Barbary Coast Dive Club Newsletter

News and Events



Opening Of Abalone Season at the Mendocino Cabin

April 8th and 9th

Call Carol for Reservations



Scuba Diving Barrier Reef Loses Popularity as Divers Down Under Go Elsewhere

Julieanne Van Zyl is one of the many scuba divers shunning the Great Barrier Reef. Will the tourist industry need to adjust? Van Zyl says that talk both on and offline shows a definite shift in where people dive when they go down under. She says even the local Australian divers are shunning the Great Barrier Reef and spending more of their time diving Moreton Bay Marine Park, near Brisbane.

The new hot spot down under is Moreton Bay. Moreton Bay was declared a Marine Park in 1993 and boasts Rock, Wreck and Reef experiences for all levels of scuba diving. Flinders Reef at Moreton Bay has 240 different species of choral, causing the tropical fish life to be in abundance, impressing even to most seasoned scuba divers. Diving is also more affordable for non Aussie Divers because the International airport is at Brisbane. McVeigh said all of these things have caused a definite shift in where scuba divers are going today.


Aquarium's shark stirs heated debate
Exhibit's defenders point to educational value; critics decry great white's captivity

The great white debate surged to the surface early this month when, over two weeks, the great white shark fatally chomped two smaller soupfin sharks in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit. Opponents say the attacks are a sign the shark is stressed.

But prominent shark researchers and aquarium officials challenge such criticism. Officials said they don't believe the great white was hunting her neighbors, but reflexively lashed out when she bumped into the slower- swimming sharks.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium sees its yearling great white shark as a powerful ambassador that can educate millions of visitors about the need to protect these mysterious super predators. But critics call it a prisoner.

The aquarium's six-month display of the world's only great white in captivity has spawned a visitor feeding frenzy. Attendance has jumped 30 percent, and aquarium gift shop sales are brisk for great white gear, ranging from cuddly plush shark toys to videotapes and children's books that strive to demystify and foster protection of predators long demonized as monstrous eating machines.

"You're going to have everyone wanting a great white in their tank to increase ticket sales,'' said Mark Berman, associate director of the Earth Island Institute, a San Francisco environmental advocacy group that helped block importation of dolphins and killer whales for display at U.S. aquariums.

"Our goal is to see that these larger, complex species are studied in the wild in a noninvasive manner,'' he said. "You don't learn anything by seeing a dolphin or a whale or a shark in a tank.''

But prominent shark researchers and aquarium officials challenge such criticism. Officials said they don't believe the great white was hunting her neighbors, but reflexively lashed out when she bumped into the slower- swimming sharks.

Just to be safe, the two remaining soupfins were moved. Officials don't anticipate future clashes between the great white and remaining neighbors because they tend to give the top predator plenty of room.

"Are we displaying a white shark because it gets more visitors? Well, in a sense, yeah,'' said Randy Kochevar, aquarium science communication manager. "We want more visitors, and we want the visitors to be concerned about white sharks and about sharks in general. And it's working.''

read the whole story where I stole it from:

Underwater Scrabble
MARK COLVIN: A game of scrabble has been known to create friction, but a couple of Tasmanians have taken it to a new level, a lower level.

The pair have attempted to set a world record for the deepest underwater game of scrabble.

In the 15-degree Tasmanian ocean, the scuba diving friends sat at a table 20 metres under the surface, complete with scrabble dictionary and adjudicator.

With no other scrabble nuts known to have played in such conditions, they may face little competition for the world record, as Annie Guest reports from Hobart.

ANNIE GUEST: This sea dwelling pair call themselves a scrabble nut and a plain nut.

N-U-T, nut, three points. Dictionary check, "slang for an eccentric person".

What motivates people to perform these world record stunts?

S-T-U-N-T, stunt, triple word score. Dictionary check, "anything spectacular or unusual done to gain publicity".

But it's not all frivolity. For 40-something landscape gardener, Martin Rose, it's a lifelong goal.

MARTIN ROSE: One of the first books I ever read as a kid was the Guinness Book of Records, and as the years have gone by I've thought, well what can I do to get in the Guinness Book of Records, and I couldn't grow my ear hair longer than 5.1 inches, and I didn't want to get eight scorpions in my mouth or anything like that, so I thought well we'll go for the underwater scrabble record.

MARCUS BARTON: It's like anything, um, why do people climb mountains, why do people go fishing? I mean, we did it for fun, and to see if it could be done.

ASA Satellite Sees Ocean Plants Increase, Coasts Greening

A few years ago, NASA researcher Watson Gregg published a study showing that tiny free-floating ocean plants called phytoplankton had declined in abundance globally by 6 percent between the 1980s and 1990s. A new study by Gregg and his co-authors suggests that trend may not be continuing, and new patterns are taking place.

Why is this important? Well, the tiny ocean plants help regulate our atmosphere and the health of our oceans. Phytoplankton produce half of the oxygen generated by plants on Earth. They also can soften the impacts of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas. In addition, phytoplankton serve as the base of the ocean food chain, so their abundance determines the overall health of ocean ecosystems. Given their importance, it makes sense that scientists would want to closely track trends in phytoplankton numbers and in how they are distributed around the world.

Gregg and his colleagues published their new study in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The researchers used NASA satellite data from 1998 to 2003 to show that phytoplankton amounts have increased globally by more than 4 percent. These increases have mainly occurred along the coasts. No significant changes were seen in phytoplankton concentrations within the global open oceans, but phytoplankton levels declined in areas near the center of the oceans, the mid-ocean gyres. Mid-ocean gyres are "ocean deserts", which can only support low amounts of phytoplankton. When viewed by satellite, these phytoplankton-deprived regions look deep-blue, while in aquatic regions where plant life thrives, the water appears greener.

"The ocean deserts are getting bluer and the coasts are getting greener," said Gregg, an oceanographer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Md. "The study suggests there may be changes occurring in the biology of the oceans, especially in the coast regions."









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updated 3/15/05