At a recent conference in Ecuador on November 9, 21 species of shark and rays are now listed under the Appendices of the Convention of Migratory Species, tripling the numbers from before. The new additions includes many pelagics that scuba divers love to see underwater like manta rays, devil rays, hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and silky sharks.
Because of leadership from countries like Egypt, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Fiji and others, all member nations have now agreed to strict protection of all these species. Of course, the listing of these species and commitments made by nations have to be followed by funding and strict enforcement of regulation, but the enlargement of the list is a good first step as it shows that divers voices can be heard and how we spend our tourism money matters.
Put your tourism dollars to work and swim with some of these iconic species under protection. Join Eco Dive Center on our tropical trips in 2015 to the Philippines, Bali, Fiji and the Red Sea. Click here for more information and email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Gretchen M. Ashton, CFT, SFT, SFN, NBFE , is registered with the National Board of Fitness Examiners, is an International Sports Sciences Association Elite Trainer; personal trainer, specialist in fitness therapy, specialist in fitness nutrition, and a world champion athlete. Gretchen is founder of ScubaFit LLC, developed the Comprehensive FitDiver ® program, is an advanced scuba diver, nitrox diver, and co-author of the ScubaFit ® Diver Course. She is an Expert Speaker for Los Angeles County Scuba Advanced Diver Program and Underwater Instructor Certification Course. Gretchen is Fitness Editor and/or contributor for California Diver Magazine, World's Best Dives, DiverWire, X-Ray Mag, and Scuba Sport Magazine, has been published in Alert Diver United States and Asia-Pacific, at Divetime.com, is an author at ScubaBoard, and a Scuba Fitness Examiner at Examiner.com. Gretchen has appeared on Scuba Radio, Dive Zone Radio, presented at Scuba Shows, has been a guest at dive medicine conferences, was featured in the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports newsletter for inspiring and innovative accomplishments in fitness, and in the Margaritaville Key West website culinary column. As an athlete she set 21 World and Americans records and is the second woman inducted into the AAU Power Lifting Hall of Fame.
California’s coastline used to be home to some of the richest waters in the world, but since the 1960’s we have lost over 90% of our big game and over 75% of our kelp forests.
Because the decimation of any one species can cause irreparable harm to the entire ecosystem, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designed to protect all plants and animals in the entire ecosystem in the park.
Depending on the type of MPA, some taking of game is still allowed, for example in State Marine Parks, sport fishing is allowed, but not commercial fishing. In State Marine Reserves, any type of fishing is illegal and violators are subject to severe penalties.
In 1997 a group of scientists embarked on a two year project to see if fishes were responding well to the creation of MPAs. They surveyed three no-take zones on Catalina Island and two off the mainland coast, and found that not only were the fishes more abundant in the reserve, but the largest size individuals were also found within the confines of the no-take zones. Their findings suggest that the protected areas are providing a safe haven for fish to reach maturity, translating into higher reproductive output.
In 2012, another study was conducted in the Channel Islands, where MPAs have been in place for over a decade. The results showed that lobsters were more abundant and larger in protected areas, with over five more legal-sized lobsters caught per trap on average inside the refuges. Both recreational and commercial fishing in parts of the islands actually increased from 2003 to 2008.
As the MPA program matures, more data becomes available to prove that conservation has a positive impact on the ecosystem. As scuba divers, let’s respect the MPAs and enjoy all the kelp, fishes and big game that are returning to our waters.
Trip was expected to do 2 dives on the Oil Rigs and a third dive at the Olympic II wreck. The ride out of the harbor was slow. Dense Fog. Captain called off anchoring at the Olympic wreck due to the fog. Decision was made to do 3 dives on the oil rigs. I managed the waiver process. When waivers were done I had both of the DMC's on board (Gary and Chris) check the waivers for errors. During sign ups, I had Donna Webster cross-off a mistake on her waiver and not initial it. I had her not put the name of the boat on the waiver nor did she sign the waiver. Tough love but good exercise for the DMC's, neither of which caught any of the problems.
At the rig, boat's DM gave a site briefing. After, I gave a short briefing introducing Jing, Steven and myself and stressing short bottom times and to watch their nitrogen buildup. I told the divers not to miss or omit their safety stops and if they had any questions they were to ask Jing, Steven or me. Jing led a diver and I led a diver new to California waters. Steven Soo was doing a deep specialty. I talked individually to "advanced" divers with under 15 total dives to make sure they were comfortable with the dive and to invite them to dive with me if they wanted to. I let those divers know how important good buoyancy was on a rig dive and to make sure they added air to control their descent and to let air out on the ascent.