Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sharks are not 'man-eaters'

The term "shark attack" is typically used by the media, government officials, researchers and the public to describe almost any kind of human-shark interaction - even those where no contact or injury occurs between humans and sharks.

Now, Christopher Neff of the University of Sydney, Australia, and Robert Hueter, leader of Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark Research in Sarasota, - the only Congressionally designated national research center in the U.S. focused on sharks - propose a new system of classification to support more accurate scientific reporting about shark interactions and more accurate public discussion about shark risk to swimmers and divers.

The international study, published this week in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, is titled, "Science, policy, and the public discourse of shark 'attack': a proposal for reclassifying humanshark interactions."

In the study, the authors analyzed global shark statisticsand found the term "shark attack" misleading in many cases. For instance, a 2009 government report from New South Wales, Australia, documented 200 shark attacks - but 38 involved no injuries to people.

In Florida, often called the "Shark Attack Capital of the World" because of the number of reported shark attacks, only 11 fatal bites have been recorded over the past 129 years - a lower number than several other locations in the world, and vastly lower than deaths from natural events such as drowning or lightning.

"Not all shark 'attacks' are created equal, and we certainly shouldn't call bites on kayaks and bites on people the same thing," said Neff, a doctoral candidate conducting the first study on policy responses to shark bites at the University of Sydney.

"Nor should we equate the single bite of a 2-foot shark on a surfer's toe with the fatal bite of a 15-foot shark on a swimmer, but that's how the current language treats these incidents," said Hueter.

The Neff-Hueter study groups shark incidents into four categories based on clearly documented outcomes rather than speculation over shark motives and intentions. These include:

1, Sightings of sharks in the water near people with no physical contact.

2, Shark encounters where no bite takes place and no humans are injured, but physical contact occurs with a person or an inanimate object holding a person, such as a surfboard or boat. A shark might also bump a swimmer and its rough skin might cause a minor abrasion.

3, Shark bites by small or large sharks that result in minor to moderate injuries.

4, Fatal shark bites causing fatal injuries. The authors caution against using the term "shark attack" unless the motivation and intent of the shark is clearly established by experts, which is rarely possible.

"These new categories provide better information to the public so they can judge their levels of risk based on local shark activity," Neff said. "If 'sightings' of sharks are increasing, or if 'encounters' with kayaks are decreasing these are important pieces of information. There simply is no value in using 'attack' language. It is time to move past 'Jaws.' "

"Contemporary scientific understanding of sharks paints a very different picture than that current public discourse and even early research," said Hueter, a world expert in shark biology, behavior and ecology. "Few sharks look like the large great whites you might see on the movie screen. Of about 500 shark species on Earth, most grow to less than 3 feet long. In addition, most shark species rarely, if ever, come into contact with humans. When they do, serious bites are the extremely rare exception rather than the rule."

Sharks were labeled "man-eaters" two centuries ago by scientists who had a limited understanding of shark behavior and biology, and a researcher in the 1950s wrongly suggested sharks could go "rogue," developing a taste for human flesh.

These concepts inflamed public concern and resulting government responses. Multiple nations have used shark hunts and intensive commercial fishing targeting sharks - and even deployed naval depth charges - to kill supposed "rogue" sharks and protect the public.

Popular culture - especially the novel and film Jaws in the 1970s - has strengthened rogue shark legends. News media reports also have contributed to misperceptions of human-shark interactions. The current study reviewed Associated Press articles in Florida during 2001 - known as the "Summer of the Shark" because of shark incidents ranging from minor to severe - and found 79 percent of the stories used "attack" in the headline, even in the case of non-serious injuries.

Indiscriminate use of the term shark attack "can create a perception of a premeditated crime, lowering the public's threshold for accepting shark bite incidents as random acts of nature. The narrative establishes villains and victims, cause and effect, perceptions of public risk, and a problem to be solved," the authors say in the study.

In contrast, the Neff-Hueter naming system would provide a more balanced way to describe shark risks, significantly adjusting reported statistics, the authors say.

In the government report from New South Wales, Australia, the new naming system would reclassify 200 shark "attacks" between 1900 and 2009 as: 56 fatal shark bites, 106 shark bites, 37 shark encounters and 1 shark sighting.

In Florida, the 637 confirmed cases of unprovoked shark "attacks" since 1882 would be reclassified as 11 fatal bites and 626 other interactions including bites, encounters, and a small fraction of sightings. (Shark incident data from the International Shark Attack File.)

"When public discussion centers on the idea that sharks are out there attacking humans, it doesn't reflect the reality of what we have learned over the past 40 years about shark behavior and biology - sharks are not man-eaters, and in fact, many shark species are threatened by humans who overfish them. Using the 'attack' language really hinders public discourse about the need to protect shark species, especially those vulnerable to depletion or even extinction," said Hueter.

Thanks to MocaGrandeTalk

Kathy Dowsett

Sunday, January 27, 2013

HMS Investigator (1848)

HMS Investigator was a merchant ship purchased in 1848 to search for Sir John Franklin's lost expedition. She made two voyages to the Arctic and had to be abandoned in 1853 after becoming trapped in the ice. Her wreckage was found in July 2010 on Banks Island, in the Beaufort Sea. She was the fourth ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name.

Built at Scotts of Greenock and running 422 tonnes, Investigator was purchased by the Admiralty in February 1848 and was fitted for Arctic exploration by R. & H. Green at Blackwall Yard.

She was strengthened for Arctic service by William M. Rice, Master Shipwright of Woolwich Dockyard. She was extensively strengthened with timber (teak, English oak, Canadian elm) and 5⁄16 inch (8 mm) steel plating. Ten pairs of iron diagonal riders were set in the hold, with ten pairs of diagonal plates on the sides of the vessel between decks. To cope with snow and ice loads, the upper decks were doubled with 3-inch (76 mm) fir planking. Preston's Patent Ventilating Illuminators were installed to improve light and ventilation. Sylvester's Warming Apparatus, a modern stove system capable of warming the entire ship, was also employed with good results. The same or similar device had been used by William Edward Parry in 1821 to prevent condensation and aerate the lowest deck.

Later in 1848, she accompanied Enterprise on James Clark Ross's expedition to find the missing Sir John Franklin. Also aboard Investigator on this expedition was the naturalist Edward Adams. She was commanded for the return voyage by Robert McClure, but became trapped in the ice, and was abandoned on 3 June 1853 in Mercy Bay, where she had been held for nearly three years. The following year, she was inspected by crews of the Resolute, still frozen in, and reported to be in fair condition despite having taken on some water during the summer thaw.

Unlike the loss of Erebus and Terror, the events surrounding Investigator's abandonment are not a mystery. McClure provided an official account of the journey, and the ship's surgeon Alexander Armstrong published an unofficial account in 1857. However, the location of the wreckage was not known for over 150 years because of difficulties reaching the area, which is inhospitable and often covered in ice.

Oral traditions of the Inuit tell stories of the ship. The abandoned ship was a source of copper and iron for the indigenous people in the area; metal nails were missing from smaller boats on the shore when they were discovered. One Inuit account from 1910 noted that "one year she had still been on the beach and the next year she was gone without a trace". When Canadian anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson reached Mercy Bay in 1915 during his voyage to the Arctic, he failed to find her remains. After meeting the Inuit who made pilgrimages to the wreckage, he suggested a link between the Investigator's stranding and the absence of muskoxen on Banks Island. He speculated that the Inuit had killed off the animals during their journeys to and from the wreckage over the 40 years since abandonment. The muskoxen have since repopulated the island and now number nearly 50,000.

In July 2010, a team of Parks Canada scientists, archaeologists, and surveyors began searching for the sunken Investigator in Mercy Bay at the northern tip of Aulavik National Park. It was the first expedition to search for the ship. The team arrived on Banks Island in the Beaufort Sea on 22 July and began a sonar scan of the area three days later. The ship was detected in the scan 15 minutes later. In order to confirm the discovery, the team made more than a dozen sweeps of the area over the next hour. Its remains were discovered on the shores of the island with the deck of the ship about eight metres below the surface. According to Ifan Thomas, a superintendent with Parks Canada, the ship was found "sitting upright in silt; the three masts have been removed, probably by ice". The cold arctic water prevented the outer deck from deteriorating quickly. There are no plans to raise the ship's remains, although the team will send a remotely operated underwater vehicle to take photos of the underwater portion of the ship.

A team of six Parks Canada archaeologists, led by Marc-Andre Bernier, scheduled dives on the Investigator site for 15 days beginning on 10 July 2011 to gather detailed photographic documentation and mapping of the wreck. This will be the first human contact with the wreck, which lies partially buried in silt 150 meters off the north shore of Banks Island.

Thanks to Wikipedia

Kathy Dowsett

Friday, January 18, 2013

Night Snorkeling - Discover the Wonders of Snorkeling at Night

Snorkeling at night can be extremely exciting. This snorkeling activity is in fact my favorite type of snorkeling. The only other activity that may surpass it, in my opinion, is night scuba diving due to the fact that you have more chances to dive deeper, otherwise night snorkeling still gives you the same adrenalin buzz.

So why would anyone try and snorkel at night? It might seem strange and intimidating. Anybody who has tried it will tell you that there is a different world yet to be discovered.

The mystery of snorkeling at night will provide you with a new outlook on your favorite snorkeling site which may have lost its day time charm. At first you will feel slightly anxious... everybody does, its only natural, but then once you get used to it, you will automatically replace your anxiety with excitement, curiosity and a sense of adventure.

At dusk, you will encounter aquatic life that you seldom see during the day, making sight seeing different from what you would usually see during day time. At night the reefs become alive with the different fauna.

There are a number of aquatic creatures that just don't come out in the day time. Nocturnal animals such as lobsters and shrimps become active, coral polyps open up at night to feed giving the reef a fuzzy and colorful sort of look.

You will also experience encountering luminescence microscopic plankton which generate light flashes if disturbed. Should you experience such an encounter, turn off your flashlight and wave your hands through the water. This will provide you with an unforgettable experience as you will see "sparks" igniting around you.. Its a great sensation... Try it, you will be in for a surprise.

Before entering the water - what equipment do I need?

Safe snorkeling is a must, especially when you are snorkeling at night. Therefore be sure that before conducting your night snorkel you are well equipped for the job. The difference to snorkeling during the day is that snorkeling at night requires additional equipment and more planning and preparation.

The most important piece of equipment is an underwater flashlight. The flash light will not only serve to bring out the colors and show you way during your night snorkel but will also make your position known to your snorkeling buddy.

When snorkeling at night, besides carrying a flashlight, I advise you to also consider using chemical lights. These are basically light sticks which use a chemical reaction. These type of lights serve as orientation lights for marking your own and your buddies location. It is wise to strap these lights onto your buoy flag staff. I also find these lights useful for finding

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Kathy Dowsett

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reliving Sea Hunt with vintage diving gear

For Bryan Pennington, scuba diving with vintage gear wraps up childhood memories, history, freedom, ease of movement and simplicity, all in one package.

“For many of us who grew up watching Jacques Cousteau and Sea Hunt it was the gear our heroes used so that's what we wanted,” says Bryan, whose business, Vintage Double Hose, in Wesley Chapel, Florida, serves vintage diving enthusiasts. “Diving with vintage gear is driven by your skills, not your equipment. It's very liberating and gives you time to focus on what's around you, as opposed to what's strapped to you.”

He underlines freedom associated with vintage gear this way: “Think about the times you dive in just a shorty or a swimsuit and then you put on a seven-ml with a hood. Now, imagine going without the cumbersome BCD.”

Bryan says if a diver has good water skills and a great grasp on buoyancy and how to achieve it, he or she is ready to go. “The equipment is far simpler to operate and understand than a lot of modern equipment. You are diving for the sake of diving, not for that sake of using all the latest and greatest stuff you can strap to yourself. “

He got into vintage gear because a two-hose was given to him as a child and that was his first dive experience. “One day, I wanted to dive again with one and found out there were no parts.”

The only vintage-gear parts were left-over originals. “I set out to change that and have reproduced almost 100 per cent of the parts you would need to rebuild, service or restore your U.S. Divers or Voit double-hose regulator. I have specialty companies that reproduce all my parts.”

For the most part, says Bryan, Voit regulators are the same as those of U.S. Divers, with some cosmetic differences. “Voit regulators were used by Mike Nelson (the role played by Lloyd Brydges in Sea Hunt) and are very desirable to the collectors out there.

Interest for vintage dive gear has evolved to the point that the National Association of Vintage Equipment Divers (NAVED) has members around the world.

That has spawned business for the parts he produces as well as for his repair work. “I also buy and restore regulators so people who are interested can buy one right from my store and go diving. We also have a tremendous ‘do-it-yourself part of the community and my website hosts all the manuals and technical information you need to service one yourself.”

Bryan dives only with vintage gear. For operations that require a BCD, safe second-stage and pressure gauges, the vintage enthusiasts as a group have built gear that meets the criteria but keeps with the vintage equipment configuration. “I am currently working with a few vintage equipment divers who are also skilled draftsmen and design engineers to introduce a 100-percent brand new double hose regulator with some modern features that will appeal to a whole new group.”

Some of the vintage-gear enthusiasts remain hard-core Sea Hunt fans. For instance, Alec Peirce from Scuba 2000 in Toronto, is the foremost authority on Sea Hunt and has the largest collection of the show’s memorabilia in the world.

“He was a great resource and helped me when I was getting started,” says Bryan. “There was a large celebration at Silver Springs, Florida, in 2011 where many of the Sea Hunt episodes were filmed as a 50th anniversary celebration. For two days the group dove in Sea Hunt-period correct gear, thrilling the passengers on the glass bottom boats with re-created knife fights with the bad guys, underwater torches and attacks by sea creatures.

“Another person is Phil Nuytten of Nuytco Research and Diver Magazine in Canada. Phil is an expert on the early days of the Aqua-Lung who also has a vast collection. Without his help and continued support I doubt I'd be here doing this today.”

Diving with vintage gear is also less intrusive to fish. Jonathan Bird of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World TV show... has two double-hose regulators Bryan built specifically for him. He uses them during much of the filming of his show because the exhaust bubbles go behind the diver’s head and the fish scare less easily. “He is also using one of our latest designed plate and wings specifically used with double hose regulators.”

Vintage Double Hose

Kathy Dowsett

Friday, January 11, 2013

Scuba Diving – An Enjoyable Experience For The Two Of You

Thanks to Turismo Chino

Usually in tropical places or in interesting diving sights, scuba diving has become a popular activity for couples of all ages. This is a rather amazing feeling in which anyone can enjoy the wonders of the ocean which will not be seen under any other circumstances. If the person is passionate about photography, there is the possibility to use an underwater camera. The photos takes will be precious memories of the creatures of the sea.

The places for diving are many and sometimes the most popular ones are around vessel wrecks or underwater caves. Here the mystery of the complex ocean life is lived to the full. Scuba diving is much fun for the entire family, but it requires the people to have good diving gear and a little bit of swimming experience.

The benefits for all

Besides all the entertainment and fun of this activity, scuba diving is known to be a good therapy for people. Under the water there is not much noise and the sound produced by the bubbling equipment is rather soothing. The world met underwater tends to be rather alien looking. The creatures met have an entirely different perspective and it can be a really powerful life experience. The thrill of diving is an intense feeling and sometimes people prefer to put themselves in danger and dive together with creatures like whales or sharks. In order to do that, you will likely stay inside a protective cage. The instructor will take care of your safety. Diving with the sharks will in many cases prove to be a lot of fun, while people begin to understand these lovely sea creatures, rather than fear them.

Bonding together

Scuba diving is seen as a great change to stay connected to the loved ones. This is why it is recommended to try the experience with your family. These thrills will unity the couple more. The beauty of the ocean can totally be admired in places like the delicate coral reefs. The reef is a real organism and near it a myriad of other creatures live and thrive. The fish will sometimes to curious and will get really close to the divers. This will prove to be exciting and something to tell to your grandchildren.

In order to benefit from this great experience of scuba diving in two, you should visit the website Here you will be offered all the information needed for an exciting experience.

Kathy Dowsett