Mating Nudibranches (Roboastra luteolineata) SMURF PENIS
On a recent dive, we stumbled upon a rather private moment between a couple of simultaneous hermaphrodites, Roboastra luteolineata, doing the mutual penis dance. They were poking around for a while, and had yet to manage mutual fertilization when we (reluctantly) moved on.
Some of you might have found, that after a hundred dives or more, that although you still enjoy reefs, or fish, or the ‘prettiness’ of being underwater, that other aspects of the marine world take your fancy. I have zoomed in on macro life, and relish the challenge of finding tiny critters on a sandy bottom. And for the things that are a bit bigger, behaviour starts to catch your eye…
…who am I kidding? It’s all about the smurf penis.
Asian Dive Expo (ADEX) 2013 - All about whale sharks
Last weekend, I crossed a major event off my bucket list. Speaking at ADEX.
Every year of my adult life that I spent in Singapore, I went to ADEX. It’s a big space, full of diving goodies, underwater photos and brilliant people. I would go with dive buddies/best friends to network, get stickers to decorate my laptop and anything else, and just generally revel in the world of people who love being underwater.
I have genuinely missed it the last couple of years. But not 2013. With the theme of whale sharks, it was a perfect platform for the NGO I worked for last year to talk about whale shark research. Myself, the President of the NGO and bonafide big brother Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, and my favourite conservation photographer Steve De Neef were invited to give talks and participate in ‘The Big Blue Buzz’ - a “debate” about animals on display.
The “debate” wasn’t really that, two teams, that were actually far from opposite. We are all working towards the same goals, but represent a gradient of how to do it. At least the subjects of animals on display like captive dolphins, and the whale sharks being fed in Oslob were talked about, and I hope that we made a few people think about their decision, and research into what they are actually supporting and making an educated decision. Still, there were some strong personalities in the debate, and I wish we’d had time to say a bit more.
In fact, that’s pretty much the over-arching theme of my presentation - “Whale Sharks and Tourism - Finding the Balance”. Who doesn’t want to swim with a whale shark? However, we have to recognize that by being in the water we are affecting them. The whale shark code of conduct has been developed so you don’t scare them off, but studies show certain actions of ours cause them to exhibit avoidance behaviours (Quiros 2007). When we talk about tourism, we need to remember the multiplier effect. One shark cutting an interaction short might not seem like a lot. But what if it’s several times a day, every day. If they are there to feed at the surface, what’s the effect of driving them away? If they avoid certain areas because of tourists, what’s the effect on migration patterns. And this is all without feeding them.
I also touched on the issue of the controversial feeding practices in Oslob, Cebu. But that is a whole other post, for another time.
I hope that at least one person walked away thinking that they should do their own research before booking a holiday. To educate themselves, and make informed choices. I want people to start taking responsibility for their tourism, and not to assume that any and all wildlife tourism or nature tourism is “ecotourism”. It has a strict definition, and if you really want to support ecotourism, you need to do your research.
Passionate issues aside, I met up with old friends and mentors, met so many new and amazing people and long-time heros of mine. I manage to eat some of the amazing Singaporean food I have missed, and escape the heat of Philippine summer which might be the end of me. It was one of my best weekends ever.
Marine Environmental Protection students research project in the Cayman Islands.
Ever wondered what it’s like to go away on a marine research project? My mate Joe documented his time in the Cayman Islands doing reef surveys and general joviality.
Coral reef surveys are intensive and you need to know your stuff, from coral species to fish families, but spending so much time down there, you never know what you’re going to see!
The latest copy of Asian Diver is all about the WHALE SHARK!! Loads of great articles and photos as well as news on this years ADEX conference being held in Singapore in April.
The issue includes a few articles from LAMAVE, including ones written by Gonzo, Ale and I….professional I know ;-)
Also look out for bios on LAMAVE lovelies Sam Craven, Steve De Neef and Alessandro Ponzo who will be presenting at ADEX this year. Wit woo.
Go and get your whale shark on. x
Cheers for the shout out Sal! A lot of whale shark experts contributed to this issue. Check it out for a current overview of whale shark conservation!
I will be presenting at ADEX this year. It’s a big honour, and the event is a long term favourite of mine. There are no stickers like dive stickers. Plus I get to return to Singapore and eat all the food.
This is my latest article on environmentally responsible scuba diving and the Green Fins work I’m involved in!
We scuba divers are by no means the greatest threat to coral reefs, but we do cause damage, and it can add up. However, we are also the most passionate ambassadors for the reef. Let’s make choices that reflect the respect we have for the ocean.
The deep waters of the ‘Tongue of the Ocean’ lick the reefs of Andros Island, the Bahamas.
Explosion of fish! Taken in Raja Ampat, Indonesia during the December 2012 Bluewater Photo / Underwater Photography Guide Raja Ampat photo trip by Scott Gietler.
This underwater tree/anemone is actually a Sea Basket Sea Cucumber (Neothyonidium magnum) or a burrowing sea cucumber.
It’s white body is buried in the sand, and it’s feeding parts, the branchial tree, sticks out. It has a totally captivating method of feeding. The ‘arms’ capture plankton, and insert them one at a time into the mouth, which then sucks off the food as the arm is pulled out of the closed mouth.
It makes for a fun game: Guess which arm feeds next. You can waste a lot of bubbles watching it.
Shark Cave, Puerto Galera | Gary Stokes
Shark Cave is a dive site that no longer lives up to it’s name. The only elasmobranchs protected legally in the Philippines are Whale Sharks and Manta Rays. And it shows.
“Don’t order SHARK FIN SOUP, and ask what fish is used in your FISH and CHIPS!”