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Beautiful Oceans’ new blogspace! March 16, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in Uncategorized.
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Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds for the new adress of our blog and podcast feeds:

Thank you very much,

Stephan & Ian


Fish camouflage – How does it work? March 12, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in Coral Reef Organism Behaviour, Uncategorized.

Tropical fish come in a large array of colors as most scuba divers and
snorklers are ready to testify. Although you might already know that changes
in color and markings are common between the juvenile lifestage and
adulthood for members of the same species (oh.. you did not? – welcome then
to the amazing world of coral reef organisms!). Few of us actually know how
exactly this works and what the reasons are for these color changes. Well,
let me assure you, even scientists don’t have all the answers to this
question, but some mysteries have been elucidated and make diving and
snorkeling all the more enjoyable for those among you with an insatiable
thirst for knowledge.

Interestingly enough, some tropical fish do not only change color between
different life stages (juvenile – adult), but are capable of changing color
almost at will… At will? Well, almost… actually, it’s more a response to
the time of day (night colors – day colors), a specific activity (mating), a
threat (hiding), or even mood (ever played ‘find the color of my diving
suit’ with a trumpet fish?).

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So how do they do it? Tropical fishes are covered with irregular shaped
cells called chromatophores that contain pigments. The color saturation of
any chosen pigment area is modified by impulses coming from nerve endings
connected to these chromatophores, but can also be triggered by hormones.
Fish can either concentrate the pigments
in the center of each individual cell – making it appear paler or, in
the contrary, expand the pigmentation over a larger area and thus intensify
the color.

I will always remember that one dive on a Barbadian reef in 2002 when,
observing a trumpet fish floating upside-down besides me for about 15
minutes, I suddenly noticed a frantic color change happening over the entire
body of my playmate… a real firework of colors… until it came to a halt
when it matched exactly the color combination of my wetsuit – a luminescent
turquoise green with greyish-blue stripes… the charming little creature was trying to
interact with me – and matched the color perfectly! I can tell you, underwater
experiences like this really change the way you perceive coral reefs and make
you want to protect its magnificent inhabitants…

Wish you all a beautiful day,

Do you have interesting stories about coral reef organism behaviour to share? I would love to hear them – Please use the “add a comment’ button below.

Barbados – a new diving Mekka in the Caribbean? February 27, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in Dive & Snorkel Reports.
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Hightide Watersports Barbados, a PADI Dive Center right off the West coast of Barbados and only one step away from Folkstone Marine Park has become the latest Beautiful Oceans Science Dive & Snorkel Center. Situated in the West Indies and the most eastward island of the Lesser Antillies, Barbados offers prime diving sites!

Higtide_Beautiful Oceans Science Center_Barbados
http://www.beautifuloceans.com – Help us spread the word, please CLICK HERE.

Gavin and Martyn, the owners of Hightide Watersport are incredibly active in transforming Barbados into one of the future diving Mekkas in the Caribbean: The sinking of a more than 600 feet long US Navy Yellostone Class destroyer will provide Barbados with the biggest shipwreck in the Caribben and incidently one of the the largest artificial reefs in the world – watch out for April 2007! Beautiful Oceans will take part in this adventure with a Science course related to artificial reefs and marine conservation in collaboration with the Coastal Zone Management Unit and the Fisheries department of the Barbados Government.

As usual, this Beautiful Oceans Science course is designed to be applied by divers on the shipwreck during a discovery dive. In the meanwhile, Edwin, Errol and Jim – Hightides Scuba instructors have been trained to Science Instructor level by Beautiful Oceans and will make your in-class course review and in-water discovery dive or snorkeling tour of all our courses an unforgettable experience!

Wish you a beautiful day, Stephan

Aquanauts Grenada & attacking Damselfish January 28, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in Dive & Snorkel Reports.

Today we finished the certification process of Beautiful Oceans Science Instructors: Aquanauts Grenada is now officially a Beautiful Oceans Science Dive & Snorkel Center, allowing all those nature lovers among you enjoying diving and snorkelling pristine coral reefs to have even more fun: Mark, our videographer brought some great behaviour footage back. We were observing territorial Damselfish chasing Surgeonfish five times their size away from their algae patch. This is great fun when you dive at the same speed as a school of doctorfish, while Damselfish are frantically trying to ‘bite their tails’ to protect their little territory.

Aquanauts Grenada_Beautiful Oceans Science Dive Center_Grenada
http://www.beautifuloceans.com – Help us spread the word, please CLICK HERE.
Anyway – tomorrow, we will be moving to Barbados – another four weeks of certifying Dive Centers to become Beautiful Oceans Science Dive Centers and having some more fun to tell from our experiences underwater. By the way, have I been writing about Canada’s renowned McGill University having officially selected our course ‘Coral Reef Architecture & Organisms’ as mandatory reading for the field course ‘Applied Tropical Ecology’ taking place in Barbados? So here you have it! Now, what are you waiting for to take one of our online courses? (nasty little advertiser that I am…:-)

Cheers, Stephan

Diving AND Snorkeling in Grenada is fun! January 18, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in Dive & Snorkel Reports.
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Now who said snorkeling is no fun for scuba divers? Yesterday, I rediscovered the freedom of swimming, skin diving and roaming around the reef without a tank on my back and weighs around my waist. Not that it replaces scuba diving, but for exporing the shallower portions of a typical Caribbean fringing reef, the shore zone, back reef zone and flat reefs, it seems an ideal way of observing marine life up close.

We visited ‘Flamingo bay’, a wave protected little spot situated righ in the Grenadian marine park. A short 10 minutes boat ride away form our dive base at Aquanauts Grenada, here is what we have come to see: some very nice stands of Acropora palmata (Elkhorn coral), Ophioblennius atlanticus (Redlip blenny), Porites porites (Finger coral), Myripristis jacobus (Blackbar soldierfish) Stegastes planifrons (Threespot damselfish), Turf alage and much more… everything is there allowing our snorkeling students to apply the course ‘Coral Reef Architecture & Organisms’ in the warm waters of this beautiful spot… Tomorrow : night dive! Stay tuned…

Cheers, Stephan

http://www.beautifuloceans.com – Help us spread the word, please CLICK HERE.

What a great day! January 15, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in Coral Reef Organism Behaviour, Dive & Snorkel Reports.
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Didn’t I tell that we have arrived in Grenada 7 days ago? Oups… how could I have missed that. Nice Caribbean breeze, beautiful bays, great diving! We are here to promote Beautiful Oceans to the local dive centers – and to do loads of diving of course…

Nice reefs, teamin with life: Nurse sharks, eagle rays, French Angel, Grey Angel are the ones that pop immediately into my mind… Not to forget the smaller, but nonetheless very interesting reef inhabitants that deserve close observation because of behaviours that will always blow my mind: Threespot damsels (Stegastes planifrons) defending their little algae patch against any intruder in the back reef zone, Boulder star coral (Monastrea annularis) adopting a flattened growth form to catch more light for photosynthesis in the drop-off zone… it is actually quite fun to apply our course ‘Coral Reef Artchitecture & Organisms’ – even if I have contributet to the writing of that very same course…

But today, we spent most of the time out of the water: at Saint George’s University, Grenada. Loads of student freshmen of this local University take the opportunity to meet local businesses and organizations at a campus fair… shopping around and getting informationabout what to do in their leisure time (if there is any left…). Quite some students were interested in our course, and a few students have even taken a free online preview of the course while we were still on campus showing our course books around… quite quick on the mouse I’d say…:-)

Anyway – more tomorrow from beautiful Spice Island… (By the way, did you know that Grenada provides one third of the world nutmeg production? – certainly deserves its name for that one alone…)

Cheers, Stephan

http://www.beautifuloceans.com – Help us spread the word, please CLICK HERE.

Why businesses need to take responsibility January 14, 2006

Posted by Stephan Becker in CSR, Uncategorized.
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Environmental degradation often results when competition forces businesses to cut corners. Inevitably this means the environment that ends up paying the price. A car manufacturer, for example, does not consider what happens to the car at the end of the car’s life cycle. Once it reaches the end of the road, brakes down and becomes unusable, it is not the car makers’ responsibility to take back the product and ensure it does not represent a burden for the environment.

What would happen if car manufacturers were held responsible for the proper removal of their products at the end of their life? Initial sales prices would rise because manufacturers would have to include costs related to recycling. This would also, most likely, force companies to search for more environmentally friendly products for use in manufacturing, rather that than simply opt for the cheapest. So what is my point here, in terms of coral reef preservation, you may ask? Well, this example is valid, not just for cars, but for all products we consume.

In my opinion, everything in life is interconnected, making it vital that we take responsibility for our actions. If all businesses took responsibility, by integrating environmental costs into their products, the cost of these products would certainly rise, but we would also reduce (over) consumption – one of the major contributors to environmental degradation. The price we pay for goods today are not the true prices we would have to pay if we took environmental cost into account; we basically pay subsidized market prices, and expect the environment to take up the slack.

So what can we do as consumers if we want to take responsibility? Well, one option would be to look for products that respect the environment in their production, are recyclable and are manufactured by companies that give back to the environment.

This is why I wanted Beautiful Oceans to adopt a policy of charitable donation. Beautiful Oceans takes responsibility by giving back 1% of its annual sales or 10% of its pre-tax profits to not-for profit organizations working in the field of coral reef preservation.

Have a beautiful day, Stephan

http://www.beautifuloceans.com – Help us spread the word, please CLICK HERE.