Start Them Young
By John Fifer
As the due date drew near for the arrival of my first child, I couldn’t help but think about sharing my love for the ocean with the newest member of my family. These thoughts propelled me to seek out family oriented activities and programs that will engage and inspire my son, as well as, keep me in the water.
Although appreciation for the ocean and all its inhabitants can be learned at any age, sharing your personal appreciation with children can be very rewarding and establish the foundation for a lifelong love for the ocean.
One of the organizations I came across in my search that stood out above all others was Kids Sea Camp Family Dive Adventures. Kids Sea Camp Family Dive Adventures is an organization that helps people with children start, continue, or reenter the world of underwater adventure with their entire family. By providing family focused environments set in exotic dive destinations, Kids Sea Camp Family Dive Adventures provides parents with ways to share their passion for the ocean with their children that is both educational and fun for everyone.
Interested in a fun and easy way to enjoy our oceans inhabitants up close and personal with the whole family? Take them to your local aquarium! Public aquariums have been special places to introduce people of all ages to the amazing animals that reside beneath the sea for years.
For those of us unable to visit our oceans in person, pubic aquariums have done an excellent job of recreating the natural environments of our oceans inhabitants for all to see. Great care is exercised to assure species normally found together are kept together providing as close to a real experience as possible. Technology and scientific research has helped curators provide, temperature, lighting and feeding conditions that mimic what animals would normally experience in the wild. Thick acrylic walls and sometimes even tubes provide visitors with the ability to walk right through the unique underwater environment our ocean inhabitants live in and see firsthand their natural behavior.
In addition to having the inhabitants well cared for and easy for all to see, trained staff members are available to answer questions and provide information on the spot. Information can be found posted in hardcopy and in some cases digital formats with ways for people to interact and learn more.
The animals themselves are unique and thought provoking creatures that naturally spark interest in young minds. Knowing this, aquariums have developed inspiring programs tailored for children to foster curiosity and build their love for our oceans at an early age. Educational sleepovers give children a chance to experience the aquarium without crowds in a structured yet fun learning environment. Touch pools tap into additional senses and inspire the desire to learn more. Other kid friendly activities such as coloring contests, puzzles and quizzes are offered as ways to participate and have fun. Daily shows, feeding times, and behind the scenes tours are also provided to engage people of all ages.
On top of being huge promoters of ocean awareness, research typically done by public aquariums is also vital to the survival of our oceans and their inhabitants. Endangered species and habitats are identified and plans are developed for their protection. Climate change and its effect on our oceans is observed and documented to aid in decision making processes. Sustainable fishery and bycatch standards and practices are established to assure future supplies. Aquaculture programs are created to reduce pressures on our natural resources and much more.
Over 70 percent of the earth's surface is ocean. It supports the life of nearly 50 percent of ALL species on earth by providing 20 percent of the protein consumed by animals in general and five percent of the total protein in the human diet. Knowing what is in it, how to manage it and how it relates to us is as important as the air we breathe. Our public aquariums provide a vital role in assuring everyone has the ability to experience what is out there and why we need to protect it. Please, visit, enjoy and support your local public aquariums.
I had to select a dive destination for a group of family and friends. There was an interesting cross section of hardcore diver/photographers and those who wanted to do a little diving with an emphasis on relaxation and day trips. For purely selfish reasons, I wanted to take the group back to the Philippines. I had heard many good things about the diving in the Dumaguete area. I researched the options and came up with the Atmosphere Resort. I soon discovered that I had indeed made an excellent choice.
The resort, which opened in 2008, is beautifully situated on the grounds of an old seven-acre coconut plantation on the island of Negros. The suites are scattered throughout the lush and spacious tropical gardens. The Atmosphere resort is close to the city of Dumaguete, a bustling University town with an airport, several hospitals, shopping malls and other conveniences close at hand. The resort sits squarely on a spectacular beachfront location overlooking the warm coastal waters of the Philippine Sea, about 30 minutes south of Dumaguete by car and lies in the coastal town of Dauin. Whether you want to scuba dive, indulge in the enchanted spa or simply read a book by the pool, you can look forward to an unforgettable stay. We found the accommodations to be upscale and comfortable. I did make a stop at the spa, which afforded a delightful “short” break from diving. The food was delicious, varied and plentiful.
In general, the climate of the Philippines is tropical, with moderate to high temperatures and high humidity. There are only two seasons: the dry winter season which runs from December to May and the slightly wetter summer season running from June to November. The dry season brings moderate seas and on-shore breezes and the wetter season has glass-flat seas and minimal offshore winds. The coolest month falls in January and the hottest, in May. Water temperatures are very comfortable ranging between 80 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. For scuba diving, a 3 to 5mm wetsuit is more than sufficient.
This year’s Monterey Shootout hosted by the Northern California Underwater Photographic Society and Backskatter Underwater Photo and Video in Monterey California was a blast as always. Great people, great photography and some fantastic California diving. For this event, ReefID team members were fortunate enough to land a spot with one of the best boats and crew around, the Monterey Express.
The Monterey Express is 42 feet long and 16 feet wide with twin 310 horsepower engines. Her beam makes it a very stable boat that minimizes rocking in the rough seas often encountered off the California coast.
The Express is a spacious, fast, convenient, comfortable, and professionally operated boat that offers fresh-water showers, a camera table, and a camera wash tub. Two tank dive trips are offered for morning and afternoon dives leaving from K dock in the Monterey harbor.
Following a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, Photojournalist and Underwater Photographer Ethan Daniels has provided ReefID with some fantastic shots of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to add to the database.
Ethan uses his extensive background in marine biology and photography to lead informative and fun trips to see these majestic animals as well as many other fantastic creatures through Wilderness Travel. He has also produced the books "Under Cape Cod Waters" and "Coral Triangle Seascapes" along with his personal website www.oceanstockimages.com .