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Grouper attacks diver, steals his fish

plus fish bites swim fin off spearfisherman and devours a free meal

July 28, 2014 by David Strege

Goliath grouper eyes a free meal that was just speared by diver Arif Sabir off Jupiter, Florida. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Goliath grouper eyes a free meal that was just speared by diver Arif Sabir off Jupiter, Florida. Photo is a screen grab from the video

A spearfisherman diving three miles off Jupiter, Florida, was attempting to remove an amberjack from his spear when he noticed a goliath grouper approaching him with an eye toward a free meal.

The goliath grouper, a fish known to be inquisitive and fearless, also proved to be aggressive as Arif Sabir discovered while diving in a group that included his wife. Watch as Sabir gets attacked by the goliath grouper, which ended up getting exactly what it wanted:

//www.youtube.com/embed/AWP8tpzKpKI?rel=0

Sabir, who owns a motorcycle salvage yard in Winter Park, Florida, usually dives off Port Canaveral but for an anniversary dive with his wife went farther south to a new area where he encountered the goliath grouper.

“I’m not used to diving around the big ones like that,” he told GrindTV Outdoor in a phone interview. “We don’t have anything like that up here in Port Canaveral.”

Goliath grouper can grow to 10 feet and weigh up to 800 pounds, though this one was in the 300- to 400-pound range.

goliath grouper

Goliath grouper moments before he bit off the swim fin of diver Arif Sabir. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Sabir described what happened: “I just shot a lesser amberjack and I was coming back into the group and trying to get him off my spear and into my stringer. Then I saw off in the distance that this big grouper had started eyeing me up and was coming over.

“I tried my best to get [the amberjack] off my spear, but the grouper was a lot faster than me and lined himself up, first disabled me, took my fin off, and grabbed my gun and the spear with the fish and went off and on his way.

“I‘ve honestly never seen anything like that before.”

Fortunately, the goliath grouper ate the amberjack and discarded the spear and gun in the sand a quarter mile away, where Sabir retrieved them.

“Which I’m kind of glad about because I didn’t want the grouper getting stuck with that,” Sabir said. “That would’ve been bad for him, an encumbrance.”

Sabir was also glad because he got his speargun and spear back. He said he was a bit miffed at seeing them float away with the big fish. Now he can laugh about it, as most others do upon hearing—and seeing—the funny fish tale.

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Shark Discovery: 5 Prehistoric Sharks

image-spd-megaladon2
Dinosaur Zoo

Carcharodon megalodon size comparison with man

With lengths of up to 59 feet and teeth more than 7 inches long, this school-bus-size shark makes a great white look like a Smart car.

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scary animals that are totally harmless



Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-scary-animals-that-are-totally-harmless/basking-sharks#ixzz38PnHv4bN
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Odyssey Recovers SS Central America Shipwreck Treasures

Newly Released Inventory Provides First Look at Time Capsule of Gold Rush-Era Treasures 

By MarEx

One of the piles of gold coins, lying on the surface, outside the SS Central America shipwreck hull.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration, has now announced operational reports and inventories of items recovered from the SS Central America shipwreck.

 

These items were initially filed under seal in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division. Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith has allowed the reports to be unsealed and made available to the public.

 

Odyssey has been working since April 2014 under contract to Ira Owen Kane, the receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP). RLP is the court-appointed salvor-in-possession of the SS Central America shipwreck.

 

"This is an iconic American shipwreck, and, as salvor-in-possession, we have a duty to not only recover the remaining valuable cargo and significant items of cultural heritage at the site, but to also share what we learn with the public," said Kane. "We're proud of the recovery and scientific work being accomplished on the site. Making the reports, filed with the court, accessible is the first step in allowing the public access to the shipwreck and the heroic stories of her Captain and those who sailed on her final voyage. We continue to engage in a number of fascinating science initiatives, the results of which will be shared with the public and scientific community when complete."

 

 

 

Above: One of the more interesting pieces of gold jewelry recovered from the deposits in the SS Central America debris field was a gold puzzle ring with a fede motif (clasping hands).

Below: Several gold bars with varying weights discovered at the stern of the SS Central America shipwreck.

 

 

The inventories detail the items recovered to date, which include gold ingots, nuggets, dust and a wide variety of gold coins from $20 double eagles down through $10, $5, $2.50 and $1 gold coins, as well as California fractional gold, territorials and a wide variety of foreign gold. Additional significant cultural heritage artifacts have been identified and will be recovered.

 

RLP's chief scientist Bob Evans served as chief scientist on the 1988-1991 expeditions to the SS Central America and later as curator for the treasure recovered. As one of RLP's representatives on the project, Evans has been aboard the Odyssey Explorer since operations began in April 2014, cataloging the gold as it is recovered.

 

"The variety and quality of the coins being recovered is just astonishing," commented Evans. "Of course there are spectacular $20 double eagles like we found back in the 80s and 90s. But the wide variety of other denominations makes this year's recoveries very different from the earlier finds. I have seen what I believe are several of the finest known examples so far. The coins date from 1823 to 1857 and represent a wonderful diversity of denominations and mints, a time capsule of virtually all the coins that were used in 1857."

 

Odyssey President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Gordon added: "The operational reports filed with the court provide an overview of the activities conducted during each offshore period. The first two reports detail the pre-disturbance work and the recovery of items visible on the surface in the debris field, as well as initial archaeological excavation activities in the stern area of the shipwreck itself. The next report, which will be filed before July 25, will cover work conducted from mid-June to mid-July. As planned, during this period we made significant progress removing large amounts of coal and overburden to access certain areas of the shipwreck. We're looking forward to getting back to work at the site in the coming days."

 

About the SS Central America

The SS Central America was an 85-meter (280-foot) wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted side-wheel steamship launched in 1853 as the SS George Law. Operating during the California Gold Rush era, the ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco, making 43 round trips between New York and Panama. The Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina on September 12, 1857. When she was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.

One of the SS Central America’s paddlewheels.

 

 

The location of the SS Central America shipwreck was confirmed in September 1988 at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). Recovery operations were conducted over a four-year period (1988-1991) and a large quantity of commercial gold was recovered from approximately 5% of the shipwreck site during more than 1,000 hours of bottom time.

In 2014, Recovery Limited Partnership awarded Odyssey the exclusive contract to conduct an archaeological excavation and recovery of the remaining valuable cargo from the SS Central America shipwreck. Odyssey will receive 80% of recovery proceeds until a fixed fee and a negotiated day rate are paid. Thereafter, Odyssey will receive 45% of the recovery proceeds.

 

Odyssey was selected for the project by Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed receiver who represents Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) and Columbus Exploration LLC (CE). The contract was approved by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio, which has given Mr. Kane responsibility with overseeing the recovery project The United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia has confirmed RLP as the salvor in possession of the SS Central America shipwreck and that Odyssey may conduct operations at the site on behalf of RLP. 

 

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Costa Concordia's Unprecedented Refloat Successful

The wreck of the Costa Concordia was refloated on Monday and will soon be towed away and broken up for scrap.  The rusting hulk of the luxury liner had been resting on a temporary platform since being righted a year ago.

In what has become one of the largest salvage operations in history, air was pumped into 30 sponsons attached around the hull of the ship. The air forced out the water in the sponsons, lifting the vessel off the underwater platform.

Prior to the commencement of the refloating, Costa Crociere CEO Michael Thamm said: â€œIt is a complex operation never attempted before, but we know we can count on the best technicians in the world. I wish them all the best for the success of this great challenge.” 

The refloating operation began at 6 a.m. on Monday, July 14. During the first stage, the Concordia was refloated about 2 meters up off the platforms and moved 30 meters towards the east with the assistance of tugs. The ship will then be securely moored and technicians will be able to complete the attachment and tensioning of the last cables and chains, and to lower the starboard sponsons to their final position. The actual refloating will then begin, raising the ship one deck at a time, from deck 6 to deck 3. The whole operation is expected to take about 6 or 7 days to complete. The departure of the Concordia from Giglio is currently scheduled for July 21.

Franco Porcellachia, the engineer in charge of the salvage, confirmed at a news conference around seven hours after the operation began that the hulk had been raised two meters out of the water. "I would say we are halfway through our plan to move the ship," Porcellachia said.

Work will start again on Tuesday to prepare it for towing within days to Genoa in northern Italy, to be scrapped.

Porcellachia said the sixth deck of the ship had started to emerge on Monday, and once that was fully above the water the other decks would become visible in quick succession. "When deck 3 re-emerges, we are in the final stage and ready for departure," Porcellachia said.

"We are undertaking an operation that will close a dramatic chapter for our country," Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti commented at the news conference. Giglio residents made comments like: "I am happy they are taking it away because to see a ship like that always there, with the deaths that happened, it gives us the shivers."; and "It's a liberation. Finally. It's a liberation because it's about time that it goes away. We know very well what the Island has gone through over these last two and a half years - for better or worse - now it's got to go away, and we've got to re-start our lives. Because our lives have exclusively revolved around that ship and everyone who is working around her." 

Once the Concordia has left Giglio, the search will continue for the body of the last person who was aboard the Concordia the night it sank and has not been accounted for. The 33-year-old Indian waiter is the only victim of the 2012 shipwreck whose remains haven't been found. Russel Rebello was last seen near the stern of the Costa Concordia, helping passengers into rescue boats.

It has been more than two years since the Concordia capsized off the Italian coast, killing 32 people. The 290-meter ship ran aground on rocks near the Tuscan holiday island of Giglio in January 2012. 

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Costa Concordia's Unprecedented Refloat Successful

The wreck of the Costa Concordia was refloated on Monday and will soon be towed away and broken up for scrap.  The rusting hulk of the luxury liner had been resting on a temporary platform since being righted a year ago.

In what has become one of the largest salvage operations in history, air was pumped into 30 sponsons attached around the hull of the ship. The air forced out the water in the sponsons, lifting the vessel off the underwater platform.

Prior to the commencement of the refloating, Costa Crociere CEO Michael Thamm said: â€œIt is a complex operation never attempted before, but we know we can count on the best technicians in the world. I wish them all the best for the success of this great challenge.” 

The refloating operation began at 6 a.m. on Monday, July 14. During the first stage, the Concordia was refloated about 2 meters up off the platforms and moved 30 meters towards the east with the assistance of tugs. The ship will then be securely moored and technicians will be able to complete the attachment and tensioning of the last cables and chains, and to lower the starboard sponsons to their final position. The actual refloating will then begin, raising the ship one deck at a time, from deck 6 to deck 3. The whole operation is expected to take about 6 or 7 days to complete. The departure of the Concordia from Giglio is currently scheduled for July 21.

Franco Porcellachia, the engineer in charge of the salvage, confirmed at a news conference around seven hours after the operation began that the hulk had been raised two meters out of the water. "I would say we are halfway through our plan to move the ship," Porcellachia said.

Work will start again on Tuesday to prepare it for towing within days to Genoa in northern Italy, to be scrapped.

Porcellachia said the sixth deck of the ship had started to emerge on Monday, and once that was fully above the water the other decks would become visible in quick succession. "When deck 3 re-emerges, we are in the final stage and ready for departure," Porcellachia said.

"We are undertaking an operation that will close a dramatic chapter for our country," Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti commented at the news conference. Giglio residents made comments like: "I am happy they are taking it away because to see a ship like that always there, with the deaths that happened, it gives us the shivers."; and "It's a liberation. Finally. It's a liberation because it's about time that it goes away. We know very well what the Island has gone through over these last two and a half years - for better or worse - now it's got to go away, and we've got to re-start our lives. Because our lives have exclusively revolved around that ship and everyone who is working around her." 

Once the Concordia has left Giglio, the search will continue for the body of the last person who was aboard the Concordia the night it sank and has not been accounted for. The 33-year-old Indian waiter is the only victim of the 2012 shipwreck whose remains haven't been found. Russel Rebello was last seen near the stern of the Costa Concordia, helping passengers into rescue boats.

It has been more than two years since the Concordia capsized off the Italian coast, killing 32 people. The 290-meter ship ran aground on rocks near the Tuscan holiday island of Giglio in January 2012. 

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Shipwreck Hunters Discover U.S.A.F. Aircraft

The wreck of a U.S. Air Force C-45 aircraft abandoned during flight by its crew in 1952 has been located in deep water off Oswego, New York.  Crippled by the failure of one of its two engines the plane continued on a 65 mile pilotless flight until it crashed into Lake Ontario.  Shipwreck explorers Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens located the aircraft while surveying a section of Lake Ontario for historic ships.


On September 11, 1952, the C-45 was on a routine flight from Bedford, Massachusetts to Griffis Air Force Base near Rome, New York.  The left engine began failing about 40 miles southeast of Utica.  The aircraft started to lose altitude about 8 miles from Rome, NY.  Believing the plane would crash after one engine was disabled, the pilot, Lt. Col. Callahan, ordered his crew and passengers to parachute.  Jumping at an altitude of 2500 feet the three Air Force Officers and two civilians landed safely.   It was the first time any of them parachuted from an airplane. At 11 p.m. the aircraft was reported flying very low over Oswego.   Town residents saw a plane circling out over the lake just before it plunged into the water, reporting â€œa powerful light, like that of a searchlight, appeared for several seconds after the crash.” 


The search for the missing plane began immediately by three Coast Guard cutters. In addition, C-45 trainers, C-47 transports, and B-25 bombers combed the crash area for two days. When there was no wreckage to be found the search was called off. 


The current shipwreck team was quite surprised when the image of an aircraft appeared on their sonar display as it was well beyond the mile offshore as reported by a few eye witnesses. Detailed sonar images of the wreck of the C-45 were obtained by utilizing high resolution DeepVision side scan sonar.  These images provide an almost aerial photographic image of the wreck and allow the team to understand how the wreckage lies on the bottom of the lake. 

The sonar search was followed up by deployingg a VideoRay Pro IV remote operated vehicle to collect video of the wreck site.  The C-45 is almost totally intact.  The fiberglass nose cone is missing as are the vertical stabilizers. One of the blades of the left propeller broke off and lies nearby on the bottom.  Part of the windshield was broken and the left side of the body behind the wing has been torn away.  Otherwise it is all there.   This probably explains why no debris could be found floating on the surface of the lake during the searches conducted by the US Coast Guard and US Air Force.   

U.S. Air Force C-45 specifications

Wingspan:  47 ft.  8 in. 
Length:  34 ft. 3 in. 
Height:  9 ft. 8 in. 
Manufacturer:  Beach Aircraft Corporation 
Engines:  Pratt & Whitney R986 AN 1 Wasp Junior 9-cylinder radial air cooled – 450 HP 
Speed (maximum):  215 mph 
Ceiling Height (maximum):  20,000 ft. 
Loaded weight: 8727 lbs. 
Range:  700 miles 
Manned by two men and carried 6 to 8 passengers with no armament.
 

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Tiny monsters haunt the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A single-celled, coral-killing creature with 'devil horns' has been found on microplastics in the open Pacific Ocean, raising concerns that plastic pollution can help dangerous species invade new habitats.

Coral-killing protozoans were found on microplastics in the open ocean. (Photo: Hank Carson/Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife)

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a big problem largely because of all the tiny problems it contains. About 21,290 tons of microplastics are now sloshing around the eastern Pacific alone, according to a recent study, slowly crumbling under the region's harsh sunlight without ever truly breaking down.
 
Microplastics cause plenty of ecological damage around the world, but many also harbor their own weird ecosystems of opportunistic sea life. And as another new study indicates, some of those stowaways might be even more ecologically dangerous than the scraps of plastic they rode in on.
 
There's particular concern about Halofolliculina, a single-celled protozoan with wing-like tentacles that resemble devil horns. It plagues coral reefs by invading their limestone skeletons, causing a disease named skeletal eroding band (SEB) for a dark, coral-killing stripe that creeps across infected reefs. It also now surfs the open sea on crumbs of man-made trash, according to the new study, which investigates diverse "rafting communities" of tiny wildlife that cling to North Pacific microplastics.
 
"[We] found these little buggers living on plastic debris floating way offshore in the western Pacific, which wouldn't be terrifying in itself since a lot of strange critters live on plastic debris," lead author Miriam Goldstein writes in a post on Deep Sea News. "But Halofolliculina is a pathogen that causes skeletal eroding band disease in corals, and this piece of debris was headed toward Hawaii."
 
microplastics
Rather than fully breaking down at sea, plastics often crumble into smaller and smaller pieces. (Photo: NOAA Marine Debris Program)
 
First discovered in 1988 near Papua New Guinea, SEB once seemed limited to parts of the South Pacific and Indian oceans — until it was found in the Caribbean in 2004 and Hawaii in 2010. The new study may be too late to keep Halofolliculina out of Hawaii, but it could still shed light on how these diminutive devils got there. And with reefs around the world already immersed in man-made dangers, any insight that might thwart future invasions could mean life or death for entire marine ecosystems.
 
"The mechanism behind the spread of SEB are not known," the study's authors write, "but since the Hawaiian Islands are highly impacted by plastic debris collected by the North Pacific subtropical convergence zone, it is possible that debris facilitated the dispersal of Halofolliculina to this area."
 
It's unclear whether plastics were Halofolliculina's only ticket to Hawaii, Goldstein points out, but they apparently could have been. And based on the biodiversity found on such minuscule pieces of seafaring plastic, it is clear that garbage patches are becoming much more than just garbage.
 
"Along with Halofolliculina, there are all kinds of creatures living on plastic debris that wouldn't normally be able to survive floating in the middle of the ocean," Goldstein writes, citing regular rafters like gooseneck barnacles, bryozoans and rafting crabs along with less expected interlopers such as brittle stars, sea spiders and a shipworm. "Essentially, the trash acts like tiny little islands."
 
With so many of those islands now adrift in the Pacific — not to mention other oceans and even lakes — their full environmental impact won't be easy to assess. But given the known dangers of plastic pollution, plus the possibility of invasive hitchhikers, it's unlikely the planet's growing masses of marine plastic will turn out to be paper tigers. And while cleaning up these messes is all but impossible, the study's authors suggest the best way to weaken a garbage patch is to simply stop feeding it.
 
"[A]ny potential impacts of the debris-associated rafting community on coastal or pelagic ecosystems can be most effectively limited by an overall reduction in the quantity of plastic pollution introduced into the marine environment," they conclude. Or, as Goldstein adds in layman's terms, "plastic does not belong in the ocean, and we have really got to stop putting it there."


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/tiny-monsters-haunt-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch#ixzz37ljVXyS3
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Blacktip Shark

from: NOAA Fisheries Fact Sheet

Blacktip sharks are one of the most common shark species found inshore off the coast of Florida. Although the majority of shark bites in Florida are likely attributable to this species, there has never been a fatal attackcredited to this species in this region.

Scientific name:

Carcharhinus limbatus

Distribution:What is an Apex Predator?  Sharks are considered apex predators because they prey on many species lower onthe food chain, have few natural predators themselves, and are less abundant than their prey.Off the east coast of the United States blacktip sharks range from New England to Mexico but are most commonly found between North Carolina and Texas, especially in spring and summer.
Habitat:This shark inhabits shallow coastal waters and estuaries and offshore surface waters. Blacktip sharks use shallow inshore waters from South Carolina to Texas as nursery areas for their pups in spring and summer. They can be found in groups as young or adults feeding in shallow water.
Life history:This species is a relatively fast growing shark, reaching maturity at about 4-5 years of age and living longer than 10 years. Number of pups per litter is usually 4 to 6. Maximum size of blacktips off the U.S. eastern seaboard is about 6 feet in length
Management:In the Atlantic, blacktip sharks are part of the large coastal shark management group, which is overfished; commercial and recreational fishing regulations are in place for this species. In the Pacific, blacktip sharks are not landed in commercial and recreational fisheries and no management measures are in place for this species. Finning is prohibited.

Fast Facts About Sharks

Sharks are vulnerable to fishing pressure because they:

  •  
  • Grow slowlyBlacktip Shark
  • Take many years to mature (12 to 18 years in some species)
  • Often reproduce only every other year
  • Have few young per brood (only 2 pups in some species)
  • Have specific requirements for nursery areas (bays and estuaries)
  • Are caught in many types of fishing gear (hook and line, gillnet, trawl)

Sharks have adaptations allowing them to be apex predators including:

  •  
  • Teeth that are replaced throughout their life
  • Sensitive smell receptors
  • Eyes that adapt quickly to low light levels
  • Lateral line receptors that sense movement in the water
  • Electroreceptors that detect electrical fields due to the presence of prey

For Further Information Contact: (301) 713-2370

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Morbillivirus Infection in Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales

 

What is morbillivirus?

Morbilliviruses are in the family Paramyxoviridae. Specific morbilliviruses cause measles (in people), canine distemper (in dogs, coyotes, wolves, and seals), rinderpest (in cattle), and peste-des-petits-ruminants (goats and sheep). Five types of morbilliviruses have been detected in marine mammals in the United States: canine distemper virus (CDV) and phocine distemper virus (PDV) in seals and sea otters, and dolphin morbillivirus (DMV), pilot whale morbillivirus (PWMV), and Longman’s beaked whale morbillivirus (LBWMV), which are collectively referred to as cetacean morbillivirus (CMV), in porpoises, dolphins and whales.

How are dolphins, porpoises, and whales affected by morbillivirus infection?

The most common organs affected are the lungs and brain. Sick animals may appear thin, have respiratory difficulties due to pneumonia, and/or exhibit abnormal behavior. However, these signs are also present with other types of illness and are not specific to morbillivirus. When exposed to morbillivirus, some animals mount an antibody response, which usually protects against future infections and clinical disease. Other animals may not acquire this protection and can succumb to the disease or to secondary infections that arise as a result of immunosuppression from the infection. Dolphins, porpoises, and whales with clinical morbillivirus infection have exhibited the following symptoms:

ï‚· Skin lesions

ï‚· Pneumonia

ï‚· Brain infections

ï‚· Secondary or latent infections

How does morbillivirus spread among animals?

Morbilliviruses are usually spread through inhalation of respiratory particles or direct contact between animals, including between mothers and calves. It cannot be transmitted to humans. Animals can also be exposed to the virus through other entryways such as the eyes, mouth, stomach, skin wounds, and the urogenital tract.

Have morbillivirus mortality events occurred in marine mammals in the United States?

Yes. In the United States, there have been morbillivirus mortality events caused by phocine distemper virus in harbor seals in the northeast (2006) and dolphin or porpoise morbillivirus in bottlenose dolphins in the northeast (1987–1988) and Gulf of Mexico (1992 and 1994).

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/mmume/

What should I do if I see a marine mammal on the beach?

 

 

Since dolphins can have secondary infections that can be passed to people, do not approach or touch the animal. Keep your pets away from the animal as well. Remember these are wild animals, so for both your safety and theirs please keep a safe distance. Only trained marine mammal responders should handle the animal. If you think the animal may be in trouble, contact your local Marine Mammal Stranding Network. To find the contact information for your local network, visit: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/networks.htm

 

 

Has a strain of morbillivirus from a dolphin, porpoise, or whale ever infected a human?

 

 

There have been no documented cases of dolphin or porpoise morbillivirus infections in humans.

 

 

What is the risk of contracting morbillivirus from eating seafood?

 

 

Cetacean morbilliviruses are not known to cause disease in fish or shellfish, and there are no documented cases of CMV in fish or shellfish.

 

 

Are there any risks to pets?

 

 

Pets should be kept away from marine mammals. Dogs and cats can share infectious diseases with marine mammals and should not be allowed to approach live or dead ones, or to consume dead marine mammals or their parts. NOAA Fisheries recommends contacting your pet’s veterinarian to discuss the potential risk to pets in your local area. (For more information, visit the CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/)

 

 

Which marine mammal species in U.S. waters have shown exposure to morbillivirus?

 

 

 

Morbillivirus antibodies have been detected in the following species of marine mammals: Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus)

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina)

Fraser’s dolphins (Lagenodelphis hosei)

Harp seals (Phoca groenlandica)

Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis)

Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata)

False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens)

Ringed seals (Phoca hispida)

Killer whales (Orcinus orca)

Sea otters, northern (Enhydra lutris kenyoni )

Pilot whales (Globicephala malaena)

 

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N.C. Shark Diving

Only on the wrecks of North Carolina can you get shots this close to fearsome looking sand tiger sharks.

 

Long known for world-class wreck diving, North Carolina's "Graveyard of the Atlantic" is rapidly gaining recognition as North America's premier shark diving destination. Like sleek, gray ghosts, big sand tiger sharks prowl these wrecks year-round, offering divers a rare chance for up-close encounters without the need for feeding or baiting.

Man Meets Shark

While it's not unusual to spot an occasional sand bar, thresher or nurse shark mixed in with sand tiger schools (hammerhead, bull and dusky sharks even make occasional, fleeting appearances), sand tiger sharks are the most common and approachable species.

The first time you see the business end of an 11-foot sand tiger shark--that slightly deranged face and the mouth best described as an exploding riot of teeth--it's easy to forget that, when treated with respect, these wild ocean predators are generally docile. Think Barney Fife in Arnold Schwarzenegger's body and you get the idea. Of course, Barney always carried at least one bullet, so don't get cocky. Aggressive displays are rare but possible when a shark is provoked or harassed. Touching or grabbing a sand tiger could result in a close encounter of the unpleasant kind.

Tips for Getting Close

While sand tigers don't seem to mind the presence of divers, they can get skittish when approached directly or aggressively. You're more likely to get close by kneeling on the bottom than finning after them. Sand tigers have been known to swim between the legs of divers standing on the bottom and will frequently approach stationary divers within an arm's length.

Keep in mind that the largest concentration of sand tigers isn't always directly on the shipwreck. Schools are often found off to the side, out in the sand. If sharks aren't visible on the wreck, try swimming out to the edge of the visibility range (keeping the wreck in sight to ensure a safe return, of course) and you're likely to find dozens of sharks lined up in rows.

Thanks to their ferocious looks and large size, sand tigers make excellent subjects for underwater photography and videography. The best results are usually obtained by using a 20mm or 28mm wide-angle lens. This allows the photographer to fill the frame without having to approach too closely. Should a sand tiger approach within a few feet, wide-angle lenses allow photographers to get impressive close-ups of the shark's head.

Top Shark Sites

While you can find sand tiger schools on or near most Carolina wrecks, four sites off Cape Lookout produce the most consistent encounters.

Atlas
Depth: 125 feet. Skill Level: Intermediate.
A new hotspot for shark encounters, this partially intact shipwreck sits upright in about 125 feet of water, though portions of the large wreck reach within 90 feet of the surface. The 430-foot tanker, torpedoed in 1942 by a German submarine, is typical of the sites favored by sand tiger schools, mature wrecks with numerous openings and abundant fish life. Since Atlas rests close to Cape Lookout Shoals, visibility at this site is typically restricted to around 60 feet, but watching sharks materialize from the haze adds extra excitement to the encounters.

Caribsea
Depth: 90 feet. Skill Level: Novice.
One of the areas most popular sites for shark encounters, Caribsea has been home to a large congregation of sand tigers for several years. With a maximum depth of just 90 feet, and much of the wreck 10 to 20 feet shallower, this site provides divers with longer bottom times than many of the other popular shark sites. Torpedoed in 1942 by the U-158, the prominent feature of the 250-foot freighter is the bow section. Though the bow is still largely intact, it is starting to collapse and divers should avoid penetration. Vis is variable and can sometimes be less than 40 feet.

Aeolus
Depth: 110 feet. Skill Level: Intermediate.
Part of North Carolinas artificial reef program, the Aeolus has only recently been providing a home for a few sand tigers. This 409-foot-long transatlantic cable layer originally rested intact on its starboard side. The hurricanes of 1996 ravaged the site, breaking the monstrous ship into three distinct sections and turning part of the wreckage upright. Today, the site has the appearance of a natural shipwreck and provides plenty of opportunities for penetration. Because of its large size, divers are advised to limit their explorations to the section of the wreck their boat is tied to. While sand tigers aren't seen in the numbers or frequency they are on some other sites, this is a popular location for a second dive and does provide an occasional shark encounter.

Papoose
Depth: 120 feet. Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced.
For several years, the wreck of the Papoose was the areas best known and most popular site for shark diving. Since the end of the 1999 hurricane season, however, sand tiger shark encounters at this site have been infrequent. Sunk by the U-124 during World War II, this large oil tanker provides a world-class wreck dive, with or without the presence of sharks. Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, visibility of 100 feet or more is not unusual at this site during the summer months.

Where Else?

Shark diving isn't restricted to the sites visited by Cape Lookout dive operators. To the north, charters running out of Hatteras and Ocracoke can provide divers with sand tiger encounters, as can southern operators in Wilmington and Southport.

Rules of Engagement

With its unique snaggle-toothed grin, graceful movement and classic streamlined body, the sand tiger shark is a joy to view and photograph. Because of their docile temperament and the lack of any feeding stimuli, these encounters are virtually risk-free if you follow some commonsense rules.

Don't touch. Resist the urge to touch or chase the sharks. Sand tigers are curious about-but also slightly wary of-divers. They will approach you if you remain stationary and non-threatening.

Always leave an exit. Leave an open exit path when encountering sharks inside a shipwreck. Cornering a shark may provoke an aggressive reaction.

Leave the speargun topside. Like all sharks, sand tigers are excited by the blood and thrashing of freshly speared fish and have been known to confiscate the catches of spearfishermen.

Shark Biology 101: The Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharius Taurus)

Size > Sand tigers normally obtain a maximum length of about 11 feet in the Atlantic. On occasion, larger specimens are spotted.

dentification > Sand tigers are grey-brown on their upper bodies and light grey or white on their undersides. This counter- shading makes them difficult to see from above or below. They have two dorsal fins of approximately the same length and a pointed nose. The upper portion of their tail fin is substantially longer than the lower lobe.

Behavior > They frequently swim with their mouths slightly open, giving a clear view of multiple rows of fang-like teeth. These teeth are shed and replaced about every two weeks, providing a popular souvenir for divers.

Unlike many other species of shark, they are frequently seen hovering motionless along the bottom. Lacking a swim bladder, sand tigers have large, oily livers. The oil is much lighter than seawater and helps provide buoyancy. Sand tigers are also known to swim to the surface, taking large gulps of air to aid with buoyancy.

Diet > Sand tigers feed on small, slow bony fishes, bottom dwellers and crabs. Unlike the "super sharks," such as the great white, their small teeth are not suitable for tearing flesh from larger prey.

Reproduction > The waters off the coast of North Carolina are thought to be this sharks breeding grounds. Fresh breeding wounds seen on females lend credence to this theory. Typically each mother will produce two pups.

The Dive Briefing

The Boat Ride > Most popular North Carolina shark and wreck dives are located 20 to 45 miles offshore and visited on two-tank day trips. Boats vary from small six packs to 30-passenger vessels, though most do not provide drinks or snacks, so bring your own. Conditions may turn rough unexpectedly, so motion sickness medication is always a good idea just in case.

Certification. > For full-day charters, North Carolina operators typically require an open- water certification with at least one ocean dive to a depth of 80 feet in the last six months. Advanced certification is highly recommended.

The Rules > North Carolina operators don't dictate profiles or behavior to their customers. It's up to you to dive within the limits of your equipment, experience and training. Pay close attention to pre-dive briefings. Operators know these wrecks well and will provide a wealth of information on everything from the wrecks history to dive techniques and where to find the most sharks.

Water Conditions > Influenced by both the warm Gulf Stream and cold Labrador Current, diving off the coast of North Carolina can be the easiest diving ever or it can be a challenging experience, depending on season, location and the unpredictable whims of the Atlantic. Conditions are at their best during the May to October dive season, though sand tigers can be found year-round.

Visibility > Count on an average of 50 to 70 feet on most offshore sites, but on calm days it can peak at 100 feet or more.

Temperature > Gear up for mid-70s to low 80s during the summer. A full 3mm suit is recommended over shorties for added protection from cuts and scrapes. In the winter, plan on heavy neoprene, hood and gloves or a dry suit for temps in the low 60s.

Currents > Currents vary according to conditions, seasons and sites. Dive operators will brief you on-site. Use caution when swimming near wreck openings, which can amplify current flow.

Equipment > This is the open ocean. A safety sausage, mirror and loud noisemaker are smart precautions.
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About Jellyfish

 
 

What causes jellyfish blooms?

Scientists do not know the ultimate causes. The increase in the temperature of the water due to climatic change, the reduction in the number of predators due to over-fishing and the increase in nutrients due to contamination of the coasts may be some of the reasons.

What are jellyfish?

Jellyfish are invertebrates, which, together with corals, gorgonians and anemones belong to a group called the cnidarians (knidé = nettle, from the Greek). This animal group has stinging cells which they use both to capture their prey and also as a form of defence. These cells contain a capsule in the interior of which there is a rolled up filament and a poison. A prey animal makes contact with the surface of the jellyfish, the capsule opens and the filaments are ejected and stick into the prey, injecting their poison.

 

© OCEANA / Houssine Kaddachi
Why are they transparent?

Because their body is 95% water, which means they are perfectly camouflaged. The body of a jellyfish is divided into three main parts, the umbrella, the oral arms (around the mouth) and the stinging tentacles. They are animals with radial symmetry. They have an internal cavity, in which the digestion is carried out, denominated the gastro-vascular cavity and which has a single aperture which carries out the functions of both the mouth and the anus.

They show two different types of morphology: the polyp form, which lives fixed to the substrate, with a tubular body and with tentacles and its mouth directed upwards, and the jellyfish form, free-living and with the tentacles and the mouth downwards.

How do they reproduce?

The jellyfish have separate sexes, that is to say, there are male and female jellyfish. In order to reproduce, males and females release sperm and eggs into the water (sexual reproduction). After fertilisation, they develop larvae which give rise to new jellyfish or which settle on the sea bottom as polyps. From these polyps, by means of asexual reproduction, new free-living jellyfish may develop.

What kinds of jellyfish are there?

Within the classification of the Animal Kingdom, and within the sub-Kingdom of Metazoans (organisms with tissues, organs and systems of organs with radial symmetry such as the jellyfish, anemones, hydra and corals) there is the Phylum of the Cnidarians, which is the group to which the jellyfish belong.

Within the Phylum of Cnidarians, it is possible to differentiate four large groups, each with its own characteristics. They are:

• The class of Hydrozoa.

They show the phases of polyp and jellyfish alternately. They are generally small in size and they can be colonial or solitary. The siphonophores are included in this class. They are floating colonies of polyp individuals and jellyfish with great and abundant poisonous cells for self-defence which, in certain cases, can be lethal for people. The siphonophores form complex colonies of individuals specialising in different functions; some serve as the flotation organ, others for nutrition, defence or for feeling. Among the best-known species of siphonophores, are the by-the-wind sailor (Velella spirans) or the Portuguese man of war (Physalia physalis), which can produce painful burns for bathers, and even heart failure.

• The class of Esciphozoa.

This is the group of those known as true jellyfish. They are the great marine jellyfish, normally with a very short or even non-existent polyp phase. The following belong to this class: the moon jelly (Aurelia aurita) which is very common in the Mediterranean, the Rhizostoma pulmo which inhabits the Mediterranean and the Atlantic or the fried egg jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata). Some species are luminescent, such as the purple jellyfish or mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca), which can be really striking on a night-time dive. Its eight stinging tentacles can reach a diameter of ten metres when spread out.

• The class of Cubozoa.

A class with few representatives that some authors group together with the esciphozoa. They inhabit the waters of tropical and sub-tropical seas. These are the so-called box jellyfish or sea wasps. They have their umbrella in the form of a cube, with four sides. They have a powerful sting and they may cause death to a person in just a few minutes if he is not treated with an antidote.

• The class of Anthozoa.

All the representatives of this class are polyps, which never adopt the jellyfish stage. It includes corals, madreporas, actinias and sea anemones. They are generally species of a beautiful colour. Some individuals live in isolation, such as the beadlet anemone (Actinia equina), some anemones and the colour tube anemone, (Cerianthus membranaceus), and others form colonies such as the corals or the red gorgonians (Paramuricea sp.)

How do they arise and where do they live?

Jellyfish are inhabitants of the tropical seas and of the cold waters of the Arctic. They have been there for over 650 million years.

Jellyfish are pelagic animals, that is to say that they live in the open seas, and although they can propel themselves with rhythmic motions of their umbrella, they move basically at the mercy of the currents of the sea.

Why do we have these periodic invasions?

The superabundance of jellyfish does not happen by chance but rather it is a symptom of the fact that the characteristics of the water have changed due to variations in the oceanographic parameters (temperature, salinity).

The causes of the existence of great masses of jellyfish are not local, as has been verified by researchers from the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB), but rather it is a result of effects of the currents. The seasonal conditions have not been identified as determining the appearance of these species in coastal waters as, in campaigns carried out in winter, the presence of jellyfish has also been identified both in oceanic and in coastal waters.

Jellyfish normally live at a distance of between 20 and 40 miles from the coast, where the water is more salty and hotter than by the coast. Coastal waters, which are colder and less saline, act as a barrier to jellyfish. However, when the water supplied by rivers (from rainwater) to the coast is at its most limited, because of the drought less water is contributed to the sea, the salinity of the coastal waters becomes equal to that of the waters further from the coast.

The most decisive factor is the effect of marine currents.

Another aspect to bear in mind is the influence of over-fishing as certain types of fishing incidentally catch the predators of jellyfish: like the loggerhead sea turtle.

Is it true that the jellyfish have proliferated because there are fewer turtles, which feed on them?

Among the predators of the jellyfish, the following have been identified: ocean sunfish, grey triggerfish, turtles (especially the leatherback sea turtle), some seabirds (such as the fulmars), the whale shark, some crabs (such as the arrow and hermit crabs), some whales (such as the humpbacks).

Some other cnidarians also feed on jellyfish such as anemones, certain nudibranches (small molluscs without shells) which may even take over their stinging cells to use in their own defence.

What do jellyfish feed on?

Jellyfish are carnivores and can increase in size rapidly and create a large number of individuals when food is abundant. However, if food is scarce, they can become smaller. These animals, of a gelatinous consistency, have a very unsophisticated anatomy which is nevertheless very effective. They feed mainly on zooplankton, small crustaceans, although some small fish and other jellyfish also form part of their diet. It is a strange sight to see the jellyfish’ latest prey inside its body before it is digested.

 

How does the defence system of the jellyfish work?

The tentacles, with their stinging cells, serve as defence and as a powerful weapon for capturing prey. When they come into contact with their victims, the nematocysts (cells loaded with poison) present in the tentacles, release their harpoons or filaments which they have inside them and, through these, a toxic substance is released which paralyses the prey. The oral arms help in the capture and ingestion of the captured animal.

What preventive measures should be taken against jellyfish?

It may be dangerous for human beings to swim too close to a jellyfish but a number of organisms have found a good refuge in them. The fry of some fish such as the bogue or the amberjack, hide within the protection of their tentacles.

A number of recommendations have been made about preventive actions on affected beaches, which are above all for health professionals, fishermen and bathers and are supplied by the researchers of the Mediterranean Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CMIMA-CSIC), scubaep-María Gili and Francesc Pages.

• If there are a large number of jellyfish in coastal waters, the beach should be closed for at least 24 hours, taking precautions even if the jellyfish are abundant at some distance from the coastline.

• If the jellyfish are close to the beach, the best thing is to stay out of the water and keep one’s distance from the breaking waves.

• If a jellyfish is seen in the water, it is better not to take any risks even if it is some distance off as, with the action of the waves, its tentacles can break and the cells in the floating fragments will remain active. What is more, it is necessary to advise bathers who are not familiar with these organisms that they should not touch them even if they appear to be dead.

• Jellyfish should not be touched in the sand, even though they appear to be dead, the stinging cells remain active for a period of time; even walking along the water’s edge can be dangerous as there may be remains of tentacles in the sand. It is necessary for a period of a day’s sun to de-activate the stinging cells located in the fragments.

• The area affected must not be rubbed with sand or with a towel. Fresh water should never be applied to clean the affected area as the change in salinity could cause the stinging cells adhering to the skin to burst and liberate the poison. It is better to apply cold to the area that has been stung with ice for about fifteen minutes but always in a plastic bag and not in direct contact with the skin, unless the ice is made from seawater.

• If the pain continues, continue to apply a bag of ice for fifteen minutes. The tentacles that are stuck to the skin can be removed with the help of some pincers but never with the fingers.

• If the victim’s condition gets steadily worse after applying ice and in the case of any complication, such as respiratory difficulty or changes to the rhythm of the heart, it is necessary to go to the nearest health centre for the proper treatment. It should be borne in mind that people who have been stung once are sensitised and a second sting can produce a more severe reaction.

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What It's Like: To Recover Plane Crash Victims

Three days after Lao Airlines Flight QV301 crashed into the Mekong River in Laos, killing all 49 people aboard, I found myself sandwiched between high-ranking government officials, recording the salvage from a makeshift barge in the middle of the river. My partner, Gabriele Stoia, and I had hitched a ride on a communist military police boat that brought us to the scene of the accident.

Gabry and I are not salvage experts; rather, we are ethnographers. We had come to record the endeavors of the 11 divers who risked their lives for an event that had been forgotten as quickly as it had occurred. 

The crew worked arduously for 14 consecutive days to salvage the wreckage and recover the victims. There was a 5-knot current running, viz was zero, and the divers had to dodge huge amounts of floating debris. Every day we witnessed unimaginable and often ­dangerous conditions for the divers. 

A local Laotian diver, Bounmixay Khanthayonngthong, led a salvage crew of 10 to recover the wreckage and retrieve the victims.

“We’ve never before dived in these circumstances,” Khanthayonngthong said. “We’re mechanics and welders at the hydroelectrical dam. We have zero salvage experience, and we are without proper equipment. Every day we risk our lives.”

The team searched a radius of more than 600 feet, using sonar and acoustical locating equipment in 25 to 40 feet of water, feeling with their hands and feet to find victims and parts of the wreckage.

The salvage operation was painfully slow. “We used rocks for anchors and buckets for buoys, and we measured parts of the wreckage with ropes,” Khanthayonngthong said. “We had to share our equipment and take turns ­diving in pairs.”

The divers successfully recovered a 32-foot section of the fuselage, a starboard wing, two engines, a horizontal stabilizer, the tail assembly and two flight recorders. The crew also r­ecovered 47 of the victims. 

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Fun Facts – Fish Facts

Here is a list of fun facts about fish:

• Fish have been on the earth for more than 450 million years, whereas mammals have only been

on earth for roughly 200 millions years.

• There are over 27,000 identified species of fish on the earth and an estimated 15,000 fish species

that have not yet been identified.

• There are more species of fish than all the species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals

combined.

• Sailfish, Swordfish, and Marlin are the fastest fish in the ocean, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph,

which is faster than the speed limits on most highways!

• Many Rockfish can live hundreds of years. Rougheye Rockfish are the longest known living fish

on earth and can live over 200 years! That means that a Rockfish on your dinner plate tonight

could have been alive when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out on their famous

expedition in 1804 to explore unknown territories in the United States.

• Out of more than 360 species of Sharks, only a handful of species pose a potential threat to

humans. Did you know? Elephants (~500) and deer (~100) kill more people every year than

Sharks (~10)!

• A female Sunfish may lay 300,000,000 eggs at a single spawning season.

• A male Bangaii Cardinalfish will hold both eggs and babies in his mouth until the young are

ready to swim on their own. This process is known as "mouth brooding." Although it takes

several weeks, the male fish will not eat until the eggs hatch.

• Catfish have over 27,000 taste buds, whereas humans have only 9,000.

• African Lungfish are capable of living out of water for up to two years. They hibernate

underground and wait for the water level to rise.

• Goldfish can live for decades. The oldest known Goldfish, "Goldie," died in 2005 at 45 years of

age. The second oldest Goldfish was "Tish" who died at 43.

• The largest fish in the world is the Whale Shark. The largest recorded Whale Shark was 12.6 m

(41.5 ft) long, had a girth of 7 m (23 ft), and weighed more than 21,500 kg (47,300 lbs).

• Whale Sharks also lay the largest eggs of any animal. A Whale Shark egg measuring 35.6 cm (14

in) long was found in the Gulf of Mexico in the 1950s.

• The largest predatory Shark is the great White Shark. The largest one ever caught was 11.3 m (37

ft) long and weighted over 10,909 kg (24,000 lbs).

• It takes approximately seven years for the average American Lobster to reach one pound.

• The largest Octopus in the world is the Pacific Giant Octopus. Although it is only about the size

of a pea when it is born, by the time it is two years old it can be 9.1 m (30 ft) across and weigh

68.2 kg (150 lbs).

• The Giant Squid is the largest creature without a backbone. It grows up to 16.8 m (55 ft) across

and weighs up to 2,722 kg (5,000 lbs). The Giant Squid also has the largest eyes of any animal

on earth, as they are sixteen times wider than human eyes, or more than 30.5 cm (1 ft) in

diameter.

 

 

 

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Vampire Squid Facts - Vampyroteuthis infernalis

Vampire Squid Facts - Vampyroteuthis infernalis

Vampire Squid Facts - Vampyroteuthis infernalis

Author of the illustration: Carl Chun

Description

The name of this particular squid is very different, as is the overall appearance of it. The black color is distinct enough in itself. The fact that the long arms flow like a black cape remind many people of a vampire wearing one. The arms have suckers that are hard to see unless you look up close at one.

This is a small squid, approximately one foot in length. The eyes are very often seen as red. They can also appear to be blue though depending on how much light is available when you see one.

Distribution

The tend to be living in the tropical waters that are warmer for them to move around in. They also live in the depths of the water where their dark color helps to serve as camouflage for them to avoid predators. Generally they will live in water that is no more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Vampire squid facts

Vampire squid – Vampyroteuthis infernalis / Author of the illustration: Carl Chun

Behavior

One of the most unique behaviors of the Vampire Squid is that they seem to be flying through the water. Such movements are the result of how they flap their fins to move around. They have the ability to slow down their metabolism to a very low rate. This is how they are able to live in the very cold waters.

It doesn’t have ink to shoot out when it feels it is being threatened. Instead this type of squid offers a type of mucus that shoots out. The mucus is sticky and it can continue to come out for up to ten minutes. It allows the squid to hide from predators as they aren’t very fast swimmers.

Diet /Feeding

The jaws of the Vampire Squid are extremely powerful. However, researchers aren’t fully sure of what all this type of squid consumes. Some theories include a variety of small invertebrates. They don’t need to eat very much though due to their low metabolism. It is believed that it only has to feed a few times per week. This is key to their survival too since it can be difficult at times to find enough food.

Reproduction

It is believed that the Vampire Squid reproduce by the males depositing sperm into the sac of the female. She will deposit fewer eggs than other species and they are also larger in size. The females may store the sperm though for several weeks before they allow it to fertilize the eggs. She will stay in the general area of these deposited eggs until they are ready to hatch. This can take about 13 months.

The females will die soon after their offspring are born. They don’t need to feed for the first few weeks of life. Instead they have an internal type of yolk that they are able to get nutritional value from.

Vampire squid information

Vampire squid Oral View / Author of the illustration: Ewald Rübsamen

Conservation

Many people are interested in protecting the Vampire Squid due to the unique design of it. They also know too many people have a false conception of it due to the look of it. Those that know better try to educate others so that the false information is less likely to continue spreading.

Human interaction

The Vampire Squid was first identified in 1903. However, it was misclassified as an octopus at that time. Contrary to popular myths this type of squid doesn’t pose any threat at all to humans. Those stories likely developed based on the appearance of this species.

Due to the fact that they live more than 3,000 feet below the surface of cold water areas, not much is known about human interactions with them. Most of the time it is either calculated research or a fishermen accidentally captures one.

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Primeval underwater forest discovered in Gulf of Mexico

Primeval underwater forest discovered in Gulf of Mexico
Scuba divers have discovered a primeval underwater forest off the coast of Alabama.
The bald cypress forest was buried under ocean sediments, protected in an oxygen-free environment for more than 50,000 years, but was likely uncovered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Ben Raines, one of the first divers to explore the underwater forest and the executive director of the nonprofit Weeks Bay Foundation, which researches estuaries.
The forest contains trees so well-preserved that when they are cut, they still smell like fresh cypress sap, Raines said.
The stumps of the cypress trees span an area of at least 0.5 square miles (0.8 kilometers), several miles from the coast of Mobile, Ala., and sit about 60 feet (18 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite its discovery only recently, the underwater landscape has just a few years to be explored, before wood-burrowing marine animals destroy the ancient forest. [8 of the World's Most Endangered Places]
Closely guarded secret
Raines was talking with a friend who owned a dive shop about a year after Hurricane Katrina. The dive shop owner confided that a local fisherman had found a site teeming with fish and wildlife and suspected that something big was hidden below. The diver went down to explore and found a forest of trees, then told Raines about his stunning find.
But because scuba divers often take artifacts from shipwrecks and other sites, the dive shop owner refused to disclose the location for many years, Raines said.
In 2012, the owner finally revealed the site's location after swearing Raines to secrecy. Raines then did his own dive and discovered a primeval cypress swamp in pristine condition. The forest had become an artificial reef, attracting fish, crustaceans, sea anemones and other underwater life burrowing between the roots of dislodged stumps. [Images: Mysterious Underwater Stone Structure]
Some of the trees were truly massive, and many logs had fallen over before being covered by ocean sediment. Raines swam the length of the logs.
"Swimming around amidst these stumps and logs, you just feel like you're in this fairy world," Raines told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/primeval-underwater-forest-discovered-in-gulf-of-mexico#ixzz350VVlksO
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Alabama's ancient, underwater forest could become a U.S. marine sanctuary

An ancient, underwater forest off the coast of Alabama — hidden until recently by Mother Nature — is on track to become the second U.S. marine sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted unanimously this month to support the forest's designation as a federal marine sanctuary, and to send a letter expressing that support to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sanctuary status would still allow fishing and diving, but it would forbid disturbing the forest itself.
Ben Raines, executive director of the Weeks Bay Foundation, has been a leading advocate for saving the forest since he first saw it in 2012. After successfully pushing the council to support his efforts, he says he's optimistic NOAA will agree the forest warrants protection.
"This is a great step toward protecting the forest," Raines tells the Mobile Press-Register. "With the approval of the Gulf Council, we can move ahead toward a final designation from NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries program. ... The underwater forest really fits in with what the program tries to protect. We've had preliminary conversations with NOAA about the forest, and I believe the forest will meet the criteria for the sanctuary designation."
The forest has been there for at least 50,000 years, hailing from an era with much lower sea levels. It was buried in seabed mud until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina dredged up its sprawling time capsule of cypress trees. This exposed new habitat for marine life, which eventually led fishermen and divers to the forest. The location remained secret for years, fueled by fears people might damage the trees or harvest their wood. Ocean sediments have preserved the cypress so well it reportedly still smells like fresh sap when cut.
"There is nothing else like it in the Gulf, and diving there really feels like you are exploring a lost world. To know these trees, covered in anemones and crabs, were growing on dry land tens of thousands of years ago, it sort of gives you chills," Raines tells the Press-Register, noting the area now teems with sharks, rays, red snapper and Kemp's ridley sea turtles. "We don't have large coral reefs around here like you see in the Florida Keys or the Caribbean, but those places don't have ancient trees popping up out of the bottom."
Now that they're no longer sealed in sand, the trees will eventually be destroyed by waves and wildlife (unless another storm reburies them first). But Raines says the habitat is worth protecting until it naturally decays, and he disputes the idea it's rotting quickly.
"The stumps have been exposed about 10 years now and are still quite stout," he says. "I imagine we're talking about another decade easily before the wood that is presently exposed begins to really deteriorate. More importantly, more wood will continue to be exposed out there. I have sawed the wood underwater and on land, and attempted to drill cores out of it. Trust me, it's still every bit as hard as a fresh-cut piece of cypress."
NOAA manages 14 national marine sanctuaries that span more than 170,000 square miles. The Flower Garden Banks, a network of coral reefs off Texas and Louisiana, is currently the only one located in the Gulf of Mexico. The next closest, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is several hundred miles to the southeast in the Straits of Florida.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/alabamas-ancient-underwater-forest-could-become-a-us-marine#ixzz350UkygFr
Now that they're no longer sealed in sand, the trees will eventually be destroyed by waves and wildlife (unless another storm reburies them first). But Raines says the habitat is worth protecting until it naturally decays, and he disputes the idea it's rotting quickly.
"The stumps have been exposed about 10 years now and are still quite stout," he says. "I imagine we're talking about another decade easily before the wood that is presently exposed begins to really deteriorate. More importantly, more wood will continue to be exposed out there. I have sawed the wood underwater and on land, and attempted to drill cores out of it. Trust me, it's still every bit as hard as a fresh-cut piece of cypress."
NOAA manages 14 national marine sanctuaries that span more than 170,000 square miles. The Flower Garden Banks, a network of coral reefs off Texas and Louisiana, is currently the only one located in the Gulf of Mexico. The next closest, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is several hundred miles to the southeast in the Straits of Florida.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/alabamas-ancient-underwater-forest-could-become-a-us-marine#ixzz350UkygFr
Now that they're no longer sealed in sand, the trees will eventually be destroyed by waves and wildlife (unless another storm reburies them first). But Raines says the habitat is worth protecting until it naturally decays, and he disputes the idea it's rotting quickly.
"The stumps have been exposed about 10 years now and are still quite stout," he says. "I imagine we're talking about another decade easily before the wood that is presently exposed begins to really deteriorate. More importantly, more wood will continue to be exposed out there. I have sawed the wood underwater and on land, and attempted to drill cores out of it. Trust me, it's still every bit as hard as a fresh-cut piece of cypress."
NOAA manages 14 national marine sanctuaries that span more than 170,000 square miles. The Flower Garden Banks, a network of coral reefs off Texas and Louisiana, is currently the only one located in the Gulf of Mexico. The next closest, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is several hundred miles to the southeast in the Straits of Florida.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/alabamas-ancient-underwater-forest-could-become-a-us-marine#ixzz350UkygFr
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Bite into these weird facts about sharks

Bite into these weird facts about sharks
 

Photo: petersbar/Flickr

The Discovery Channel's Shark Week got off to a less-than-stellar start this weekend with a two-hour piece devoted to Megalodon, a prehistoric giant shark that grew up to 60 feet (18 meters) long and had jaws powerful enough to crush an automobile. The only problem is that the show suggested these animals still exist, which is definitely not the case. Up to 70 percent of the audience may now think that Megalodon is not extinct, according to a poll from the Discovery Channel.
 
That's too bad, because there are tons of bizarre and completely true facts about sharks that are more arresting than fiction. And although humans have always been fascinated by sharks, we know surprisingly little about them.
 
One thing we do know is how important sharks are to ocean ecosystems, where they keep populations of midlevel predators in check; when they disappear, changes can ripple through the food web and even affect the presence of marine plants, studies have shown. But as many as 100 million sharks are killed each year for their meat and their fins, which are made into shark fin soup. This dish is considered a delicacy and is prized in China, despite evidence that it can contain high levels of toxins like mercury. [On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks]
 
Conservationists hope that if people knew more about how awesome sharks are, perhaps they'd be less likely to condone the killing of these creatures, which have been around for about 420 million years and have changed little since then. 
 
On that note, here are some awesomely weird — and completely true — facts about sharks to sink your teeth into:
 
1. Even if sharks could brush their teeth, they wouldn't need to: Shark teeth are covered in fluoride, making them cavity-resistant. One 2012 study published in the Journal of Structural Biology found that sharks' enamel is made up of a chemical called fluoroapatite, which is resistant to acid produced by bacteria. This, combined with the fact that most sharks replace their teeth throughout their lives, means that sharks have excellent dental health. A gold star for you at your next dentist appointment, sharks!
 
2. The cookiecutter shark can take ice-cream-scoop-shaped bites out of other sharks, including great whites, which are many times larger. They also have been known to bite holes in cables and other materials used by U.S. Navy submarines, which has necessitated a switch to a fiberglass, bite-proof coating. [More Weird Shark Facts]
 
3. The skin of a female shark is much thicker than that of a male because males bite females during mating, said David Shiffman, a shark researcher and doctoral student at the University of Miami.
 
4. The Greenland shark, the slowest-moving fish ever recorded, has been found with reindeer, polar bears and fast-moving seals in its stomach, Shiffman told LiveScience. It's thought that Greenland sharks prey upon sleeping seals, which snooze in the water to avoid polar bears.
 
5.  Lantern sharks can glow to disguise themselves in the deep ocean, emitting the same amount of light as that which is filtering down from above; this way, they don't create a "shadow." Velvet belly lantern sharks have glowing spines that may be used to ward off predators.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/bite-into-these-weird-facts-about-sharks#ixzz34RUxToXe
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Bite into these weird facts about sharks

Bite into these weird facts about sharks
 

Photo: petersbar/Flickr

The Discovery Channel's Shark Week got off to a less-than-stellar start this weekend with a two-hour piece devoted to Megalodon, a prehistoric giant shark that grew up to 60 feet (18 meters) long and had jaws powerful enough to crush an automobile. The only problem is that the show suggested these animals still exist, which is definitely not the case. Up to 70 percent of the audience may now think that Megalodon is not extinct, according to a poll from the Discovery Channel.
 
That's too bad, because there are tons of bizarre and completely true facts about sharks that are more arresting than fiction. And although humans have always been fascinated by sharks, we know surprisingly little about them.
 
One thing we do know is how important sharks are to ocean ecosystems, where they keep populations of midlevel predators in check; when they disappear, changes can ripple through the food web and even affect the presence of marine plants, studies have shown. But as many as 100 million sharks are killed each year for their meat and their fins, which are made into shark fin soup. This dish is considered a delicacy and is prized in China, despite evidence that it can contain high levels of toxins like mercury. [On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks]
 
Conservationists hope that if people knew more about how awesome sharks are, perhaps they'd be less likely to condone the killing of these creatures, which have been around for about 420 million years and have changed little since then. 
 
On that note, here are some awesomely weird — and completely true — facts about sharks to sink your teeth into:
 
1. Even if sharks could brush their teeth, they wouldn't need to: Shark teeth are covered in fluoride, making them cavity-resistant. One 2012 study published in the Journal of Structural Biology found that sharks' enamel is made up of a chemical called fluoroapatite, which is resistant to acid produced by bacteria. This, combined with the fact that most sharks replace their teeth throughout their lives, means that sharks have excellent dental health. A gold star for you at your next dentist appointment, sharks!
 
2. The cookiecutter shark can take ice-cream-scoop-shaped bites out of other sharks, including great whites, which are many times larger. They also have been known to bite holes in cables and other materials used by U.S. Navy submarines, which has necessitated a switch to a fiberglass, bite-proof coating. [More Weird Shark Facts]
 
3. The skin of a female shark is much thicker than that of a male because males bite females during mating, said David Shiffman, a shark researcher and doctoral student at the University of Miami.
 
4. The Greenland shark, the slowest-moving fish ever recorded, has been found with reindeer, polar bears and fast-moving seals in its stomach, Shiffman told LiveScience. It's thought that Greenland sharks prey upon sleeping seals, which snooze in the water to avoid polar bears.
 
5.  Lantern sharks can glow to disguise themselves in the deep ocean, emitting the same amount of light as that which is filtering down from above; this way, they don't create a "shadow." Velvet belly lantern sharks have glowing spines that may be used to ward off predators.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/bite-into-these-weird-facts-about-sharks#ixzz34RUxToXe
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11 animals more likely to kill you than sharks

Sharks are kinda scary. In the water they're faster than us, can appear from what seems like out of nowhere in an instant, and pack a pretty solid bite. It's easy to get nervous when you're in the dark ocean and unsure of who is swimming by with a toothy grin. But sharks aren't the animals you should be most afraid of. Here are some that are much more likely to cause your demise.
 
Mosquitoes
mosquito
655,000 people killed each year, primarily in Africa, through the little buggers spreading malaria left and right.
 
Hippos
Hippo with mouth open
2,900 people are killed by these moody mammals annually in Africa. That roly-poly exterior is just to lure you in.
 
Deer
deer at night
130 people killed across the U.S. by deer, almost exclusively because drivers hit the deers with their cars. That saying "a deer in the headlights" came about for a reason.
 
Bees
close-up of bee
53 people die each year in the U.S. because of an allergic reaction from being stung.
 
Dogs
snarling dog
30-35 people are killed each year in the U.S. Fido isn't always your best friend.
 
Ants
ant close-up
20-50 people are killed each year in Africa from ants. They may be small but dozens, hundreds, even thousands of stinging ants can really add up.
 
Jellyfish
jellyfish
20-40 people per year die in the Philippines alone from the anaphylaxis caused by the stings.
 
Cows
placid cow
22 people are killed in the U.S. every year from these seemingly docile creatures. They're fun to pet, but getting kicked in the head by one ... not as fun.
 
Horses
bucking horse
20 people die each year thanks to our equine friends.
 
Spiders
black widow spider
6.5 people die in the U.S. every year from spider bites.
 
Rattlesnakes
rattlesnake
5.5 people die from rattlesnake bites each year in the U.S., which isn't a whole lot considering how common they are in popular hiking and camping areas.
 
Sharks
silhouetted sharks
<1 person is killed each year in the U.S. and fewer than six worldwide are killed by sharks. From 2006 to 2010, there were just three fatalities from shark attacks in the U.S.
 
Granted if you're swimming with bull sharks, you're more likely to die by shark attack at that moment than a cow. But most of us aren't in the water with sharks as often as we find ourselves next to a cow on a visit to a farm or at a petting zoo. And we certainly are around bees and ants a whole lot more often than sharks. But if you find yourself swimming in the ocean — or even some rivers — you're probably nearer to sharks than you realize. With millions upon millions of beach-goers and surfers taking to the water every day, only a small handful are ever bitten or killed by sharks. So if you find yourself harboring feelings of fear or even hatred of sharks, you might want to take a step back and gain a little perspective. They aren't nearly as deadly as you might think.
 
This story was originally written for Treehugger. Copyright 2012.


Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/11-animals-more-likely-to-kill-you-than-sharks#ixzz34RQq7rCx
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U/W Bike Race

eventsiconJoin us on July 4th for this annual event benefitting the Children's Mile of Hope.

Lionfish Tournament

eventsiconWe need your help to make Carteret County's 6th Annual "If you Can't Beat 'em, Eat 'em" Spearfishing Tournament a success! This Tournament is a joint effort between Discovery Diving and Eastern Carolina Artificial Reef Association (ECARA).

Treasure Hunt

eventsiconFood, prizes, diving, and fun! Proceeds benefit the Mile Hope Children's Cancer Fund and DAN's research in diving safety.

ECARA Event

2013Join us in support of the East Carolina Artificial Reef Association.  Click here for more info on this great event and how you can help to bring more Wrecks to the Graveyard of the Atlantic.