Author: Pura Vida Divers

REEF Fish Count Dives

Andrea and I have been really busy lately….counting fish! Tuesday we headed out early in the morning to the Danny to see the Goliath Grouper. While we did see some grouper, we also saw tons of other fish! As soon as we got to the wreck, we started to write furiously! As the bar jacks and sheepsheads whizzed around our heads we scoured every nook and cranny for bicolor damselfish and sharpnose puffers. There was rumor a spotted drum lived in the main room of the Danny, so we descended into grouper domain. We were immediately distracted by the school of baitfish dancing above my head. We heard the tinkle of a bell and knew it was time to move on to Atlantis, a long pile of rubble stretching between the Danny and the Spud Barge. Allison, our fearless leader, took us to a tug/barge combination wreck, making sure we saw the butter hamlet on the way. Next stop: The Spud Barge, where we were greeted by a Caribbean reef shark and more grouper! As we were leaving we caught sight of some rainbow runners and a spotfin hogfish. For our second dive, we entered the beautifully blue water above South Double Ledges. The mad rush to scribble down all of the new fish began as soon as we hit the water. A queen angel posed for a photograph...

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More Corals under the Endangered Speices Act???

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a department under NOAA, recently published at status review that showed 52 species of coral in the United States are likely to go EXTINCT by the end of the century. Yikes!!!   Now, NMFS is in the process of evaluating whether 82 species of coral (from the Pacific and the Caribbean) should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Of these 82 corals in question, Florida suggests 7 from our region must be classified as endangered. http://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/public-meeting-notice-on-protecting-82-species-of-coral/   Here’s how this process began:   In October of 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned NOAA (NMFS) to list 83 species of coral under the Endangered Species Act. Required by law, NMFS had 90 days to make a “finding” on this petition and initiate a status review. After examining the petitioned species, NMFS dropped one deep water species from the list and went on assess the risk of extinction for the 82 species of coral.   A team of 7 marine scientists was assembled to evaluate each of the corals. They came to the conclusion that the greatest threats to these corals include: warming ocean temperatures, disease, and acidification, all a result of human induced climate change brought on by excessive greenhouse gas emissions. The team of scientists concluded that there is a 55% likelihood of extinction by the year 2100 for these species...

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Symbiosis in the Sea

The more you dive, the more indiscreet behaviors you begin to notice. One behavior of marine life that catches my attention over and over is cleaning stations. It is amazing that tiny fish and shrimp that would normally be a tasty snack are found picking parasites and dead tissue off of large predators.   Sanitation & Symbiosis in the Sea You know how much you enjoy a day at the spa, getting all of your blemishes and old skin removed from your face, hands, and feet? Well, a lot of reef species feel the same way! After a long nights nesting on Florida’s beaches, sea turtles often seek a relaxing spa treatment from Spanish Hogfish… This symbiotic relationship between large marine life and small cleaner species is actually quite common throughout the Western Atlantic and Caribbean. In South Florida, Gobies, juvenile Spanish Hogfish, Bluehead Wrasse, and Pederson Cleaner Shrimp are the busy “cleaners” on the reefs. These tiny critters approach large groupers, parrotfish, surgeonfish, and other reef clients to remove parasites from their body, face, and even inside their mouths! You might see a Goatfish in a vertical, head down position, completely still; or a turtle resting on the bottom, relaxed neck, and entirely motionless…if you look close you will find cleaning fish hard at work. Such gatherings are referred to as “cleaning stations.”   While the cleaners receive...

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Coastal Cleanup Day is this Saturday 9/15!!!

Here are some excellent reasons to help cleanup your local coastal community:   Trash at the Blue Heron Bridge on the NEW artificial reef…so sad.     In addition to these local garbage issues, consider the bigger picture, especially when it comes to PLASTICS.   Plastics are the biggest problem of all! The most prevalent type of marine debris is plastic.  Look around your home, office, or even your car…what do you find? Almost all plastic! The image below is from the Ocean Conservancy, showing the top 10 items found around the world during beach cleanups. Plastic bottles and bags comprise a huge chunk of these items. So why are plastics so terrible? Number one, they take a very, very long time to break-down, but they never fully “go away.” Instead of biodegrading, plastics break down into smaller pieces over hundreds of years. Some biodegradable plastics will eventually break down in a landfill or compost pile, but not in the ocean. In the ocean, plastics “photo-degrade.” The sun’s UV rays break down bonds between the polymers in plastics. However, this also allows harmful chemicals to be released into the surrounding water. Furthermore, plastics originate from oil! Crude oils are the starting point for countless substances because they contain hydrocarbons (a special type of molecule). When hydrocarbons chains are chemically connected, you can create anything from nylon to plastic water...

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