Sea Science

Understanding Great Hammerhead Migration

Friday, 10 March 2017 23:11

By Tanya Houppermans

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Although great hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna mokarran) appear powerful and robust, recent research has shown that they are in fact one of the most fragile shark species, being particularly vulnerable to the stress of capture. Even those that are released after being hooked have a nearly 50% chance of succumbing after their ordeal.1 To better protect these sharks, a greater understanding of their movements is needed. The results of a new study conducted by scientists at the Bimini Biological Field Station in Bimini, Bahamas have provided a major step forward by showing the migration patterns and regional connectivity of great hammerheads between the Bahamas and the United States.

Conservation

Save the Vaquita

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:10

Republished from National Marine Mammal Foundation

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Extinction of the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal, is imminent without the immediate elimination of illegal fishing and removal of deadly gillnets from the vaquitas’ environment. Despite the heroic efforts of the Mexican government to protect vaquitas, the animals are continuing to die at an alarming rate in illegal gillnets. Fewer than 30 vaquitas remain. Between 1997 and 2008, unsustainable deaths in gillnets caused vaquitas to decline from around 600 to 250. Since 2011, the resumption of illegal fishing for a large endangered fish (the totoaba) increased the decline to 34% a year, resulting in only 60 vaquitas remaining in December 2015. The swim bladders of totoaba fetch large sums of money in Hong Kong and Chinese black markets. In response to the alarming rate of decline, the Mexican government instituted a two-year gillnet ban throughout the vaquita’s range (2015-2017), increased enforcement with the Mexican Navy, and compensated fishers affected by the two-year gillnet ban ($72 million). Despite these substantial government actions, illegal fishing continues and will likely result in the extinction of vaquitas in the next few years.

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The Mexican government has determined that emergency action is needed to temporarily remove some of the remaining animals from their threatening environment and create a safe haven for them in the northern Gulf of California. An emergency conservation plan has been developed by an international team of experts, with field recovery operations set to begin in May 2017. Catching and caring for vaquitas may prove impossible, but unless we try, the species will likely vanish.

The emergency action plan has been adopted by Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT, Mexico) on the recommendation of their international recovery team, the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (CIRVA). The plan will be implemented in parallel with ongoing efforts to end illegal fishing and remove the threat of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California. Under SEMARNAT’s leadership, the Consortium for Vaquita Conservation, Protection, and Recovery (VaquitaCPR) was established to develop and implement the emergency plan, with participating organizations from Mexico, Europe, and the U.S.

The Government of Mexico has strongly supported vaquita conservation with over $100 million spent to date and plans to commit funds in 2017 for this critical step. Officials estimate the plan will cost more than $3 million in 2017 and will rely on a variety of funding sources, including donations from the public, private organizations, and non-profit groups. There is an urgent need for immediate funding to avoid delaying field efforts. A time delay could jeopardize any chance of rescuing the vaquita from extinction. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with offers of support.

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Given the dire situation, CIRVA recommended that immediate attempts be made to place some vaquitas into a temporary sanctuary. The eventual goal is to return these animals into a gillnet-free environment. Catching and housing vaquitas will be difficult, and may even prove impossible if the species is not suitable for such conservation actions. However, the species will likely vanish without an attempt at human intervention.

An emergency conservation action plan was developed by key marine mammal experts around the world to locate, catch, and house vaquitas in the Gulf of California, with the ultimate goal to return the animals to a gillnet-free environment. Each of these objectives has unique challenges and inherent risks, many of which represent procedures that to date have only been attempted with a limited number of porpoises of other species. To address these challenges and mitigate risk, the Consortium for Vaquita Conservation, Protection, and Recovery (VaquitaCPR) was assembled to implement a stepwise plan, comprising an international, interdisciplinary team with experts on all aspects of the proposed work. Further, an expert advisory group has been established to provide guidance and input at critical stages throughout the implementation of the plan. Details of the plan are based on the best available science on vaquitas and other porpoise species and take into consideration the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Guidelines on the Use of Ex situ Management for Species Conservation. If successful, the proposed path has the potential to protect some of the remaining vaquitas while the necessary removal of gillnets from the animal's home range is accomplished.

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WWF 

ONLY 30 VAQUITA PORPOISES ARE LEFT IN THE WORLD. PLEASE HELP US SAVE THEM. Your contribution will directly support the emergency conservation action plan by rapidly mobilizing field operations for an expertly coordinated and urgent attempt to save the vaquita from extinction. http://www.nmmf.org/vaquitacpr.html

Lifestyle

World Oceans Day at United Nations

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 18:18

By Lilly Tougas

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World Oceans Day 2017 (June 8th) got an early start in NYC. Many events were planned for the week including the inaugural World Ocean Festival and the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference. Starting with a kickoff party at the Central Park Zoo, I joined in on the youth action for our oceans. Meeting up with like-minded citizens between the ages of 10 and 26, we mingled, learned about each other's work and discussed the plans for the Youth Rally for the Ocean happening the following day. We even made creative signs for the marchThat evening, Dr. Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind, gave a truly moving speech. He also gave us blue marbles from his Blue Marbles Project for sharing random acts of blue gratitude around the world. Dr. Nichols said "do not ever make a video, give a talk, or write a report and leave out the vast emotional benefits of a healthy ocean." The audience was taken by his speech and couldn't wait to talk to him more about his blue mind studies!

Travel

Febrina Dives Calypso Reef

Thursday, 27 July 2017 17:13

By Mike Scotland

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The remote Calypso Reefs are off the South Eastern tip of New Guinea in Milne Bay. Few divers witness Calypso’s magical mystery tour, but those lucky few who get to experience it treasure it as one of the best dive spots on our planet.

Photography

Capture Critters in Lembeh This Year

Friday, 19 May 2017 20:07

By Sarah Wormald

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Image by Sascha Janson

The Lembeh Strait is world famous for its amazing muck diving and outstanding density of critters, making it an underwater photographer’s dream. Whether you are a budding photographer or already an experienced shooter, an underwater photography workshop in Lembeh is an incredible experience - especially when you’re surrounded by renowned professionals.

Equipment

“Bubbles Away”- Oceanic Omega 3 Review

Thursday, 22 September 2016 02:37

By Brett Lobwein

 

The Oceanic Omega 3 side exhaust regulator is the perfect choice for underwater photographers, videographers or SCUBA divers who want to avoid any distraction from focusing on the ocean. Apart from the exhaust [flow] bubbles being directed away from my face, as a photographer I really like the Omega 3’s profile. Being a side exhaust means there is not a bulky regulator pushing up against the back of the camera housing as you look through the viewfinder.

The biggest ‘upgrade” of the Omega 3 over the very popular Omega 2 is that it no longer breathes wet. It comes packaged out of the box with a MaxFlex hose* and a ball swivel, making it very comfortable plus dramatically reducing the regulator pulling against your jaw. Tech divers will also love that this regulator is ambidextrous “no up or down”, making it an ideal choice for a side mount setup.

I have managed to test the Omega 3 to a depth of 52 metres (170 feet). The entire way from the surface to 52 metres the Omega 3 delivered the perfect amount of air without the need for any complicated adjustment knobs. A simple twist operated dive/pre-dive switch is very handy to stop any free flowing on the surface.

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Oceanic has paired the Omega 3 with the lightweight and top-performing FDX-i first stage. For those who want to explore colder oceanic waters, the FDX-i is ready with an environmentally sealed diaphragm. As you would expect this first stage is also balanced, which ensures the regulator performs consistently at any depth. I have also been very impressed with the well thought out port layout and positioning. The FDX-i uses Oceanic’s Dry Valve Technology (DVT) preventing water or other foreign objects from entering the first stage, ideal if you forget to put the dust cap on.

Complimenting its modern design, the Omega 3 comes in three colour choices—black, white or clear. Personally I love the clear, as it allows you to see the beautifully engineered internal workings of the second stage. After owning the Omega 3 for over 12 months, I am still blown away by its performance.

*Check with your local dealer that this is standard in your location

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About

Ocean Geographic Explorer (OGX) is a diving adventure resource with a special focus on marine photography and ocean conservation. Our content is divided up into six primary categories: Travel, Sea Science,  Equipment, Photography &Video, Conservation, and Lifestyle. We endeavor be a portal for people with all levels of interest in the marine environment  to learn about and become part of a community of like-minded ocean lovers who enjoy sharing their knowledge of and experiences in our fascinating ocean world.

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