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Sport Diver

Sport Diver November 2018

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United States
Bonnier Corporation
Back issues only

in this issue

2 min.
the death of two orcas

This past summer, a grieving orca called Tahlequah carried the body of her newborn calf, who died shortly after being born, for more than two weeks. The story brought international attention to the plight of her pod, known as J to the scientists who study Pacific Northwest orcas. As poignant as Tahlequah’s grief was, the death of another young orca from the same pod — three-year-old Scarlet — perhaps truly illustrates the crisis facing killer whales. Threatened by toxins, ship traffic and a lack of their primary food source — chinook salmon — the pod is down to just 74 members. Scarlet was the only viable offspring J had produced in the past three years. This is what extinction looks like in the 21st century. “It will be a great loss … if…

4 min.
mauricio hoyos

YEAR DIVE CERTIFIED 1997 AGE WHEN CERTIFIED 21 years DIVE CERTIFICATION LEVEL Master Scuba Diver WORDS TO LIVE BY “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”—David Attenborough Mauricio Hoyos, an expert in shark reproduction, is best known for his work conserving Mexico’s great white sharks. But his true calling just might be shark evangelist to the next generation. Q: What is your greatest challenge? A: The white shark is one of the most stigmatized sharks in the world. Although white sharks inhabit all oceans, we need more information about basic aspects of their ecology, population biology, movement patterns and migrations. In Mexico, available information is mostly anecdotal or based on dead specimens, providing little insight into the biology of living sharks. The most significant obstacle to designing…

1 min.
less is more

The Caribbean abounds in so-called marine protected areas — as many as 350 have been designated, by one count — but most of those are ill-defined ”paper parks” that lack effective protection, often because of limited enforcement resources. No-take or no-fishing zones are even more scarce than MPAs — as few as a half-dozen countries boast Caribbean zones where fishing is prohibited and, more important, regulations are enforced. Yet, while reliable statistics can be as difficult to come by as no-take zones themselves, multiple studies show that such restrictions consistently produce more and bigger fish for fishermen and spear-fishing divers right outside zone boundaries. Coral also has been shown to grow significantly faster in no-take zones. Yet no-take zones are still a hard sell, resisted by both sport and subsistence…

3 min.
the big stink

Avoid them or embrace them, though, sargassum blooms may be the new normal. And we have only ourselves to blame. The spring and summer seasons brought a new style for the Caribbean’s iconic white-sand beaches — mounds and mounds of brown, stringy, stinky sargassum. Divers encountered piles of the seaweed floating nearshore and covering beaches in Little Cayman, Barbados, Antigua, and other destinations throughout the Caribbean and western Atlantic. The unattractive, stinky seaweed kept many away from the sand and sometimes interfered with dive plans. Sargassum is usually a diver’s friend. This vital marine ecosystem provides food, shelter, breeding grounds and nursery habitat for a wide variety of life, including fish, sea turtles and birds. As mats lose their buoyancy and sink, they feed creatures throughout the water column. The algae also add…

1 min.
manicina areolata (rose coral)

The look of Manicina areolata can easily be confused for a juvenile maze coral (Meandrina meandrites) or juvenile boulder brain coral (Colpophyllia natans). When spotting this coral, it’s all in the shape, color and size. Colonies of Manicina areolata — also known as rose coral — can grow into two distinct forms. The most common is a small, oval-shaped colony with a long continuous central valley and shorter valleys on each side. If you were to flip this coral upside down, or find an old skeleton, it would be cone shaped and attached to the rock in the center with a small stalk. The second form is a dome or hemispherical shape. These colonies have more valleys and ridges winding through the coral. The ridges and valleys are often a…

5 min.
checking it twice

Underwater is the last place you want to be distracted. For divers, meticulous organization and thoughtful preparation can be the difference between the stressful smack of trouble and the soothing caress of success. Creating a checklist for complicated, commonplace tasks, such as packing, kitting up and maintaining your gear, provides considerable advantages, from saving time and preventing anxiety to avoiding accidents and increasing diver confidence. It’s a tool technical divers and experienced instructors utilize and recommend, for very good reasons. “During my certification dives in 1980, I was taught to lay out all my gear in human form so I could see at a glance if anything was missing — a good procedure — but using a checklist results in far fewer strange looks and less outright hostility on a crowded…