Florida and federal law prohibits “shark-finning at sea” but a March case from the Florida Keys seems to prove the practice continues.
A shrimp boat stopped at sea about 20 miles north of Key West reportedly reportedly carried between 60 and 80 shark fins, but no other product from the oceanic predator. Investigation into the case continues.
Harvesting some shark species is legal. However, catching a shark solely to remove its fins — considered an Asian delicacy — and throwing the rest of the shark off the boat and back into the water is banned under state and federal law. Live sharks returned to the water without their fins have no chance to survive.
“A person may not possess in or on the waters of [Florida] a shark fin that has been separated from a shark or land a separated shark fin,” says Florida law.
Once a shark is landed, the fins may be legally taken and sold.
The Florida Legislature this year passed SB 884 that increases penalties for shark-finning, but lawmakers dropped the main point of North Florida state Sen. Travis Hutson’s sponsored bill: Banning the sale or distribution of shark fins.
The Oceana conservation organization and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) have launched campaigns to ban the sale of shark fins.
“To protect sharks, we need to end the demand for shark fins,” said Lora Snyder of Oceana. “Shark-finning is cruel and wasteful and it’s putting some shark species at risk of extinction.”
A California congressman, Rep. Ed Royce (R), in March introduced H.R. 1456, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017. The bill remains alive and is awaiting committee action.
“The United States can set an example for the rest of the world by shutting down its market for shark fins, which are often harvested by leaving these animals to die a slow and painful death at the bottom of the ocean,” Royce said in a statement. “The bipartisan Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act is needed to eradicate shark-finning for good.”
DEMA, which hosts the world’s largest diving trade show this November in Orlando, urged its member businesses to tell congressional representatives to back Royce’s bill.
“Your business and the recreational diving industry are made stronger by divers’ ability to see these creatures in the wild,” DEMA advised.
“Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the most common shark species involved with the fin trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction,” DEMA says.
“Shark watchers spend an estimated $314 million on shark eco-tourism every year, and researchers expect that to double to $780 million in 20 years,” Oceana said in a report. “According to a recent study, sharks are the top species U.S. scuba divers want to see, and they will pay $35 extra per dive to see a shark.”
While there are already several camera-equipped underwater drones that allow you peek beneath the surface of your local waterways, they pretty much all have a couple of things in common – they’re propeller-driven, and they’re controlled via a physical tether that reaches to the surface. BIKI, however, is a bit different. It’s wirelessly controlled, and it “swims” by moving its fish-like tail.
When near the surface, BIKI can be controlled in real time via an iOS/Android app on the user’s smartphone, which also displays a live feed from the drone’s integrated 4K/30fps camera. If it’s going deeper, however, it either has to follow a dive route that’s been preprogrammed on the app, or it can be controlled in real time using a waterproof handheld remote that sends acoustic signals through the water.
Although the drone itself can go down to 196 ft (60 m), its remote has a control range of 33 ft (10 m). This means that if users want to control it in real time any deeper than 33 feet, they’ll have to put on scuba gear and go down there with it.
It should also be noted that once it goes deep, users will no longer be able to receive its live video feed. Although video will still be recorded on its 32GB of internal memory, that footage will have to be viewed after the dive. Two 114-lumen spotlights help illuminate whatever’s down there.
And while it’s underwater, it can keep from running into things via an infrared obstacle avoidance system. Additionally, as it’s equipped with GPS, it can automatically return to its launch point if it loses contact with its operator. One charge of its battery should be good for a claimed 90 to 120 minutes of use.
But … what’s up with that tail? According to BIKI’s manufacturer, Beijing-based Robosea, the technology is actually spun off of a Peking University system developed for underwater robots exploring Antarctica. Its main advantage over propellers is that it’s much quieter, so it’s not as likely to scare off aquatic life. As a side benefit, there’s also no chance of it cutting fingers or toes when used in a pool.
Although an integrated IMU (inertial measurement unit) does help the drone to remain upright while in use, it still tends to wiggle from side to side as it swims along at 1.12 mph (1.8 km/h). This shouldn’t show up in the video, though, as a stabilization system automatically pans and tilts the wide-angle camera to compensate.
If you’re interested in getting a BIKI of your own, it’s currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$599 will get you one, when and if it reaches production. The planned retail price is $1,024.
Steve Goodley, a standout amateur golfer, now makes a living diving for lost balls. He’ll try any golf course that’s a day’s drive from York and Dauphin counties. And he finds a lot more than balls in those murky ponds. Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record
There are good days doing the dirty, dangerous, most unexpected job around.
Like when the sun shines and a winter day warms through the 50s.
There was no glass or jagged metal on the bottom of the pond to cut hands. No snapping turtles to latch onto fingers. No ice to close off escape routes on that February morning.
And, best of all, no tangled lines to suffocate.
Steve Goodley dives murky, mysterious water for a living — in all weather, all seasons — in the pursuit of lost golf balls. He scours every course possible within a day’s drive from York and Dauphin counties and is even planning a mission to the Midwest.
He’s dived into some ponds enough to feel at home, like the one next to the 18th green of the Heritage Hills Golf Resort in Springettsbury Township. On that brilliant winter morning, Goodley disappeared beneath the water for 20 minutes at a time, finally dragging a 100-pound laundry bag full of cheery-colored balls from the muck.
Each one represented a few cents of a potential six-figure income — one requiring intense preparation, endurance and significant hazards.
Diving for golf balls is a pretty good living, if you can handle the hell of it.
• • •
There are the bad days in the most unexpected job around.
Start with the water. It’s often a foul-smelling soup of chemical run-off, geese droppings and who-knows-what-else.
“A cut can go septic pretty quickly,” Goodley said.
Plus, the bottom of even a shallow pond can be disorienting. Any movement unleashes a fury of sediment that renders visibility non-existent, all the easier to snag your airline on anything from the tentacles of a sprinkler to fishing tackle tangled in low-hanging trees.
“It’s very easy to drown doing this,” Goodley said without hesitating. “There’s all kind of things you can get hung up on.
“And if you panic … that’s the worst thing you can do.”
He knows that well. Take the time he accidentally rammed into an underwater pole while diving a frozen pond. His mask flipped sideways. His regulator popped out of his mouth.
He immediately bolted to the surface and slammed into six inches of ice, which felt like concrete.
Fortunately, he calmed and gathered his thoughts. He grabbed onto his air line, using it as a guide, and gradually pulled himself to the opening in the ice.
On another dive, the engine that pumps his air flipped off its floating inner-tube and cracked him in the face. He lost his mask and wasn’t able to breathe.
Even worse, he plummeted to the bottom, anchored to a thousand golf balls.
He agonizingly worked the knot free on the bag of balls and shot to the surface — just as he started to pass out.
He spit out “a ton of water,” swam to the bank and lay there for what seemed like forever.
“And I thought, ‘Is this really what I should be doing with my life?'”
• • •
Goodley keeps diving for golf balls for the independence of running his own business, and to stay close to the game.
He also believes he can do it better than most.
He’s always been supremely confident. He had to be in order to master the most unforgiving of sports, first at Dallastown Area High School in the early 1990s and then on scholarship at the College of Charleston. He even toured as a pro for a few years.
When that dried up, he turned to sales. But he missed golf. The idea for his latest venture came from his father, Tony, who dove for balls in the warm months to earn vacation money.
Steve Goodley decided to try it full-time a couple of years ago. The challenge of making it work through the fall, winter and spring drove him even harder.
And when he began finding enough golf balls — and reliable buyers to take them — he realized he was conquering an under-worked market made possible by errant swings, unfortunate rolls and lost tempers.
An estimated 200 million golf balls are lost in the U.S. each year, said Jeff Wall, vice president of procurement with PG Professional Golf, which bills itself as the world’s largest recycled golf ball company. Reed said PG buys from only about 30 operations as small as Goodley’s and said he is impressed by his tenacity and perseverance.
Goodley is one of the few in the state, if not beyond, who dives full-time and year-round. Bigger companies use “rollers” that pick balls off the bottom of ponds. While the machines miss potential pockets of balls — hiding places where only hands can reach — they alleviate the need for prolonged time in the water.
And there’s good reason for that.
“It’s always chilly, murky. It’s not like diving in the Caribbean,” said Don Beardsley, the vice president of golf operations at Heritage Hills. “I’ve done some scuba diving in my time, but I’m not going in there.”
Goodley said he once accidentally grabbed a snapping turtle so large it took him for a short ride along the bottom. He’s grabbed onto everything from car keys to bags full of clubs — to a car.
He’s come face-to-face with snakes. In the Deep South, divers must navigate poisonous water moccasins and alligators.
The risks don’t seem to faze those who buy in, like Roy Rossbauer, 45, a Bensalem, Pennsylvania, native who now dives out of Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Unlike Goodley, he uses scuba tanks and calms himself by singing through his regulator for hours at a time. He claims to earn between $250 and $1,000 a day diving in one of the top golf destinations in the world.
Rossbauer describes gators as more of a nuisance than a danger. He isn’t above ramming the aggressive ones in the snout or cracking them in the eyes with a fist full of sand. “You have to let them know who’s boss.”
Really, it’s all about what stands in the way of making a living.
Though Goodley earns only cents on each ball — and splits that with the course — it still adds up when he often finds a few thousand balls a day. A recent outing in Lancaster County netted him more than 100,000 balls over a dozen dives.
In turn, companies like PG Professional Golf, based in Texas, clean and re-package these recycled balls and sell them for less than half the price of new ones online, in golf course shops and through retailers.
“Working for yourself is priceless,” Goodley said. “I can support my family doing it, and I can be out of the water and home by the middle of the afternoon.”
Which means the rest of the day is for his young daughter or hunting or playing another round.
And for thinking about the next day. Not knowing what you may find each time you get in the water has a way of motivating, too.
Which leads to one more golf ball story.
It started with Goodley dropping to the bottom of a Maryland pond to clean off an intake pipe, a typical service he provides for the course.
That’s when things got weird. This pond was the deepest he was ever in, maybe 40 feet.
“I just kept falling and falling and falling, and I can feel the pressure of my face mask pushing in, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God.’
“I kept going and suddenly I glanced off something big, which scared the hell out of me.”
He crawled around the massive object for 10 minutes before finally grabbing onto something familiar: a windshield wiper.
He found a car at the bottom of the pond.
And he never did get straight answers as to why it was there.
Then again, why did he once find nine Odyssey putters scattered in the mud?
He doesn’t think much about those things. He focuses on his preparation and safety, which allows him to actually enjoy working in such dark, claustrophobic places.
“You’re in your own world. You just hear the gentle hum of the engine and your breathing in and out. It’s kind of like your own peaceful little world.”
Surfers are an easy target for sharks, especially in Australia, South Africa and California.
Fortunately, there are effective electronic devices that repel sharks by sending electrical pulses designed to keep deadly predators away from wave riders.
These anti-shark surf gadgets are detected by its sensory receptors, known as Ampullae of Lorenzini, causing mild-to-intolerable discomfort in the predator.
The shark deterrent system may save your life in shark infested waters. You can use the electronic shark defenses in your surf leash or back in the tail of your surfboard.
Most Common Species of Sharks
The Great White Shark
The Tiger Shark
The Bull Shark
The world’s most shark-infested regions
Smell, sight, hearing, electroreception and lateral line are the main shark senses. They provide critical information for the activation of protection defenses and attacks.
The average shark life expectancy is of between 20 and 30 years, depending on the species.
Sharks can reach a swim speed of 20 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour), when preparing an attack. Great white sharks can even peak at 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour).
The most dangerous and deadly species of sharks are the great white shark, the tiger shark and the bull shark. Get details about shark-infested surfing regions.
The requiem shark, the sand tiger shark, the black tip shark, the narrow tooth shark, the hammerhead shark, the spinner shark and the blue shark complete the list of the 10 most lethal species of underwater predators.
How to survive a shark attack
If you sight a shark in the water, first of all, stay as calm as possible.
Do not swim or paddle fast to the shore, otherwise you’ll ignite a shark attack.
Track the shark and try to understand if the animal is swimming around or preparing an attack.
Try to find obstacles, corners, cliffs, rocks, boats or shallow waters.
If you’re scuba diving, make air bubbles. Sharks don’t enjoy bubbles.
Sharks are strong, but they can be beaten.
If a shark attacks, defend yourself by hitting the predator in the eyes and gills. There’s a good chance that he will leave the scene.
Finally, swim to the shore. Blood loss should be immediately stopped with clothes, while the medical teams arrive to help you.
The International Shark Attack File has been building and updating the largest shark database in the world, with individual investigations of shark attacks worldwide.
The fear of sharks is known as galeophobia. Panic, racing heartbeat, nervousness, mental anguish and even dizziness are the most common symptoms when fearing sharks.
Shark phobia can only be treated with hypnotherapy and psychotherapy.
Mark Girardeau hovered his drone above the water in Dana Point, Calif., looking for movement.
Then he saw it: A dark figure darting swiftly; a fin piercing the ocean’s surface.
“I got one,” he shouted out as he zoomed in on the great white, swimming just yards from shore. On the sand, other lookie-loos clutched cell phones, trying to capture images of the sharks that have caused such a buzz in recent weeks.
As Girardeau watched, the shark show grew.
“I got two sharks. There’s two great whites right here … There’s actually three now!”
Not too long ago, getting even a glimpse at great white off the Southern California coastline was rare. The occasional lifeguard or surfer might see a fin — or think they did — but they almost never had evidence to back their claim.
Then came two changes. First, in recent years, more sharks have been hanging out close to shore in Southern California. The phenomenon isn’t totally understood and it’s unclear if it’ll last, but it’s been a constant for three years. Second, everybody has access to an explosion of technical advances — everything from drones to GoPros to better video and higher-def resolutions in cellphones — that make it easier to chronicle shark sightings.
That, in turn, has turned shark watching into a pastime. Apart from most surfers — who want to stay as far away as they can — the world seems fascinated to check out sharks near the shore. There’s even a “Shark Tour” available from boats in Dana Point, Calif.
“Thirty years ago, I thought, ‘a lot of people in Southern California might go their entire lives and never get an opportunity to see a shark in the wild,’ ” said Chris Lowe, a great white expert who leads the Shark Lab research project out of Cal State Long Beach.
That’s no longer true, Lowe said.
“In some cases, they are going to see a shark, and that will be one of the coolest things they’ll see in their life.”
Lowe said it’s more than just “they’ve always been there, we can just see them because of technology.” Fisherman, lifeguards, and longtime pilots have never seen as many sharks off the Southern California coast as they have recently.
Some encounters are a little too close to comfort. Last month, a woman nearly died after she was bitten by a shark while surfing at Church beach near San Onofre. A year ago, another woman nearly died after being bitten by a shark while she trained for a Triathlon by swimming off the shore in Corona del Mar. Those were the first two major shark attacks on record in Orange County, and part of a broader pattern of close encounters.
In recent months, sharks have even photo bombed surfers, sometimes without the human knowing what happened until they’d seen the footage.
That’s what happened to surfer David Woodward, who paddled out early March for a session at San Onofre State Beach. After owning his GoPro for five years, he decided to put it on his board to try it out.
“While sitting on my board in the takeoff zone, I saw a shark in the next wave. He was about ten-feet away, out in front of the left side of my board, about to swim past me,” he wrote in an email.
It was the fifth juvenile great white he’d seen in the area at Trails, a known nursery for great whites. Initially, he wasn’t too concerned.
Then the creature took a sudden 90-degree turn — in Woodward’s direction — and that got his attention.
“That’s all I saw because, at that point, I swing my board around and tried to catch that wave to get the heck out of there.”
When he got home, he looked at his footage: Behind him, the shark was in the cresting wave, just behind him.
Surf cameras dotting the coastline by Surfline.com have also captured some interesting action. There was a breaching shark at Lower Trestles near surfers, just weeks before the April 29 attack at nearby Church beach. That video went viral after it was posted on social media.
Dave Gilovich, director of editorial for Surfline.com, saw first-hand how the “cam rewind” technology works. After sitting in the line up at Uppers at San Onofre State Park, a shark breached near him.
“I was the only one who saw it,” he said, “but it was clear as day.”
He checked the time with a guy on the sand, made a mental note, then, later, hit the “cam rewind” on the camera directed at Uppers surf break.
“I waited and waited. And, all of a sudden — boom! — there it was.”
Then there was a chilling video at the same spot the morning after the April 29 attack, as three guys suddenly started paddling for shore.
“You could see all three of them turn immediately and paddle right back onto the rocks,” Gilovich said.
One of the surfers emailed him, asking if they had the footage of a fin that came 6-feet behind them, spooking them toward shore.
“We already posted that clip, here’s the YouTube link,” Gilovich responded.
He said the footage helps add to the awareness of the suddenly shark-infested situation in Southern California water.
“The new technology is educating us about what’s out there now,” Gilovich said.
On Wednesday, Dana Wharf Whale Watching captain Frank Brennan flew a drone over a group of sharks at Capistrano Beach, practice for a “Shark Tour” his charter company plans to hold on Saturday. The captain, with 30 years of experience in the ocean, said the shark sightings are unprecedented.
“It’s super new. Every once in a while, you might see one as you’re driving along, kind of random,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this, this many sharks.”
One five-footer even came close to check out his boat. He hopes he’s able to replicate the experience during the shark tour. They held a few last year when there was word of hammerheads in the area, but he thinks this time it’s going to give a whole new experience to spectators.
“A lot of people have been fascinated by sharks their whole life,” he said. “(Before), you’d have to go to Guatalupe Island or something and get in a cage. I know a lot of people are excited about it.”
Last week, two tow-boat drivers used GoPros to capture a cluster of sharks hanging around shore in Long Beach.
Ricky Birks, a 26-year-old from Huntington Beach, Calif., estimates that he saw 13 sharks, some as close as 50 feet from the beach.
“If you walk into the water, you’re ankle deep and you’re right next to them,” he said.
He noted that the great whites seemed to like the sound of the motor, and came to the boat and checked them out. The creatures also approached the GoPro the men had slipped into the water to capture shark close-ups. Several sharks swam over to it.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I spearfish and dive and scuba dive. I’ve seen sharks before, but not great whites,” said Birks.
“Seeing a great white that close up, it’s kind of scary.”
The sharks weren’t aggressive, and several people riding stand-up paddleboards slipped through the group without incident. He said about 6 or 7 of the sharks jumped out of the water.
“It’s a little eerie,” he said. “They’re just cruising around, feeding in the shallows.
“Hopefully, they can get what they need to get done and they can move on to the next spot,” he added.
Birks is working with Lowe’s Shark Lab to help document the animals. Lowe said the footage his team gets from GoPros is great, not just for the public, but also for scientific advances.
“They are the only thing we can afford, and they are good science tools,” he said of the images. “We can identify individuals, and count individuals, and measure how big they are.
“It’s a game-changer for science.”
Still, Lowe worries about the public getting too close to sharks. His team, he noted, has completed extensive training on how to behave near sharks.
“A lot of the times the public isn’t properly trained, that’s when people get injured,” Lowe said. “It’s cool to say you’ve seen a great white shark. But chasing them around isn’t a good idea.
“Because if they do feel threatened, they will defend themselves, like any wild animal.”
He said to remember that we are visitors. In the oceans, sharks are the locals.
“We have to respect their home,” Lowe said.
“If someone busted in your home to take pictures of you, chances are you’d be chapped.”
As part of the largest, most comprehensive study of larval dispersal ever conducted, scientists were able to determine that most of the juvenile clownfish stayed relatively close to home, settling at mean distances of 10-15 kilometers from their natal reefs. Credit: Simon Thorrold, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Marine reserves—sections of the ocean where fishing is prohibited—promote coral reef sustainability by preventing overfishing and increasing fish abundance and diversity. But to be effective, they need to be sized right, and in a way that accounts for how far juvenile fish travel away from their parents after spawning.
Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), along with researchers from Australia, France, and Saudi Arabia, have successfully measured the dispersal distances of two coral reef fish species across a 3,000 square mile section of the ocean—an area the size of Yellowstone National Park. The study, published in the May 8, 2017, issue of the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, marks the largest, most comprehensive study of larval dispersal ever conducted and has important implications for the sizing and spacing of marine reserves.
“How far fish will disperse in their lifetimes is critical when you start thinking about how marine reserves should be designed,” said Simon Thorrold, co-author of the study and a senior scientist at WHOI. “This is the first time we’ve been able to measure dispersal distances on spatial scales that are relevant to marine reserves, which means we can now provide data that informs management on optimal spacing and sizing.”
Marine reserves come in many shapes and sizes. But if a reserve is too small, it can’t accommodate enough larvae to sustain populations. And if it’s too big, larvae will simply stay within the confines of the reserve without contributing to surrounding fisheries—a critical secondary role marine reserves need to play to improve fisheries management.
To get a read on fish dispersal in the past, scientists relied on population genetics approaches that lacked the power to measure dispersal over space and time scales relevant to protected areas of the ocean. More recently, ecologists have turned to computer-generated models of water currents to track particles through virtual oceans. According to Thorrold, this approach also has limitations since there was no way to verify the accuracy of the models. “The software can generate a lot of cool-looking graphs, but it was impossible to test the skill of those models in any real way.”
An empirical approach
To overcome these limitations, Thorrold and his colleagues took direct measurements of dispersal distances in the field. They collected DNA samples from thousands of adult and juvenile clownfish and butterflyfish throughout Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, in 2009 and 2011. The entire sampling process occurred underwater, with the 30-person science team spending thousands of man-hours on SCUBA over several weeks in the field each year.
How far fish will disperse in their lifetimes is critical when you start thinking about how marine reserves should be designed, according to WHOI biologist Simon Thorrold, co-author of the new study. The research team found that butterflyfish dispersed further than clownfish, averaging distances of 43-64 kilometers before settling into their new habitats. Credit: Simon Thorrold, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
When the scientists returned to the lab, they used DNA parentage analysis, a sequencing technique that allowed them to match the juveniles up with their parents based on the DNA samples and spawning and settlement location data. From that, they were able to determine that most of the juvenile clownfish stayed relatively close to home, settling at mean distances of 10-15 kilometers from their natal reefs. The butterflyfish dispersed further, averaging distances of 43-64 kilometers before settling into their new habitats.
“Since we knew the respective locations of the adults and babies, we were able to come up with the exact linear distances that the larvae had dispersed. We’re no longer talking about estimates,” said Thorrold.
Benefits beyond design
In addition to helping inform the design of protected areas, the measurements can help to test the ability of reserves to perform key conservation functions. For example, one way a marine reserve network may improve fish population sustainability is through the so-called “rescue effect.” In theory, if fish in a reserve suffer catastrophic mortality, the reserve can be repopulated by larvae from other reserves within the network. Thorrold and colleagues were able to track larvae from one reserve to another in the study area, confirming that rescue effect is likely to occur in real-world reserve networks.
The dispersal measurements could also allow fisheries managers to monitor the effectiveness of existing reserves, helping answer the question of whether or not a particular reserve is contributing to fish populations beyond its boundaries. This, according to Thorrold, has been a big unknown.
“If you can trace larvae from one reserve to a place that’s fished, you can come up with a direct measure of how many fish the reserve is contributing to exploited populations beyond the reserve,” he said. “This helps when trying to convince fishermen that networks of marine reserves are a good management tool.”
According to Thorrold, as coral reef seascapes continue to face pressure from man-made stressors, marine reserves will continue to serve as an important conservation management tool. As such, it will become increasingly important to be able to provide direct measurements of larval dispersal, and find ways to apply the information to other regions of the ocean.
“The next thing we are working on is developing a coupled bio-physical model of the area that will allow us to take the results from this study and generalize them to other coral reef seascapes around the world,” he said. “Limited resources for ocean management, particularly in the developing world, means that we need to maximize the chances of successful conservation outcomes from these efforts. These types of scientific insights will be critical for ongoing efforts to promote resilience of coral reef ecosystems in the face of human exploitation and climate change.”
UTRECHT, Netherlands – A Dutch foundation aiming to rid the world’s oceans of plastic waste says it will start cleaning up the huge area of floating junk known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next 12 months, two years earlier than planned.
The Ocean Cleanup aims to use long-distance floating booms that act like coastlines to gather plastic as it drifts on or near the surface of the water while allowing sea life to pass underneath. The plan originally was to anchor the barriers to the sea bed with a system used by oil rigs, but the organization said Thursday it now will use anchors that float beneath the water’s surface, making it much more efficient.
The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutch university dropout Boyan Slat, announced that testing of the first system will start off the U.S. West Coast by the end of the year and barriers will be shipped to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii in the first half of 2018, two years ahead of the organization’s earlier schedule. The patch is a huge area of the ocean where swirling currents concentrate the trash.
“At the ocean cleanup we always work with nature. So instead of going after the plastic, we let the plastic come to us, saving time, energy and cost,” Slat, a shaggy-haired 22-year-old, told the Associated Press.
Floating barriers concentrate the plastic garbage at a central point where it can be fished out of the water and shipped back to dry land for recycling.
The organization discovered that the barriers are more efficient if they are allowed to slowly drift instead of anchoring them to the sea bed.
Free-floating barriers begin to act like the plastic they aim to snare, so “the cleanup systems will automatically gravitate to those places where most plastic is,” Slat said. “And that now causes the efficiency to be a lot higher because there is just more plastic in front of these systems and therefore we can now clean up 50 percent of the patch in just five years’ time.”
The innovative system is the brainchild of Slat, who decided to dedicate himself to cleaning up the world’s oceans after he went scuba diving in Greece at the age of 16 and saw more plastic bags than fish.
The young entrepreneur’s system is making waves among America’s super-rich philanthropists. Last month, his foundation announced it had raised $21.7 million in donations since November, clearing the way for large-scale trials at sea. Among donors were Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Nancy Wallace, director of the Marine Debris Program at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said much of the garbage in the world’s oceans is found throughout the water column – at different depths. That would likely put some of it out of reach of Slat’s barriers.
However she applauded The Ocean Cleanup for bringing the issue to a broad public.
“The more people are aware of it, the more they will be concerned about it,” Wallace said. “My hope is that the next step is to say ‘What can I do to stop it?’ and that’s where prevention comes in.”
The organization’s barriers don’t catch tiny plastic particles floating in the ocean, but Slat says that by scooping up larger garbage like fishing nets, crates and other rubbish, they prevent those items breaking down into smaller particles that can be eaten by fish and other wildlife.
“Of course we will never get every last piece of plastic out of the ocean,” Slat said. “There will always be a size that’s too small to clean up but it’s really about cleaning up the bulk – as much as possible for as little costs as possible.”
Two physicians will discuss the health issues scuba divers face during a talk Thursday at Saint Vincent Hospital.
David Bruce @ETNBruce
Scuba diving is a safe sport with relatively low fatality and injury rates. Fewer than 125 people die worldwide each year from diving-related activities, according to the Divers Alert Network.
But accidents do happen, and mistakes can lead to serious, even life-threatening health problems, said Sidney Lipman, M.D., an Erie physician and diver.
“I call it Mike’s Law in honor of a friend of mine who was a scuba diver and pilot,” said Lipman, an ear, nose and throat specialist. “The critical thing with diving is not the risk but the margin of error. The margin of error for scuba diving is nonexistent. Mistakes can quickly become fatal.”
Lipman and Jack Anon, M.D., a fellow physician and diver, will discuss how divers can practice their sport safely during a talk Thursday at Saint Vincent Hospital. “Diving Medicine for Scuba Divers” is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the hospital’s McGarvey Learning Center.
The event was organized by local diver Brian Gilmore and Matt Dickey, owner of Diver’s World. It is free and open to the public, though reservations should be made by calling 459-3195 or visiting the Blue Dolphin Skin Divers Facebook page.
“I had a diving student who suffered a ruptured eardrum but didn’t have the typical symptoms,” Dickey said. “We suggested he see Dr. Lipman. I later talked with Dr. Lipman, and we thought it would be good to have a talk about these kind of diving-related issues.”
Ruptured ear drums and other ear and sinus problems are often caused by the rapidly changing water pressures divers encounter when going below the surface. More severe issues, like the bends, occur when nitrogen bubbles from dissolved gases enter tissues or the bloodstream because of rapidly decreasing pressure.
“You can develop serious pressure problems at four feet of depth,” Lipman said. “That’s why divers are instructed not to hold their breath when diving, and to pinch their nose, close their lips and breathe out as they go under the surface.”
The talk will follow the group’s regular monthly meeting. Gilmore, a member of the Blue Dolphins, said he believes the physicians will provide information that benefits new and experienced divers.
“New divers have so much to learn, but I think we will all learn something from this,” Gilmore said. “It’s not just for beginners.”
David Bruce can be reached at 870-1736 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNbruce.
A German ‘free diver’ has apparently entered the Guinness World Records by holding his breath under water for more than 20 minutes.
Tom Sietas, 35, competed with former record holder, Brazilian Ricardo Bahia, to set the new record by not inhaling for 22:22 minutes.
The extraordinary feat is thought to have been completed in China in a pair of tanks next to one another over the weekend. Bahia’s previous record was 20:21 minutes.
During earlier heats of the competition between Tom Sietas (right) and Ricardo Bahia (left), Sietas emerged from the tank having completed 18:16 minutes under water
When he is first put into the tank it is 5°C and the temperature is slowly raised. His heart is also monitored while a lifeguard is on standby ready to pull him from the water should it become necessary
Pictures have emerged from earlier in the competition when Sietas achieved a time of 18:16 minutes.
Sietas pictured in 2007 when he set the record by holding his breath for 15:02 minutes
help competitors with the task when they were first plunged into the
water it was 5°C but as the challenge continued that rose to just shy of
Sietas has broken
his own records on multiple occasions for the event, officially known as
static apnea, since he first started doing it in 2000.
But he has also earned several records for ‘dynamic apnea’ – swimming as far as possible under water without breathing.
Sietas has said in the past that he does not eat for five hours before carrying out the stunts to slow his metabolism.
then fills his lungs with as much pure oxygen as he can, but even
without that he once held the record for static apnea without pure
oxygen first, holding his breath for 10:12mins. The current record was
set by Stéphane Mifsud in 2009 with a time of 11:35mins.
has a lung capacity that is 20 per cent larger than average for a
person of his size and his ‘talent’ was first noticed when his
scuba-diver instructor noticed his ability to hold his breath.
Sietas (right) has broken his own records on multiple occasions for the event, officially known as static apnea, since he first started doing it in 2000
Daydreaming about a getaway to an overwater bungalow suspended over cerulean water?
You don’t need to tap your retirement savings for a trip to some far-flung, ultra-luxury property in the Maldives or French Polynesia.
As Coastal Living points out, there are plenty of sublime overwater bungalows closer to home than you might imagine. And it only takes a few hours to get to them from several U.S. cities. Best of all, you can fly to all of these overwater stays for less than $400 round-trip. You’ll still need to pay for the bungalow, but cheap airfare will get you half way to total relaxation.
From white-sand beaches in Mexico to underrated destinations in Central America — and one very glamorous Caribbean retreat — these overwater bungalows leave nothing to be desired.
Fly to Azul Paradise in Panama for $368 round-trip.
According to Scott’s Cheap flights, flights to Panama are seriously on sale right now, with fares starting at $368 round-trip this summer. Travelers can leave a early as late May from Boston, Las Vegas, and Orlando, and stay in one of 10 intimate bungalows at Azul Paradise, in Bocas del Toro. Panama City is just over three hours from Orlando, with short, hour-long regional flights to archipelago’s main village, Bocas Town.
Visit the Rosewood Mayakoba for $279 round-trip.
New York area travelers can fly to Cancun in four hours, and be immediately transported to a white sand paradise.
Courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba
Deluxe Overwater Lagoon Suites at the Rosewood Mayakoba — about a 40-minute drive from Cancun in Riviera Maya) — are ultra-modern and suspended over a freshwater lagoon.
Check out Jamaica’s new overwater villas for $379 round-trip.
A collection of new Over-the-Water Villas at the Sandals Royal Caribbean is probably going to change your entire outlook on all-inclusive resort stays. Nightly rates are high, but they’re completely all inclusive (even your cocktails, golf outings, and scuba diving). And this summer, flights to Montego Bay are available for only $379 round-trip from Atlanta.
Fly to Belize for $346 round-trip.
In about seven hours, you can be in the beautiful Central American country of Belize.
Courtesy of Cayo Espanto
Two properties with overwater bungalows really shine here, including the one-bedroom villa with turquoise shutters at Cayo Espanto and the five stilted bungalows at the private island resort, Thatch Caye.