprehensive wound care programs at two hospital-based locations in San Antonio, Texas. Corporate President, Paul J. Sheffield, Ph.D., is an original founder of the organization.

For more information on this release, contact DAN Communications at editors@DiversAlertNetwork.org or call +1-919-684-2948.

Source: Divers Alert Network
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DAN and International ATMO offer scholarships

Shark kills teen in Florida

A 14-year-old girl was bitten to death by a shark as she swam with a friend off a northwestern Florida beach, authorities said on Sunday.

Jamie Marie Daigle and her friend, Felicia Venable, also 14, were about 180 metres off shore on Saturday when they saw a "dark shadow" in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Walton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Venable swam to shore to call for help after she saw Daigle being pulled underwater and saw she had been bitten, the statement said.

Jack Timothy Dicus heard the calls for help, swam to the girl and saw her lying face down in the water and unconscious. He put her on his surfboard to float her back to shore.

The shark tried to attack the girl repeatedly as Dicus brought her back to shore, but Dicus was able to strike its nose and continue toward the beach, authorities said.

Rescuers tried to save Daigle, but the Gonzalez, Louisiana girl, who was bitten on the lower part of her body, died of her wounds.

Shark attacks are extremely rare, with just 61 unprovoked shark attacks in 2003, including seven deaths: two in Australia; two in the United States; and one each in Brazil, Egypt and South Africa, according to the International Shark Attack Files.

Attacks have been on the rise since the beginning of the 20th century as more and more people swim, surf and sail. Attacks peaked in 1990, with 481 over 10 years, according to the group, which keeps the worldwide statistics.

Source: www.news24.com
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Shark kills teen in Florida

New software able to track causes of oil spills and pollutants

Authorities now have a new tool to help nail culprits responsible for oil spills and other chemical pollutants, an international chemistry conference will hear.

Details of new computer software that will help to analyse more accurately the source of pollution will be presented at the Connect 2005 conference of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, to be held in Sydney next month.

When an environmental regulator wants to find out whether a tanker is the source of an oil slick, it collects oil samples from the tanker and the slick to try and work out if they match.

But an Australian analytical chemist, who has developed the new software, says that turns out not to be easy.

"[The samples] are never quite the same," says Professor Bryn Hibbert of Sydney's University of New South Wales.

"By the time the oil's got onto the beach it's changing all the time because of the environment. It's weathering, as we call it."

Current methods rely on an expert profiling hundreds of different chemical compounds in the oil samples and then comparing chemical profiles.

"They look at it and then the expert stands up in court and says, 'In my professional opinion these two come from the same source'," he says.

Calculating the probability
Hibbert is taking a different approach, based on using statistical analysis to calculate the probability of samples coming from a particular source.

He uses a database of chemical profiles of oil samples, and using a famous statistical theorem known as Bayes' theorem, comes up with the probability of a match.

Hibbert says the theorem was originally developed in the 1700s by Reverend Thomas Bayes, when he was trying to work out the probability that God existed.

The research was government funded and Hibbert worked with what was then the New South Wales environment protection agency to develop the software.

Hibbert says the software may help regulatory agencies to more cost-effectively prosecute polluters, and can be applied to other fields including forensics.

Part of the research was published earlier this year in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Source: abc.net.au
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New software able to track causes of oil spills and pollutants

Marine polution risk minimised during Kiperousa salvage operation

The risk of marine pollution at the scene of the stranded Kiperousa, is substantially minimised as an the oil transfer operation which commenced earlier this week, is nearing completion.

The Department is pleased with the progress made by the salvors who began pumping the approximately 250 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil and 63 cubic metres of diesel oil from the grounded Kiperousa onto a receiving tug, the Nikolay Chiker, earlier this week.

The 'Kuswag1', the Department's oil pollution abatement vessel, remains on standby and the Department anti pollution patrol aircraft, 'Kuswag 8', continues to undertake regular aerial surveillance of the area. No further oil leaks have been reported.

The protective boom across the Mtana Estuary located north of the grounded 'Kiperousa which was set up by the departments' response team, would remain in place until the vessel is successfully re-floated. Our response team remains at site, monitoring the situation closely.

The salvors are continuing with attempts to re-float the grounded vessel. The removal operation of the deck cargo has commenced in preparation for the next re-floating attempt scheduled for later today when swell conditions are expected to be favourable.

The Kiperousa, a 14921 gross ton log-carrier, en route from West Africa to the Far East, grounded on a reef off Bhega, 5 miles south of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape on 7th June 2005.

Source: www.deat.gov.za
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Marine polution risk minimised during Kiperousa salvage operation

Whaling issue 'still unresolved'

The 57th Annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) concluded its five day meeting on Friday in the South Korean coastal town of Ulsan with an agreement to hold further talks on a management procedure of whale hunts.

IWC member countries accepted a resolution presented by Germany, Ireland and South Africa which plans further discussions over a revised management scheme (RMS) to permit controlled catches.

Since 1986 there has been a prohibition against the commercial hunt for large whales.

The working group is to meet ahead of the next IWC conference to discuss the "remaining issues that must be resolved before adoption of the RMS can be considered".

The approval guarantees that the discussions are continued, said German delegation leader Peter Bradhering.

Discussions on a RMS, which the IWC has been working on for years, could replace the current ban on whaling.

Neither the pro-whaling countries such as Japan, Norway or Iceland nor the anti-whaling camp that includes Australia, New Zealand and Germany have been able to compromise on a management scheme draft.

On Tuesday, the commission rejected Japan's proposal to replace the prohibition on commercial whaling with an RMS to allow controlled catches.

Thursday, Japan was handed another defeat when a proposal to allow limited hunts of 150 minke whales annually was rejected. Japan then withdrew a second request to catch 150 humpback whales.

Source: www.news24.com
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Whaling issue 'still unresolved'

Climate change in Africa gave rise to modern humans

Now experts fear that global warming linked to carbon emissions will have its worst impact on humanity's cradle. "Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the Global Climate Change Programme at conservation group WWF.

"Most African livelihoods depend on rain-based agriculture so droughts and floods will have a serious impact on the workforce," she said, adding that the continent's extreme poverty reduced its ability to cope. Africa's plight will be high on the agenda of a Scottish summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations next month which could herald increased aid flows to the region.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also made climate change a priority of Britain's year-long presidency of the G8.

Global warming is widely blamed on emissions of heat-trapping gases from cars, factories and power plants -- gases mostly spewed from the rich world.

"If leaders don't deal with climate change effectively they won't be doing all they can for Africa," said Morgan.

Climate change in Africa prodded mankind's distant ancestors along their evolutionary path as forests gave way to grasslands, forcing early humans into an open environment where it appears stone tools and long strides first developed.

But while most past changes in weather patterns were gradual -- giving our pre-historic ancestors a chance to adapt -- the pace of global warming today could overwhelm modern Africa.

The United Nations projects that temperatures may rise by 1.4-5.8 Celsius by the year 2100.

Desertification threatens to drive millions of Africans from their homes, said a recent international report drawing on the work of 1,360 scientists in 95 nations.

The problem is illustrated by gullies of eroded, barren earth scarring the shoreline of Lake Victoria, which borders Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The Kenya-based World Agroforestry Center says one of them, the Katuk-Odeyo gully, now extends to a remarkable 45 km (30 miles).

Global warming may already be a source of violence in central Nigeria, where nomadic cattle herders and peasant farmers have been locked in conflict over scarce land for decades as the desert creeps southwards.

Deforestation, dwindling water supplies and rising sea levels could spark mass migrations, provoking ethnic conflict.

"Regions that are already least secure in food production, like sub-Saharan Africa, stand to be worst affected by global warming as wet areas become wetter and dry areas become drier," says a recent global report on climate change.

Uganda's climate has become hotter and its rains more erratic in the last decade, researchers and the government say, posing a threat to its key coffee crop.

Rising sea temperatures are also among the threats seen to the coral reefs off Africa's lush east coast, the life-blood of poor coastal communities dependent upon fisheries and tourism.

And this tragedy of the weather is unfolding across the continent where climate change gave birth to modern humans.

The evidence for this is embedded in the Sterkfontein caves, 30 km (18 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, where hominid fossils dating back over 4 million years have been unearthed.

"There was a drying up of Africa around 2.5 million years ago ... There was a change from forest to grassland," said Dr. Ron Clarke, who heads excavations at Sterkfontein.

Intriguingly, it was in this period that the Sterkfontein fossil record reveals our ancestors first making stone tools.

"The change in climate may have forced us into an open environment with new challenges which meant we had to adapt by using tools. That of course is speculation," Clarke said.

Climate change would continue to steer humanity's path.

"About 130,000 ago, the climate switched ... briefly into a warmer, moister mode," write Chris Stringer and Robin McKie in their book "African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity."

"The deserts began to retreat and the forests to expand again, a situation that probably led to prototype modern humans' first tentative steps out of Africa into the Middle East 120,000 years ago," they say.

The Sterkfontein Caves, surrounded by rolling farms, are again witness to environmental change -- this time man-made.

"The water table below the caves is dropping because it is being pumped out by local farmers," said Clarke. And water in the area will become more scarce if temperatures rise as fast as some fear.

Source: Reuters
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Climate change in Africa gave rise to modern humans

Tsunami alert system takes shape

Six months after the 26 December tsunami, which swept away a myriad of futures, many homes still remain crumpled and lives shattered. But amongst the ruins a resolve is growing: next time it will be different.

Within both local communities and governments, people are working tirelessly to build a comprehensive tsunami early warning system.

There is still a long way to go but the will is rigid and, already, the distance covered is great.

"We have made a lot of progress. I think by the anniversary we will look back and think, 'My god, did we really do all that in a year?'" said Robert Owen Jones, climate change director for the Australian government.

"On 26 December there weren't any arrangements in place for the Indian Ocean. Now we have the system mapped out, we have lots of plans and money allocated by countries to develop the capabilities. There is no comparison."

The tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean can be seen as a two-tier operation.

Firstly, there is the hi-tech network of ocean monitoring technology, which will feed back into an international web of early warning centres. And secondly, there is the low-tech community response drill, which will take an emergency warning to every hawker on the beach.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (Unesco) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is coordinating the first tier, while individual governments, with help from the International Red Crescent, are handling the second.

Both tiers are still in the planning stages, but physical "interim" preparations - both technological and social - are already underway.

Network of centres
This week, Unesco is hosting a meeting in Paris to hammer out details for the hi-tech system, which will be shared by 27 countries around the Indian Ocean.

Each country is to set up a tsunami warning centre to receive information from the pressure gauges, seismographs and wave sensors that will survey the ocean basin. Many countries have already begun work on their centres.

"Today we have a very good number of national information centres for tsunami," said Petricio Bernal, executive secretary of the IOC. "We have 25 in all and in December 2004 we didn't have any.

"These centres are helping coordinate emergency preparedness but also warnings for the population."

Some countries have gone a step further. On Monday, Thailand opened a hi-tech national disaster centre.

The one-storey building in Bangkok is packed with state-of-the-art computer and communications equipment, which will receive information from monitoring centres in Hawaii and Japan, as well as national meteorologists, hydrologists and even the public.

"We can broadcast to all TV and radio stations in Thailand," said Col Anutat Bunnag, deputy executive director of Thailand's National Disaster Warning Centre. "Every station will switch from normal programmes to warning centre programmes, and we can send text messages to all mobile phones.

"We could warn people within 20 minutes if another tsunami took shape today."

Mr Bernal is impressed with Thailand's $1.5m (£800,000) centre. "This is a very important investment by Thailand, I think they are taking the lead," he told the BBC News website.

"The centre has the capability for analysing and broadcasting information. They have installed sirens and alarms at beach sites, which are centrally managed."

Hi-tech equipment
Although Thailand's national disaster centre is currently linked up to monitoring stations in Hawaii and Japan, this will become more localised when the arsenal of alert technology is fully installed in the Indian Ocean.

At the moment, several existing tide-gauges are being upgraded so they can fire off immediate information about wave development.

"These upgraded sea-level gauges work in real time to detect changes," said Mr Bernal. "So in other words, they are now capable of detecting the presence of a tsunami after an earthquake."

The next stage will be to install a series of pressure gauges - each worth about $300,000 (£160,000) - which sit under the sea and monitor the weight of water on top of them.

By 2006, when the whole system should be complete, the Indian Ocean will host several million dollars' worth of equipment. However, according to Mr Owen Jones, cost should not be a stumbling block.

"There is a huge willingness and goodwill amongst donor countries to support the system and make sure it works well," he said. "So it is all coming together fairly well."

Low-tech response
As many have pointed out, all the expensive technology in the world amounts to nothing unless individual countries can prepare their sometimes remote communities.

Technology might be the most expensive part of the early warning system, but taking the alert to every fisherman and beach dweller is by far the hardest.

Johan Schaar, of the International Red Crescent, says their job has been particularly tough because they are dealing with communities who are so damaged by the last tsunami that living for the present is all they can do.

"In many communities, people are living in temporary shelter and they still need to survive day to day," he told the BBC News website. "Mobilising and working through communities that are under such stress is very, very hard."

However, the damage caused by last year's tsunami was so catastrophic that a low-tech response chain has already fallen into place, driven by sheer dread. And tragically, it has already been put to the test.

In March of this year, another earthquake hit the region, killing hundreds. Although technology in the Indian Ocean was still incapable of predicting a tsunami, many coastal communities did not wait to be told.

Officials were quick to spread the word in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and thousands of terrified people evacuated their homes. In the end, no tsunami materialised, but the swift response demonstrated that 26 December 2004 will not be allowed a repeat performance.

"I have just been to Sri Lanka and the response there was very good," said Mr Schaar. "The government used existing telecommunications systems and the network of police stations along the coast to warn people. It was very effective - people did evacuate fast."

The region remains volatile, aftershocks reverberate and many experts believe another devastating tsunami may not be so far away.

"People are scared about the possibility of another earthquake and they are very much on their toes," said Mr Schaar. "There is a great risk that this could happen again soon.

"But we can be confident that people would react differently today."

Source: BBC News
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Tsunami alert system takes shape

Korean shark fishing skipper gets off lightly

Eastern Cape newspapers carried the story last week of a South Korean fishing vessel arrested at sea after a dramatic sea chase involving one of Sea Fishery's new patrol ships.

It also appears the master of the arrested long-line shark fishing vessel, Hwan Lee-An, bit off more than he could chew when he tried to entice an official of the Marine & Coastal Management (MCM) to 'look the other way'.

The South Korean fishing vessel Dong Won 630 had on board an MCM observer from Port Elizabeth, Raymond Manning, and was fishing along the South African coast. At first everybody on board the vessel was very friendly towards the observer, until it became obvious he was videoing certain illegal activities on board the ships.

These included the illegal dumping overboard of live sharks after their fins and tails had been removed (they die slowly this way – South African law requires the fishermen to retain the shark carcasses onboard along with their fins for comparison ashore).

According to reports the official was initially offered an inducement to 'look the other way', which he declined. Things then got nasty, with threats made against his well-being; until he felt the need to summon help from the authorities ashore.

As a result the sea fisheries patrol boat Ruth First put to sea and, after an overnight chase in a northeasterly direction, took the Dong Won into custody.

Once in harbour the vessel was placed under detention and the master arrested. Appearing in a Port Elizabeth court a few days later, evidence was led that relations between the crew and Manning had been excellent during the first few days at sea, during which Manning observed the harvesting of shark fins and tails along with the dumping overboard of plastic and other non-biodegradable material.

However, once the crew noticed that he was videoing the laying of long lines during the daytime – illegal because of the danger it poses for albatrosses and other sea birds becoming snared on the hooks when they dive for the bait - things turned nasty. Initially offered an inducement to 'look the other way' Manning was threatened when he made it clear he intended laying a charge once the vessel returned to port.

Hwan Lee-An had been charged with three counts of breaking the conditions of his permit. These related to illegal de-finning of sharks and the dumping overboard of their carcasses; dumping non-biodegradable material overboard; and interfering with the duties of a MCM official.

The permit issued to Dong Won 630 required the bodies of the sharks be retained until the vessel returned to port, where they could be compared with the fins already removed. Manning gave evidence that instead the shark carcasses were dumped overboard to make space for more fins.

On this charge Hwan Lee-An was fined R1 million (or two years in jail) which was suspended for five years.

On a second charge of dumping non-biodegradable material overboard Hwan was fined R150,000 or 18 months imprisonment, of which R100,000 or 12 months was suspended for five years.

On the charge of interfering with the duties of the MCM observer on his ship, he was fined R50,000 or six months, which was also suspended.

Considering the gravity of the charges, which included threats against an official going about his work, plus the cost of mounting a sea chase to apprehend a fleeing vessel, the South Korean can consider himself lucky in getting off so lightly.

Source: www.ports.co.za
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Korean shark fishing skipper gets off lightly

Jellyfish is Anatomically Sophisticated

A U.S. study says the anus-less, headless, heartless, gutless, back or front-less jellyfish is really a remarkable genetically sophisticated creature.

Scientists at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., say beneath the seemingly simple exterior of the jellyfish and its relatives, known as cnidarians, lies an amazing collection of genes including many that give rise to humans' complex anatomy, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Lead researcher, Kevin J. Peterson, a Dartmouth biologist, said, This data have made a lot of people step back and realize that a lot of what they had thought about cnidarians was all wrong.

Cnidarians developed with their body parts growing from two primordial layers of tissue. Other animals, including humans, have a third layer of embryonic tissue which gives rise to muscles, the heart and other organs not found in cnidarians, the Times reported.

In a paper to be published in the journal Paleobiology, Peterson and his colleagues propose that once water began to fill with animals, the earliest cnidarians anchored themselves to the sea floor and grew upward.

In the process, they abandoned the body plan of their ancestors, the Times reported. Around the same time, cnidarians evolved their weaponry - a cell containing a miniature harpoon for paralyzing prey with toxins.

Source: RedNova News
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Jellyfish is Anatomically Sophisticated

South Africa warned to scale back on gas emissions

Forget about South Africa's big soccer date in 2010 for a moment. Focus instead on 2012 - that's the date when South Africa's honeymoon with cheap and dirty energy supplies is likely to come to an end.

Just seven years from now, the country will most likely be forced by fellow Kyoto Treaty members to scale back on greenhouse gas emissions.

This was the warning given to business and industry by Shirley Moroka, deputy director of Global Climate Change in the department of environmental affairs and tourism.

Speaking at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry's annual environmental congress, Moroka said four developing countries - South Africa, China, India and Brazil - were expected to come under increasing world pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from 2012 onwards.

South Africa relies on cheap supplies of coal-generated electricity and is the largest greenhouse gas generator in Africa.

In terms of the Kyoto Treaty which came into force earlier this year, the major industrialised nations of the West are legally bound to reduce their industrial greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5,2 percent during the treaty's so-called "first commitment period" which lasts from 2008 to 2012.

In this period, developing countries such as South Africa are exempted from having to cut back greenhouse gas emissions.

However, during the second commitment period, which begins in 2012, Moroka says, South Africa will almost certainly have to make cutbacks.

"I don't see us escaping any form of commitments - but we will also have to be able to live with those limits."

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change greenhouse gases are being pumped into the the atmosphere at levels which speed up global warming.

Moroka said there was no longer any doubt that global climate change had started. She said government and industry had to recognise this fact and incorporate climate-change impacts into long-term planning - even to the extent of locating future industrial zones and housing states further away from the coastline because of expected sea-level rises and storm-related disasters.

However, Durban environmental lobbyist Andy Cobb said he detected a noticeable lack of urgency in South Africa on climate change issues. This was despite predictions that Mount Kilimanjaro would lose its snow cover within 15 years because of rising world temperatures.

Bonke Dumisa, Chief Executive of the Durban chamber, also told the congress that the days of driving big petrol-driven cars and intensive use of natural resources were coming to an end.

"Can we continue to live this lifestyle in the next 25 years? The answer is no."

Source: www.iol.co.za
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South Africa warned to scale back on gas emissions

24 June 2005

Great white shark dies in captivity

A great white shark mistakenly captured by fishermen died shortly after the Monterey Bay Aquarium transported it to an ocean holding pen.

The 5-foot, 60-pound shark was caught eight days ago off Huntington Beach before a 4 million gallon holding pen had been moved from storage in Mexico and set up in ocean waters off Malibu. Aquarium officials initially moved the female shark to a much smaller holding pool in San Pedro until the larger pen was ready.

The shark was finally moved to the ocean pen on Friday. It was found dead on Sunday.

"It seemed like a reasonable thing to do," said aquarium spokesman Ken Peterson. "Our husbandry staff had some comfort level." But he acknowledged that "something in transit took longer than it should have."

Researchers had not yet decided whether to tag and release the animal or move her north to the aquarium display. Another white shark that had been held for a record 198 days, drawing record visitors, was released back into the wild in March after growing too large and too aggressive.

The cause of death was under investigation. The animal had not eaten since her capture, but it was not clear whether that was caused by an injury, stress from her capture or an unknown medical condition. The results from a necropsy were not immediately available.

"The best indication is she just kind of ran out of gas from not having eaten," Peterson said. The shark also had injured an eye, though it's not clear when or how that occurred. "We didn't feel comfortable releasing it into the wild," Peterson said.

The death is not expected to affect the shark research program, though it does fuel debate over whether the aquarium should be trying to keep white sharks in captivity. "These animals can't be kept long term, and short-term captivity compromises them," said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in Santa Cruz

But Chris Lowe, director of the California State University, Long Beach's SharkLab, which works with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, disagrees.

"We're just scratching the surface in terms of what we understand about these animals," he said. "We've learned more in the last four years than we did in the previous 50.

Source: SharksTrust
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Great white shark dies in captivity

National parks opposes diving fee plan

The National Parks Association of New South Wales has come out in opposition to a proposed fee for diving in critical habitats along the state's coast.

Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald last week proposed the fee, with money raised to go toward research to help preserve grey nurse sharks

But the association's marine projects officer, Nicky Hammond, says a better option would be to ban fishing in grey nurse shark habitats.

"So this species, they gather together at certain small areas along the coast of Australia and accidental hookings at these areas means that they're becoming infected," she said.

"They're unable to feed and consequently it's leading to a lot of deaths of the sharks.

"Now, just by eliminating fishing at these small areas, you can actually save the grey nurse shark population along the east coast."

Source: www.abc.net.au
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National parks opposes diving fee plan

Maui swimmer punches tiger shark and gets away with it

Brad Grissom locked eyes with a 7-foot tiger shark just before he punched it in the snout in waters off Kamaole Beach Park I on Saturday morning.

"I didn't really hit him that hard," the 49-year-old Kula contractor and triathlete recalled of his 10-second shark encounter.

Grissom managed to get out of the ocean, and with the help of people on the beach, called in the 10 or so other swimmers in the area. A few minutes later, Maui County ocean safety officers, who had just reported for duty shortly before 8 a.m., closed Kamaole I and all the beaches within a mile in each direction. The beaches, including Kamaole II, Kamaole III, Cove Park and Charley Young, were all reopened at 12:30 p.m.

"I can't believe how lucky I was. It doesn't seem real. It seems like it's a movie but every time I talk about it, it becomes more real," said Grissom.

He had been ill for about two weeks, staying away from Kamaole I, his favorite swimming spot on the island. But on Saturday morning as he was on his way to a job site in Wailea, he decided to stop for a swim.

Grissom said he ventured about 35 yards offshore in an area between the Royal Mauian Resort and Kamaole I. He had been swimming for no more than 15 minutes when he spotted something moving in the water.

"I thought it was a big barracuda," Grissom said. A frequent swimmer at Kamaole I, Grissom said he had seen other kinds of predator fish and small barracudas in the area before – but he had never encountered a shark.

With a second look, he found himself and the shark looking at each other eye to eye. Immediately, the shark swam toward Grissom, who hadn't even given a thought to what he should do. He struck out with his right fist and hit the approaching shark.

Grissom said the shark appeared startled.

"The whole thing happened so fast. . . . I think he was surprised that I responded the way I did," he said.

Grissom said after he punched the shark, he immediately swam to shore. He did not see which direction the shark went.

The water had been "a little murky" Grissom said, but otherwise calm, as on many other swim days.

While sharks are not commonly seen in the waters off the Kamaole beach parks, they are known to occasionally come in close to shore. Swimmers in 1973 and 1974 reported being bitten by small sharks off Kalama Park and Kamaole I.

Grissom said he believed that his attentiveness in the water helped him.

"I’m aware when I'm in the water. I look around me, and I stay aware of what's there," he said.

Grissom said swimmers may feel secure when they see people nearby in the water, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're safe.

"That's what could have happened to me. You get a false security and then you don't stay aware," he said.

Grissom wondered out loud what could have happened had he not keyed in on the shark first.

"He could have bit me," he said.

Grissom said it appeared to be a tiger shark that was at least 7 feet long, maybe 8 feet, and perhaps 2 feet wide. Its color was gray with distinct stripes.

"Its underbelly was so white. I remember that white belly," he said.

Grissom reported the incident to lifeguards on the beach, who immediately followed up by posting shark-warning signs along the beaches, with help from state conservation enforcement officers.

After speaking to the ocean safety officers, Grissom decided it was safer at work and headed off to the job site in Wailea.

"I feel fine," he said.

Ocean Safety Capt. Jeff Meadows said beachgoers were cooperative, but he did have to get the help from the state enforcement officers who spoke to a group of fishermen who had a net in the water and hesitated to take it out.

Gill nets that have fish trapped in the netting can be an attraction to predators such as sharks.

Meadows said standard operating procedure is to close the beaches once a shark sighting is reported.

"You know what, it's better to be safe than sorry," he said.

Meadows and his staff walked the beaches and combed the waters in personal watercraft to look for signs of the shark. They also monitored the shores to make sure no one went swimming while the beaches were closed.

Once they determined that the waters were clear of any shark attractions or a shark itself, the ocean safety officers reopened the beaches.

Seattle visitor Ron Johnson, who arrived at Kamaole I with body boards and his son, Zack, said he didn't mind the beach closure.

"Hey, I'm on vacation. It doesn't matter. As long as I don't have to go to work," he said.

Instead of going in the water, the Johnsons relaxed on the sand near one of the freshly posted "shark sighting" signs.

Source: www.mauinews.com
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Maui swimmer punches tiger shark and gets away with it

Tugs gather around grounded ship for salvage attempt

Like vultures hovering around a fresh kill (or should that be like tow-vehicles gathering at the scene of a roadside accident), three additional tugs are on standby to assist with salvage attempts on the stranded logger Kiperousa.

The 25,375-dwt bulk ship, en route from West Africa to Asia with a load of logs, went aground off the Eastern Cape coast southwest of East London on 7 June after hitting a submerged object, believed to be a reef.

The vessel was sailing close inshore at the time to take advantage of the inshore counter-current and on a heading for Durban where Kiperousa was to take bunkers before heading out across the Indian Ocean.

Although the Tsavliris salvage tug Nicolay Chiker has been awarded the contract to pull the ship clear of the reef on which it is now grounded, all attempts have so far failed. While waiting for this week’s spring tides (the best tide is today, Thursday) several other tugs have arrived to give assistance if required. They include the Durban-based Pentow Service, which went to the scene immediately the call for assistance went out on 8 June, and the Smit Dudula tug Smit Amandla (former John Ross).

Smit Amandla has been successful in pulling a number of wrecks clear of the South African coastline in recent years, whereas Nicolay Chiker, although more powerful has had few jobs in South African waters.

Another tug to arrive from Durban is the service and salvage tug Toto which has been employed to transfer bunker fuel from the stricken Kiperousa ashore at East London. This has been successfully completed.

Yesterday was expected to be the "make or break" attempt – should refloating efforts fail with the high tide then the chances of Kiperousa becoming yet another permanent fixture along the Southern African coast will be that much higher.

Source: www.ports.co.za
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Tugs gather around grounded ship for salvage attempt

Circle hooks help save sea turtles

Results from the first large-scale testing of specially designed fishing hooks show that the use of circle hooks can reduce the number of endangered sea turtles killed in long line fishing operations by as much as 90 percent, said WWF.

The results from the one year research project, which involved 115 fishing vessels in Ecuador, were presented at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission in Lanzarotte, Spain.

Incidental death - as a result of traditional long line fishing operations - is one of the main reasons for the decline of loggerhead, and giant leatherback turtles, whose numbers in the Eastern Pacific have plunged by more than 90 percent over the past 20 years.

The results of the study found "bycatch" was dramatically reduced when the boats replaced their traditional "J" shaped hooks with specially designed circle hooks.

"This is a win-win situation. We were looking for a way to save the turtles without putting the fishermen out of business. The preliminary results indicate we've found it. Circle hooks seem to be an effective new tool in our efforts to address this urgent conservation problem" said Moises Mug, Fisheries Coordinator for WWF's Latin America and Caribbean programme.

Over the past year, Ecuador's tuna and mahi-mahi fisheries each tested one large and one small circle hook. Larger devices reduced the number of sea turtles that got hooked by 88 percent in the tuna fishery and 37 percent in the mahi-mahi fishery. The smaller hooks proved less effective, but still reduced bycatch rates by 44 and 16 percent, respectively.

So, when the survival rate for hooked turtles was factored into the results, the researchers estimated that the circle hooks reduced sea turtle mortality by 63 to 93 percent in the tuna fishery and 41 to 93 percent in the mahi-mahi fishery, depending on the size of the hook used.

Also encouraging was that catch rates for tuna were almost identical regardless of whether circle or J hooks were used. The catch rate was lower in the mahi-mahi fishery, however, and researchers said further refinement of fishing gear and better training of fishermen would be needed to close the gap.


  • WWF is now conducting or supporting turtle conservation work in 45 countries and is engaged in every major international turtle conservation policy discussion underway. In the eastern Pacific, WWF has a long history of constructive engagement in the bycatch reduction work of IATTC, and is now formally represented on the Commission. In the western Pacific, WWF has helped shape the new Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission policies, which will be important in reducing turtle bycatch in longline fisheries.

  • Scientists estimate that as many as 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherbacks are caught annually by commercial long-line tuna, swordfish, and other fisheries. See: Rebecca L. Lewison, Sloan A.Freeman and Larry B. Crowder, Ecology Letters, (2004) 7: 221–231. Quantifying the effects of fisheries on threatened species: the impact of pelagic longlines on loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles.

    For more information, please contact:

    Monica Echeverria, WWF’s Communications Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, T: +202 778 9626; monica.echeverria@wwfus.org

    Source: WWF
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    Circle hooks help save sea turtles

  • Scuba diving fee of $20 to swim with sharks

    SCUBA divers could be forced to swallow a fee as high as $20 each time they plunge into the ocean to watch grey nurse sharks.

    The State Government is considering the surcharge for diving in the critical habitat areas of the endangered sharks.

    Under the plan, divers with their own boats would also be banned from entering the areas, restricting access to accredited professional dive charter operators.

    The Fisheries Department, part of the Department of Primary Industries, is asking divers for their views on the new charges.

    Primary Industries Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald told The Daily Telegraph that while no price structure had been set, similar schemes are commonplace overseas.

    "In addition, most other recreational users of NSW coastal waters pay a small fee," he said.

    Forcing divers to go out only with licensed operators is an attempt to limit the number of people in the water.

    "Because of [the shark's] endangered status, the State Government believes some control measures should be in place," Mr Macdonald said.

    He said money raised from the fees would go back into research and conservation programs for the grey nurse shark.

    Dive shop owner Jack Cavazzini was contacted by the Fisheries Department for his views. "They said it could be a fee per dive or annually and it could be as high as $20 per dive," he said.

    "I told them $20 a dive was pretty expensive, especially when some people are only paying $40 to go diving."

    Mr Cavazzini, who owns Sundive in Byron Bay, said a fee would be hard to administer and would put people off the sport.

    "We do have some impact [on the area] but we try to minimise that – we tell people not to take anything and not to touch anything. There are certain protocols we follow with the grey nurse shark anyway.

    "A large proportion of our divers are backpackers and if there's a large increase in price they wouldn't dive here."

    Ten critical habitat areas were declared in 2002 for protection of the grey nurse sharks. Fishing has already been banned from these areas and divers are not permitted to dive at night, touch or harass the sharks or use electronic shark repellers.

    Grey nurse sharks are listed as critically endangered in NSW and Australia, with fewer than 250 believed left in the wild.

    Source: dailytelegraph.news.com.au
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    Scuba diving fee of $20 to swim with sharks

    Disruptions in the Earth's magnetism causes whale strandings

    Increased solar activity causing disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field may cause whales to run aground in the North Sea, say researchers.

    Analysis of whales stranded between 1712 and 2003 shows that more are stranded when solar activity is high.

    Writing in the Journal of Sea Research, scientists propose that whales use the Earth's magnetic field to assist navigation like homing pigeons do.

    As the Sun disrupts the magnetic field whales can become confused, they say.

    Animal magnetism
    The Sun goes through a cycle with an average length of about 11 years, though individual cycle lengths have ranged from eight to 17 years.

    Some evidence exists to suggest that shorter cycles produce a higher flux of radiation from the Sun.

    Dr Klaus Vanselow and colleagues from the University of Kiel have analysed the lengths of solar cycles and have found that 87 of the 97 reported sperm whale strandings over the past 300 years in the North Sea region occurred when the length of the Sun's activity cycle was below average.

    They argue that whales may be like pigeons and dolphins in having a magnetic sense based on small crystals of magnetite found in certain cells.

    Pigeons use such cells to sense the Earth's magnetic field to help in their navigation. Pigeon enthusiasts are well aware that the birds can go astray during times of high solar activity, when disturbances in the magnetic field confuse them.

    "It may be the same for whales," Dr Vanselow told the BBC News website. "Sperm whales migrate long distances with very little visual clues as to where they are going. It would be unsurprising if they too had a magnetic sense.

    "We believe that our research showing that more whales are beached during times when the Sun disrupts the Earth's magnetic field makes it a strong possibility that they do."

    The numbers of cetacean - whale, dolphin and porpoise - strandings around the UK have doubled over the last 10 years.

    Marine mammal experts say an increase in fishing activity, which leads to more "by-catch", is a major cause of the problem.

    Campaigners also claim increased noise in the oceans, coming from ships' engines and sonar, is a significant factor in whales losing their way.

    Source: news.bbc.co.uk
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    Disruptions in the Earth's magnetism causes whale strandings

    Scientists map ocean floor in Antarctica to reveal hidden dangers to passing ships

    Using inflatable boats, a portable depth sounder with GPS, and a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle, a team of scientists and engineers has created the first detailed, comprehensive chart of the ocean floor around Palmer Station in Antarctica, revealing previously unknown submerged rocks.

    The new chart, the first in 50 years, was made by a research team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Southern Mississippi over five weeks in April and early May as they looked for sites for a new underwater observatory.

    Their findings revealed a number of previously unmapped submerged rocks, among them a set of sharp rocky pinnacles that are potential navigational hazards. Some rise nearly 100 meters (about 330 feet) to a depth of six meters (about 20 feet) below the surface and near to the routes generally taken by ships through the area.

    The previous nautical chart of the area was produced in the mid 1900's by single soundings taken at very wide spacing. Although some underwater hazards were marked on the earlier chart, the old chart was found to be incorrect by at least 0.5 nautical miles (just under one mile).

    Since Palmer Station was first established as a scientific outpost in 1965, ships have followed a particular route through the visible rocks. In typical marine navigation in poorly charted waters, ships new to the area proceed cautiously, making continuous soundings with their bridge fathometer. They then note their routes on charts and follow the same routes when entering and departing the area.

    "We were astounded to find these rocks so close to the surface and the shipping lanes," said Scott Gallager, an associate scientist in the Biology Department of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "When you think of all the ship traffic that has passed through the area through the years and the often hostile weather conditions, you realize how skillful and lucky they have been."

    Gallager and co-principal investigator Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi conducted the survey with WHOI engineers Keith von der Heydt and Gregory Packard. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs.

    Palmer Station is at 64°46' S, 64°03' W, on protected Arthur Harbor on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island, about midway down the Antarctica Peninsula. Palmer is one of three U.S. research stations on the continent and the only station north of the Antarctic Circle. Named for American sealer Nathaniel B. Palmer, who in 1820 was one of the first to see Antarctica, the station was built in 1968 to replace the prefabricated wood huts of 'Old Palmer' station, established in 1965. In 1990 Palmer Station was designated by the National Science Foundation as a long term ecological research (LTER) site.

    Most researchers travel to the station from Punta Arenas, Chile across the Drake Passage aboard the research vessels Laurence M. Gould and Nathaniel B. Palmer, operated by the National Science Foundation for the Antarctic research community. In light of the new information, the Gould and the Palmer are now using modified access routes into Palmer Station to give a wider berth to the newly imaged rock hazards.

    Gallager, Asper and their team went to survey the sea floor around Palmer Station to locate possible sites for the installation of the first underwater cabled observatory in Antarctica. The Polar Remote Interactive Marine Observatory (PRIMO) will be equipped with sensors to monitor ocean properties during an entire year.

    It will be installed in the Austral fall of 2006 about two nautical miles to the south of Palmer Station on the ocean bottom at a depth of approximately 130 meters (425 feet), connected by a fiber-optic and electrical cable to a newly constructed building at Palmer Station.

    Instruments, including current meters, plankton imaging systems, and an under ice video observation system, will travel up and down through the water column throughout the day from the observatory's base to just below the surface, even after the pack ice forms and covers the area.

    Proximity sensors on the top of the profiling platform will send and receive acoustic signals to prevent it from contacting the ice. The scientists hope to use this first observatory as a proof of concept and test-bed for a similar observatory to be located in deeper water.

    Other scientists, students and educators around the world will be able to access PRIMO via the Internet (http://science.whoi.edu/users/sgallager/PRIMO/home.html) and conduct experiments related to plankton distributions, carbon cycling, and climate change.

    "Protection of the cable and underwater platform from grounding icebergs at depths of 100 meters (330 feet) or greater is a major concern, and the primary reason for needing the detailed underwater maps, but finding the rocks was an unexpected bonus of the trip," said Gallager. "The real challenge now is to design and build a platform that will survive the harsh Antarctic winters in the water and provide us the first ever long-term, high resolution glimpses of what is going on in this region of the Southern Ocean. That will be exciting!"

    About WHOI:
    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, independent marine research, engineering, and higher education organization located in Falmouth, MA. Its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, the Institution is organized into five scientific departments, interdisciplinary research institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Shelley Dawicki, Media Relations
    508-289-2270 or 3340

    Source: www.enn.com
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    Scientists map ocean floor in Antarctica to reveal hidden dangers to passing ships

    Big fish important in the gene pool - study

    Anglers chasing big fish and leaving the small fry might be doing far more harm than good, according to marine scientists in the United States.

    Charles Birkeland at the University of Hawaii and Paul Dayton at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California have discovered that big fish are vital to maintaining populations, and taking them does crucial damage.

    Not only does the fertility of big females increase dramatically compared with small fish, but the offspring of big fish tend to grow bigger and faster than those of little ones, New Scientist magazine reported.

    This means that taking the big fish weakens the gene pool by effectively favouring the fish that grow more slowly and stay small.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    Big fish important in the gene pool - study