Whilst on a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, we arrived at Cozumel Island. The one and only advertised dive from our cruise ship described a deep water experience including a drift dive along a large wall. However on the day, the local currents were far stronger than they had known in recent times, so our dive plan changed at the last minute.
We ended up doing relative shallow dives close to shore to avoid the danger of those large currents. Even so, we still had a 3-4 knot current and had I have wanted to stop and look at something of macro photographic interest, it would have to have been in the lee of a bombie or in a sea floor depression.
DIVE THE CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS OF THE CARIBBEAN AT GRAND CAYMAN
On a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, I had an opportunity for a two tank scuba dive with Don Foster’s Dive Cayman in West Bay, Grand Cayman. So I took this chance to experience the crystal clear Caribbean waters but unfortunately there were unexpected very strong currents, the worst they had in the last three years.
So we dived Wall Street, a relatively protected site covered by the remaining fragments of a severely damaged wreck. Many were colonised by soft quite colourful corals, gorgon fans, fish and other typical Caribbean marine life. We also encountered a field of very tall garden eels, a curious sight not often seen.
My dive guide was also a great source of amusement. He tolerated my prolonged photographic stops by amusing himself with a wreck of a bicycle, and what a camera ham he proved to be, attempting to ride it whilst wearing his long free diving fins!
THRILLING ADVENTURES WITH SHARKS OFF SOUTH AFRICA’S WILD COAST
DiveCareDare leaves for its first official adventure later this week as an international group of 5 divers and a snorkeler, from Australia, Austria, Fiji and Angola.
Then we are off for the big shark action of the Protea Banks where Tony completed his first NOMAD African Dive Safari in 2011 with Fern Perry of Lutwala Dive.
Tony featured in this diving compilation of Mozambique to Protea Banks.
We are driving from the Protea Banks along the Wild Coast (formally known as Transkaai) near Nelson Mandela’s birth village, to catch up with the Sardine Run at Coffee Bay and the Waterfall Bluff that featured in the BBC series.
Along the famous sand Garden Route to Cape Town we plan to have more encounters with winter wildlife including the great white sharks and their big breaches off Simon’s town with Chris Fallows of Apex Shark Expeditions
This experience is a different one to our previous at Gansbaai in 2012 where we caged dived with Brian McFarlane of Shark Cage Diving. Apex operate with smaller cages not the large ones with a capacity for 8 divers, so it is a much more personal encounter. We hope to meet with Chris Fallows, a world legend on great white encounters.
So since you can’t join us in person, follow us and our exploits on our new web site or your social media of choice including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ YouTube or Instagram.
Remora remora is the name for the common remora. They have a highly modified dorsal fin that expands during their development to become an efficient sucker disk on the top of their head. Remoras attach to sharks, mantas, whales, turtles, ships, divers and just about anything to save energy until their next feed. It’s hard to imagine that powerful, open ocean swimmers like mahi-mahi [dolphinfish] and amberjacks are related to remoras. Your opinion about these opportunistic freeloaders might change when you consider what 50 million years of evolution has done by tinkering with the muscles and bone structure of a dorsal fin to produce their quirky edge for survival.
In nature there are relationships like predator-prey and parasitism where one half of the equation benefits at the expense of the other. There is mutualism, a form of symbiosis where both organisms benefit from the relationship to the extreme where one cannot survive without the other. Commensalism describes relationships on a scale between parasitism and mutualism. Where does the relationship between remoras and other sea life belong?
Does the removal of parasites as a service to a host improve survival, longevity or the energy budget of a host like this humpback whale? It must have a hundred or more remoras that increases the effort needed to move through the ocean using precious fat reserves for energy. This mother is feeding its calf on the long journey to summer feeding grounds off Antarctica, so how far south do remoras go before their free ride gets too cool to survive? Do remoras provide a parasite removal service that is worthy of them tagging along or is this an extreme form of commensalism that’s nudging parasitism as a way of life? Remoras are up their with platypus and other anomalies of the natural world that make me wonder what the creator was on while doodling the prototype or was the design brief given to a committee? Continue reading
CALL TO ACTION FOR BETTER SHARK CONTROL PROGRAMS
Several events in September, 2014, prompted me to take personal responsibility for a call to fast track better Shark Control Programs:
Hanna, a high school student who spoke at a rally on the Gold Coast where she asked everyone present to help stop the culling of sharks in Queensland.
The community stand at Byron Bay, NSW against drum lines and shark nets following a Category 4 human-shark incident.
A recommendation by the EPA to discontinue the shark culling in Western Australia in the wake of 6751 public submissions and petitions with over 25,000 signatures.
The People’s Choice Award for “Most Dynamic Display”: SOS – Save Our Sharks won at the Sunshine Coast “Kids In Action” conference.
An invitation to celebrate with the Kids In Action winners at The Spit, Mooloolaba, where the shark nets for the Shark Control Program are stored.
Sensational media coverage relating to sharks that came to the attention of an international competitor ahead of his arrival as our guest for the Sunshine Coast Ironman Event.
Facebook friend, Michael Rutzen and 60 Minutes reporter, Allison Langdon scuba diving with great white sharks in shark alley and showing non-lethal shark barriers modelled on kelp forest.
The essence of email to my local, state and federal representatives, federal minister for the environment, state minister for fisheries and reviewers/manager of the Queensland shark control program follows:
Great White Shark victim of lethal action following Category 4 human-shark incident at Byron Bay, NSW?
Leading the evening news stories, Tuesday, 9th September, 2014 ahead of Royals, bombings and political scandal was the unsuccessful rescue and fatality of a lone swimmer at Clarkes Beach, Byron Bay, NSW. The bite to Paul Wilcox’s leg at 10:45 am in clear water at a sand bar, 15 metres from shore, was witnessed by his wife. The 3 metre, sub adult, great white shark that was believed to be responsible for the bite was chased out to sea. On initial, unsubstantiated reports, the great white shark was to be targeted with lethal action should it return to Byron Bay. Such a response reinforces the popular view of the ”Jaws” generation that there is a public risk and a ‘rogue’ shark problem that must be solved with lethal force. Continue reading
BLACK TIP SHARKS, TOO MANY TO COUNT!
With the courtesy of Basie Ackermann and his Aliwal Dive Centre team we went out this week on a baited shark dive close to Aliwal Shoal. At 5-15m we had more than fifty black tip sharks who were tempted in by the scum slick in the water from the bait box. At times it was almost overwhelming, not one for the faint hearted to be completely surround by shark soup!
Ragged tooth sharks in their hundreds at Protea Banks
We had the privilege of going out with Roland Mauz of African Dive Adventures this week to the Protea Banks on the Hibiscus Coast, about two hours out of Durban. We were blessed with over 200 ragged tooth sharks just drifting in the gentle current on the sea floor, in their sleepy daytime state. Far different to the dive I did last week at Wolf Rock in SE QLD were I only saw one shark! Shark diving in Africa is like diving on steroids….
LAUNCH OF DIVECAREDARE:
DiveCareDare was launched on the 1st July 2014.
Who, What is DiveCareDare?
DiveCareDare is the brain child of Tony Isaacson, a PADI scuba instructor, marine studies teacher, naturalist and marine adventurer for 30 years.
Tony has been passionate about marine life and the oceans to the extent that his “life is diving….the rest is surface interval”. Since 1977 his passion has been delivered to students from preschool to post graduates and marine educational associations and clubs. Now he has stepped up to a dot-com to engage a global interaction with like-minded educators, adventurers ocean care volunteers and those who know that an ocean without sharks is a scarier world than one with them.
Three words that can mean many things.
Taken at face value:
Dive the oceans, remote destinations, pristine tropical or cold current waters…
Care for what we love, the seas and the creatures that we ultimately depend on…
Dare to swim with sharks, to be different, to do things differently, to make a difference…
Whatever you believe it to be, DiveCareDare is an educational platform for scuba divers, snorkelers, naturalists and those interested in learning more about diving destinations around the world and how they can help to make a difference for the creatures that live there.
The welfare of sharks is of particular interest and concern for Tony. To overcome a lifelong fear of sharks Tony has turned to the finest locations on the planet to get to know sharks and to respect them and their pivotal role for healthy sustainable oceans.
Tony waves the flag for sharks and marine ecotourism around the world. He has site custodial roles with the Grey Nurse Shark Watch to monitor the recovery of a shark which has been reduced to critically low numbers because they looked ferocious to a generation affected by the 1975 blockbuster movie JAWS.
In 2013 Tony motivated a 60 MINUTES team including well known reporter Peter Overton and bull shark bite survivor Paul de Gelder to dive with bull sharks in Beqa Lagoon, Fiji – the only place in the world where 8 species of shark can be encountered at one dive site.
DiveCareDare has connections with dive travel and diver training. Tony is a certified PADI Instructor and works along with local businesses to provide training for people aspiring to become Open Water and Advanced Divers. He operates an Airbnb “divers lodge” for small groups to do local dives or hit the road for camper van safaris and diving charters north and south of his home on the sunshine Coast.
Tony uses videography and frame captures to share what he experiences as a platform for awe, wonder and education. When a fire in our bellies is burning, awareness is heightened and like-minded people can make good things happen for the beasts of this world who cannot speak for themselves.
Tony’s mantra fosters intimate human-ocean life interaction.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love.
We love only what we understand.
We will understand only what we are taught”.
Tony Isaacson is DiveCareDare. DiveCareDare is Tony Isaacson.
I am off this week to do my winter shark survey for Grey Nurse Shark Watch (GSNW). I will be joining Cheryl and Kev of Wolf Rock Dive Centre and a boat load of fellow divers to the Wolf Rock dive site on Tuesday, 9th July.
Wolf Rock is a 30 min boat ride out from Rainbow Beach and can be seen from the northern end of Double Island Point. It has four volcanic rocky pinnacles which allow for multi-level diving to a depth of 30m and is thus suitable only for Advanced Open Water divers. It is at the most southern end of the Great Sandy Marine Park and offers a 1.5km exclusion zone around the pinnacles as it is a critical habitat for the endangered grey nurse sharks. They congregate all year round here and pregnant females regularly gestate at the site, it being the only known site on the East Coast of Australia where they do this.
I have been a GNSW custodian for dive sites extending from Fish Rock Cave, South West Rocks in NSW to Wolf Rock here in QLD for the last three years. I try to do both winter (July-Aug)and summer surveys (Jan-Feb) for the GNSW, and so far have been privileged to have named a number of sharks in the program, including Elliot, Kristen and Irene. Hopefully I will be able to get some great shots of the sharks and may even get to name another, if luck will have it.
Watch this space to see how I go!