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ISSUE

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FROZEN B R E AT H FREEDIVING THE WHITE CONTINENT FOR SCIENCE AND ADVENTURE

Conservation • Exploration • Adventure


RAIDER HARPOON BLACK EDITION

“6 weeks of rugged use and abuse without maintenance in the Antarctic and the Harpoon still looks like new. The only piece of equipment to join me on every aspect of our mission.� - Florian Fischer (Behind the Mask)

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Š Photograph: Behind the Mask

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WELCOME

Editor’s Letter A d ve n t u re p ro v i d e s u s w i t h an opportunity to focus not on the w o r l d w e l i ve i n , but the planet we l i ve o n.

Adventure. It means something different to all of us. For one person it could mean scaling their local peak, for another it could mean rowing an ocean. Some of us enjoy the sense of commeraderie that comes with adventuring in a group, while others prefer to adventure on their own. For all the different types of adventure out there, one thing tends to bind them all together: nature. The innate connection between adventure and the outdoors is important, particularly in the modern, digitised world we now live in - adventure gives us an opportunity for space and reflection, a chance to remember our ancient selves. It provides us with an opportunity to focus not on the world we live in, but the planet we live on. Some would dismiss 'everyday adventure' as frivilous fun, but it is so often more than that. A weekend spent walking coastal paths or a few days wild swimming, for example, can truly reconnect us with the world outside. In her new column, ocean advocate Hanli Prinsloo discusses the power of wild and how she, on a recent adventure not far from home in her native South Africa, found a place "her soul remembered". Wild and immersive connection is a powerful thing. It makes us more likely to care, to protect. It gives us the power of invigorating stories that might just compel others to do the same: adventure, care, protect.

Will Harrison Editor

Naturally, we have plenty of adventure in store for you in this issue. Once you're finished - and hopefully feeling inspired why not get out there for an adventure of your own? Breathe in that fresh air, feel the dirt beneath your feet, appreciate the enlivening sensation of saltwater rolling through your fingertips. It is what we were born to do.

@oceanographic_editor @og_editor Oceanographicmag

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Contents O N T H E C OV E R

FEATURE S

F R O Z E N B RE ATH

International freediver Jonathan Sunnex takes part in an expedition to erect Turkey's first scientific research centre in Antarctica, offering a rare opportunity to dive in some of the most extreme waters of them all - the Southern Ocean.

Freediver Sahika Ercumen explores the underbelly of an iceberg in the Southern Ocean. Photograph by Jonathan Sunnex.

Get in touch PAG E 2 0 ED I TO R Will Harrison A S S I S TA N T E D I TO R

Beth Finney

CR EATI V E D I R E C TO R

Amelia Costley

D ES I G N A S S I S TA N T

Joanna Kilgour

PA RT N E R S H I P S D I R E C TOR

Chris Anson

YOUR OCEAN IMAGES

@oceanographic_mag @oceano_mag Oceanographicmag

I N S U P P O RT O F

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A S S TO C K E D I N

For all enquiries regarding stockists, submissions, or just to say hello, please email info@oceanographicmagazine.com or call (+44) 20 3637 8680. Published in the UK by Atlas Publishing Ltd. Š 2018 Atlas Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Nothing in whole or in part may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

A collection of some of the most captivating ocean images shared on social media, both beautiful and arresting. Tag us or use #MYOCEAN for the opportunity to be featured.

Printed by the Manson Group ISSN: 2516-5941

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CONTENTS

20%

PR O FIT-S HA R ING CO MMITM ENT TO O CEA N CO N SERVAT IO N . A PR O M IS E WE'R E PR O UD O F.

INVISIBLE OCEANS

A R EEF F O R SA I DA

W IL DE R N E S S L O S T

Professor Michael Depledge, founder of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, discusses the threat of 'the unseen' in the world's interlocking waterways, including chemical pollutants and microplastics.

A group of ocean activists in Lebanon hopes to revitalise their corner of the Mediterranean by creating a new artificial reef - for both fish and dive tourists. Will the scheme work, or are they simply dumping trash into the ocean?

Poorly-regulated, undermanaged and overfished salmon farms are having a devastating impact on the Patagonian wilderness and the many species that inhabit it. Is one of the planet's last great wild places at risk of being lost forever?

Deep sea exploration organisation, Nekton, earlier this year embarked on a two-year quest to reveal the deepest secrets of the Indian Ocean. Programme director Oliver Steeds discusses the first phase of their mission, conducted in waters off the Seychelles.

Finding the balance between the economic benefits of tourism and the sustainability of the natural habitat that attracts those very same visitors can be a challenge. In one biodiverse corner of Indonesia, harmony has been found.

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BEHIND TH E L E N S

C O LUMN S

IAN MCALLISTER

THE SOCIAL ECOLOGIST

T HE DE E P O C E A N

T HE MA R IN E B IO L O G IS T

T HE O C E A N AC T IV IS T

A N C IE N T R E E FS

P R O J E C T AWARE

Each issue, we chat with one of the world’s leading ocean photographers and showcase a selection of their work. In this issue we meet Pacific Wild co-founder and SeaLegacy Collective member, Ian McAllister.

Big wave surf champion, environmentalist and social change advocate Dr Easkey Britton discusses gender equality and the ocean. Are the world's blue spaces as accessible as they should be?

Freediver and founder of I AM WATER, Hanli Prinsloo, reconnects with her wild self. Instead of looking for wilderness in the ocean - as she normally does - she looks inland, to a place a little less familiar.

Dr Simon Pierce, Principal Scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, discusses the many record-breaking facts that make the whale shark such a fascinating species.

The team at Project AWARE, Oceanographic’s primary charity partner, discuss their Adopt a Dive Site initiative, revealing how divers around the world can become a part of a global movement safeguarding local reefs.

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Oceanographic Issue 07


Christian Miller Great Barrier Reef, Australia Ella, a green sea turtle, photographed while in care. When released into the wild, she swam several loops around conservationist Miller before brushing his head and disappearing into the blue. SPONSORED BY


#MYOCEAN


Mike Nelson Baja, Mexico Bi-coastal surf legend Ryan Carlson cruises through a deep tube in Mexico. "While out chasing the swell south - and against a bright blue sky - this wave rose a few feet over head," says photographer Nelson. SPONSORED BY


#MYOCEAN


Jason Lafferty Kailua-Kona, Hawaii A short-finned pilot whale greets the glassy surface. "It was early morning with no volcanic gas from the Kilauea eruption," says Lafferty. "That helped to create a tranquil smoke reflection." SPONSORED BY


#MYOCEAN

Craig Parry Vava’u, Tonga A humpback mother and calf rest on the ocean floor. "They were relaxed with my presence," says photographer Parry. "The calf would occasionally ascend to the surface and briefly play, before heading back down for another feed and rest." SPONSORED BY


Matty Smith Bass Point, NSW, Australia A Pacific man o' war, or bluebottle, bobs on the ocean surface at sunset. "The shade of blue is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed," says Smith. "Their design and colour is truly art in nature." SPONSORED BY

#MYOCEAN


BEHIND THE LENS

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BEHIND THE LENS

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frozen breath International freediver and record-holder Jonathan Sunnex explores beneath the waves of the Southern Ocean – in the name of science and adventure. Wo rd s b y J o n a t h a n S u n n e x P h o t o g ra p h s b y J o n a t h a n S u n n e x a n d S a h i k a E rc u m e n

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ABOVE: Penguins make their way to the ocean, heading out to hunt. OPPOSITE: Freediver Sahika Ercumen became the first Turkish national to dive in Antarctica. PREVIOUS PAGE: Ercumen catches her breath following a dive.

M

y lips were so swollen from the cold I could barely close my mouth. The freezing ocean and biting winds had also numbed my hands and feet. But still I insisted: just one more dive. My fellow freediver Sahika Ercumen was just as enthusiastic to drop below the waterline one last time. On each occasion we resurfaced, we exchanged glances that said: just one more. And so it went on. Antarctica’s underwater beauty is beguiling. Despite the pain associated with submersion, it keeps you enraptured and desperate for more. The discomfort is endurable, you tell yourself. The boat can wait. There is something magical about the ice – its twisted, gnarled shapes. There is something bewitching in the shifting hues of greens and blues – particularly when encased between grey skies overhead and deep black waters below, as they were on that day. Sahika and I were in Antarctica as part of a Turkish Ministry of Science expedition to establish the country’s first scientific research base on the continent. Alongside assisting with the new base’s construction, we were to also play an in-water role collecting samples and data for the group’s scientists. Furthermore, I was there as the safety diver and photographer for Sahika, who would be completing the first freedives by a Turkish national in Antarctic waters. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, both of us were there for the thrill of it. I had been to Antarctica once before. Rougher, darker seas flood my mind when I recall that first trip. The water in which we dived was 1,000 metres deep and littered

with icebergs. We had journeyed much further south on that occasion and the scale of the place overwhelmed me. This time was different. On that first trip we had crossed the notorious Drake Passage – the body of churning water between South America’s Cape Horn and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands – by boat. While the crossing serves as an effective reminder of the remoteness of Antarctica, I was happy to avoid it on this occasion. With a schedule that included four weeks at sea aboard our Chilean research vessel Betanzos, I was quite content to arrive in to King George Island by airplane. Unfavourable weather meant we remained anchored at King George Island for a week. Initially, this felt like a setback – everyone was eager to continue south and into the real Antarctica – but no time is wasted on these expeditions of course, and so while construction materials for the Turkish science base continued to be loaded aboard, the scientists got to work on data collection plans and Sahika and I unpacked our wetsuits for our first dives. Diving in sub-zero waters is pretty serious business – as are most things in Antarctica. The evening before each excursion, the expedition team and its leaders would meet to discuss participants, logistical support and any environmental, marine life and safety considerations. This was perhaps especially important prior to our first dives of the trip. In the wildest and most remote place on Earth, it’s sensible to maintain as much control of your environment as possible.

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With the running order of the day sorted, the morning of the dive was relaxed. An early breakfast of oats and fruit ensured Sahika and I had the necessary calories to fuel our bodies in such extreme conditions. Some gentle stretching prepared us for immersion and the increased pressures we would encounter, before a final equipment check gave us peace of mind we were suitably prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. The dive site we had chosen was about a kilometre from where the Betanzos was anchored – a calm, sheltered area tucked away behind a small rocky island. With good visibility and a relatively shallow, sloping seafloor, it was the perfect place for me to reacquaint myself, and Sahika to acquaint herself, with Antarctic waters. I made the first descent. Despite being insulated by seven-millimetre wetsuits, the shock of hitting the water for the first time still took our breath away. My face, the only part of my body that remained exposed to the elements (bar that covered by my mask) felt as though it was being pierced by a hundred needles. The cold was so extreme my breathing pattern changed immediately. Even as an experienced freediver, it took a concerted effort of mind and body to regulate it. As freedivers, our breathing can have major implications on the dive itself, from affecting levels of comfort and our ability to equalise the pressure within our bodies’ airspaces, through to preventing an early onset of hypoxia, so it was important to ensure each breath prior to that first dive was calm and controlled. Seven kilograms of lead helped to offset the huge amount of buoyancy my thick wetsuit added. As I finned down I felt the suit compress, allowing me to glide further with each kick. As I arrived at the rock shelf ten metres below the surface, I felt the shift in buoyancy from positive to negative – I had reached the point where I weighed more than the water I displaced. With a gentle kick I could remain in the water column with minimal effort, conserving energy and oxygen, allowing me time to take in the scene. It was more colourful than anything I had witnessed on the previous expedition: limpets on rocks, bright orange sea anemones and a carpet of colourful kelp, the various shades of green, brown and red reminiscent of my native waters of New Zealand. The motion of the water made the kelp sway like grass in a breeze. It was staggeringly beautiful, and not at all what I had anticipated. I surveyed and revelled in the scene for as long as I could before the urge to breathe could no longer be ignored. I headed for the surface. Sahika and I spent forty minutes exploring and documenting the area. Our final task was to collect sediment samples from the seabed. This involved descending with a glass jar and filling it. This was more challenging than anticipated – the only suitable site was down at 18 metres and it required a considerable amount of effort to work the jar into the seabed. While not overly Sahika Ercumen enjoying a dry, warm moment away from the Southern Ocean.

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“Antarctica’s underwater beauty is beguiling. Despite the pain associated with submersion, it keeps you enraptured and desperate for more. The discomfort is endurable, you tell yourself. The boat can wait.”


BEHIND THE LENS

“It was more colourful than anything I had witnessed on the previous expedition: limpets on rocks, bright orange sea anemones and a carpet of colourful kelp, the various shades of green, brown and red reminiscent of my native waters of New Zealand. The motion of the water made the kelp sway like grass in a breeze.�

Elephant seals relax on a bed of colourful kelp.

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TOP: Known as the White Continent, Antarctica's waters are anything but. BOTTOM: Freediver Jonathan Sunnex tightens his mask strap before a dive.

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“We entered the passage with the sun low on the horizon, the icebergs lit exquisitely. Blues and yellows, oranges and reds. Fire and ice. It was like staring into flames.” deep by our normal standards, it is worth noting that at 20 metres our bodies were exposed to three times the pressure experienced at sea level and our lungs were compressed to one third of their normal volume. Care is required to ensure that one does not over exert themselves and cause damage to the lung tissue. On each dive, we would alternative roles – one of us taking on primary diver and jar-filling responsibilities, the other acting as safety diver, ready to lift the other to the surface should the worst happen. We returned the boat cold, but with our jars - and hearts - full. When the weather finally cleared we began our journey south. The ever-changing horizon gave reason to brave the sub-zero temperatures on deck. We were treated to some truly spectacular sights. The Lemaire Channel, a narrow stretch of water sandwiched between rocky, snow-covered mountains, was especially beautiful. A steady stream of icebergs provided refuge for penguins and seals, while whale spouts decorated the horizon. We entered the passage with the sun low on the horizon, the icebergs lit exquisitely. Blues and yellows, oranges and reds. Fire and ice. It was like staring into flames. The diving and science continued as we moved south. More than a dozen scientists from a number of countries, including Turkey, were part of our party. While their subject matter varied greatly, from meteorology to botany, the length of their list of objectives was consistently long – as would be the time spent analysing their fieldwork data when they returned home. Keen to assist where I could, I found myself doing things I never imaged I would. Working under the supervision of botanist Barbora Chattová, I collected biopsies from the rear ends of elephant seals. Chattová was testing for antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Our species’ use of prescription antibiotics has resulted in them inadvertently entering the world’s waterways and, therefore the ocean. Chattová's team was investigating the potential spread of ‘superbugs’: had they made it as far as Antarctica, the most remote place on Earth? A day after arriving to Horseshoe Island, our final destination and intended site for the new Turkish Ministry of Science base, the bad weather returned. Sixty-knot winds battered the ship and we bunkered down below deck. The monotony of life onboard made us weary and, with each passing day, the ship felt increasingly small. The rest of the world has never seemed so far away. Unable to get ashore, we could not start work on the base. With the return journey north set take us at least eight days, pressure mounted to complete the expedition’s primary objective. The construction of the base would play a key role in a number of Antarctic programmes in the years to come, both for Turkey and the international community. To return home without having brought the base ‘online’, would haved rendered the expedition an expensive disappoint at best. Just as a communal sense of resignation began to set in, the winds dropped. The assembly of the prefabricated base involved all members of the expedition. While a crane on the ship unloaded the units to shore, the majority of the work – the moving of 1,000kg-plus modules a few hundred metres on land – was completed without any heavy machinery. The terrain was challenging, but a series of pulleys, levers and rollers allowed us to inch the modules into place, creating Turkey’s first science station in Antarctica. Mission complete. When I think of the White Continent, I am conflicted. To me, it is as much a dreamscape as it is a place of ruthlessness. Its remoteness is as raw and unforgiving as it is beautiful and life-affirming. That contrast can be felt no more acutely than underwater, where colours abound in a frigid world. That the sprawling limbs of life have reached all that way, to the very ends of the Earth, is a staggering thing. To see that life first-hand was a privilege. To assist, in some small way, those who dedicate their professional lives to better understanding this world’s remote places and our effect on them, was rewarding. Happily, my recollections of Antarctica will now no longer be of rough, dark seas... With careful attention, I set about calming my breath. Slow, purposeful, deliberate. With one last inhalation and a gentle flick of my fins, I feel my body sink beneath the surface. Down, down, into the icy blue.

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Invisible ocean Professor Michael Depledge, founder of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, discusses the threat of 'the unseen' in our interlocking waterways. Wo rd s b y P ro f e s s o r M i c h a e l D e p l e d g e & E a s ke y B r i t t o n P h o t o g ra p h s b y S h a w n H e i n r i c h s

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D

uring a recent trip to Northern Ireland, the opportunity arose to visit a newly discovered Neolithic passage tomb in the Boyne Valley. This ancient burial chamber was constructed by our ancestors living there around 5,500 years ago. The nearby River Boyne flows into the ocean just a few kilometres away. Standing at the water’s edge, what would those early inhabitants have thought lay beneath the leaden sea stretching far off to the horizon? No doubt the shoreline was familiar, providing a source for seafood, abundant seashells for potential tools, and seaweed as a soil fertilizer and more. In a nearby calm, shallow bay they might even have formed an impression of what lay below the surface – fish and crabs, shrimps, worms, starfish and anemones, more seaweed, sand and rocks. But beyond such insights, they would have had no idea of what truly lay beneath the vast undulating ocean surface; a world invisible to their eyes. Thanks to the work of ocean explorers and pioneers of new technologies we have a much better understanding of the submarine environment today. Fishermen and whalers have trawled the depths discovering thousands of species, many of which are extraordinarily alien, including gigantic squid and massive whales, and a wide variety of peculiar fish in the icy, black depths. Submersibles and remotely operated vehicles continue to show us ever more of this unseen world, while other new technologies such as sidescan radar have helped us to learn a great deal about undersea topography – the shape and features of the seabed – and how the gigantic tectonic plates which make up our planet fit together in the deep abyss. We now know that tectonic plate movements have, over millennia, created huge undersea mountains, which on breaching the surface, create island chains. Submarine volcanic activity at locations where the plates collide or separate create hydrothermal vents where the interior of the Earth bursts forth to mix molten lava with intensely cold seawater. In these extreme environments a wide array of extraordinary marine life has developed including huge, scarlet worms, shrimps with eyes on their backs and white, hairy-chested yeti crabs. Just a few generations ago, none of this was known. And then there is another invisible world within the ocean that is too small to see with the naked eye - the world of plankton. When seawater is examined under a microscope an astonishing variety of tiny organisms is revealed. One of the first to examine these creatures in detail was the father of marine biology in England, Philip Henry Gosse. His book, Evenings at the Microscope, published in 1859, contains descriptions PREVIOUS: Visible at first, pollutants eventually disperse and disappear on reaching the ocean, becoming 'invisible'. THIS PAGE: Industries such as mining can have devastating effects on ecosystems - both terrestrial and marine.


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and illustrations of many early life stages of marine molluscs and crustaceans as well as specimens of adults of other species that just happen to be very small. Work of this kind has illuminated for a wider audience the richness of the ocean, while scientists such as Sir Alistair Hardy have shown that planktonic organisms play a critical role in underpinning many of the food webs in marine ecosystems. A further key contribution from this invisible world is that one group within the plankton, the cyanobacteria, produce between 70% and 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Following decades of growth in understanding, can we now be confident all the invisible aspects of the ocean have been revealed? Happily not. There is still much more we haven’t seen that will enrich our lives. It is very difficult to grasp how enormous the ocean is. It covers 70% of the planet’s surface – an impressive statistic but hard to grasp what this actually represents. It helps if we try to think of traveling across all the countries around the World. There are 195, including Palestine and the Holy See. Their land area is vast; think of Russia, China, the rest of Asia, India, Pakistan, the USA and South America, as well as the whole of Europe and the Middle East, Greenland and Australia. Yet this total land area is less than half the area covered by the ocean. The immense volume of seas has led us to think that no matter what we release into them, dilution in such a vast amount of water will render everything harmless. Dilution is the solution to pollution, goes the old adage... only it isn’t. Perhaps the most vivid recent demonstration of the inability of the ocean to break down all substances has been the emergence of plastic pollution. Highly visible plastic bottles, bags, plastic fishing nets and a huge diversity of plastic odds and ends are now littering our beaches and floating in coastal waters where we pursue our leisure activities. Although highlighted on numerous occasions over the last 20-30 years, it was only recently that prominence was given to this issue by the TV documentary series, Blue Planet. In it, Sir David Attenborough presented vivid images of marine organisms floating among plastic debris. This led to a discussion of so-called microplastics, once again returning us to the world of the invisible. Incredibly small plastic particles have been accumulating in the sea without us being aware of their existence. They come from a wide range of sources, including cosmetics, hair conditioners, and household and industrial products, as well as from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic. Microplastics have ended up accumulating in marine animals, many of which accidentally pick up plastic debris as they extract food particles from seawater or “hoover” the surface of sandy or muddy sediments. Some of these so-called “suspension” or “deposit” feeders, such as mussels and clams are eaten directly by humans,

while others pass on their plastic load through foodwebs to crabs, lobsters and fish which we also consume. This secret present of invisible pollutants has been entering our bodies with poorly understood consequences. But microplastics are just one of the pollutant types building up in the ocean. For decades a vast array of industrial, agricultural and domestic chemicals have been passing through our estuaries and from the land directly into the sea. Other chemicals are released into the ocean by the offshore oil and gas industry, from deep sea mining and from the myriad ships plying global trade routes. If we are uncomfortable with visible plastics polluting our coastal areas then should we not be even more concerned about the invisible mixture of chemicals that bathes all the teeming life in the sea? We cannot see them as we swim, sail, surf and simply potter along the beach or stride along a coastal path, but the chemicals are there. Around 80,000 of them are in common use, with many more used occasionally. They include heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, copper; metalloids, like arsenic; polyaromatic hydrocarbons, from crude oil; synthetic organic industrial chemicals, such as PCB, BPA, oxybenzone, PFAS; pesticides; nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers; pharmaceuticals and, most recently, nanomaterials. Over the years, most but not all of these kinds of chemicals have been found to result in the death of various marine species, or to disturb their behaviours,

“Over the years, most but not all of these kinds of chemicals have been found to result in the death of various marine species, or to disturb their behaviours, disrupting how the ecosystem works. They also damage human health and wellbeing.” disrupting how the ecosystem works. They also damage human health and wellbeing. Providing evidence of cause and effect has often been difficult because of a host of confounding factors (except after acute chemical accidents), but the weight of evidence of their adverse effects continues to grow. Scientific literature contains thousands of studies showing that in wildlife and humans the body burdens of particular chemicals are associated with toxicity, including effects on metabolism, immunity, nerve and hormonal functions, and reproduction, as well as sometimes triggering cancers, mutations and birth defects. It can and indeed should be argued that correlation of a particular chemical load in the body with the emergence of disease does not prove causation.

LEFT: Planktonic organisms - the foundation of life in the ocean.

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“Between 1950 and the present day, overall chemical production rose 50fold to keep pace with our demands. By 2050 chemical production will triple again.�


F E AT U R E

Logging, such as clearance for palm oil plantations, can affect soil integrity, which in turn can see increased run-off reach waterways.

Nonetheless, there are many instances where the mechanisms involved are known and assumptions can be drawn. Of course this does not represent good science, but it does point to the value of considering plausible threats and a precautionary approach in the face of ignorance. It also highlights the current inadequacy of our scientific methods in determining cause and effect. The nanomaterials mentioned earlier present an entirely new challenge. They are so incredibly small that not only can we not see them, but we still do not have routine measurement techniques to be able to detect where they are or what they are up to. Without doubt some end up in the sea as they are widely used in sunscreens all around the world. Another newly emerging invisible threat is the presence of antibiotics in coastal waters, released after their passage through us and into the sewage treatment process (which fails to remove them), and from their use in animal husbandry. Antibiotics in the environment have been linked to the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria which give rise to untreatable infections. This is a matter of immense and growing concern. Around two million people now die every year due to antibiotic resistant infections. Two final points are worth remembering in relation to the vast ocean soup of invisible chemicals. First, efforts to find safe levels of chemicals entering the sea fail to take into account the integrated impact of mixtures of chemicals acting together. This may partly underlie the losses of biodiversity occurring in almost all types of marine ecosystems. Second, even though we cannot see it happening as we look out to sea, marine pollution is getting worse every day. Two hundred years ago the human population reached approximately one billion people for the first time. Our impact on the Earth as a whole was significant but not overwhelming. Today there are more than 7.6 billion of us, and we all have material needs that involve chemicals. Between 1950 and the present day, overall chemical production rose 50-fold to keep pace with our demands. By 2050 chemical production will triple again. Synthetic chemicals, entirely new to nature, are still being created. Together with natural inorganic and organic compounds and gases, they continue to be accidentally or intentionally released into our seas, with little opportunity for organisms, including humans, to adapt to or avoid harmful effects. The oean is the beating heart of this planet. As such, there is not a moment to lose. We must alter how we live if we are to stop damaging the most inspiring and opportunity-filled ecossystem on Earth. 37


Column

By Dr Easkey Britton

The social ecologist GENDER AND THE OCEAN “Various aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and ability limit how we might experience surfing and our freedom to participate in it.�

A young girl takes to the water in Sri Lanka. Photo by Amanda Prifti.

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@easkeysurf

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his year, the theme for World Oceans Day was “Gender and the Ocean”, an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean. A concerted action towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is still needed in all ocean-related sectors to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5. The UN defines gender equality as “the equal valuing by society of both the similarities and the differences between women and men and the different roles they play.” The role of women in ocean related activities such as fisheries, marine tourism, migration by sea, marine science, and water-sports has been even more invisible than their roles on land. In my work as a woman in marine scientific research I seek to address the so-called ‘invisibility’ of women across these spheres from their active roles in fisheries and coastal livelihoods to the unequal burden of health impacts as a result of degrading marine ecosystems, and access and participation in water-sports, especially surfing. There is far too much to cover in a single column so perhaps this calls for a series on ‘women and the sea.’ I’ll begin with surfing, the activity that brought me into the sea. How we experience our sense of self in the water varies wildly. We don’t surf in a vacuum. Surfing is greatly influenced by historical, political, societal and cultural beliefs, rules, norms and social justice issues. Not all surfers are considered equal. Various aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and ability limit how we might experience surfing and our freedom to participate in it. Being a ‘woman who surfs’ is experienced very differently in different places, which is something I’ve written about with my surf-scholar colleagues Rebecca Olive and Belinda Wheaton in a book called ‘Living with the Sea’. In our chapter called ‘Freedom to Surf? Contested Spaces on the Coast', we share three different narratives of the gendered experience of surfing from different parts of the world. Olive discusses the experience of female recreational surfers in Australia, I write about experiences surfing with women in Iran as the sport begins to be established and Wheaton writes about the experience of women in African-American surfing sub-culture in California. Beach culture, including surfing, is dominated by white western privilege - as are most outdoor nature spaces. We need stories to help us better understand the diversity of experiences of what it means to be a ‘woman who surfs’, and the complexities of accessing and experiencing the sea in order to be able to overcome the inequalities and injustices. It goes deeper than an issue of gender and sexuality alone and relates to the feminine. By that I mean our relationship with our environment, the sea, the waves, the world around us, how we relate. It’s about

@easkeysurf

www.easkeybritton.com

how we are able to give expression to who we are freely and truly without conforming to social norms and cultural expectations. The world I want to live in is a world where we are able to represent ourselves the way we wish to be - where we have the freedom and, crucially, the support to authentically express who we are. Women are more likely to be affected by rapid environmental and climate change, which can be particularly acute in coastal regions, so women are spearheading compassionate solutions around the world. It feels like there is a coming together that is leading to a collective movement. In surfing alone the tide is turning. Take for example the Institute for Women Surfers, which now has chapters around the world supporting women’s movements in and through surfing, and the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing (CEWS). Just five years since Into the Sea, the award-winning film documenting Iran’s first female surfers was released, Farima, a 15-year-old girl from Iran became the first female in her country to be awarded the international ISA surf scholarship. In Sri Lanka the first all-female surf club, Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club, was officially established last year. This was closely followed by the SeaSisters initiative, a swim and surf program, which seeks to empower Sri Lankan women and restore the ocean as a safe space. Surf Girls Jamaica is a powerful documentary released this year by two independent female film makers about Imani Wilmot who set-up the first female surf club of Jamaica to help women reconnect with their bodies and sense of self-worth, free from harm or violence. In Ireland, Welcome Wave, a social change initiative was set-up last year by a bereaved mother to connect children from refugee and asylum seeking families with the sea through surfing. When asked what the sea meant to her, Farima’s mother replied: "It’s purity. The sea is honest. It is truth, without discrimination. It may be vicious, it may be calm, but it’s always honest about how it is. Let’s keep creating new narratives on, in, under the sea, in front and behind the lens". EB About Easkey Dr Easkey Britton, surfer and founder of Like Water, is a marine social scientist at the National University of Ireland Galway. Her work explores the relationship between people and the sea, using her passion for the ocean to create social change and connection across cultures. Currently resides in Donegal, Ireland. What will be your contribution for a more gender-equal global ocean community? www.unworldoceansday.org

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BEHIND THE LENS

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A REEF FOR

Saida

The waters off the coastal Lebanese city of Sidon - known locally as Saida - have, for many years, been used as a dump for city waste. Following an extensive clean-up operation, local ocean activists hope to attract fish and dive tourists back to the their corner of the Mediterranean by creating an artificial reef made up of old aircraft. Will it work, or are they simply dumping more trash into the sea? Wo rd s a n d p h o t o g ra p h s b y E l i z a b e t h F i t t

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alla, let’s go!” A broad smile spreads across the face of Mohamed El Serji, the 63-year-old marine activist and director of the Sidon Dive Academy in Saida, Lebanon. Creases form within the sun-browned skin around his eyes as he takes to the wheel of his SUV, ready to navigate the 6am calm of this ancient Lebanese port town. The vehicle is jammed full of dive gear and 20-gallon water-bottles filled with boat fuel. But today is not a recreational dive day. Instead, we board a boat loaded with a team of installation divers. As we pull out of a small stone harbour lined with wooden craft piled high fishing nets, we fall in line behind a tug boat pulling a large barge, its deck filled with an incongruous collection of decommissioned aircraft. We follow them out to sea. Each of the craft are to be delivered to the ocean floor, a new artificial reef that, it is hoped, will boost both fish and dive tourist numbers to this corner of the Mediterranean. Artificial reefs are man-made, underwater structures. The concept of a constructed reef is an ancient one. Humans have been creating them for millennia for a number of reasons, from coastal defences to the rebuilding of ecosystems. Today, artificial reefs, especially those built for marine conservation purposes, garner plenty of attention – as the fanfare around this project showed – but do they work, or are we dumping trash into the ocean? I watch as a yellow crane begins to winch a Cessna airplane up from the barge, swinging it out over the sea and lowering it gently down to the surface of the water. I hit the surface rather less gently and the cold takes my breath away. As I descend it’s impossible to see the plane I am helping to sink from more than four metres away due to recent storms churning the water. I make out 35-year-old Amal Bittar through the gloom, working to unscrew the bolt from a clasp attaching the crane webbing to the plane chassis. Eventually she gets it free and we pull the webbing clear and head back to the surface. Amal shivers as she wrings water from her hijab, but is ready again when it is time to drop a helicopter an hour later. We spend around eight hours at sea. El Serji spends at least seven of those in the water, supervising the sinking of all three Cessnas, two Huey II helicopters and a small passenger plane. He works tirelessly to locate drop points, secure marker buoys, liaise with the team on the barge, and direct his divers to help position the aircraft and detach them from the crane hoists. It is clearly a labour of love for all involved. This community-wide effort includes everyone from the army and local government, to an NGO called The Friends of Alziri Island Association (FAIA) and the Lebanese Dive Association. Even the Interior Security Forces bring out a boat-load of helpers. Everyone, it seems, is behind the project. There is a clear sense of pride in the local marine environment and, doubtless, they all want the economic gains brought by more fish and tourists. Talk on deck centres around the benefits of artificial reefs attracting fish. From 13-yearold Ines, the youngest female member of the Sidon Dive Academy, to Kamal Kozbar, a local government member and Director of FAIA, everyone’s motivation for involvement in the project is fish. It is a well-known phenomenon – fish are attracted to underwater structures. Much like natural reefs, caves and caverns they offer shelter from predators and adverse sea conditions. The stable, hard, intricate surfaces offer the necessary foundations to which algae, coralline algae, weed and invertebrates can attach, forming the basis of a food chain that can support fish species all the way up to apex predators. Research has been carried out into how artificial reefs affect local ecology and whether the aggregations of fish using them has a net positive or negative impact. Conclusions have varied, sparking an ongoing conversation known as the “attraction/production debate”. Some marine scientists have argued that artificial reefs simply attract fish away from other areas, rather than increase their numbers. Atracting fish to a singular site makes it easier to catch more of them, faster - a net negative. The counter argument has been that natural reef systems have their own restricting factors on biomass and are only able to support a limited amount of life. Therefore, fish struggling to thrive on a natural reef due to availability of resources such as food, shelter and breeding sites, may do better (live longer and produce more offspring) by moving to an emptier artificial reef. The question for artificial reef creators then, is: are they attracting life from elsewhere or are they creating a


“Today, artificial reefs, especially those built for marine conservation purposes, garner plenty of attention – as the fanfare around this project showed – but do they work, or are we dumping trash into the ocean?”

PREVIOUS PAGE: Divers keep their distance as one of the planes is lowered into the water. THIS PAGE: Another of the planes in its final resting place.


“He throws his hands up in indignation at the loss of biodiversity. I ask him what happened to life in the coastal waters around Saida and he has one word for me: Dynamite.�


F E AT U R E

PREVIOUS PAGE: Lead diver Mohamed El Serji following a dive. THIS PAGE: Military vehicles, sunk a year before the aircraft, are attracting marine life.

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F E AT U R E

new habitat that will bolster biodiversity and biomass? Todd Barber, Chairman of the Reefball Foundation, which has been developing artificial reefs for more than 25 years, says that all reefs attract and produce to some degree, but that low profile (short), complex reefs with large surface areas have been found to be the most productive. High profile (tall), low complexity reefs have been found to have the highest attraction levels, especially when it comes to pelagic species. He also makes a clear distinction between designed artificial reefs and those made from 'materials of opportunity' not originally designed to be reefs, such as Saida’s aircraft. Barber's Reefball Foundation is only directly involved in designed artificial reefs. “Most designed reef manufacturers are documenting successes [while] 'materials of opportunity' have, on the other hand, often experienced failure". He refers to the use of tires widely used to build artificial reefs in the 1970s, as materials of opportunity. The Osbourne Reef catastrophe is perhaps the most infamous example of what can happen when building reefs improperly with materials of opportunity. In 1974, Broward Artificial Reef Inc. dropped approximately two million old tires into the sea off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The reef would allow for the effective disposal of a vast amount of waste while also creating a new habitat that would attract reef fish, then game fish and, most importantly for the local economy, sport fishermen. Unfortunately, they failed to adhere to the first rule of reef building: stability. The tires were bound in bundles using steel wire or nylon, neither of which lasts long enough underwater for the tire pile to have remained stable. The pile broke apart - and coral doesn’t grow on a mobile surface. Worse still, those now-mobile tires have been causing damage to natural coral reefs ever since, beholden to tides, currents and the power of storms. Thousands of tires have been found as far as the Panhandle and South Carolina. Barber believes reef-building should always "include the community”, emphasising the importance of educational outreach, long-term monitoring and ensuring a reef can adjust as goals or environmental conditions change over time. Back with El Serji, I overhear a journalist ask: “Can you explain how throwing pieces of junk into the sea is good for marine life?” He replies that fish are attracted to underwater structures and the more fish there are, the more tourists will want to dive in Saida and the better the livelihood of fishermen will be. Later we talk more about this and he explains his motivations. He describes how four years ago overflowing landfill and unregulated waste disposal had reached such levels that the entire sea floor around Saida was covered in layers of household waste. He shows me footage he filmed himself. It is shocking. A huge expanse of plastic in varying stages of degradation wafting mesmerically back and forth with the swell, a multi-coloured riot of dystopian seaweed, devoid of life, as far as the eye can see. With a team of

four, over a period of two months, he cleared every piece of rubbish from the seafloor, revealing a barren silty plain. He now not only wants to keep Saida’s seafloor waste-free, but hopes to turn things around completely with the installation of the artificial reef. “You have to understand our sea was dead, there was nothing in it. We had been calling for artificial reefs for many years,” he explains. “I remember when we had all kinds of fish we were famous for it!” Talking animatedly he describes how it used to be: “We had sponges, huge sponges! It was extensively covered with seaweed and all kinds of fish. We had red mullet, spiny lobster and octopus, all almost extinct here now. We‘ve destroyed everything.” He throws his hands up in indignation at the loss of biodiversity. I ask him what happened to life in the coastal waters around Saida and he has one word for me: “Dynamite”. He is referring to a fishing method where a waterproof explosive is detonated underwater, damaging the seafloor and killing or stunning everything in its blast radius. Extensive use of dynamite destroyed the local habitat, which then became a dumping ground for surplus waste when Lebanon ran low on landfill space. The aim of this community now is to reclaim the underwater ecosystem. They want to turn the sea back into something of value to their city: more fish and more tourists. But will it work? Can he bring life back to these depleted waters by removing trash and sinking a few aircraft? Are there any fish left to attract? And once attracted is this reef somewhere they will reproduce? We do have some answers - this is not the first time El Serji has spearheaded sinking items here. In July 2018, he began creating the reef with ten decommissioned military vehicles. Eleven months later there are some clear signs the reef is supporting more life than the surrounding area. Amberjacks, grouper, rough-tail stingrays, wrasse, calico bass, bream, sergeant fish and green sea turtles are just some of the species encountered regularly while diving around the vehicles. “It is working,” El Serji says. “We have attracted a lot of fish and tourists with these tanks - the dive clubs are making money, the fishermen are making money. All are benefiting.” This is exciting stuff in fish-poor waters, but is El Serji worried fishermen might damage the long-term prospects of the reef by taking more than the reef can attract? “I am happy for them to fish there," he says simply. "It’s one of our goals.” Somewhere there is a balance. Between attraction and production and, in this case, the goals of benefitting local fishermen, community, and the marine ecosystem. And sometimes there’s a choice to be made, between waiting for something that might never happen, or coming together as a community and doing it for yourselves, as the people of Saida have done. Four years ago this site was a polluted wasteland, and just a year ago there was nothing of value here. Now, with a new reef providing the foundation for a thriving local ecosystem, there is, and this community is on a journey of reconnection with the sea life that once defined it.

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Column

By Hanli Prinsloo

The ocean activist WILDERNESS ABOVE AND BELOW

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fter more than twenty years of freediving and extensive ocean exploration, there are not many experiences in the ocean that really get my heart rate up anymore. Occasionally when I’m surfing and the swell gets up, or when I have clients with me and the one hammerhead circling turns into five. But mostly these days, I know my aquatic habitat well enough to be prepared for just about anything. Last month, my partner Peter and I decided to try something different, away from the ocean and signed up for a five-day Wilderness Trail in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve. The reserve is a few hours north of Durban on South Africa’s east coast and is one of the oldest and most celebrated of our big parks. I am forever searching for wild: wild nature, wild ideas and a wildness within. Well… Our friendly guides picked us up in Durban and drove straight into the famous Imfolozi Wilderness area - as far as you can get by car. Dividing five days’ worth of food and utensils between us we carefully packed our 75-litre backpacks with a sleeping bag and mat, two t-shirts, one hoodie and comfy pants for night time - that’s it! Sitting down just beyond the first ridge, having left the car – and roads – behind, our guides Mandla and Siphiwe give our briefing. “This is the border between civilisation and the wilderness. For those of you who haven’t been here in a long time, welcome home. Always walk in single file, close enough to touch the backpack of the person in front of you. No talking. If we shout cover, take cover. Rhinos have bad eyesight but keen smell, get behind or up a tree. Yes we are carrying guns, but we don’t want to use them. Never in twenty years of the Wilderness Leadership School have we had to shoot an animal. Be responsible so we don’t have to.” We walk. In silence in single file. My heart rate About Hanli Hanli Prinsloo is a South African freediver and ocean advocate. She is the founder of I AM WATER, a Durban-based charity that seeks to reconnect South Africa's underserved urban youth with the ocean. www.iamwaterfoundation.org

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rockets as we pass through a densely forested area and hear a loud crack. Mandla’s hand goes up and we stop, listen. He takes a few more steps and motions for us to back up and we take a different path. “Elephants feeding,” he says. The news gets whispered down the line. The paths we are on have been created by animals. Buffalo, rhino and impala tracks lead us forward, silently we follow. A quick rest and firewood collection in the early afternoon before struggling through scratching bushes to find ourselves on a series of ledges overlooking the swirling brown water of the Black Imfolozi. Named after the colour of the sediment on its banks, the river meanders through the rolling hills to meet up with her sister the White Imfolozi, before they rush down to the ocean together. On the banks of the Black Imfolozi we make our camp. River sand is pulled onto the rock so a fire can be prepared and all ash be washed away with the sand the next morning, leaving no trace, no stain, no soot. As Siphiwe lights the fire two large buffalo watch us from the other bank, snorting and shaking their giant heads. They are worryingly unperturbed. “We used to camp higher up in the open, but too many nights we had elephant and buffalo in the camp, so now we always sleep on the river ledges,” says Mandla. Reading our anxious minds, he adds: “The only thing you really need to be careful of here is leopards - that’s why we have night watch.” He explains how each night we will take turns to protect the camp. Sitting by the fire to keep it burning low, then getting up every ten minutes to shine a bright torch into the bushes surrounding the sleeping group, no tents or covers, just the stars above us. “The only thing you need to worry about is two eyes facing forwards. That’s a cat. If a cat finds us, keep shining the torch and keep watching, call for help. Don’t turn away.” Peter and I look at each other with wide eyes. “A bit like sharks then,” Peter comments softly. Yes, a bit. But so very different and new. Every time I take first-timers into the wild ocean I say: “You are not on the menu; sharks don’t really eat people.” I am adjusting perspectives and dismantling irrational fears. That first night on the banks of the Black Imfolozi I was certain there were leopards hunting us. Like being a beginner again, I considered wilderness. Our place in nature and how vulnerable we are away from all the things we’ve built to separate ourselves from the elements and

Oceanographic Issue 07


@hanliprinsloo

@hanliprinsloo

@hanliprinsloofreediver

“I continue with my watch until the star I’m using as my timekeeper has moved six fingers, roughly 90 minutes. I wake up Noa, who has night watch after me, tell her what I heard (not what I think I saw) and leave her to keep watch, crawling into my warm sleeping bag, counting shooting stars until I fall asleep.”

Riverside camping: Park rangers put the kettle on as the sun goes down.

beasts. How very successful we have been and how great that separation has grown. And all we have lost with it. A loud grunting and growling wakes me from my reverie staring at the flames and I jump up to shine the torch in the sound’s direction… no eyes. “Leopard on the other side of the river,” Mandla whispers sleepily out of the dark. I take a few deep breaths and make another cup of tea. I continue with my watch until the star I’m using as my timekeeper has moved six fingers, roughly 90 minutes. I wake up Noa, who has night watch after me, tell her what I heard (not what I think I saw) and leave her to it, crawling into my warm sleeping bag, counting shooting stars until I fall asleep. For five days we walked in silence, slept on different ledges along the brown river. We swam in shallow water while the guides kept a lookout for crocodiles, ate long lunches under acacia trees during the heat of the day with rhinos grazing upwind. We grew quieter, calmer and dirtier. We

had come home, to a place our souls remembered. On our last day we sat in a circle, with a talking stick in the middle and the opportunity for the stick holder to speak of their experience. One by one the stick got picked up, hearts opened and wild thoughts were shared. As I picked up the stick, worked smooth by many hands, I couldn’t stop the tears. “I don’t want to leave, I’m not ready.” I covered my face and cried. I cried for the beauty and the privilege of the days gone by, cried for the rhinos who’s middens we passed but who are no longer there because of us. Cried for what we have lost and for what we still have and how precarious it all seems. For five days I had found the same me I usually only access underwater, on land. Swapping whales for rhinos and sharks for leopards we allowed ourselves to be assimilated into wilderness. Blurring the lines between tame and wild, human and animal. And as I always feel when I step into the ocean - my soul had found home. HP

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CAPTURE

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Oceanographic Issue 07


BEHIND THE LENS

Behind the lens I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

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Oceanographic Issue 07

Photo by ©Hugo Pettit

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BEHIND THE LENS

Q&A IAN MCALLISTER Author, photographer, conservationist, co-founder of Pacific Wild, member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and the Sea Legacy Collective. Ian McAllister is a Canadian conservationist, cinematographer and photographer who has dedicated that past 30 years to protecting the Pacific northwestern coastlines, specifically Great Bear Forest. Working alongside indigenous First Nations communities, he places himself at the frontline of the environmental movement in British Columbia.

OM : W H EN D ID YOU F I RS T C ON N E C T W I T H T HE OCEAN?

IAN MCALLISTER (IM): I grew up on the west coast of British Columbia. I guess it's always been part of my formative years and childhood experience. From a young age I ran around the beaches, sailed little dinghies and eventually ventured further north into wilder parts of the coastline. Ever since I can remember the ocean has been part of my life.

OM : W H AT W ER E YOU R E XP E RI E N C E S OF GROWING UP ON TH E WEST COAST?

IM: I definitely got dragged around to lots of very wild and scenic parts of the West Coast. I naturally fell in love with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Just to be able to explore and play as a kid around these towering, ancient rainforests and in an ocean that's so full of life was amazing. There is this amazing interface between ocean and rainforest and to have that in your backyard – that definitely forged a strong bond between myself and this coast.

OM : DO YO U T H IN K I T WAS I N E V I TABL E T H AT YOU WOULD GO INTO FOREST CONSERVATION?

IM: Well it certainly seemed to naturally evolve that way. In so much of our work we try to inspire and educate people and hopefully help others fall in love with this coast like I did. That sense of place comes with a lot of responsibility as well. I had the opportunity to travel further north up Vancouver Island during high school and witnessed the brutality of the logging companies. I saw how they were hell bent on liquidating the rainforest and treating it like a renewable resource, cutting down thousand-year-old trees and replanting them with even-aged monocultures, it seemed almost impossible that this could be happening. From valley to valley, they were just clearing out every single tree and witnessing that at a fairly young age definitely inspired in me the activism and the need to try to protect the rainforest.

OM : WA S T H ER E A K E Y M OM E N T W H E N YOU FELT YOU BECAME AN ACTIVIST? IM: We don't have a long history of environmental activism in this province. It was only about 30 years ago when people in British Columbia started saying "this is too much" and started actually standing on the front lines in front of bulldozers and logging trucks as a last effort to try to protect what was left of the forests of Vancouver Island. At the time, there were no laws to enforce. There was no forest practices code. There was no oversight. The timber companies ran everything. They ran the politics, they ran how logging occurred and they'd never been confronted before. When I was a teenager I ended up on the front lines and that was a lifechanging experience because, even though everyone got arrested and hauled off to the jail, it was incredibly empowering because it felt like we were actually doing something. OM : W ER E YO U E V E R S C ARE D ?

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IM: Somehow, I deal with combative environments like that fairly well. But also, when you compare it to the destruction of this incredible, globally rare rainforest, it always seemed like it's the least that we could do. It's such a powerful experience to grow up in these forests and equally powerful to see them be destroyed without a second thought. Whatever actions we take it never seems enough.

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O M: W H E N D I D YOU F I RS T P I C K U P A CAMERA? IM: As I travelled further north through the northern rainforest, I realised that far more inaccessible coastal wilderness areas existed. Some of these large primary watersheds didn't even have names on a map. Of course, First Nations had names for everything but these were largely unknown to the outside world. There were hundreds of these primary watersheds still intact but very much threatened. Exploring those areas by boat in my early 20s, I’d come back and tell people about how beautiful they were and what amazing scale in terms of conservation opportunities existed there, but nobody knew what the hell I was talking about. So I realised that I needed to start taking pictures of these places. Photography and filmmaking quickly became one of the main tools in our conservation arsenal and visual storytelling has remained a critical part of the work that we do. We're such a visual species and we respond viscerally to images in a way that I don't think words can really duplicate. O M: H AV E YOU ALWAY S H AD A FAS C INATION WITH BEARS? IM: Certainly since I started in this field. They're such intelligent and fascinating animals and have such individual personalities. They tell us a lot about the landscape. When grizzly bear populations are healthy it often tells us that the forests are intact and the salmon are still returning and that the less known, less understood and less visible species may also be fairly healthy. Grizzly bears have always been a great entry point into understanding the greater landscape in which they live. But I've always had a fascination with their behaviour. They have an uncanny similarity to humans, even just in their physical structure when they stand up on their hind legs, it's amazing. They have individual personalities like us and, like humans, they're very habitual. When they learn something that works for them they'll repeat it. So there's a lot of similarities between us. O M: W H AT T RI GGE RE D YOU R D E C I S I ON TO LAUNCH PACIFIC WILD?

IM: If I could go back to 30 years ago, I would have thought we would have solved most, if not all of our environmental problems and recognised how rare these last wild places are on the planet by now. I would have thought that plans and solutions to protect them indefinitely would have been well under way today but unfortunately, it seems that the opposite has happened and we've become even more entrenched in finding ways to exploit every square inch of this coast. One of the founding goals of Pacific Wild is really to better understand the connection between ocean and rainforest and how the ocean influences almost every aspect of our life here. From climate to sustenance, to species diversity. When we founded Pacific Wild there were plans starting to form to build multiple pipelines to the west coast. This would facilitate a tremendous amount of environmental damage, but especially in the way of introducing supertankers carrying oil and LNG [liquified natural gas] through the quiet pristine waters of the Great Bear Rainforest. Trying to stop these megaprojects from occurring in this sensitive quiet place has been a big part of our work over the years. When you consider that there's been just a few small First Nation communities standing between the second or third largest known recoverable oil reserves in the world and the insatiable appetite of Asia, the odds are pretty stacked against us. You have every single major oil company in the world invested in the tar sands and you have provincial and federal governments that also want these pipelines.

O M: D O YOU F E E L L I K E P E OP L E H AVE BECOME DISCONNECTED FROM TH E WILD?

IM: As we exponentially increase densities within urban areas I suspect that's true. But I also like to think that there's more people now who do care deeply about protecting this planet. It's no longer an issue for many people that they're trying to protect some place they'll probably never see, visit or taste. There's an understanding that it's about protecting the very fabric that supports them. We're finally seeing people waking up to the fact that this planet is running out of time. More people, even in urban centres, are standing up for this planet and for the environment. So I think at the same time that industry and governments are becoming more intransigent and acting ever more egregiously, we're also seeing this citizenry, especially in young people, to stand up and challenge the status quo in ways we haven't seen before.

O M: D O YOU RE M E M BE R YOU R F I RS T TRIP TO TH E GREAT BEAR FOREST? IM: I was super fortunate to join one of the earlier voyages of exploration, mapping out the extent of the intact rainforest in the area and going into a river valley. I saw some grizzly bear tracks along the beach and the salmon were jumping all through the river and so I climbed up in a tree, slung a hammock and spent the night in the tree. First thing in the morning when the light was just starting to appear, I could hear a little splashing down below and I looked down and there was a grizzly bear underneath the trees running around in the shallows fishing for salmon. I'm pretty sure that moment was what got me hooked on living in and working for the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. That trip was only meant to be about a week long but it's been almost a 30-year-long roller coaster ride of conservation work. Continued on p.80...

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Q&A Continued... OM: W H AT T R IG G E RE D T H AT P E RM AN E N T M OVE TO TH E WILDERNESS?

IM: We realised that simply travelling there was not enough, we were missing seasons and so we decided to move and live there full time. That was a pretty interesting thing to do, for some random environmentalist to move into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. In those days it was known as the Mid-Coast Timber Supply Area and the little island I lived on only had a population of around 60 people so they were pretty shocked that a couple of environmentalists would actually move up there. The first years there were really interesting. Things have changed a lot since then. At one time we were called 'enemies of the state' and treasonous for wanting to protect ancient forests. Now, the government of today, publicly declares how proud they are that they've been involved in helping protect the Great Bear Rainforest. It's mostly spin and the place is not nearly protected enough but we've seen a massive shift. I remember years ago trying to convince governments that one day people will actually pay money to come and look at bears and I was laughed out of the room. Now there's dozens of super successful bear-viewing companies up and down the coast. Thankfully, coastal First Nations communities have been doing some brilliant work in managing the amount of people that can go into these valleys at a particular time. The need to manage human impact and presence is very important here.

OM: W H Y WA S IT S O K E Y T H AT T H E F I RS T N ATIONS COMMUNITIES H AD A SAY IN LOCAL F ISH ER IES MA NAGE M E N T ? IM: The First Nations throughout the Great Bear Rainforest have well over 10,000 years of continual history in the region and they represent most of the population there today. So, it absolutely makes sense that First Nations should be leading all the stewardship and economic development projects and issues firsthand. It has always made sense to me that that should be the case but it's certainly taking a long time for provincial and federal governments to acknowledge their inherent rights. They are still being ignored by governments and these projects get continually approved without their consent. There's still a long ways to go. OM: H OW H A S T H E H I S TORY AN D H I S TORI C A L METH ODS OF TH E FIRST NATIONS CO MMUNIT IES SH AP E D YOU R AP P ROAC H TO CONSERVATION? IM: There is an ancient lineage of knowledge about the very species that we're studying today that already exists within these communities. Trying to understand traditional ecological knowledge and marrying it with some of the modern techniques that exist – especially on the molecular level – in order to understand our coasts better is so important. We have to understand that one without the other is not nearly as powerful. OM: YO U ’ VE H A D A N U M BE R OF C ON S E RVATION SUCCESS STORIES. H AVE YOU H AD ANY MAJ O R S ET B ACK S OR L OS S E S AN D H OW D O YOU COP E WITH TH OSE? IM: The losses are really hard. I can't help but have such a strong affinity for places and realising again how globally special this coast is. Then to see it just being dismantled, whether it's through the harmful impacts on wild salmon farms, ongoing deforestation pipelines that are being proposed, unsustainable fisheries – there's a long list of impacts that we're directly responsible for that are completely inappropriate in this day and age. The fact that we know better but continue to do it can be really disheartening. It's frustrating and it's so challenging to have to deal with. I don't want to get apathetic or immune to that feeling of outrage. I don't want to get neutralised by the severity of it. I always want to have that feeling that, with enough people standing up for this place, change is possible. That's what I have to remind myself of all the time. OM: ED UCAT IO N I S P L AY I N G AN I N C RE AS I N GLY LARGE PART OF GETTING MORE P EOP LE S TA ND ING U P O N BE H AL F OF T H E S E P L AC E S TH OUGH , TH AT'S SOMETH ING. IM: Absolutely. The big concern is that we're just running out of time. We don't have the luxury of time anymore and we need to start seeing some really significant and substantive changes now. We can't wait for another generation to get us out of this mess. OM: YO UR NEW F I L M , GRE AT BE AR RAI N F OREST, WILL H ELP GET TH E MESSAGE OF H OW WORT H PR ES ERV I N G T H E F ORE S T I S OU T TO MORE P EOP LE. WH AT WAS TH E MOST CH A LLENG ING E XP E RI E N C E YOU H AD W H I L E FILMING? IM: The biggest challenge was trying to put everything we know about this coast, the wildlife that's there and the perspectives of First Nations people into just 42 minutes of film. It's a huge

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challenge to try to put a coastline of such scale and grandeur into such a short format. But it's pretty action-packed and we've got a lot in there so hopefully people will feel inspired about an amazing part of Planet Earth that has an uncertain and a fragile future. But unlike a lot of places, it still has a future. It's up to us to ensure it remains as productive and awe-inspiring as possible. O M: I R E AD T H AT T H E RE WAS A C ATA STROP H IC MUDSLIDE DURING FILMING. WH AT ARE YOUR MEMO R I E S OF T H AT OC C U RRE N C E ? IM: It was an unprecedented natural event. It was precipitated by a record amount of rainfall in a short amount of time. That takes us back to climate change and the impact that we're having on this planet. We're impacting environments, species and landscapes in ways that we could never have imagined. That landslide wiped out an entire population of salmon and destroyed an estuary that was feeding a pack of wolves, spirit bears, black bears and countless other species. It's just one more example of a drastically changing planet. O M: H AV E YOU H AD AN Y C L OS E S H AVES WORKING SO CLOSELY WITH TH ESE CREATURES? IM: No, never. These are animals that are really well-fed living in a very productive environment. You just have to be really respectful of their needs and their space and realise that they don't do things indiscriminately or by chance. They definitely have their established patterns in what they're doing, whether it's fishing for salmon or searching for a den site in the fall. If you can respect their place within the forest or the ocean, then they accommodate you. Maybe they just tolerate you, but nevertheless they don't seem to care too much and that's the way it should be. There is an ancient relationship between humans and the wildlife of the Great Bear Rainforest. Sometimes I think it's the wildlife that is looking at us wondering: "How did we go so wrong? How did we allow you to change direction?" It feels sometimes that they have a sympathy for us because we've altered course so much from our connection to the natural world and to the other species of this planet. I'm always amazed at how tolerant so many animals are of us. I don't think I would be nearly as patient if I was a grizzly bear. O M: A PPARE N T LY, T H E Y ' RE QU I T E P O LITE P REDATORS. IM: It's so true. It's just a shame how maligned so many large carnivores are in our society. That narrative certainly doesn't reflect everything I've learned about large carnivores. What you read simply doesn't add up to what I've experienced firsthand. O M: W H AT ' S BE E N YOU R P ROU D E S T MOMENT AS A CINEMATOGRAP H ER? IM: Actually managing to finish the IMAX film was quite an accomplishment. It turned out to be a much bigger project than I had anticipated so I was really proud to have got that finished. But there are so many. It's a dream to be able to work in a place as beautiful as this and to be able to have this art form at our disposal that I think is really helping craft conversations about the need to further protect the coast. It's an amazing position to be able to pursue wildlife photography and filmmaking and find ways to incorporate that into our conservation work. O M: IS R E M OT E L I V I N G I M P ORTAN T TO YOU? IM: Yes, I guess I'm a bit of a lone wolf in that I spend a tremendous amount of time alone. I love immersing myself into a landscape and getting embedded in places. Taking that time to get a clarity of mind where you're not thinking about all of the other things that fill up our brains when we're in the city. It's something I really treasure and really need in my life. O M: W H Y D O YOU T H I N K I T ' S S O I M P ORTANT TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN NATURE? IM: Well largely for me it's about clearing my mind and becoming more integrated into the landscape. I'm spending a lot of time with really intelligent species that have an uncanny ability to detect intent, even from a distance. When I’m not focused in the present moment and my mind is wandering, I think that they pick up on that. While it takes time to get to that place, it's essential when trying to understand wildlife behaviour and when building trust with other species. O M: W H E N D I D YOU F I RS T GE T I N VOLVED WITH SEALEGACY? IM: We've done a bunch of stuff together. We've worked on different issues, like some of the herring conservation, trophy hunting and oil pipelines projects. O M: W H AT ' S N E XT F OR YOU AN D PACIFIC WILD? IM: We're working around the clock on trying to get Marine Protected Areas established on this coast. There's still a huge amount of unsustainable logging that is occurring. There are still so many unsustainable fisheries. There are more and more proposals for LNG terminals. So, we've got our hands full at Pacific Wild. Never a dull moment around here, that's for sure.

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The future of coastal grizzly bears like this one depends on the health of the ocean. Marine protected areas benefit not only the underwater creatures that inhabit them, but also the terrestrial animals that rely on their productivity.

Pink salmon return to the freshwater rivers of the Great Bear Rainforest to spawn. Declining wild salmon populations are one of the biggest environmental threats to the ecosystems of the North Pacific, including the Great Bear Rainforest.

The fall salmon run provides a bounty for a hungry ecosystem. This black bear, featured in The Great Bear Rainforest film, reaches for a Coho salmon.

The constant movement of herring through the Great Bear Forest attracts and feeds countless species, from the deep ocean to the mountain tops.

Globally rare spirit bears may exist because their white fur provides camouflage, making them better at catching salmon. Here a mother black bear holds her catch, which will feed her and her two young cubs.

There is no line of separation between the ocean and the rainforest. These two environments support and nourish each other. Bears, wolves, salmon, whales - and hundreds of other species - rely on both worlds for their survival.

When herring spawning season approaches families of bears travel from their high elevation winter dens down to the tideline to fill up on the new bed of eggs.

Heiltsuk Nation fisherman Jordan Wilson harvests herring eggs on hemlock boughs, a traditional fishery of great importance to the diet and economy of British Columbia’s coastal indigenous people.

Sibling bears huddle together while their mother fishes. A recessive gene found only in the black bears of British Columbia causes some cubs to be born with white fur. There may be fewer than 200 spirit bears in the world.

Genetically distinct from their mainland counterparts, these coastal wolves wait for the dropping tide to feast on freshly laid herring eggs.

Cold water and strong currents make the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest some of the most productive in the world.

During the herring spawn on the Pacific coast the waters turn milky white as millions of male herring broadcast their milt along the coastline to fertilise layers of herring eggs below.

CAPTURE

Discover the power of the Leica SL at leicasl.com

YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE WITH THE LEICA SL.

Behind the lens IAN MCALLISTER

In a landscape dominated by ocean tide, rivers, estuaries, lakes and fiords grizzly bears need to learn to swim at a very young age.

Born and bred on the western coast of Vancouver Island, Ian began fighting to protect British Columbia’s rainforest from an early age. He’s written six books about the Canadian wilderness and its wildlife, and his images have appeared in numerous publications around the world. His work has seen him awarded both the North America Nature Photography Association’s Vision Award and the Rainforest Action Network’s Rainforest Hero award. He now lives at the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on Denny island with his wife Karen, with whom he co-founded Pacific Wild, and their children. He is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and is a part of the Sea Legacy Collective.

PERSONAL

@iantmcallister

SEALEGACY

@sea_legacy

@Sea_Legacy

@sealegacy

PACIFIC WILD

@pacificwild

@pacificwild

@PacificWild

@ianmcallisterinthegreatbear

All images taken in British Columbia, Canada.

www.sealegacy.org www.pacificwild.org

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Photo by ©Cat Garcia taken on the Leica SL

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LEICA NOCTIVID An exceptional viewing experience. Stylish and compact, the Leica Noctivid offer the perfect balance of attributes for crystal clear viewing experiences.

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WILDERNESS LOST

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Poorly-regulated, under-managed and overfished salmon farms are having a devastating impact on the Patagonian wilderness. Is one of the planet's last great wild places at risk of being lost? Wo rd s a n d p h o t o g ra p h s b y R o r y M o o re

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n April 2015, scientists aboard research vessel Saoirse came across a sinister discovery; carcass after carcass of dead whales washed up on the shores of Patagonia’s south-western fjords. The team recorded 300 dead sei whales, confirmed as the largest mass mortality of the species in history. Further north, a year later, the Chilean salmon farming industry was in a state of panic as its stock plummeted by the ton. More than US$800 million worth of salmon suffocated and died within a fortnight. The third largest producer of salmon in the world lost 12% of its fish. It was a sobering time for Chile’s marine environment. Scientists blamed rising ocean temperatures and harmful algal blooms. A hot year with weak winds had reduced ocean circulation and led to increased volumes of nutrient-rich water reaching surface waters where the algae flourished. As the algae died, its decomposition consumed the oxygen, suffocating marine life. The algae was also blamed for poisoning the whales. As a marine biologist, I wondered if there was any connection between these two events. I decided I should go to Patagonia to find out more. Punta Arenas sits on the Magellan Strait, a sea route that separates mainland South America and Tierra del Fuego (named after the bonfires of the native people, who had developed seal-like blubber to protect them from the harsh winters). The Strait is the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and, as I looked through my binoculars, I was not surprised to see the “blows” of passing whales. Local cetacean expert, Benjamin “Benja” Caceras, confirmed that they were seis and that they had been particularly abundant this season. Benja sat on the huge spine of a sei whale in an old warehouse that smelled of lanolin. He told me that the Welsh colonisers had once processed their wool here and he now hoped to turn the warehouse into a museum. He was surrounded by a macabre collection of skins, skeletons and skulls: sei whales, beaked whales, sperm whales, dolphins, sealions, penguins, pumas, armadillos, beavers, otters, flamingos, turtles, eagles, lizards insects and owls. Every taxon was represented in various states of taxidermy. I asked Benja about the dead sei whales. Had they really been poisoned by toxic algae, working its way up the food chain? He was not convinced. Necropsy samples had been taken at the time and results showed presence of the algae, but they were inconclusive. He said that underwater methane vents in the area had been especially active in 2016, the gas bubbling to the surface where sei whales skim-feed for plankton. Could the gas have displaced oxygen in their lungs? It seemed unlikely but an interesting hypothesis. There were also stories of orcas

PREVIOUS: A dead sei whale washed ashore. RIGHT: Another, more decayed, alongside a pile of bones.

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“I ASKED BENJA ABOUT THE DEAD SEI WHALES. HAD THEY REALLY BEEN POISONED BY TOXIC ALGAE, WORKING ITS WAY UP THE FOOD CHAIN? HE WAS NOT CONVINCED.”

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TOP RIGHT: Seals sleep on the edge of an inlet, unaware of the threats they and their ecosystem face. BOTTOM RIGHT: Another whale washed ashore, dead and decaying.

chasing sick whales and stranding them on the shore and, to my despair, ten more dead whales had been spotted by a passing plane earlier that week. I went back to the hotel to meet Will Darwin, an English videographer who had recently returned to Punta Arenas from an expedition aboard Saoirse. Perhaps he had some answers. Will and I sat huddled by the open fire in the lounge of the Hotel Cabo de Hornos. Outside, winter was approaching and a cold wind from the South whipped down the streets as brave locals edged past our window, hanging on to ropes laid along the pavements to stop them getting blown away on their way to the shops. Will showed me images and videos taken from drones of orcas playing with entrails, but we decided they were more likely to have come from a sealion than a whale and he had not seen any of the recent mortalities. However, more encouragingly, he had recorded the first ever sighting of a young blue whale in the Gulf of Peñas. (He knew it was young because it was ‘only’ 20m long, as opposed to the 36m that an adult blue whale measures.) I called a local pilot and asked if I could charter a flight over the Gulf, but the wind and the $10,000 price tag put us both off. I decided to turn my attention back to the salmon farms and their impact on Chile’s marine environment for the time being. I donned my wool hat and went to meet Mar Y Tierra, a collection of local and international NGOs focused on protecting Patagonia’s natural resources. Over a steaming pot of lamb and a dish of king crab (two delicacies of the deep south), I introduced myself and the organisation I was representing in Patagonia, Blue Marine Foundation, to the group and discussed our interest in salmon, whales and marine protection for the region. I was well received by my hosts, who urged me to continue my quest for answers that would lead to meaningful protection. I took the weekend to drive to the Tores del Paine National Park. It was off-season but the trails and campsites were busy with tourists who had come from far and wide to witness the wild beauty of Patagonia. As I looked out across the fjords and retreating glaciers, I imagined how a scene of salmon farms would affect tourism in the region. Devastating. The next day, my plane followed the Andes mountains to Santiago where I was to meet Dr Susannah Buchan, a blue whale researcher and a representative from the Ministry of Environment. Santiago was warm and wisteria was in bloom. I manged to catch Susie on her way to the Gulf of Corcovado to tag blue whales. She described the devolution of the Gulf over the

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last half a century; once a sanctuary for the largest known population of blue whales on the planet, now overrun with salmon farms that release vast quantities of antibiotics and pesticides into the whales’ feeding grounds. The farmers use artificial light to prolong daylight hours in the cages and promote fish growth, but the light also attracts plankton and the plankton attract whales. The long-term consequences could be dire. Susie suggested that I join her on Chiloé Island to see for myself. I booked the next flight to Punta Montt (the salmon farming capital of Chile) and hurried to the Ministry of Environment for advice. As Santiago smells of wisteria, Punta Montt holds the stench of dead fish. The harbour was piled high with giant plastic bags filled with fish feed. Tons of fish feed made from wild Peruvian anchovies was destined for the farms. Abandoned cages littered the shore and old, rusty fishing boats sat redundant on the docks. A few cages were visible on the horizon, but I knew the real industry was further south and out of sight. I drove out of town, passed a couple of huge industrial fish feed mills and caught the ferry to Chiloé, an island steeped in mythology and now infamous for its salmon production. My hosts were third generation sheep farmers. In broken Spanish, I spoke to Don Jose about the changes he had seen in his 80 years on Chiloé. He likened the salmon farming towns to those in the gold rush era. Alcohol, drugs, prostitution and pollution were up, tourism down. The farms brought in cheap labour so provided little employment for local communities. The salmon was shipped out to the US, Japan and Europe, leaving nothing for the locals but a sea so high in nutrients (from the feed) and low in oxygen (from the decomposing nutrients) that wild fish stocks were dying out. We were interrupted by Don’s wife Corinna, as she burst through the door with a plate of no fewer than 100 oysters. On enquiry, she told me that she had gathered them from the nearby mudflats at low tide. I was reminded of a sign in Punta Arenas airport, which warned visitors not to eat the shellfish as they could be “infected” with the toxic red tide - the same toxic algae that may have killed the whales. Corinna assured me that these particular bivalves were unaffected and perfectly healthy to eat. I slipped into a nervous sleep, wondering what the symptoms would be in the morning. I woke feeling fine, to my great relief. The next day brought a storm from the north and I had to leave before the ferry became unsafe. As I drove towards the ferry dock, I came across concrete blocks

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“I WAS REMINDED OF A SIGN IN PUNTA ARENAS AIRPORT, WHICH WARNED VISITORS NOT TO EAT THE SHELLFISH AS THEY COULD BE “INFECTED” WITH THE TOXIC RED TIDE - THE SAME TOXIC ALGAE THAT MAY HAVE KILLED THE WHALES.”

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A blue whale, alive.

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“PATAGONIA IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE MOST DRAMATIC, WILD AND BEAUTIFUL REGION OF THE WORLD THAT I HAVE SEEN. THE ENVIRONMENT CAN BE HARSH AND UNPREDICTABLE, BUT IT IS ALSO DIVERSE AND EXTREMELY FRAGILE.” and burning tires in the road. Local fishermen were protesting against the farms, blocking the road so that the refrigerated salmon trucks could not pass. Their grievance? Pollution from the salmon farms was killing the wild fish that they relied on for their livelihoods. They had no fish left to catch. It reminded me of my meeting with the Ministry of Environment – they had told me that most of Chile’s fisheries had collapsed in recent years, overfished and under-managed. Salmon farming was all that was left. My final meeting was with Dr Vreni Häussermann, a German biologist and researcher (ed: Vreni wrote exclusively in Issue Three of Oceanographic about her extensive work as a scientist in the region in ‘Exploring the unknown depths of Chilean Patagonia”), who had moved to Patagonia 20 years earlier, fascinated by the marine biodiversity. Vreni pointed out the distant salmon farms in disgust. She described to me the impact of the bioaccumulation of pesticides in the food chain, the high levels of nutrients, the low levels of oxygen, the pollution, the corruption, the waste and the loss of the biodiversity of her great love, the invertebrates - the foundation of the food chain. She told me that in 2016, she had taken the necropsy samples from the rotting carcasses. Analysis of the samples gave Vreni confidence that it was indeed toxic algae that had killed those 300-plus sei whales but that she had seen many hot years without such devastating environmental consequences. So what had changed? The salmon farms, she said. The salmon farms had changed an entire ecosystem and reduced its immunity to a warming climate. The salmon farms were spreading like a “cancer” - all taking and no giving. The algae may have killed the whales, but the salmon farms were creating a weak, homogenous ecosystem, susceptible to disease, algal blooms and climate change. Patagonia is undoubtedly the most dramatic, wild and beautiful region of the world that I have seen. The environment can be harsh and unpredictable, but it is also diverse and extremely fragile. I left the region concerned that the rest of the world was unaware of the danger that one poorly-regulated, unsustainable industry posed. There must be international pressure on salmon farms to clean up their act or we will not just lose whales. We will squander entire ecosystems and one of the last great wildernesses on the planet. Oceanographic Issue 07

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Column

By Dr Simon Pierce

The marine biologist THE SUPERLATIVE LIFE OF EARTH'S LARGEST FISH

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fter 14 years of studying whale sharks I've never actually written up the stats on their world-beating amazingness in a single article. It's time to change that. Whale sharks are the world's biggest fish. In fact, they're the largest cold-blooded animal. Some truly gigantic whale sharks have been documented in fisheries. One, caught off Taiwan, was 20 metres long and weighed 34 tons. Another shark from the same area weighed 42 tons, though its length apparently wasn’t recorded. An 18.8-metre whale shark was landed in India, too. Based on the fossil record, whale sharks are likely to be the biggest fish to have ever lived. Megalodon, a huge, extinct whale-munching predatory shark famous for battling Jason Statham, is thought to have reached around 18 metres. The largestdiscovered remains of a plankton-feeding Jurassic bony fish, Leedsichthys problematicus, indicate a maximum length of around 16.5 metres. Despite their immense size, whale sharks were historically regarded as a particularly enigmatic fish, rare and wonderful to encounter. Whale sharks were only documented by science in 1828, and only 320 encounters had been recorded by the 1980s. Even Jacques Cousteau only saw two. Whale sharks like to eat. They’re filter-feeders, limited by a softball-sized throat, but the ocean is home to plenty of tasty little critters. Shrimp, tuna eggs, krill, copepods, crab larvae... all highly munchable. These small marine animals, collectively known as “zooplankton”, comprise a large proportion of whale shark diet. Of course, eating tiny animals requires specialised mouthparts. Whale sharks have an efficient filtration system that enables them to feed on fish eggs less than one millimetre in size. A medium-sized whale shark can filter more than 600,000 litres of seawater an hour. Filtering all that water takes a lot of energy, but it’s worth it. At a site like Isla Mujeres in Mexico, where hundreds of sharks gather to feed on tuna eggs, that same medium-sized shark would eat about 142.5kg of tuna eggs per day, consuming around 43,000 kilocalories. Whale sharks are incredible migrators. They have to be. Warm, blue, tropical waters are a

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biological desert – there’s almost no food on the surface. Individual sharks routinely travel more than 10,000km each year, but retain an impressive ability to return to their favourite haunts. As an example of their spatial memory, a whale shark sighted off Utila in Honduras was seen again the following evening, 100km away at Gladden Spit in Belize. There, it was waiting for a snapper spawning event which only occurs for a few days around the full moon in certain months. That shark clearly knew exactly where it needed to be, and how to get there. It's likely that whale sharks are using the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation. In the open ocean they seem to orientate towards volcanic islands and atolls, which create pronounced magnetic anomalies that the sharks are probably using as waypoints. Whale sharks are the deepest-diving fish. Tagged sharks have been recorded diving to at least 1,928m, well over a mile in depth. That may well be to do with the magnetic navigation mentioned above – deep dives give the sharks a better positional fix – but there’s likely to be some feeding activity at depth, too. The open ocean may be boring at the surface, but there’s plenty going on in the mesopelagic zone a few hundred metres down. Literally trillions of lanternfishes, probably the most abundant vertebrate on the planet, live in this twilight zone. They’d make an excellent snack for a hungry whale shark. Whale sharks prefer surface water temperatures over 21 degrees Celsius (as do I). It can be far cooler at depth, with whale sharks occasionally facing nearfreezing 2 degrees Celsius. That would be too cold for the sharks to function if they couldn’t retain their body heat. Fortunately, another superlative awaits. Adult whale sharks have the thickest skin – at up to around 30cm – of any animal. That provides great protection from predators, as well as insulation. What would eat a 20m shark anyway? Well, not much actually. Only a single species, the killer whale, is known to kill adult whale sharks, and it’s unlikely to occur often. Small whale sharks are vulnerable, though. Baby whale sharks have been found in the stomachs of blue sharks and blue marlin, respectively. Whale sharks show “sexual segregation”. Males

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and females, and juvenile and adult sharks too, use completely different habitats. Most of the known feeding areas, such as Mafia Island in Tanzania, are home to juvenile male sharks from 4-8m length. There, like many coastal feeding areas, the sharks disappear once they reach adulthood at around 8-9m. They rarely approach the coast over the remainder of their lives. Whale sharks are extremely long-lived. They grow very slowly. Two whale sharks, Stumpy and Zorro, have been returning to Ningaloo Reef in Australia for more than 20 years. A research paper describing their sighting history notes "their growth has been negligible over the past two decades." That’s not entirely unexpected. Most large shark species are long-lived and slow-growing. Greenland sharks, living in the cool Arctic, grow less than one centimetre per year and can be more than 6m at full size. A 5m female was estimated to be 392 years old. Female white sharks only become adults at about 33 years and are estimated to live to at least 73. Even small spiny dogfish are thought to live for at least 80

@simonpierce

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years. Large whale sharks are estimated to live for about 130 years. We don't know how many whale sharks there are in the world. Every whale shark is identifiable based on their unique spot pattern. More than 8,000 tourists and researchers have submitted photos to a global sighting database (www.whaleshark.org), identifying more than 10,000 individual whale sharks. Most of those have been juvenile males, however. Even the largest feeding areas are home to less than 2,000 sharks – and some popular tourist destinations, such as Tanzania and Honduras, seem to have less than 200. The low numbers of whale sharks mean we have to protect them. That’s why I’ve spent more than a decade working to understand and protect them. I’m sure you can understand now why I think whale sharks are such exceptional fish. These inoffensive giants are out there breaking records, terrorising plankton, enhancing ecosystems, all without making a fuss. Colossal they may be, but their very existence embiggens us all. SP

About Simon Dr Simon J Pierce is a marine conservation biologist and underwater photographer from New Zealand. He is a co-founder and Principal Scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, where he leads the global whale shark research programme, and a regional Co-Chair for the IUCN Shark Specialist Group.

Whale sharks: the biggest fish to have ever lived.

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unknown Deep sea exploration organisation, Nekton, earlier this year embarked on a two-year quest to reveal the deepest secrets of the Indian Ocean. Programme director Oliver Steeds discusses the first phase of their newest mission, conducted in waters off the Seychelles. Wo rd s b y B e t h F i n n e y P h o t o g ra p h s c o u r t e s y o f N e k t o n

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“You have the force of the Indian Ocean coming up against these atolls in the middle of the ocean, like winds against a mountain.�

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sat down there on the ocean floor, looking out from a square mile of lush kelp jungle off the Isle of Aran at a bleak, underwater desert thinking: ‘My God, what on Earth are we doing to our ocean?’” During his former life as a broadcast journalist, Nekton founder Oliver Steeds was sent to Lamlash Bay off western Scotland to investigate the ecological impact of scallop trawling in the area, a small portion of which had been protected as a designated marine conservation site. “It's akin to a massive bulldozer driving across the countryside destroying everything, scooping up all the wildlife just to catch a couple of cows. The scale of it is devastating,” says Oliver. “When you dredge and trawl across sea mounts you are destroying an underwater Galapagos that's never been discovered. It's never been researched. That was the trigger for me. I decided that I needed to do something.” Six years later, the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute was born, and its main aim was to facilitate the exploration of the deep ocean. While 12 people have collectively spent 300 hours on the moon, until this year, only three people had visited Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of the ocean, for a collective total of three hours. In spring 2019, The Five Deeps completed four dives to the site, two of which were solo descents piloted by explorer Viktor Vescovo. “It's easier for us psychologically to look up at the stars,” explains Oliver. “We’re told to imagine other worlds in outer space, but many people have a sense of trepidation associated with the oceans. The deep ocean is the most important part of our planet, and yet it’s the least known.” Nekton’s first mission, the 2016 XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey, which focussed on the deep waters of Bermuda, the Sargasso Sea and the NW Atlantic, produced some extraordinary results. The team discovered more than 100 new species and confirmed the discovery of the Rariphotic Zone (The Rare light zone, found in depths of 130m to 300m) and the expedition lead to the launch of Octopus, the global ocean data portal. “All my previous expeditions and long reporting assignments had been on land, so Bermuda was my first stint at sea. I spent four weeks out there.” adds Oliver. “The Rariphotic Zone is this new unique habitat and ecosystem that exists in the ocean, which has been identified in Bermuda and also in Curaçao, but never anywhere else. It’s an extraordinary aquatic adventure.” It’s been nearly three years since the Nekton team returned from Bermudan waters and they’ve just completed a series of landmark dives, this time focusing on the waters surrounding the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. “We chose to focus on the Indian Ocean because it’s the least researched ocean on the planet. It’s the least protected and one of the most at risk because 2.5 billion people live in the nations surrounding it. How the ocean changes over the next few decades is going to profoundly affect the lives and livelihoods of those people,” explains Oliver. “If you look at current ocean protection, 4% is protected and there’s commitments for 7.5% to be

protected in the future. But scientists are saying we need 30% protected by 2030. What's the plan for that? There is no plan at the moment. We’ve made a plan, but we don’t know if it's the right one. We're constantly iterating it, trying to improve it.” The team completed 85 submersible dives in 48 days, collecting more than 1,200 biological samples and 20 terabytes of data. They mapped 30,000 square metres of seabed and completed more than 300 scientific deployments. “It was a very different kind of challenge. It was exhausting, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically,” laughs Oliver. “My batteries were totally drained. It was an extraordinary mission and a great success overall. “There was a moment while diving off Astove,” he continues. “The reef came out from the shoreline for around 200m but only to a depth of 5m-8m. Then there was just a sheer cliff, which stretched down to around 500m. The symmetry of the seabed topography and the biodiversity at these different depths was mind-blowing.” Diving with the submersible in unchartered waters, with zero data available regarding currents (apart from one brief record from the 1890s) and an orchestra of new technologies to deploy inevitably presented its challenges. “We constantly deployed the Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) from our partner, Teledyne Marine, because it enabled us to measure the currents down to 1000m,” said Oliver. “The remote atolls we were diving on are essentially underwater mountains, so from the summit they descend away, thousands of feet to the sea bed. You have the force of the Indian Ocean coming up against these atolls in the middle of the ocean, like winds against a mountain.” Over the 48-day period, the team collected significant data on the Indian Ocean’s geophysics, currents, seabed, water quality and biology, information which will be analysed and collated to build a better picture of the state of those mysterious, unknown areas. “Compared to the noise of the ship, it was extraordinarily peaceful. As we descended down the side of the cliff we went through a whole range of different ecosystems,” he adds. “There was less biodiversity and more focus in particular enclaves. The ability to do a vertical transect enabled us to really get a sense of the variety of life that exists down there. All abundant, in different ways.” At the core of the Nekton approach is understanding how these different factors interact with each other. For example, current patterns in the deep waters off Astove Island provide upwellings of cold water, which protects these particular reefs from bleaching in warming water. “Our work combined biological, physical, chemical and social aspects of research, so we can answer the questions of what lives here, why and how it survives and how this might change. These questions are fundamental to

Oceanographic Issue 07

PREVIOUS: Two of the Nekton submersibles explore the seabed during Mission II. THIS PAGE: At journey's start, a sub leaves the surface.

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TOP: After returning from the deep, one of the submersibles is winched back aboard the Ocean Zephyr. BOTTOM: The Ocean Zephyr, MIssion II's 'base camp'.

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“We’ve realised that the ocean, particularly the deep ocean, is the most critical frontier for us now,” says Oliver. “It’s the last great frontier on our planet.”

appropriate decision making,” explains Dr Lucy Woodall, principal scientist at Nekton. “Until we analyse the data it is not possible to state our findings, however we are interested in seeing the patterns of marine life across geography and depth.” Despite not having solid answers at the time of writing, Oliver’s awe is clear. “Some of our biological samples that we’re now analysing to see if they’re genuinely new to science are certainly new to us. We’ve got some great experts alongside us and they were staggered by some of the things we found.” The Nekton plan is to complete a series of expeditions between 2019 and 2022 across the Indian Ocean, culminating with a summit where the team will bring together their collective data together with findings from other research teams and governments. Here they will discuss a plan for the sustainable governance and management of the Indian Ocean to ensure its resilience to support the lives of those 2.5 billion people. “That’s our goal. It’s a lofty ambition for a small charity like ours, but no one else is doing it,” adds Oliver. “We need to speed up our understanding of how the ocean is changing and how it can be protected.” Key to their success as a small charity has been the collaborative effort with the Seychellois government. In the final days of the Nekton First Descent mission, President Danny Faure delivered a speech to the world from a submersible 120m underwater. “From this depth, I can see the incredible wildlife that needs our protection and the consequences of damaging this huge ecosystem that has existed for millennia,” he said in his speech. “Over the years we have created these problems. We can solve them.” Described as a bellwether for marine conservation and sustainable blue economy management, the hope is that other coastal nations will follow suit. Currently, the First Descent mission is in a stage of deep analysis, which will include a two-week taxonomic workshop in South Africa where world experts will put their heads together to decipher the data. Nekton is already planning its next expedition, a process that can be likened to the piecing together of a vast jigsaw puzzle against a ticking clock. “We're looking for nations who have the political willing to protect their part of the ocean to ensure there's resilience and a commitment to sustainable management of their wider resources. If we can find those nations then we hope that we can

help them achieve those goals.” The criteria for selecting destinations is expansive. As demonstrated by the Seychelles, political willing is vital. Then there’s the question of which areas will provide the most answers. Where are the spots of greatest biodiversity? Amid cool upwellings off the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania or tucked away on the shores of Maldivian coral atolls? Then there’s the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). India notably has the largest EEZ as a nation but how can Nekton engage with its people about the ocean? Working through these competing needs to figure out where to place their limited resources is no mean feat. Given that approximately 70% of the Earth’s oxygen is produced by marine plants, it is inevitable that the 95% of waters that remain unexplored play a huge part in survival on land. “We’ve realised that the ocean, particularly the deep ocean, is the most critical frontier for us now,” says Oliver. “It’s the last great frontier on our planet. We know what's happening to it. We know that if we continue to destroy its resilience it will undermine its ability to support life as we enjoy it on this planet.” Thankfully, ocean conservation has rocketed to the forefront of the global conversation. As Oliver explains, there is little need to continue ‘bashing everyone over the head with a negative message’. It’s well and truly on the agenda. According to a 2016 OECD report, the Blue Economy is set to double in size by 2030, reaching a value of more than USD$3 trillion with many ocean-based industries potentially outperforming the growth of the global economy as a whole, both in terms of employment and value added. In light of this extreme growth, it is clear that there is need for better understanding of what a healthy ocean looks like and a collective belief that it’s something worth conserving, exploring and protecting. Even though visible concern over the climate crisis has increasing value, concrete knowledge regarding the extent of human impact on these mysterious ecosystems is still minimal. In addition to a potential array of lifesaving medicines and extraordinary new species, the deep sea is home to more nickel, cobalt and rare metals than all land reserves combined. There is a quiet race between commerce and science to reach these new depths. “By trawling, dredging and mining these areas, we’re destroying ecosystems before we've had the opportunity to discover what's there,” Oliver warns. The Nekton mission is ambitious, but vital. True to the charity’s name, Oliver and his team are working against the currents in order to be a catalyst for ocean education. “I hope what we're doing inspires others to believe they can make a difference. We're a small little group trying to do our bit and we are having impact,” Oliver concludes. “The more people who think about how we can do things differently, so much the better. The current paradigm is failing. Be as different as you possibly can – the madder the better. Imagination is critical now.”

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BEHIND THE LENS

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Keeping change at bay As the world’s marine ecosystems face unprecedented pressures, marine parks are playing an increasingly important role in nurturing the relationship between tourism and sustainability. In one corner of Indonesia, business and community have combined to set up a future that promises to be as bountiful as the area's past. Wo rd s b y Way n e O s b o rn P h o t o g ra p h s b y Way n e a n d Pa m O s b o rn

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T

he biodiversity encountered by Charles Darwin on a collection of weather-beaten rocks off the coast of Central America in the 19th century enabled him to return home with his theory of natural selection. His book ‘On the Origin of Species’ would dominate the natural academic landscape for more than 100 years. What many people do not realise is that Darwin’s rise to become the toast of Victorian Britain was not so much down to the singular brilliance of his theory, but the speed with which he sailed it home. On the other side of the Pacific was another naturalist who had penned his own theory of natural selection, inspired by the bountiful waters and forests of Indonesia. The impossibly beautiful array of flora and fauna encountered by Alfred Wallace during his expedition proved to be both his inspiration and downfall – he tarried too long in the archipelago, allowing Darwin to return to London, and to his publishers, before him. Happily for Wallace, he did still leave his mark. In 1859, the same year that Darwin’s bestseller was first published, the Wallace Line was first drawn. This faunal boundary line indicates the change in ecozones between Asia and Wallacea (also named after Wallace), which is itself a transitional faunal zone between Asia and Australia. The discovery and acknowledgement of these lines and zones was – and still is – a clear indicator of the scale of biodiversity found in that particular corner of the world. It is one of the most bountiful places on Earth. Experiencing that biodiversity as a modern-day traveller can be something of a conundrum. Life abounds in these places due to a balance that has evolved over millennia. Our presence, if not controlled, can be damaging, and because we live in a time when our world’s wild places have never been more accessible, both physically and financially, it has never been more important to interact with nature’s most beautiful spaces in a conscientious way. The world is, after all, a very different place now than when Wallace were alive. Happily there are places that have found the balance. Places where natural beauty abounds, respectful tourism works and local communities thrive. Fringed by the Banda and Flores seas, southeast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in the Tukang Besi archipelago, Wakatobi National Park, is a 1.4 millionhectare protected area that allows 21st-century travellers to experience the biodiversity that so enthralled Wallace almost two centuries ago. Named after the largest islands in the park – Wangiwangi, Kaledupa, Tomea and Binongko – the Wakatobi is a protected gem in the Coral Triangle, one that offers visitors the opportunity to revel in the area’s flora and fauna, before leaving without having impacted upon it. The park’s coral reefs and atolls host one of our planet's most biodiverse marine ecosystems with more than 3,000 fish species and 750 PREVIOUS: A dive boat hovers above a reef wall, the dark water indicative of deep water. THIS PAGE: A Baba's crinoid squat lobster enjoys protection from predators in the base of a feather star.

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MAIN IMAGE: Juvenile fusiliers school around a healthy coral bommie. TOP RIGHT: A long-nosed hawkfish. MIDDLE RIGHT: A broadclub cuttlefish. BOTTOM RIGHT: A pair of gilded triggerfish. The male's chin is decorated blue.


“While it is the vibrancy of the underwater realm that attracts visitors, such as myself, from all over the world to the park, it is the commitment of business owners and local populations to protect the local ecosystem that makes this corner of Indonesia so remarkable."


F E AT U R E

TOP: A 'Pom Pom' boat with a centuries old lateen rig - and a single-cylinder diesel engine. BOTTOM: A humphead bannerfish enjoys an easy meal during a coral spawning event.

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"Most encouragingly of all, the installation of no-take zones has resulted in an improvement in fish stocks in the areas bordering these regions excellent news for local fisherfolk."

coral species. These creatures make their homes in a topographically varied underwater world that consists of sea mounts, miles of precipitous walls and jutting reef platforms. As a keen traveller, journalist and professional underwater photographer, the allure of life below the park’s waterline still has not dimmed after nearly 500 dives here. Personally, it’s the continuing reveal of marine biodiversity that appeals to me as a photographer, but the park attracts adventurers and divers of many stripes. Founder of Wakatobi Dive Resort Lorenz Mäder is an expert rebreather diver who has explored the deep canyons that splinter the park’s undulating seabed and sheer walls. Others visit for the current-induced drift dives along the walls, kaleidoscopic reefs on view, the abyss below. Nature’s capacity to build intricate ecosystems of vast branching stony corals, rocky caverns with collations of human-sized tube sponges, is everpresent. Reefs are interspersed with pastel streams of soft corals. Habitats teem with fish ranging from sparring clouds of resident anthias and damsels to brazen pelagic species passing through. The internecine wars, territorial rivalries and general Shakespearean comedies that play out on the walls and reef platforms provide endless entertainment – Wallace’s natural selection still in full flow. On my most recent visit, I was fortunate to witness a coral spawning event at dusk - the release of millions of minuscule gametes, each hoping to beat the intimidating odds of successful reproduction. As the spawn hung in the water – a mist over the undulating reef – I witnessed the reef come to life in a way few people witness as opportunistic fishes dashed about making the most of an easy meal. Within 15 minutes it was all over. The spawn had dissipated and the reef returned to normal as the sun set and the water turned clear and black. While it is the vibrancy of the underwater realm that attracts visitors, such as myself, from all over the world to the park, it is the commitment of business owners and local populations to protect the local ecosystem that makes this corner of Indonesia so remarkable. When Mäder founded his dive resort he also created the Collaborative Reef Conservation Program in conjunction with local leaders and village elders. This

economic and environmental initiative was designed to motivate those living in the Wakatobi region to take an active role in protecting their shared marine environment. The original 6km of reef originally established as a pilot no-take fishing zone in 1997 has been extended to more than 20km of reef today. The Wakatobi Marine Reserve was later established, before the area’s pioneering conservation work and privately sponsored marine sanctuaries were officially recognised in 2012 when the Wakatobi Marine Park was designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve – something Wallace himself would have surely approved of. The success of the region – that balance of adventure tourism and sustainability – has been possible as a result of the very direct relationship between economics and a healthy environment. Twenty local villages receive a monthly ‘reef lease’ payment, which incentivises selfmanagement and protection of the National Marine Park’s reefs, which in turn keeps the divers coming back. The reef leases have also worked in earning the broad trust of the village elders and island leaders. Most encouragingly of all, the installation of no-take zones has resulted in an improvement in fish stocks in the areas bordering these regions – excellent news for local fisherfolk. This has in turn resulted in locals giving up destructive fishing practices, which further allows the local ecosystem to continue to thrive. Mäder’s resort also provides employment for those wishing to earn a living away from fishing (there are 100,000 people from the Bajo Tribe living in the Tukang Besi archipelago), diversifying the region’s economy with permanent skilled jobs created in engineering, maintenance, hospitality and, of course, marine. This includes park rangers. On one occasion, as we drifted past a reef wall one day during a surface interval, we passed a tethered canoe and diver taking fish. A VHF call was made and within ten minutes a warden arrived to deal with the offender. Conservation in action. In this small corner of the ocean, business, community and ecosystem appear to be interacting harmoniously and for the benefit of all. I am confident the reefs teem with life just as busily as when Wallace’s vessel was anchored overhead rather than our own. Long may that continue to be the case.

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CHARITY PARTNERSHIP

Project AWARE ® is a global movement for ocean protection powered by a community of adventurers. Project AWARE is an international non-profit organization working to create positive change for the ocean.

www.project aware.org

Feature

ADOPT A DIVE SITE™ The community leaders who are driving change through citizen science M e g a n Wh i te , C o m munic ations Sp ec ialis t, P rojec t AWARE

Underwater Perspective At Project AWARE® we believe in a future where the ocean no longer needs protecting. To work towards this goal, we prioritise addressing the greatest threats facing the ocean, and it will come as no surprise that pollution is one of the biggest threats, in particular, plastic. With a long-running history of working with divers to clean up the ocean, we have a unique underwater perspective of the marine debris issue and know that simply removing the debris isn’t enough. There is a significant lack in data available with regards to underwater marine debris and we need this data in order to understand and find ways to solve the problem. This is where our flagship citizen-science programme Dive Against Debris® comes in. The programme empowers scuba divers to remove marine debris from the seafloor, and just as importantly, report data on the types, quantities and locations of materials collected. As the only underwater debris data collection program of its kind, Dive Against Debris shines a light on what’s happening beneath the waves, providing vital information to help inform policy change. Whether divers find a boatload of rubbish or no rubbish at all, every piece of information, every survey submitted is a key part of the marine debris puzzle. Community Action In order to increase surveys at the same location, Adopt a Dive Site™ was launched and the response from our community of ocean adventurers was more than we could have ever expected. The community leaders who have adopted a (or several) dive sites have pledged to conduct a Dive Against Debris survey at the same site at least once a month, providing ongoing, local protection and monitoring of their underwater playgrounds. There are currently 470 adopted sites around the world and the number is growing every week. In 2018, 44.73% of the Dive Against Debris surveys submitted were from Adopt a Dive Site owners.

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“ I t ’s a re a l l y s i m p l e w ay t o m a ke a d i ff e re n c e u n d e r w a t e r. D i ve r s a re passionate ocean advocates and a l re a d y p i c k u p ru b b i s h o n t h e i r d i ve s . A d o p t a D i ve S i t e g i ve s t h e m a w ay t o b e p a r t o f t h e solution to the marine debris c r i s i s i n o u r o c e a n a n d p ro t e c t the underwater world.”

PETA DAY, PROJECT AWARE COMMUNITY COORDINATOR

Connect your next Ocean Adventure with the purpose of Marine Conservation With 400+ adopted dive sites around the world, make your next ocean adventure count and dive with one of our community leaders. Help keep your bucket list dive sites Adopt a Dive Site™ Snapshot • There are 470 Adopted Dive Sites around the world and the number is growing • 25% of all Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris Data has been submitted from Adopt a Dive Site participants • Although it’s believed that over 70% of marine debris that enters the ocean ends up on the seafloor, little quantitative information is available about it. Regularly submitting data from the same location, whether you find debris or not, is a proven way to create an accurate perspective about underwater marine debris • You don’t need to be a diving professional to Adopt a Dive Site! Dive Against Debris data can be submitted by anyone who has removed marine debris from the sea floor whilst scuba diving

Oceanographic Issue 07


CHARITY PARTNERSHIP

S H A R E Y O U R S TO RY O F C H A N G E JOIN MY OCEAN : HERE!

CHALLENGE YOURSELF FUNDRAISE FOR THE OCEAN : HERE!

P R OT E C T W H AT Y O U L OV E W I T H P R O J E C T AWA R E ’ S C L OT H I N G

DIVE AGAINST DEBRIS® clean and be part of the solution to prevent marine debris before it reaches the ocean.

Saltstraumen, Norway

Explore: Saltstraumen, near Bodø in Norway, has the world’s strongest tidal current, with more than 375 million cubic litres of water passing through the narrow straight every six hours. The moving water pushes rich nutrients up from the deep seafloor creating a unique underwater biotope with a huge diversity of marine life. Protect: To protect this unique fauna and fish life, Fredric Ihrsen and the team at Saltstraumen DykkeCamp Dive Center have adopted two of their local sites - Ørneset and Tunnelen. Both sites boast ice age geology with tunnels covered with Dead Man’s Fingers and anemones and are home to huge wolffish. Help keep it clean and healthy by joining Fredric and team on their next survey dive.

Y O U R DATA E N T E R S A G L O BA L DATA BA S E WO R K I N G TOWA R D S L O N G - T E R M , M E A N I N G F U L S O L U T I O N S TO T H E G L O BA L M A R I N E D E B R I S C R I S I S AT L O C A L , N AT I O N A L A N D I N T E R N AT I O N A L L E V E L S www.projectaware.org/diveagainstdebris

Koh Tao, Thailand

Explore: Part of the Chumphon Archipelago in Thailand, the island of Koh Tao offers coastal jungle right next to world-class diving. Underwater you’ll find rock pinnacles, vibrant reefs and shipwrecks as well as colourful reef fish, spotted eagle rays and if you’re lucky, maybe even a whale shark. Protect: Dive in with Eco Koh Tao & Crystal Dive at adopted dive site, Twin Peaks.

Project AWARE creates positive change for a return to a clean, healthy ocean through community action WHAT YOUR SUPPORT HELPS ACHI EVE

Curaçao, Caribbean

Explore: The turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, colourful fish, healthy coral and shipwrecks draw divers from all over the world to Curacao. Although boat diving is popular, the island also has stunning shore dives available. Protect: Blue Bay Dive has two beautiful house reefs that they have adopted - The Wall and The Garden. Join a Dive Against Debris with Blue Bay in order to keep the reefs brimming with life. The ultimate solution to the marine debris issue is prevention and we need to keep that as our highest priority. The Adopt a Dive Site leaders dedicated to submitting data are providing the information we need in order to make this happen. If you are a scuba diver who regularly dives at the same location, Adopt a Dive Site with us! If you’re planning your next dive adventure, join a survey dive at an adopted site. www.projectaware.org/adoptadivesite instagram.com/projectaware twitter.com/projectaware facebook.com/ProjectAWAREFoundation

8,310

193K

ENTANGLED ANIMALS REPORTED

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

493 1,351,106

ADOPT A DIVE SITE™ LOCATIONS

DEBRIS ITEMS REMOVED

DONATE HE RE BE T HE CHAN GE YOU WAN T TO SEE FO R T HE OCEAN – GET I N VOLVED!

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CO L L E CT I O N

©Photograph: Laurent Ballesta/Gombessa Project

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RAISE AWARENESS, TRANSMIT OUR PASSION, HELP PROTECT THE OCEAN www.blancpain-ocean-commitment.com

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Profile for Oceanographic Magazine

Oceanographic Magazine / Issue Seven  

Oceanographic Magazine is filled with captivating storytelling and beautiful imagery. World-class writers and photographers combine to bring...

Oceanographic Magazine / Issue Seven  

Oceanographic Magazine is filled with captivating storytelling and beautiful imagery. World-class writers and photographers combine to bring...

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