Category Archives: travel

Nurse Sharks of Belize — indahs: dive, travel & photography

22nd edition of Marine Life monthly post. Marine Life post published every 19th of the month. It aims to share information on marine life species and to promote their conservation. The Nurse sharks are a common sight when scuba diving in Ambergris Caye (Belize). They usually swim in a group and a chance to meet two […]

via Nurse Sharks of Belize — indahs: dive, travel & photography

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Greenland sharks can live to 400 years old, only reach sexual maturity at 150

Researchers using radiocarbon dating have determined that Greenland sharks, slow-moving giants that live in the cold, dark waters of the North Atlantic, are the longest-living vertebrates on Earth, with one recorded as being 400 years old. Which explains the old Greenland shark quip that goes something like: “God must like practical jokes; why would He make […]

via Scientists say Greenland sharks can live for 400 years — The Cotton Boll Conspiracy

#WorldParksCongress wraps up #WPCMarine

I worked some of the longest days of my career at World Parks Congress and dealt with a variety of event teething issues never experienced before. On the upside, I met some amazing people (including the wonderful Sylvia Earle, who I interviewed for our webtv channel) and worked with a great team from the French Marine Protected Areas Agency. Please make sure you check out our videos at http://oceanplus.tv/en/

 

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Sylvia Earle being interviewed at Ocean+ pavilion

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Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly, Sydney

 

Filming sights of Sydney for Agence des aires marines protégées

Sydney ferry, view to Port Denison and CBD

Sydney ferry, view to Port Denison and CBD

I’ve been showing one of the Agence des aires marines protégées (French Agency for Marine Protected Areas) video team around Sydney over the past few days, filming at the Sydney Fish Market, Bondi Beach, Circular Quay and marine-focused touristy spots. Perfect weekend for it and the trip across to Taronga Zoo (pictured) provided some great footage.

Looking forward to World Parks Congress kicking off on Wednesday, so much prep work has gone into it over the past four months!

Train to airport to Sydney to home to writing essays to airport again…

Bondi baby!

Bondi baby!

Can’t complain about having too much work lately (and seeing the latest unemployment figures there’s nothing I can whinge about that would gain me any sympathy) and I’m off to Sydney again on Sunday for more World Parks Congress preparation with L’Agence des aires marines protégées (French Agency for Marine Protected Areas).

I was lucky to head down to check out Bondi Beach one afternoon between meetings and phone calls. Growing up in northern Sydney, Bondi was always seen as a tourist beach where us northerners never ventured – now I’m a tourist in my birthplace so can throw out those old preconceptions!

Really looking forward to the Congress and meeting people from around the world who are keen on protecting our land and marine parks. I’ll be back there for three weeks in November, just after finishing my final exam of my Marine Biology degree!!! Hope to get the chance for a few beers to celebrate that and also the exciting news of scoring a new job in Melbourne. It will be sad to leave Warrnambool – anyone who has read this blog will get the idea I’m partial to living down here but with a six-month-daughter now in our lives and better job opportunities in the big city, it makes sense to head back there.

Reef sharks and aggressive triggerfish: diving on Fiji’s Coral Coast

I’m still sorting through about 200 short videos from my Fiji trip so put together a clip of some highlights from the first week. I could make a Finding Nemo sequel with all the anemonefish footage (though they weren’t the clownfish variety but still very cute). Yes, not all fish in anemones are clownfish – try telling that to kids who grew up watching Nemo and expect to see talking orange and white-striped fish under every rock 🙂

And the fishing shot at the end is from a morning trip with a local villager, who charged tourists FJ$50 to help catch fish for his village. Well worth the (minor) expense and my first chance to see reef sharks up close, though my videos were mainly blurry.

Suva fish market wandering

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I could have spent many hours in the Suva fish market, chatting to stallholders about their catches, changes over time in fishing habits and the like.
This one stall (most of them were little more than old tarpaulins on the ground) had mussels, tropical crayfish and a species of giant clam I couldn’t identify.
The number of yellowfin tuna around the stalls was a healthy sign of the state if Fiji’s tuna stocks. I’ve never felt good about eating fresh bluefin tuna back at home but the availability of yellowfin sashimi at every function meant I’ve now had a lifetime’s worth.

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Predicting mining impacts on deep sea communities

Group shot at the 4th SPREP/SPC Deep Sea Minerals workshop

Group shot at the 4th SPREP/SPC Deep Sea Minerals workshop

 

The complex and little-understood nature of deep sea biological communities needs to be further researched before any deep sea mining licenses are granted in the Central and West Pacific.

Speakers at the 4th Regional Training Workshop: Environmental Perspectives of Deep Sea Mineral Activities in Nadi, Fiji, discussed the potential commercial value of deep sea minerals and the expensive but vital research that should be continued to determine the impacts of mining on abyssal plain, seamount and hydrothermal vent communities.

The four-day workshop, organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), aims to build on the work undertaken by the SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project to strengthen governance systems in Pacific Island countries and territories to manage and minimise environmental impacts from mining activities.

Mining companies have yet to start any mining operation in the deep sea but are exploring several zones in the Central and West Pacific, searching for rich deposits of manganese nodules, cobalt-rich crusts and seafloor massive sulphides.

Duke University Marine Laboratory director Professor Cindy Van Dover, who has piloted the Alvin submersible to assess deep sea environments, said mining operations could have potentially long-term impacts on the fish, molluscs, sponge and worm communities of the deep sea.

“A single mining event could have the same impact as a volcanic eruption and it would be no big deal. Multiple events would be different,” she said.

“Hydrothermal vents are likely to be more resilient than anything else … but there’s still potential for things to go wrong.”

Prof Dover said hydrothermal vents, a key target for seafloor massive sulphide mining, were also being utilised for their genetic resources to develop medical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and therapeutic products.

Dr Malcolm Clark, Principal Scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), said the faunal communities in manganese nodule and cobalt-rich crust environments were very different and mining operations should build in large buffer zones to reduce impacts.

Professor Mike Petterson, director of SPC’s Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC), also launched the SPC-UNEP/GRID-Arendal Pacific Marine Minerals Assessment Report and presented Mr Samuela Namosimalua, Permanent Secretary, Fijian Ministry of Local Government and Environment, with copies of the report.

More information on the SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project is available at

http://www.sopac.org/dsm

 

 

 

Marine Spatial Planning – one of the daily session summaries

I was asked by a few people at the Marine Spatial Planning workshop in Suva over the past week to post a few updates on my blog (the original articles I wrote appear on the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program website)

What is Marine Spatial Planning, you might ask? Many attendees did this week and among many complex definitions I heard this was the easiest to comprehend: “It is the process of analysing and making recommendations on the distribution of human activities affecting coastal and marine areas. A key goal is to balance ecological, economic, social and cultural objectives.”

Attendees at the Marine Spatial Planning workshop, Suva, Nov 2013

Attendees at the Marine Spatial Planning workshop, Suva, Nov 2013

26 November 2013, Steve Pogonowski, Marine Spatial Planning, Suva Fiji – Marine spatial planning will become ever more vital as the Pacific islands and territories deal with the impacts of rising sea levels, ocean acidification and ocean warming, attendees at a workshop at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, heard yesterday.

The second day of the Marine Spatial Planning workshop looked at climate change and other challenges to central and west Pacific countries and territories, case studies of marine spatial planning across the region and new projects being brought in to assist cross-boundary planning.

Attendees on the second day represented organisations in countries and territories including Wallis and Futuna, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, French Polynesia, Micronesia and Samoa.

Sangeeta Mangubhai, Senior Programme Officer for IUCN Oceania Regional Office, said she hoped participants would all gain a greater understanding of initiating and carrying out good marine spatial planning.

“One of the things I really liked was listening to the case studies and also hearing some of the regional efforts being made to support countries if they decide to implement marine spatial planning from coastal waters out to their EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone),” she said.

“Especially for our Pacific Island participants – and there are some here representing their governments – I hope they can gain a real understanding of marine spatial planning is and the role it can play in managing the valuable resources in their countries to achieve the ecological, social and economic outcomes that they want.

“If they undergo a marine spatial planning process, they now realise there are experts and experiences in this region that they can tap into to get support and assistance.”

Discussion topics included the success of Locally Managed Marine Areas in involving communities in conservation; how data collection on tuna fishing can track the effects of climate change; and the importance of local socioeconomic, governance and ecological issues in cross-boundary planning.

François Gauthiez from the French Marine Protected Areas Agency (AAMP) said the workshop had also generated interesting discussions on various software tools and how they can be used to present data simply to help island communities develop their fishing and conservation plans for the future.

Holiday break in Far North Queensland

On board the Wavelength dive boat near Long Bombie

On board the Wavelength dive boat near Long Bombie

Some fortunate timing and a partner keen to try snorkeling helped provide me one of the best diving experiences of my life last week. Nine days in Port Douglas wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, which I’d never visited before and nothing could have prepared me for.

Being a student, my budget hasn’t stretched to a new underwater camera after my last one died so I settled for recording the action with a HD Flip camera (a present from a friendly Google employee at a conference in North Carolina 3 years ago) in a waterproof case. The editing process may take a while but results will be up here and on Youtube in a week or so.

We also hired a cheap car for a day at Cape Tribulation and the Daintree, hoping to spot the elusive cassowary. It was only in literally the last five minutes of our drive before boarding the ferry back across the Daintree River that we spotted this youngster below, happily snacking on berries on the roadside.

Young cassowary

Young cassowary

 

Port Douglas, even in the peak of school holiday winter break, is a laidback place compared to the madness and plastic nature of the Gold Coast resorts. Many of the southern families seem to stay ensconced in their resorts a few kilometres from town, leaving locals and some lucky tourists to enjoy sunsets like this from vantage points close to the marina.

Sunset from the point at Port Douglas

Sunset from the point at Port Douglas

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