Archive for 01/13/2012

Eleanor Johnstone – 

The Thai fishing vessel Emerald Reefer has been removed from its beached location along the Muli Kolhu Faru reef near the Shangri-La Villingili Island Resort, where it ran aground in late November 2011.

After supporting the vessel for nearly two months, the reef area “looks destroyed” and is unlikely to recover in the near future, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said.

The Emerald Reefer came to the Maldives in November to purchase locally-caught fish in Addu Atoll, which has only a few narrow channels permitting entry.

The reefer is one of only a few large vessels to run aground in the Maldives.

As per Maldivian law, the boat’s owner was allotted 25 days to remove the boat before incurring a fine of RF700,000 (US$45,000) per day that the boat remained grounded.

Transport Minister Adil Saleem previously told Minivan News that the owner had unsuccessfully attempted to remove the vessel, and had left the matter in the hands of an agent in the Maldives.

The Transport Ministry began issuing the fine on December 14, 2011.

At that time the Ministry was considering options for removal aimed at protecting the reef, which it believed had been damaged on impact and was incurring further damage as tides rocked the ship along the reef.

Full story…


Kuwaiti Times – 

The Kuwaiti Dive Team at the Environmental Voluntary Foundation has detected a coral colony that died over a year ago, gathered samples to follow up on such finds in summer of 2010, and is conducting a survey of the coral colonies starting from the southern coasts of Kubbar Island.

Head of environmental projects of the team Mahmoud Ashkanani told reporters yesterday that this survey is the launch of 2012 activities.

He added regular reports on condition of coral colonies had been prepared since the team detected coral that was bleached due to heat exposure in 2010.

Samples of four types of coral and a sample from a dead (bleached) coral are to be studied by Dr Muna Salameen of the Science Faculty at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, he said.

Generally speaking, coral is in good condition, but many colonies that had turned to limestone were found near the coastline, meaning the coral has been dead for over a year ago.

At another location, a whole bleached colony was also found and the water temperature was found to be 15.9 centigrade.

On another note, the dive team cautioned sea-goers in waters near Kubbar Island to stay alert, noting there is a sunken boat near the coast, and other wreckage as well.

The team is gearing up to carry out a total clean-up of the Kubbar Island seabed and coastline.

This is to be done both to protect the safety of sea-goers and to preserve the coral reef and maritime environment.

Full story…


Rob Almeida – 

Teahupoo, Tahiti is widely known throughout the world of surfing as having the most powerful break on the planet.

There are certainly larger waves found breaking at other places in the world, but none that break with such impact and ferocity as found at Teahupoo.

On Aug 27th 2011 during the Billabong Pro waiting period is what many are calling the biggest and gnarliest Teahupoo ever ridden.

Chris Bryan was fortunate enough to be there working for Billabong on a day that will go down in the history of big wave surfing.

The French Navy labeled this day a double code red prohibiting and threatening to arrest anyone that entered the water.

Kelly Slater described the day by saying “witnessing this was a draining feeling being terrified for other people’s lives all day long, it’s life or death.

Letting go of that rope one time can change your life and not many people will ever experience that in their life.”

Full story…


Eric Spitznagel – 

The dirty, lucrative business of the sperm whale excretion known as ambergris.


Mandy Aftel, a perfumer in Berkeley, Calif., is rarely at a loss for words when describing ambergris. “It’s beyond comprehension how beautiful it is,” she says. “It’s transformative.

There’s a shimmering quality to it. It reflects light with its smell. It’s like an olfactory gemstone.”

Ambergris, a waxy excretion formed in the intestines of sperm whales (thanks to their inability to digest squid beaks), is one of the most sought-after substances in the world.

Ambergris sells for roughly $20 a gram, gold for $30.

It has been used as a cure for pestilence, and, according to 10th century Muslim trader Ibn Hawqal, as an aphrodisiac.

In Moby-Dick, Herman Melville claimed that ambergris, “an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale,” was “largely used in perfumery, in pastiles, precious candles, hair powders, and pomatum.”

More recently, it has appeared in overpriced delicacies, such as the $4,700 mince pie created last month for charity by U.K. food designer Andrew Stellitano, and even more overpriced perfumes.

In 2005, a 200-year-old fragrance originally made for Marie Antoinette, which featured ambergris as a main ingredient, was reproduced in limited quantities for $11,000 a bottle.

Full story…

John Konrad – 

Three large commercial vessels who were assessed civil fines for violating speed limits in areas designated to protect an endangered whale species have paid their penalties in full.

Cases against six other vessels for the same offense remain open.

The ship strike reduction rule, enacted in December 2008, restricts vessels of 65 feet or greater to speeds of 10 knots or less in seasonal management areas along the East Coast to reduce the chances of North Atlantic right whales being injured or killed by ships.

Notices of Violation and Assessment (NOVAs) were issued yesterday by the NOAA’s enforcement section to owners and operators of vessels which traveled multiple times through the protected areas at speeds well in excess of 10 knots.

The alleged speeding violations occurred between November 2009 and January 2011 outside of New York City, Charleston, Brunswick, King’s Bay and Savannah, Ga. and Mayport, Fla.

One vessel was charged with 16 counts of speeding.

Vessel’s documented speeds ranged from 13 to 18 knots, and the vessels traveled these speeds for as many as 26 nautical miles.

Full story…


gCaptain – 

On January 10, 2012, Austal’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard completed the launch of the second 127-metre Independence-Variant Littoral Combat Ship, “Coronado” (LCS 4).

The roll-out marked Austal’s second use of an innovative self-propelled modular transporter system to transfer the ship from the yard’s final assembly bay onto a drydock for launch.

This system was first used a few months ago, in September 2011, to successfully launch USNS “Spearhead” (JHSV 1). Austal and the US Navy collaborated in the design of a new set of keel stands to support the ship during construction and facilitate the transition from the assembly bay.

Austal’s own self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) supplemented those of Berard Transportation of New Iberia, LA, to provide a total of 3,800 tons lift capacity, on some 104 axle lines.

In a three-step process, SPMTs lifted the entire ship and keel stands lifted the Coronado almost three feet and moved the Littoral Combat Ship into the moored dry dock.

Supporting close to 2,000 tons, the SPMT operators; aided by tug captains; the dock master and the Austal launch master manoeuvred “Coronado” aboard the dry dock in an incident-free operation.

A major improvement in safety and efficiency, the new roll-out method has shaved hours off the transfer process, and serves as a capstone in Austal’s effort to reduce cost and time required in future LCS deliveries.

Full story…


Li Ling Hamady –

It’s 1963. The escalating arms race and the horrific power of nuclear bombs cause world leaders to sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting weapons testing in the atmosphere and in the ocean. Fast-forward 49 years.

Escalating fishing has gravely diminished the populations of some of the world’s largest fish, including basking sharks, and they are fast disappearing.

In a curious connection, the lingering remnants of a past nuclear age are helping me find ways to conserve remnant populations of basking sharks and other endangered marine species.

Highly valued for their fins and overfished, basking sharks are now included on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and are considered “vulnerable to endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They’re slow growing, long lived, slow to mature, and have low fertility, making them vulnerable to continued fishing pressure, whether they are caught intentionally or accidentally.

Basking sharks are often spotted lolling lazily at the surface, mouths agape, filter-feeding on zooplankton—hence the name “basking” shark.

They feed over large areas on vast quantities of food (in an hour, they can filter enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool!). Thus, they play an integral role in the marine ecosystem and are indicators of its health.

Though they are the world’s second largest fish behind whale sharks, basking sharks remain a closed book scientifically. For conservation strategies to be effective, you first need basic knowledge of where marine animals live, mate, and give birth.

But all of that remains largely unknown for basking sharks. Pregnant females and young juveniles have never been spotted.

As for where they go, conventional knowledge has pegged basking sharks as a relatively shallow, temperate-water species, with populations in each hemisphere, along the margins of each continent.

Yet they seem to disappear for half the year.

Where are they going ?

Full story…