Andaman Islands reef series starts… NOW

Butterfly fish

Now begins a series of ocean/dive/conservation photos from my divemaster training in January and February. This will continue for the next several weeks.

Above is a classic underwater vista from Johnny’s Gorge, off Havelock. This gives you a rough idea of what healthy reef looks like, though it’s fast disappearing due to an interrelated mix of coral bleaching, rising ocean temperatures and acidification due to CO2 absorption.

All of which is, at least partly, our fault. Sarcastic hooray for humans!

On an unrelated note, it’s clear that a proper Ikelite flash should be high on my list of upcoming dive purchases. Though I much prefer to shoot natural light, which is why the blog will essentially enter a blue phase whilst the dive photos are ongoing.

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Kicker rock reef

Hello fish

Kicker Rock fish just chilling out. Near San Cristobal, Galapagos. The islands don’t boast the most spectacular reef in the world, but cold, nutrient-rich water that flows up from deep ocean still fosters great, colorful sea life.

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For the record, shrimp fishing is hyper-destructive

Hauling it in

Puerto Lopez, that wonderfully sleepy fishing town, unfortunately sees its fair share of shrimp trawlers taking advantage of its rich, cold waters. Sadly, shrimp fishing is routinely harmful to the environment — ripping up vast amounts of reef-supporting life along the bottom of the ocean and catching (and mostly killing) up to 20 kilograms of “bycatch” for one kilo of shrimp.

As tasty as the shrimp are — Lord knows I’ve been a giant fan over the years — they are not fished sustainably. Please, please do not eat shrimp.

Equally unfortunate: the mass destruction of coastal mangroves and estuaries for shrimp farms. There are some alternative versions of shrimp farms that are considered sustainable — multi-species growth ponds like those used for centuries in Asia or modern, high-tech closed-loop systems — but the practice of grinding up other fish to eat shrimp is still a questionable practice at best.

Of course, shrimp fishermen (and dependent people and businesses) are a large block of the poor coastal economies worldwide. This is a huge challenge for the development and conservation sectors to answer: how can we keep these people sustained while also sustaining the environments they’re destroying?

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Lonely footwear

Lost flip flop next to one of my Reefs for comparison

On a railroad foot bridge in Bikaner, some small child lost a flip flop. Probably as a parent lifted the kid to catch a train.

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Those are actually pretty worms…

Christmas Tree worms living in stony coral

Christmas Tree worms living in stony coral

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