New look! And more pictures!

Initially, when I set up the dark background/light font, I thought it would make it easier to read. I hmm’d and hawwed over it, and I’ve decided that I think something a little more muted and traditional would be easier on the eyes. Hence, new design! Plus, I really love jellyfish, and so now there’s a jellyfish.

In celebration of new designs and jellyfish, here are some pictures:

Jellyfish in a lagoon on Efate, Vanuatu (Photo by A. Lauritzen)

More jellyfish (unsure of the species) and the inspiration for the header (Photo by A. Lauritzen)

These were both taken at night, on the edge of the lagoon. The jellyfish were attracted to the lights on the underside of the deck, and there was an entrancing dance of jellies swarming about the light in such a hypnotic way. We stared at them for ages.

Lord Howe Coralfish (Photography by Diverkat)

Jewel Anemone varieties (Photo by Diverkat)

Yaldwyn’s triplefin on a yellow sponge and some shy Jewel Anemones (photo by Diverkat)

Clown Nudibranch (Photo by Diverkat)

Male Yaldwyn’s Triplefin (Photo by Diverkat)

Eensy Yaldwyn’s triplefin with some Jewel Anemones (photo by Diverkat)

The above photos were all taken at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve. I like the little things, because they don’t move too quickly or too far, so they’re much easier to photograph! Hope you like them!



Science News

The island of Mo’orea in the South Pacific is undergoing an extensive biodiversity project in an attempt to save it – DNA barcoding of all of the non-microbial species on the island and in its waters: A South Pacific Island, Under the Microscope

Scientists and the pro-science public tend to see scientific method as the infallible process by which we discern facts about the world around us. When scientists make mistakes, they are often admonished, disgraced, and ridiculed by their peers; unfortunately, admitting that one has made a mistake can be career-destroying if you are a scientist and you have messed up in your field of expertise. The author of this article talks about the human side of scientists and the mistakes that we make: How Science Failed during the Gulf Oil Disaster

Not an environmental news story, but spectacular nonetheless and worth sharing. Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait posts a stunning time lapse picture by Turkish photographer Tunç Tezel’s of Venus’ orbit around the sun: Venus, from one side of the Sun to another

Jeff Barnard writes about the effects of ocean acidification on oyster aquaculture (surprise: it’s not good news): Study blames ocean CO2 for oyster declines

An orca’s death off the northern Pacific coast is undergoing investigation; a massive blunt force trauma caused her death, but what caused the injuries is still unknown: Experts sleuth out what killed Puget Sound orca

The positives behind urban farming: Urban Farming is Growing a Green Future

And finally!!!

NZ Forest and Bird’s 2012-2013 Best Fish Guide is now available for download. Also on this page are the methodologies used to rank fisheries, the full publication of the ecological assessments, and also links to the 2011 annual report.

Today, in No Duh News

Finally! The NZ Herald is starting to catch up to what conservationists, divers, surfers, and other ocean aficionados have known for a long time: sharks are not interested in humans.

Fancy that!

Lots of credit to the NZ Herald though, because they often get a stern correction from people when they (usually) misrepresent sharks as being dangerous and a threat to humans. That’s not to downplay the injuries that people can sustain when an incident occurs, but the fact that the incidents are so rare in the first place – considering how often people are in the water, sharing the same areas as sharks – is a pretty good indication of how much we aren’t a part of their diet.

And right on, Christopher Neff! I look forward to reading your thesis. Please send it to me, kthanx.


Happy New Year! Here are some pictures.

Happy New Year to all, I hope that the holidays have been relaxing and fun. As per usual, the antipodean summer gets a bit chaotic, and the idea of long, relaxing summer days vanishes with the inevitable emails, texts, phone calls and other methods of communication that immediately turn all that beautiful free time into busy bee time.

But! That’s hardly a complaint. The days have indeed been busy, but at least they’ve been busy with productive things! There have been many days of diving in the spring and summer, and I was lucky to get a few good shots in. So, without further ado, have a look at some of the little ones living under the waves:

Yaldwyn's Triplefin (photo by Diverkat)

Yellow Moray from below (photo by Diverkat)

Gem Nudibranchs mating (photo by Diverkat)

Firebrick starfish (photo by Diverkat)

Fan with anenomes (photo by Diverkat)

Common Anenomes (photo by Diverkat)

So, a few photos for you to enjoy. I will hopefully have more to share soon, and some actual news too!


Malaspina 2010 Expedition in Auckland

The Hesperides, docked at Princes Wharf in Auckland

Three weeks ago, I had the honour of checking out the Hesperides, one of the Spanish ships making a circumnavigation and studying the effects of climate change on the oceans, as well as exploring the biodiversity of the deep.  The Hesperides is a Spanish naval ship that is being used as a research vessel on the Malaspina 2010 Expedition, which set sail from Spain in December of 2010 and is set to return in July this year.

It was very exciting to be aboard a research vessel of that size; being able to speak to the various scientists and students (yes!!! STUDENTS!!!) that were working aboard the ship, find out what they were working on, and learn a bit more about what life would be like while working on a research expedition like Malaspina 2010 (please note this site is in Spanish, but the Wikipedia article on the expedition is here).  The well-respected Carlos Duarte is the lead scientist on this expedition, which is set to hit Honolulu any day now.

We were allowed to take photos, examine some of the results of the various samples collected, ask questions, snoop around labs… oh it was heaven, my friends, seriously.  I was positively green with envy of the masters and PhD students that were lucky enough to be part of this expedition.  Below are some of the photos I took:

A scientist explains the research equipment used in monitoring and mapping the oceans.

Our tour consisted of various scientists and student scientists taking us through the major labs, explaining what the equipment was for, how they were using it, and what they were doing with the results.  As expected on any boat, everything was crammed into any spare space one could find.  People who prefer to live their lives without clutter would not do well in an environment like this!

The Roseta. All hail the Roseta.

One of the tenets of research on which the expedition is focusing is water quality and content, to observe the interweaving relationships of carbon sequestration in oceans (leading to higher acidity levels), temperature change, pollutant contents, nutrient content, eutrophication and biodiversity.  The Roseta, or Rosette, pictured above, is a large contraption that basically is a multi-chambered series of tubes* arranged in a circle.  The ends of the tubes have a quick-release trap door, so when the Rosette descends through the water column, each tube shuts at a certain depth, to collect samples of water and any microfauna/flora that are present at that depth.  The Rosette descends to collect 24 samples from the water column, from the surface down  to 4,000 metres.  The samples are tested for salinity, acidity, nutrient content, any species that are picked up are collected, and thousands of samples have been gathered.

Sieves on the aft deck

During the navigation, these sieve nets are dropped behind the ship, trawling for organisms in the open oceans.  The sieve nets collect any species or detritus larger than 200μm (1/5th of a millimetre).

One of the labs in the lower decks

This is pretty much what my room looks like, I could so easily work in this environs.

Instructions for decanting zooplankton

The above instructions basically describe how to sieve zooplankton according to their relative size and preserve them on petri dishes.

Now everyone knows I’m a total sucker for SCIENCE!!! And so, I was practically drooling all over the decks, but more than just having the opportunity to see a research vessel like this, knowing what’s happening at the front lines of discovery when it comes to the open ocean (of which we know so little) is really exciting.  The research being done on the Malaspina 2010 expedition is invaluable, and the lack of pretension among the scientists – chemists, biologists, etymologists, environmentalists, atmospheric scientists, and all the others I’m forgetting – has helped to foster an open, cohesive learning environment for the students aboard.   It also helps that they are approaching the research they’re doing from a more holistic position than has been done in the past.  Knowing that the collective efforts of so many different people are gearing towards a common goal, and actually being able to see that cohesion exist in the way everyone interacted with each other, was refreshing, inspiring and just…

I SO wish I was on that ship.


*The Roseta ≠ The Internet.

It’s been a while!

Where have you been?! - Photography by Diverkat

And for good reasons – so many new things, so much news, and loads of things going on, things to do, and things to celebrate!

Firstly, I’m really excited to be able to say that I’ve been made one of the trustees of the White Shark Conservation Trust.  I’m stoked to be working with Bruce and David, and I foresee lots of fun things in the future in that respect.  Both of them are brilliant, and the balance of personalities between the three of us is different enough to really create a dynamic group, and I hope that we can continue to grow the Trust in a way that expands our influence and our reputation in a positive way, for the benefit of our cartilaginous friends.

Second on the list, I’ve picked up studying again – I’m doing part-time study at the University of Auckland for (surprise) Marine Biology/Ecology and Conservation.  So yay!  Loads of work on though, but it’s all very interesting.  I’m halfway through week 3, and it’s pretty full on, but really great to be working my brain again.

As predicted, the diving work with Global Dive over the summer has taken up loads of time, but not without some fruits of the labour; some excellent photos taken by yours truly and good friend and fellow instructor Will Fox below.

More plugging for Sustainable Coastlines – these guys have been busy!  The weekend of 2 – 4 April 2011 is the Great Coromandel Coastal Clean-up, and if that one doesn’t suit you geographically or temporally, then there’s always the North Shore Coastal Clean-up, which is on 15 – 16 April 2011.  I am planning on attending the Saturday, come along and play if you can!

Also, as a trustee of the White Shark Conservation Trust, I will continue to shamelessly plug the events that we hold in the future.  Due to the tragedies that have befallen Christchurch and Japan, we feel that it is not appropriate to be holding any fundraisers for the foreseeable future; however raising awareness and promoting education are still ongoing projects, and I will continue to work on those when I am not studying.

One more thing that I want to mention, because conservation doesn’t have to just be in the ocean – anyone in the Auckland area who is interested in learning a bit about the reforestation/reintegration efforts being done on the islands in the Hauraki Gulf should try their hand at doing some volunteer work on Motuihe Island. Every other Sunday or so they have volunteer days where you can catch a ferry from Auckland to Motuihe, and do some work with reforestation, collecting seeds for growing seedlings, work in the nurseries, take a hike around the island, or whatever needs doing – the project is funded by sponsors of the Motuihe Trust and the Department of Conservation, and it offers a wonderful opportunity for one to learn more about native flora and fauna as well as the methods they are using to restore the endemic species.

And now, photos!

My favourite photo I've taken, ever. - Photography by Diverkat

Coming over the ridge - Photography by Will Fox

Spiny Sea Urchin - Photography by Diverkat

A close up of Scorpionfish, Scorpaena cardinalis (Grandfather hapuku) - Photography by Diverkat

Updates and Opportunities

Hi everyone,

With the lengthening days, as always, there’s a shortage of time – things are getting busy in the upcoming summer months!  I just want to take this opportunity to plug a few things that are happening and if you’re interested, please come along and offer a helping hand!

First things first, on this upcoming Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 9:00am, the White Shark Conservation Trust’s Mystery Ride, a charity motorbike ride being held on the North Shore.  For more details, visit the link posted.  Yours truly will be there as well, so come stop by and say hello, offer some support or make a donation!   If you have a bike and would like to join in on the ride, it costs $20 to register.  Please contact Bruce Goorney at the link posted above.  All proceeds will be going to the White Shark Conservation Trust, in support of conserving and protecting the white shark, educating the public about the white shark, and of course spreading the love among like-minded people.

Secondly, I’d like to plug Sustainable Coastlines, a non-profit organisation whose founders I had the opportunity to meet recently.  Sustainable Coastlines works to support communities in keeping their coastal environments clean, develop sustainable environmental practices and support coastal cleanup efforts to positively impact the environment, raise awareness and of course leave the coasts a little cleaner than they were when we found them.  Sustainable Coastlines is participating in the Love Your Coast event, which is a series of coastal cleanups that are happening across New Zealand.  On Monday, 6 December 2010, a cleanup is scheduled for Rangitoto Island.  Other cleanups are scheduled throughout the rest of that week in Wellington, Christchurch, and Te Tai o Poutini (West Coast).  Visit the posted links for more details.  I highly recommend checking out Sustainable Coastlines, as they are a pretty large, well organised outfit and they offer a lot of opportunities for getting involved, especially anyone who is concerned for environmental welfare.

November is looking to be an incredibly busy month, with several more dive courses starting and therefore a lot more work to do, but I hope to post again soon with some rather exciting news – watch this space.