Ocean Geographic Updates

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Pamela Martin

A few thoughts on Climate Change

Walking down the street on a beautiful sun filled spring morning it's easy to simply enjoy the moderate temperatures loved by Sydneysiders this time of year and forget about the climate woes the worlds top scientists have been predicting now for years.

I walk into the supermarket, order my decaf latte and pick up the paper. It’s the Financial Review with a bold headline “IPPCC more certain about warning”

I read further to find the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report written by 831 leading scientists from 85 countries are now predicting future temperature rises of up to 6℃ and sea-level rises even higher than predicted in earlier reports. This is the fifth report written by the IPPCC containing increasingly bad news every time the government is handed one.

The naysayers on climate change, which now include members of Australia’s newly elected government including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, argue it has little to do with us mere mortals and that global temperatures have been changing from the beginning of time.

The report states clearly so everyone can understand “It is now unequivocal, earth has warmed since the start of the 20th century by 0.89 degrees” The report has also upgraded is findings from it’s previous 2001 report “that man-made activity is causing global warming” In the 2001 report our world scientists were 65% sure this was the case, today they are now 95% sure.

At the same time I am baffled by the news that Prime Minister Abbott has disband the Climate Change Commission and is now leaving the job of informing the Australian public on crucial climate change issues up to private sector, concerned scientists such as; Professor Tim Flannery, Gerry Hueston and Professor Will Steffen. The new independently formed Climate Council now has to resort to crowd funding in order to continue the much-needed work on climate change. This body is without political agenda and is there to present clear facts on climate change to the people of Australia. The Government by disbanding the Climate Change Commission before the IPPCC reports release has swiftly and unashamedly attempted to limit the dissemination of information on climate change to the Australian public.

As I ponder these issues on my way to the park, watching people walk there dogs and go about their day, seemingly unaware of the environmental global crisis humanity is now facing, my head fills with more questions than answers, questions such as: Why does our government argue, disregard and refuse to act on the findings provided by the top world scientists on climate change? Why is our Government doing everything in it power to limit access to the information provided by these scientists? And in the knowledge of the IPPCC findings what are we as a society prepared to do in order to create lasting change for our environment, while it's still possible?

It is no longer a matter of saving the animals I now truly believe it’s a matter of saving the humans.

To spell it out, if temperatures rise by 6℃ from our highest summer temperature in Sydney for 2013 being 45 ℃ our summer temperatures would rise to 51℃. If our Oceans rise by 2100 by 80cm as predicted, there will be no Bondi Beach and the Kakadu wet-lands would be destroyed. There will be no walking our dogs enjoying moderate spring temperatures or going to the beach to enjoy summer days with our families as we do today. We will continue to endure destructive, unseasonal super storms, devastating weather patterns with droughts, floods and fires and the biodiversity of our planet will continue to decrease into extinction.

It is no wonder that David Suzuki in a recent talk at UNSW suggested there should be criminal penalties imposed on leaders who have blatant disregard and refuse to act on climate change issues, as our way of life is at serious risk of collapse if nothing is done.

We will be judged by the children of the seven + billion people on the planet today and I for one would prefer our legacy to be that of positive environmental change rather than one of ignorance, complacency and destruction. If we do nothing the children of tomorrow will ask why when we had the knowledge, ability and technology at our disposal, did we sit back and do nothing in blissful ignorance, while our planet was crumbling in front of us?

I hope to soon be writing about the government turn around on environmental issues outlined in the IPPCC report, brought about by overwhelming public support for the Climate Council and the newly formed government understanding that economic sustainability can only be achieved by ensuring environmental sustainability.

Watch this space



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Pamela Martin

A weekend at ODEX

A weekend at ODEX



I had the pleasure of spending my weekend at ODEX, The Australian International Scuba and Underwater Sports Expo at Sydney Olympic Park and Aquatic Centre.

The whole weekend flew by with meeting wonderful people in the industry talking about their businesses relating to underwater everything and when I mean everything I do mean everything!

I met Mermaids who raise awareness around water safety for children and work with the “Make A Wish Foundation” making dreams come true for critically ill children. I met passionate Freedivers, competing in the World Series Freedivng Championships and spoke with a myriad of resort owners from around the world about their dive resorts, facilities, services and packages. I caught up with the latest technologies both in diving and underwater photography. I swapped recent travel stories with fellow divers and photographers and had fun catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Some of the highlights of the weekend were the nonstop, informative, inspiring and fun talks provided by industry professionals and photography masters over the course of the weekend.

Day one we were treated to varied talks from Surf Photography by Mark Tipple, The Art of Underwater Portraiture, “From Waterbabies to Whales” by Sarah Alice“ to “Freediving Skills” by Alana Caskey Wells and finished the day with an informative talk on Underwater Optics by Pawel Achtel, just to name a few.

Day two was just as exciting starting with a talk from Klaus Stiefel “Taking Pictures while Technical Diving, followed by a great talk by Cal Mero called “Water, Light and Beauty” – The Art of Underwater Fashion. We also heard from the passionate Ken Thongpila about Underwater Macro Photography – sharing, learning and inspiring, and of course our very own Michael Aw with “Essential Underwater Photography with the Masters” featuring work from David

Doubilet, Ernie Brooks, Alex Mustard, Jane Morgan, Steve Jones, Mathieu Meur and Michael Aw. 

Michael also showed us his must see slide show from the Ocean Geographic Cuba trip, coming up next January/February; check dates and availability on the “Expeditions” page of the website for this breathtaking trip through Havana, Mangroves Forests and Fidel Castro’s marine park legacy, untouched by Fisheries since the 1970’s.

You can checkout what else ODEX has to offer if your interested in coming along next year at: http://www.odex.com.au/australian-open-fin-swimming-championships.html#

A great weekend had by all and definitely worth a visit next year friends!

As you would also be aware it was election weekend for all our Australian diving buddies with a proceeding change in government. Our new Prime Minister in the coming months has said he will be looking at rolling back our newly appointed marine parks. If you feeling strongly about keeping what would be the largest marine park sanctuary in the world, please voice your opinion by joining “The Big Blue Army” at: http://www.saveourmarinelife.org.au/

Talk Soon
Pamela Martin

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Erin McFadden

Snippets from the Arctic - 24 to 26 Aug 2013

Snippets from the Arctic - 24 to 26 Aug 2013

Saturday 24th August

The beach of Eidenbukta on the western coast of Spitsbergen was our chosen landing sight for the afternoon. Our initial plan to visit the Walrus at a site further north was hampered by the strong winds and a distinct lack of Walrus, reported to us from our sister ship Plancius! Eidenbukta is a sheltered bay surrounded by glaciated mountains. The beach leads into a landscape shaped with glacial moraine mounds and many people compared this sight to a moonscape.

Of particular interest was the amount of driftwood that had collected on this beach. My colleague Katja was quick to point out that this wood that had been worked. There was no braches and they were very uniform in shape – these were logs that had been felled and stripped. But they definitely weren’t from here, no trees can grow this far north. In-fact these logs had floated here all the way from northern Russia, where they had entered the sea from rivers and become caught in the trans-Arctic current. Logging companies use rivers to transport large rafts of such logs downstream and these logs we were seeing in Spitsbergen were the escapees.

Sunday 25th August

It was an extremely rare moment, being able to stare across an expanse of ocean and think to oneself: this is how it must have been, before the days of commercial whaling and mass exploitation. This was the one and only occasion I have ever had such a thought.

Witnessing a stretch of ocean so rich with energy was a joy. The ship had just begun its crossing from the Northwest coast of Spitsbergen to the Northeast coast of Greenland. Leaving the Polar bears of Hamiltonbukta behind, we were steaming across the productive shelf waters of the Arctic Ocean and enjoying an ocean surface bustling with activity.

It kicked off with White-beaked dolphin sightings. These rapid little marine mammals darted in and out of the water with a real sense of playfulness about them. Next came the Minke whales in the distance and Fin whales too. It got to the stage that every which direction you turned there would be a leaping dolphin or a whale blow. Port, starboard, off the tip of the bow and the stern, everywhere there was some form of marine life relishing the productivity of the Arctic Ocean in summer. Towards the horizon I watched a whale breach three times in a row, it was too far to identify but nevertheless a whale breaching is always a sight to appreciate. The comical puffins in their fidgety flight entertained us above. Puffins are my favourite birds; their mannerisms never fail to make me smile. Happiness was what I felt as I watched all this life thriving.

Monday 26th August

This is one of two days we will spend at sea as we steam towards Northeast Greenland. The conditions are being kind to us and despite the visibility being quite poor, which means spotting marine mammals is difficult, the sea is relatively calm. While at sea I tend to have jobs to keep me busy and indeed there was dive gear and dive logistics to organise. But for me sea days are a great way to learn more about the passengers on-board and hear their interesting and quirky stories. At lunch today I listened to one Dutch passenger recount to me how he had been employed at the age of 69 as a Cheesemaster, travelling around the whole of Germany in his mobile home, selling cheese. Another lady from Las Vegas told me all about an amazing glass ceiling created by an artist in one of Vegas’ casinos. This is the only casino she will go to in Vegas because of this wonderful ceiling and the conservatory, which changes is floral display five times a year at a cost of millions of dollars. The officers on the Bridge recounted to me their most terrifying sea ordeals. While the second officer’s tale was of a heavily laden ship struggling to surface from the trough of a wave in the Barents Sea, the third officer proceeded to show me pictures of his ordeal off the coast of Brazil as mammoth waves smashed across the deck of the huge cargo ship. “When the crew are on their knees praying, that’s when you know you’re in trouble”, he said.  A ship is full of stories and finding them is one of the pleasures of being at sea.



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