April 16, 2013
California's MLPAs: Free Online Access to Special Issue of Ocean and Coastal Management
Special issue available free online for approximately six months here.
From CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife press release:
New Analyses Can Guide Similar Planning Endeavor
California recently completed an historic overhaul of how it manages its coastal waters by revising and expanding its system of marine protected areas (MPAs). This system of MPAs is the largest scientifically based network in the U.S. and second largest in the world. How California accomplished this consequential achievement is the subject of a March special issue of the journal Ocean and Coastal Management released last month. Articles analyze the challenges, achievements and lessons learned in the public MPA planning processes.
Under a mandate from the state’s 1999 Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), California’s network of MPAs designated by the California Fish and Game Commission have greatly increased the proportion of state waters protected. The resulting network designates approximately 9.4 percent of state waters as “no-take” MPAs, and about 16 percent of state waters are now under some form of protection, which is a dramatic increase in coverage. Informed by science and crafted with significant stakeholder involvement, California’s new network of 124 designated areas (including 119 MPAs and five recreational management areas, all managed within the network) replaced 63 existing MPAs that were mostly small (covering just 2.7 percent of state waters, with less than ¼ percent in no-take MPAs) and considered ineffective. The area covered by the MPAs represents approximately 60 percent of all no-take MPAs within the waters of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Planning for this network of MPAs yields important lessons for other planning efforts globally.
The special issue of Ocean and Coastal Management includes nine articles by key participants from the MLPA Initiative, an innovative public-private partnership between the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The Initiative was tasked with helping the state redesign its MPAs in conjunction with stakeholders, scientists, experts, resource managers, policy-makers and the public. The articles have now been made available for free download at the journal website.
“This special issue provides an important record of the MLPA Initiative’s work and how California conducted public processes to design an improved system of MPAs and therefore provides important lessons that can inform other similar efforts,” said Mary Gleason, senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy.
“The network of MPAs was designed by stakeholders with guidance from scientists, managing agencies, experts, members of the public and policy-makers, to meet the six goals of the MLPA, while also allowing for human uses of marine resources – understandably a complicated task that involved tradeoffs and compromises but with the vision that the MPA network will provide long-term benefits to California and our marine environment,” said Ken Wiseman, executive director of the MLPA Initiative.
Informed by scientific guidance intended to increase benefits and ecological connections among individual MPAs, this improved network is also globally significant.
“Completing the nation’s first statewide open coast system of marine protected areas strengthens California’s ongoing commitment to conserve marine life for future generations,” said Charlton H. Bonham, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This statewide system will also benefit fish and fishermen in California for generations to come. And, the science shows that by protecting sensitive ocean and coastal habitats, marine life flourishes and in turn, creates a healthier system overall.
The California Fish and Game Commission, the decision-making authority under the MLPA, acted on the basis of recommendations delivered by the MLPA Initiative, which conducted four regional public planning processes between 2005 and 2011. California’s MLPA calls for redesigning the state’s existing MPAs to meet specific goals to increase coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state’s marine life, habitats, ecosystems and natural heritage as well as to improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems subject to minimal human disturbance.
Posted by Dida at 2:23 PM
January 6, 2011
PHOTOS NEEDED for New ed. of Scientific Diving Techniques
Posted as a courtesy. Please do not contact me about this opportunity-Dida
Colleagues: I am working on the second edition of the book Scientific Diving Techniques: A Practical Guide for the Research Diver, to be published by Best Publishing. Some of you contributed photographs for the first edition, and I am now soliciting photos and descriptions of novel underwater scientific techniques for the new edition. Photos that are used will be credited to the photographer, and a complimentary copy of the book will be given.
Please send a couple of your best photographs, and references to underwater techniques and methodology to me at John Heine.
Examples of photographs needed are historical, aquatic habitats and ecosystems, equipment, technical diving, marking and mapping, physical and chemical oceanography, archeology, collecting, tagging, transects, coring, photography, and videography; pretty much everything that scientific divers do underwater.
Thanks, John Heine
Posted by Dida at 12:14 PM
October 22, 2010
Symposium: New Perspectives on MPA Performance
Posted as a courtesy only. Please do not contact about this event-Dida
For those of you interested in the social and ecological dimensions of marine conservation, a reminder to please join us, free, November 5 at the Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Symposium (plus "MPA bazaar"!).
Note that there will be a live webcast, so it is easy to participate without traveling to Washington, DC.
Past symposia have been really exciting and informative for both the scientists and conservation practitioners that participate. This year will be no exception, with a great line up of speakers and discussions, as well as clear plans for products and follow ups. If you have questions, please email Ms. Niloofar Ganjian.
I hope to see you there, and please forward to others who may be interested (and apologies in advance for cross posting).
Helen E. Fox, Ph.D.Senior Marine Scientist | Conservation Science Program | World Wildlife Fund
1250 24th Street NW | Washington, DC 20037 USA | | www.worldwildlife.org/science +1.202.495.4793 (w) | +1.202.640.3070 (bb) | +1.202.293.9211 (fax)
Posted by Dida at 9:34 AM
September 23, 2010
Two New Species of Nudibranch Discovered in Cental California, one at Point Lobos, Big Sur, CA
Photo courtesy Gary McDonald
Photo courtesy Gary McDonald
In March of 2009, diving at about 40 m, BAUE divers Rob and Allison Lee found a nudibranch they were unable to key out after consulting numerous guides. After obtaining a collection permit, they sent a specimen to Terry Gosliner, nudibranch expert at California Academy of Sciences.
Okenia felis is about the size of a Rice Krispy (7-8 mm), and superficially resembles a less robust, white version of Okenia rosacea, often seen locally. However, both DNA and morphological analysis proved that it was a previously undescribed species. This new species appears to be abundant at Point Lobos on brown bryozoan.
The new name of Okenia felis was inspired by the collecting team of Ron and Allison Lee, John Heimann, and Clinton Bauder, collectively known as "Team Kitty."
Flabbelina goddardi laying egg mass
Photo courtesy Jeff Goddard
Flabbelina goddardi laying egg mass
For a full description of these new species, see the latest edition of the Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.
Posted by Dida at 7:19 PM
June 19, 2009
Possible Closure of Point Lobos, CA State Park
This is a topic I feel passionately about, both because I'm on the board of the Point Lobos Association, and because I've been diving at Point Lobos since 1993. It is arguably one of the best places to dive in California (if not the world?), and the site of much marine research (it was the US's first underwater reserve). This may end soon if the state of California closes down 220 state parks. Because of this seriousness of this problem, I have decided to depart from what I generally post here, and pubish a letter written by Point Lobos Association President Judd Perry to our members.
If you'd like to become a member and help us preserve Point Lobos, please join by clicking here. -- Dida Kutz
Dear PLA Member:
I am taking this unusual step of contacting you by email because the fate of the California State Park System hangs in the balance. The Joint Budget Committee of the legislature has determined that, to help close the budget deficit, 220 State Parks will be closed after Labor Day, 2009. However, the Committee is proposing an alternative which, if adopted by both houses of the legislature and signed by the Governor, would save all of these parks from closure. It is called the State Parks Access Pass (SPAP) which, if adopted, would give every automobile licensed in the State of California FREE ACCESS to all of our State Parks on an unlimited basis. The cost of the SPAP would be $15 annually, per car.
Passage of the SPAP is now the only alternative left to the legislature, other than closing 80% of all State Parks. In Monterey County, only one park – Asilomar State Beach – would remain open.
The decision to close the State Parks System makes no sense on any level: economic, operational or political. While we are all aware of the terrible economic condition in which the State of California finds itself, closing virtually the entire State Parks System would save only about 0.01% of the total State budget. Furthermore, a California State University, Sacramento study shows that State Park visitors contribute about $4.2 billion to the California economy, most of which would be lost if there is a closure of the State Parks System.
Operationally, thousands of trained Park Rangers and other personnel will be laid off. If the closure were to last for even a year, many of these people will no longer be available when the parks reopen. That means a massive recruitment and training effort to populate the parks with personnel. In addition, the thousands of volunteers who now contribute hundreds of thousands of hours to the Parks will have largely vanished, as these volunteers go on to other interests.
Lastly, once closed, and without the presence of Park Rangers, the natural and cultural resources of our parks will be at dire risk, subject to being vandalized and destroyed by people who will surely use and abuse them, if left unsupervised. The risk of a major forest fire from unregulated use will increase dramatically, as will the loss of life on beaches without lifeguards, and the cost of only one major fire would dwarf the amount sought to be saved by the closings. Furthermore, once closed, the trails and other facilities left untended will deteriorate very rapidly, making it much more expensive (and perhaps impossible) to re-open a park.
Point Lobos Reserve and all of the other State Parks, Beaches and Reserves belong to the public, and it is up to the public to stop this political insanity. Time is very short for you to make our voice heard. Supporting the SPAP is our last hope for saving the State Park System from the worst catastrophe it has ever faced.
Please contact your local State Assembly Representative, State Senator and Governor Schwartzenegger to demand that the SPAP legislation be passed, allowing all of our State Parks, Beaches and Reserves to remain open and fully functioning. The most effective communication is a phone call, postal mail or FAX, but email is better than no contact at all. You can determine your local legislators by going here and typing in your ZIP code. Contact information for the Governor’s office can be found here . Contact information is also available in the front portion of your telephone book. To make your voice heard by email, go to Cal Parks Foundation and click the “Take Action” button.
Thank you. I hope to see you at Point Lobos Reserve for many years to come.
President, Point Lobos Association
Posted by Dida at 12:53 PM
October 15, 2007
27th Annual Symposium of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences : Call for Papers
Diving for Science 2008- Christian McDonald
Please accept my invitation to participate in the upcoming 27th Annual Symposium of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences hosted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego from March 14th - 15th, 2008.
Researchers, Diving Safety Officers, Students and Technicians are invited to contribute and present their work involving the use of diving technologies involving diving medicine, physiology, theory, techniques, training, standards, or developing technologies. Presentations from all areas of underwater science are welcome.
The deadline for abstract submission is December 1st, 2007 and should not exceed 250 words. Abstracts may be submitted online by logging onto the AAUS website and navigating to the Bulletin Board. You will find a link for both "Poster Session" and "Full Presentation" abstract submissions. Simply click your choice, add a topic detailing requested information and attach your abstract.
Notification of acceptance of abstract will be received on or before January 1st, 2008. Formatting requirements for full submissions in Word (.doc) or text (.txt) format will be provided with acceptance notification. Full submissions must be uploaded online on or before February 1st, 2008.
Please feel free to forward to all interested parties.
For more information please contact:
Ph. - 858-534-2002
Email - cmcdonald @ ucsd.edu
Posted by Dida at 12:20 PM
September 28, 2007
Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans and Reef Check California Collaborate to Conserve California's Rocky Reefs
by Cyndi Dawson, Regional Manager, Reef Check California
The Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), based at the University of Santa Cruz, and Reef Check California (RCCA) have been collaborating on the central coast conducting subtidal monitoring. RCCA uses trained and certified volunteer divers to collect scientifically-sound data. PISCO is a large-scale academic marine research program that focuses on understanding the nearshore ecosystems of the U.S. West Coast, and applying those findings to issues of ocean conservation and management. Both PISCO and RCCA use directly comparable methods to survey depths from 0 – 60 ft. (0-18.3 m) on rocky reefs throughout the state to enumerate marine fishes, invertebrates, seaweed, and to characterize the substrate. Because the data collection methods are standardized and use a scientifically accepted methodology, the data from both groups are provided to resource managers to help improve marine management decisions.
One of the sites included in the comparison study is Weston, within the boundaries of Pt. Lobos State Reserve. Both PISCO and RCCA have long-term survey sites within the park boundaries. PISCO has been surveying another site in the Reserve, Bluefin, since 1999, and Weston since 2001. RCCA has been surveying Weston since the start of the program in 2006. RCCA
has also been surveying Middle Reef, which is not surveyed by PISCO or any
other group, since 2006. The comparison at Weston began in 2006 with RCCA and PISCO conducting fish surveys one day apart. To add an additional replicate to the comparison survey, Weston was surveyed once again by PISCO on Friday Sept. 21, 2007, and RCCA surveyed the same site on Saturday Sept. 22, 2007. RCCA and PISCO have already begun the analysis for last year and the data looks great! RCCA divers are consistently getting estimates of density, size, and trends that are close to the PISCO estimates; scientifically speaking the data from preliminary analysis supports RCCA being within an acceptable level of precision of PISCO’s estimates.
This is great news for all Californians, as proving the scientific validity of RCCA data will increase the amount of quality data available to resource managers to make sound science-based management decisions. The amount of quality data collected and available to resource managers is being significantly increased by the growing numbers of trained and certified volunteer RCCA divers. PISCO and RCCA estimates for invertebrates, seaweed, and bottom characterization will also be compared in this study.
Stay tuned as we expect to release the results of these analyses by the spring of next year. If you are an experienced recreational scuba diver and would like to find out how to get involved with Reef Check California please go to here. No prior scientific training is required to help Reef Check conserve California’s rocky reefs one tank at a time!
(Ed. Note: In Feb. 2007, the Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game submitted a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] to RCCA stating that the dept. considers RCCA’s methodology scientifically sound, compatible with its own methodology, and the training and quality controls sufficiently rigorous to warrant acceptance of the data collected by it volunteers for the dept.’s own management considerations. The entire MOU can be read here.)
September 6, 2007
Shark Activity Curtails Research Diving in Monterey Bay Area
In an unprecedented decision, a consortium of local organizations including Monterey Bay Aquarium, UC Santa Cruz, and Hopkins Marine Station have suspended diving at inshore areas in Monterey and Pacific Grove (PG), California. They are advising research divers to shift their dive activities away from these areas.
The decision came about after a great white sighting made by skin divers on Aug. 25 off PG, an attack on a surfer at Marina State Beach on Aug. 20, and critically injured pinnepeds being found at Hopkins (PG) and Lover's Cove (PG). As Steve Clabuesch, Diving Safely Office at UCSC's Long Marine Lab reports, "everyone is erring on the side of caution."
Not much is known about these magnificent animals, though it is known that this is the time of year they come back to Ano Nuevo and the Farallones (and presumably other inshore areas) to feed from wherever the heck they spend their time offshore. It is thought these are anomalous hits made while the sharks travel north to their preferred feeding areas. In any case, makes diving in these parts a bit more exciting.
Posted by Dida at 10:30 AM
June 15, 2007
NOAA Coral Reef Watch's Time Series Data
NOAA has published, for viewing on-line, satellite data for 24 selected reef sites around the world. It's a bit chilling to see the graphs.-DK
From NOAA: The time series data of CRW operational twice-weekly near-real-time satellite SST, SST anomaly, Bleaching HotSpot, and Bleaching Degree Heating Weeks for 24 selected reef sites (CRW's virtual stations) around the globe are now available online at our website. The data can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on "data" links on CRW's virtual station time series web page.
These time series data are in ASCII text format and updated twice a week in near-real-time. Previously, only the graphs of the time series were posted online.
NOAA Coral Reef Watch
coralreefwatch @ noaa.gov
Posted by Dida at 9:29 AM
April 1, 2007
Ten Thousand Hours: Lessons from the Healy CG Vessel Dive Tragedy
by Carl Gwinn, publisher of BlackCormorant.net
Ten thousand hours of "deliberate practice" will produce excellence in any field. According to K. Anders Ericsson, a psychologist, and more recent workers, this figure is the same for almost any field: classical piano, rocket science, bowling. For nearly all divers, ten thousand hours of bottom time is unattainable. We will spend our lives as beginners.
The tragic deaths of ice divers from the US Coast Guard vessel Healey make that point again. If we can learn from other's experiences, perhaps we can gain some of the expertise those 10,00 hours would give us.
For those unfamiliar with the story, this icebreaker set out for the Arctic with half its complement of divers, and dive gear with an undocumented, but probably poor, service history. During a recreational "ice liberty," the divers received permission to try an ice dive to 20 feet, and recruited line tenders from bystanders to fill in for the missing half of their team. Apparently influenced by experience with surface-supplied-air, the divers carried more than 60 lbs of weight each (much of it stuffed into inaccessible pockets) and did not connect LP hoses to their BCs; they relied upon their drysuits for buoyancy. Gear problems delayed the dive and left the divers chilled even before they dropped into the 29F water. The line tenders may have misunderstood their tugs on the lines, and let out nearly 200 feet. When brought back to the surface both divers were dead. The full Coast Guard report on the incident is on the internet (PDF). Every diver can benefit from reading this report.
The investigations following this tragedy have led to recommendations by the government agencies that employ divers. The 13 recommendations of NOAA's Dive Safety Board appear in the March 2007 Topside Newsletter, soon to be online here. As I read them, the NOAA recommendations fall into several broad categories:
- Dives in tricky environments (blue-water, line-tended, overhead or confined-space, and cold-water) require careful planning and, for now, permission from the NOAA Dive Center (NDC). More formal standards are to be announced shortly.
- Diving in these conditions, or with a drysuit, requires proper gear. When wearing a drysuit, divers must use BCs. (NOAA plans to move to the DUI weighting system for drysuits, and the new Oceanic regulator for <50F). Split fins are prohibited in strong currents, with heavy loads or when wearing a drysuit; although split fins do well in Rodale's pool tests (and I love mine with my wetsuit), apparently split fins can stall out when used strenuously. Use of more than 16 lbs in an integrated-weight BC is prohibited; I'm not sure whether they distinguish ditchable from un-ditchable weights here.
- Dive gear must be maintained: this now includes periodic inspections by NDC.
- A topside person capable of rendering assistance must be on site for every dive. Vessels with dive teams are to have full complements.
- Divers are to dive enough to keep their experience current.
These recommendations have clear applications to individual sport or scientific divers. I would summarize them:
- If you dive in an unfamiliar environment or under tricky conditions, be cautious, and be ready to abort for any reason. "One hand at a time in Pandora's Box."
- Likewise, choose the appropriate gear, especially for challenging dives. As my mother told me, "Make sure to get a good regulator: someday your life might depend on it!" Uh, right, I might have to use it to breathe.
- Maintain your gear.
- Make sure that someone else can assist you. This is something to think about: is it really worth it to do that solo night dive without a light?
- Dive lots. Up-to-date skills keep us safe.
Posted by Dida at 7:35 PM
December 1, 2006
Reef Check California Loses Chris Haugen, a Perfect Volunteer
Chris Haugen, an expert scuba diver, was lost at sea in a sailing mishap on Nov. 11, 2006. He and I completed the first Central California Reef Check CA surveys in July of this year, and also hold the distinction of having completed an entire site on our own. Not an easy feat considering that our site, "Esplanade" (Pt. Lucas in Pacific Grove), is an exposed site that is not often diveable, hence one reason it took us 12 dives to complete 16 surveys!
Chris was not only an enthusiastic, conscientious, and extremely capable volunteer diver (among his many distinctions, he used to be a commercial diver, and his gigs included working on oil rigs and as an urchin diver), he was also a concerned conservationist who loved Reef Check CA's vision and sound approach.
He joins on the other side his father Eric, an adventurer like his son and schoolteacher, and Chuck Haugen, who worked with Fish and Game in Monterey for many years. He leaves behind his beloved teenaged children Christie (14), Adam (16), and Joey (15), mother Barbara, sister Heidi, aunt Jan, and myself, his life partner.
Chris will not only be profoundly missed by myself, but by all those who were able to experience his humor, kindness, generosity, and love of nature.
He died without life insurance. To make a donation to his kids' 529 college savings plan (VCSP/College America), please send contributions to owner Barbara Haugen (Chris' mother), 712 E. Calaveras St., Altadena, CA 91001-2333.
Please watch this site I am building in his memory.
Posted by Dida at 1:17 PM
October 16, 2006
Controversial Reverse Dive Profiles
The May issue of Undercurrent published the results of a 2005 study conducted by Australian researchers Edmonds, McInness, and Bennet meant to refute the conclusions of the 1999 Reverse Dive Profile Workshop. In that workshop, held at the Smithsonian Institute and sponsored by DAN, DEMA, the American Association of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), and Dive Training magazine, 49 participants concluded that because of the lack of scientific evidence prohibiting reverse dive profiles (RDPs), they found no reason to recommend a prohibition against them. As Undercurrent reported in May, the only caveats were that RDPs should occur within the no decompression limits for recreational diving (130 feet), and depth differentials should be no greater than 40 feet. Although some participants didn’t agree that the prohibitions against RDPs should be abolished completely, all agreed on these restrictions to remain conservative and reach consensus.
Edmonds et al experimental method was to conduct a series of experiments on guinea pigs. The animals were subjected to forward dive profiles (FDPs), mirror image RDPs, and reverse multi-level profiles. All six animals died after a reverse multi-level dive, and one died in a mirror image reverse profile. Extended RDPs resulted in three more deaths. These results were combined with chamber observations by Workshop participant K. Huggins, and an analysis by St. Leger Dowse et al to conclude that RDPs are not safe alternatives to FDPs. Huggins’ data from chamber treatment observations imply more severe DCS from RDPs, and analysis by St. Leger Dowse et al of UK female divers’ log books indicate that there is a higher rate of DCS risk for those diving RDPs.
Michael A Lang and Charles E Lehner, convenors of the RDP Workshop, published a response to these findings in a March 2006 issue of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine. They report that the experimental data presented by Edmonds et al fails to provide sufficient evidence for overturning the Workshop’s conclusions, and present a case outlining the flaws in their study.
Lang and Lerner state that Edmonds and team have failed to contribute any significant new data, missed significant points made during the workshop, and in an especially damning assertion, wonder if the authors had purposefully inserted bias by designing an experiment that would support their preconceptions. Lang and Lerner also state that extrapolating data gathered from guinea–pig experiments to humans is inappropriate, and in fact represents the greatest weakness of their argument.
They also point out that Edmonds et al chose to ignore the same historical data the Workshop reviewed (military, commercial, and scientific diving records gathered over 50 years) in making their recommendations about RDPs.
This historical data, as well as chamber operations showing that most divers treated dived FDPs, contributed to the recommendations made by the Workshop. In fact, neither the US Navy nor commercial diving prohibits RDPs. A review of AAUS standards reveals that neither do they.
The assertion by Edmonds et al that Huggins’ chamber observations support a ban against RDPs is flawed, according to Lang and Lehner, because not only was the data statistically insignificant , but no controls were placed on DCS risk factors (dive profile, maximum dive depth, etc.).
Lang and Lehner also take Edmonds et al to task for misinterpreting the Workshop’s findings with regard to nitrogen loads, and instead, erroneously testing “mirror” profiles. Contrary to what they say Edmonds et al assumes, the Workshop concluded that FDPs and RDPs do not require comparable decompression times. The model presented at the Workshop emphasizes that no matter the dive profile, quality decompression according to the last dive, and prevention of bubble creation at an early stage (and subsequent remedy of if created), must be adhered to. As an example, they explain that a bubble model of decompression proscribes much longer surface intervals after first and second dives in order to provide comparable DCS risks for FDPs and RDPs. Consider this forward dive profile: 30 meters salt water (msw)/30 min, 15 min surface interval (SI); 20 msw/30 min, 15 min SI; 10 msw/30 min. To approximate equal DCS risks for a reverse order dive profile, surface intervals would have to be significantly increased: 10 msw/30 min, 90 min SI; 20 msw/30 min, 120 min SI. This significant increase in surface interval times underscores the practical reasons for not performing reverse dive profiles.
Despite the arguably faulty science conducted by Edmonds et al, both groups agree that reverse profiles are not mirror images of forward profiles, and require entirely different decompression obligations. However, Edmonds et al advise against them, and the Workshop concludes that there is no reason to prohibit them for no-deco dives less that 130 fsw and depth differentials less than 40 fsw. I would also like to emphasize that substantially longer surface intervals are required for RDPs.
Lang MA, Lehner CE. Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA, Dir. Smithsonian Marine Science Network and Scientific Diving Program; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, Assis. Scientist and Dir. Blotron Diving Physiology Laboratory. Reverse dive profiles: the making of a myth. A response. Diving and Hyperbaric Medicince 2006; 36:51-5.
August 17, 2006
Scientific Blue Water Diving
Publication of a new book entitled Scientific Blue Water Diving has just been been announced. A revision of Blue Water Diving Guidelines, first published by California Sea Grant in 1986, the book is co-authored by John Heine, who was my first DSO when I was associated with Moss Landing Marine Labs many years ago . . .
PDF ordering form here.
Posted by Dida at 6:15 PM
May 3, 2006
Reef Check California: Report on First Training Event
Photo courtesy of Reef Check California
I am still decompressing, figuratively speaking, from a momentous 3 days of diving with Reef Check California at the Channel Islands April 28-30, 2006. A group of us successfully completed the first ever official Reef Check California surveys (see my earlier entry), after 3 days of rigorous training under the auspices of director Craig Shuman and his crack team of helpers. There is so much I want to say about this organization and what they are attempting, that I hardly know where to start. (But a piece is in the works--promise!) In the meantime, one of the many very good people that participated, Brian Meux, graciously agreed to write a piece for this site. You can also read a lengthier report here on ScubaBoard. ---Dida
I am a master's student attempting a study on California kelp forest restoration. A large problem I have discovered in trying to do my study is that we Californians are still very unaware of a lot that is going on in our underwater backyard. How are the rockfish doing? The abalone? The kelp forests as a whole? How are we going to get enough data to give us an informed idea of how to interact with one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet? How do we know when restoration is necessary? How do we measure the “health” of our kelp forests? Fact is, we don't have enough scientists in the water to cover this massive coastline.
I had to volunteer for Reef Check. It's not like I have a lot of time on my hands, being a graduate student, but at the very least, if I didn't do the classes and field training, I knew I would be missing out on a budding temperate water community-based research diving movement that would mark oceanic-human history. And I was lucky enough to get into the first ever field training experience in California for Reef Check (they are booked into late summer I hear!).
We had a solid weekend of classroom learning trying to absorb the rigorous surveying methods and techniques expected of us as VOLUNTEERS. Right away I knew this was something special when I met all the other volunteers. They ranged from concerned dive instructors, Fish and Game research diver, photographer/journalist, university professors, environmental leaders, and eco-aware divers with vast underwater experience. So many different kinds of people all wanting to do something about the ecological degradation going on under the waves.
We passed our classroom tests and met three weeks later on a dive charter boat to take us to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Since we were all guinea pigs, there was no cost! We were expected to have our 50 species memorized, and have the methods down. Prior to the boat trip, I heard through the grapevine a constant murmur of "damn, I need to get going on those flashcards!" The trainers, Craig Shuman (Director of Reef Check CA) and Chris Knight (chief of Reef Check CA training), put so much into the planning, and it paid off. Everything went pretty smoothly considering the logistical nightmare it could've been. Three additional volunteer research divers assisted Craig and Chris. They were superb and singular fountains of knowledge themselves. And for the whole 3-day trip there was not one swell that was over a foot!
The dives were, of course, breathtaking. We started our dives trying out the methods and we all stunk pretty bad. It turns out we all have some sort of bias in counting species underwater and it needs to be beaten out of us. Luckily all the trainers were patient and persistent, and by the end of the trip we were good enough to operate as a team. We actually collected the first Reef Check data set ever in California and temperate waters!
We are all very proud, but like true scientists, we will have to be skeptical of our results and make sure our future data reach a high standard of excellence. It will take discipline, but I think every diver on that boat is more than capable of creating high quality data sets. We have a lot to prove. There are now plans underway to begin surveying some of our favorite dive sites in Southern California. Good luck to all who take on this challenge.
---by Brian Meux
Master's Student of Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona, CA;
April 11, 2006
Seeking Site Authors!
Hi there- This site is getting hundreds of unique visitors a day, and I'm finding it incredibly difficult to keep up with what needs to be done to keep this place relevant and topical. My ambitions were so big: provide information about research diving methods, local project reports, anecdotes, a forum to ask questions, get information, etc. As I still have to work for a living, I am failing miserably at these goals, and have become mostly a curator. So . . . I'm hoping some of you out there reading this now might want to publish something here along the lines just described. If so, please email me soon with a brief description of what you have in mind. I'll try to get back to you ASAP, but again, as this is something I do in my "spare" time, be patient with response time---Thanks, Dida P.S. Please note that I'm not interested in advertising eco-tourism outfits, i.e., ventures that charge divers to engage in research.
Posted by Dida at 4:04 PM
January 3, 2006
2005 Report: State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the US and Pacific FAS
original posting: 2005-11-23
Just released by NOAA, and available free online in PDF format is the report, "The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely
Associated States: 2005." Authored by teams in 14 jurisdictions consisting of over 160 scientists and managers where the corals were found, the report differs from an earlier report released in 2003 in that it is " . . .based primarily on the most recent quantitative monitoring data available, rather than qualitative assessments of ecosystem conditions."
The report is meant to be a vehicle for disseminating information about collective efforts in the US and FAS to study coral reef ecosystems. This makes the report invaluable to the resourceful scientific diver seeking opportunities to contribute to ongoing data collection efforts.
As well as the entire 522-page report being available for download, individual jurisdiction chapters are also made available for download at the same site.
November 21, 2005
Budget Cuts to NOAA's Undersea Research Program
Just got this call to action from American Academy of Underwater Scientists:
The 2006 Department of Commerce budget recently passed by Congress dramatically reduces the funding for many of America's leading programs to promote public-private partnerships in ocean research and stewardship. For example, the budget would eliminate regional and national elements of the NOAA Undersea Research Program (NURP), including: the North Atlantic and Great Lakes Region at the University of Connecticut, the Mid-Atlantic Bight at Rutgers University, the Southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the Caribbean Region at the Perry Institute for Marine Science. Additionally, funding to the West Coast & Polar Regions at the University of Alaska is cut by 55 percent. Furthermore, no funding is provided for NURP headquarters and its contribution to the Alvin deep submersible, nor for NURP’s undersea technologies that include the Aquarius undersea lab, LEO-15 seafloor observatory, remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles, and technical diving programs. Decades of carefully nurtured research and education capacity advanced by this national program are about to be erased by this decision. We need your help in asking NOAA to reprogram funds to sustain these lost programs.
This decision was not based on performance, relevance or science merit. The President’s FY 2006 budget included NURP at level funding (and includes the program again in its 2007 plan), and the 2006 Senate mark was above the Administration’s amount. NURP directly addresses recommendations made by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and mandated by the President’s Ocean Action Plan, including:
+ NURP enables an ecosystem-based approach to managing coastal and ocean resources, providing critical data on, for example, commercially important fish and their habitats, coral reefs, deep water corals, biodiversity, methane hydrates, biotechnology, and coastal hazards.
+ NURP is a world leader in ocean technology development, for example, smarter, deeper vehicles (autonomous robots and occupied subs like Alvin), new tools and sensors for these vehicles, seafloor observatories such as LEO-15, and the world’s only underwater laboratory, Aquarius.
+ NURP supports education and outreach by providing “hands-on learning opportunities for teachers and students using underwater vehicles and data from seafloor observatories.”
Especially in the wake of devastating storms and natural disasters, declining natural resources, and the nation’s fastest growing coastal areas, it is not wise to reduce undersea research capabilities in the affected regions. No program in the country supports more scientific diving per year than these centers, as many dives per year as all the rest of NOAA combined. In addition to this significant loss in research productivity, over fifty NURP personnel with unique science and technology skills are at stake—an unrecoverable loss for NOAA.
Our request is simple; please address a letter (postal or email) to the NOAA Administrator, Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher (NOAA Office of the Administrator, Herbert C. Hoover Building, 14th & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC 20230; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) asking him to restore the NURP budget so that it can continue to serve the nation and support the East Coast centers, Alvin, LEO-15, and Aquarius, as well as the West Coast and Hawaiian Regions. Provide your own personal reasons for keeping NURP whole.
We thank you and hope to be serving your undersea research needs in 2006.
NURP Council of Center Directors
Posted by Dida at 3:14 PM
October 2, 2005
Call for Papers and Posters: 25th Diving for Science Symposium of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)
Courtesy of The Ten Foot Stop: This is a call for Papers and Posters to be presented at the 25th Diving for Science Symposium of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). Scientists, Dive Safety Officers, students, and technicians are invited to contribute and present papers or posters describing recent research, underwater research diving techniques, and technological developments related to scientific diving. Presentations from all areas of underwater science are welcome. The meeting, hosted by University of Washington, will be held in Friday Harbor, Washington, March 2-4, 2006.
Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Abstract must be submitted online by 09/15/2005. Notification of acceptance will be received on, or before, 10/15/2005.
Formatting Requirements for Full Submissions in Word (.doc) or text (.txt) format will be provided with acceptance notification. Full Submissions must be uploaded online on, or before, 12/15/2005.
Contact for more information: Douglas E. Kesling, BSN, M.A., DMT-A Training and Safety Coordinator NOAA National Undersea Research Center University of North Carolina Wilmington 5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane Wilmington, NC 28409 910.962.2445 wk 910.962.2410 fax
Posted by Dida at 5:08 AM
March 31, 2005
Lucy, White Shark at Monterey Bay Aquarium, Set Free!
This is non-scientific diving related, but heck, this is news I thought my visitors would be interested in.
The white shark was released early this morning at 5:45 am. See my personal blog for more info.
Posted by Dida at 12:58 PM
March 1, 2005
Advanced Certificate Program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
Via the CORAL List, posted by Jane Weinzierl of UCSD, comes notification of a great opportunity to learn practical skills needed to pursue work in marine conservation. GRE/GMAT is not required:
The Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography reminds interested applicants that March 15, 2005 is the deadline to apply for the Advanced Certificate in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (AC-MBC) program. Led by faculty of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this is an intensive 9-week summer only program that is designed to teach mid-career professionals about marine ecosystems from the scientific, economic and policy perspectives, as well as provide important cultural and communications skills. This summer program is especially for those who are unable to take one year off to pursue the Master of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation program. For more information, visit the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation website or contact Jane Weinzierl, 858-964-1334.
February 4, 2005
Coral reef assessment in Thailand after the tsunami
I just got this information off the CORAL-list.
Subject: Coral reef assessment in Thailand after the tsunami
From: Thamasak Yeemin
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 19:51:07 -0800 (PST)
Dear Coral-Listers, I am most grateful for your worries regarding to the tsunami. As you know, the tsunami hit six provinces of Thailand along the coastline of the Andaman Sea, namely, Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun. Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, seven Thai universities and volunteer diving groups conducted a rapid assessment program during December 30, 2004 to January 15, 2005 by using a survey method developed by Thai researchers. A total of 175 study sites were completely carried out and the impacts of tsunami on coral reefs were categorized in to five groups, i.e., no impact, very low impact (1-10% of corals were damaged.), low impact (11-30% of corals were damaged.), moderate impact (31-50% of corals were damaged.) and high impact (> 50% of corals were damaged.). Only 13% of the study sites were in “high impact”.
No impact study sites were around 40%. Very low impact, low impact and moderate impact study sites were 21%, 17% and 9%, respectively. Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and several universities have routine research on coral reefs in the Andaman Sea. In the case of marine Biodiversity Research Group, Ramkhamhaeng University, we have conducted a research program on development of appropriate techniques and methods for coral reef rehabilitation for sustainable tourism in certain provinces since 2001. The research has mainly focused on condition of coral reef, status and change of coral fragment, coral reproduction, ecology of juvenile coral colony, coral recruitment settlement plate experiment), status and change of partial mortality of coral colony and ecology of reef macroinvertebrates and fish. We will continue monitoring our 20 study sites in the Andaman Sea. We do appreciate any suggestion, recommendation and future research collaboration. [...]
January 19, 2005
Tsunami Help/Aid Agencies, Donations & Volunteers
In light of the recent disaster, we thought our readers might be interested in this comprehensive Wikinews site of links to charitable organizations:
Posted by Dida at 6:31 PM