Picture of the week: Portrait of a Tiger shark

Juvenile tiger shark from Tiger Beach, Bahamas 

News: Orcas in peril in Puget sounds

Puget Sounds is a sound in the Pacific Northwest, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is located along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington. The Orca population in the southern resident part is endangered according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Declining salmon population and pollution pose the largest threats to the killer whales’ survival. The noises produced by increasing numbers of oil tankers passing by might be another factor. Chemicals and pesticides accumulate as the fish feed and eventually end up stored in the orcas’ fat. These toxins suppress the whales' immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to disease, and can affect the females' ability to reproduce.

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News: Tiger Beach update after the storm

Emma, one of Jims 'super models' at Tiger beach. Picture taken in 2009

Jim Abernethy one of the pioneers of Tiger beach shark encounters writes us the following good news:

‘We want to thank each and every person who has supported the Bahamas relief efforts over these past two months. The islands hit hardest by hurricane Dorian have quite a ways to go in terms of recovery, but we thank you all so much for your continued donations of hurricane relief supplies, prayers, and well wishes!.... 

At Tiger Beach; tiger, great hammerhead, Caribbean reef, and lemon sharks have all returned and are doing well! We've seen Emma a few times now since the storm's passing and she is healthy and happy. Great hammerheads have been spotted on several occasions this season; once even chasing down a southern stingray! Jim was surprised to see that even the reefs looked great, with sponges and corals intact. Initially, the entire reef was covered in silt, but has since cleared substantially. On our most recent trip, we enjoyed the presence of 5 tiger sharks, a frenzy of lemon and Caribbean reef sharks, with visibility ranging from 70-80+ ft at high tide....

We hope to see you out diving with us soon so that we may show you this incredible place and help you make friends with sharks!’’

Highlighted: Getting ready for paradise

A few weeks before my trip to Raja Ampat, its time to get ready for that long trip from the Netherlands to the Indonesian archipelago, and the hazards of airport line ups, baggage check-in, and custom controls. Schlepping with me two roller bags of 10 and 25 kilos. Why making such efforts? It all has to do with the reward waiting for the traveler at the end of the journey. It is called  Raja Ampat (‘Four Kings’) a coral kingdom at the heart of the Coral Triangle, identified as having the greatest diversity of coral and fish species on the planet. This jewel is located southwest of the Bird’s Head Peninsula region of West Papua,  a part of former Dutch New Guinea. The high seawater temperature will only require a thin wetsuit without carrying much extra weight. I expect to see mantas, wobbegong and blacktip sharks, schools of batfish, giant trevallies, sweetlips, and lovely coral landscapes. Away from the falling leaves and the cold November rains in Holland

News: All modern humans originated in northern Botswana, study says

According to a  new genetic study by Vanessa Hayes all modern humans trace our ancestry to a single spot in southern Africa 200,000 years ago. Suggesting that we all are descendants from the Khoisan in North Botswana. The name of the former paradise is  Makgadikgadi. What is now the Kalahari region of northern Botswana. ‘Mitochondrial Eva’, a DNA transferred from mother to daughter, is seen as a time capsule that gradually transforms with time.  The group investigated DNA extracted from the blood of 1217 African aboriginals. 

News: Dead coral rejuvenated

For the first time ever, scientists have found corals that were thought to have been killed by heat stress have recovered: a glimmer of hope for the world's climate change-threatened reefs. This was discovered by a team led by Diego Kersting at the Columbretes islands near Spain. It concerned the species  Cladacora caespitosa, which stands out as the only reef-building Madreporaria species in the Mediterranean and adjacent Atlantic (picture left by Veronique  Lamare)  In some areas of the Adriatic  Mediterranean sea, these corals may even occupy significant zones. The question, however, is the implication of this finding for other types of corals in the tropical oceans.

Highlighted: E-book update

This ‘E-book’  contains an updated collection of around 80  blog articles for the last three years.   I here provide two separate content lists, a list in which the articles are ordered according to the five most often recurring themes, and a chronological list. A simple click on the title will hopefully guide you to the article of your choice. For download,  click  next to the  PDF icon below

E-book