Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Photography Guru Joins DivePhotoGuide as Technical Editor

Popular site for underwater photographers continues to generate interest as its serve the diving world., a leading website for underwater photographers and videograpghers is pleased to announce that Micahel McNamara, Popular Photography & Imaging Magazine's Executive Technology Editor, a renowned expert on digital cameras, imaging products, color printing, and color management systems, and also an underwater photographer, has joined the growing editorial team as a Contributing Technical Editor

In his position at the largest consumer photography magazine in the US, Mike gets to play with all the toys before the rest of us mere mortals. “ is fortunate to have Mike reporting on the latest and greatest DSLR's and compact digital cameras that are relevant to the underwater photographer.”, says Jason Heller, CEO.

Since 1999, Michael McNamara has also been the Editor of PP&I’s annual Digital Imaging Guide. Michael studied Ocean Science for three years at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. In 1992 Mike won the Mexican Government's prestigious "Pluma de Plata" (Silver Quill) journalism award for his feature story and underwater photographs on Cozumel, Mexico. He has also been interviewed numerous times on ABC, CBS, CNN, QVC, and PBS, and has been quoted by USA Today, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, the Photo Industry Reporter, and several other publications.

It's a brave new world out there - the cameras are getting more powerful, workflow, and image storage are necessary skills for today's photographers. Mike's an expert on it all, and he's now here reporting it to the underwater community.

Impressive New Image Collection REEF Now Available

Proceeds from this high-quality collection by Scubazoo to benefit Coral Reef Alliance.

Coral reefs are the largest living structure on the planet, and yet at the present rate of destruction could mostly disappear by 2050. Created by the skeletons of live corals, they make up one percent of the Earth’s surface, are home to 25 percent of all marine fish species, provide food and livelihood for five million people, and generate billions of dollars in goods and services. These underwater marvels are the subject of DK’s REEF (September 2007; hardcover + DVD; $40), a comprehensive and stunning reference to the world’s “rainforests of the sea.” This book is not only a beautiful tour underwater, but it is also a serious call to action.

The superb collection of photographs found throughout REEF is provided by underwater photography specialists Scubazoo . This leading team of marine photographers has recorded these remarkable and important structures, along with equally important marine habitats, including temperate reefs, kelp forests, seagrass beds, and mangrove swamps.

REEF progresses in a series of photographic sections, describing the range of seascapes, the diversity of animals found there, and their survival techniques and behavioral patterns. The book also contains photographic essays that demonstrate the immense pressures—both natural and man-made—that threaten the continued survival of these unique environments. A series of maps highlights the distribution of reefs worldwide, and a behind-the-scenes section shows Scubazoo in action, capturing the images that are featured in the book.

In addition to the gorgeous photography, an accompanying 30-minute DVD offers breathtaking footage of much of the marine life featured in the book. For anyone interested in nature, diving, or conservancy—REEF will provide hours of enlightenment. Visit our website at to read a Q&A with Scubazoo , view footage from the DVD as well as images from the book, and order your own copy!

For more information about REEF, please contact Carroll Beauvais at; 646-674-4041 or Mindy Fichter at; 646-674-4042.

About the Authors:

Scubazoo is a dedicated team of underwater cameramen who have devoted their lives to the filming and preservation of reefs worldwide. The scope of their work covers a broad range of projects, including filming for the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet, and NBC news channels.

The group is based in Sabah, on the island of Borneo, in an area of ocean known as the “coral triangle,” the heart of the world’s fish and coral biodiversity. Most of Scubazoo's personnel originally hail from Great Britain, and all share passion for the underwater world, which they are keen to communicate to as wide an audience as possible.

They dive 365 days a year at some of the world’s top diving locations. As a result, they see creatures and behavior that have rarely—and in some cases never—been filmed before. Their ultimate goal is to raise awareness of the Earth’s marine environment—its creatures and biology—and to highlight the importance and need for its conservation and preservation for the future. Scubazoo has worked to tackle conservation issues with organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace International, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, WildAid, and the Shark Trust. Members of Scubazoo are available for interview.

About Sylvia Earle:

Sylvia Earle, foreword writer of REEF, is an oceanographer, marine botanist, ecologist, and author. A pioneering aquanaut and marine explorer, Earle made her first scuba dive at 17. She has since set the women’s depth record for solo diving (1,000 meters/3,281 feet) and logged more than 6,000 diving hours—feats that garnered her the moniker “Her Deepness.” The author of five books and numerous scientific and popular articles, Earle tirelessly calls for the preservation and exploration of the world’s marine ecosystems.

Fiji Scuba Diving

Fiji Scuba Diving

"First things first: There is no island of Fiji. Instead, Fiji is an island nation of about 300 islands, from small remote islets that seem caught in an old South Pacific time warp to some of the modern world's most exclusive private resort islands. So, where to go? Actually, the real question is how do you want to spend your time? Divers can pick and choose from some of the best diving locations in the South Seas (the best known, Taveuni, is legendary for its wall dives), while surfers have long favored several world-class reef breaks off Tavarua island in the Mamanuca chain just west of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu."

Fiji Scuba Diving

Monday, 27 August 2007

Cool pics from Jane @ Lalati

Some very cool pics from Jane Carlson at Lalati on Beqa, Fiji.

These were all taken on the dive site "Jane's Lane" RIGHT OFF THE WHARF in front of the resort. Walk in, start clicking!

(c) all photos copyright Jane Carlson, Lalati Resort Fiji

Friday, 24 August 2007

Diveaway Fiji - Scuba diving on the Coral Coast: Thank you!

Cool review and letter from a happy Fiji Diver!



Diveaway Fiji - Scuba diving on the Coral Coast: Thank you!

Bula, Alex & Alice!

I just wanted to send you a quick 'hello' from Chicago. We had a great time in Fiji, and really enjoyed our stay at the Hideaway.

One of the absolute, unexpected highlights of our vacation was scuba diving with Diveaway Fiji. As you know, we (myself, Ashley and Kyra) had never before been scuba diving in our lives, and we never even imagined that we would be able to scuba dive while we were in Fiji in March 2007.

Thanks to your positive encouragement and comprehensive instructions, we found ourselves about 30 feet deep in the Pacific Ocean before we knew it. The entire experience was truly amazing. I'll always remember the absolute calm and beauty of being immersed in the fascinating under water world for the very first time!

We can't wait to get back into the water. I'm sure we will plan many of our future vacations with scuba diving opportunities in mind. You have definitely infected the three of us with scuba-fever.

Best of luck to you, and we wish you continued success with your diving business and experiences.


Larry, Judy, Ashley & Kyra"

Thursday, 23 August 2007


Dear Friend of the Ocean,

I am writing to you with very exciting news for the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)--and especially for the coral reefs and myriad rare species found in the archipelago of Raja Ampat.

For the next 30 days, CORAL Board member, Dr. Jim Foght, will match every contribution supporting our work in Raja Ampat--dollar for dollar--up to $25,000. Please act now to double the impact of your gift.

As you know, Raja Ampat is home to one of the most pristine reefs in the world with 450 species of hard coral, 600 mollusk species, and as many as 1,100 fish species--including a newly discovered shark that walks on it's fins! But crushing poverty has pushed some local fisherman to use cyanide and dynamite--severely damaging the coral. What's worse, mega commercial fishing companies are threatening to ramp up their operations in these precious waters.

Friend of the Ocean, your gift today will go twice as far to help us stop this destruction.

CORAL is working with the villagers to develop tangible benefits for protecting their coral reef--so they won't be forced to destroy it for their own survival. And, in just two years, we've made significant progress--including a tourism fee system that is generating money immediately for the communities. But I'm sure you can understand there is much more to be done to ensure the reef's long-term survival and to help the local people who depend on the reefs for their livelihoods.

I am reaching out to generous supporters like you, Friend of the Ocean, because I know you'll want to take advantage of this limited opportunity to double your gift today and help preserve one of our planet's most spectacular coral reefs. Thank you!

CORAL is offering Raja Ampat communities an alternative to these ecologically destructive options. However, we cannot sustain our Raja Ampat programs without support from members like you.


Brian Huse

Brian Huse
Executive Director

P.S. You won't believe this "walking" shark until you see it for yourself! Click on the link to the right to view a video and, please, help protect this and other rare creatures by making a gift right now. Thank you.

X-RAY MAG Issue No. 18 is published and ready for download

Popular online magazine continues to generate interest with great stories and information.

The September 2007 issue number 18 of X-RAY International Dive Magazine has been released. This late summer issue contains 94 spreads of dive news, travel stories, feature articles and underwater photography. Download of the current issue, archive issues and yearly subscriptions to X-RAY MAG is free.

In the current issue, divers and dive professionals will find comprehensive travel articles on Socorro Island off Mexico’s California peninsula, with text and photos by Barb Roy; Stunning images by Wolfgang Leander and Roger Horrocks freediving with Tiger sharks off South Africa.

Those with technical minds will find Cedric Verdier’s series on rebreathers – this time the subject is “Solo Diving with Rebreathers.” A bit provocative, perhaps? Well, give it a read and see for yourself

The photo and video section of the magazine is this time contributed by Swiss master photographer Kurt Amsler who generously shares his insights into strobe photography- Following a comprehensive news section full of current and compelling news from around the world on diving, divers, travel, education, ocean conservation, shipwrecks, giant squid and marine life, the new equipment and trends in the industry we have a short report on the latest events in Malaysia, the MIDE expo in Kuala Lumpur and Tioman MegaDive. And we tried and tested Scuba & Spa.

Last but not nearly least, we present the stunning underwater sculptures by Jason Taylor

To subscribe or download the current issue of X-RAY MAG free of charge, go to:

Monday, 20 August 2007

Pilot Whales - Fiji - Naigani Island - scuba diving trip, dive in Fiji.

Fiji - Naigani Island - scuba diving trip, dive in Fiji.

Pilot Whales

It was about 20 nautical miles from Naigani Island on a heading of 42 degrees to reach the Vatu Wall, but the trip was worth it. About halfway to this outer reef, we encountered a school of pilot whales heading in the same direction as us. “Captain Rambo” stopped well ahead of them and we waited quietly to see what they would do. Unexpectedly, they came directly towards the boat and then hung around. Neil went straight in with the video camera, wearing his “Nitrox Serious Diver” T-shirt and no fins! The others went in with the first mask and snorkel they could grab then came back for their fins. Everyone raved about their close encounter with these intelligent, inquisitive mammals.

I was sure that the pilot whales would not come in close enough to see underwater, so I decided to take pictures from the boat instead. Well, they came right under us a few times, clicked at the snorkelors, and my old Nikonos could not do it justice! Fortunately, Neil was able to get some good video footage of the whales."

Sunday, 19 August 2007

July 2007 NOAA Coral Reef Watch's Satellite Monitoring Products

This map shows the global observations of coral bleaching occurrences combined with NOAA Coral Reef Watch's satellite monitoring products including Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly, Bleaching HotSpot and Degree Heating Weeks.

These datasets are added into ReefBase Online GIS each month.

To view the latest July 2007 maps, click here.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

New version of the ReefBase's Online Geographic Information System (ReefGIS) is now available

ReefBase are pleased to launch a new version of the ReefBase's Online Geographic Information System (ReefGIS):

What's new in ReefGIS:

1. A major revision of the entire site which is now matches the look and feel of the main ReefBase website.

2. A new Flash based map with integrated navigation toolbar providing a more user friendly interface and quick access to information.

3. Broader map saving options (.png, .jpg, .tif) provide easier integration of maps into publications or presentations. You can customize the map by modifying the title, adding legend, and including custom notes. A preview function allows you to view customized map before saving. The saved map can then be downloaded directly to your hard drive or emailed to any account.

4. Save selected datasets into various file formats (.xls, .doc, .csv, .txt, .xml). This feature provides for better data sharing. You can easily import the datasets to your system for further analysis.

5. Email the URL of a specific map view (zoomed, specific layers and etc) to colleagues.

6. New maps added include Coral Reef Morphology, Coral Bleaching, NOAA Sea Surface Temperature and Solomon's Post-disaster.

and much more...

ReefBase hope the new look and functionality of ReefBase will benefit your work. They welcome any feedback or comments you may have.

Coral Reef MPAs of East Asia and Micronesia data are now available online and CD format

The "Coral Reef MPAs of East Asia and Micronesia" project is a collaborative effort between The WorldFish Center (ReefBase Project) and Japan Wildlife Research Center (JWRC), and funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, as part of the Japan-Palau ICRI secretariat Plan of Action for 2005 -2007.

The project output has been summarized and published as a new key topic in ReefBase "Key Topics" section.

Click here:

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Reef Check - Reef Check News - Saving Reefs Worldwide

Reef Check - Reef Check News - Saving Reefs Worldwide

Sylvia Earle & Daryl Hannah Sign Reef Declaration Underwater

“Explorer-in-Residence” Dr. Sylvia Earle, and award-winning actress and ocean advocate Daryl Hannahsigned the “International Declaration of Reef Rights” underwater here on Friday. The International Declaration of Reef Rights is being distributed worldwide by the Reef Check Foundation to raise awareness about the coral reef crisis. More than five thousand people from 110 countries worldwide have signed the Declaration online and have pledged to take care of reefs at:

“Coral reefs and California rocky reef ecosystems are in trouble,” said Dr. Earle, former Chief Scientist of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. “If reefs are in trouble, so are we! I think what Reef Check is doing is phenomenal: inspiring and motivating scientists, volunteers and the general public to take care of our ocean.”

Read full article here:

Reef Check - Reef Check News - Saving Reefs Worldwide

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Digital Strobe Definitions

Digital Strobe Definitions

By Ikelite

The amount of light is changed by controlling the flash duration, and this is usually referred to as the intensity. The flash tube takes time to reach maximum output, and then its light diminishes. Stopping anywhere in this time period is how the amount of light is controlled.

Duplicating the time duration of a pre-flash may not produce the same amount of light because different strobes takes different times to reach their peak intensity. The exposure of many digital cameras is dictated by measuring the pre-flash, so its intensity is important."

Digital Strobe Definitions

Friday, 10 August 2007 | Article | Escaping to Kadavu - A Fiji Secret | Article | Escaping to Kadavu - A Fiji Secret:

Contributed by Wandy Hochgrebe

Yes! We had arrived in Fiji for our two week stay. We were lucky that the Nadi (pronounced NaNdi) airport had very comfortable couches as we had to wait till midday for our flight to Kadavu (pronounced KaNdavu). During that time we learned the proper pronunciation of Nadi and Kadavu as they were announced over the speakers and we kept wondering why on the schedules they left out the 'n'. Obviously, we were very new to the Fijian language....

Kadavu is only one hour south of the main island Viti Levu by plane and it has a tiny little airport at Vinesea. From there, most transport is by boat as there are not many roads on the island.

Part 2: Matava

Main Bure at Matava, Kadavu, FijiIt only took us 30 minutes to get to Matava by boat. Each healand we passed and each corner we turned us showed us more of the undeveloped hills of Kadavu.

Matava itself is located in a small cove and at first sight you don't see much of the resort. However, once you step on land you can see the main bure right in front. The other bures where people stay are amongst beautiful tropical gardens with all kinds of flowering bushes, papaya trees and banana trees. Narrow paved walkways meander through the grass in all directions.

We were welcomed at the little jetty by Maggie, who gave us an introduction of the resort and how the diving was conducted. Our bure was only a short stroll away and yet felt very private.

Bure in garden setting at Matava, Kadavu, FijiBasically, we were staying half-way up the hill that forms the back-drop with a stunning view over the ocean. In the distance, we could see the waves breaking on the Astrolobe Reef. Again, we had big bunch of fresh flowers in our room and hibiscus flowers were put everywhere.


Wednesday, 8 August 2007

PADI Seeks to Teleport Eight Million Virtual Residents into PADI Dive Centers and Resorts

Virtual dive information center in Second Life allows residents to try diving and links to eLearning.

Constantly seeking to increase business for PADI Members, PADI has launched an “Information Center” in the popular online virtual world, Second Life® ( This makes PADI the first diver training organization to set up an information center in this alternate reality. And, with links to eLearning, the virtual information center has the potential to bring some of the eight million Second Life residents out of the virtual world and straight into PADI Dive Centers and Resorts.

An online community, Second Life allows the user to create a character and interact with other Second Life users. Second Life has its own currency that exchanges for real world money and residents can buy virtual things ranging from clothes to yachts. There are also many activities: Residents can go to a night club and dance or attend a concert transmitted live into Second Life. And now, they can go diving.

PADI’s Information Center in Second Life lets users learn about everything from scuba gear to the world’s greatest dive destinations. The Information Center directs users to contact their local PADI Dive Center or Resort for more information and links to PADI’s Open Water Diver Course Online, enabling Second Life users to begin their real life dive adventure with a PADI Dive Center or Resort with the simple click of a button.

The plan to enter the Second Life community was spearheaded by PADI International Limited Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Douglas Nash. "A PADI Information Center in Second Life is big news," says Nash. "One great thing is that it ties in so nicely with eLearning program on By appealing to the more than eight million Second Life users, this has the potential to get more new people from all over the world into diving. And there are already loads of beautifully designed coral, marine life and scuba gear in Second Life, so scuba diving will definitely appeal to the residents. Forget about surfing the internet – now you can dive it!”

Although PADI is the first diver training organization to plunge into Second Life, many other major brands, including Reebok, Dell and IBM, have already done so. Even Hollywood has a Second Life, with Warner Bros. Music present.

As Nash further notes, “Second Life isn’t a here-today, gone-tomorrow kind of thing. It’s great because - like no other medium - it provides an alternative environment for those who use it. Setting up a PADI Information Center in Second Life is good for PADI Members - and of course, for showing more people how to become divers in the real world.”

To find out more about Second Life and its new PADI Information Center, go to, create a free character, search for PADI inside Second Life, then click teleport. If you’d like to experience the real deal, contact the PADI International Resort and Retailers Associations and take advantage of all of the PADI Membership benefits by calling 800 729 7234 (US and Canada), +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2260.

Others promise … PADI delivers.

Monday, 6 August 2007

New Websites Launched for Texas AND Florida Dive Shows

Texas and Florida Dive Shows both get face lifts……

The Florida and Texas Dive Shows have both launched their newly re-designed websites ( ; ). Consumers and dive professionals alike will have the opportunity to see the event schedule and where they can locate dive stores that are distributing discount coupons for admission into the shows.

Both shows offer unique marketing programs that draw consumers to dive centers both before and after the shows. No other shows offer such marketing programs.

December 1st & 2nd, 2007 are the dates of the 3rd Annual Florida Dive Show. This year we have joined forces with the Fort Lauderdale Motor Cycle Show, which draws over 20,000 participants. Attendees at the Fort Lauderdale Motor Cycle Show will received free admission to the Florida Dive Show with their admission into the Motor Cycle Show. Special drawings will be held to encourage attendance at both shows. Call 888-557-2822 to reserve your booth.

January 26 & 27, 2008 will mark a new era for the Houston dive market. The Texas Dive Show will debut at the J.W. Marriot – Houston. Speakers are being lined up as this press release goes out. Presentations are included with the admission fee. SeaSpace will be doing its famous silent auction to help raise funds for its scholarship programs at the show, plus much, much more.

Gene & Sara Baugher have joined Dive Chronicles and are the Team Leaders for the Texas Dive Show. For more information contact them at or call them at 713-433-4761

If you are interest in being a speaker at any of our shows please email

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Scuba Diving In Fiji

Scuba Diving In Fiji

By: Chris Chew

The islands of Fiji are famous for its spectacular scenery and a world class attraction for sea sports such as big game fishing, snorkeling, sailing and scuba diving. Fiji is a favorite scuba diving location for scuba divers from all over the world and its highlights include a fantastic variety of colorful soft corals, more than 1200 species of fish, 12 species of whales and dolphins.

There are also many scuba diving resorts in Fiji which cater to all kinds of budgets and divers. Alternatively divers can choose live aboard dive boats or if you are a tourist on vacation in Fiji do not know how to scuba dive, you can take up lessons there or simply go snorkeling off the pristine beaches.

The Fijian archipelago is encircled by a huge reef and therefore there are many shallow lagoons to swim, snorkel or frolick in. There are also thousands of scuba dive sites to choose from. Most dive locations are easy to get to with plenty of resorts offering scuba diving scattered around the Fijian islands.

The water temperature is just perfect for scuba diving with at its coldest at only 25C. On warmer days, it is about 30C. Water visibility in Fiji is excellent with superb visibility of up to 40m or 120ft is a norm rather than exception."

Friday, 3 August 2007

CORAL Unveils Sustainable Marine Tourism Standards

Ocean Vacations That Don’t Hurt: Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) Releases First Regional Sustainable Marine Tourism Business Standards

The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)
today announced the release of their “Voluntary Standards for Marine Recreation in the Mesoamerican Reef System.” This guide provides marine tourism businesses, bulk purchasers of visitor excursions, and tourists with tested standards that will prevent recreational overuse and misuse of coral reefs.

“These are the first set of marine tourism standards to apply to an entire region. The Mesoamerican Reef is a single ecosystem spanning four countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. CORAL involved every group that uses this reef in the creation of these standards and then field tested their efficacy,” says CORAL Program Director Rick MacPherson. “These standards are affordable, attainable, and effective.”

In areas of high volume tourism, such as Mesoamerica, repeated direct contact with the reef poses an immediate threat. Hundreds of boat groundings and hundreds of thousands of tourist interactions each year reduce sections of coral reef to rubble. Human contact also reduces coral’s resilience to other stressors such as rising sea temperatures and diseases.

Sergio Rivera Environmental Manager for Scubacaribe in Playa del Carmen, Mexico says, “Since our dive shop has been involved in the standards project, my staff has become more environmentally and safety conscious. Now we provide environmental briefings before every dive and equip every BCD [the inflatable jacket a diver wears] with sound devices to ensure location of divers who get separated from the group.”

The standards provide detailed requirements for environmentally friendly and safety conscious marine tourism businesses in the areas of diving, snorkeling, and boating and can be used by a variety of different groups such as:

  • Concerned tourists to help them choose sustainable and safe marine excursions
  • Marine Tourism Businesses to evaluate their own practices
  • Non Governmental Organizations and Governments as a basis for creating standards in their area
  • Bulk purchasers such as cruise ships to select sustainable and safe business partners

Hearing of CORAL’s success in Mesoamerica, government and business groups in Maui, Hawaii have also engaged CORAL to develop similar standards.

With over 11 years of field experience, Coral Reef Alliance is a non profit organization dedicated to protecting the health of coral reefs by uniting ecosystem management, sustainable tourism, and community partnerships. Find out more at

To obtain your copy of the standards: Download from or contact Eileen Weckerle / 888-CORAL-REEF x315.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

SubStrobe DS-125 Intensity

SubStrobe DS-125 Intensity

By Ikelite

Our first big strobes 25 years ago were embraced by professional underwater photographers; but they teased us that the light was 'tinny' looking, so we embarked on developing a reflector coating to soften and warm the light. The result was a special soft-lite reflector that produces softer, warmer, and more natural colors. The effect is like the soft lighting of a surface photographer aiming the strobe into a light umbrella."

SubStrobe DS-125 Intensity

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Female hammerhead sharks can reproduce without having sex, scientists confirm.

Bonnethead (SPL)
The bonnethead is a species in the hammerhead group

The evidence comes from a shark at Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska which gave birth to a pup in 2001 despite having had no contact with a male.

Genetic tests by a team from Belfast, Nebraska and Florida prove conclusively the young animal possessed no paternal DNA, Biology Letters journal reports.

The type of reproduction exhibited had been seen before in bony fish but never in cartilaginous fish such as sharks.

Parthenogenesis, as this type of reproduction is known, occurs when an egg cell is triggered to develop as an embryo without the addition of any genetic material from a male sperm cell.

The puzzle over the hammerhead birth was reported widely in 2001, but it is only with the emergence of new DNA profiling techniques that scientists have now been able to show irrefutably what happened.

The investigation of the birth was conducted by the research team from Queen's University Belfast, Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and Henry Doorly Zoo itself.

The scientists say the discovery raises important issues about shark conservation.

In the wild, these animals have come under extreme pressure through overfishing and many species have experienced sharp declines.

If dwindling shark groups resort to parthenogenesis to reproduce because females have difficulty finding mates, this is likely to weaken populations still further, the researchers warn.

The reason is that asexual reproduction reduces genetic diversity and this makes it harder for organisms to adapt - to changed environmental conditions or the emergence of a new disease, for example.

With normal sex, the mixing of maternal and paternal DNA introduces genetic novelty which can give animals new traits that might be advantageous in their new circumstances.

Sex marks

Dr Paulo Prodohl, a co-author on the Biology Letters paper from Queen's School of Biological Sciences, said: "Vertebrates in general have evolved away from parthenogenesis to boost genetic diversity and enhance evolutionary potential.

"The concern for sharks is that not only could we be reducing their numbers but we could be making them less fit as well."

"Our findings will now have to be taken into consideration for any conservation management strategy, especially for overexploited species."

The birth of the hammerhead (of the bonnethead species, Sphyrna tiburo) at Henry Doorly was as tragic as it was puzzling.

The new pup was soon killed by a stingray before keepers could remove it from its tank.

At the time, some theorised that a male tiger shark kept at the zoo could have been the father - but the institution's three bonnethead females had none of the bite marks that are usually inflicted on their gender during shark sex.

Some even suggested that one of the females could have had sex in the wild and stored the sperm in her body - but the three-year period in captivity made this explanation highly unlikely.

The new tests on the dead pup's tissues now show the newborn's DNA only matched up with one of the females - and there was none of any male origin.

Although extremely rare in vertebrates, parthenogenesis (out of the Greek for "virgin birth") occurs in a number of lower animals. Insects such as bees and ants use it to produce their drones, for example.