Good news for Indonesia’s shark sanctuary: sharks and other fish are more abundant within zones with fishing restrictions according to a new study. Bad news for the people who fish for a living – they sometimes turned to crime to make ends meet.
Vanessa Jaiteh examined the impact of no-take zones on both sharks and people inside a recently established shark sanctuary along the coastal area of Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Working with local scientists from The Nature Conservancy, she measured the abundance of sharks and other fishes within two no-take zones (where fishing was prohibited) and one open access zone where fishing for sharks and other species continued unabated. The no-take zones were established by Misool Eco Resort in partnership with local communities with traditional land and sea rights to the area. Predictably, abundance levels for all fishes – mackerels, tunas, snappers, groupers and sharks – were much higher in the no-take zones when compared to the open access area.
The second phase of the study – an examination of perceptions and behavioral changes in people from coastal communities – revealed that most people living outside Raja Ampat, but travelling to fish in this regency, were unsure of why sharks were being protected. In interviews conducted with people simultaneously with field surveys on sharks and fish, respondents felt that government agencies were not considering their dependence on fishing for existence. Also, participants in the survey indicated that fishing closures not only forced them to shift their activities to unprotected areas, but also prompted some to engage in illicit activities such as the trafficking of illegal petrol.
“In some areas, ecotourism centered on sharks and coral reefs actually provides a livelihood alternative to fishing,” said Jaiteh. “However, we now realize that it also may be shifting fishing pressure to other areas and promoting illegal activity. Only a multi-dimensional effort focused on both protection of sharks and livelihood security will achieve sustainable results, with benefits to both overharvested marine life and coastal fishing communities.”
Zombie corals, which look healthy but cannot reproduce, have been discovered by researchers, dashing hopes that such reefs could repopulate areas destroyed by bleaching.
Part of the problem is aerosol sunscreen,
The places with the heaviest tourism had the most severe damage to coral reproductive capability.
Oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound in sunscreen, kills coral but also causes DNA damage in adult coral and deforms the larval stage, making normal development unlikely.
The research also showed the toxic effects to coral, sea urchin embryos, shrimp larvae, and fish larvae exposed to preservatives, UV absorbers and microbeads from personal care products.
Over the past half-million years, the equatorial Pacific Ocean has seen five spikes in the amount of iron-laden dust blown in from the continents. In theory, those bursts should have turbo-charged the growth of the ocean’s carbon-capturing algae – algae need iron to grow – but a new study shows that the excess iron had little to no effect.
The results are important today, because as groups search for ways to combat climate change, some are exploring fertilizing the oceans with iron as a solution.
Photo: Phytoplankton bloom seen from space by Robert Simmon and Jesse Allen/NASA
Tioman is the third largest Malayasian island, off the east coast of the peninsula. The island is about 38 by 19 km. There is a road which extends about 3-4 km past the airstrip and ferry terminal and a couple of km either side. It connects the villages of Tekek and Juara, however all other villages are accessible only be ferry boat. The coast is a marine park area with a limit of 2 nautical miles offshore for commercial fishing. The water is warm, from 27 to 29 oC. There is only 1 ATM on the island, so it is best to bring some cash with you and check with your resort and dive centre is they accept cards as many places do not. Exchange currency before you get to the island (in Mersing) as you won't get a good exchange rate on Tioman.
The season runs from early February to November, the out of season time is associated with unpredictable weather during the monsoon. The best time of the year for visibility is March – June and visibility may drop in July and August.
Typically visibility is between 15-20 meters, but sometimes drops to 5 meters for no very obvious reason.
If nudibranchs are your thing you'll be happy at Tioman.
Photo credit: Jens Petersen (CC-BY-SA-3.0). Hypselodoris bullociki.
Jellyfish stings are responsible for more deaths than shark attacks each year. Even "mild" stings can hurt for hours or sometimes days and leave lasting scars. According to some estimates, more than 150 million people are stung by jellyfish each year.
Researchers have now found overwhelming evidence that applying hot packs, or immersing in hot water, is much better for treating jellyfish stings than cold water which was previously widely recommended.
The scientists, Christie Wilcox and Angel Yanagihara from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, trawled through more than 2,000 articles in major scientific journals to find every study to date that examined the effects of using temperature-based treatments for jellyfish stings. They found that the data supported immersing in hot water, finding that venom components are inactivated at temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius.
"I was shocked that the science was so clear, given that there is so much debate over the use of hot water," said Wilcox. Hot-water immersion is already the standard of care for other severe marine stings including those from the potentially life-threatening stonefish. "It's simple, really: If you're stung, use hot water or hot packs rather than ice or cold packs."
The scientists conclude that immersing a stung limb in 45 oC water for 20 minutes has no ill effects, is a safe and effective method of reducing pain and improves the outcome of the sting.
The research was published this month in the journal Toxins
Wilcox and Yanagihara. Heated Debates: Hot-Water Immersion or Ice Packs as First Aid for Cnidarian Envenomations? Toxins 2016, 8(4), 97; http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/8/4/97/html
According to evidence from scuba divers and fishermen, lionfish have recently increased in abundance and within just one year have penetrated almost the entire south eastern coast of Cyprus.
The authors of a new report into the Mediterranean lionfish, published in Marine Biodiversity Records, are urging divers and fishermen to remove the lionfish when they see them.
Lionfish feed on a variety of fish and crustaceans, with large individuals preying almost exclusively on fish. They can live for 15 years.
Lionfish spawn every four days, year-round, producing around two million floating eggs a year. These travel with water currents for about a month before they settle.
When out of their own Red Sea environment, lionfish become a serious threat to the diversity of their foreign home. Research in the Bahamas showed that lionfish caused reductions of up to 80% in the recruitment of native fishes on experimental reefs.
Original research at
A lionfish (Pterois miles) invasion has begun in the Mediterranean Sea, Demetris KletouEmail author, Jason M. Hall-Spencer and Periklis Kleitou. Marine Biodiversity Records 2016 9:46
Overfishing has reduced biomass of most sharks and other large predatory fishes worldwide by over 90%, and even remote locations have been severely impacted. The islands of Darwin and Wolf in the far north of the Galapagos Marine Reserve though, are known for their large shark abundance, making them a global scuba diving and conservation hotspot.
In a study published this week in the journal PeerJ, scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and the National Geographic Society revealed that the islands are home to the largest shark biomass on the planet reported to date at 12.4 tons per hectare.
Despite this, the abundance of reef fishes around the marine reserve, such as groupers, has been severely reduced because of unsustainable fishing practices. Although Darwin and Wolf are within the reserve, they were not fully protected from fishing until March this 2016. Given how important the Galapagos are to Ecuador’s dive tourism industry and to the well-being of these top predators, the scientists hope that the current protection will ensure the long-term conservation of this marine and diving hotspot.The shark biomass divers collected data using stereo-video surveys at seven sites at Darwin and Wolf islands. These surveys are considerably larger than those reported at Costa Rica’s Cocos Island National Park and the Chagos Marine Reserve in the Indian Ocean, home to the world’s next largest shark biomasses.
The establishment of marine protected areas, especially no-take areas where all forms of fishing are prohibited, have been shown to be one of the most successful management tools to confront global ecosystem degradation.
The Galapagos Islands are known worldwide for their iconic terrestrial fauna and flora, due in large part to Charles Darwin. However, the underwater Galapagos remains under-studied and largely unknown compared to terrestrial ecosystems.
Galapagos is the only tropical archipelago in the world at the cross-roads of major current systems that bring both warm and cold waters. From the northeast, the Panama Current brings warm water; from the southeast the Peru current bring cold water; and from the west, the subsurface equatorial undercurrent (SEC) also bring cold water from the deep. The oceanographic setting surrounding Galapagos results in a wide range of marine ecosystems and populations, that includes from tropical species like corals or reef sharks to temperate and sub-Antarctic species like the Galapagos fur seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) or the waived albatross (Phoebastria irrorata).
Nearly 73% of the total fish biomass around Darwin and Wolf was accounted for by sharks, primarily hammerheads (Sphryna lewini 48%), Galapagos (Carcharhinus galapagensis 19%), and blacktips (Carcharhinus limbatus 5%).
Photo by Enric Sala/National Geographic A group of hammerhead sharks swims over the sandy seafloor populated with garden eels at Darwin Island. These sharks are known for their ability to make sudden and sharp turns as the unique wide-set placement of their eyes allows them a vertical 360-degree view, which is ideal for stalking their prey.
- University of Manchester
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SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011): Issue 153, February 2013 | SCUBA Travel
In this issue: Comparing diving qualifications: PADI, BSAC, NAUI, etc; diving East Timor, Sardinia and Jordan; article by Samantha Craven, c