December 2011

Do's and Don't's of Responsible Shark Diving

Maybe the concept of ‘responsible shark diving’ sounds a little oxymoronic, but there are many things that you can do to protect yourself and the sharks during your interaction. First and foremost, I can’t stress enough the need to gain as much knowledge as possible about the animals and their environment. To go into the water without at least a basic idea of how the sharks are likely to react is foolhardy to say the least.

Abyssocladia carcharias sp. nov. The species name carcharias means "sharply pointed", and the spicules resemble the jaws of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias

New species of carnivorous sponges

New Zealand is a centre of biodiversity for marine sponges," NIWA's Dr Michelle Kelly said. "New Zealand is probably the most diverse region in the world for these carnivorous sponges and they are on isolated seamounts that could be at risk of dredging."

A visiting scientist, Professor Jean Vacelet from Centre d'Oceanologie de Marseille and Nicole Boury-Esnault made the first discovery of a carnivorous sponge only 16 years ago – in 1995 – in submarine caves in the Mediterranean Sea.

The metre-long super predator Anomalocaris.
The metre-long super predator Anomalocaris.

World's first super predator had remarkable vision

Palaeontologists have discovered exceptionally preserved fossil eyes of the top predator in the Cambrian ocean from the fearsome metre-long Anomalocaris that lived 500 million years ago

The World's Oldest Apex Predator
Anomalocaris is the stuff of nightmares and sci-fi movies. It is considered to be at the top of the earliest food chains because of its large body size, formidable grasping claws at the front of its head and a circular mouth with razor-sharp serrations.

Smaller-bodied parrotfish species such as Scarus schegeli are able to maintain their ecosystem role as grazers in the face of intensive fishing pressure

Parrotfish, important reef gardeners

“Parrotfishes are the constant gardeners of the reef. They play a crucial role in keeping it healthy, suppressing weed, removing sediment and helping the corals to regrow after a setback,” explains Professor David Bellwood of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.