31 August 2005

Stretching for scuba divers to relieve calf and foot cramps

A very interesting article from Divester on fitness and excercises for divers.

Bill recently mentioned Fitness for Divers, a book dedicated entirely to, um, dive fitness. I was poking around Fitness' website, and I noticed this concise PDF summary of exercises divers should perform if they suffer from foot or calf cramps.

Not surprisingly – since they work the same muscles – the exercises are remarkably similar to those I do before I go jogging. Before you blame your body for causing you pain, though, check out the tips on the first page on how to eliminate your equipment as the source of your muscle pain.

Source: www.divester.com
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Stretching for scuba divers to relieve calf and foot cramps

Australia: Humpback whale population on the rise

Researchers say the humpback whale population is slowly increasing but it needs to be protected from commercial whaling.

A group of scientists at Southern Cross University's Whale Research Centre, in northern New South Wales, has been conducting a five-month study on the migration of humpback whales.

Associate Professor Peter Harrison says nearly 7,000 humpback whales have migrated along the east coast of Australia this year.

Professor Harrison says the whales must be protected.

"Absolutely and particularly at this vulnerable stage because it really is just now starting to show significant signs of increase," Professor Harrison said.

"So we need to make sure that we nurture and care for this population so it grows back to its original size.

"One of the key things is that we think there are approximately 7,000 humpbacks in this population that migrates along the east coast of Australia.

"But the key thing to remind everybody is that prior to whaling last century the estimated number in this population was somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 humpback whales so we're not yet at a quarter of the original population size."

Source: www.abc.net.au
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Australia: Humpback whale population on the rise

Climate change to cause chaos in UK seas

Climate change will wreak havoc on the United Kingdom's marine environment, deepening the decline of cod, threatening the future survival of some sea bird colonies, and causing wide-scale coastal disruption, a new WWF report has found.

The report — Climate change: Plunging our Seas into Deeper Crisis — notes that an increase in sea surface temperature will be a major factor in further disrupting the breeding, feeding, and growing cycles of fish, and in turn sea birds. This will be spurred by impacts on plankton, the major food source of many fish and the foundation of the entire marine environment.

The report also found that major storm surges — temporary increases in sea level caused by atmospheric pressures and strong winds — will have destructive impacts on coastal areas as they become more frequent. Storm surges could cause flooding events in the east of England and in the London area. Sea level rise is also likely to reduce coastal habitats of sea birds through erosion and damage to nesting sites. Sandeels, a major food source for birds and fish, which breed in shallow sand banks, may also be affected.

"Our seas are already under severe pressure from a number of activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration, and coastal development," said Andrew Lee, Director of Campaigns at WWF-UK.

"This report shows that climate change has the power to deepen this crisis and to completely turn our marine world upside down, disrupting and changing the entire ecosystem."

The North Sea, where plankton is reported to have already changed dramatically, is likely to be hit the hardest by climate change. This will have direct impacts on cod stocks, in addition to the existing pressures from fisheries, according to the report.

"This heightens the urgency for government action to both significantly reduce the UK's CO2 emissions and to bring forward a new Marine Bill, which will protect our marine wildlife and reform the way our seas are planned and managed to ensure they are economically productive and sustainable for future generations," Lee added.

The group of scientists who contributed to the report also highlighted ocean acidification as a major concern. The acidity (pH) of the sea has already reduced from 8.3 to 8.2 and is predicted to decline to 7.6 by the end of the century. This would be beyond any level of acidity experienced by current marine wildlife and is likely to impact corals, sea urchins and shell fish as well as breeding success of fish, such as cod.

Harbour porpoises and fin whales are most likely to be affected by climate change through the combined impacts of pollution and reduced food supply. This will threaten their breeding success, and in the case of harbour porpoises, this is likely to accelerate their decline.

"Climate change will cause dramatic disruption to our seas over the coming years," said Emily Lewis-Brown, WWF-UK's Marine Research Officer.

"Future planning of our marine environment must take into account the effects of climate change to help our seas adapt to the challenges that will come."


  • The British government has committed to introduce a Draft Marine Bill in this current session of Parliament. WWF has been campaigning for five years for this legislation, calling for the Bill to deliver more integrated planning and management for maritime industries, and putting the marine ecosystem at the heart of all future development decisions. WWF is also asking for the Bill to provide a representative network of Nationally Important Marine Sites which must include a series of Highly Protected Marine Reserves.

  • WWF's Climate Change campaign is calling on the power sector, the biggest single source of CO2 emissions in the UK and globally, to reduce its emissions by 60 per cent by 2020. It is also calling on the government to take action to meet its target to cut the UK's emissions by 20 per cent by 2010.

    For further information:
    Alison Wade, Senior Press Officer
    Tel: +44 1483 412388
    E-Mail: awade@wwf.org.uk

    Source: www.panda.org
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    Climate change to cause chaos in UK seas

  • Antarctica: Widening ozone hole is as big as Europe

    The seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica has widened sharply this year, making it the biggest hole since 2000 and the third largest on record, according to measurements reported here on Tuesday by the European Space Agency (ESA).

    Data sent back ESA's Earth-monitoring satellite Envisat showed the hole had swollen to an area of 10-million-square-kilometres in mid-August, approximately the same size as Europe.

    The hole is likely to expand further before reaching its maximum in September, ESA said in a press release.

    "This year's hole is large for this time of year, based on results from the last decade. Only the ozone holes of 1996 and 2000 had a larger area at this point in their development," it said.

    Ozone, a molecule of oxygen, is a stratospheric shield for life on Earth, for it filters out dangerous ultraviolet rays from the Sun that damage vegetation and can cause skin cancer and cataracts.

    But the protective layer has been damaged by man-made chemicals, especially chlorine and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

    CFCs are an aerosol gas and refrigerant whose use was belatedly controlled by an international treaty, the Montreal Protocol.

    The size of the hole - in effect a thinning of the ozone layer - fluctuates according to the season and prevailing weather.

    High-altitude cloud formation, carrying traces of chlorine, is a big factor. A single molecule of chlorine can break down thousands of molecules of ozone.

    At ground level, ozone is formed by a reaction between road traffic exhausts and sunlight, becoming a potentially dangerous irritant for people with respiratory problems.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    Antarctica: Widening ozone hole is as big as Europe

    South Africa has been growing warmer each year - study

    South Africa has been getting warmer over the past 44 years and the season that has been getting the warmest is autumn.

    A study in the International Journal of Climatology by Andries Kruger and Stephen Shongwe of the South African Weather Services shows that the country's average yearly temperatures have increased by 0,13°C a decade between 1960 and 2003.

    The scientists analysed climate data from 26 weather stations around the country.

    Of these, 23 stations showed that the average annual maximum temperatures had increased, 13 of them significantly.

    Average annual minimum temperatures also showed increases, of which 18 were significant.

    But the study found that although temperatures had been warming during the past 44 years, these increases were not consistent between the seasons.

    The average trend for the country during autumn was an increase of 0,21°C a decade, for winter it was 0,13°C a decade, spring 0,08°C and summer 0,12°C.

    The season with the highest warming trend is autumn and the lowest warming trend is spring.

    When the figures were analysed on a monthly basis, it was found that April showed the warmest trends at most of the weather stations.

    The months which showed the least temperature increases were September to December, with the exception of the stations in the extreme eastern part of the country at Skukuza and St Lucia, where the least temperature increases occurred in January.

    The weather stations also record the number of days and nights with maximum and minimum temperatures in defined categories, such as "hot days" which have temperatures over 35°C, or "cold nights" which have temperatures below freezing. They also record "events" where temperatures stay hot or cold for between three and five days.

    Analysis showed that days with warmer temperatures had generally increased while the number of cooler days had decreased. Most stations showed an increase in "hot-day events", where temperatures stayed above 30°C for three to five days. "Cool day events" declined, some quite substantially.

    There have been more warmer nights and fewer cooler nights.

    The number of hot nights, over 20°C, has increased significantly in the interior around Upington and on the east coast from East London to St Lucia.

    Warm nights, between 15°C and 20°C, have increased significantly on the Western Cape coast and in areas in the Eastern Cape like Addo.

    There was a significant increase in "warm night events" throughout South Africa, where temperatures stayed above 15°C for three to five nights.

    Globally, the 1990s have been substantially warmer than previous decades. When Kruger and Shongwe analysed South Africa's data to see if this was true here, they found it was not. The average warming trend between 1960 and 1990 was 0,11°C a decade, while between 1991 and 2003 it was 0,09°C.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    South Africa has been growing warmer each year - study

    South Africa: Carrier breaking apart in heavy seas

    The bulk carrier Kiperousa that ran aground near East London on June 7 with a cargo of tropical hardwood logs has begun to break up in heavy seas.

    Some of the huge logs that remained aboard the ship were washed overboard, but they have been washed ashore, said Captain Peter Kroon of the SA Maritime Safety Authority at East London.

    The ship had been swung about on the reef on which she was stuck and the hull had begun to crack, said Nick Sloane of salvage company Weismuller.

    Sloane confirmed that the 23 logs washed overboard and on to a beach up the coast, had all been accounted for.

    A large number of logs have already been removed in a lengthy salvage operation.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    South Africa: Carrier breaking apart in heavy seas

    South Africa: Seven sailors hauled to safety in PE rescue

    Seven men were hauled to safety in a dramatic sea rescue in icy waters between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred on Tuesday.

    National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) emergency workers flew to the scene aboard a police helicopter to find three men in the water, clinging to a fast-sinking boat 200m offshore behind the breaker line.

    Four more were still aboard the 21-foot butt-cat, which was reported drifting without power 27 nautical miles towards Port Alfred, near Bird Island.

    NSRI Port Elizabeth Operations Controller Gavin Riddle said they had feared the boat was in danger of washing ashore amid two-metre swells and 30 knot (55.5km/h) westerly winds.

    Rescuers had got there to find the vessel in danger of drifting into the two-metre breaking surf. Four men had been hoisted aboard the helicopter and taken to shore individually, he said.

    The deep-sea rescue craft had then towed the sinking boat out of the surf to calmer waters with three crew still on board. They had been transferred later to the rescue craft.

    None of the seven crew had sustained any injuries, said Riddle. The boat had been stabilised at sea and would be towed back to Port Elizabeth.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    South Africa: Seven sailors hauled to safety in PE rescue

    30 August 2005

    Whistles for scuba diving

    The Storm Whistle claims to be the world's loudest whistle.

    According to Howard Wright, the whistle's inventor, the whistle is audible from a distance of greater than a 1/4 of a mile through trees and more than a 1/2 mile over water. Moreover, the whistle is even audible underwater!

    Since the whistle works underwater, numerous Special Forces and rescue operations use it. The waterproof whistle costs about $5 or $6 and is available at a variety of department and outdoor stores. I've never used one, but it sounds like a Storm Whistle is one of the wisest investments a smart diver can make.

    Source: www.divester.com
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    Whistles for scuba diving

    The GLO-TOOB for scuba divers

    Originally developed for scuba divers, the GLO-TOOB is an LED light that is waterproof to more than 11,000 feet (!), measures less than 3 inches in length, and weighs just 0.075 pounds.

    A replaceable 12-volt alkaline battery powers the GLO-TOOB; attach one to your tank and you'll be visible for at least 30 hours.

    There are three different models of GLO-TOOB, each with different features, ranging from "always-on", to various flashing modes, to an infrared light.

    Expect to pay around $30 for the GLO-TOOB. If you're interested, be sure to check out this, uh, glowing review at Dan's Data.

    Source: www.divester.com
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    The GLO-TOOB for scuba divers

    Diving solo vs. diving with a buddy

    Is it more fun? Is it safer? - what do you think?

    Here's an easily-digested article about dive buddies. After touching on whether diving with a buddy is more fun or not, the piece moves on to try to answer the (more important?) question: Is diving with a buddy safer or not.

    Despite one diver's proclamation that his dive buddy nearly killed him (think: panic); to some tough-guy talk from a typically-solo tech diver; to Porg's tacit suggestion that a bad buddy is usually better than no buddy at all, most of the divers believe that diving with a buddy is a solidly good idea. I'm on board with that opinion – for both safety and fun reasons – 100%.

    But what about you? How do you compare diving solo with diving with a buddy? Is there even a comparison? Is it more fun? Is it safer? Do you feel constrained?

    Source: www.divester.com
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    Diving solo vs. diving with a buddy

    Caribbean urged to do more to protect coastlines

    Caribbean countries have been told that the tourism industry could face severe economic problems in the future as a result of coastal and marine pollution.

    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) said in its 2005 Caribbean Environment outlook that the region currently attracts more than half of the world's 10 million scuba divers.

    The report said that by the end of this year, diving activities would begin to generate about US$1.2 billion dollars in revenue.

    The average diver spends about US$2,100 per trip to the Caribbean compared to US$1,200 by the regular tourist.

    But the UNEP report warned that the region's tourism sector could face serious economic problems, because its major attraction, such as coral reefs were suffering permanent damage due to coral bleaching and other factors.

    Last year, WRI said that nearly two-thirds of the Caribbean coral reefs were threatened by coastal development especially along the coastline of the Greater Antilles, while in the Lesser Antilles, one third of the coastline is threatened by sediments and pollution.

    It said that human activities had threatened over 80 per cent of the reefs in Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominica Republic.

    AIMS also warned that in the three countries, deterioration of coral reefs is greater because the economic development of these countries is highly dependent on the marine environment.

    The AIMS urged the authorities to make the conservation of reefs a high priority.

    These three international environmental agencies have recommended multi-sectoral approaches in planning and land use, increase involvement of fishermen in conservation and increase ongoing environmental education in the region.

    They have also urged regional governments to formulate an action plan to deal with the situation.

    Source: www.antiguasun.com
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    Caribbean urged to do more to protect coastlines

    Performance FreeDiving cover FreeDiving World Championships event

    Our friends over at Performance FreeDiving International (PFI) are on-location in Nice, France for the AIDA Individual Constant Weight World Championships.

    They will be reporting on their progress and posting video from the competition.

    Head over to the PFI Website for the coverage.

    Source: www.deeperblue.net
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    Performance FreeDiving cover FreeDiving World Championships event

    Coral reefs escape severe damage by Asian tsunami

    Severely damaged coral should recover in a decade, scientists sayAlmost 90% of coral reefs hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami escaped severe damage, according to research.

    Study of 175 sites along 435 miles of Thailand's west coast found 60% of reef suffered little or no damage.

    Just 13% was severely damaged in the tsunami which killed more than 220,000 people, but scientists expected that to recover in five to 10 years.

    The findings are to be presented to the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference in London on Tuesday.

    The study found the most northerly coast and islands more damaged than those further south, with shallow reefs on wave-exposed islands and shorelines most vulnerable.

    Areas counted as severely damaged if at least half of the coral was broken or overturned.

    Damage could have been caused both by the force of the wave, and stirred-up sediment smothering the coral.

    In other areas, coral was dying because the earthquake had lifted the seabed and placed the coral on dry land.

    Quake impact
    But the University of Newcastle's Professor Barbara Brown, who worked alongside Thai researchers, said: "The initial results for Thailand are very encouraging and the resilience of the coral in this area will aid a fast recovery."

    She said reefs had suffered greater damage on the coasts of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and India's Andaman and Nicobar islands because they had been hit by the original earthquake as well as the subsequent tsunami.

    "A conservative estimate would suggest that many kilometres of shallow coral reef has been killed by uplift caused by the earthquake alone in these locations," the emeritus professor of Tropical Marine Biology said.

    Coral reefs stretch from the surface of water down to the limit of light penetration - about 30m deep.

    A healthy reef acts much like a natural breakwater and there is evidence they gave some coastlines a little protection - but also took some of the blow.

    Source: news.bbc.co.uk
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    Coral reefs escape severe damage by Asian tsunami

    South Africa: Climate changes has economic growth opportunities

    Decisions to stop the impact of climate change - the effect of Greenhouse Gas emissions - will not only help the environment, but add to the growth of the South African economy, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the minister of environmental affairs and tourism said.

    Van Schalkwyk was speaking at the opening of the Institute of Environmental and Recreation Management in Port Elizabeth today.

    "Achieving our 2013 additional renewable energy target of 10 000 giga watt hours, for instance, could have a positive impact on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of more than R1 billion, lead to additional government revenue of R299 million, additional income to low income households of R128 million, and water savings of up to 16.5 million km per year - at the same time creating just over 20 000 new jobs," he said.

    Costs of not acting affects climate
    New technologies and skills acquired from developing nations will be the major contributors to this economic growth. But for that to happen, Van Schalkwyk said, decisions need to be taken and implemented today. Already the costs of not acting to effects of climate change are estimated to be around 1.5% of the GDP.

    "Amongst the many focal areas for action are our needs to improve our capabilities for Earth observation and climate monitoring; bolstering our disaster management capacity to deal with extreme weather events; implementing initiatives to conserve fresh water supplies; and extensive further research into minimising the likely impacts on agriculture.

    "In other words - do we simply strengthen our existing crops to make them more resilient or do we need to switch what is planted from apples to grapes and olives for instance? Where will our future grazing land be situated? How do we avert the predicted reduction of up to 20% in maize crop yields? These are the questions that must shape our response," Van Schalkwyk said.

    South Africa will host two national conferences on climate changes in Gauteng in October.

    Source: www.sabcnews.com
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    South Africa: Climate changes has economic growth opportunities

    South Africa: Abalone, vehicle and trailers confiscated as DEAT cracks down on poachers

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has on Friday 26 August 2005 confiscated abalone, a vehicle, two trailers and equipment worth an estimated R3.3 million in Somerset West near Cape Town. Three men were arrested and are expected to appear in court.

    This incident follows extensive observation and investigations by the departments specialised unit.

    In separate incidents, the Department has welcomed judgement by the Humansdorp Magistrate Court and the Mossel Bay regional Court during the past two weeks.

    The Mossel Bay regional Court imposed a fine of R350-000 in the case against ProFish (Pty) Limited, and its Director was handed a five year suspended sentence, after being convicted for fraud involving illegal fishing.

    In a separate case the Humansdorp Magistrate Court convicted five men for illegal possession of abalone, poached from Cape St Francis in the Eastern Cape. They were sentenced to four months in prison with an option to pay a R10 000 fine.

    During the arrest of the men, the department also seized a vessel and a 4x4 vehicle valued at R450 000.

    In the Western Cape, the Hermanus Environmental court recorded a total of 37 convictions for the past three months, mainly abalone related offences, The court further issued fines to the value of approximately R300 000,00 and recorded 82 000 abalone confiscated as well as the seizure of a luxury vehicle worth R250 000,00.

    Source: www.deat.gov.za
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    South Africa: Abalone, vehicle and trailers confiscated as DEAT cracks down on poachers

    29 August 2005

    Divers aid Tsunami recovery

    The Tsunami Relief Fund, run by PADI's Project AWARE, closed in August - having raised £39,165 to help alleviate suffering in areas hit by last December's Asian tsunami.

    The money has been going to help projects involved with environmental clean-ups and rehabilitation efforts. The fund has supported 29 projects in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

    Examples are a coral reef assessment and clean-up programme in Indonesia's Sabang waters, reef-cleaning in Sri Lanka, and the Phi Phi Island Recovery Camp project on Thailand's Koh Phi Phi.

    "All projects awarded funds are dedicated to repairing the damage caused to coral reefs and underwater habitats, clearing debris from beaches and dive sites, and providing much-needed support to local communities, PADI members, universities and environmental organisations," said Cher Platt, Project AWARE Co-ordinator. "Dive centres have largely taken the lead in co-ordinating these projects."

    Project AWARE has also worked with organisations such as the World Conservation Union in Sri Lanka and the Sustainable Ecosystems Institute, whose experts have worked with project volunteers to ensure correct and effective action.

    Meanwhile Diver Magazine and the British Sub-Aqua Club have donated £2987 to Medical Aid to Sri Lanka, which is helping areas of the country affected by the tsunami disaster.

    The sum was arrived at through the allocation of 50p for every advance ticket sold for the last London International Dive Show. Bernard Eaton, publisher of Diver, is seen presenting a cheque to Dr Tony Sirimanna, Chairman of the charity, at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Dr Sirimanna is a consultant.

    The money will go towards a house-building project in partnership with a long-standing charity in Sri Lanka, and will cover the cost of providing a new two-bedroom bungalow.

    Related links: PADI Project AWARE

    Source: www.divernet.com
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    Divers aid Tsunami recovery

    US: Visitors to Myrtle Beach take shark threat in stride

    Visitors to the Grand Strand's beaches say this week's two shark bites aren't deterring them from getting in the water, and local scientists say that's the right response for such an unlikely occurrence.

    "Worldwide, you're more likely to be killed by a coconut falling from a tree than to be bitten by a shark."

    "It doesn't alarm me because of the rarity of the incidents," said Antoine DeLoach, who was in town for a family reunion. "If it was an increasing number, then maybe I'd reconsider."

    Dan Abel, assistant professor of Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University, said beach lovers need to put the shark bites in perspective. Watercraft, surfboards, jellyfish, bacterial infections and rip currents all pose a greater threat than shark attacks, Abel said.

    "We tend to get frightened by the infinitesimally small chance," he said. "Worldwide, you're more likely to be killed by a coconut falling from a tree than to be bitten by a shark."

    DeLoach said he still plans to be vigilant in the waters until he heads home to Philadelphia.

    "It might be one in a million, but I don't want to be that one," he said.

    Abel said many shark run-ins in this area usually are a result of mistaken identity. When the shark realizes it's biting something other than a fish, the shark lets go of the human most of the time, Abel said.

    "It's their environment," he said. "People get in the water, the water's murky and the shark thinks it's eating fish."

    Sharks are off the Grand Strand's coast year-round, but the blacktip sharks likely responsible for this week's two bites are migratory, Abel said.

    An 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy bitten Aug. 21 is recovering from deep bites on his back and side. A 17-year-old Canadian was bitten Monday near Sixth Avenue South, and his injuries were treated by a lifeguard.

    South Carolina had one shark bite last year and has no fatal attacks since the 1800s.

    Linda Young, a visitor from West Virginia, said she still goes in the ocean but likes to think there are no sharks around.

    "I had my grandkids with me last weekend, so of course I was a little more careful," she said. Young said she takes the recommended precautions: avoiding swimming near piers, in deep water and during dawn or dusk. Beyond that, she said she hopes for the best.

    Anne Buzzelli from New York has the same approach when she and her husband allow their two kids to play in the water. The parents take turns watching over the children when they're in the ocean.

    "We hadn't heard about [the shark bites]," she said, "but usually we're not too worried. We just enjoy the beach."

    Source: www.myrtlebeachonline.com
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    US: Visitors to Myrtle Beach take shark threat in stride

    Australia: Dives called off after shark attack

    UP to 40 scuba divers were still prepared to venture into the waters where shark attack victim Jarrod Stehbens was taken only days ago, but had their dives cancelled this weekend.

    Glenelg Scuba Diving operator Derek Randall said he decided to suspend trips to the Glenelg tyre reef because he owed a duty of care to his divers and also it was a mark of respect to Mr Stehbens.

    "Quite a few of them were actually disappointed that we cancelled," Mr Randall said.

    "We didn't have one phone call from those people saying, `Cancel my dive' – we rang them up.

    "We do dive the same spots where Jarrod was taken.

    "I cancelled it out of respect for Jarrod and our duty of care."

    There were no smaller dive boats operating near where the shark attacked.

    The decision to cancel coincided with a search by a team of mounted police along the shoreline from Seacliff to Largs Bay yesterday morning.

    A police spokesman said the officers did not locate anything on the beaches.

    Mr Stehbens, 23, a University of Adelaide research scientist, was attacked on Wednesday afternoon during a scientific expedition to the tyre reef, about 2km off Glenelg, with three colleagues.

    He was an experienced scuba diver who had completed more than 190 dives.

    About a dozen fishing boats ventured out to the area yesterday morning, following high tide.

    Fisherman Joe Grieve, of Adelaide, said he did not expect to see any divers in the water so soon after the tragedy. He had only seen one Great White shark, several years ago beyond the Glenelg tyre reef.

    "We saw one about 12km out one day, leaping around the boat," Mr Grieve said.

    Mr Randall has been diving for 30 years in the area where Mr Stehbens was attacked.

    He was in the water on Wednesday morning before Mr Stehbens was taken.

    He conducts about 5000 dives a year and says he has never seen a Great White. "I've had the business for 22 years and I have never seen a white out there," Mr Randall said.

    "None of my divers have seen a white out there in the water with them.

    "Now and again you'll see a Bronze Whaler but they're not an aggressive shark.

    "Sharks don't go hunting humans."

    Mr Randall said he did not believe the attack would affect his business, which always used shark shields for protection during its dives.

    "I think people realise it's still more dangerous driving to the shop here compared to being out there," he said.

    He would resume dives next weekend off Glenelg.

    Source: www.theadvertiser.news.com.au
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    Australia: Dives called off after shark attack

    New US National FreeDiving Record for Tanya Streeter

    After a disappointing heat in which she failed to qualify for the finals, Tanya Streeter of Team USA has set a National Record (pending review and ratification) for Dynamic Apnea without Fins : 113 meters.

    Ms. Streeter's 81m performance in the qualifying heat was not sufficient to place her among the final Eight, but her record-setting exhibition dive would have been sufficient to secure a second-place finish.

    Source: www.deeperblue.net
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    New US National FreeDiving Record for Tanya Streeter

    Deep-sea drama captured on camera: Killer whales harrass Right whales

    Aerial photographer Tim Voorheis captures a rare event as killer whales, at bottom, harass agitated right whales last month about 35 miles east of Nantucket.

    Aerial photographer Tim Voorheis captures a rare event as killer whales, at bottom, harass agitated right whales last month about 35 miles east of NantucketAFTER THE FIRST TIME he flew a plane over the Atlantic, commercial fisherman turned aerial tuna spotter Tim Voorheis went out and got a camera. He rarely made a flight after that one without finding something worth shooting.

    "If you take the time to look at things, it's amazing what you can see," he said. Practically every cavity in a tuna plane contains a fuel tank, and pilots spend half a day circling, a thousand feet up, looking to guide harpoon boats to their prey.

    But Voorheis' natural curiosity filled the downtime as he photographed life near the ocean surface. His inquisitiveness and photographic eye really paid off last month when he captured a most unusual image - a pod of 10 to 12 killer whales harassing a group of North Atlantic right whales, the most endangered whale species on earth, 35 miles east of Nantucket.

    In his 20 years of commercial fishing and 15 years as a pilot doing both scientific work and finding schools of bluefin tuna for harpoon fishermen, Voorheis had only once seen killer whales - a mother and calf in Cape Cod Bay almost 30 years ago.

    Killer whales, or orcas, are more popularly associated with the Pacific Northwest, specifically Puget Sound in Washington, where a resident inshore population makes for easy viewing. Even though killer whales are found in every one of the world's oceans, sightings in New England waters are so rare that even veteran whale researchers can go their entire career without seeing one.

    On July 21, Voorheis was working for state Division of Marine Fisheries shark re-searcher Greg Skomal, leading a fishing vessel to basking sharks that were being tagged for research. He had spotted a group of sharks and radioed in his directions, then took off to see if there were any others around.

    Boil of white
    He was photographing a solitary right whale when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a boil of white a few miles off and drifted over to see what it was.

    The massive four or five right whales he found were literally climbing on top of one another. At first, Voorheis thought they might be breeding, but then he saw a smaller black animal shooting through the water under the whales. The sudden flash of the white patch along the sides of its head told him it was not a pilot whale, but a killer whale. For a half-hour he circled, shooting photos as two male killer whales he estimated at 20 to 22 feet long led a coordinated attack by eight to 10 other smaller orcas on the much larger right whales.

    The strategy of the orca hunting pack seemed to be to try to break up the right whale pack, like wolves attacking a herd of cows. Just like cows, the whales shouldered up to one another, their big heads capable of butting crowded together.

    Forty tons of muscle slammed a 2,000-pound tail, as broad across as the orcas were long, onto the water in warning slaps.

    "You could feel the tension from 1,000 feet up," Voorheis said. "They were very uncomfortable."

    Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies whale researcher Scott Landry doubts the killer whales could have taken down a right whale. Few right whale adults exhibit scarring from killer whale attacks, he said. But right whale calves are a different story, and young whales have been seen with the bite marks that show they survived an orca attack.

    In his 15 years of whale research, Landry has never seen a killer whale. He agreed with Voorheis that the orcas were probably just harassing the right whales.

    Opportunistic hunters
    Landry said little is known about killer whales in the North Atlantic. Unlike most oceanic travelers, they are not migratory. They are opportunistic hunters that roam the world and show up when there's food around. They eat salmon, seals, whales, dolphins, seabirds, even the occasional misguided moose or deer out for a swim.

    Researchers in the Pacific Northwest found at least three populations, with very different habits and distinctly different communication dialects. There was a resident inshore group that ate fish, a nomadic one that hunted marine mammals and ignored fish, and an offshore group with an unknown diet.

    Killer whales tend to show up off Massachusetts in the summer or early fall, maybe chasing tuna, but no one knows with certainty.

    "We get verified reports in Cape Cod waters only once every five to 10 years," Landry said.

    More photos may be found at www.gulfofmaineproductions.com when it comes online Sept. 1.

    Doug Fraser can be reached at dfraser@capecodonline.com

    Source: www.capecodonline.com
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    Deep-sea drama captured on camera: Killer whales harrass Right whales

    Wave of marine species extinctions feared

    Scientists once thought the oceans were so vast there was little risk of marine species becoming extinct; they no longer believe that theory.

    Now Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, says the Earth may on the cusp of "a gathering wave of ocean extinctions."

    Her alarming view is shared by many scientists, including Samuel Gruber, a University of Miami professor who has spent two decades studying lemon sharks that breed in the Bahamas.

    But the mangroves that provide food and protection for the sharks are being destroyed to make way for resort development.

    "At the end of my career, I get to document the destruction of the species I`ve been documenting for 20 years," he told the Washington Post. "Wonderful."

    Biologists note that of the 21 marine species that have become extinct in the past 300 years, 16 have occurred since 1972.

    Scientists blame a combination of the post World War II industrialization of the world's fishing industry, a planet-wide boom in oceanfront development and global warming for causing the Earth's fish populations to plummet.

    Source: science.monstersandcritics.com
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    Wave of marine species extinctions feared

    South Africa: Dramatic rescue after men swept out to sea

    Two men were washed off the breakwater at Kalk Bay Harbour and injured, one of them seriously, seconds after fishermen had yelled at them to get clear.

    As the Mpumalanga men, 25 and 30, continued walking along the wall on Saturday evening a monster wave - estimated to be higher than nine metres - swept them into the water. It is believed the men cannot speak English.

    Onlookers watching five southern right whales frolicking in the bay were shocked by the sight of the men flailing frantically in the rough seas while three local heroes raced to their rescue.

    Darren Zimmerman, the National Sea Rescue Institute's Simon's Town station commander, said a vacuum caused by high swells had quickly sucked the men out of the harbour and into the sea. "They obviously did not realise how big the waves were."

    Zimmerman estimated that the men, whose names have not yet been released, were in the water for 10 or 12 minutes before they were rescued.

    George Mandalios, of Kalky's fish shop, jumped into his boat, Starlife, with two crew as soon as he saw the wall of water knock the men into the harbour.

    "I took a great risk, but I could not sit and wait for the helicopters," said Mandalios.

    A huge wave had knocked him into the harbour last year, "so I know how terrible it is".

    In the race to reach the men, "I almost went into the rocks," Mandalios said.

    He considered himself "very lucky" to have made it back safely.
    "I would do it again without thinking," Mandalios said.

    "I know the water, so I took a chance."

    A longboard surfer, who paddled his board through huge waves to get to the men, is one of two unnamed heroes involved in the rescue. Once he had helped get the men on the boat, the surfer had to brave the waves again to get his board, said Philip Massie, who photographed the drama.

    Another unnamed hero plunged fully clothed into the water to help with the rescue.

    By the time the NSRI arrived, the two men had been pulled to safety. They were taken to False Bay Hospital.

    One of them has been moved to Victoria Hospital and his condition is serious but stable.

    The other was discharged.

    Pat Stacey, Kalk Bay harbour master and chief Marine and Coastal Management inspector for False Bay, said: "We have not had swells like these for a good couple of years."

    Anticipating hazardous conditions after Friday's storm, Stacey moved a fleet of crayfish boats from Kalk Bay to Simon's Town.
    Stacey said there was a sign on the harbour wall warning people to stay off it in rough weather. An iron gate that could be locked in dangerous conditions had been removed for repairs, he said.

    The South African Weather Service confirmed that offshore swells of up to nine metres spawned giant waves from Löderitz in Namibia to the Wild Coast.

    Anyone with information about the unnamed heroes may contact the Cape Times at ctnews@ctn.independent.co.za or 021 488 4713/23/20.

    Source: www.capetimes.co.za
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    South Africa: Dramatic rescue after men swept out to sea

    South Africa: Extreme weather (giant waves) pounds Western Cape coast

    That would have been an apt description of the waves that battered the Eastern Cape coast on Saturday.

    Although the cold, wintry conditions forecast for the region didn't materialise, rough seas with waves measuring between eight and nine metres lashed the coastline.

    In Port Elizabeth, a goods train with more than 100 carriages came to a standstill after the waves dumped stones onto one section of track and completely washed away another.

    At the Storms River Mouth resort, more than 12 chalets had to be evacuated. One chalet was completely submersed by the massive waves.

    Cars in the parking lot were damaged, and the resort's power was down for a long time. A lot of damage was also done to the resort's swimming pool and picnic area.

    The waves, which usually break on the rocks several metres from the chalets, broke spectacularly over their roofs instead, witnesses said.

    Efforts to salvage a stranded cargo ship, the Kiperousa, off the East London coast, had to be abandoned because of stormy seas.

    A warning issued on Sunday morning reported that there were swells of more than five metres between Algoa Bay and Port St John's.

    Residents of Herold's Bay got a fright when waves of up to 10m washed onto their doorsteps.

    The NSRI, police, fire brigade and other municipal emergency services were called in between 09:30 and 11:30 on Saturday when worried residents realised their homes on the beach might be flooded.

    About seven homes were in danger of being flooded. Johan Steyn and his wife Ina's bore the brunt of the deluge. On Sunday morning, they were still sweeping sand off their front steps.

    "We quickly moved our vehicles to higher ground. The municipality stacked sandbags to prevent the water from flowing through the windows and doors," said Ina Steyn.

    Ernie Els
    No damage was done to champion golfer Ernie Els's home, which is built on the rocks next to the sea.

    Hennie Niehaus, commander of the NSRI at Wilderness, said: "We sent our team to Herold's Bay to ensure that no lives were endangered should the homes on the beach be flooded.

    The NSRI remained at the scene until after high tide at 21:00 to make sure residents were safe.

    "The conditions calmed down towards evening and although no lives were endangered, some of the buildings were damaged," he said.

    Source: www.news24.com
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    South Africa: Extreme weather (giant waves) pounds Western Cape coast

    26 August 2005

    Leading dive companies target China market

    Leaders in dive industries Bare Wetsuits, Beuchat, Divers Alert Network, Mares, NAUI, PADI, Suunto, lead the charge into the China market with their participation in China Dive Expo.

    The first-ever international dive exhibition for the trade and public will be held on 23-25 September in Shanghai, China.

    Designed to be the premier showcase event for scuba diving manufacturers, resorts and training organisations, China Dive Expo 2005 is a bold effort to grow the dive industry in one of the worlds fastest growing consumer markets. Registering a growth rate of 9.5% in the first half of 2005, China represents one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world.

    "Companies that want to tap into the vast Chinese dive market cannot afford to miss CDEX 2005," said Roel Leeuwan of Suntec Integrated Media. "Our expertise in diving-oriented shows and events will certainly benefit companies exhibiting at this show. There are few events in China right now and CDEX is a way to reach into a new market and increase business."

    China Dive Expo (CDEX) is jointly organised Suntec Integrated Media, organisers of Asia Dive Expo and Asia Scuba Tour and East West Mice.

    CDEX 2005 will open on September 23 - 25 to both trade and public visitors from 9am - 5.00pm. For more information, visit www.chinadiveexpo.com

    Source: www.asiadivesite.com
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    Leading dive companies target China market

    Australia: Father not taking "revenge" on Great White Shark after attack on son

    A young marine biologist killed by a shark off Australia's southern coast loved the sea and would not want vengeance taken on the shark, his father said on Thursday.

    David Stehbens said his son Jarrod, 23, had died doing what he loved.

    "Jarrod was doing exactly what he wanted to do when it happened, he loved the sea," Stehbens told the national AAP news agency.

    Stehbens was taken by a large shark, which experts say was probably a Great White, while diving in a research project for cuttlefish eggs off Glenelg Beach in Adelaide on Wednesday.

    He and another diver were in the water when two colleagues from the University of Adelaide aboard their boat saw the shark approach.

    They managed to haul one of the divers aboard but the shark used its snout to push Stehbens back into the water before his friends could grab him, reports said. His body has not been found.

    "Our understanding is that the divers did actually see a shark take their colleague," said South Australian police spokesperson Jim Jeffrey.

    "Obviously they're very traumatised and horrified by what they did see and they're seeking some counselling and support."

    Stehbens was an honours graduate in marine biology at the university and had planned to leave for Germany in two weeks to complete a PhD.

    "He was a marine biologist, he wouldn't want anything killed - as much as it is a bad thing that happened, I don't think Jarrod would like that," his father said, referring to suggestions that the shark should be hunted and killed.

    The family, including brother Trent, 21, and daughter Jasmin, 15, were still struggling to comprehend the tragedy, he said.

    The attack happened about 3km from the spot where a shark took an 18-year-old surfer eight months ago.

    Fishermen who were in the area at the time of Wednesday's attack said they were not surprised that a diver had been taken as there were always a lot of sharks in the area.

    "It is crazy, they are shark bait," fisherman Keith Klemasz said, pointing out that several fishing boats were out that day and had been spreading ground bait in the water to attract fish.

    "It's very unfortunate ... but I don't think it's a good idea to dive when you have got a lot of boats out.

    "It's a feeding pattern, if we are all putting berley (ground bait) in the water, that will attract them".

    Shark expert Andrew Fox said it was likely the shark was a Great White - the species blamed for the fatal attack on the surfer - but he doubted it was the same shark.

    "There's always speculation after any shark attack around the world of a rogue shark, or a shark gone bad, a shark that likes the taste of humans," he said.

    "But there's actually, in the international shark record, there's never been any evidence that this has ever occurred."

    Source: www.news24.com
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    Australia: Father not taking "revenge" on Great White Shark after attack on son

    Australia: Swimmers fear sea's silent killer

    LOCALS and visitors to Adelaide's beaches yesterday said they would not be swimming in the Gulf in the near future, if at all.

    But divers have vowed to return to the "peaceful" tyre reef where Wednesday's tragedy occurred. They say sharks are rarely seen in the area.

    The shark attack has confirmed many swimmers' fears about venturing into the waters off Adelaide.

    But police are not urging swimmers to take any extra precautions.

    Francis Donati, of West Beach, usually swims in water up to her neck every morning in summer, but from now on will only get her feet wet.

    "I will be very wary and a bit frightened," she said. "I think anyone who would go swimming now (after two fatal shark attacks in eight months) is a bit crazy."

    English tourist Belinda Leppington, 36, and her children, Jessica, 15, Tom, 13, and Lucy, 10, had planned to take advantage of Adelaide's "warm" winter and swim off West Beach during their two-week stay, but now they will stay on the sand. The family plans to emigrate and said they would be too scared to swim off Adelaide beaches.

    "We knew about sharks when we came over, but we didn't know they'd be so close (to the beach)," Mrs Leppington said.

    But Luke Bellman, a diver and committee member at the Glenelg Scuba Diving Club, said it was "very rare" to see sharks at the artificial reef, about 18m below the surface.

    "I've dived there about six times before and have never seen a shark, let alone a white pointer," he said.

    Meanwhile, the state's scuba diving fraternity is concerned about the effect Wednesday's attack will have on the industry. Dive Industry Association spokesman David Oliver said the risk should be kept in perspective. "Only three scuba divers have ever been (fatally) attacked by sharks," he said.

    Source: www.theadvertiser.news.com.au
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    Australia: Swimmers fear sea's silent killer

    Killer whales await prey with baited breath

    Killer whales which set traps to catch seagulls have become the third known animal species to possess "cultural learning" - a skill that is transmitted to other members of their group.

    The gull-trapping trick was initiated by a four-year-old orca in a tank at Marineland at Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, according to a report in next Saturday's issue of New Scientist.

    The mammal discovered he could lure seagulls into his tank by spitting regurgitated fish on to the water's surface.

    He lurked below the surface, waiting for a gull to grab the fish, and then seized the bird in his open jaws.

    After a few months of feathered snacks, the killer whale started to be joined by his younger half-brother, and soon after that by their mothers, a six-month-old calf and an older male.

    The clever whales can each catch three or four gulls on some days.

    In June, researchers showed that wild dolphins off Australia taught each other to use sponges to protect their snouts while they were grubbing for food on the sea floor.

    And earlier this month, US scientists reported on two groups of chimpanzees whose members adopted different methods of using a stick to coax food out of a feeder.

    The latest discovery was made by animal behaviourist Michael Noonan of Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, who presented his findings at a conference earlier this month, the British weekly says.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    Killer whales await prey with baited breath

    South Africa: Seafarers warned of freak waves

    A vicious storm is blowing up at sea to the south of the country and the maritime industry has been warned to take precautions.

    Huge swells with a long period between them, dangerous especially to large ships, gale-force south-westerlies and possible wave anomalies in the Agulhas Current may combine to make life tough for sailors tomorrow and Saturday, warns weather expert Jean-Pierre Arabonis.

    The storm's intensity will probably not be felt strongly on land because the storm will pass by to the south, but heavy rains could be expected overnight tomorrow to Saturday, and temperatures could again plummet, said Professor Bruce Hewitson of the University of Cape Town's Climatology Research Group.

    Arabonis, who runs a satellite weather tracking system used to warn ships of weather dangers, said the storm would be severe at sea.

    "We have got a hell of a deep low-pressure system to the south-west of the country and it should intensify with a strong high-pressure system behind it," he said.

    "If I was on a bulk carrier sailing out of Saldanha Bay or down the coast from Durban and I had an option to fly off now, I would fly off."

    Arabonis said the combination of weather moving up the south and east coast and the current moving down could bring about the anomalous wave conditions often described as "freak" waves that had severely damaged or sunk vessels along that coast over many years.

    "(Computer) models of this weather pattern shows that it will not fizzle out, like similar systems did last year," he said.

    "By what it looks like now, I'd say we can expect swells of 10 metres off Cape Point. The conditions have created wave periods of up to 16 seconds, which means the distance from wave to wave is about 350 metres.

    "It is this kind of weather that sank the Apollo Sea in 1994 and damaged the Treasure in 2000 sufficiently that she later sank in Table Bay," said Arabonis.

    Source: www.capeargus.co.za
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    South Africa: Seafarers warned of freak waves

    Iceland: Minke whale hunt over

    The last minke whale, in a 2005 quota of 39 whales, was caught on Wednesday. Gunnar Bergmann, spokesperson for the Whale Hunters Association says that the hunting went well this summer. They plan to hunt 100 whales next summer.

    Gunnar says in an interview with the Icelandic Broadcasting Service, RÚV, that the last whale was one of the largest whales caught this summer. He says that the whale meat went on the Icelandic market and sold much better than expected. "The market for whale meat is big", said Gunnar, "and next year more whales should be hunted."

    Morgunbladid reports that in total 100 whales have been caught for scientific purposes since 2003. According to the Marine Research Institute the sampling of whales is therefor at a halfway mark, the original plans assumed hunting of 200 whales.

    According to the Marine Research Institute, collecting samples and other data gathering have been successful, even though bad weather conditions delayed the hunts. The Institute says that the distribution of whales close to Iceland seems to be quite different from the distribution of whales during the 1986-2000 period. This year there were few whales in areas where they are usually prominent. Bird life in those areas has also decreased.

    Morgunbladid reports the Institute saying that the main goal of the research is to gather basic data concerning the diet of the whale. Other research includes researching the genetics, health, mating, energy management and the physiology of the whales.

    It is expected that preliminary results from this research will be presented for the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission in 2006.

    Source: www.icelandreview.com
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    Iceland: Minke whale hunt over

    25 August 2005

    CMAS announces plans for latest federation - CMAS AMERICAS

    The Confereration Mondiale des Activities Subaquatiques (CMAS), also known as the World Underwater Federation, is pleased to announce the formation of its newest Federation -- CMAS AMERICAS.

    After forty-seven years of being only offered through other training agencies CMAS courses will now be offered in the United States directly through CMAS AMERICAS. CMAS AMERICAS will be servicing North America and the Caribbean.

    CMAS was formed in 1958 under the direction of the late Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau and was the first truly international diver association. It has grown through the years and now has representation in over one hundred countries. CMAS is recognized worldwide as being one of the highest quality diver training programs in existence.

    After years of being offered as an add-on to other training agency courses CMAS has realized the need to have independent representation in the US and Caribbean. CMAS AMERICAS' goals are to provide high quality dive training programs, increase the presence of CMAS in the region and provide a closer link to the World Underwater Federation.

    For more information on how you can become part of this world-class diving association visit our website at www.cmasamericas.com or call Frank Toal at 727-510-2343 and don't forget to visit us at DEMA Booth # 3547.

    Source: www.deeperblue.net
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    CMAS announces plans for latest federation - CMAS AMERICAS

    Suunto D9 wrist-mounted watches - a new era for scuba diving

    Whether you're a guppy or a seasoned diver, you're sure to appreciate the certainty and confidence that comes from boosting your sub-aquatic information. With a dive computer that gives you an accurate readout of your directional heading and vital air supply data, you can finally get the edge that you need.

    In the past, divers had to monitor several gauges while on a dive. There were many distractions due to the fumbling about a diver could experience trying to access scuba diving equipment that wasn't always at the ready. But with the release of the Suunto D9, the past is well, just that...

    The Suunto D9 is the first diving monitor of its kind, incorporating functions previously handled by several separate pieces of scuba gear. It is one of the only dive computer watches on the market to feature full digital compass functionality in addition to providing an accurate and detailed readout of your depth, time, and decompression status.

    By using the Suunto D9's optional wireless transmitter (which attaches easily to your tank) you can also monitor tank pressure and air consumption data from the wrist. The remaining tank pressure is displayed both numerically and graphically, and an estimation of the remaining air-time is given throughout the dive. This allows you to monitor the remaining air supply at the same time as you monitor depth and time. Real time air consumption is also stored in the memory.

    The Suunto D9 can be used with up to three different gas mixes containing 21-100% oxygen, allowing gas switching during the dive. Decompression calculations are based on the Suunto Deep Stop RGBM model, which provides iterative deep stops as an alternative to traditional safety stops. For those intending to go really deep, the maximum depth display is set at 660ft.

    In addition to basic dive data, the built-in dive logbook provides a graphical dive profile with which real time water temperature and tank pressure data can be analyzed on the wrist-top computer. The sampling rate can be set to as low as 1s. The attractively designed Suunto D9 has a tough titanium housing, and includes an USB-compatible PC interface. This works with the Suunto Dive Manager 2.0 software, allowing you to graphically review, store, and analyze your dive data.

    The Suunto D9 may make an excellent addition to your scuba diving gear. SuuntoWatches offers free shipping and a no-nonsense 30-day return policy – plus, they carry every other watch in the Suunto line. To learn more, visit: Suunto Watches

    Source: www.divenews.com
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    Suunto D9 wrist-mounted watches - a new era for scuba diving

    Australia: Scuba diver killed by Great White shark

    A BRILLIANT young marine biologist has been attacked and killed by a shark while scuba diving off Adelaide's Glenelg beach as university colleagues watched from their boat.

    The shark attacked Jarrod Stehbens, aged in his 20s, as he was diving in 18m of water with another researcher collecting cuttlefish eggs about 5km off the city's main beach.

    The attack was the second in eight months off Adelaide metropolitan beaches, taking place just 6km from November's fatal attack on 18-year-old Nick Petersen by two great white sharks. Five people have now been killed by sharks in South Australian waters since 2000.

    The attack on Mr Stehbens, at a popular diving location known as the Glenelg tyre reef, occurred at about 4pm after a day of heavy fishing in calm waters.

    Two researchers spotted the shark from their 4m metal runabout and managed to haul one of their diving colleagues from the water. But they could only look on as the shark attacked Mr Stehbens, repeatedly pushing him under the water with its snout whenever he surfaced.

    "Two people in the boat did witness the attack (and) one of the divers was pulled back on to the boat as the other one was taken," Acting Superintendent Jim Jeffery said. "The indications are that it will be very doubtful we will find the person alive."

    Superintendent Jeffery said police were unsure what type of shark was involved in the attack, saying the traumatised witnesses had only described it as "large". Shark experts, however, said it was most likely a great white.

    One onlooker yesterday reported the sighting of a 4m great white 20km off the city's beaches about two weeks ago.

    Police in diving gear joined about 20 boats setting out from the West Beach boat ramp for the search as friends of the victim gathered outside the adjacent sea rescue squadron headquarters. A scuba tank and a damaged buoyancy vest was later recovered, but a search involving two helicopters failed to find any trace of Mr Stehbens. The search will resume this morning.

    A leading postgraduate student from Adelaide University with diving and boating skills, Mr Stehbens had travelled to Germany as an undergraduate to study polar marine animals in the North Sea.

    Professor Bob Hill of the school of earth and environmental sciences paid tribute to his team, who "made every effort" to prevent the attack. He said the researchers were aware of the dangers.

    "We have absolute confidence in the safety standards and the way they conducted themselves out there."

    Keith Klemasz, who was fishing near the tyre reef yesterday, said there was "plenty of bait out in the water".

    "I have been out there at one and two o'clock in the morning, and seen the lights (of divers) below," he said. "It's crazy - they are just sharkbait."

    Mr Stehbens' family, who live in the southern South Australian town of Beachport, declined to comment last night.

    The commodore of the South Australian sea rescue squadron, Fraser Bell, said yesterday's calm sea conditions were reminiscent of the day Petersen was taken last year.

    Following the deadly attack on Petersen a number of further shark sightings made the city beaches off-limits to many people. Petersen's three friends said two sharks measuring 6m and 4.5m had killed their friend and they urged the police to find and destroy the animals.

    Source: www.theaustralian.news.com.au
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    Australia: Scuba diver killed by Great White shark

    Cousteau, Ocean Futures' begin odyssey to marine sanctuaries

    Nearly 250 feet below the waves, oceanauts with Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society have begun exploring and filming the wreck of the Civil War warship U.S.S. Monitor off this North Carolina coast in the first chapter of their saga of America's national marine sanctuaries as part of a new PBS series to debut in 2006...

    The Monitor rests at the bottom of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, one of the 13 marine sanctuaries throughout the mainland of the United States, Hawaii and American Samoa. Cousteau and his Ocean Futures team are filming these federally-designated places, many of them rarely visited and unknown to Americans and the world, as part of a two-hour special, "America's Underwater Treasures."

    The feature will be one of several exciting and insightful documentaries in "Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures," a six-part HDTV series co-produced by PBS affiliate KQED-TV in San Francisco. "America's marine sanctuaries are great national treasures equal to this country’s magnificent national parks system that people know so well," Cousteau said.

    "The difference is that few people can even name the marine sanctuaries, let alone know anything about them. Many people believe marine sanctuaries are places you can't go or can't fish, and neither is true. Our goal is to make these special places real for viewers everywhere."

    Over the next six months, Cousteau and the Ocean Futures team will explore the remaining national marine sanctuaries, including: Stellwagen Bank (Massachusetts); Florida Keys (Florida); Flower Garden Banks (Texas/Louisiana); Gray’s Reef (Georgia); Thunder Bay (Michigan); Olympic Coast (Washington); Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands (California); Hawaii Humpback (Hawaii); and Fagatele Bay (American Samoa). At each sanctuary, the oceanauts will feature the work of individuals committed to research, resource management, education and protection of these incredible habitats.

    "In the course of our discovery, we will do deep dives in underwater canyons, survey ocean-floor volcanoes, explore a coral-rich ecosystem around an oil rig, examine mangrove lagoons, and study the ragged remains of shipwrecks," Cousteau said. "This will not only be visually stunning, but a real sensory experience that will take the explorer in everyone on an adventure."

    Consistent with his family's legacy of exploration and conservation, "Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures" series will share with television viewers the largely inaccessible, dangerous and spectacular locales around the globe, and the myriad of species found there. It will also highlight challenges for humans as we better understand our "water planet" and many of the threats the ocean faces.

    The remaining four hours of the series, which have already been filmed and is in post-production, are: "Voyage to Kure" (two hours), a quest along the remote, 1,200-mile Northwestern Hawaiian Island archipelago that discovers diverse wildlife populations above and below the sea as well as species' fight against the devastating effects of pollution, mining and fishing; "The Gray Whale Obstacle Course," following the ancient migration of gray whales from Baja California to the Artic Circle and the dangers these animals face; and "Sharks At Risk," a new look at this much-feared symbol from gray sharks to great whites and humans' tragic impact on the species.

    Source: www.divenews.com
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    Cousteau, Ocean Futures' begin odyssey to marine sanctuaries

    US: Scuba diving under oil rig reveals scallops, sardines, anemones

    As our chartered boat approached Eureka, an 80-foot-high oil rig about 15 miles off the Southern California coast, I zipped up my wet suit, adjusted my hood and gloves and slipped on my mask to prepare for the most unusual dive of my life.

    I've scuba dived in Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and not far from the Brooklyn Bridge, but this was the first time I was plunging underneath an offshore rig, one of those gigantic platforms that house drilling equipment to extract oil and natural gas from underwater reservoirs hundreds of feet below.

    On the surface, the rusty rigs look like an eyesore. Under water, their thick metal supporting beams act as a magnet for a vast array of marine plants and animals, creating a kind of man-made coral reef.

    The sky was overcast as my husband Matt and I took the plunge earlier this month under Eureka along with 12 other experienced scuba divers accustomed to the chilly waters off the California coast.

    Before we jumped, we spotted sea lions playing on the platform and dolphins gliding nearby. The idyllic scene can be misleading. Diving near rigs is often dangerous because strong currents can sweep divers into the open ocean, out of sight from most boats and into waters where sharks and other predators lurk.

    Sea Lions, Scallops
    The first problem I encountered had nothing to do with fearsome fish. After diving in, I forgot to immediately inflate my buoyancy compensator, the vest that a diver can inflate or deflate to control the speed of ascent and descent. I quickly corrected the situation while focusing on the 20 metal beams disappearing into the darkness below me. Peeking through the wide gaps between the beams, I saw hundreds of mackerels shoot up from the abyss like bubbles in a champagne bottle.

    As we continued our slow descent to about 60 feet, we were greeted by giant schools of sardines so vast and dense that at times they blocked out the sunlight from above. They darted back and forth, shimmering silver in the blue waters while being chased by hungry sea lions.

    Bass and bright orange garibaldi, California's state fish, huddled around the metal structure, which was completely covered by scallops, brittle stars, sponges and red anemones. Diving through sections of the metal maze, we tried to avoid being pushed against the beams as the swirling currents moved us around like rubber ducks in a bathtub. At times, I experienced a sense of vertigo that made me feel as if I were falling through air, rather than floating in water.

    Pirouettes, Bubbles
    While we were underneath it, the rig was pumping oil from 600 feet below the surface, yet we couldn't hear or see any evidence of the operation. All divers must sign a safety waiver, promising not to touch the structure or harvest any of the creatures that live on the beams.

    As we headed back to the boat, we stopped about 15 feet from the surface and paused for five minutes to let our bodies adjust to the pressure change before getting out of the water.

    Sea lions performed pirouettes around us and bubbles rose from below, produced by fellow divers exploring depths of more than 200 feet, an advanced technique that requires additional training and more sophisticated equipment. As we floated to the surface, mild sunlight reached into the ocean like fingers.

    Source: www.bloomberg.com
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    US: Scuba diving under oil rig reveals scallops, sardines, anemones

    Scientists use new methods to track and protect threatened species

    There are fish in the sea, but many species are over-exploited, aren't evenly distributed and some, like the clownfish of "Finding Nemo" fame, are in high demand for tropical aquariums.

    Understanding how marine populations grow and spread is essential to protect threatened species, yet tracking fish movements has posed an enormous challenge to science. An international team of researchers may have helped solve the mystery -- using the human antibiotic tetracycline...

    In a recent study published in Current Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist Simon Thorrold and colleagues from Australia and France followed larvae of the panda clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus) in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, to determine how far from home they wandered before settling down for good.

    Easily recognizable with bright, broadly striped bodies, clownfish live on coral reefs in peculiar harmony with sea anemones, finding protection among the anemone's usually poisonous tentacles. Clownfish are limited, therefore, to habitats that also support anemones, making them good candidates for dispersal studies.

    Many marine organisms spend a portion of their lifecycle as pelagic or free-floating larvae. During this phase, larvae have an opportunity to migrate beyond the immediate neighborhood of their birth sites, populating new areas or joining other established communities. Were the younger members of a community born there? Were they the offspring of local adults, or did they move in from a different neighborhood? And if so, from where?

    To find the answers, the researchers marked all larvae in the embryonic stage originating at a given birth site with the antibiotic tetracycline to determine whether a juvenile settling at that site had been born there. Tetracycline is known to darken the teeth of human babies when taken by mothers at certain stages of pregnancy. In the same way, it marked the otoliths or ear bones of the developing fish, labeling them as originating in the study area.

    As a further indicator of the origins of new residents, the researchers used genotyping to establish the parentage of recently settled juveniles. By comparing newcomers' DNA to that of adults previously established in the community, they were able to determine if the new members had settled close to home or had drifted in from elsewhere.

    Thorrold and colleagues Geoffrey Jones of James Cook University in Australia and Serge Planes of the Universite de Perpignan in France say that measuring larval dispersal is the greatest challenge facing marine ecologists and managers. Understanding how discrete populations are connected to each other is important to making complicated decisions about the size and location of areas to be set aside as marine preserves.

    "Ideally, preserves would do more than protect organisms living within their boundaries," Thorrold said. "Properly sited, preserves could serve as seed areas for nearby open fishing grounds, helping to maintain a sustainable harvest. "

    Among the team's findings: clownfish tend to be homebodies. Although none of the offspring studied settled into the same anemone as their parents, one third and possibly more of the successfully settled juveniles had established homes within 100 meters (about 330 feet) of their birth sites.

    The origins of the other two-thirds have not been determined. Since the nearest anemone habitat outside the study area is more than 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) away, it seems likely that newcomers to the neighborhood traveled a considerable distance to get there.

    This study provides new information about one particular species under pressure, but the methods used by Thorrold and his colleagues may be adapted to shed similar light on the habits of other species. About 80% of marine fish species in U.S. waters are either fully or partially overexploited.

    Source: www.divenews.com
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    Scientists use new methods to track and protect threatened species

    UK: Dolphins and seals spotted in the Thames

    Dolphins, seals and porpoises are among the more unexpected visitors to London's River Thames and its estuary, a survey revealed on Wednesday.

    A family of harbour porpoises have been spotted feasting on fish off Vauxhall Bridge in the centre of the British capital, according to the survey by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

    Common seals were regular visitors to the waters around Canary Wharf, to the east, and the Thames Barrier, and they have also been seen near Tower Bridge, it said.

    Even dolphins have been reported enjoying the waters near Southend in Essex, just inside the mouth of the river.

    Riverside pub-goers, commuters and Thames users were among those who contributed to the study.

    Renata Kowalik, ZSL's conservation biologist and co-author of the report, said: "We have been really pleased with the response from the public, and the survey was a great success.

    "The results confirm that marine mammals are frequent visitors to the Thames and have helped us to fill a gap in the current knowledge about the wildlife in the Thames."

    The Thames Marine Mammal Survey, launched in July 2004, received 103 sightings by the public of a total of 197.

    It found that seals were the most frequent marine mammals spotted, with 46 common seals, 30 grey and 41 unidentified seal species sighted.

    Some 62 harbour porpoises were seen, and were found to venture further up the estuary. ZSL said they apparently remained in and around the estuary all year.

    The 18 dolphins spotted were reported around the mouth of the estuary only during the warmer months of spring and summer, suggesting, the report said, that they are seasonal visitors.

    The organisation hopes even more people will become involved this year and report sightings. The information will be used to support conservation plans for animals that use the river.

    Source: www.iol.co.za
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    UK: Dolphins and seals spotted in the Thames

    US: Red tide kills turtles in record numbers

    It's been a bad year for sea life, and particularly endangered species, along the Southwest Florida coast.

    A loggerhead turtle, suffering from side effects related to red tide, rests at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.Red tide is killing sea turtles in record numbers. This month alone, 46 stranded sea turtles have been discovered in Sarasota waters. Six dead dolphins have also washed up in that time. Earlier this year nearly four dozen Manatees died.

    Mote Marine Laboratory has already logged more sick or dead turtles than it did during all of last year, bringing in 113 so far, up from 83 in 2004.

    Earlier this month, researchers found low oxygen levels, poor visibility and dead and dying sea creatures in the dead zone off the coast of Port Richey south to Sarasota.

    Scientists can't pin down exactly where the turtles are dying and won't link them to the 2,200 square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

    "Nothing definite, other than all of the turtle deaths are occurring in the same general area as the dead zone," said Mote's chief veterinarian Charles Manire.

    A record number of dead turtles have been found in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Manire said there has been an increase in dolphin deaths, too, but at less startling rates.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute is reporting a dramatic increase in turtle deaths between June 26 and August 15. This year 106 turtle strandings have been reported. The 10-year average for that same period is 17.

    Red tide poisoning affects turtles' brains. Symptoms include muscle twitching and an inability to control their neck functions, Manire said. It takes four to five days for them to recover from "rubber neck," he said. Scientists don't know how long it takes for red tide to make animals sick.

    If an affected turtle is brought to Mote and survives red tide poisoning, Manire said, it takes between one and two weeks to get the toxin out of its system. Mote is currently treating two loggerhead and two Kemp's Ridley -- the most endangered turtle species -- at its hospital.

    Even though scientists aren't sure how the turtles are poisoned, Manire believes they get sick from breathing the toxin and eating infected crabs, shrimp and small fish. When turtles surface they inhale the toxin that hovers just above the surface.

    Red tide, a single cell organism in the algal bloom, Karenia brevis, has been present in waters off the coast of Southwest Florida from Pinellas County to Charlotte Harbor in varying strengths all year.

    The organism exists in the Gulf in small quantities all the time. But, when the alga blooms, the neurotoxin it produces known as Brevetoxin increases. The toxin kills fish and other sea life, including manatees and stingrays.

    Manatee deaths -- there were 47 here earlier this year -- usually occur with winter blooms, said Cindy Heil, senior research scientist and leader of the Red Tide group for the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

    Researchers believe the deaths occur as manatees migrate from warm water habitats into colder waters and feed on sea grasses, which are coated with toxin residues. The manatees' immune systems are compromised from poor feeding and stress from the cold. The animals die after eating affected grasses and inhaling the toxin.

    Scientists at Mote have begun a study on the effects of red tide on turtles. The Sea Turtle license plate provided $20,000 for the research.

    This bloom is not the longest on record affecting Sarasota. There have been two larger, longer-lasting blooms, one in 1985 and another in 1995.

    Source: www.heraldtribune.com
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    US: Red tide kills turtles in record numbers

    African Fish Industry 'In Crisis'

    Africa's fisheries industry is facing a crisis, experts have claimed, with over-fishing and a lack of investment threatening its long-term future.

    The warning came ahead of a four day conference in Nigeria to discuss ways to stimulate small-scale fish farming and to improve aquaculture.

    Fishing is vital to Africa, supporting annual exports worth about $3bn.

    Fish is also crucial to the health of 200 million Africans, providing a source of inexpensive protein.

    Sustainable solutions
    The Fish For All summit, beginning on Monday in the Nigerian capital Abuja, will seek sustainable ways of reviving Africa's dwindling fish stocks while protecting employment in the industry.

    Ahead of the meeting, research organisation WorldFish Center warned that stocks were so depleted that a 20% increase in fish farming would be needed to maintain consumption at its current level.

    It said that large-scale commercial farming had exploited food stocks as well as endangering the environment.

    Replenishing the continent's fish stocks is crucial to safeguarding Africa's food security, development agencies will argue this week.

    "We need to appreciate that our fish have a critical role to play in Africa's development," Professor Richard Mkandawire, senior agricultural advisor for the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) told the BBC's Network Africa Programme.

    "Focused action at a national, regional and international level is needed to foster this."

    Focused investment
    Fish catches have fallen sharply across the continent in recent years, resulting in a significant decline in consumption.

    Scientific bodies believe small-scale fish farming is the answer to building up fish stocks, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

    At the summit, it will call for targeted investment of $30m in small-scale projects in an effort to increase stocks by 10%.

    "We are talking about ponds on people's farms, not enormous fish farms of the kind you see in Scotland and elsewhere," Patrick Dugan, the Center's deputy director-general, told the Financial Times.

    Increased investment would improve the preservation and packaging of fish and speed up its route to market, especially in coastal areas.

    Fisheries are a major source of employment in Africa, with up to 10 million people working in the industry.

    Fish also has a key role to play in sustaining public health, Professor Mkandawire added, supplying a vital source of protein for HIV sufferers.

    In that regard, it was vital that governments across Africa worked together to improve management of stocks.

    "National governments as well as the private sector have enough resources to stimulate the growth of aquaculture," Mr added.

    Source: www.flmnh.ufl.edu
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    African Fish Industry 'In Crisis'

    24 August 2005

    Diver lucky to be alive after vessel steams through shotline

    Dive boat Taurus tried to block tug's path towards diversA diver is injured but miraculously alive after being bundled down the hull of a fast-moving tug which ran through a wreck-diving shotline off Kent.

    The diver, a 37-year-old woman from Ashford, was diving with seven other divers from the Dover-based charter boat Taurus. Her husband was in the group but was not buddied with her.

    The casualty suffered three broken ribs and a bruised lung after her collision with the tug, which did not stop. She was retrieved by Taurus, which was met by a lifeboat. Paramedics transferred to the dive boat, and the diver was put in splints and given intravenous drips en route to shore and hospital.

    The incident occurred in the inshore traffic zone, five miles south of Folkestone. Dover Coastguard has told Divernet that the area is frequented by divers, and that the group's position should not have represented a hazard.

    Taurus had put a shotline on to the 30m-deep Saint Cecelia and the charterers, from local SAA club Channel Divers, had descended to the wreck.

    Flying an A-flag and standing by the shot with the divers still submerged, Taurus skipper Andy Nye noted a tug approaching at speed and on a course that would pass over the diving area. When it did not change direction, Nye temporarily moved off station and motored straight at the vessel in an attempt to make it change course.

    "Despite my action it did not budge," Nye told Divernet. "Eventually I went to starboard to pass, as required by law, but the tug went straight through. I could see someone in the wheelhouse who seemed just to stare at me."

    Nye turned to chase the tug back towards the diving area. "I couldn't keep up and I estimate the tug must have been doing anything up to 15 knots," he said. To his horror, the tug piled right over the shotline buoy.

    The casualty was one of the first divers to ascend and was on the shotline at a depth of about 12m when the tug came through. Her buddy was on the shotline a little below her. The two were seen from above by Taurus's diving deckhand, who was waiting on the shotline at about 5m but, for some reason, was pushed out of harm's way when the tug arrived.

    The casualty was jerked upward as the shotline was hit, and rose sufficiently to be hit by the passing hull. She bumped along its length and was incredibly lucky to miss its props before being spewed out in its wake.

    "I saw her bob to the surface not more than 5m or so behind the tug," said Nye. "Later she told us she remembered hitting the hull and being bumped along - and that she actually thought to grab her BC inflator to be sure that she'd get to the surface once the vessel had passed. Now that's what I call presence of mind."

    The deckhand came aboard and the casualty was recovered. "She was screaming and complaining of pains in her chest and stomach," said Nye. "One shoulder appeared dislocated but, if it was, it went back in as she came aboard. Her mask was gone and her face was covered in blood from a gash above an eye."

    An emergency call was put out and two thunderflashes were deployed to bring the other divers aboard. The casualty's husband was seventh up and joined his wife, as Taurus made way toward the lifeboat rendezvous at a pace that kept the casualty as comfortable as possible.

    Her discarded equipment displayed all too clearly the evidence of her violent ride. "The cylinder pillar valve was bent over 10 to 15 degrees and had lost its knob," said Nye. "As we pulled her aboard it was hissing away and we were mindful of a possible failure.

    "The gear was laid in a position so that if the valve blew out it would go straight upward." The cylinder gradually emptied of air without incident.

    Nye noted the name and home port of the tug, which is registered in Holland. An investigation is under way by Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

    Source: www.divernet.com
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    Diver lucky to be alive after vessel steams through shotline

    Another diver goes missing off Dorset

    A young diver went missing off the Dorset coast on 22 August after a dive on the 32m-deep Kyarra wreck. It is the second disappearance this month to have occurred at the site, a mile off Anvil Point.

    The 22-year-old male diver was on an early-morning dive with a group aboard the charter boat Killer Prawn. According to the Coastguard, he was seen to surface before sinking.

    After surfacing the diver is reported to have held on to his surface marker buoy, with his mask removed. Eye contact is reported to have been made and no indication given that the diver was in difficulty.

    But, when he attempted to move from the buoy to a rope trailed by the dive boat to pull him in, the diver sank from view. An immediate diving rescue attempt was not possible as the diver had been the first to surface. The boat skipper put out an emergency call and stood by to retrieve the other divers.

    Searches were carried out all day. The Coastguard's Solent and Portland helicopters were backed by numerous vessels including the dive boats Killer Prawn and Swanage Diver, a police boat, and RNLI inshore and offshore lifeboats from Swanage, Poole, Mudeford and Weymouth.

    Searches were called off the following morning. Mark Rodaway, Coastguard Area Operations Manager for Southern England, said: "Portland Coastguard have co-ordinated a thorough search of the predicted drift areas using a large number of dedicated SAR assets and we are confident that had the diver been on the surface, there is a good chance that he would have been detected."

    Underwater searches will now be made and, since the Kyarra is a regularly visited wreck, divers will be asked to look out for signs of the missing man. Rodaway added that police divers from Sussex Diving Support Team are considering using sidescan sonar as a search tool.

    On 4 August a female diver, aged 48, went missing while ascending from the Kyarra. Sea searches failed to locate her, as did underwater searches by staff from Divers Down, operator of Killer Prawn which was again the dive boat involved. Sadly, Divers Down staff now face searching the seabed for a missing diver for the second time in a month.

    The company has received full backing from the Coastguard, which has stated that the crew of Killer Prawn followed correct procedures in handling both emergencies. The boat was judged to meet all Coastguard requirements.

    Source: www.divernet.com
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    Another diver goes missing off Dorset

    Are sharks in danger of extinction?

    Scientists fear that overfishing and habitat destruction is wiping out ocean species...

    The bulldozers moved slowly at first. Picking up speed, they pressed forward into a patch of dense mangrove trees that buckled and splintered like twigs. As the machines moved on, the pieces drifted out to sea.

    Sitting in a small motorboat a few hundred yards offshore on a mid-July afternoon, Samuel H. Gruber — a University of Miami professor who has devoted more than two decades to studying the lemon sharks that breed here — plunged into despondency. The mangroves being ripped up to build a new resort provide food and protection that the sharks can't get in the open ocean, and Gruber fears the worst.

    "At the end of my career I get to document the destruction of the species I've been documenting for 20 years," he lamented as he watched the bulldozers do their work. "Wonderful."

    Gruber's sentiments have become increasingly common in recent years among a growing number of marine biologists, who find themselves studying species in danger of disappearing. For years, many scientists and regulators believed the oceans were so vast there was little risk of marine species dying out. Now, some suspect the world is on the cusp of what Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, calls "a gathering wave of ocean extinctions."

    Dozens of biologists believe the seas have reached a tipping point, with scores of species of ocean-dwelling fish, birds and mammals edging towards extinction. In the past 300 years, researchers have documented the global extinction of just 21 marine species — and 16 of those extinctions occurred since 1972. Since the 1700s, another 112 species have died out in particular regions, and that trend, too, has accelerated since the mid-1960s: Nearly two dozen shark species are on the brink of disappearing, according to the World Conservation Union, an international coalition of government and advocacy groups.

    "It's been a slow-motion disaster," said Boris Worm, a professor at Canada's Dalhousie University who wrote a 2003 study that found that 90 percent of the top predator fish have vanished from the oceans. "It's silent and invisible. People don't imagine this. It hasn't captured our imagination, like the rain forest."

    'They're not very fuzzy'
    Compared with the many activists who have focused on the plight of creatures such as the ivory-billed woodpecker and the grizzly bear, relatively few have taken up the cause of marine species. Ocean dwellers are harder to track, some produce so many offspring they can seem invulnerable, and, in the words of Ocean Conservancy shark fisheries expert Sonja Fordham, often "they're not very fuzzy."

    Although a number of previous extinctions involved birds and marine mammals, it is the fate of many fish that now worries experts. The large-scale industrialization of the fishing industry after World War II, coupled with a global boom in ocean-front development and a rise in global temperatures, is causing fish populations to plummet.

    "Extinctions happen in the ocean; the fossil record shows that marine species have disappeared since life began in the sea," said Elliott Norse, who heads the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Redmond, Wash. "The question is, are humans a major new force causing marine extinctions? The evidence, and projections scientists are making, suggest that the answer is yes."

    Large-scale fishing accounts for more than half of the documented fish extinctions in recent years, Nicholas K. Dulvy, a scientist while at the University of Newcastle's School of Marine Science and Technology in England, wrote in 2003. Destruction of habitats where fish spawn or feed is responsible for another third. Warmer ocean temperatures are another threat, as some fish struggle to adapt to hotter and saltier water that can attract new competitors.

    But nothing has pushed marine life closer to the edge of extinction more than aggressive fishing. Aided by technology — industrial trawlers and factory ships deploy radar and sonar to scour the seas with precision and drag nets the size of jumbo jets along the sea floor — ocean fish catches tripled between 1950 and 1992.

    In some cases fishermen have intentionally exploited species until they died out, such as the New Zealand grayling fish and the Caribbean monk seal; other species have been accidental victims of long lines or nets intended for other catches. Over the past two decades, accidental bycatch alone accounted for an 89 percent decline in hammerhead sharks in the Northeast Atlantic.

    Overfishing, habitat destruction
    Today, sharks, along with sturgeon and sciaenids (known as croakers or drums for the sounds they make undersea), are among the most imperiled of the species that spend most of their lives in the ocean. Populations of sharks, skates and rays — creatures known as elasmobranchs that evolved 400 million years ago and have skeletons of cartilage, not bone — have difficulty rebounding because they mature slowly and produce few offspring. Shark-fin soup, an Asian delicacy that sells for more than $100 a bowl, has spurred intensified shark hunting in recent years.

    Despite the sturgeon's fecundity, a combination of overfishing and habitat destruction have caused that population to dive as well. Beluga sturgeon, the source of black caviar, release between 360,000 and 7 million eggs in a single year, Pikitch noted, but they have declined 90 percent in the past 20 years. Just this month, scientists in Kazakhstan reported that they failed to find a single wild, reproducing beluga female, leaving them with no eggs for hatcheries.

    Croakers' large swim bladders, air-holding sacs that help them maintain buoyancy, account for their imminent demise. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes the bladders, and the sound they make when pressed against vibrating muscles can reveal croakers' location to fishermen through sonar.

    "They've been survivors on an evolutionary scale, but they've met their match, and it is us," said Pikitch, who writes about sharks and sturgeon in an upcoming book, "State of the Wild 2006."

    Despite scientists' warnings, American and international authorities have been slow to protect marine species. The first and only U.S. saltwater fish to make the protected list is a ray, the smalltooth sawfish, which was added in 2003.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service is charged with protecting 61 threatened or endangered marine species. Director Bill Hogarth said his agency focuses on protecting vulnerable populations so they won't have to be listed.

    "That's our job, to make sure species don't wind up on the endangered species list."

    But conservationists said NOAA officials are reluctant to classify fish as endangered because it conflicts with their agency's mission of promoting commercial fishing. Michael Hirshfield, chief scientist at the advocacy group Oceana, said he has repeatedly seen government officials provide shifting estimates of how many threatened or endangered sea turtles can acceptably die each year in eastern scallop fisheries. "You never get an answer to the question how many turtles would have to be killed before you would say, 'That's not okay,' " he said.

    On Bimini, just 50 miles from the Florida coast, Gruber is trying unsuccessfully to stave off the golf resort that could bring 5,000 tourists a day to an island that boasts just 1,600 residents but supports more than a dozen shark species.

    Based on an 11-year survey starting in the mid-90s, Gruber documented that between 2000 and 2001, during the heaviest dredging of the ocean floor for the resort's construction, the survival rate for lemon sharks fell 30 percent, and sharks in the dredging area had higher toxin levels. He has yet to assess the impact of the mangrove destruction, which began on a large scale this year.

    The president of the Bimini Bay Resort and Casino, Rafael Reyes, said he understands the concern but questions Gruber's statistics and the idea that "sharks and development don't mix."

    "We have a vested interest in making sure things remain as they are," Reyes said, adding that he is demolishing mangroves in a place that is "basically not a sensitive area. . . . I have to make sure the environment's pristine because my clients are fishermen."

    But Gruber remains unconvinced. "I believe when I started the ocean was so vast there was no way you could ever kill off the sharks or anything," he said. When it comes to being a fish, he said, "Now you can run, but you can't hide."

    Source: www.sharktrust.org
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    Are sharks in danger of extinction?