All personal photos are copyrighted. Unauthorized use of them is prohibited. Please contact for any further information.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Return of the phantom stranger

It's always fascinating and exciting to see footage of marine life that you would never get to see in real life. In this instance the MBARI have some of the best recorded footage of the ghost shark known as a pointy-nosed blue chimaera.

Ghost sharks, or what marine biologists call chimaeras, are a family of unusual fishes whose bodies are stiffened not by bones, but by plates and bone-like bits of cartilage. The animals may be rare, but there are about 38 species of chimaeras around the world.

Technically speaking, chimaeras are not sharks, having diverged from a common ancestor some 400 million years ago. These creatures, which are also related to rays, are veritable living fossils, confined to depths as low as 8,500 feet (2,600 meters).

Link: HERE

Monday, 19 December 2016

Sonic Attack

Could this be the start of underwater transmissions, texts, sound and music? Maybe radio location for missing divers? Or do you think that the the underwater world has no place for man made signalling? What effect, if any, would it have on marine life?

Link: HERE

"It's easy to take modern wireless communication for granted above ground, but it's useless in areas where the signals can't propagate, like underwater or in caves. DARPA might have a better way: its AMEBA (A Mechanically Based Antenna) team is developing portable ultra-low-frequency (1Hz to 3kHz) and very low frequency (3kHz to 30kHz) transmitters that could penetrate materials like water and stone with basic data. Scuba divers could send text messages to each other, for instance, while search and rescue teams could still contact the outside world while they're in tunnels."

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Fisherman's blues

There's a first time for everything. Despite not having been in the water for the last few weeks due to the weather or more exactly the wind, I still managed to end up with a perforated eardrum and an ear infection in the middle of the day while at work. Don't ask me how it happened, I have no idea.

So lots of time spent at the doctors, then even more time at the specialists and all I have to show for it is a ton of drugs and no hearing. Just in time for the holiday season. Hooray. At least I got to see pictures of the aforementioned perforation. It's not a pretty sight looking at the inside of your own ears. Like looking at the moon's surface. Only pinker. And slightly moister. Also having the inner ear reconstructed about 8 years ago makes this a little awkward for the healing process.

Hopefully I'll be good to go in time for the traditional Xmas dive. Or maybe New Year.......

And now for the boring bit if anyone has ever wondered what a perforated eardrum is......

A hole or rupture in the eardrum, a thin membrane that separates the ear canal and the middle ear, is called a perforated eardrum. The medical term for eardrum is tympanic membrane. The middle ear is connected to the nose by the Eustachian tube, which equalizes pressure in the middle ear. A perforated eardrum is often accompanied by decreased hearing and sometimes liquid discharge. The perforation may be accompanied by pain, if it is caused by an injury or becomes infected.

Middle ear infections may cause pain, hearing loss, and spontaneous rupture of the eardrum, resulting in a perforation. In this case,there may be infected or bloody drainage from the ear. Infections can cause a hole in the eardrum as a side effect of otitis media. Symptoms of acuteotitis media (middle ear fluid with signs of infection) include a senese of fullness in the ear, some hearing loss, pain, and fever.
In patients with chronic Eustachian tube problems the ear drum may become weakened and open up.

Most eardrum holes resulting from injury or an acute ear infection heal on their own within weeks of opening,although some may take several months to heal. During the healing process the ear must be protected from water and trauma. Eardrum perforations that do not heal on their own may require surgery. How is hearing affected by a perforated eardrum?

Usually the size of the perforation determines the level of hearing loss--a larger hole will cause greater hearing loss than a smaller hole. If severe injury (e.g., skull fracture) moves the bones in the middle ear that send out sound, out of place, or injuries the inner ear, hearing loss may be serious.

If the perforated eardrum is caused by a sudden traumatic or violent event, the loss of hearing can be great and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) may occur. Chronic infection as a result of the perforation can cause longer lasting or worsening hearing loss.
Before attempting any correction of the perforation, a hearing test should be performed. The benefits of closing a perforation include prevention of water entering the middle ear while showering, bathing, or swimming (which could cause ear infection), improved hearing, and lessened tinnitus. It also may prevent the development of cholesteatoma (skin cyst in the middle ear), which can cause chronic infection and destruction of ear structures.

If the perforation is very small, an otolaryngologist (your ear, nose and throat physician) may choose to observe the perforation over time to see if it will close on its own. He or she might try to patch a patient’s eardrum in the office. Working with a microscope, your doctor may touch the edges of the eardrum with a chemical to stimulate growth and then place a thin paper patch on the eardrum.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Denn du bist was du isst

Interesting video on shark behaviour when interacting with humans. Now because this is on youtube, you may need to take it with a pinch of salt unless there are any shark experts out there that can confirm or deny the information contained within. Still worth a few minutes of your time. Embedded video below and youtube link below that for those that don't have flash enabled browser.

Link: HERE

Bottom line, according to these guys, most humans don't have enough fat content for their liking and we're too bony for their slow digestive system. Also the risk factor for the sharks is too great for the potential gains in trying to eat us as there's more potential for injury, so we're not worth the effort. They're far more afraid of us than we are of them.

And quite rightly so. Using data on shark catches, discards and mortality rates worldwide, the researchers estimated that approximately 100 million sharks are killed per year by humans. However, they add that this is a conservative estimate, and the true number could be as high as 273 million sharks killed annually by humans.

No wonder they're afraid of us as we're systematically wiping them off the face of the planet. Next time you see a shark whilst diving, be grateful as at this rate, they could disappear entirely and that would be a tragic loss of epic proportions for us.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Smokestack Lightning

Mantis shrimp are amazing creatures. They can strike prey as fast as 330 metres a second, but some other mantis shrimp use a stabbing technique to kill.

The little critters hide their body up to their eyes in the sand as they wait for a fish to swim by. When a fish gets close, the mantis shrimp shoots its body out of the sand, impales the fish with serrated blades, and then drags the fish back into the sand with it. All this happens in a matter of seconds, so it’s almost like the fish just disappeared.

With eyes that have six pseudopupils and 12 color receptors, they have exceptional vision compared to us. We only have two pupils and 3 color receptors. But beyond that, what’s really impressive is their ability to see polarization. Scientists have found that some mantis shrimp species use circular polarization to communicate with each other on a kind of secret visual channel for mating and territorial purposes.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Deeper Understanding

A great little fun factoid about the ocean depths and sense of scale.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Old brown shoe

If only more comapanies were willing to step up and do something useful with the waste/ non biodegradeable products that end up in the ocean. I would buy these despite the steep price. Of course it helps if this stuff didn't end up in the ocean in the first place.

Link: HERE

"The sneakers are made in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental group that wants to draw attention to pollution in the ocean. Each shoe’s upper (the part that goes over the top of the foot) is made from 5 percent recycled polyester and 95 percent waste plastic dredged from the ocean around the Maldives. Each pair of shoes contains 11 plastic bottles, and most of the rest of the sneaker (including the heel, lining, and laces) is also made from recycled material."

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Rocky Paths

It's that time of the year again where we get the inconsistent winter weather and rotating winds that make getting in the water a bit of a crap shoot. We packed our gear and headed up to LHP where it wasn't too bad but we knew it would be picking up as the morning went on, so we made the most of it.

As usual with a lot of dives here, it was all about the macro life and trying to get some half decent shots of small stuff in really awkward positions. I swear they do it on purpose.

A little bit of a Northerly current meant we had to keep our heads down and hop from coral head to coral head to keep out of the worst of it. But we still managed to see a nice selection of shrimp, blennies, gobies and nimble spray crabs braving the elements.

There was also a nice little juvenile bridled burrfish that was hanging around for a little while with some coral banded shrimp for company. Got a little bit of footage of it as well.

And the littlest juvenile box fish I've managed to get a shot of yet, although not as sharp as I'd have liked as it was moving around like a tasmanian devil on acid.

In and amongst the hard coral and soft sponges there were a good few bristleworms to be found wafting in the current.

And as usual the banded jawfish was in it's usual hiding place just by the 6 metre marker buoy. As I was getting a shot of this, there was a hogfish came shooting out from underneath the little ledge there. It wasn't swimming that great and I noticed that it had a couple of big chunks taken out of its trunk section.

About that time I checked about and saw the usual porcupine fish doing circles around the coral head nearby where it usually hangs out when I saw a barracuda dive straight down and try to take a chunk out of it. It didn't manage to get anything as the porcupine fish wasn't having any of it and the barra made a hasty retreat. It's always fascinating to watch nature in motion.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Yesterday's Papers

It went from a full page spread down to a footnote, such is life. On page 69 in Sport Diver December 2016 issue, you'll find Jill in front of the camera and me behind it at Hepps Pipeline in a feature on Secret dive spots around the world. I've put the page below with the original shot in it's full glory.

Lets see if I can get a bigger spread in the World's Best Diving, Resorts and Liveaboards special issue that Sport Diver are doing. They're supposed to be using some of my Babylon shots. We shall see.......

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The happiest days of our lives

Devastatingly spectacular. That's all I can say. I haven't seen conditions like this for a long time. No wind, no current, no surge, the perfect lightning and clear blue ocean that just keeps going and going. It was literally a wet dream for a photographer.

I might also add that Miss Leslie did an admirable job as stand in model whilst Jill was off galavanting around the place. The Nicholson and the wreck were prime spots for some nice scenic shots. The fish action was a little lacking this morning so we were missing some of the usual suspects like Lumpy and Spot but still, with conditions like this, I wasn't going to quibble.

And one final scenic shot to round off the perfect first dive.

The second dive was a bit of a departure from the norm as we went far left, way past the oil silos and found it to be very pleasant, not only scenery wise but also had some very nice critters to play around with, like some very nice pistol shrimp hiding under a small rock in the middle of a sea of sand. It pays to check under every nook and cranny.

And as usual, lets bring on the blennies!

Miss Leslie also happend to spot a nice burrfish hiding under one coral head which also had a nice cow fish hiding round the otherside with moray jammed in there for good measure. No shots of the moray unfortunately, that was well hidden in the back.

 Right at the end of the dive on the safety stop, Miss Leslie was busy playing with a pair of juvenile peacock flounders that were chasing each silly in circles. These things were tiny and they obviously had their caffeine this morning to have that much energy.

Spectacular first dive and an excellent second dive into the unknown made for a superb day out. Hopefully once we get the tail ends of hurricaine Matthew pass us by then the conditions will settle down a little bit and we'll get in the water again on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Sail on sailor

Researchers from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station have developed a two-lensed camera that sticks to the backs of filter-feeding whales with suction cups. The new device has been used to capture unprecedented footage of whales in action, and it’s offering new insights into the feeding and swimming behaviors of these aquatic beasts.

Link: HERE

" data suggest that rorquals modulate the coordination of acceleration and engulfment to optimize foraging efficiency by minimizing locomotor costs and maximizing prey capture."

"On the surface of it, filter-feeding sounds like a painstakingly straightforward process: whale opens mouth, whale gobbles-up copious amounts of krill, whale closes mouth. Those may be the broad strokes, but it’s actually more complicated. Because we rarely have an opportunity to observe whales in their undersea habitat, researchers have struggled to understand the finer details of the process, such as the speeds at which whales approach their tiny prey, how quickly they can change direction, and how they adjust in the presence of fish."

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Someone has to die

A new and exciting discovery found on the ancient wreck of the Antikythera, 65 B.C.

Link: HERE

"The remains, found just three weeks ago, were discovered by researchers from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Working at a depth of 165 feet (50 meters), the archaeologists found the partial human skeleton buried under two feet (0.5 meters) of sand and busted bits of ancient pottery. The excavation yielded a human skull (including a jaw and teeth) legs, ribs, and the long arm bones." 

" The researchers will now see if they can extract DNA from the 2,000-year-old remains. Should they succeed, it will be the first time that scientists have pulled DNA from such an old underwater sample. The remains are surprisingly well preserved, and experts are encouraged that genetic material still exists within the bones."

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Pound Cake

Interesting new fact but mammals are no longer the only creatures who chew their food in a new discovery featured on Nat Geo.

Link: HERE

"Plenty of animals bite, but mammals were once thought to be the only ones to chew, at least as it’s usually defined: moving our toothy jaws up, down, and side to side to tear through tough food. But chew on this: the ocellate river stingray, a beautiful spotted fish from the Amazon River, also chews its food."

"The discovery not only demonstrates that chewing isn’t special to mammals, but explains how rays, whose skeletons are made of soft cartilage rather than bone, can eat tough prey like shellfish"

The video is pretty incredible to watch.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Wo bist du

Now this is a what I call diving. Minimal wind, not surge, no swell, no current, so what time is it? It's macro time!! It would be rude not to after all. Lets start off with a laughing secretary blenny. I took this shot right after I told him a joke........

Then I found a nice blue arrow crab hiding under a rock which I didn't tell a joke to but he did allow me to get up really close and personal. We should have exchanged numbers......

And we had some nice Pederson shrimps show their true colours. Or not as the case may be as they were mostly transparent. You can't lie to me, I can see right through you.......

Oh, and we had plenty more blennies to take pictures of again, very accomodating.

And coming back in to the shallows, there was a squat anemone shrimp that really didn't want it's photograph taken as it went upside down and tried to scuttle into a little overhang but I still got a shot of it anyway. That showed it.

A great morning out in ideal conditions gave me some quality time to dial in the CMC in conjunction with the macro lens. Getting better every time and maybe with a little more time I might get good with the new setup. :-)

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Stay with me

It's been a few months since the last time at the East End but we now have a little bit of free time, we decided to make the most of it despite a little 10 knot Easterly but that's never stopped us before. And given this time of year, you would think that it would be a relatively quiet boat, but not this time, it was jam packed. Luckily we had our own little corner to plot and scheme in.

"Sardines ahoy!"
Captain Nige and/or Captain Sarah (they're interchangeable now) took us South to a little place we like to call the Maze for a modicum of shark action and right on time, without fail, as soon as we splashed down, the boys and girls came right out to play with us.

"It's behind you!"

The sharks were the main draw but the scenery is just a little bland side (in comparison to Northern Lights, Babylon, etc. in my opinion) but you could still get a nice shot or two with a little effort and some luck.

The surface interval was immensely entertaining as we got down to business attacking cans of pop and homemade biscuits while a few of the individuals around us were hanging over the gunwhales chumming the water and going various colours of the rainbow. Great half time show!

Second dive took us onto the Big House which we haven't done for a while but proved to be almost as exciting as the Maze with several nurse sharks cruising around. Not quite what you want when you have a macro lens on, but I'm up for a challenge. Bring it on!!

As well as the big stuff there were a ton of red lipped blennies out, despite the surge in the shallows. Love these things.

Not forgetting the other liitle star attractions like the damselfish, the roughead and secretary blennies.

And some slightly bigger stuff like Caribbean lobsters, groupers and dogfish with the occasional grunt and snapper thrown into the mix making for a very eclectic dive.

Thanks to the lovely boys and girls at Tortuga divers for providing a perfectly good boat to jump off, hopefully we'll be out again sooner rather than later.

And if you haven't already seen it, Miss Leslie posted some very nice video footage of the dive on facebook which I've reposted on my facebook too if you want to see some nice shark action.