Wednesday, 24 October 2012

For the Greater Good: A Call To Remove Unnecessary Shark Control Methods

By Ryan Pearson 
In a world where man has negatively impacted so many facets of the natural environment just to feed the planets vast human population, I pose the question “How is it justifiable to decimate entire populations of marine species to protect our leisurely pursuits?” Looking into the future, the rapidly expanding human population is likely to have more and more seemingly unavoidable impacts on natural systems through things like climate change, over-fishing, eutrophication, and the input of anthropogenic pollutants (Ricel and Garcia, 2011). It is clear that many necessary human endeavours will have some significant negative impacts, with potentially dire repercussions for the state of the entire planet. Research indicates that by 2050, a 50% increase in fishery production from 2011 levels will be required just to feed the human population (Ricel and Garcia, 2011).  This is a figure that many agree the oceans simply can’t hope to support. Despite a general awareness of these impacts, humans often campaign for and implement further destructive mechanisms that are not necessary for the survival of our species, but may have dire consequences for others. Shark control programs are one such example.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Magical Mystery Dive

Divers DD and Amanda try to shoot our friendly green turtle at the cleaning station. Photo: Ryan Pearson

By Ryan Pearson
Today was the first ever Griffith University Dive Club Mystery Dive. 10 people jumped in the bus at 5am with only one person (me) knowing where we were headed. We ended up going out on Supercat with Nautilus to Flinders Reef. What a fun day!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Goods in the Bad

Sad Seahorse (Hippocampus tristis). Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Well, the dive conditions dropped off today. After a few 20m+ visibility days, the vis dropped to about 5m today thanks to a strong NW wind... BUT... this was one of my most successful photography days in a while. I'm pretty happy with the result, and here they are so I hope you enjoy...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Things that Bubble in the Night

Common Sydney Octopus (Octopus tetricus). Photo: Ryan Pearson

By Ryan Pearson
I just got back from an amazing night dive in the Gold Coast Seaway. Clear water, minimal current, and there were molluscs everywhere. Octopus, nudibranchs, bubble shells and more. Here are the pics.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Please Don't Ruin Our Seaway and Spit

Me on yesterday's dive in the Gold Coast Seaway surrounded by Bigeye Trevally. Photo: Ian Banks
By Ryan Pearson
What an amazing place the Gold Coast Spit and Seaway is! This weekend I was down there early Saturday morning to help shoot a documentary on the area, and then on Sunday afternoon I was back for a cheeky little afternoon dive (partly to help wash away a hint of a hangover, but that's beside the point). Both were very successful days, and the Spit was buzzing with both life and leisure on both visits... how could the Gold Coast possibly do without this amazing area? And why should we have to?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Heron Island and the Amazing Marine Biology Field Course

Frank Vorster and Nick Yabsley hard at 'Work'. Photo: Ryan Pearson

By Ryan Pearson
Wow! What a week. Thank you Dr. Tim Stevens and Griffith University for giving us this opportunity. It was a great mix of hard work and harder play. The amount of times I heard the words 'fantastic' and 'beautiful' were off the scale, and they weren't exaggerations. Truly an amazing experience that has topped off my uni experience in my final semester. Here are the stories of the week... and a bunch of pics.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines - the cool critters and notable absentees.

A Turtle swims overhead at Tongo.
By Ryan Pearson
DD and I came to Moalboal when we were in the Philippines 2 years ago, and we remember it being amazing! Mind blowing even. There was a massive school of sardines that completely surrounded Pescador Island, and was one of the main attractions along with the Thresher Sharks that came in hunting them. This year... they're no where to be seen...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Malapascua Island: Dives 7-10 - Deep Rock, Gato Island, and Monad Shoal

One of the three Pygmy Seahorses we found at Deep Rock. Unfortunately the little bastard wouldn't look at me. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
This morning we did our last dive at Malapascua Island (for this trip at least). It was a great dive at Monad Shoal at dawn and we had a thresher shark with us up close for about the first 35 minutes. After that we spotted about 4 more sharks and a gigantic bed of garden eels. In all a great way to finish the trip. Yesterday we did two dives at Gato Island, and the day before we had one dive at Deep Rock. Gato and Deep rock are competing for my two favourite sites that we dived as they are both bursting with interesting critters, white-tip sharks, cuttlefish, and sea snakes. I found myself constantly thinking 'What the hell is that?' Here are the pics I got from the dives. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Malapascua Island: Dive 6 - Monad Shoal and the Thresher Sharks

My first Thresher Shark. Photo: Ryan Pearson

By Ryan Pearson
WOW! We got one! A thresher at last! Our 4am wake up paid off this morning with warm clear water, and a thresher shark virtually as soon as we descended. Unfortunately, the rules don't allow for any artificial light source on the shark dives, and being a dawn dive it's very hard to take photos... but I got a couple of them.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Malapascua Island: Dive 3,4,& 5 - Monad Shoal, Dona Marylin, & Gato Island

My first photo of a porcelain crab. Photo: Ryan Pearson

By Ryan Pearson
Today was the day we were supposed to have our first thresher shark encounter... we didn't. But we did have an epic wreck dive, followed by a dive at possibly the most amazing site I've ever been too. Unfortunately, my pics here don't do it justice, but it was truly incredible. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Malapascua Island: Dive 2 - The Night at Bool

The tiniest squid I've ever seen. Yes, it's sitting in regular sand and those are the grains you can see! Photo: Ryan Pearson

By Ryan Pearson
Dive two at Malapascua Island with Thresher Shark Divers was a night dive at the site known as Bool. Amazing! I saw 4 kinds of cephalapod: a squid, a small cuttlefish, a small octopus, and a tiny tiny tiny bobtail squid... but I only managed to capture a decent image of the smallest of them all (above). This was another critter dive and we saw our second sea snake in two dives. Below are some pics, enjoy.

Malapascua Island: Dive 1 - The Muck of Chocolate Island

By Ryan Pearson
We just got back from our first dive with Thresher Shark Divers at Malapascua Island, Cebu, Philippines. This was a muck dive at one of the nearby islands called Chocolate Island. There were soft corals everywhere, as well as an endless supply of critters. Check out some pics below that I've managed to quickly upload before we head off for our second (night) dive...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Whale Sharks? Yes please!

Two whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) at Oslob, Cebu, Philippines. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
I've been in the Philippines for a few days now, and we're having a blast. Being fed too much amazing food, and buying too much stuff for super cheap. We are staying with DD's family in Lapu-lapu, in Cebu city. The people are truly amazing and their hospitality is second to none! Today, Chano drove us 3 hours south (and back again) from Cebu city at about 4am to go swimming with whale sharks. Were we excited? Heck yes we were, and we were certainly not disappointed!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sundive Photo Comp 2012: The Results!

A goby. The interrogator  Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
So... this year's photo competition has come to an end. I managed to get 3 dives in during the competition, and given my strobe issues, I had to shoot everything using only my dive torch as a light. I didn't win any prizes, but I'm relatively happy with the pics I ended up with... and here they are.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Sundive Photo Comp 2012: Blog Diary

An anemone shot with only my dive light as illumination. Photo: Ryan Pearson
So... today wasn't the best day of my underwater photography career. What's that saying/law? Murphy's law? Anything that can go wrong, will make you cough up a lung and prevent your camera from working... yeah that sounds about right.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

GUDC Cleans Up The Seaway!

Team Clean-Up with the spoils of our efforts. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
A heap of members from the Griffith Uni Dive Club took time out their busy schedules to do some good for the marine world today. Here's our story...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Do Cruise Ships Bring The Money?

Cruise ship terminals sound like a good idea for the local economy.... but are they?

Artist, John Wayne's, impression of proposed cruise terminal on the Gold Coast
By Ryan Pearson
With Mayor Tom Tate ‘promising’ to build a cruise ship terminal in the Seaway, I felt it prudent to have a look at the impacts similar structures have actually had on other communities worldwide. Mr Tate’s whole reason for wanting this terminal – at least his public reason – is to inject much needed tourist dollars into the Gold Coast. Forgetting about the environmental impacts of having a cruise ship terminal in the Seaway for a moment, let’s have a think about what this proposal may actually mean for the local economy.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Do you use the Gold Coast Broadwater? Your voice is needed.

Before I start, may I ask one thing? Please share this, share it far and wide... it's important...
The Seaway, taken from a vantage point that may soon be inaccessable without a passport and boarding pass. Photo: Ryan Pearson

I'm waiting?

Oh... you need an explanation first. Ok, if I must... 

By Ryan Pearson
The Gold Coast Seaway, the Spit, and the Broadwater are in trouble. They are about to be changed forever, and our access to these precious areas is soon to become severely limited... if our new mayor Tom Tate has his way.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Evolution is Wicked: The Real Life Detachable Penis

An Anemone Hermit Crab (Dardanus pedunculatus) who's anemone has latched onto an Epitoke. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Ever been on a night dive and had what seems like a billion tiny worms shooting all around you? Worms that aren't generally there and seem to pop up en masse randomly and unexpectedly? Well I have, and I've heard similar stories from other divers. One night in the Gold Coast Seaway, I had this happen to me, and ever since I've been wondering just what the hell they were... well I may have found the answer.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Climate Change is NOT Global Warming

By Ryan Pearson
There have been a few things in the public arena in this past week that I feel obliged to make comment on. This is the first of them. Earlier in the week there was a documentary, and subsequent debate on QandA on the ABC titled "I Can Change Your Mind About...Climate". The documentary featured an environmental activist, Anna Rose, and a 'skeptical' politician, Nick Minchin, each trying to convince the other that climate change does or does not exist. While I believe there is overwhelming evidence in one direction (no, not the boy band), neither really succeeded. There are a number of reasons for this, but for this blog I really wanted to focus on what climate change actually means. And to make an attempt to wade through some of the mystery that led to the actual topic barely even being addressed in a documentary about the subject.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Evolution of Religion: For Children

Common Sydney Octopus (Octopus tetricus). Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
I read this dialogue recently and thought it was brilliant. The short run down is that it's a dad explaining various relatively complex chemistry concepts to his three year old daughter. It's brilliant as an entertainment piece, but in reality it does very little for the education of his daughter, and even less for the 'stop her asking me stupid questions' factor that I'm sure pretty much all parents go through. This got me thinking about the science vs religion debate... was religion created purely for the ignorant to quell the never-ending questions of an infant?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Hunt For Sea Porn...Stoner Style

Estuarine Stonefish (Synanceia horrida). Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Early last year, a few of us were on a dive in the Gold Coast Seaway, and saw something amazing. It was dusk early in the new year, the full moon was approaching, and we were diving on the high tide. The first thing we noticed was an abundance of stonefish - the most venomous fish in the sea - and they were acting strangely... 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Julian Rocks Does It Again

A Leopard Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) cruises overhead. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Yesterday's dives at Julian Rocks were lovely. Not quite as epic as last time we were there (we didn't see a million Manta Rays this time), but still great with plenty to see. We were too late booking in so couldn't get onto the second dive of the morning so we had to do the first, and third dives. This was great for the fact that we could go and get some food in between dives, but it was also awful because we had to get up at 4am to get there on time. Regardless, we had a great day and I snapped all of the shots below on the two dives.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Biodiversity Gone the Gold Coast Seaway!

Marbled Rockcod (Epinephelus maculatus). Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
I went for a dive in the seaway on Saturday, and ran into a whole bunch of fishes I'd never photographed before. Recently, I went through all of my underwater photo's and catalogued every marine species I have taken pictures of... to a grand total of 143 species in just over 12 months of taking underwater photos. On Saturday, I added 12 more to that list (plus another 4 that I'm yet to identify)... here are a few of them.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

All It's Cooked Up To Be

Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Today DD, Ben and I ventured to Cook Island, off Tweed Heads in NSW. This was DD and my first time at Cook, and it didn't disappoint. We went out with Tweed Seasports, and the helpful, friendly staff made it a very enjoyable day. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Leopards and Turtles and Rays... Oh My!

A 4-5m giant Manta Ray that had a heap of Cobia as groupies and hung around for about 10 minutes. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Wow. Wow. Wow! What a day, and what a couple of dives. Today I ventured down to Byron Bay, to dive at Julian rocks with Sundive for my first time in the water with my camera this year (yes, I've been busy and the summer rain hasn't made the diving all that awe inspiring in the Seaway). And let me say it again... WOW! Five types of rays, the leopard sharks and wobbegongs were everywhere, and there were a seemingly infinite amount of other fish life to fill in the gaps between main events. Amazingly, those gaps were always short lived, and there was plenty of 'main event' action.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Shark Finning: Why we shouldn't lie.

My view on a screenshot from a misguided shark conversation film featured below.
By Ryan Pearson
Shark conservation is serious business. People are putting their lives on the line in defense of sharks, just like the Sea Shepherd crew do every year for the whales in the southern ocean. In fact, Sea Shepherd are also a huge driving force behind the shark conservation movement. Gordon Ramsay recently put his own life on the line in an effort to raise awareness for the plight of sharks and target the shark-finning industry. The thing is, there are also a lot of misguided efforts, and some activists are resorting to outright lying in order to get their point across. While in the short term, the public may have the desired response, the long term result is only going to drive popular opinion further and further from where it needs to be as more and more falsehoods are exposed.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Productivity in an Estuarine Environment

Seagrass beds in Estuaries support enormous biodiversity including this Blacklip Conger Eel (Conger cinereus). Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Where does all of the productivity come from in an Estuary? You may ask yourself, 'why the hell do I care?'. You may also ask 'Is there any productivity? Estuaries are just dirty, stinky, and full of mosquito's, mangroves, and salt marsh'. Surely there couldn't be anything of importance going on there. You may even go as far as asking yourself 'What the hell is this productivity he speaks of and what in the belly of an amphipod is an estuarine environment?'. Well, prepare to be enlightened...

Friday, 27 January 2012

Tales of Scales and Scaly Tails

Possibly the cutest rat in the world? Bush Rat. Rattus fuscipes. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
My recent trip into the wilds of Bauple was about more than just frogs and toads, in fact, the focus was more on other types of critters...the reptiles and mammals... and jeepers are there some similar looking and hard to identify varieties.  For the mammals we caught bandicoots, possums, mice, rats and a bunch of marsupials that look like mice and/or rats... but aren't. For the reptiles we caught monitors, goannas, dragons, geckos, and a heap of different varieties of skink. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Vanuatu: A Divers' Paradise... or is it?

Vlaming's Unicornfish at Paul's Rock. Naso vlamingii. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Well, I don't have the bloody answer to that question do I? Why are you asking me? Ok wait, maybe I do have some opinions on the topic after my recent trip to Port Vila over Christmas. DD and I gave the region a thorough work out, testing out three different dive shops and six sites around the capital... with varying results.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Amphibians of Bauple

Mixophyes fasciolatus. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Last month I was out bush helping with the field work for a PHD student. During this week in the bush (in and around Bauple, QLD, Australia), we encountered many different types of frog and toad. I'm going to use this space to talk a little bit about the amphibians we found, but also the process of identifying these creatures.