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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Human touch

A group of underwater archaeologists exploring the sunken remains of King Louis XIV's flagship La Lune added a very special member to their dive team recently. OceanOne, a Stanford-developed humanoid diving robot with "human vision, haptic force feedback and an artificial brain". Who needs to go diving when you can just use one of these? :-D

Link: HERE

“OceanOne will be your avatar,” Khatib said. “The intent here is to have a human diving virtually, to put the human out of harm’s way. Having a machine that has human characteristics that can project the human diver’s embodiment at depth is going to be amazing.”

"OceanOne looks something like a robo-mermaid. Roughly five feet long from end to end, its torso features a head with stereoscopic vision that shows the pilot exactly what the robot sees, and two fully articulated arms. The “tail” section houses batteries, computers and eight multi-directional thrusters."

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A light in the black

As Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons once sang , Oh, what a night, late December, back in '63, what a very special time for me, as I remember, what a night. Except is wasn't December '63 it was just last night. Despite the conditions being a little lumpy up top and some surge down below, it was a great time to get some macro shots.

Starting with a very surprised looking squirrel fish at the 6m marker buoy. BOO!

And there were certainly plenty of tiny elysia crispata around in the vicinity as well. They were just hanging out and waving the in the current. Titchy little things.

A little bit further (ha!) a field at the 7m mark, there was a spectacular star eyed hermit crab. These things are so photogenic and this one had no problem sitting still for the camera and giving me it's all.

A short fin over to the mini wall turned up a minuscule flat worm but the current was pushing a bit so I'm ashamed to say I didn't get the absolute best photo you do what you can. This one looks like it has a tiny little isopod on the back (as far as I can tell, correct me if I'm wrong). Talk about small and smaller.

Oh, and not lets forget a juvenile octopus making a quick exit, scuttle left.

A little bit shallower proved to be a good place to watch a plethora of yellow spotted rays on the hunt for a late night snack.

 And quite a few blennies were out and about as well. It was a pretty lively night with all the usual suspects as you would expect. Another quality night dive at our favourite little dive spot.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

A whiter shade of pale

Something for us to be constantly aware of, wherever we are in the world, as this affects everyone. Coral reefs are about as colorful as the ocean gets—except when they bleach. Overly warm water can cause corals to spit out the colorful, photosynthetic, single-celled symbiotes that live inside them and produce most of their food. If the heat passes before the corals starve to death, their symbiotes can return, bringing color and health back to the coral.

As the globe warms, widespread bleaching events are occurring with disturbing frequency. These tend to occur during times of El Niño conditions in the Pacific, which add a temporary boost to the warming water at some reefs. The current record-strength El Niño is sadly no exception with up to 93% of the Great Barrier reef having been affected to one degree or another.

 Link: HERE

“We have now flown over 911 individual reefs in a helicopter and light plane, to map out the extent and severity of bleaching along the full 2300km length of the Great Barrier Reef. Of all the reefs we surveyed, only 7% (68 reefs) have escaped bleaching entirely. At the other end of the spectrum, between 60 and 100% of corals are severely bleached on 316 reefs, nearly all in the northern half of the Reef.”

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lost Sailor

About 500 years after it sank to the bottom of the Arabian Sea, researchers believe they’ve found the Esmerelda, a ship that was in Vasco da Gama’s fleet during his second voyage to India. The excavation has so far yielded over 2,800 artifacts. It will be a while yet before the sea gives up all of it's secrets...........

Link: HERE

 "The oldest shipwreck from Europe's Golden Age of Exploration has been found off the coast of Oman, the country's Ministry of Heritage and Culture announced on Tuesday. The wreck is believed to be that of the Esmeralda, which was part of a fleet led by legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama during his second voyage to India (1502-1503)."

 "Mearns' team spent six months researching Portuguese archives to zero in on potential locations for the Esmeralda and the São Pedro before locating the wreck site in 1998, the 500th anniversary of da Gama's discovery of the Carreira da India."

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Join together

This would be an amazing, beautiful and potentially scary sight to see.

 "When three scientists descended over a thousand feet underwater in an exploration vessel off the coast of Panama, they expected to see many kinds of life. They'd chosen to explore the Hannibal Seamount, a flat-topped undersea mountain that's the ocean equivalent of a tropical jungle, rich with a diversity of animals and plants found nowhere else. Their submersible, the Deep Rover 2, has the look of a giant, transparent bubble; with the help of spotlights, they could peer out from every angle. But as they approached the northwest flank of the seamount, they saw something inexplicable on the ocean floor."

Link: HERE

 "It looked like an underwater dust storm. As they got closer, the researchers realised it was an enormous swarm of crabs, kicking up sediment from the seafloor. They had never seen anything like it."

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Plastic Man

Well worth a watch and 6 minutes of your time. Makes you think about what's going on and what we can do to improve the situation. For example, plastic in the ocean outnumbers the marine life by 36 to 1. Every little helps.

Link: HERE 


Plastic never goes away.

Plastic is a durable material made to last forever, yet illogically, 33 percent of it is used once and then thrown away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Plastic spoils our groundwater.

There are thousands of landfills in the world. Buried beneath each one of them, plastic leachate full of toxic chemicals is seeping into groundwater and flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

Plastic attracts other pollutants.

Manufacturers' additives in plastics, like flame retardants, BPAs and PVCs, can leach their own toxins. These oily poisons repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris.

Plastic threatens wildlife.

Entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.

Plastic piles up in the environment.

Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8 percent of that gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is incinerated, or becomes the invasive species known as  'litter.' 

Plastic poisons our food chain.

Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans and waterways, are eating microplastics and absorbing their toxins. The substance displaces nutritive algae that creatures up the food chain require.

Plastic affects human health.

Chemicals leached by plastics are in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

Plastic costs billions to abate.

Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Good Ship Venus

The weather just keeps on getting better now with Winter on the wain, which makes for happy divers and even happier photographers. We opted this morning to visit a standby shore dive just up the road from us, as well as having the pleasure of a couple of friends joining us for dive number one.  Tanja was quick to spot the first turtle hanging around in the shallows immediately making it out through the cut.

After that, first port of call on the way out to the main wall was a stop at the Nicholson to get some shots with Lumpy, Spot and the rest of the boys that always hang around there.

And very accomodating they were too with some additional friends joining us as time went on including some more turtles skirting round the edges of the camera lens.

With plenty of time left, we moved on out to the main wall and to enjoy the spectacular scenery and play with more turtles not to mention a crusing nurse shark which was just little bit further than my lens would allow for, but still a pleasure to watch.

 Final stop of the tour was a quick candid shot with Amphitrite, unfortunately some hoolidan divers got in the way! Hooligans......

Second dive was all about the macro and I'm starting to get a feel for the new lens but still a few situations where I wish the there was the ability to disable the lens OSS and let the body IBIS take full control which would be nice for those instances where the conditions are less than favourable. 

Anyway straight ou tthe gate we made some new friends with some squid that accompanied us for most of the dive, one of which took a particular shine to me, whom I dubbed "Squid Vicious".

So myself and Squid Visious spent the rest of the dive hunting down the small stuff which included some lovely little gaudy clown crabs and star eyed hermit crabs which proved to be very photoegenic and even Squid Vicious approved by giving me the tentacle up.

Some great little needle nose puffers along with some shy little mantis shrimp was a nice way to top off the end of the dive. With a wave of the tentacle and squirt of ink, we said goodbye to Squid Vicious and headed back to dry land.