Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nominating Frederic Buyle's Photography-Magazine Cover

Every once in a long while comes an underwater image so stunning, so perfect, that you just sit quiet for a minute or two enjoying every single thing about it.

is one of those images. Please vote for this image by clicking this link today. The image is called "Dancing With Tigers".

To actually be able to "capture the moment" is every photographers dream. To capture that, and everything else is pure magic. Well done Frederic!

Latest shark diving hot spot? Boncuk Bay, Turkey

The latest hot spot for shark divers is not Isla Guadalupe but, as it turns out, Boncuk Bay, Turkey.

While we're not sure about the commercial appeal of Sand Bar sharks as a main item, any site in the Med that is reusing sharks instead of killing them has our support.

The hardest part about this new dive site is just pronouncing the street names.

MUĞLA - Doğan News Agency
Boncuk Bay situated in the Gulf of Gökova, a long narrow gulf in Muğla province in southwestern Turkey, will open for shark tourism in the upcoming months and has been sealed off to tourists at present.

The bay has been closed to domestic and foreign tourists. Serving caravan tourism for more than 30 years, the facilities in Boncuk, listed among the top 100 natural paradises of Turkey, have been sealed off. Currently, officials in Boncuk do not allow the entry of caravans coming from different parts of the world. Locals claim although the project is one that will save the sandbar sharks, which are harmless to humans, it is a blow to the long-established tourism business in the region.

Boncuk Bay, located within the official borders of Çamlıköy Village in the Mediterranean resort town of Marmaris, was declared a protected site in 1990. Last year, officials from the Environment and Forest Ministry, Dokuz Eylül University's Faculty of Fisheries, and the Underwater Research Society, or SAD, carried out some examinations in the bay.

Following the examinations, the Environmental Protection Agency for Special Areas declared Boncuk Bay a protected area since it is home to Carcharhinus Plumbeus, sandbar sharks.

Currently, Boncuk Bay is closed to tourism activity. Officials have placed a number of buoys in the water to restrict boat cruises, fishing, swimming, and scuba diving in the bay. Entry to the bay both from the land and the sea has been barred.

On the other hand, the Boncuk Camping and Tourism Facility, the only existing facility in the bay, has been sentenced to a YTL 18,000 cash fine for it repaired its toilets without official permission and its operating permit has not been renewed. The administrative authority in the region informed managers of the facility that the area has been appropriated for protection of sandbar sharks before it sealed it off.

Boncuk Bay is the only spot in the Mediterranean and the second in the world for proliferation of sandbar sharks that do not pose any danger to humans. Foreign tourists who come to the bay now have to change their destination to neighboring resort towns simply because they cannot enter the bay.

Bikini Shuts Doors To Sunken WW II Fleet...and Epic Shark Diving

Mounting financial losses have forced closure of scuba diving at Bikini Atoll — the premier tourist destination in the Marshall Islands — after 13 years of operations.

The inability of the national carrier Air Marshall Islands to get passengers to and from Bikini in the past eight months when both its planes were crippled with mechanical problems, coupled with skyrocketing fuel prices, undermined a profitable scuba diving business that lured visitors from Europe, America and Australia to this former nuclear test site, Bikini Atoll Divers manager Jack Niedenthal said Tuesday night.

Air Marshall Islands, a government-owned airline, did not fly from October until earlier this month, stranding dozens of divers late last year who had to be evacuated from Bikini by ship after planes repeatedly broke down. Although Bikini has been open for a new season since February, the national airline did not resume flights until early May and only two groups of divers have managed to get to Bikini this year.

Bikini was heavily booked in advance for both 2008 and 2009. But since airline disruptions began hurting Bikini in late 2007, the tourist destination has been hit with a wave of cancellations by divers wary of being stranded on Bikini if the now one-plane airline suffered a breakdown.

Conde Nast Traveler Magazine called Bikini Atoll one of the "Top 50 Worldwide Island Escapes." It was also the sight of a two-hour, live broadcast feature in 2004 by the Discovery Channel during its annual “shark week” program, and has been featured in dozens of dive articles since opening its fleet of World War Two wrecks and large shark population to divers in 1996.

Niedenthal said the Bikinians’ U.S.-invested resettlement trust fund has been hit by losses, dropping from just above $100 million to “the low $90s (millions)” and as a result the Bikinians could no longer sustain financial losses from the dive operation in the face of both poor air service and spiraling fuel costs.

“After 13 great-though-challenging years as one of the premier wreck diving and fishing tourism sites in the Pacific, Bikini Atoll will be closed to tourists as of June 11,” Niedenthal said. “We have made this decision due to the situation of our local airline, Air Marshall Islands, and also because of the rapid rise in the world price of fuel, which has made all of our operating expenses just skyrocket beyond our means.”

In August, the Bikini council will meet to plan out its 2009 budget and decide whether to reopen Bikini for diving next year, he said.

“Given the challenges our trust fund is facing because of the recent poor performance of the U.S. stock market and a recession-bound U.S. economy, the prospect of opening next year appears very doubtful,” Niedenthal said.

Closing down the Bikini dive operation is “very hard on the Bikinian leaders and our people as all of the proceeds from the operation have gone toward purchasing food” for the displaced Bikini Islanders, who live dispersed on three different islands in this western Pacific nation.

The first nuclear tests at Bikini in mid-1946 sunk a target fleet of American and Japanese warships, including the world’s only dive-able aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga.

Billionaire Paul Allen’s mega-yacht Octopus spent a week at Bikini in February, and one dive group flew there last week — the only divers to visit the atoll since last October.

They could be the last ones to enjoy Bikini lagoon’s underwater secrets.

Riviera Beach dive boat finds shark-mauled body in overturned vessel

UPDATE: We spoke with captain Mark Rose from the GSE this morning about this entirely sad event. According to him this vessel might have been overturned for at least two days. The Bahamian gov has not released the names of the three deceased-speculating that this group may have been Haitian refugees.

BY ANDY REID Sun-Sentinel

After jumping into the ocean to look for life on an overturned fishing boat, Riviera Beach dive boat captain Jonathan Rose realized the sharks got there first.

Rose and the crew of the Gulfstream Eagle were on a dive trip to the Bahamas with 22 passengers Sunday when the U.S. Coast Guard saw an overturned vessel near Memory Rock, north of West End. The Coast Guard aircraft was on a search for a missing sailboat from Fort Lauderdale when it found the overturned boat. Rose and his 115-foot boat were nearby and he offered his help to Bahamian authorities.

Rose said that when he got into the water, he thought he saw two life jackets tangled in fishing line floating by the boat. As one drifted away, his crew realized they were bodies and that at least one had been attacked by sharks.

"They started yelling for me to get out of the water," Rose, 26, said by satellite phone Monday.

Once Rose was back on board, he and his crew tied the overturned vessel to their own and dropped anchor. They were able to pull only one of the floating bodies from the water and decided to search for any others.

Rose swam beneath the boat and found two more bodies in a forward cabin. He said he pulled them onto his boat as one of his crew mates swam nearby with a spear to ward off two 12-foot tiger sharks swimming around them.

"We knew it had to be done," Rose said. "It's only fair and proper for the families to have closure."

The Freeport News reported Monday that the bodies of two men and one woman were recovered from the 35-foot vessel, thought to have overturned in water 8 to 22 feet deep. The nationalities and identities of the passengers had yet to be released, the paper reported.

A fourth person also was confirmed dead, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson.

Conditions had been rough in recent days, with 20-knot winds and 3- to 5-foot seas, Rose said.

Rose's family has been making trips to the Bahamas for 30 years. His father, Mark Rose, said Jonathan has been diving since he was 3 and that he knows how to protect himself around sharks.

Helping with searches and rescues is part of a life lived on the ocean, according to Mark Rose. He said about four or five times a year they end up hunting for lost boats and even helping stranded refugees.

Sunday was different, according to his son.

"It was a pretty horrible sight," Jonathan Rose said. "It's just not something you can get out of your brain."