A major new study re-assessing the IUCN Red List status for all sharks, rays and chimaeras has found that more than one-third of species from these groups are now at risk of extinction from overfishing.
The report, published on 6 September in the online journal Current Biology, is the conclusion of the IUCN's Global Shark Trends project, from which highlights published earlier in March 2021 revealed that 39 species had been reclassified as 'Critically Endangered', 'Endangered', and 'Vulnerable to Extinction', since the last assessment report, published in 2014.
Nicolene Olckers tells us about her interesting career as a photographer and dive professional with some great advice for people considering a career in diving.
I must admit, I am a bit of an adrenaline junky. Over the years I have taken on the usual suspects, skydiving, bungee jumping, adventure motorcycling scuba diving, and open water swimming.
I was super excited to do my scuba course. After hearing and seeing all the amazing experiences that others had underwater, I couldn't wait to start my journey.
The Open Water Diver Course requires a medical check-up. I didn't think much of it, it's just standard procedure. The doctor heard a noise in my heart and declared me unfit to dive. He told me that just a week before there was a case where he heard the same noise in another patient, and she ended up being diagnosed with PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale). This means that there is a small opening between the two upper chambers of the heart. The opening normally closes soon after birth, but in some people, it doesn't. This opening makes it dangerous to dive as it cannot handle the pressure, and can cause an air embolism.
Being a great underwater photographer is not just about the pictures you take, but also about how you go about getting them.
After making some rookie mistakes myself, I have decided long ago that I never wanted to be ‘that photographer’. Therefore, I made these rules to dive by.
What do I mean by 'that photographer'?
Well, we have had some really bad experiences on dives with underwater photographers. This is by no means all of them, after all, I am one too 😉
Sea urchins are echinoderms in the class Echinoidea. The name Echinoderm came from Greek. “Echinos” means ‘’Spiny” and “Derma” means “skin”. Some marine animals that are classified as echinoderms are sea cucumbers, sea stars or starfish, sand dollars, and sea urchins. Sea Urchins are like the porcupines of the sea and get their name from an Old English word for the spiny hedgehog.
Sea urchins inhabit all oceans and can be found from the shallows to 5000 meters deep, there are around 950 species.
If you looked out onto the water on Thursday, 8 April, you would have seen a strange natural occurrence. A massive red tide has entered our waters.
If you’ve never seen this happening, you would probably have thought that this was a frightening, or at the very least, a peculiar occurrence. But there is an excellent reason why this is happening.
False Bay is a body of water in the Atlantic Ocean between the mountainous Cape Peninsula and the Hottentots Holland Mountains in the extreme south-west of South Africa. The mouth of the bay faces south and is demarcated by Cape Point to the west and Cape Hangklip to the east.
South Africa has one of the biggest kelp forests in the world. Kelp is a marine algae and not a true plant and species range from shorter growing “bottom kelp” to much taller species. This ecosystem serves as food and shelter for many marine species and is one of the richest habitats on earth. The canopy of these forests can be seen from the shore on the surface of the water and looks like a shiny green mass but once you go below the surface an enchanting new world opens up.
Who would have thought that marine research, and specifically research on elasmobranchs (Elasmobranchii is a subclass of Chondrichthyes or cartilaginous fish, including the sharks and the rays, skates, and sawfish), would be one of the major areas of expertise in an inland university? Over the past three years, researchers at the NWU Potchefstroom campus, along with our collaborators at the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC) in Hermanus, have been doing research on elasmobranchs to determine ecotoxicity and their parasite diversity.
If you want to dive with sharks, this is the place. We saw 8 different species of sharks, Scalloped Hammerheads, Great Hammerheads, Raggies, Tiger, Zambezis, Black Tips, Duskies and Giant Guitar sharks in our short time we spent here.
Protea Banks is situated 7.5km out to sea from Shelly Beach on the East Coast of South Africa. The reef lies at a depth of between 27 and 40 meters. It is about 6km long and 800m wide. Essentially a fossilized sandbank which comes up from 60m.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
― Helen Keller
A while back we did a dive trip to Tofo, Mozambique. On our 4th dive of the trip, we were just about to end our dive on a dive site named Sherwood Forest when a Great White shark came to greet us. We were absolutely awe-struck coming face to face with this magnificent animal. She was very inquisitive and not skittish at all and circled us as we slowly started making our way to our safety stop. She kept moving just out of sight and then coming closer again while circling us. The visibility was not great that day. We did not feel threatened at all as the shark seemed calm and not overly inquisitive.
We fear what we do not understand.
We have made a handy list of tips for you to improve your underwater photography skills.
Try to keep your camera as still as possible in order to prevent camera shake. The underwater environment can sometimes make this a big challenge and even impossible in surge or strong currents. Using a faster shutter speed will also help, but you are not always able to set the shutter speed too high without getting a photo that is too dark. To compensate for this, you can bump up your ISO to lighten up your image.