Cyclone Yasi batters North Queensland coast Photo

Cyclone Yasi batters North Queensland coast

As I write this Northern Queensland is being battered by Cyclone Yasi. The BBC reports that winds are reaching up to 290km/h (181mph), buildings are having their roofs ripped off and power has been cut to at least 100,000 people. The storm has struck south of Cairns and is moving inland, with forecasters warning of more severe damage for towns in its path. Yasi was originally classed as a category five cyclone as it crossed the coast which is the highest grade in the scale used to measure such storms. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology later downgraded the storm to category four but still classified it as dangerous.

Many Wetpixel members are in the path of this storm, and we fervently hope they and their loved ones will be OK.

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Shark conservation on CNN Photo

Shark conservation on CNN

CNN has featured a story entitled “Shark catching drives species to extinction”, highlighting the plight of sharks worldwide. They emphasize that sharks killed 6 people last year, while the shark finning industry killed about 73 million sharks, and that one third of all shark species are in danger of extinction. Matt Rand, director of the Pew Environment Group’s Global Shark Conservation Campaign, is quoted as saying:

If serious action is not taken soon, the fate of shark species playing a viable role in the marine ecosystem — one they’ve played for 400 million years — is in jeopardy. Some say we’ve past the turning point; I hope that is not the case.”

He goes on to talk about the current attempts to influence shark fishing policies at the current summit of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization being held in Rome. Exposure about shark fishing practices at this level can only be good for shark conservation.

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GoPro launches the BacPac LCD screen Photo

GoPro launches the BacPac LCD screen

GoPro has released the BacPac, a detachable LCD screen for GoPro HD HERO cameras. The screen will allow for easier framing of complex shots and playback of video and photographs directly on the camera and will ship with new backdoors that allow it to be used with existing waterproof housings. The BacPac interfaces with the camera via the HERO port on the camera and is the first of several expansion options that GoPro plan to offer.

The LCD BacPac will retail for $79.99 and is available now.

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Issue 15 of African Diver available Photo

Issue 15 of African Diver available

The February 2011 issue of African Diver is now available for download. Featured in issue 15 are articles about the magic of diving in the kelp forests of the Cape, a follow-up on the improvements made to baited shark diving in South Africa and a review of a visit to Pomene, Mozambique. In addition the magazine features the elusive and mystical dugongs of the Bazaruto archipelago and CJ Coetzee is the featured photographer

Africa Diver issue 15 is available as a free pdf download.

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“No Shell Blues” wins ocean acidification video competition Photo

“No Shell Blues” wins ocean acidification video competition

Cuyler Bryant has won first place in the Dialogue Earth Ocean Acidification video contest with the entry entitled “No Shell Blues”. Those familiar with Schoolhouse Rock, the popular educational cartoons from the early 1980s, will appreciate his entry.

Dialogue Earth is a hybrid start-up nonprofit, with a research operation based at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, whose mission is to increase public understanding on environmental topics. It plans to change the way science stories are told to the general public. “No Shell Blues” is the result of their pilot study.

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Favorable weather leads to high manatee count Photo

Favorable weather leads to high manatee count

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has reported a preliminary count of 4,840 manatees statewide during the annual synoptic survey. The aerial survey took place from 20 to 24 January.The goal of the survey is to count as many manatees as possible. While these survey results provide researchers with a minimum number of manatees in Florida waters at the time of the survey they are not considered a population estimate as the number of manatees that were not visible during the survey is unknown. Hence, these counts cannot be used to determine long-term population trends. Gil McRae, director of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said:

‘The relatively high counts this year are encouraging, given the extremely high number of manatees that died from cold stress in 2010.”

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