Time To Lighten Up

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Diver Green Water

By Johnny Hamilton

The last couple of weeks have seen us enjoying the best of weather, with the long stretch in the evenings enabling us to partake in some excellent supper-time dives. As I scribble these few lines from the wheelhouse of Embarr, Kinsale is still bathed in light and its pushing 9pm. But what of the light beneath the waves? How is it behaving?

Light in the ocean is like light in no other place on Earth. The oceans absorb light much more efficiently than air does. Visible light is made up of a rainbow of different colours each representing a different wavelength from blue to red. With its shorter wavelength, blue light travels farther in the sea than all the other colours. Seawater absorbs red, orange and yellow colours in the first few meters of the ocean. A diver in a few meters depth of water looking in his or her mirror would see their lipstick as black! When light falls on a substance it does one of three things: it can be scattered by bouncing off the molecules of the substance, it can pass through the substance or it can be absorbed by the substance.

Much sunlight reflects from the ocean but much of it penetrates deep into it and is absorbed by seawater. Phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter hugely influence the behaviour of light in seawater.

A couple of hundred kilometers from shore a diver will see extraordinarily clear blue water due to the low concentrations of phytoplankton and dissolved matter. Nearer the coast, high nutrient levels allow dense growth of phytoplankton making the water appear green and darker. Forests appear dark and green for the same reason- plant pigments absorb blue and red wavelengths of light, and reflect the remaining green light.

In clear ocean water, visible light decreases approximately 10-fold for every 75m that you descend. This means that at 75m the light is 10% as bright as it was at the surface; and at just twice that depth, 150m, it is another 10-fold dimmer, or 1% of surface light. Below this depth there is insufficient light for photosynthesis, but there is still plenty of light for seeing. This is because eyes are useful over an astonishing range of intensities, from the bright sun at high noon to the dim light of a crescent moon.

With the fading evening light we are now off for a quick snorkel to put a cap on another beautiful day in sunny Kinsale.

 

The Big and the Small

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By Johnny Hamilton

Last Monday we had our first sighting of the mighty and graceful basking shark with one of our divers ‘bumping’ into one off the Old Head. As I am yet to lock eyes on this impressive creature the encounter has me all excited. Graham and Anne have assured me that it is only a matter of days or weeks before I do so. Bring them on I say. Second only to the whale shark in size the basking shark is the largest fish to be seen around these parts, (See our Marine Life section). What brings them to our coast I hear you ask? Well, it’s not the Murphys, the Guinness, or the chance to see Grahams beard.

Phytoplankton- Diatoms

Phytoplankton- Diatoms

These beautiful creatures are coming our way to feed on the ever increasing plankton numbers  around our coast at this time of season. Similar to plant growth on land springtime heralds an increase in ocean productivity. Phytoplankton (from the greek meaning plant wanderer) play an essential role in the biology of the seas by being the primary producers of food for other organisms. With an increase in nutrients due to upwelling, phytoplankton photosynthesizes using carbon from the atmosphere with the suns energy to produce glucose and, importantly for us, oxygen. Diatoms (made of silica – glasslike) are the most abundant phytoplankton and the most productive organism in the world. Feeding on the different types of phytoplankton (approx. 5000 species) are zooplankton (from the greek meaning animal wanderer).

 Zooplankton-Copepod

Zooplankton-Copepod

Zooplankton come in all shapes and sizes. Copepods, 0.5mm to 1.5cm, account for up to 70% of all zooplankton making them the most abundant animal on earth! Examples of larger zooplankton are krill and jellyfish – macroplankton. Zooplankton are usually found at depth, rising to the surface at night to feed on the phytoplankton. Zooplankton populations have been found to rise to the surface during a solar eclipse and descend during a full moon.

Feeding on this ‘delicious’ menu are the basking sharks. The basking shark can be spotted from afar by its impressive dorsal fin breaking the surface in groups as large as fifty or just the lone wanderer.

And so, we are watching and waiting. Come join us.

Thanking the Gulf Stream

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By: Johnny Hamilton

It is that time of year again when many of us are getting back into our diving rhythm and dipping our toes in the ‘warm’ waters off the Irish coast. I say warm because the story could be so much more different were it not for the influence of the Gulf Stream on the climate of Ireland and Western Europe

Benjamin Franklin is regarded as being one of the founding fathers of the USA. He also invented the lightning rod and bifocals. It can also be said that he was one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the natural phenomenon that we know of today as the Gulf Stream. He wondered why it took sailors longer to travel the Atlantic from Europe to America rather than the other way round. Finding the answer to this would help to speed up travel and mail deliveries across the ocean, crazy to see that now a days there is even a trade car insurance for the vehicles that do deliveries. Franklin was the first scientist to study and map the Gulf Stream. From basic measurements of wind speeds and current depth, current speed and temperature he described the Gulf Stream as a river of warm water and mapped it as flowing north from the West Indies, along the East Coast of North America and east across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

Nowadays scientists have developed more sophisticated methods to measure and map the world’s oceans. Satellites and research cruises have contributed to the comprehensive picture we now have of the major ocean currents. In the case of the Gulf Stream scientists employ methods that can measure the Gulf Stream flow based on the way that sea water conducts electricity. As the Gulf Stream moves through the Earth’s magnetic field it induces variable electric currents in the telephone cable lying on the seabed from Florida to the Bahamas. Scientists measure these currents and are able to work out the total transport of the Gulf Stream. The warm Gulf Stream originating in the tropical Caribbean carries about 150 times more water than the Amazon River. On the less sophisticated and less expensive side of the scientific method is the case of the loss of twelve containers from a cargo ship in January 1992. The ship had been crossing the International Date Line en route to Washington from Hong Kong when it lost the containers during stormy weather. One of the containers held a shipment of 30,000 bathtub toys. Over the next two years these toys washed up on various coasts around the globe giving indicators of ocean current directions that were previously unknown. Not so good for the bathtub toy company but great for oceanographers who examine world ocean circulation.

So what are the factors powering these huge ocean currents?

Large-scale ocean currents are driven by global wind systems that are fuelled by energy from the sun. These currents transfer heat from the tropics to the Polar Regions, influencing local and global climate. Differences in water density, resulting from the variability of water temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline), are a major influence on these currents. The whole process is known as thermohaline circulation. In the northern Atlantic Ocean, as the water of the Gulf Stream flows north it cools considerably giving up its heat which increases its density. As it cools to the freezing point, sea ice forms with the “salts” extracted from the frozen water making the water below more dense. The very salty water sinks to the ocean floor.

It does not remain static but forms a slowly southward flowing current. The route of the deep water flow is through the Atlantic Basin around South Africa and into the Indian Ocean and on past Australia into the Pacific Ocean Basin.

If the water is sinking in the North Atlantic Ocean then it must be rising somewhere else. This upwelling is relatively widespread. However, water samples taken around the world indicate that most of the upwelling takes place in the North Pacific Ocean.

It is estimated that once the water sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean it takes 1,000-1,200 years before that deep, salty bottom water rises to the surface somewhere in the Pacific.

The impact of the oceans major currents is huge. Its worth noting that the next time you think its a bit chilly remember that the overall climate of Norway and Ireland is about 10°C warmer in the winter than other cites located at the same latitudes in Newfoundland and Russia. This is all due to the Gulf Stream.

Right now, its time for some great diving in the Gulf Stream influenced waters off Kinsale.

Gulf Stream

Gulf Stream Flow

Oceanaddicts Submerged Gathering

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This year is the year of The Gathering so OceanAddicts are entering into the spirit of the year by hosting a Submerged Gathering here in Kinsale. The Submerged Gathering takes place on the weekend of the 20th and 21st of April.  The weekend will be a mixture of diving and talking about diving and a chance to catch up with old friends and make new friends. Proceeds from the weekend will be presented to the RNLI

On the Saturday morning we will hold the Submerged Gathering where we hope to get as many divers as we can into the water. Registration will be at 9.30am and after a dive brief we will be heading out to the dive site for our Submerged Gathering

In the Afternoon we have two fantastic speakers Paul Rose will be joining us from the UK and our own John Collins will present two entertaining and informative talks, the location for these talks is the Trident Hotel. Later that evening there will be music in the bar of the Trident Hotel. On the Sunday we go diving again. For those interested in Seasearch, Dr Tim Butter, CFT’s scientific officer, will be leading a dive and talking about seasearch and our marine environment. this dive is open to divers from all diving agencies.

We are working to make this a fantastic Dive Weekend in Kinsale and with your help by attending and by spreading the word with us we can all together raise much needed funds for the RNLI and have a great diving weekend as well.

Timing is good if divers would like to bring their partners for a weekend in Kinsale as also happening this weekend is the Kinsale Chowder Cook Off. There will be a street market on Saturday and the Chowder Cook-off on Sunday, with lots of “foodie stuff” happening around town.

If you would like some more information contact me at  anne@oceanaddicts.ie

Our Speakers 

Paul Rose

Paul Rose is a man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers and polar experts, Paul has been helping scientists unlock global mysteries for the past 30 years in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.

With unique access across a wide range of expert fields, Paul is constantly working to raise awareness of global issues such as the understanding and protection of our ecosystems and biodiversity, climate change and sustainability. He is an award-winning champion for inspiring and motivating the next generation of field scientists and explorers.

His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer, and in the Indian Ocean as Diving Ops Advisor to the RGS Shoals of Capricorn project.

He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and has trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. And he remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

Paul’s television presenting credits include: Britain’s Secret Seas, Oceans, Voyages of Discovery, Take One Museum, Meltdown, Wind  Scrapheap Challenge., and Frank Wild: Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero

Paul is Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division.

He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal.

For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica he was awarded the US Polar Medal.

He is a published author: Paul co-authored his BBC linked book, Oceans. He writes numerous commissioned magazine articles, and has recently completed writing on Humboldt and Magellan for a new book on Great Explorers. He is a freelance Journalist and a member of the Society of Authors.

John Collins

John Collins is an award-winning photographer, based in Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland. Originally from Limerick, he discovered photography as a teenager and with it a life-long passion to capture images of the world around us. While studying Pharmacy in Trinity College Dublin, he learned to scuba-dive with Dublin University Sub-Aqua Club and went on to gain experience both in Ireland and abroad, eventually becoming a diving instructor in 1991.

John is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography course in professional photography. On land, John continues to work on landscape and documentary photographs, producing unique images of the beautiful areas around Kinsale and west Cork.

John specializes in Underwater Photography, particularly in his home waters and other temperate seas that are less visited and appreciated than the coral seas of the tropics. A collection of these images have been published in the book, Cool Waters Emerald Seas, published by Atrium in 2006. Many of John’s photographs have been successful in competition and are widely published internationally. As Divers we can really appreciate John’s ability to capture glimpses of our unique underwater landscape, the life that inhabits it and the ships that have been wrecked in it.

Tim Butter

Tim has a degree in marine biology and both a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in environmental engineering.  He has over 20 years experience as a professional scientist and has worked in such diverse fields as fisheries research, the detection of insect pests in bulk grain storage, the chemistry of biotoxins in shellfish, parasitology, and the development of treatment processes for industrial waste waters.  Tim has also undertaken lecturing in biological sciences in the University of Leeds and at the Cork Institute of Technology.  He is a certified auditor with experience in quality management systems, particularly in laboratory environments.

Tim is a member of Cork Sub Aqua Club, he has been fascinated by marine life since childhood. Tim is now the Scientific Officer with the Irish Underwater Council, and is involved with SeaSearch in Ireland. Tim has a wealth of knowledge of the marine environment and the critters that live in it.

Oceanaddicts Marine Biology Workshop with Dr. Tim Butter

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Colourful Lings
Colourful dive on the Ling rocks Cork

Oceanaddicts are delighted to announce that we are running a Marine Biology Workshop on the 15th & 16th of September. The Workshop will take place on board Embarr and will be hosted by Dr.Tim Butter. Tim is a Marine Biologist and member of Cork Sub Aqua Club. Tim has been fascinated by marine life since childhood and now works as a scientist and ecologist.

The workshop is aimed at divers who would like to find out more about the life they encounter on their dives. The weekend will be a mixture of diving and talks / slide shows and is designed to bring a deeper understanding of the rich marine life in our little bit of the worlds oceans. For those involved in Seasearch there will be plenty of time for form filling and assistance with identification issues. Alternative means of biodiversity data will be discussed.

The cost of the workshop id €300 which includes 2 nights Bed & Breakfast, Lunch & snacks, all diving & Gas and talks. If you are interested or would like more information contact Anne anne@oceanaddicts.ie or 087-7903211

2012 Oceanaddicts Underwater Photography Workshop with John Collins

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This year’s Oceanaddicts asked John Collins to run an underwater photography workshop  for divers shooting a SLR rig. It took place on board our liveaboard, Embarr, on the 21st and 22nd of July. Most participants arrived on Friday night and we started the weekend with a sociable drink in the bar of the Trident hotel. It was only a short hop back to the pier where Embarr was moored for the weekend. The work started bang on time at 9.30 am Saturday morning as there was a lot to go through. It was a beautiful sunny morning so this session was held on the top deck where we had a bench set up for the camera rigs.

Divers and Cameras onboard Oisre

Oisre takes Underwater Photographers diving

After a break for lunch Saturday afternoon saw Oisre carrying a valuable cargo of divers and SLR rigs. When shooting a SLR diving photographers have to decide before they go on a dive what lens to put on the camera.  On this occasion our group headed to the Bream Rock at the Old Head of Kinsale for a practical macro photography dive. So here we were six underwater photographers with macro lens on and each were visited by a playful curious seal. (Video John Collins)  Don’t you just hate when that happens… All was not lost however with some photographers taking some wonderful photographs of neudibranch as there was apparently a convention being held at the site

Later that evening various Lighting options were discussed in advance of Sunday’s diving sessions in which photographers would shoot wide angle. The weather looked like it was taking a turn for the worst so it was decided to get up early go diving and then come back for breakfast. It was decided to go back to Bream Rock in the hope that the seal would be still be around, however it must have been too early for him as he was nowhere to be seen.

After talking with the diving photographers who took part in the workshop it was widely felt the they had all learned something and they were looking forward to their next underwater photo shoot. I’m looking forward to seeing all the wonderful images that they are going to produce.

We would like to thank John Collins for giving the workshop, for being so generious with your time, your knowledge and your experiences. I know that everyone on the workshop appreciated all your advise and help. www.johncollins.ie

 

Oceanaddicts will be attending Dive Ireland 2012

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Oceanaddicts will be exhibiting at Dive Ireland 2012 which is taking place in the City North Hotel next weekend. If you are going along to the show, do call to our stand to say hello and talk about diving, we would love to see you. To find out more about Dive Ireland 2012 check out http://www.wix.com/cftcouncil/diveireland2012

The Humpback whale

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The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of Baleen whale, which are characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than teeth. Baleen or whalebone is a filter-feeder system inside their mouths. Adults range in length from 12–16 metres (39–52 ft) and weigh approximately 36,000 kilograms (79,000 lb). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is often seen breaching and slapping the water. Males produce a complex song which lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and is repeated for hours at a time. They only sing when in their calving grounds and only in the mating period. The purpose of the song is not yet clear, although it appears to have a role in mating. It has been suggested that the songs are used to communicate male fitness to female whales.
Humpbacks are found all around the world, they typically migrate up to 25,000 kilometres (16,000 mi) each year. Humpbacks feed only in summer, in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or sub-tropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter. During the winter, humpbacks do not feed, they live off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish.
Once hunted to the brink of extinction, humpbacks are now sought by whale watchers all around the world, and the first humpback in Irish waters for 2012 has been spotted three miles south of Hook Head Co Wexford.

Oceanaddicts are Exhibiting at Dive 2011 at the NEC Birmingham

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Graham and Anne of Oceanaddicts travel to Birmingham next Friday to set up their stand at the NEC in Birmingham for Dive 2011 which takes place the 22nd & 23rd of October. There are over 300 exhibiters at the show this year, ranging from dive travel & holidays, to the latest equipment companies, so it promises to be a great show.

If you are going to Dive 2011 please do call to meet Oceanaddicts at our stand number 1352, we would love to see you.

This year Anne will be giving a presentation in the PADI Seminar Theatre in the PADI village. The presentation is on Diving Ireland’s South Coast and will take place at 3.30pm on Saturday. The presentation is a mixture of information, images and short video clips showcasing some of the diving on offer along our beautiful South of Ireland coastline. Anne will talk about Cork’s historical ship wrecks, WW1 Submarine the UC-42, and the gunrunning ship scuttled by it’s crew, The Aud, to mention just two. She will also talk about the wonderful marine life you can expect to encounter if you come to dive our Cork coast, warmed by the gulf stream which flows from the Gulf of Mexico unhindered across the Atlantic. This warm current brings with it an abundance of life making the South coast of Ireland one of the best diving locations in the world.

If you would like to hear more do come to the presentation 3.30pm Saturday at the PADI Seminar Theatre in the PADI village you will be very welcome.