Friday, 15 December 2017

Leatherback sea turtle could be extinct within 20 years at last stronghold in the Pacific Ocean

Biologists have found a 78 percent drop in leatherback turtle nests at their primary nesting site. There is concern that the largest marine turtle in world may vanish.
Credit: UAB
An international team led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has documented a 78 percent decline in the number of nests of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) at the turtle's last stronghold in the Pacific Ocean.
The study, published online Feb. 26 in the Ecological Society of America's scientific online journal Ecosphere, reveals leatherback nests at Jamursba Medi Beach in Papua Barat, Indonesia -- which accounts for 75 percent of the total leatherback nesting in the western Pacific -- have fallen from a peak of 14,455 in 1984 to a low of 1,532 in 2011. Less than 500 leatherbacks now nest at this site annually.
Thane Wibbels, Ph.D., a professor of reproductive biology at UAB and member of a research team that includes scientists from State University of Papua (UNIPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia, says the largest marine turtle in the world could soon vanish.
"If the decline continues, within 20 years it will be difficult if not impossible for the leatherback to avoid extinction," said Wibbels, who has studied marine turtles since 1980. "That means the number of turtles would be so low that the species could not make a comeback.
"The leatherback is one of the most intriguing animals in nature, and we are watching it head towards extinction in front of our eyes," added Wibbels.
Leatherback turtles can grow to six feet long and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. They are able to dive to depths of nearly 4,000 feet and can make trans-Pacific migrations from Indonesia to the U.S. Pacific coast and back again.
While it is hard to imagine that a turtle so large and so durable can be on the verge of extinction, Ricardo Tapilatu, the research team's lead scientist who is a Ph.D. student and Fulbright Scholar in the UAB Department of Biology, points to the leatherback's trans-Pacific migration, where they face the prevalent danger of being caught and killed in fisheries.
"They can migrate more than 7,000 miles and travel through the territory of at least 20 countries, so this is a complex international problem," Tapilatu said. "It is extremely difficult to comprehensively enforce fishing regulations throughout the Pacific."
The team, along with paper co-author Peter Dutton, Ph.D., discovered thousands of nests laid during the boreal winter just a few kilometers away from the known nesting sites, but their excitement was short-lived.
"We were optimistic for this population when year round nesting was discovered in Wermon Beach, but we now have found out that nesting on that beach appears to be declining at a similar rate as Jamursba Medi," said Dutton, head of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center's Marine Turtle Genetics Program.
The study has used year-round surveys of leatherback turtle nesting areas since 2005, and it is the most extensive research on the species to date. The team identified four major problems facing leatherback turtles: nesting beach predators, such as pigs and dogs that were introduced to the island and eat the turtle eggs; rising sand temperatures that can kill the eggs or prevent the production of male hatchlings; the danger of being caught by fisheries during migrations; and harvesting of adults and eggs for food by islanders.
Tapilatu, a native of western Papua, Indonesia, has studied leatherback turtles and worked on their conservation since 2004. His efforts have been recognized by NOAA, and he will head the leatherback conservation program in Indonesia once he earns his doctorate from UAB and returns to Papua.
He has worked to educate locals and limit the harvesting of adults and eggs. His primary focus today is protecting the nesting females, eggs and hatchlings. A leatherback lays up to 10 nests each season, more than any other turtle species. Tapilatu is designing ways to optimize egg survival and hatchling production by limiting their exposure to predators and heat through an extensive beach management program.
"If we relocate the nests from the warmest portion of the beach to our egg hatcheries, and build shades for nests in other warm areas, then we will increase hatching success to 80 percent or more," said Tapilatu.
"The international effort has attempted to develop a science-based nesting beach management plan by evaluating and addressing the factors that affect hatching success such as high sand temperatures, erosion, feral pig predation and relocating nests to maximize hatchling output," said Manjula Tiwari, a researcher at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif.
Wibbels, who is also the Ph.D. advisor for Tapilatu, says that optimizing hatchling production is a key component to leatherback survival, especially considering the limited number of hatchlings who survive to adulthood.
"Only one hatchling out of 1,000 makes it to adulthood, so taking out an adult makes a significant difference on the population," Wibbels said. "It is essentially the same as killing 1,000 hatchlings."
The research team believes that beach management will help to decrease the annual decline in the number of leatherback nests, but protection of the leatherbacks in waters throughout the Pacific is a prerequisite for their survival and recovery. Despite their prediction for leatherback extinction, the scientists are hopeful this species could begin rebounding over the next 20 years if effective management strategies are implemented.
Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Original written by Kevin Storr. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Ricardo F. Tapilatu, Peter H. Dutton, Manjula Tiwari, Thane Wibbels, Hadi V. Ferdinandus, William G. Iwanggin, Barakhiel H. Nugroho. Long-term decline of the western Pacific leatherback,Dermochelys coriacea: a globally important sea turtle populationEcosphere, 2013; 4 (2): art25 DOI: 10.1890/ES12-00348.1
Leatherback sea turtle could be extinct within 20 years at last stronghold in the Pacific Ocean




Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Deep End: Shark Gods of Fiji: Episode 5 - SharkLand




Sharkland 


(3) Sharkland - Episodes: "The Deep End: Shark Gods of Fiji: Episode 5"



'via Blog this'

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Fiji Diving - HD Expeditions Fiji in 5 minutes







Fiji Diving - HD Expeditions Fiji in 5 minutes from HD Expeditions Fiji on Vimeo.



Friday, 1 December 2017

Leaving Paradise Behind - Tom Moody - Namenalala

Tom Moody

Tom Moody is a man who knows his own mind.

 “I like islands, I like tropics, I like remote,” 
he says. These were the simple elements he sought when he left his wife and teenaged daughter behind in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for Fiji in the fall of 1982. After weeks of scouting he caught wind of the island of Namenalala, and hitched a ride on a fishing boat to check it out. About half an hour from the town of Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu, he spotted Namenalala. It looked like a green dragon with its long tail and high spine, keeping a lazy eastward gaze.

Moody spent two hours scouting Namenalala’s 107 acres. He found steep hills, rocky shores, and a complete absence of freshwater. In short, there were reasons why people had left this place alone. Moody got back on the boat but Moody peered over the edge at the coral reefs down below as the driver started toward town. “Can we just stop here for a few minutes?” he asked. He affixed his snorkeling mask over his narrow hazel eyes and flopped over the side. With a big breath he dove down into a pink, green, and blue forest. He was met by a trove of soft corals, feather stars, and sea slugs; there was more to look at than he could possibly take in. By the time he surfaced, he knew that he had found what he was looking for. Little did he know then this Eden would one day become one of Fiji’s last remaining pristine reefs.

Moody was not a middle-aged man in the throes of a midlife crisis. He was not trying to escape from a suburban life gone dull. In fact, he had lived the island life before, on Pidertupo Village, a three-acre island in the San Blas archipelago off Panama’s Caribbean coast. He and his wife Joan first came to Pidertupo in 1966 at the end of a five-year quest to find an island they could call their own. He had loved and then lost this life, and was in Fiji to try to rebuild it.

Read full article here:  SAGE – Leaving Paradise Behind

Monday, 27 November 2017

Fiji Airways on sale LA to Fiji from $799pp

Fiji Airways on sale LA to Fiji from $799pp* for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!! What are you waiting for?



Los Angeles To Fiji Flights | Fiji Airways:


Saturday, 25 November 2017

Fiji Siren Update : 21st November 2017 – A Letter From The Owners


Worldwide Dive and Sail was born in 2003 on a simple premise; build diving liveaboard boats that provide the service that we, as divers, crave. As the years have gone by we have grown beyond the wildest dreams we had in those early days, but the focus has always remained the same – the guest.

Over the years we have built a team across the globe that we are incredibly proud of and we have shared some amazing times. Sadly, as this week, we have also shared some incredibly difficult times. In response to one of our posts on Facebook about the loss of Fiji Siren, someone posted “anyone can ‘sail a boat in calm waters’. It’s when things get rough that true skills and professionalism shine through”. Our team; on Fiji Siren, on the ground in Fiji, and at head office in Phuket have been the very epitome of this phrase and we cannot thank them enough.
At times like these, especially in this era of social media and instant gratification, people have a craving for information and are led to speculate on current events and past history. Often, fact gets mixed up with fiction and rumour becomes reality. Having seen this happening, especially on social media, as owners we feel that we should address the issue head on.
There are those out there who are insinuating that because we are not openly stating the cause of the sinking that we are hiding something. This is not the case and when we know for sure what happened we will be open about it, as we have been in the past. Until then, however, we can only pass along information that we know to be 100% true. To do otherwise would be irresponsible. More will surely follow on this in the fullness of time.
Also, not for the first time, there are comments from people who are openly saying that the incident was intentional so that we could claim on insurance. It’s very difficult to describe not just how hurtful this is, but also how offensive. There were 16 guests and 13 crew aboard Fiji Siren on the night of 14th of November and we are incredulous that anyone would consider that we might put even one of those souls at risk, in the dark and while they were sleeping, just for an insurance claim. Even had the boat been empty and in port, people seem to forget that insurance claims are not guaranteed to be paid. This is something that we can attest to personally.
Then there is our history. It’s no secret that Fiji Siren is not the first Siren that we have lost. We have never, and do not plan to, hide from the past. The expression ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ is so very true and should always be kept in mind. In the interests of keeping this message of a reasonable length we will not go into everything here, rather, anyone who is interested can read more here 
We know it’s not an easy record to defend, but defend it we will. We know that all of our crews in these incidents have behaved excellently, that they followed procedure, that they put the customer’s safety first. There is no member of crew involved in any of our losses that we would not employ again, and of course that includes Fiji Siren. We are incredibly proud of them and will stand by them always! We know that our safety protocol is among the best in the business and anyone who has travelled with us will know this. We carry out muster drills on every cruise and make sure that people not only know where their life jacket is, but also make sure they know how to use it. We carry out fire drills, man overboard drills, hull breach drills on our vessels during cruises; with customers around to see it, and they state repeatedly that this is the first time they’ve seen this on a liveaboard vessel. Yes, we have had our problems, but we learn and we remember.
While we are down at heart right now, we will continue. We will do so because we are passionate about what we do. We believe in our product, we believe in our team, and we believe that together we can provide our guests with the most inspirational experiences.
Frank and Mark

Fiji Update - Siren Fleet:

Thursday, 23 November 2017

How a tiny shrimp fires a savage shock wave using just its claw


This shrimp is anything but feeble
By Aylin Woodward
This reef ain’t big enough for the both of us. Two pistol shrimp face each other, each spreading open its giant snapping claw – nearly half the size of its body. One or both of them then snaps the claw shut in its opponent’s direction, firing off a powerful water jet at speeds up to 30 metres per second.
These shrimp shootouts are rarely fatal, but can leave the loser retreating with missing claws or puncture wounds. But the high-speed squirt isn’t what harms their target – it’s the resulting shock wave. Now we have glimpsed how this unfolds in fine detail.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2151700-how-a-tiny-shrimp-fires-a-savage-shock-wave-using-just-its-claw/

Monday, 20 November 2017

New NAI'A Family?

Twenty-five years ago we launched NAI’A in Fiji and she quickly became one of the most well-respected liveaboard dive boats ever. We had a magnificent time exploring Fiji and beyond and we got to know thousands of keen divers, many of whom have become good friends. We raised our family in a beautiful, stimulating and safe environment. But now the NAI’A family is ready for new challenges.

Cat’s and my girls are just beginning their teenage odyssey while Todd and Alexx’s kids are well and truly launched and building their own lives in Fiji. After such a glorious run with NAI’A, it pains us to offer her for sale, but we realize that she, her crew and her many return passengers would all benefit from the energy and vision of a new NAI’A family. If you or your adult children or friends are considering a sea change, this is an opportunity to step into an exciting and profitable turn-key business in a gorgeous, peaceful nation in the South Pacific.
We rebuilt the ship in Suva in 1992 and again in 2010 and have operated her in Fiji ever since. A strong Dutch-built steel ship, NAI’A has proven herself as Fiji’s ultimate liveaboard experience but her success is even broader. She’s already voyaged to the Kingdom of Tonga for 21 extremely popular humpback whale swim seasons. She did the first exploratory expeditions to the Phoenix Islands and has been back several times to support the World Heritage Marine Protected Area we kick-started there. We have also dived Vanuatu and New Caledonia on our extended adventure itineraries.
NAI’A is well respected in the liveaboard scuba diving niche. The company is profitable and always has been despite the many obstacles the world has thrown out. We have forward bookings for Fiji into 2020 and our whale swim charters in Tonga are full through 2021. NAI’A is at the top of her game. If you are intrigued by the possibilities, please contact me for more information.

Best fishes,
Rob Barrel, founder   
Todd and Alexx Edwards, co-founders  
NAI’A Fiji
rob@naia.com.fj 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

4FJ is a different kind of campaign

4FJ is a different kind of campaign. With so many environmental messages hitting us today, this campaign aims to remind us all what a healthy ocean means to our way of life and then help us do something, right here, right now, to save them.



It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Step 1: Admit We’ve Have a Problem

Grouper, commonly known locally by names such as kawakawa and donu, are an important source of protein for our communities. Groupers, sought after by urban residents and tourists alike, are also commercially valuable to Fiji’s economy. The fish is just hmm, mmm good. But as our population grows and the demand for both food and income grows, these fish are disappearing all across Fiji.

This is a fish that is a staple of village diets, that has been part of Fiji’s island culture for hundreds of years, and one of a ways rural community can make money for basics needs, is going away. That means the kids in the village will be less healthy with less protein to eat. That means our people will have less fish to sell and support their families. That also means our cultural traditions will be harder to maintain. Can you imagine how your next visit to the village will be if they can’t serve fish?

Bottom line: Unless action is not take to better manage these fish, which help support our villages, our culture and our economy, these fish face a bleak future. True story.

Step 2: Make the Pledge


These fish reproduce predictably every year at the same time. So if we don’t eat the fish when during the time, and let them release literally millions and millions of eggs instead, the fish populations will begin to rebound. So 4FJ is asking people from all walks of life, from our villages to our fish markets to our board rooms to our government offices to take a simple pledge: “I will not to eat, buy or sell grouper from July through September.” These are the months that grouper reproduce.

Step 3: Join the Movement


The goal of the pledge is to let these fish reproduce and fill our fish baskets for years to come. But this campaign wants to do more than just collect names and talk about fish biology. While people are stepping forward to do the right thing, it is important to remind ourselves why this campaign is so important. To remember that 4FJ is not about fish, it is about us. The campaign team will shine a spotlight on the people who are taking the pledge. We want to know why saving Fiji’s grouper is important to you. We want to know what it means to you, your family, your village, your island, your country. We realize that there are so many environmental messages coming at you right now. Save this, stop that. What we often forget in our busy lives is why these issues are so important.

So a key part of the 4FJ campaign work will be empowering ocean champions, who are making the pledge, to tell their story, from community members to business leaders to cultural and political leaders to fishermen to chefs to urban professionals, to mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.

So visit www.4fj.com.fj to hear the stories of why this fish is important to our way of life, share your own and join the movement.

Campaign Team


SeaWeb Asia Pacific, a regional nonprofit organization that specializes in innovative communication initiatives, designed and is coordinating the 4FJ campaign. SeaWeb AP is located at 49 Gladstone Rd in Suva, if you want to come by and meet the team.

But the campaign is built on a dynamic partnership between the private sector, research institutions, government departments, non-governmental organizations and communities. Key partners include the Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations, the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network, the Fiji Department of Fisheries, the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji, Conservation International, the WWF South Pacific Program, Mamanuca Environment Society, the University of the South Pacific Institute of Applied Science and the University of Hong Kong.

And as the campaign grows, we hope the campaign partners will grow as well.


4fj.org.fj

Thursday, 14 September 2017

blue o two release a brand new Fiji itinerary!

Project Shark is back! blue o two are extremely excited to announce a brand new Fiji itinerary from 2019.
Dive into tropical waters with flourishing shark populations on their brand new itinerary, Project SharkFiji. The aim of Project Shark is to highlight the global issues facing sharks, with a Fijian focus, as well as enjoying some of the most exciting dive sites that Fiji has to offer. Project Shark in Fiji will include a focus on manta rays as they can also be seen in this destination and are closely related to sharks. Encounters with endangered species allows divers to add a greater purpose to their liveaboard holiday.

On board the beautiful S/Y Fiji Siren, this 10 night trip departing from the Darling family’s Volivoli Beach Resort on Vita Levu takes divers through the Bligh Waters. This itinerary will involve close encounters with sharks, with the possibility of diving with manta rays. Divers will be joined on board for the duration of this trip by our experienced blue o two Project Shark trip host, Dr Elke Bojanowski.
Project Shark is a perfect trip for anyone who has an active interest in the preservation of the marine environment. Divers will not only enjoy fantastic diving with some of the most fascinating pelagic animals on the planet, but will learn about globally endangered marine species and what, as divers, they can do to aid their protection. Dr Elke Bojanowski will conduct seminars giving divers the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the biology and behaviour of sharks. During this trip, divers will be able to play a part in adding to valuable research efforts by the ‘Manta Trust’ who work towards the conservation of manta rays worldwide.
Founder of the ‘Red Sea Sharks Trust’, dive guide and marine biologist, Elke Bojanowski Ph.D, began the Longimanus Project in October 2004 and since this date she has been actively collecting underwater photographs and video-clips of oceanic whitetip sharks for catalogue, review and analysis. Since 2012 the project has expanded to become Red Sea Sharks and has increased its scope to include grey reef, whitetip reef, scalloped hammerhead, pelagic thresher and silky shark catalogues.
blue o two are therefore delighted to now expand their Project Shark itineraries to now include Fiji.
Join blue o two on board for Project Shark: Fiji in 2019:
16/06/19 – Project Shark: Fiji – S/Y Fiji Siren (10 nights) – £3760 per person*
*The package includes: Full board on the vessel (incl tea/coffee, juices, soft drinks & local beers), all diving on air, nitrox if certified, 12lt cylinder, weights & weight belt, equipment hire (BCD, regulator, 3mm shorty wetsuit, mask, fins & boots). Given changes in exchange rates the final package price can only be confirmed at the time of booking. The price shown EXCLUDES flights and local transfers although these can be organised on request.

For further details on Project SharkFiji, please contact our expert travel team on +44 (0) 1752 480 808 or visit our website at www.blueotwo.com.