Archive for 09/03/2011

Del Stone –

Jeff Petresky and his wife, Heather, were about to head for the surface after diving on a reef south of the Destin East Pass on Sunday when Heather spotted something weird.

“She was waving her flashlight at me, then down on the reef,” Jeff said. “I swam over and saw what she was shining her flashlight on.”

It was an alien invader – a lionfish.

So Jeff did what biologists hope qualified divers will do: He stuck his spear into the ledge where the fish was hiding and skewered it.

“It’s still sitting in a Zip-Loc bag in my fridge,” said Jeff, who lives in Shalimar. “I reported it. I’m just hanging on to it to see if anybody wants it.”

Trust us, nobody wants it — at least out of the Zip-Loc bag. The lionfish is native to the Pacific and Indian oceans but scientists believe it was released into Florida waters a few years ago by aquarium owners and breeders.

Since then the fish has spread to Caribbean and American waters, traveling as far north as Long Island.

Martha Bademan, a biologist with the Division of Marine Fisheries, says it wasn’t seen in Northwest Florida waters until a year or two ago.

Full story…

Mike Schuler –

The UK’s National Archive says it is releasing the records of 1 million Merchant Navy seafarers serving from 1918 to 1941 who were part of Churchill’s often forgotten ‘fourth service’. 

The records are being released for the first time in celebration of tomorrow’s Merchant Navy Day, and are available online at  The Archives hopes the information will help family historians locate information on their seafaring ancestors.

The records are in the form of index cards that the Registrar General of Shipping and Seaman required merchant seaman to carry in order to produce a single index of merchant mariners serving on British merchant navy vessels. 

The cards include detailed personal information including photos, name, rank, vessel numbers, address of kin, signatures and even physical descriptions such as standout tattoos or other identify marks or scars.

Referred to as the ‘fourth service’ by Winston Churchill, Britain’s Merchant Navy played an integral role in establishing the UK as a world leader in trade and industry, yet a remarkable 54% of Britain’s population has never heard of it, according to research by 

It was often described as a ‘floating United Nations’ as many crews were made up of international mariners from all over the world.

Full story…

Emmanuelle Landais –

Whether it is taking photos inside Giza’s Pyramids, taking skull or bone memorabilia from Paris’s catacombs or wandering freely around Machu Picchu, tourists have to be banned from doing certain things lest they cause too much damage. Rules contain the fun, and by consequence, help the environment.

A set of boring do’s and don’ts on a white beach fringed with coconut palms seems the last thing you want to hear when looking to kick back. But on Sipadan, a tropical island off the northeastern coast of Sabah, Malaysia, the little book of management rules has raised it to one of the most exclusive diving destinations in the world.

Sipadan once was, and is becoming again, an emerald jewel with treasures beneath its azure waters. At present, only 120 people are allowed to dive around the island on a daily basis — a far cry from the free-for-all destination it was almost 30 years ago, which caused its environmental demise.

Located in the Celebes Sea of the Western Pacific Ocean, Sipadan was formed from living corals growing on top of an extinct underwater volcanic cone, and rises 600 metres from the seabed.

More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in its ecosystem. Sharks and turtles congregate to the reefs and coral drop-offs, where on any given day divers are treated to scenes of big bumphead parrotfish trawling the shallows; and shoals of jackfish, brightly coloured yellow fusiliers and barracudas will encircle you at a moment’s notice, vanishing just as fast as they had appeared.

Forty minutes away by speedboat, the nearby island of Mabul serves as the headquarters for divers who have been anxious to dive into this underwater shangri-la since the six resorts previously on Sipadan were closed down by the government in 2004. The move came amid environmental reports of degradation on and around the island, smaller shoals of fish, bad water quality due to inadequate sewage treatment and an uncapped number of visitors.

Full story…