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Swimming in a lake full of jellyfish on the Pacific island of Palau

A brave swimmer submerged in the lake on the Pacific island of Palau is surrounded by hundreds of jellyfish.

With the Jellyfish isolated in the lake, their stings weakened and these amazing images show tourists can now swim alongside the jellyfish without fear of being stung.

Photographer Kevin Davidson has been visiting the lake for 15 years to capture photos of tourists swimming with jellyfish.

Not for the faint hearted: A swimmer takes a dip in the lake, which now contains an estimated 8 million jellyfish.

Photographer Kevin Davidson has been visiting the lake for 15 years to capture photos of tourists swimming with jellyfish.

Photographer Kevin Davidson has been visiting the lake for 15 years to capture photos of tourists swimming with jellyfish.

Swimmers feel hundreds of “soft blobs” gentle touching their skin as they paddle in Palau Lake.

SINGAPORE STILL ‘TOP OF THE CLASS’ FOR EXPORT OF ORNAMENTAL FISH

FAO

 

The latest FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) world statistics for both imports and exports of ornamental fish have been recently released. Although we are now well into 2012, the figures relate to 2009 (for technical reasons, it takes this long for data to be collected, collated and updated).

At a quoted value of US$59,940,000,Singapore once again tops the list of exporting countries. This figure marks a drop from 2008 (US$68,706,000), but still easily outstrips those of its nearest competitors. In fact,Singaporestill commands a healthy lead, accounting for 18.4% of the total 2009 value of world ornamental fish exports, which amount to US$326,667,000 (consisting of both freshwater and marine ornamental aquatic organisms).

On the import front, the FAO statistics show thatSingaporeimported US$23,336,000 worth of ornamentals in 2009, accounting for just 6.3% of the world total of US$371,426,000 and, thus, clearly demonstrating its predominantly exporting nature.

While, at first sight, the decline in the value of exports may seem a little disappointing to some, one needs to bear very much in mind that we are still in the middle of a serious world economic crisis, with some of the major traditional markets forSingaporeornamental fish being particularly hard hit.

As a result, there has been a detectable shift in buying trends among consumers with regard to ornamental fish. According to Aquarama consultant, John Dawes, “Specialist fishkeepers will always be prepared to spend a little extra in order to obtain their pedigree specialist fish. However, the bulk of the fish-buying public is represented by non-specialists and these are tending, more and more, to go for the more inexpensive, colourful, so-called ‘bread-and-butter’ fish. So, while the pubic is still buying fish…and doing so in large quantities…it does not appear to be spending as much on individual higher-priced specimens as they used to.”

This trend is best represented by the Japanese export figure, which has increased from US$22,352,000 in 2008, to US$30,075,000 in 2009.Japanis, perhaps, the best-known ‘specialist’ fish producer and supplier, with its famed pedigree koi being highly sought after by specialist hobbyists the world over…crisis or no crisis. It is therefore worth noting thatJapanis the only exporting country that has shown any significant increase in exports between 2008 and 2009. All the other leaders have either experienced a drop in the value of their exports, or have more or less stood still.

Encouragingly, though, and despite the ongoing unfavourable economic climate, Singapore still stands ‘tallest among the tall’, leading the way yet again, just as it has done for so many years.

Footnote: The FAO statistics placeSpain in second spot with regard to ornamental fish exports. However, this figure is widely believed to be anomalous and could be the result of some submission or recording error made some years ago (2002) but still, somehow, passed on down the line. It is interesting to note that the 2002 export figure forSpain was just US$3,579,000, while that for 2009 is quoted as US$46,836,000, indicating a staggering jump of US$43,257,000 in just seven years!

Japan scientists study oyster ‘language’

7 Dec 2011, AFP

TOKYO (AFP) – Scientists in Japan have begun studying the “language” of oysters in an effort to find out what they are saying about their environment.

Researchers are monitoring the opening and closing of the molluscs in response to changes in seawater, such as reduced oxygen or red tide, a suffocating algal bloom, that can lead to mass die-offs.

Using a device they have nicknamed the “kai-lingual”, a play on the Japanese word “kai” or shellfish, scientists from Kagawa University want to see if they can decode oyster movements that might warn of possible problems.

The “kai-lingual” uses a series of sensors and magnets to send information on the opening and closing of shells in response to environmental changes.

The technique has never before been used on oysters farmed for food, but has been employed by pearl oyster farmers.

“With kai-lingual, we can hear the ‘screams’, like ‘we are in pain because of insufficient oxygen’,” said Tsuneo Honjo, director of the Seto Inland Sea Regional Research Center at the university.

Pearl oysters have been placed among their food-farmed cousins where they have acted as “interpreters”, alerting growers to ocean changes, he said.

“We have firmly established conversations with pearl oysters through years of research. They should translate into the reactions of the farmed oysters for us in this project,” he said.

The research started in October and will last until the harvest in March, Honjo said.

“So far, oysters are talking in a healthy fashion,” he said.

Study of coral may lead to sunburn pill

AFP – Wed, Aug 31, 2011

A study of underwater coral reefs by researchers of King’s College London may lead to the development of a pill to prevent sunburn.

The research team hope within the next two years to test a compound based on one which shields coral against harmful ultraviolet rays.

“We already knew that coral and some algae can protect themselves from the harsh UV rays in tropical climates by producing their own sunscreens but, until now, we didn?t know how,” said Dr Paul Long, head of the team.

“What we have found is that the algae living within the coral makes a compound that we think is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae.

“Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but we have seen that fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection, so it is clearly passed up the food chain,” the King’s team leader added.

“This led us to believe that if we can determine how this compound is created and passed on, we could biosynthetically develop it in the laboratory to create a sunscreen for human use, perhaps in the form of a tablet, which would work in a similar way.

“We are very close to being able to reproduce this compound in the lab, and if all goes well we would expect to test it within the next two years,” Long said.

“There would have to be a lot of toxicology tests done first but I imagine a sunscreen tablet might be developed in five years or so,” he said.

“After taking the tablet you’d find the compound in your skin and eyes. Nothing like it exists at the moment.”

This month, as part of the three-year project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the King?s team collected coral samples for analysis from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, in collaboration with Dr Walter Dunlap from the Australian Institute for Marine Science and Professor Malcolm Shick from the University of Maine USA.

A long-term goal of the King?s study is to look at whether the same processes could help sustainable agriculture in developing countries by using the natural sunscreen compounds found in coral to produce UV-tolerant crop plants capable of withstanding harsh tropical UV light.

“The part algae play in protecting itself and coral against UV is thought to be a biochemical pathway called the shikimate pathway, found only in microbes and plants,” Long said.

“If we could take the part of the pathway that the coral generates, and put this into plants, we could potentially also utilise their shikimate pathway to make these natural sunscreens.

“If we do this in crop plants that have been bred in temperate climates for high yield, but that at present would not grow in the tropics because of high exposure to sunlight, this could be a way of providing a sustainable nutrient-rich food source, particularly in need for Third World economies.”

Coral is an animal which has a unique symbiotic partnership with algae that lives inside it — the algae use photosynthesis to make food for the coral and the coral waste products are used by the algae for photosynthesis.

Because photosynthesis needs sunlight to work, corals must live in shallow water, which means they are vulnerable to sunburn.

Long?s team is also looking for clues as to how climate change is leading to coral bleaching, which can lead to coral death.

Bleaching occurs when a rise in sea temperature (by 2-3 degrees more than the summer average) means the algae is lost from the coral tissues, and if the relationship between algae and coral is not re-established, the coral may die.

In 1998, world-wide temperature anomalies resulted in a global bleaching event causing major coral mortality on 16 percent of the world?s coral reefs. As coral reefs provide a habitat for many forms of sea life, this can lead to significant loss.

Following the recent collection of samples from the Great Barrier Reef, the King?s team is looking at the genetic and biochemical changes that occur when coral is exposed to light at higher water temperatures. It is thought that this study will contribute vital knowledge for management and conservation of reef biodiversity in the context of global warming.

Australia’s Best Dive Spots

Australia_best_dive_spots_reef

THE Great Barrier Reef is a world-renowned dive site, but it isn’t all we have to offer!

We take a look at some of the best dive locations across Australia, from north to south and east to west.

QUEENSLAND

LIZARD ISLAND
Lizard Island is not just one of Australia’s best dive locations, but is frequently listed as one of the top spots in the world. The national park is a great base for those keen to explore the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef. Cod Hole is a favourite dive spot (also suitable for beginners) in the famed coral wonderland.

What you’ll see: Much of these northern waters remain relatively untouched and you’re likely to see everything from manta rays, potato cods and White Tip reef sharks, to giant clams and feather stars.

Best time to go: There is no real bad time of year to visit the Great Barrier Reef with Queensland’s warm waters making it ideal for year-round diving. Nevertheless, the best weather is usually between August and January.

HERON ISLAND
Situated at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, World-Heritage listed Heron Island is one of Queensland’s best dive sites. It’s also the most accessible, making it a great place to learn how to dive. A 15-minute ride out from the jetty and you’ll have some 30 dive sites to pick from. The Coral Cascades, Heron Bommie and the Blue Pools are some of the most popular sites.

What you’ll see: Wobbegong sharks, parrotfish, Moray eels, octopus, turtles, anemones and stunning Staghorn Coral banks, overhangs and tunnels.

Best time to go: All year, but visibility is best from July – September

YONGALA SHIPWRECK
The Yongala sank during a cyclone in 1911, killing 122 people, a racehorse and a bull. But a century later, the ship is once again budding with life, albeit under the sea. Sitting 90km southeast of Townsville, the enchanted shipwreck is listed as one of the top ten dive sites in the world.

What you’ll see: A multitude of marine life has converted this wreck into a mansion and you’re likely to catch a glimpse of several different species. As one traveller described it: “[It’s] just awesome. Corals are so bright, and all the fish look like they’ve been on steroids. It is like a bustling city down there, only the inhabitants are fish, sharks, turtles, clown fish, eels, snakes everywhere, potato cod, you name it, it is there.”

Best time to go: Winter months tend to offer sightings of humpback whales, manta rays and visibility is generally better, though water temperature is cooler. Meanwhile, in summer you’re more likely to see brightly-coloured schools of bait fish.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

NINGALOO REEF
Not to be outdone by the east, the West Coast has plenty to offer with the beautiful Ningaloo Reef – a fringing coral reef stretching 260km along the Northwest Cape halfway up Western Australia.

What you’ll see: Ningaloo Reef is home to the largest fish in the world – the Whale Shark, but Humpback whales, manta rays, Loggerhead and Hawksbill turtles can all also be spotted. There are over 250 different species of coral and more than 500 types of wildlife.

Best time to go: If a mammoth 18m-long whale shark is what you’re hoping to see, the best time to visit is from March to June, when, in search of food, plankton-rich waters pull them closer to the reef.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND
Christmas Island tends to be known for things other than its amazing diving spots, which makes it somewhat of an undiscovered treasure. The small territory in the Indian Ocean actually boasts a magical selection of marine life. With elaborate cliffs and caves it’s a great destination for wall diving.

The island itself is the tip of an ancient volcanic mountain rising some 3km out of the ocean floor. With visibility often as good as 50m, divers can gaze at the collection of coral that plunge into an apparent bottomless abyss.

What you’ll see: The deep water around the island attracts the likes of tuna, trevally and white tip reef sharks. It’s worth spending some time on the shoreline too if you’re around in October/November. Some 120 million red crabs begin a spectacular migration toward the sea to release their eggs.

Best time to go: Avoid diving from December to April when the wet season hits on the back of monsoons from the north-west.

NEW SOUTH WALES

BYRON BAY
The warmer tropical waters of the north meet the cooler climate of the south leaving an interesting mix of marine life here in Byron Bay. Julian Rocks, a pair of small islands surrounded by marine park, is the top dive site nearby and a great place for divers to learn the ropes.

What you’ll see: Leopard sharks, grey nurses, humpbacks and wobbegongs inhabit the local area, as well as sea turtles, sea stars, manta rays and plenty of colourful coral and sponges!

Best time to go: Leopard sharks come out to play mid-summer when it’s nice and warm. Meanwhile, you can hear the humpback whales sing as they make their annual migration if your underwater from May through to September.

LORD HOWE ISLAND
Home to more than 60 dive sites, simply stroll out from the beach to experience the island’s beautiful coral reef. A five-minute boat ride to Erscotts Hole offers plenty of fish life and can be experiences in nearly all weather conditions. The island is best known for its consistently excellent visibility, making it ideal for underwater photography.

What you’ll see: Large numbers are Bluefish, Double Header Wrasse, Spangled Emperors and Neon Damsels. Rare species such as Colemans Pigmy Seahorse, Fosters Hawkfish and Marlin Spike Auger shells can be found at Escortts Hole.

Best time to go: Water temperatures in summer can range from 22-26 degrees with an average of 25-30m visibility.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Kangaroo Island
The cooler waters surrounding Kangaroo Island offer a completely different form of marine life to that up north and the leafy sea dragon is the big drawcard. These beautiful creatures a relatives of the seahorse and only live in southern and western Australian water.

What you’ll see: The Leafy Sea Dragon, seals and walls of Gorgonia corals and red, orange and white sponges are quite a sight. Blue Devils, Harlequins, Truncate coralfish and Boarfish also frequent these southern waters, which is dotted with several different shipwrecks.

Best time to go: April through June are the best times to dive here.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Usat Meigs
Wreck diving is the go in the Northern Territory, with many sunken ships lying not far of the north coast. Usat Meigs is a favourite. The 131m long USA transport ship sank during the first Japanese air raid against the Australia mainland in World War II. Now resting comfortable at a depth of 18m, it’s considered Darwin’s greatest wreck site.

What you’ll see: The Usat Meigs has become the happy home to many different species of fish, including pygmy barracudas, golden snapper and large estuarine cod.

Best time to go: The best time to dive is in the dry winter months when visibility is at its best. During the summer monsoons, cyclones, heavy rains and box jellyfish (which are particularly deadly!) are likely to ruin your experience.

TASMANIA
SS Nord

This 88m long cargo steamer sunk in 1915, after hitting a sunken pinnacle near Hippolyte Rock. It’s one of Tasmania’s few intact (you can still make out it’s a ship) shipwrecks and is rated Australia’s second-best wreck dive after the SS Yongala. Sitting 42m deep, it’s strictly for experienced divers only.

What you’ll see: The wreck has attracted a variety of fish and is covered in colourful marine growth. You can still see a number of artefacts too, including brass fittings and Chinese crockery.

Best time to go: The site is exposed to southerly and easterly weather and can be prone to currents – so check ahead.

World’s Deepest Sea-Hole – The Great Blue Hole of Belize

If you ever come by near the coast of Belize, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to visit the Great Blue Hole, one of the world’s most recognizable natural wonders. The Great Blue Hole is located in Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, about 60 miles away from Belize City. It is believed that this hole is the world’s largest sea-hole. It is about 125 meters deep and its diameter is about 300 meters wide. It has been created as a cause of sea level increase about 65,000 years ago.

Its almost perfect circular shape made it very popular amongst tourists who often visit this place. This place is most attractive for scuba divers who are exploring the depths of this hole. It is known that there are a plenty of cave networks in this place. Divers are also attracted with plenty of rare animal species and forms of life which can be found only in this place.

Lakes experienced a rise in sea level

By Claudine Zap

What happens to lakes in an area hit by forest fires and floods? Some will glow in the dark.

For a cluster of lakes in Australia’s eastern Victoria, the combination of the fire and then the rain washed ash and nitrogen-rich soil into the water. The Gippsland Lakes experienced a rise in sea level. That caused the lakes to mix with sea water, which also raised the salinity.

This recipe led to the introduction of a species of algae called Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as “sea sparkle.” The bioluminescent brew gave the water a nocturnal glow.

Bioluminescence — when a living organism lights up at night — is a natural phenomenon. Australian photographer Phil Hart caught the eerie light of the lakes and shared his snaps.

The shutterbug runs Night Sky Photography workshops in Australia, where he teaches the art of capturing images like these.

ZOOMARK 2011 International – Italy 12 to 15 May

Celebrating its fourteenth anniversary, Zoomark International is the top trade show in the pet supplies industry in the odd years. Tremendous meeting platform, it is an irreplaceable chance to grow, interact, confront products, news and proposals, to transfer know-how, upgrade professionally and broaden one’s knowledge.

The exhibitors are manufacturers and distributors of pet food, care and comfort products, service suppliers, trade associations and publishers.

The BolognaFiere exhibition centre extends over 375,000 square metres of covered and outdoors areas. Its total services area is 36,000 square metres.

Its 18 halls are completely wired, air-conditioned and equipped with IT systems.

Flexibility and mobility indoors are ensured by a network of moving walkways and by a parking system with 14,500 covered parking spaces that can be reserved in advance.

Zoomark International 2011 stretches over an exhibit surface of more than 44 thousand square metres and four halls (16, 19, 21 and 22) and it offers modern and functional facilities and services.

The two entrances (Piazza Costituzione and North) provide a good and even visitors flow and an easy management of the queues at the reception.

Date, time
Zoomark International takes place in the following days and times:

Thursday, May 12 – Saturday, May 14: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 15: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Venue
Halls: 16, 19, 21, 22
Entrances: West Costituzione and North

Info
exhibitors
exhibitor@zoomark.it
phone 031301059

visitors
visitor@zoomark.it
phone 031301059

Big tuna fetches record US$396,000 in Tokyo

Associated Press, 5 Jan 2011

TOKYO (AP) — A giant bluefin tuna fetched a record 32.49 million yen, or nearly $396,000, in Tokyo on Wednesday, in the first auction of the year at the world’s largest wholesale fish market.

The price for the 754-pound (342-kilogram) tuna beat the previous record set in 2001 when a 445-pound (202-kilogram) fish sold for 20.2 million yen, a spokesman for Tsukiji market said.

“It was an exceptionally large fish,” said the official, Yutaka Hasegawa. “But we were all surprised by the price.”

The massive tuna was bought and shared by the same duo that won the bidding for last year’s top fish: the owners of Kyubey, an upscale sushi restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district, and Itamae Sushi, a casual, Hong Kong-based chain.

Reporters thronged Hong Kong entrepreneur Ricky Cheng after his big win, which reflects the growing popularity of sushi around the world, particularly in Asia.

“I was nervous when I arrived in Tokyo yesterday, but I am relieved now,” he said after the auction, which began shortly after 5 a.m.

The giant tuna, caught off the coast of northern Japan, was among 538 shipped in from around the world for Wednesday’s auction.

The record-setting price translates to a whopping 95,000 yen per kilogram, or about $526 per pound.

Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of seafood, with Japanese eating 80 percent of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins caught. The two tuna species are the most sought-after by sushi lovers.

Fatty bluefin – called “o-toro” here – can sell for 2,000 yen ($24) per piece at high-end Tokyo sushi restaurants.

Japanese wholesalers, however, face growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid declining tuna stocks worldwide.

In November, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas voted to cut the bluefin fishing quota in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean from 13,500 to 12,900 metric tons annually – about a 4 percent reduction. It also agreed on measures to try to improve enforcement of quotas on bluefin.

The decision was strongly criticized by environmental groups, which hoped to see bluefin fishing slashed or suspended.

Ghostly creature discovered in the deepest reaches of the ocean

A “flamboyant” new species of marine worm has been discovered living in the Celebes Sea, between the Philippines and Indonesia.

“When the image came onto the screen, everyone said, Oh my gosh, what’s that?” said marine zoologist Laurence Madin of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

The new species, called Teuthidodrilus samae (literally the “squid worm of the Sama”) or the squidworm, was first observed in 2007 using a remotely-operated submersible.

It was recently described in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters journal in the article “The remarkable squidworm is an example of discoveries that await in deep-pelagic habitats”, authored by Madin, along with Karen Osborn and Greg W. Rouse, both from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The squidworm, which grows up to nearly four inches (nine centimetres) long, sports ten tentacles that stick out of its head (thus the “squid” in its name), along with six pairs of curved nuchal organs that allow it to taste and smell. It moves by “paddling” through the water with rows of long thin filaments that protrude along both sides of its body.

An entirely new genus, the level above species in the taxonomical ladder for classifying animals and plants, had to be created for the creature.

“I was really excited,” said Osborn, describing seeing the squidworm for the first time. “It was so tantalising because the animal was so different from anything previously described, with the fantastic headgear.”

The squidworm lives in the little-explored area 100 to 200 metres above the ocean floor, a region Osborn says could hold even more previously undiscovered fauna.

“I would estimate that when exploring the deep water column, more than half the animals we see are undescribed or new to science,” she said.

Genetic analysis has determined that the squidworm is an annelid, which despite the vast difference in appearance, is related to the common earthworm.

“For a worm these guys are quite large,” Osborn added.

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