Archive for February, 2012

Brisbane Times – 

A US judge has acquitted Gabe Watson, the man accused of drowning his newlywed wife during a honeymoon diving trip to Australia.

Circuit Judge Tommy Nail ruled in Birmingham, Alabama that prosecutors failed to present enough evidence of a crime to send the case to jurors. He ended the two-week-long trial by acquitting the 34-year-old on his own.

Watson had faced a sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of murdering his wife, Tina Thomas Watson, in 2003.

He already served 18 months in an Australian prison after pleading guilty there to a manslaughter charge involving negligence.

Nail agreed with defence arguments that prosecutors failed to show Watson intentionally killed the woman.

Prosecutors claimed he drowned her for insurance money, but the only eyewitness testified he thought Watson was trying to save the woman.

Gabe Watson’s father, David, hugged his son in the courtroom after the judge made his ruling.

He said every court that had looked at the case determined Gabe did not intentionally kill his wife.

“I’m just so relieved. Hopefully he can put his life back together,” David Watson said. “I hope everyone can begin to heal.

The rest of his life will determine his legacy. Gabe is a good kid.”

Full story…


John Bell –

The award-winning nature documentary, This is Your Ocean: Sharks, completes its national tour with a series of final live showings in Palm Beach County starting March 21st with a gala evening event at Cobb Theatres 16 at Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens.

The film’s stars—celebrated marine artists and conservationists Dr. Guy Harvey and Wyland along with shark expert and diver Jim Abernathy and Emmy award winning director George C. Schellenger— are scheduled to attend the first showing, which will also feature a live auction of the artists’ original art. Tickets for the gala evening, which include light hors d’oeuvres and wine, are priced at $22.

All of the net proceeds from the gala opening and subsequent showings of the film at both Cobb Theatres 16 at Downtown at the Gardens and Cobb Theaters 18 in Jupiter are being donated to the Bahamas National Trust which recently headed a campaign resulting in the Government of the Bahamas prohibiting all commercial shark fishing in its more than 240,000 square miles of territorial waters.

The Bahamas is the fourth country to ban shark fishing after Honduras, the Maldives and Palau.

One of the premier shark-watching destinations for divers, reeling in $800 million over the past 20 years for the Bahamian national economy, sharks, according to Dr. Harvey, are worth much more alive than dead.

Full story…


gCaptain –

A fire on board a Russian oil tanker claimed the life of at least one crewmember in the Caspian Sea on Tuesday.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti, citing a regional Emergencies Ministry, reported that the fire started in the deck housing of the 4,700 dwt tanker Inzhener Nazarov at approximately 12:35 Moscow time and quickly spread to other parts of the ship.

Several crewmen of the 14 on board were forced into the water but were picked up by ships in the area while others stayed on board to battle the blaze.

1 person was reported to have been killed.

Several ships including fire fighting vessels quickly responded to the scene to assist with the rescue and firefighting efforts.

The Inzhener Nazarov was enroute from Turkmenistan to Makhachkala, Russia when the fire broke out. The incident is currently being investigated.


RT –

“A year has passed since I wrote my note,” Sting once sang – but a year was not too long a time for a message in a bottle sent adrift by Russian sailors three years ago and recently uncovered by an Australian diver.

In 2009 a yacht manned by a Russian crew led by the famous adventurer Fyodor Konyukhov, set sail for a world tour.

This involved sailing in a yacht called “Scarlet Sails” from New Zealand to Europe via Cape Horn, the Falkland Islands and Antigua all the way up to the British port of Falmouth.

Starting out from Auckland in January, the crew managed to reach Cape Horn by February 12. Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of Tierra del Fuego in Chile, was a major landmark for sailing ships on the clipper route before the advent of steam boats and the construction of the Suez and Panama canals, but was notorious as a graveyard of sailors owing to the strong winds, huge waves and icebergs in its vicinity.

The crew decided to celebrate passing such a notable and dangerous hazard by opening a bottle of Australian-made champagne.

Mikhail Yelsin, a university teacher from the Siberian city of Khabarovsk, came up with the idea of a message about the trip, stuck it into the empty bottle and threw it overboard, according to Oskar Konyukhov, son of the yacht’s captain Fyodor Konyukhov.

Yelsin was the one who wrote the text of the message, which included three e-mail addresses: his own, Oskar Konyukhov’s and that of another crew member.

Full story…


Hugh Bronstein – 

Provincial authorities in Argentina prohibited two British-linked cruise ships from docking in Tierra del Fuego on Monday, upping the ante in Argentina’s spat with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

The two countries fought a 10-week war over the Falklands in 1982 after Argentina invaded the South Atlantic archipelago. Tensions have risen before the 30th anniversary of the war this year, and oil exploration by British companies off the islands has raised the stakes.

London has refused to start talks demanded by Buenos Aires on the sovereignty of the Falklands unless the 3,000 residents of the islands call for them, which they show no signs of doing.

One of the ships turned away on Monday was the Star Princess, which was sailing under the flag of Bermuda, an overseas territory of Britain. It was prevented from docking in the southern Argentine port of Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego province, Argentina’s state news agency Telam said.

“The government of the province of Tierra del Fuego prohibited a cruise ship under the flag of a British colony from entering the port of Ushuaia, citing a provincial law linked to Argentina’s complaint over the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands (as the archipelago is known in Argentina),” Telam said.

The luxury cruise liner, which has a capacity of 2,600 passengers, had made a stop at Port Stanley in the Falklands before heading to Ushuaia, according to media reports. It had docked in Ushuaia during previous cruises, before the recent increase in diplomatic tensions, Telam said.

Full story…

gCaptain –

Costa Cruises can’t catch a break. Just 6 weeks after the Costa Concordia ran aground off Italy, another one of their cruise ships, the Costa Allegra has caught fire and is now adrift two hundred miles southwest of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

The vessel remained without power or lights as night fell. As we know, 200 miles southwest of Seychelles is not exactly the safest place for an adrift vessel in terms of piracy however it has been reported that the vessel does have an Italian security detail on board.

The following is the statement from Costa Cruises: Costa Cruises has been informed that today at 10:39, Italian time, a fire developed on board Costa Allegra in the engine room, the local electric generators located at the stern. procedures and the system of fire board were promptly activated and the special brigades of the board have occurred, the fire was extinguished and did not extend to any other area of the ship. There were no injuries or casualties.

As a precaution on board was promptly given the general emergency alarm, all passengers and crew members, not involved in emergency management, they went to muster stations with the safety equipment required.

Currently the ship is over 200 miles south-west of the Seychelles and about 20 miles from Alphonse Island, are ongoing checks on the state of the engine room to be able to restart the equipment necessary to reactivate the functionality of ship.

As per procedures, were advised the competent authorities, including the Maritime Rescue Control Centre of Rome, who are following the developments of the situation to give the necessary support. The ship launched a distress signal.

Full story…


Esther Inglis-Arkell –

When was the first voyage of the Challenger ? No, not the Space Shuttle — the original Challenger, a sea ship that sailed in 1872.

The HMS Challenger traversed the world’s oceans for four years, drove some of its sailors completely insane, caused about a quarter of the crew to jump ship, and forever changed the face of ocean science.

Is there a way to scroll past the nature channels without seeing one that describes the richness of the ocean and the life that teems in its depth ?

In the early 1800s, the ocean was something to fish in and to get across.

What happened below 1500 feet was of no concern to anyone, although scientists calculated that the pressure, the temperature, and the lack of sunlight meant that no life existed below.

The bottom of the ocean was presumed to be as lifeless as the surface of the moon, though it was far less known.

In 1872, the HMS Challenger was sent out to circumnavigate the globe, with a crew of around 240 sailors and scientists.

When it got back in 1876, it had 144 people aboard, losing people to madness, death, sickness, and sheer desperation to escape the voyage. It also held a wealth of information that launched a new era of exploration, and a new field of science.

The HMS Challenger sounds like a dream assignment to anyone who has ever imagined exploring new territory or making a contribution to science. It was set to go around to the globe, via some of the most beautiful islands in the world, taking reading and collecting life from regions never studied.

Then reality set in. The routine of the Challenger was this: the ship would sail to a certain part of the ocean, send down lines to a certain depth, take temperature and pressure readings, send nets or dredgers down, and haul up whatever life they could find.

Full story…