Category: Conservation

Too Much Work, Not Enough Diving…

January is gone, and I haven’t managed to get in the water this year! I’ve been travelling a lot with work, and fighting a nasty cold — On top of that, one of our ferrets passed last weekend, so the opportunity hasn’t been there.

In the meantime, however, Josh and the local GUE community have been busy with the Britannia Beach Project Baseline. Here’s the official website.

Anton North has a great write-up of a Project Baseline dive they did last weekend.

Anxious to get back in the water soon….


A dead Starfish

In an earlier blog post, I’d mentioned that we had observed a large amount of dead starfish out at the Cut at Whytecliff, which was corroborated by a news story about a mass starfish die-off. Diving at Whytecliff again today, again we noticed pieces of starfish at around 10 meter depth on the right wall (although not quite as concentrated as they were at the cut last week). It appears to have hit only a couple species of starfish (Morning Sun Stars?), although I didn’t notice too many of the other usual suspects in the area apart from a healthy-looking slime star at depth.

The decomposition (disintegration?) appears to have greatly progressed into a grey-slime kind of state, although to be honest the grey-slime may be completely unrelated. I’m not entirely sure. Interestingly there appeared to have been some dead crabs in the area as well. I didn’t check to see if it was simply the case that the a couple of crabs had moulted in the decomposition pile, or if they were actually dead crabs.

A quick video clip (with horrible white-balancing) of an area saturated with the grey slime, and some photos of the carnage are below for documentation purposes. If any marine biologists happen to be reading this, I would appreciate an expert weigh-in in the comments below.

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Plastic in the Ocean….

You may or may not have heard of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, basically a concentration of garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thought to be at least as big at the state of California. Here’s a very interesting article at on the subject.

Shark by Steffy Chwedoruk

Bullshark in Playa Del Carmen, Photo by Steffy, 2008

In 2008 we took a trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. One of the most amazing experiences we had was going on a shark dive, where we dropped into 70 feet of clear tropical water, and drifted in the current as a few large bullsharks swam around us. Amazing animals. We later remarked how much bigger they were than we’d imagined, and how awesome of an experience it was to swim with sharks on a non-baited dive.

Today I found out that a fisherman from a nearby town, knowing full well the significance of those bullsharks to the tourist industry and local economy of Playa Del Carmen, decided his making a quick buck was more important, and killed 9 of the bullsharks.

Absolutely ridiculous. Estimates are pretty high for what the impact to the local economy will be, as shark dives were one of the big reasons for tourists to head down there and spend money — The worst part is, the sharks were likely killed for their fins, which provide no nutritional value, and in fact are full of contaminants which accumulate in animals high up in the food chain.

More information in this article:

More information on Shark Conservation:

Some shark facts form the above link:

* Sharks have been around for more than 400 million years
* There are 375 shark species
* Sharks are intelligent and can be trained
* 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins
* The largest shark is the Whale shark, averaging 9 metres (30 feet) in length—the size of a large bus
* Whale sharks are not aggressive. They eat zooplankton, small fish and squid.
* When a shark loses a tooth, a new one grows in its place
* Mako and Blue sharks are the fastest swimming sharks
* Sharks can take hours or even days to die after being finned
* Sharks are a critical part of marine ecosystems