Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Book on the status of coral reefs in the Pacific launched at USP

Book on the status of coral reefs in the Pacific launched at USP

Source: http://www.usp.ac.fj/news/story.php?id=200

IMR Director Dr Ken Mackay
at the launch of the book
The health of coral reefs in the Southwest Pacific is the subject of a new book which was launched at the University of the South Pacific this week.
Status of Coral Reefs in the SouthWest Pacific: 2004, which has been edited by Reuben Sulu, brings together reports from Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, prepared under the auspices of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). It was published by the Institute of Pacific Studies Publications at USP in collaboration with the University's Institute of Marine Resources.
The book was launched by IMR director Dr Ken MacKay who pointed out that book carried important information on coral reefs in this part of the world.
"The book is based on a 2004 coral reef monitoring report results of which were condensed into a global report which came out two years ago, said Dr MacKay. 

He pointed out that coral reefs played an essential role in maintaining strong and healthy ecosystems, and which also contribute to local communities by way of providing food supplies, protecting coastlines and generating tourism opportunities. 

The book reports on the status of coral reefs of the region and discusses threats to the reefs, before offering suggestions and recommendations for their ongoing management. The major issues in the region were commercial exploitation of marine resources, cyclone damage and coral bleaching. In face of these threats, survey results revealed that overall coral cover has increased since the major bleaching events (2000, 2002) to almost pre-bleaching levels and recognition of commercial exploitation and other anthropogenic impacts has led to awareness programs and establishment of small Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) throughout each island country. A similar report is currently being prepared and results of the 2007 surveys will be published in 2008. 

Status of Coral Reefs in the Southwest Pacific: 2004, was financially supported by the Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development Programme, with further editing funded by the Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP). 

It is available at IPS Publications, the Institute of Marine Resources and the USP Book Centre (all at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus) or online at www.ipsbooks.ac.fj (ISBN: 9789820203860, 274pp, illus. col. RRP $34).

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Fiji forums: Romantic get away??? - TripAdvisor

Fiji forums: Romantic get away??? - TripAdvisor

"as always, matava on the island of kadavu....each to his own, but i still dream of sitting on our deck, looking out at the island across from us, watching the tides go in and out....walking to dinner , through the organic fruit trees, looking for the oil lights of the over the ocean dining deck, , and salavating over the most intiaviative menus...i wonder if it was really real....enjoy

oh, and the staff, we left everythng that we owned to them and their families...

as we landed at the small airport, a woman came up to us and said, 'we were just at matava, and you will have the best trip of your life'...i will never forget that. again, enjoy"

Fiji forums: Romantic get away??? - TripAdvisor

Friday, 19 September 2008

Fiji forums: Fiji <3 - TripAdvisor

Fiji forums: Fiji <3>

"If you are up for a bit of adventure, head to Kadavu Island.

It's got to be one of the most ruggedly magnificent islands in the archipelago. There you can visit waterfalls, kayak, see authentic FIji at it's best.

I highly recommend Matava Resort, which is Fiji's leading Adventure resort.

They do it all. It's great for budget-mid range travelers, the owners are fabulous, food is great, guests are fun."

Fiji forums: Fiji <3>

Monday, 15 September 2008

Beqa Island forum: has anyone stayed at beqa lagoon resort? - TripAdvisor

Beqa Island forum: has anyone stayed at beqa lagoon resort? - TripAdvisor

"Ducks i'm not from Fiji nor have i ever been to fiji but i've been extensivly researching my vacation there for April. We decided on the Macamuncas for many reasons but after everything was booked and paid for i descovered this resort called Matava on the southern island of Kadavu.

If i had seen this before my vacation was booked i would have definatly checked it out. www.matava.com From what it looks like its a more private laid back resort slightly off the beaten path.

They also look like they have some awsome dive sites like the Astrolabe Reef. And a Manta Reef. Apperently this Manta Reef is one of the few places in the world where Manta Rays can be seen Regularly. I'm considering booking my next vacation just to go down and see the Mantas. But like i said i've never been, i just think you should check it out before you book."

Beqa Island forum: has anyone stayed at beqa lagoon resort? - TripAdvisor

Sunday, 14 September 2008

And away to Kadavu...

And away to Kadavu...

There were still no golden doves to be found in the forest the next morning, or much else (but I'd pretty much got most of what I was after the day before anyway so that was alright). When we got back to Raintree, Robyn went fishing. There was a sign at the counter saying that if you could catch a fish in the lake then they would cook it for you for free. If it sounds like there might be a catch you'd be right. The fishing line was just a length of cord tied to an empty coke bottle, there was no sinker, the bait was an old piece of bread, the double-hulled wooden canoe provided was leaking so badly that there were actually small fish living inside it, and finally Tilapia don't really take hooks anyway, they just nibble the bait away (especially if it's soggy bread!). Nevertheless, Robyn was determined. So determined, in fact, that she stole the inflatable dinghy and went out in that in preference to the canoe.

She caught no fish.

The next day we bused off to Nausori airport to catch a plane to Kadavu, a smallish island to the southeast of Viti Levu. We were wondering how many people were going to be on the flight. The lounge was full (that is, there were about twenty people in it) but most turned out to be waiting on passengers from other flights. In the end there were only three people on the Kadavu plane, and two of them were me and Robyn. The plane itself only had eight seats. It looked like a matchbox toy. I discovered that I prefer tiny local planes to big international ones. Either way you're going to die if they crash, so better in a fun plane then a crowded commercial one.

Kadavu is a regular destination for birders, divers, and probably nobody else. There are four endemic birds on the island: the Kadavu shining parrot, Kadavu fantail, Kadavu honeyeater, and the whistling dove. The birders generally stay at either Biana's Accommodation or Reece's Place (apparently now called Nakuita Resort, but nobody on Kadavu knew it by that name). We tried Biana's first but they were fully booked by a group from the University of the South Pacific (the USP) in Suva. Biana helpfully put a call through to Reece's Place and organised a room there, but we would have to wait for high-tide because Reece's Place was situated on an offshore island called Galoa. Robyn put the wait to good use by going to sleep. I put it to better use by going birding.

Read thye whole blog here... And away to Kadavu...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Kadavu Island: Matava - The Astrolabe Hideaway - Traveler Reviews - Fantastic Fiji - TripAdvisor

“Fantastic Fiji”

Matava - The Astrolabe Hideaway

This property is out of the way-and takes an effort to get there-WORTH IT! Kadavu is a real getaway. The property is unique-grounds are nice. The staff is very friendly-Maggie the host is amazing. Food is fabulous. Diving was great-astrolabe reef is fantastic. Truly a find-if you are adventurous. If you are looking for the Holiday Inn-go elsewhere. Leave Matava to the true travelers.

This TripAdvisor Member:

  • Liked — The out of the way location. The staff and the diving.

Kadavu Island: Matava - The Astrolabe Hideaway - Traveler Reviews - Fantastic Fiji - TripAdvisor

Fiji forums: How is Kadavu? - TripAdvisor

Fiji forums: How is Kadavu? - TripAdvisor

"Kadavu is awesome! I love that little rugged island.

Matava is an eco resort, very picturesque, great food that Jeannie, the owner, grows right out of her organic garden. They have kayak trips, waterfall treks, village visits, and a great staff and wonderful owners. It is very reasonable.

The only drawback is that they don't have a white sandy beach, but you can kayak a few minutes down the way, and you find your nice sandy beach."

Fiji forums: How is Kadavu? - TripAdvisor

The Mystery Shark

By public (well a select few) demand here are the full sized pics of the Mystery Shark that Richard and I jumped in on on the Kadavu Seamount a few months back.

We've sent them to some very professional shark experts and not a few scientists, but no-one has so far put their names on the line to sya what shark this is...

So for all you Elasmobranch-ophiles...


Anyone been to Kadavu?



"Oh and by the way NZConny....Matava is the place to be if you want to dive the Astrolabe...they have numerous dive sites along the astrolabe..drift diving is popular as most of their dive sites are channels....and the dive team there are very flexible,you can arrange special dive trips with them.When I was there they can have like two dive trips a day and this one girl wanted to do a night dive coz they were leaving the next day and actually took her again thst night...I mean she was the lone diver. They had like 2 dive instructors and 2 dive masters when I was there(Dec. 2007)..whether it be 2 dive trips a day, or one day trip and one night dive or 2 day trips and one night dive...they have the manpower to accomodate your diving needs"

Kadavu Island forum: Anyone been to Kadavu? - TripAdvisor

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Design Notes: "Clearly Superior" an opinion by Ikelite

Design Notes

"'Clearly Superior" an opinion by Ikelite

The handle assemblies make the housings appear larger, but provide comfort and greater stability when actually using underwater, especially with the addition of an optional external strobe or video light system. The base removes instantly by simply flipping a toggle. The base provides a stable platform when housing is not used, but it is not necessary and removal creates a smaller housing if preferred. The handles and bar are attached to the housing by two nuts for easy removal to pack.

Thick wall clear polycarbonate case provides a 'comfort factor' by allowing visual assurance the system is safe with its unobstructed view of the camera information and control functions. This material provides corrosion-free properties and a product that is less likely to the condensation and finish problems that can occur with aluminum."

Design Notes

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

WWF launches 2 marine reports

9 February, 2007. Suva, Fiji Islands - The Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion (FIME) and Great Sea Reef (GSR) Survey Reports were launched today at an evening function hosted by WWF’s Fiji Country Programme (WWF FCP). Mr. Tomasi Vakatora, Deputy Chairman of Vodafone’s ATH Fiji Foundation and guest speaker for the evening, officially made these 2 reports publicly available, thanking all partners for their contribution to the project.
Setting Priorities for Marine Conservation in the Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion:

» Download the report
FIJI'S GREAT SEA REEF: The first marine biodiversity survey of Cakaulevu and associated coastal habitats

» Download the report
In December 2003, over 80 scientists, community members, non government organization (NGO) representatives and government administrators and decision makers, shared current scientific information on the biodiversity of and threats to Fiji’s marine environment. The report: Setting Priorities for Marine Conservation in the Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion identifies 35 priority conservation areas which were agreed to by these stakeholders. The 35 areas attempt to capture the full range of marine biodiversity, species and communities that make FIME unique. If conserved, these areas contribute to maintaining the integrity of Fiji’s marine systems.

In 2004, Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation provided funding to WWF FCP and its partners to undertake a survey of the Great Sea Reef, the third longest barrier reef system in the world and one of the 35 priority conservation areas indentified. This survey is the first ever systematic effort to document the marine biodiversity of this reef known locally as Cakaulevu. Findings of the survey include the GSR having 55% of the known coral reef fish in Fiji; 74% of the known coral species in Fiji; 40% of all known marine flora in Fiji and 44% of Fiji’s endemic reef species. These and other remarkable findings are documented in the report: Fiji’s Great Sea Reef - The first marine biodiversity survey of Cakaulevu and associated coastal habitats.

The findings of the survey have provided part of the building block to the Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) initiative - a partnership between Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as the lead, WWF FCP, Wetlands International - Oceania (WI-O), the University of the South Pacific (USP) and in association with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA). The EBM area extends from Macuata through the Bua Peninsula to Kubulau. This initiative aims to protect the marine environment by addressing land-based threats to coral reefs and other marine habitats.

80% of Fiji’s population live within 5 kilometers of the coast and depend heavily on their reefs as a primary source of protein.
80% of Fiji’s population live within 5 kilometers of the coast and depend heavily on their reefs as a primary source of protein. Functioning marine systems and productive fisheries are vitally important - they are the key source of food, income, employment, foreign exchange and cultures. WWF FCP’s March/April 2006 socio economic survey in the Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa and Mali districts - part of the EBM initiative - showed that 100% of households earn income from their natural resources (marine, freshwater, forest and agriculture). Of these households, 75% depend on these natural resource harvests as their main source of income. Local community residents of these districts traditionally fish two thirds of the Vanua Levu portion of the GSR. The Reef is therefore a major part of living their life and sourcing their livelihood. The survey will contribute to better use planning of these collective inshore marine resources.

Information from this survey has also influenced the management of the GSR system. A number of community-based marine protected areas have been set up in a portion of the surveyed area. These areas provide for the restocking of the wider coastal marine area in the Macuata waters for fishing.

“These reports contribute to the larger knowledge base of the nation’s marine and coral reef systems and add further insights into these nature treasures. This will guide us to better management for the benefit of people relying on marine resources in these waters.”

- Ms Kesaia Tabunakawai, WWF FCP Manager
For further information:
Kesaia Tabunakawai, Manager WWF FCP, (t) +679 331 5533
Aaron Jenkins, Senior Programme Officer, Wetlands International - Oceania Office, (t) +679 332 2413
Kathy Walls, Director WCS-South Pacific Country Programme, (t) +679 331 5174

Editor’s notes:
Fiji’s marine and reef system is relatively unknown. Records show that Fiji holds an enormous wealth in coral reef habitats, covering an estimated 10,020 sq km of the archipelago representing 9% of the coral reef systems of the Pacific and 3.5% of the total area of tropical coral reefs in the world.
Further findings and observations of the GSR survey include:
  • Populations of 12 species listed on the 2004 IUCN(World Conservation Union) Red List of Threatened Species, including 10 species of fish, the IUCN threatened green turtle and the spinner dolphin.
  • Populations of the nationally endangered species of Bumphead Parrotfish (Kalia), previously presumed locally extinct; one new fish species and one presumed new record, previously known from the Indian ocean, 44% of the endemic coral fish species were observed.
  • Within the hard corals, 43 new records were documented for Fiji. Of these, two were new genera, and three are believed to be geographic range extensions.
  • Sixteen species were found to be new additions to the flora of the Fiji archipelago. Two possible new species were also recorded.
  • Unusual distant offshore mangrove island fringing reef habitats were found to be of surprisingly high diversity and productivity. These highly dynamic, tidally influenced systems are considered to be “keystone habitats” of crucial importance to maintaining the ecological integrity of the entire coastline.
  • Overall, commercially important fish were found in very low numbers and small sizes. Fish important to local subsistence were found in higher numbers, but this varied greatly from site to site. Fishing pressure, as indicated by discarded fishing lines, was greatest around the vicinity of Labasa.
Source: WWF Fiji

Monday, 8 September 2008

Another side of Kadavu

Writer: Bruce Davidson
For: Sunday Herald Sun (Aust.)

It's the blue that gets to you. A blue like no other. A blue you can never replicate in photographs. A striking, luminescent, inviting blue.

A blue of dreams and of freedom. The blue of the tropical sea. And when you're skimming across this bright blue just centimetres from the surface, the effect is magical.

You see, we're in Fiji - and we're in a kayak. On an expedition that combines adventure, relaxation and traditional Fijian cultural experiences.

Believe me, this is no package trip to a resort hotel. This is something else, in every sense of the expression. We have joined a sea kayaking expedition at a little-visited Fijian island group - Kadavu - about an hour in a light plane from the mainland airport at Nadi.

For the next week transportation will be in two-person kayaks, journeying from small beach resorts to villages to dive spots, stopping at remote beaches along the way, all the time mesmerised by that amazing aqua.

The seven-day expeditions were started by a couple of young New Zealanders, calling themselves Tamarillo Tropical Expeditions. With experience leading kayak trips out of Wellington, they went looking for a tropical location for the winter - and discovered the delights of Kadavu.

Our group - 11 hardy souls ranging from a child as young as 3 to a retired teacher aged 65 - started the adventuring after landing at the quaint airstrip near the Kadavu "capital" of Vunisea.

It's probably the capital because it is the only town on Kadavu with roads; elsewhere transport is by boat or foot. And it is by motor boat that we travel next - an hour-and-a-half northwards to a small island called Ono, which sits inside the Great Astrolabe Reef, offering wonderful protection from the ocean to create calm and safe kayaking conditions.

Accommodation for the first two nights is at a resort called Jona's Paradise - and as they say, it was paradise by name, paradise by nature. Jona (yes, he does exist) and his family offer those ubiquitous bures (thatched huts for the uninitiated) on a coconut palm-lined beach and excellent Fijian fare.

The next day - after a spot of magnificent snorkelling off the beach at Jona's - we took to the kayaks for the first time.

Now, kayaks are known in the trade as "marriage testers". You've got to work together in these things: the one at the back steers and the one at the front sets the pace. You've got to be in harmony, riding the waves with balance and poise, developing a rhythm and teamwork. I opted to go with my daughter.

Before long, our group was sculling around the coral and rocky outcrops like old hands, ready to tackle the first real day of paddling from Jona's up the west coast of Ono.

Now, don't get me wrong: it's not totally idyllic in these plastic cocoons. It does take some effort to paddle the two or three hours required each day. And we experienced some windy conditions and choppy seas at times, making the going a little tougher. However, two support boats travel along behind, transporting the luggage and food - and there is always the option of a rest from the kayaks by jumping in the boat. A few of our group did so on one particularly windy day.

But there is nothing like gliding into a tiny tropical cove, gazing through crystalline waters at coral and fish, and then taking a refreshing dip to cool off after a session of paddling. Wonderful!

After such a day, including lunch on a beach with its lone inhabitant, a delightful old chap named Taito, we arrived at the village of Naqara.

Naqara is as close as to a traditional Fijian village that you'll get these days. The community lives a basic life, getting income from fishing and growing kava, the plant that is pounded into a ceremonial drink throughout Fiji, and increasingly sought by export markets for medical use because of its narcotic properties.

We were given a ceremonial welcome at Naqara, kava and all, and then treated to a Fijian feast - the lovo. This is where meat and vegetables are wrapped in leaves and placed in a pit of hot stones to steam for an hour or so. The result is combined with many and various other dishes, from whole baked fish, to beef wrapped in leaves with coconut milk, to all manner of vegetable specialities.
Afterwards, we sat around with the villagers, chatting about their simple life and contrasting an existence with few worldly possessions, no electricity and little communication outside the island.

Naqara has been a real find for Tamarillo. As one of the owners, Tony Norris, explained, they simply asked for "food and lodging" for the night. But due to the welcoming nature of the Fijians, the village now turns on a night of entertainment - performances in dance and song, and, of course, kava until you can't take it any more!

"We never know what they are going to do for us next," Tony said. "The village has decided off its own bat to do all this - they are incredibly giving and generous. We just asked for a bed for the night and a meal, and we pay for that. All this other stuff has developed because they appreciate the chance to share their culture with our groups. It has probably been the most rewarding thing about running the expeditions."

Back in the kayaks, we paddled out through the surf and around the top of the island. This was the windy day - and the hardest paddling on the trip. But once around the point, we had the wind at our backs and literally surfed down the east coast.

After a breather at Jona's, the gear, including the kayaks, were loaded into the boats for the trip across the channel to the main island again and on to a small resort called Albert's Place.

Now, if you knew you were about to meet a bloke named Bruce O'Connor, you'd probably form a typical Anglo-Saxon picture in your mind. But Bruce and his dad Albert are big, rugby-playing Fijians. They sport their nomenclature courtesy of a great-great-grandfather - a Scottish whaler who settled on the island and married a local. Photos of the generations on the walls at Albert's make a fascinating study.

Albert and family, well and truly Fijian these days, cater mainly for the scuba junkies who make pilgrimages to Kadavu for some of the world's best diving.

After a night at Albert's, we were back on the water, headed for Matava. This spot was positively upmarket after bures on the beaches and the occasional cold shower. Matava caters for those with the diving bug, and it was here we had the opportunity to delve into the deep blue ourselves.

It hardly seemed possible, but the next day's kayaking was through water even more colourful than before. We explored a series of lagoons among coral and rocky outcrops, the water ranging from rich sea green to a "powder-coated" aqua.

Lunch was at another local village, before abandoning the kayaks for a couple of hours and following a jungle path over a mountain range. Tropical rainforest, bird-life, views to die for.

We arrived at another small village, this one sited on a picturesque inlet and set off with the backdrop of a fabulous waterfall. Time for a freshwater swim before catching a motor boat back to Matava for our final night on Kadavu.

A final snorkel the next morning, and we were off through those lagoons again- this time in motor boats - for the trip to Vunisea and our light plane flight back to Nadi.

We stayed the last night in the luxury of a Nadi hotel, but somehow, it wasn't the same.

Where was the Fijian feast? The palm-frond sleeping mats? The lapping of the waves on the beach? The sense of freedom skimming across the water? The exhilaration of a day where you feel you've actually had an experience, not a holiday?

But there is one thing you can't escape, the imprint in your mind of that magnificent blue.

Bruce Davidson flew to Fiji courtesy of Air Pacific, but he paid for the kayaking expedition himself.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Fiji forums: kadavu island - TripAdvisor

Fiji forums: kadavu island - TripAdvisor

"My son recently spent 3 weeks on Kadavu (Jul. 05).

He travelled all over Fiji (including outer Islands) and recommends Kadavu as being a good place to find the real Fiji. Matava Resort is set in a good location, let them know what you want to do and you should be able to go on plenty of natural hikes to local villages that are unaffected by tourist impact. Matava is more than prepared to let you do the tourist things, eg. kayaking/scuba diving etc.

Diving is as good as it gets in Fiji

Fiji forums: kadavu island - TripAdvisor

First Dives with the Sea & Sea DX100

First Dives with the Sea & Sea DX100

By Berkley White

Testing Grounds: The Digital Shootout - Bonaire

I had already boarded the plane to Bonaire and it wasn't in my case. Ron Pavelka, the new GM at Sea & Sea, was trying with all his might to get the first DX100 housing to me in time for my departure for the Digital Shootout, but the housing was still snuggly packed in a cargo plane somewhere above the Pacific. Sure I had plenty of gear to shoot, but I had my heart set on putting the DX100 through its paces in the crystal blue of Bonaire.

I knew it would have no problem with macro, but I really wanted to see how it performed in the digitally challenged areas of highlight detail and smooth bluewater backgrounds."

Whole article on Backscatter: First Dives with the Sea & Sea DX100

Saturday, 6 September 2008

New Manta Ray discovered!

Not even the most inveterate lover of toothy Apex Predators will escape the gentle charm of the beautiful and friendly Manta Ray, the more as it sometimes shares the same habitat as Sharks, like in Cocos, the Galapagos, Socorro and sometimes, even Shark Reef.

Like many of my fellow divers, I've often wondered at their massive range in size and coloration: quite small and lightly colored on the reefs of say, Yap and French Polynesia, much bigger and darker on the west coast of the Americas or in the cold waters around Komodo.
But despite the best efforts of the Taxonomists, even including illegal DNA sampling within Marine Protected Areas, no evidence could be found that the "Giant Pacific Mantas" were anything different than their fairer and smaller cousins. The difference in size and coloration was apparently merely due to environmental factors and nutrition. After all, the reason for the crystal clear azure water on coral reefs is its lack of nutrients which has forced corals to co-operate with algae; whereas in the Americas, the cold and dark Humboldt and California currents carry plenty of nutrients allowing for abundant plankton growth and thus, a much larger size of plankton feeders.
Thus, scientific wisdom had it that all Manta Rays belong to one and the same single circumtropical species of Manta birostris.

Until now it seems.
Now and again, there would be reports of truly whoppingly gigantic individuals, reputedly with wingspans in excess of six meters, and this mainly from coral reef habitats in the Indian Ocean. With the exception of a possible encounter in the Seychelles many many years ago when I was green and impressionable, I never saw such an animal, and this despite of hundreds of sightings - so I quicky started filing those reports under the category of urban legends.

Well, it seems that as so often, I was dead wrong.
It now appears that the behemoth not only exists, but that it even represents a new species!

Read full blog item by Mike at The Shark Dive: New Manta Ray discovered!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Fiji Diving - Thorn Tree Forum - Lonely Planet

Fiji Diving - Thorn Tree Forum - Lonely Planet
Posted: 14 Jun 2007
I recently went to Matava resort on Kadavu and the diving was great. There's a manta ray site which is very reliable for sightings. Google for info, or check out some of the reports on TripAdvisor.
Fiji Diving - Thorn Tree Forum - Lonely Planet

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Japan kills 551 Antarctic whales, short of target

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Antarctic whaling catch fell far short of its target this season, hampered by a series of skirmishes with anti-whaling protesters, the Fisheries Agency said on Monday.

The fleet caught only 551 minke whales, compared with the planned catch of 850. No fin whales were caught at all, although it had set a target of 50, a Fisheries Ministry official said.

"Sabotage by activists is a major factor behind our failure to achieve our target," the official said.

Militant anti-whaling campaigners from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had repeatedly confronted Japan's whaling fleet earlier this year.

Last month, members of the Sea Shepherd group threw bottles and containers of foul-smelling substances at a whaling ship in an attempt to disrupt the hunt, resulting in three sailors complaining of eye irritation.

The incident followed a high-profile standoff in January in which two activists boarded another Japanese whaling ship, forcing it to suspend whaling for a month.

The absence of fin whales in the catch was partly due to other factors, the ministry said.

"Sabotage is not entirely to blame for that. There was a situation where few fin whales were spotted," the official said.

Greenpeace Japan, which also carried out activities aimed at obstructing the hunt, said it was not satisfied with the reduced catch.

"They say that one reason for the lower catch is that they didn't see so many whales," said Junichi Sato of Greenpeace. "That is a good reason why they should not conduct lethal research."

He added that, despite the reduction, the number of whales actually killed was more than three years ago.

International criticism forced Japan to give up a plan to catch 50 humpback whales, a favorite with whale watchers.

The clashes sparked a spate of diplomatic complaints between Japan and Australia.

The Australian government has promised to try to stop Japan's whaling program and is considering international legal action, although the two countries have agreed not to let the issue hurt ties.

Japan's coastguard and police will inspect the country's whaling fleet this week after the clashes with the conservation activists, local media reported on Sunday.

The six-ship fleet is expected to return home on Tuesday.

Japan, which considers whaling a cultural tradition, abandoned commercial whaling after agreeing to an international whaling moratorium in 1986. But arguing that the hunt is necessary to study whales, Japan began what it calls a scientific research whaling program the following year.

Japan's whaling fleet has killed about 7,000 Antarctic minkes over the past 20 years.

(Reporting by Teruaki Ueno and Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Alex Richardson)
ENN: Japan kills 551 Antarctic whales, short of target

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Thinking Before You Shoot: 10 Quick Tips for Success!

Thinking Before You Shoot: 10 Quick Tips for Success!

By Annie Crawley

Every time before I dive, there is a strict method I follow to ensure my success with my system. This is the fun part, right before I am getting into the water, after I have planned my story, my destination, my purpose for shooting. What I am talking about now is how we must become a bit AR, dare I say the words…anal retentive…about our equipment and our diving.

Have you ever heard someone talk about the most amazing dive they ever had in their life, with nine whale sharks in one dive but nothing to show because their port was dirty? I have seen people get in the water without charged batteries in which case your housing and camera becomes a useless lead weight. To prevent this and help you with success, I have compiled a few golden rules to think about while on your next dive!"

Thinking Before You Shoot: 10 Quick Tips for Success!