Thursday, 30 October 2008

Invention: Natural colour underwater photographs - tech - 15 October 2008 - New Scientist Tech

  • news service
  • Justin Mullins
14:38 15 October 2008

Taking good photos underwater requires a good white light source such as a flash or spotlight. But some wavelengths of light penetrate water more easily than others, and the result is a heavy blue cast.

The tint gets progressively deeper as subjects get further from the camera, meaning that corrective filters only work for a narrow range of distances from the lens.

Filters cannot always be changed quickly, or even at all, say Daniela Rus and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For example, they say filters are little use for remotely operated cameras like that on a robotic submarine.

See clearly now

Their new patent application suggests the solution is to use a camera with a battery of different flashes. Each produces a different wavelength of light, which penetrates water to different extents. A sensor records that effect, making it possible to work out the distance to a subject in the image.

It is then possible to generate the perfect wavelength of flash to show the subject in its true colours. The result should be naturally coloured underwater photographs.

Read the full patent application for natural-colour underwater photographs.

Since the 1970s New Scientist has run a column uncovering the most exciting, bizarre or even terrifying new patented ideas – follow our weekly column in our continually updated special report and vote for your favourite from the archives.

Invention: Natural colour underwater photographs - tech - 15 October 2008 - New Scientist Tech

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Project AWARE Certificate of Appreciation

Certificate recieved by Matava and Mad Fish Dive Centre from PADI in recognition of our support of Project AWARE.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Fiji and the Bula Bowls

Some concepts just elude me. Like the International Date Line. Sure, I can grasp its significance at some levels but still cant quite wrap my brain around it completely. If you look at a map, one thing is clear: the people who decided where the IDL should go wanted to give the island nation of Fiji a break. If not for a deliberate shift to the east and back again, parts of Fiji would be in the future while other parts would be in the past. Which still just blows my circuitry.

On June 27, with this conundrum weighing on my mind, I boarded a 56-minute flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta, the first leg on a 20,000-mile journey to Fiji and back...

Whole article here at

Fiji and the Bula Bowls

As an eco-operator, we will…

As an eco-operator, we will…

As an eco-operator, we will…
Ecooperator sun Provide dive experiences that enhance visitor awareness, appreciation and understanding of the local aquatic environment.
Ecooperator moon Use recycled products whenever possible.
Ecooperator sun Participate in local conservation efforts and support established parks and reserves.
Ecooperator moon Not sell items made from endangered species, threatened species, corals or tropical hardwoods.
Ecooperator sun Respect local people, culture and traditions while abiding by local laws and regulations.
Ecooperator moon Provide pre-dive briefings on responsible dive practices such as:
Ecooperator sun Proper buoyancy control
Ecooperator sunSecuring equipment and streamlining body position
Ecooperator sunMaintaining distance from sensitive environments
Ecooperator sunNot touching or chasing animals
Ecooperator sunAbiding by all fish and game regulations
Ecooperator moon Use mooring buoys or drift diving techniques whenever possible to avoid damage to underwater habitat.
Ecooperator sun Offer Project AWARE specialty courses that teach customers about ecology and conservation.
Ecooperator moon Practice buoyancy control skills in a pool or sandy area before swimming near a coral reef or any sensitive environment. Make sure your equipment is secured, you’re weighted properly and be careful not to touch, stand on
or collect coral.
Ecooperator sun Display environmental public awareness materials and provide community involvement opportunities.
Ecooperator moon Use environmentally sound methods of rubbish disposal.

Coral Reef Monitoring


Make Your Dives Count. Monitor Coral Reefs

A strong consensus is reached in the scientific community – climate change is happening. And it’s linked to human activity. In the last century earth’s surface temperatures have risen by an estimated 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius). And 2005 was the hottest year on record.

Particularly concerning to Project AWARE Foundation, marine resource managers, scientists, dedicated dive professionals and divers is the effect climate change has on coral reefs – a process called coral bleaching.

New research indicates more than half the world’s coral reefs could die in less than 25 years – with human activities and climate change taking blame. Up to 30 percent of the world’s reefs have already died; another 30 percent are severely damaged according to researchers.

What is CoralWatch?

Project AWARE partners with CoralWatch, a nonprofit research organization from the University of Queensland, Australia, to involve divers and snorkelers in monitoring coral bleaching and assessment of coral health.

CoralWatch makes monitoring coral reefs easy. The CoralWatch chart uses a series of colors representing different stages of bleaching and recovery. Just match the color of the coral with a corresponding color on the chart and record the color code along with coral type on the data sheet. Data collected from monitoring activities is then entered online and analyzed by scientists to answer questions on coral bleaching and recovery patterns as well as the severity and duration of bleaching events.

Get Involved

Dive Professionals and Resource Managers:

  1. Sign up with Project AWARE to regularly monitor local coral reefs.
  2. Receive Project AWARE’s CoralWatch Kit developed specifically for divers including: CoralWatch charts, monitoring guidelines and information, educational materials for divers and a CD Rom containing helpful resources to establish monitoring activities.
  3. Select your reef site, assemble your dive team and regularly monitor local reefs.
  4. Enter CoralWatch Data Online. Your data will be analyzed and made available online to compare the condition of local reefs over time and with different regions of the world.

Divers, Snorkelers and Ecotourists:

  1. Search for a registered Project AWARE CoralWatch Dive Operator near you. Contact the operator to volunteer for monitoring activities at that location.
  2. If you’re unable to find a registered operator for your area at this time, please request a CoralWatch chart from Project AWARE at

Why Monitor Coral Reefs? More information on climate change, coral bleaching and how you can help.

Coral Reef Monitoring

Scuba Diving Magazine - It's Not Easy Diving Green...

From the August, 2008 issue of Scuba Diving Magazine.

But it's worth a try. Here are nine tips for eco-conscious dive travel.

With invasive species, deforestation, overfishing and coral bleaching at the forefront of the environmental news coming out of the world's greatest dive destinations, it's no wonder the newest "it" word on the tip of the tourist industry's tongue is "green." The concept goes by many names--sustainable travel, ecotourism, green vacations--and you can barely book a room these days without seeing this pervasive language somewhere in your hotel's description. But what does green mean? Like any new fad, green comes in shades of gray. For the most part, green travel means limiting the amount of greenhouse gases released through transportation and energy use; limiting waste with smart consumption and recycling; supporting operators that incorporate sustainable practices into their day-to-day operations; and taking advantage of vacation time to learn about the environment and give something back to the part of the world you're visiting. So, if you're looking to go green on your next dive trip, here are nine tips to help you on your way:

Offset Your Flight

By far the biggest carbon output of any trip comes from the flight. There are no viable alternatives to jet fuel yet, so if you want to atone for your airline carbon consumption, offsets are the only way. Many airlines offer an additional "offset" fee when you buy your tickets, and organizations like Terra Pass help calculate the emissions for your trip and sell offsets that "fund clean energy and other projects that result in direct, measurable reductions in carbon emissions." Different programs calculate emissions and the cost of offsets differently. As calculated on the Terra Pass web site, a round-trip from Atlanta to Cozumel, via Houston, releases roughly 1,400 pounds of carbon per passenger--more than the emissions from an average American car driven between New York and Miami--and offsetting those emissions costs $9.90.

Resorts: Choose Wisely

A lot of hotels have jumped on the eco-bandwagon, advertising themselves as green or eco-friendly. Not all green resorts are created equal, however, and separating the green from the greenwashed can be hard because there are dozens of self-proclaimed certification organizations that bestow green status. Some actually check properties, others do not. Environmentally Friendly Hotels is one organization that rates and compiles hotels based on their environmentally conscious practices, and according to its web site, here are some of the questions to ask when looking for an eco-friendly resort:
  • Where does it get its energy from, and how does it reduce carbon emissions? Look for alternative energy sources like solar, wind or tidal energy. Also look for energy conservation efforts like energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

  • How does it conserve water? Policies requiring maids to only wash your sheets and towels if you ask are an OK start, but low-flow fixtures in the bathrooms and "gray water" recycling systems, which direct used kitchen, bath and laundry water (must also use environmentally safe soaps and detergents) to other uses like watering lawns and gardens, are even better.

  • What does it do to reduce waste? Look for recycling programs, refillable water pitchers in the rooms rather than plastic water bottles, bulk dispensers in place of wasteful mini-toiletry bottles and effecient sewage treatment systems.
For more, visit

Go Off the Grid

For a totally different experience, think outside the vacation box. The Maho Bay Camp on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, has been green for more than 30 years. Its 126 tent-cottages and studios are connected by wooden walkways all nestled in the heart of the Virgin Islands National Park like an island tree fort. The camp uses catchments to collect rainwater for the laundry and bathrooms, composting systems for food and human waste, alternative energy sources and much more, making Maho about as green as it gets. And there's an onsite dive shop for easy access to the underwater sections of the Virgin Islands National Park.


It's a growing green dive travel trend in which you'll spend your vacation participating in socially conscious activities like fish and reef monitoring, animal tagging or any number of research-based projects. For example, Undersea Explorer is a Great Barrier Reef live-aboard that conducts shark, minke whale and nautilus research onboard and offers divers a chance to lend a hand. And the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) offers specialized trips for everything from fish surveys to invasive lionfish research in the Bahamas.

Also, keep your ears open for diver events like the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. In 2007, 378,000 volunteers from 76 countries and 45 U.S. states, removed an average of 16 pounds of trash per person. This year's cleanup is slated for Sept. 20.

Dive With Eco-Operators

Some dive destinations bill themselves as eco-conscious by creating marine sanctuaries and charging fees that go toward maintenance. Bonaire is a great example. For about 30 years, the island's reefs have been under park protection, and this recently led to Bonaire's designation by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as "one of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean." Also, do some research on dive operators before you go. A dive trip is a great opportunity to learn about the marine environment, and some dive shops have divemasters doubling as naturalists, providing detailed marine life briefings before taking you down and showing you nature in action. In Bonaire, the dive shop at the Sand Dollar resort prides itself on teaching tourists how to interact with the environment in a sustainable manner.

Hoof It

Instead of renting a car or taking taxis, get a hotel close to the town or central area of your dive destination and walk, bike or use public transportation to get around. Not only will you reduce the amount of emissions you use on your vacations, but you'll also save money and get a better feel of the place by walking around, asking directions and talking with the people who live there.

Eat Right

Divers should be conscious about the seafood they eat on vacation. Just because the island you're diving on has a marine park, that doesn't mean local fishermen won't poach in the preserve if it'll bring them a few tourist dollars. So, discourage overfishing on area reefs by steering clear of sensitive reef species like grouper and lobster. And, if possible, eat at restaurants that use locally grown ingredients. Not only will these meals taste fresher but they'll also carry a much lighter carbon footprint as it takes a lot of fuel and effort to import products to an out-of-the-way island.

Follow Sustainable Dive Practices

Never put trash or harmful products into the water, and never take any part of the natural environment out of the water.

Don't touch or harass the marine life.

Practice good buoyancy control and watch your fin kicks to avoid inadvertently damaging the reef.

Don't feed the fish or other animals.

If you see plastic or other harmful trash on your dive, pick it up and dispose of it properly.

Scuba Diving Magazine - It's Not Easy Diving Green...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Diving in Kadavu

The Great Astrolabe Reef

Kadavu is one of the less visited islands of Fiji which is precisely the reason why you should go there. No big resorts and fast food outlets here. Instead you can get a taste for the real Fiji, where the quickest transport is by boat, where the resorts are in tune with nature and where the true Fijian culture and warmth shines through. Part of Kadavu's charm lies in its secluded bays which can see you kayaking and snorkelling seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
The Great Astrolabe Reef, which curls away into the deep blue distance from the shores of the island, is what scuba diving in Kadavu is all about. Pristine hard corals in massed stands of colour abound, around which play a tremendous variety of marine life.
Anemonefish in bulb-tentacle anemone - photo courtesy of Mike Greenfelder


Eagle Rock - One of The Great Astrolabe Reef's signature dives. Sunken boulders, pinnacles, narrow channels, sheer walls and a rugged, rocky sea floor combine to provide some of the most interesting topography you are likely to see. There is a great chance of seeing spotted eagle rays and there are other sights to watch out for such as large groupers and Napoleon wrasses, but it is the simply astonishing collection of hard corals here which makes this Kadavu diving site exceptional.

Diving in Kadavu

Kadavu Scuba Diving

Fiji Islands + Kadavu + All Types + Diving + All Prices has returned 4 results

Property Name Country Region Photos Map Rates Specials Video SlideShow Price Category
Matava - The Astrolabe Hideaway Fiji Islands Kadavu VIDEO AVAILABLE SLIDESHOW AVAILABLE USD$50-100
Papageno Resort Fiji Islands Kadavu

Waisalima Beach Resort & Dive Centre Fiji Islands Kadavu

USD$Under 50
Nagigia Island Surf Resort Fiji Fiji Islands Kadavu


Kadavu Scuba Diving

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Save Our Seas Foundation - Manta Rays: A new species?

Manta Rays: A new species? A second, and possibly third, species of manta ray has been discovered in the World’s oceans. This is the biggest news to date to come out of ray research, and its importance is the marine equivalent of discovering an unknown species of elephant. The discovery however, has implications that go far beyond the breaking news of scientific journals, as it will deeply affect real world conservation ideas and policies.

Andrea Marshall diving with a manta
Andrea studies a manta ray off Mexico.
For the past five years the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) has sponsored Andrea Marshall, a PhD marine biologist in a quest to make advances in the scientific knowledge of these winged beauties of the sea, whose large triangular pectoral fins can span almost 8m in width and whose weight can reach over 2000kg. Manta rays, which are totally harmless and do not possess a stinging barb, are the largest of over 500 different species of rays and skates, and although divers have noted variations in physical appearance they were previously believed to be the same kind.

After suspecting the existence of a second species Andrea began studying other populations across the globe. Through genetic and morphological analysis she confirmed that there is indeed a second, and possibly a third, species of manta ray that exists across temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. The two species have mainly overlapping distributions, but their lifestyles differ greatly; one is migratory and the other is resident to particular areas along the coast.

Other differences between the two species lie in their colour, skin texture, reproductive biology, and the presence of a non-functioning type of sting on the tail of one of the species.

The smaller, more commonly known manta ray, resides in the same areas year round and is often encountered at coral reefs where they congregate to be cleaned by parasite-eating fish in locations such as Hawaii, the Maldives, Mozambique, Australia, Japan and the Island of Yap. Due to their residential nature they face a grave threat from unsustainable fisheries, as other manta rays will not replace a dwindling population, making their regional extinction a likely possibility.
Smaller manta ray species
The more common resident manta ray.
(Photo © Thomas Peschak)

Larger migrant manta ray
The larger species of manta ray.
(Photo © Andrea Marshall)
Far less is known about the larger species, as it appears to be more migratory and elusive, shying away from divers rather than seeking interaction as its smaller cousin often does. Andrea has only ever witnessed it arriving at sea-mounts or at particularly productive areas along the coastline to feed on plankton before disappearing into the blue once again. Little is known about its behaviour or migratory patterns, though it appears to be targeted heavily by fisheries, particularly in Southeast Asia, where thousands are killed each year.

The discovery of two distinct species has huge implications for the conservation management and protection of these mysterious gentle giants.

The larger, ocean wanderer knows no borders, making collaboration between countries on its protection essential, whereas protective measure within countries must be enforced to avoid resident manta ray populations crashing. Habitat degradation, harassment by boat traffic and even divers who interact with them at critical habitats such as cleaning stations and breeding areas are other threats these graceful animals face. They also fall victim to ghost nets and are killed alongside many other marine creatures as by-catch.

Andrea’s obsession with sharks travelled with her from the tender age of five until university when she discovered how little was known about their cartilaginous cousins, manta rays. Undeterred by the difficulties such research would involve she sold her belongings and in 2003 moved to a small coastal village in southern Mozambique, to become the first marine biologist to study manta rays off the African coast. Through her observations of the unique spot patterning on the ventral surface of each ray Andrea has identified over 900 individuals on a single reef, and she believes southern Mozambique may boast the largest known population of manta rays in the world.

Discoveries about the reproductive behaviour of these highly social and inquisitive creatures have also been an important outcome of Andrea’s research. Manta rays are now known to give birth to a single large offspring of about 1.4m after a year of gestation and, once reaching maturity at about 4m across, typically produce a pup every other year. Elaborate and sophisticated courtship displays are performed and they may communicate with one another using specific body posturing and perhaps sound.

Andrea Marshall talks about her discovery
Watch a video of Andrea Marshall talking about her discovery.
SOSF aims to learn more about the role of marine species, particularly sharks and rays, and through this knowledge it hopes to raise awareness and conserve the marine realm. Andrea’s many hours underwater have produced information critically needed for the protection of these threatened animals. We now know that there are at least two species, but we need to know a great deal more about their population structure and distribution so that we can devise and implement improved protection measures.
Learn more about Andrea's research project in Mozambique here.

Save Our Seas Foundation - Manta Rays: A new species?

Manta Rays: A new species?

A second, and possibly third, species of manta ray has been discovered in the world's oceans. This is the biggest news to date to come out of ray research, and its importance is the marine equivalent of discovering an unknown species of elephant.

The discovery that was announced by Andrea Marshall at the first International Manta Symposium held in Montreal last July. The discovery has important implications as it will significantly affect real world conservation ideas and policies.

The Manta Network -- Save-the-Mantas

Saturday, 11 October 2008 | Manta Madness Dive Package , offered by Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort

Manta Madness Dive Package
Offered by Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort
Come and dive with the Mantas of Kadavu on this awesome 10 day scuba diving package and stay at Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort directly on the Great Astrolabe Reef.

8 solid days of diving on the world renown Great Astrolabe Reef and Kadavu's all year round Manta Reef with Manta rays, devil rays and sharks.
* 7 day of 2 tanks diving (14 dives)
* 1 day of 3 tanks diving (3 dives)
* 1 night dive
* All day free access to shore diving at The Critter Junction
* 10 nights in Oceanview Traditional Bure
* All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, unlimited tea/coffee)
* Airport and boat transfers to/from Kadavu airport
* All taxes
Price F$2799 per person
(price based on Double Occupancy and valid to 31st March 2009)

Manta in Kadavu, Fiji
Manta in Kadavu, Fiji
Manta in Kadavu, Fiji
Manta in Kadavu, Fiji | Manta Madness Dive Package , offered by Matava - Fiji's Premier Eco Adventure Resort