Dive Destination: Diving in Myanmar
Pyiet Oo Aung (Myanmar)
Founder, (IDIVE Myanmar Aperture21, Lives Beyond the Light)
The Complete Guide to Underwater Modeling by Simon Lorenz
The Complete Guide to Underwater Modeling by Simon LorenzPosted by ADEX - Asia Dive Expo on Friday, 5 June 2020
TekDiving Discussion: Contemporary Issues in Rebreather Diving
TekDiving Discussion Contemporary Issues in Rebreather Diving Moderator: Michael Menduno (USA) Speaker: Dharshana Jayawardena (Sri Lanka) Costantino Balestra (Belgium) Guy Shockey (Canada/USA) Georgia Hausserman (USA) Edmund Yiu (China)Posted by ADEX - Asia Dive Expo on Friday, 5 June 2020
Macro Photography 101
Macro of underwater photography constitutes the taking of a micro object, and the ability to spot them is a skill in itself – let alone photographing them. The often-used macro lens – dioptres or not! – and strobe placement will be hot discussion topics here. The group will also talk about macro techniques, equipment, skills, and tips and tricks.
Moderator: Bo Mancao (Philippines)
Indra Swari (Indonesia)
Tim Ho (Malaysia)
Klaus Stiefel (Philippines)
Yoshi Hirata (Japan)
Tanakit YamMo Suwanyangyuan (Thailand)
To identify individual whale sharks, scientists analyse the spot pattern above the fin and behind the gills on the shark’s left flank. This spot pattern is unique for each individual
Text: Cat McCann || Images: David McCann
Marine biology students at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) have been taking advantage of the Movement Control Order to start building a database of whale shark sightings in Malaysia – including using divers’ posts on social media.
The travel restrictions brought on by the outbreak of coronavirus left the students unable to travel to survey sites, such as Pulau Gaya, where they recorded and identified their first official whale shark of the project, MY-065, on a survey just five days before the MCO was declared on 13 March 2020.
Making the best use of their time, the students are reviewing social media posts to tag footage of whale sharks and upload photos and videos to Wildbook (https://www.whaleshark.org) – the online library for global whale shark sightings.
The students have been using computer software to identify individuals through markings unique to each animal. For whale sharks, the spot pattern on their bodies is different for each shark, and these markings can be used to identify individuals. Think of it as a unique ‘fingerprint’ showing on their skin.
When the date, time, and location of sighting is uploaded, this simple action enables researchers to track movements of individual animals – a powerful tool for population and migratory studies.
“It has been an interesting start to the project” said Associate Professor Dr Mabel Manjaji Matsumoto, Interim Head, Endangered Marine Species Research Unit, Borneo Marine Research Institute, UMS. “The lockdown has obviously affected our capacity to carry out some projects, but has also provided us with unique opportunities to develop others, such as gathering citizen science data on social media like this. So far, four individual whale sharks have been identified during the MCO.”
“However, we need help to find more individuals. We are asking divers and snorkellers with footage of whale sharks to tag our project on their social media posts to make it easier for us to find – simply adding @Malaysia Whale Sharks will enable much easier identification. They can also upload the footage directly onto Wildbook.”
Diver’s holiday photos and videos have already yielded remarkable insights into the behaviour and biology of megafauna.
One such example is a whale shark sighted at Pulau Sipadan in October 2019. Footage provided by a diver enabled identification of this individual shark that had travelled from the Philippines – the first documented case of a whale shark moving between the Philippines and Malaysia.
Gonzalo Araujo, an Associate Research Fellow of the Endangered Marine Research Unit, UMS, and Director of Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE) – based in the Philippines, enthused:
“These results highlight that the importance of information from divers in monitoring programmes should not be underestimated – especially for species such as whale sharks. We suspected for a while that there was a link between whale shark populations in Philippines and Sabah. This has given us confirmation that this occurs, and the starting point for more research on the topic.”
“Old footage would be particularly valuable. It could give us a spatial reference for individual animals, as well as the potential history of their movements too.”
A local conservation organisation, S.E.A.S (Sea Education Awareness Sabah), has been assisting the project by going back through old footage and tagging the Malaysia Whale Shark project.
“Whale sharks are one of those species that divers are thrilled to catch on camera, being incredibly enigmatic megafauna, threatened with extinction and increasingly rare to see,” said David McCann, Conservation Manager for S.E.A.S, based at the dive operator Scuba Junkie’s Mabul Beach Resort.
“The recent MCO enabled us to go back through our old footage on social media and tag whale sharks. We had a huge backlog”, he laughed, “with thousands of dives at sites in the Semporna region, including Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and the islands of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. We also went through footage taken in Kota Belud, near Kota Kinabalu.”
“It was quite a fun task, almost like a giant logbook of sightings – and it brought back many fond memories of how incredible Sabah is as a diving destination. We look forward to the end of travel restrictions, when we can take people back into the water and show them the unique marine biodiversity in Sabah…and hopefully take some new photos of whale sharks!”
Dr Mabel agreed, “Lockdowns may be easing worldwide, but travel restrictions will remain in place for a while yet. With time on their hands– and no doubt a backlog of photos and videos to sort through – divers have an opportunity to make a huge contribution.”
McCann concluded, “As divers, we enjoy the beauty of the underwater world – now more than ever we realise how much we miss it. It is only right that we seek to protect and aid it in any way possible assisting research and conservation through citizen science is a simple – yet effective – step to take.”
An update on this work will be provided at the Sabah Shark and Ray Forum, to be held in 2021.
Film Festival: Two is Better Than One by Henly Spiers & Jade Hoksbergen
Film Festival: Two is Better Than One by Henly Spiers & Jade HoksbergenPosted by ADEX - Asia Dive Expo on Thursday, 4 June 2020
Enzo Zhao (China ) – Founder of ONEFREEDIVE Club China
AIDA FreeDiving Instructor Trainer, SSI Free Diving Instructor Trainer
Vika Li Jingzhe (China) – Molchanovs IT & Growth Manager of Molchanovs, The Chinese Female AIDA FreeDiving Instructor Trainer, CMAS International Record Holder, CMAS Freediving International Judge
Johnny Zhang (China) Partner of ONEFREEDIVE CLUD China, CEO of ONE.GAME
Article extracted from Asian Diver Issue 02/2020 (155) Text by: Anuar Abdullah, Images by: Anuar Abdullah, Magnus Larsson
ABOVE: A scuba diver attempts to remove a huge ghost fishing net tangled over a large area of coral reef (IMAGE: Magnus Larsson)
The Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar is regarded as one of the last frontiers of diving in Southeast Asia. Untouched by mass tourism, its lush rain forests and dense mangroves are found in every corner of the archipelago. Its beaches are postcard perfect. There are 800 islands in the Mergui, most are located off the coast of Myeik. The key attraction for divers in this location is the Burma Banks, which is found on the outer reaches of the Mergui in the Andaman Sea. At Burma Banks is where the ocean trench begins to drop down into the abyssal plains. The continental shelf is beyond our reach for assessment. Large pelagic, sharks, and rays are common in the waters. The islands closer to the coasts consists of the shallow plateau and scattered reefs. There, the coral reefs are littered with discarded or lost fishing gear. There is hardly any reef in this vast archipelago that has not been damaged by ghost nets. Some reefs are still covered in fishing nets as thick as up to 12 layers that have accumulated over the years. Besides the ghost nets, there is no shortage of other abandoned fishing gear like traps and long lines. Conservation of coral reefs in this area begins with a massive cleanup. Hardly any rehabilitation of reefs in the Mergui can begin without clearing the sites, assessing the damage and protecting them from future encroachment. It’s a task that is nearly impossible to accomplish.
Ghost net cleanups also come with their own challenges. When tonnes of nets are removed from the reefs, they need somewhere to go. The protocol of ghost net removal extends beyond just diving and collecting. Prior to retrieval, there are procedures that must be written and followed by everyone. Safety is one of aspect, but there are other post retrieval activities that need to be done when the heavy, smelly net arrives onshore. Sorting and documenting the nets is a daunting task on its own. Lead and sinkers are removed from all nets prior to disposal. The lead toxicity can affect people and the environment if not disposed of properly. Then the net is separated by its mesh size and materials before it is weighed and documented. In the Mergui, the team upcycled the lead by melting it and making diving weights Some of the nets are washed and sun-dried to be used later as shade for the organic farms.
TACKLING THE PLASTIC PROBLEM ON REMOTE ISLANDS
Plastic pollution globally is an environmental pandemic that must be overcome by harnessing realistic solutions. To many of us, it seems that recycling is a practical approach.
However, in many situations, recycling concepts aren’t working. It is simply not practical to collect and recycle plastic as production is cheaper than recycling it. Plastic pollutants can be found on every island in the Mergui and in immense aggregations. They are brought in by the winds and tides and deposited into the shores, mangroves, lowland forests, and streams. Every environment in the Mergui is littered. There is an effort to collect the plastic, but there is nowhere that it can be sent to. The distance to the nearest recycling facility is too great and it is simply not feasible. So if recycling is not the answer, what is? One of the immediate approaches is upcycling plastic waste into permanent materials. Pet bottles are compressed and shaped into roofing tiles for building. Upcycling is more feasible, as the plastic does not leave the island; instead, it is used in different forms and for different purposes.
Storage sheds, field research camps, shelters, and accommodations can be built using plastic debris. And they are free. The upcycling campaign will soon challenge the creativity of local communities to create useful structures from material that is abundant and free. Plastic roofs outlast thatched roofs and they are free. If saving money is the idea behind this concept, it may work for most island communities, especially those with lower income groups. Soon, and with the help of engineers, portable extrusion machines will be introduced to shred and extrude plastic materials into building materials such as square bars and blocks. These materials can be used to build schools on remote islands.