Monday, October 23, 2006


Toxic boat paint pollution must stop

Member countries of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), including the UK, are perpetuating pollution from the Arctic to Antarctic that is contaminating wildlife and entering our food chain.

Enviromental group WWF has submitted a paper to the IMO showing the impact of Tributyltin (TBT) pollution. Their head of WWF-UK Marine Programme, Dr Simon Walmsley, says
"This is a scandal the world should be ashamed of. Forty years after TBT's negative impacts were first identified and five years after the legislation to ban it was agreed TBT is still used, indiscriminately polluting global marine life and our food chain."

Only 17 out of 166 member countries of IMO have ratified the legislation. However, the majority of the shipping industry supports a ban, with only the unscrupulous operators still using it. The leading paint companies have stopped producing TBT since 2003 and market commercially viable alternatives instead.

Dr. Simon Walmsley, continued: "Countries who have not signed up - including the UK - should be ashamed. This is the most toxic chemical ever deliberately released into the marine environment and there is no excuse for using it."

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Friday, October 20, 2006


Best Selling SCUBA Books

The best selling SCUBA diving books of the last quarter were...
  1. Dive Atlas of the World: An Illustrated Reference to the Best Sites by Jack Jackson
    300 pages detailing some of the world's best dive sites. (1)

  2. Lonely Planet: Diving and Snorkelling the Red Sea by Jean-Bernard Carillet, Gavin Anderson, Peter Harrison
    Guide to the dive sites of the Red Sea. (--)

  3. Collins Pocket Guide: Coral Reef Fishes by Ewald Lieske, Robert Myers
    A compact, guide to over 2000 species of fish you might see whilst diving on coral reefs. (7)

  4. Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World, by Tim Ecott
    Tales of the characters and episodes in the history of diving: the sponge divers, the second world war saboteurs, the free divers, etc. (--)

  5. Scuba Diver's Travel Companion by Jeremy Agnew
    Tells you for what level of diver a dive destination is suitable. (6)

  6. Red Sea Reef Guide by Helmut Debelius
    Identification guide to fish, coral and other marine life of the Red Sea (5)

  7. Dive: The Ultimate Guide To 60 Of The Worlds Top Dive Locations by Monty Halls,
    Describes 60 of the world's best diving areas, and highlights specific dives not to be missed whilst you are there (2)

  8. Dive in Style by Tim Simond,
    An illustrated book combining the best of travel, lifestyle and nature photography (--)

  9. Diving the World by Beth and Shaun Tierney,
    Some 200 prime dive sites have been carefully selected, reviewed and photographed by experienced husband-and-wife team, Beth and Shaun Tierney. (--)

  10. Reef Fishes and Corals of the Red Sea by Pete Harrison and Alex Misiewicz
    A guide to 270 reef fishes and corals found throughout the Red Sea. (9)

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Madagascar Coral Reef Massively Damaged

A new survey of reefs along Madagascar's southwestern coast found massive damage from coral bleaching, including some reefs that lost up to 99 percent of their coral cover.

A number of coral bleaching events – where rising sea temperatures cause corals to turn white and ultimately die – have struck Madagascar's southwest coast over the years, the worst being in 1998 and 2000.

Previous surveys have found that Madagascar's northern coasts escaped damage from these global bleaching events, thanks to cool water currents from nearby deep ocean areas.

Madagascar's southwestern coasts, however, have not been so lucky.
In areas where scientists found damaged coral reefs, algae had started to take over the dead reefs, and fish diversity was lower than in areas with healthy corals.

Madagascars coastal waters are believed to have some of the highest diversity of marine species in the Indian Ocean.

During the survey, led by the conservation groups Blue Ventures and the Wildlife Conservation Society and funded by Conservation International, scientists recorded 386 species of fish along the southwestern reefs of the Andavadoaka region. Of these, 20 species had never before been recorded for Madagascar and one may be a new discovery to science. The survey team believes that further research may reveal as many as 529 fish species living among these reefs.

The survey team also recorded 164 species of hard coral, including 19 that were previously unknown to inhabit Madagascar’s waters. Another four coral species could not be identified and may be new to science.

The total number of coral species recorded was significantly lower than those previously found along Madagascar’s northwestern coasts. These lower numbers are believed to be a direct result of the mass bleaching events of 1998 and 2000.

“Global warming is a major threat to the world’s coral reefs, but there are other more direct threats as well that can be more immediately addressed,” said Alasdair Harris, research director of Blue Ventures. “Destructive fishing practices and nutrient runoff from villages and resorts are also killing these incredible underwater systems that provide vital resources for the people of Madagascar.”

Overfishing and nutrient runoff have decreased the number of plant-eating species living within the coral reefs, allowing damaging algae to grow on corals already stressed by rising sea temperatures. By increasing the number of herbivores, damaging algae can be controlled and coral settlement and growth can increase.

Harris said it is urgent that government agencies, NGOs and local villages work together to create marine protected areas to prevent overfishing and other activities that are damaging coral reefs and the many marine resources they provide. The development of alternative and sustainable incomes – such as ecotourism – will also assist local villages that are currently dependent on these dwindling marine resources.

But the survey team also found some signs of hope. Scientists discovered several small reefs with corals that appeared to be resilient to rising sea temperatures and could ultimately be used to reseed damaged reefs. These resilient reefs may also provide valuable information about how to protect corals from future damage.

The entire report can be found at

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Monday, October 16, 2006


Climate Change to Cost Trillions if No Action Taken

The cost of global warming will run into trillions of pounds and the environmental and social costs will be incalculable, a survey has revealed. The report, Climate Change - the Costs of Inaction, was compiled by leading economists for Friends of the Earth.

The survey highlights the enormous costs that would result if Governments allow temperatures to rise by more than two degrees. The report also reveals the comparatively small amounts of money needed to keep temperatures in check.

Global temperatures have already risen by 0.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels. If emissions continue to rise unchecked global temperatures could increase by more than four degrees centigrade in the next hundred years.

An increase of 2 degrees would mean decreased crop yields in the developing world will spell disaster for many poor farmers and poor countries whose economies are dependent on agriculture production. Widespread drought and water shortages will also hit the developing world hardest. Other impacts include a near total loss of coral reefs - of vital importance to fisheries and the tourist industry; the expanded northward spread of tropical diseases such as malaria; and the potential extinction of arctic species including the polar bear.

Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and the Environment Institute and one of the authors of the report, Dr Frank Ackerman said:

"The climate system has enormous momentum, as does the economic system that emits so much carbon dioxide. Like a supertanker, which has to turn off its engines 25 km before it comes to a stop, we have to start turning off greenhouse gas emissions now in order to avoid catastrophe in decades to come."

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


SCUBA News Issue 77 Now On-LIne

Issue 77 of SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011) is now available at

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Four Times more Sharks caught than Officially Reported

Three to four times as many sharks are killed for their fins as are reported in the official figures.

Researchers looked at trade in shark fins, and used genetic identification to estimate by species the number of globally traded shark fins.

The results are the first fishery-independent estimate of the scale of shark catches worldwide. If the estimates are correct for one of the most commonly traded species, the blue shark, then the nubers being caught are very close to the maximum sustainable levels.

Increasing awareness of the vulnerability of shark species to exploitation and a proliferation of finning (i.e. removal of fins and discarding of the carcass at sea) have contributed to growing concerns that the fin trade may be driving shark catches to unsustainable levels.

The research was led by Shelley Clarke of Imperial College London who has lived in Asia for over 12 years.

Hong Kong is world's largest shark fin market with at least half of the global trade.

Ecology Letters, Volume 9, Number 10, October 2006, pp. 1115-1126(12)
Conservation Biology Volume 20, No. 1, 201–211

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Save the UK Marine Reserves

British environmental group, The Marine Conservation Society, needs the support of UK divers to convince the Government that marine conservation must be at the core of the Marine Bill. Have your say in how our seas are managed and protected and add your name in support of Highly Protected Marine Reserves at

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