April 4, 2017

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January 31, 2016

Sharks We Need To Protect – Blacktip Reef Shark

BlackTip 3

Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)

IUCN STATUS: Near Threatened
You don’t have to feed them; just tap the water, and they come racing toward you. We know that working with models is never easy, but these sharks are eager to pose – finding the right pose is another question altogether. Blacktip sharks are one of the most common shark species found inshore off the coast of Florida. Although the majority of shark bites in Florida are likely attributable to this species, there has never been a fatal attack credited to this species in this region.

DID YOU KNOW? Blacktip reef sharks have a home range of around .21 square mile, among the smallest of any shark species

Blacktip SharkFast Facts About Sharks


Sharks are vulnerable to fishing pressure because they:

  • Grow slowly

  • Take many years to mature (12 to 18 years in some species)

  • Often reproduce only every other year

  • Have few young per brood (only 2 pups in some species)

  • Have specific requirements for nursery areas (bays and estuaries)

  • Are caught in many types of fishing gear (hook and line, gillnet, trawl)

  • Sharks have adaptations allowing them to be apex predators including:

  • Teeth that are replaced throughout their life

  • Sensitive smell receptors

  • Eyes that adapt quickly to low light levels

  • Lateral line receptors that sense movement in the water

  • Electroreceptors that detect electrical fields due to the presence of prey

5-spd-year-of-shark-blacktipreefshark

Habitat  –  The blacktip shark inhabits inshore and offshore waters, but is not a truly pelagic species. They are often seen nearshore around river mouths, bays, mangrove swamps, and in other estuaries, though they do not penetrate far into freshwater. They can be found offshore and over deep waters near coral reef dropoffs, but primarily stay in the upper 100 feet (30 m) of the water column. This species, there has never been a fatal attack credited to this species in the east coast/western Atlantic region. This shark inhabits shallow coastal waters and estuaries and offshore surface waters. Blacktip sharks use shallow inshore waters from South Carolina to Texas as nursery areas for their pups in spring and summer. They can be found in groups as young or adults feeding in shallow water.

Geographical Distribution  –  Blacktip sharks are cosmopolitan in tropical to subtropical coastal, shelf, and island waters. In the Atlantic during their seasonal migration they range from Nova Scotia to Brazil, but their center of abundance is in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Off the east coast of the United States blacktip sharks range from New England to Mexico but are most commonly found between North Carolina and Texas, especially in spring and summer. They occur throughout the Mediterranean and along the central West coast of Africa. In the Pacific they range from Southern California to Peru, including the Sea of Cortez. They occur at the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Tahiti, and other South Pacific Islands, to the North coast of Australia. In the Indian Ocean they range from South Africa and Madagascar up to the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, throughout India’s coast, and east to the coast of China.

Size, Age, and Growth  –  The maximum reported length of the blacktip shark is 8.4 feet (255 cm). Size at birth is 15-28 inches (38-72 cm). Average adult size is around 4.9 feet (150 cm), weighing about 40 lbs. (18 kg). This species is a relatively fast growing shark, maturity is 4-5 years for males, and 6-7 years for females. The maximum age of blacktips is thought to be at least 12 years.  In waters off the southeastern U.S., the length at maturity is 4.8 feet (145 cm) total length (TL) for males corresponding to a weight of approximately 43 pounds (19.5 kg) and 5.2 feet (156 cm) TL for females corresponding to a weight of approximately 55 pounds (25 kg) (source: Castro 1996).

Food Habits –  The blacktip shark primarily feeds on small schooling fishes such as herring, sardines, menhaden, mullet, and anchovies, but also eats many other bony fishes including catfishes, groupers, jacks, snook, porgies, grunts, croakers, flatfishes, triggerfish, and porcupine fish. They are also known to consume some elasmobranch species including dogfish, sharpnose sharks, young dusky sharks, skates, and stingrays. Crustaceans and squids are also occasionally taken.

Blacktips, as well as their close relative the spinner shark, are known to breach out of the water while feeding, sometimes spinning up to three or four times around their axis. This behavior is thought to facilitate the sharks’ predatory success while feeding on schools of fish near the surface. The sharks vertically attack the school at high speed, snapping at the fish as they pass through it. The momentum then carries them through the ocean’s surface.

Reproduction –  Development in the blacktip is viviparous, meaning they give birth to live, free-swimming young like others in the carcharhinid family. Males reach sexual maturity between 4.4 and 5.9 feet (135-180 cm). Females reach maturity at 3.9-6.3 feet (120-190 cm). Gestation last 10-12 months, and they give birth in late spring and early summer to 1-10 pups. Females give birth in inshore estuarine nursery grounds where the young remain for the first years of their lives.

Predators –  Adult blacktip sharks do not have any common natural predators. Like other members of this shark family, however, the young are likely to be at risk from larger sharks.BlackTip 1

It’s a sobering statistic: Up to 25 percent of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG). Using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria, the SSG says that of the 1,041 species assessed, 107 rays and 74 sharks are classified as threatened.

Because they grow slowly and produce few young, both sharks and rays are susceptible to overexploitation — including overfishing from targeted fishing, bycatch and finning. Thanks largely to compelling arguments from the diving community, we’re making progress to ensure that these animals receive the conservation attention they desperately need. While our work in recent years represents terrific progress, the IUCN study reminds us that these threatened species, and closely related ones — such as guitarfish, sawfish, skates and stingrays — also need our attention.

“Significant policy strides have been made over the past two decades, but effective shark and ray conservation requires a dramatic acceleration in pace as well as an expansion of scope to include all shapes and sizes of these exceptional species,” says Sonja Fordham, IUCN SSG deputy chair
and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Shark Advocates International, a project of the Ocean Foundation.

Healthy shark and ray populations are priceless. Project AWARE and other conservation agencies work every day to make strong arguments for change, but we need your help. Let’s truly make this the year of the shark — together.

Want to get involved with shark conservation? Visit the Project AWARE website and find out how you can make a difference –http://www.projectaware.org/

via 10 Sharks We Need To Protect | Sport Diver.
November 1, 2015

What Happens When Oil Spills Meet Massive Islands of Seaweed?

Floating rafts of sargassum, a large brown seaweed, can stretch for miles across the ocean.

Floating bits of brown seaweed at ocean surface
                                                            (Credit: Sean Nash/Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)

The young loggerhead sea turtle, its ridged shell only a few inches across, is perched calmly among the floating islands of large brown seaweed, known as sargassum. Casually, it nibbles on the leaf-like blades of the seaweed, startling a nearby crab. Open ocean stretches for miles around these large free-floating seaweed mats where myriad creatures make their home.

Suddenly, a shadow passes overhead. A hungry seabird?

Taking no chances, the small sea turtle dips beneath the ocean surface. It dives through the yellow-brown sargassum with its tangle of branches and bladders filled with air, keeping everything afloat.

Home Sweet Sargassum

This little turtle isn’t alone in seeking safety and food in these buoyant mazes of seaweed. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than a dynamic stretch of the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of North America named for this seaweed: the Sargasso Sea. Sargassum is also an important part of the Gulf of Mexico, which contains the second most productive sargassum ecosystem in the world.

Some shrimp, crabs, and fish are specially suited to life in sargassum. Certain species of eel, fish, and shark spawn there. Each year, humpback whales, tuna, and seabirds migrate across these fruitful waters, taking advantage of the gathering of life that occurs where ocean currents converge.

Cutaway graphic of ocean with healthy sargassum seaweed habitat supporting marine life.

The Wide and Oily Sargasso Sea

However, an abundance of marine life isn’t the only other thing that can accumulate with these large patches of sargassum. Spilled oil, carried by currents, can also end up swirling among the seaweed.

If an oil spill made its way somewhere like the Sargasso Sea, a young sea turtle would encounter a much different scene. As the ocean currents brought the spill into contact with sargassum, oil would coat those same snarled branches and bladders of the seaweed. The turtles and other marine life living within and near the oiled sargassum would come into contact with the oil too, as they dove, swam, and rested among the floating mats.

That oil can be inhaled as vapors, be swallowed or consumed with food, and foul feathers, skin, scales, shell, and fur, which in turn smothers, suffocates, or strips the animal of its ability to stay insulated. The effects can be toxic and deadly.

Cutaway graphic of ocean with potential impacts of oil on sargassum seaweed habitat and marine life.

While sea turtles, for example, as cold-blooded reptiles, may enjoy the relatively warmer waters of sargassum islands, a hot sun beating down on an oiled ocean surface can raise water temperatures to extreme levels. What starts as soothing can soon become stressful.

Depending on how much oil arrived, the sargassum would grow less, or not at all, or even die. These floating seaweed oases begin shrinking. Where will young sea turtles take cover as they cross the unforgiving open ocean?

As life in the sargassum starts to perish, it may drop to the ocean bottom, potentially bringing oil and the toxic effects with it. Microbes in the water may munch on the oil and decompose the dead marine life, but this can lead to ocean oxygen dropping to critical levels and causing further harm in the area.

From Pollution to Protection

Young sea turtles swims through floating seaweed mats.

NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service havedesignated sargassum as a critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.

Sargassum has also been designated as Essential Fish Habitat by Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service since it also provides nursery habitat for many important fishery species (e.g., dolphinfish, triggerfishes, tripletail, billfishes, tunas, and amberjacks) and for ecologically important forage fish species (e.g., butterfishes and flyingfishes).

Sargassum and its inhabitants are particularly vulnerable to threats such as oil spills and marine debris due to the fact that ocean currents naturally tend to concentrate all of these things together in the same places. In turn, this concentrating effect can lead to marine life being exposed to oil and other pollutants for more extended periods of time and perhaps greater impacts.

However, protecting sargassum habitat isn’t impossible and it isn’t out of reach for most people. Some of the same things you might do to lower your impact on the planet—using less plastic, reducing your demand for oil, properly disposing of trash, discussing these issues with elected officials—can lead to fewer oil spills and less trash turning these magnificent islands of sargassum into floating islands of pollution.

And maybe protect a baby sea turtle or two along the way.

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

Floating rafts of sargassum, a large brown seaweed, can stretch for miles across the ocean.

Floating bits of brown seaweed at ocean surface
                                                            (Credit: Sean Nash/Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)

The young loggerhead sea turtle, its ridged shell only a few inches across, is perched calmly among the floating islands of large brown seaweed, known as sargassum. Casually, it nibbles on the leaf-like blades of the seaweed, startling a nearby crab. Open ocean stretches for miles around these large free-floating seaweed mats where myriad creatures make their home.

Suddenly, a shadow passes overhead. A hungry seabird?

Taking no chances, the small sea turtle dips beneath the ocean surface. It dives through the yellow-brown sargassum with its tangle of branches and bladders filled with air, keeping…

View original post 642 more words

October 31, 2015

Oil Spill Disasters: Saving the Victims

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

As the Santa Barbara and the Deepwater Horizon oil spills showed, there’s no question that marine life suffers when caught in an oil spill. While the long-term effects on animals due to oil pollution are still being researched, we’re thankful for the wildlife responders and volunteers who try to rescue these victims before it’s too late.

There’s no question that the marine life suffers when caught in an oil spill. And while the long-term affects on animals due to oil pollution are still being researched, we’re thankful for the wildlife responders and volunteers who try to rescue these victims before it’s too late.

Between 700,000 to 1,000,000 species call the great blue abyss “home.” This thriving ecosystem, which makes up 71 percent of our planet, is filled with unique creatures from crustaceans to mammals. They face threats from many human activities, including oil spills such as May’s spill off the…

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October 31, 2015

5 Facts About Successful Marine Protected Areas

Not all MPAs are created equal. Learn the features that help ensure environmental protection works.

 

Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected areas of seas, oceans or large lakes. MPAs restrict human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources.” –Wikipedia

———

 

It’s not enough to merely designate a marine protected area — a few key features are essential to its success.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) help reduce stress on marine ecosystems and protect spawning and nursery areas, but not only animals benefit — people benefit from the storm protection provided by habitats such as barrier islands, coral reefs, and wetlands, and gain economically from tourism and fishing.

More than 1,600 MPAs in the United States protect about 41 percent of marine waters in some capacity, 3 percent within no-take protected areas.

The Convention on Biological Diversity — a coalition of 168 countries — set a goal of protecting 10 percent of ocean waters by 2020, but scientists say that figure needs to be closer to 25 or 30 percent. Either way, protecting a certain percentage of water isn’t enough — it must be the right percentage.

“Oceans are not homogeneous, and not all MPAs are created equal,” says Rodolphe Devillers, Ph.D., a researcher and professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. “Protecting 1 percent one place does not equal protecting 1 percent somewhere else.” When Devillers and other researchers examined protected areas around the globe, they found that most MPA sites were chosen to minimize costs and conflict and, as a result, make almost no real contribution to conservation or protection of species or habitats. “MPAs are management tools to protect vulnerable marine life from human activities. Typically, areas most used by humans tend to be the ones that need the most protection — but they also are the hardest to sell politically.”

Overall, prohibiting extractive activities dramatically boosts MPA success. Yet only 1 percent of the world’s oceans and less than 3 percent of the U.S. MPA area is currently designated no-take.

In no-take reserves worldwide, research documented an average increase of 446 percent in total marine life. Density — or number of plants and animals in a given area — increased an average of 166 percent, and the number of species present increased an average of 21 percent.

No-take requires enforcement, another key feature of successful MPAs. This presents particular challenges in isolated locations, ironically another key characteristic of successful MPAs.

To overcome this challenge, the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., and Satellite Applications Catapult in the United Kingdom created a virtual-monitoring system, which so far monitors 10 locations worldwide.

Other features of successful MPAs include an age of 10 years or older and a size larger than 100 square kilometers.

“People want to believe that MPAs are like a magic wand, that with one fell swoop you can achieve bold and aggressive conservation outcomes,” says Doug Rader, chief oceans scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. “That unfortunately is not the case. But where MPAs are designed to achieve or contribute to a conservation goal, and where a fair and science-based need is recognized, I don’t think there is a case that has been unsuccessful.”

Behind Every Successful MPA…
Tortugas North Ecological Reserve, Florida
Established in 2001 as a no-take reserve.

» Three commercially important fish species increased in abundance/size within three years.
» Responses were stronger in the reserve than the fished MPA for two of the three species, and stronger for all three species in fully fished areas.
» No financial loss for commercial or recreational fisheries, as well as higher coral coverage in the reserve than the MPA and unprotected sites.

Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park, Kenya
Established in 1973; fishing prohibited in the 1990s.

» Fish biomass 11.6 times higher inside the reserve than in fully fished areas, and 2.8 times greater than in a fished MPA.
» Greater biodiversity and better protection for branching corals than a fished MPA.
» Higher fish diversity, approximately 10 more fish species per area sampled than in a fished MPA.

Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, Baja California, Mexico
Created in the Gulf of California in 1995, no-take enforced by locals. Scientific surveys in 1999 and 2009 found no change in other Gulf of California MPAs, while at Cabo Pulmo:

» Predator biomass increased more than 1,000 percent.
» Total fish biomass increased 463 percent.
» Density of fish on the reef — 1.72 tons per acre — is some of the highest recorded anywhere in the world.

Five Easy Pieces
Successful marine protected areas around the world have five features in common, according to an analysis of 87 MPAs:

  1. No-take zone

  2. Effective enforcement

  3. Age greater than 10 years

  4. Size larger than 100 square kilometers

  5. Isolation

————————————————–

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

Not all MPAs are created equal. Learn the features that help ensure environmental protection works.

Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected areas of seas, oceans or large lakes. MPAs restrict human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources.” – Wikipedia

———

It’s not enough to merely designate a marine protected area — a few key features are essential to its success.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) help reduce stress on marine ecosystems and protect spawning and nursery areas, but not only animals benefit — people benefit from the storm protection provided by habitats such as barrier islands, coral reefs, and wetlands, and gain economically from tourism and fishing.

More than 1,600 MPAs in the United States protect about 41 percent of marine waters in some capacity, 3 percent within no-take protected areas.

The Convention on Biological Diversity — a coalition of 168 countries — set…

View original post 659 more words

October 31, 2015

NOAA announces two new Habitat Focus Areas

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

The Northeast Reserves and Culebra Island, Puerto Rico; Biscayne Bay, Florida, targeted for conservation efforts

January 7, 2015

The beach at Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, which will be part of the two new Habitat Focus Areas announced by NOAA Fisheries today. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA has selected two sites in the southeast and Caribbean as Habitat Focus Areas — places where the agency can maximize its habitat conservation investments and management efforts to benefit marine resources and coastal communities. These two new areas are Puerto Rico’s Northeast Reserves and Culebra Island, and Florida’s Biscayne Bay.

Under NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint, which provides a framework for NOAA to effectively improve habitats for fisheries, marine life, and coastal communities, Habitat Focus Areas are selected to prioritize long-term habitat science and conservation efforts. As a Habitat Focus Area, NOAA and partners will provide conservation planning and development of a watershed management plan.

“NOAA’s Habitat…

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October 31, 2015

6 Ways to Care for an Underwater Camera Housing

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

Maintenance for your housing starts before you go diving. Here are six tips from the experts at ScubaLab.

1. MAINTENANCE for your housing starts before you go diving. At the start of a trip, remove the sealing O-ring from its groove, and apply a small amount of the supplied O-ring grease.

2. IT’S IMPORTANT TO CHECK the O-ring for any debris that might interfere with creating
 a seal. Do this while applying a light coating of grease to the O-ring, and every time you open and close your housing.

3. KEEP YOUR HOUSING OUT of the sun to prevent camera fogging. The best sunscreen is a damp towel — if you’re out in the hot sun, just place the towel over your housing. Always keep a couple of desiccants in the housing to help prevent it from fogging.

4. NEVER LEAVE your housing unattended 
in the camera-only rinse bucket, 
as…

View original post 118 more words

September 26, 2015

Gear / How to Maintain Your Dive Mask | Sport Diver

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

Basic Gear Maintenance

Critical scuba diving gear requires annual inspection and service by a qualified technician, but even dive masks — your window to the underwater world — need some special TLC. Here’s our guide to keeping your mask in tiptop shape in 5 easy steps.

Predive
1. If you haven’t replaced your mask strap with a stretchy fabric one, stretch out the strap to look for fine cracks. If you do find any, immediately replace the strap.
2. Examine the silicone of your mask skirt. The most common failure area on a mask is the feather-edged seal on the skirt. This can become imperfect or irregular in shape with time and heavy use, and that irregularity can create leaks.
3. Check all the buckles, which can crack, split or become clogged with debris that can interfere with how they function. Then check the frame of your mask for cracking…

View original post 81 more words

September 26, 2015

Underwater Photo Tips: Capturing People

Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center Kayaks Paddle Boards Boggie Boards and Beach Rentel Center

People can be among the trickiest subjects for underwater photography. Learn from the pros with these simple tips, and bring out the best from your dive photos.

Few underwater photographers start out wanting to photograph people. Our first shots are usually to record all the fish and marine life that got us diving in the first place. We might take the occasional snaps of our buddies, but new photographers are rarely motivated to take people pics.

That all changes when you start showing your images, wanting to tell stories with them, and trying to get them published. In these cases, people shots are invaluable. In short, if you want your photos to sell, the most important subject that you can point your camera toward is another diver.

Magazines love people pictures because a model adds human interest, helps tell a story and endows an image with the sense of “that could…

View original post 765 more words

June 5, 2014

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season

El Niño expected to develop and suppress the number and intensity of
tropical cyclones

May 22, 2014

2014 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook graphic
2014 Atlantic hurricane outlook.

Download here (Credit:NOAA)

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipateddevelopment of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.  For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

“Thanks to the environmental intelligence from NOAA’s network of earth observations, our scientists and meteorologists can provide life-saving products like our new storm surge threat map and our hurricane forecasts,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “And even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster.”

Satellite view of Humberto, the first of only two Atlantic hurricanes in 2013.Humberto was the first of only two Atlantic hurricanes in 2013. It reached peak intensity, with top winds of 90 mph, in the far eastern Atlantic.

Download here (Credit:NOAA)

Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said the Atlantic – which has seen above-normal seasons in 12 of the last 20 years – has been in an era of high activity for hurricanes since 1995. However, this high-activity pattern is expected to be offset in 2014 by the impacts of El Niño, and by cooler Atlantic Ocean temperatures than we’ve seen in recent years.

“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Niño characteristics. Also, we are currently seeing strong trade winds and wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, and NOAA’s climate models predict these conditions will persist, in part because of El Niño,” Bell said. “The expectation of near-average Atlantic Ocean temperatures this season, rather than the above-average temperatures seen since 1995, also suggests fewer Atlantic hurricanes.”

NOAA is rolling out new tools at the National Hurricane Center this year. An experimental mapping tool will be used to show communities their storm surge flood threat. The map will be issued for coastal areas when a hurricane or tropical storm watch is first issued, or approximately 48 hours before the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. The map will show land areas where storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water could reach in those areas.

Early testing on continued improvements to NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model (HWRF) shows a 10 percent improvement in this year’s model compared to last year. Hurricane forecasters use the HWRF along with other models to produce forecasts and issue warnings.  The HWRF model is being adopted by a number of Western Pacific and Indian Ocean rim nations.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook is not a hurricane landfall forecast; it does not predict how many storms will hit land or where a storm will strike. Forecasts for individual storms and their impacts will be provided throughout the season by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall to have disastrous impacts on our communities,” said Joe Nimmich, FEMA associate administrator for Response and Recovery. “Just last month, Pensacola, Florida saw five inches of rain in 45 minutes – without a tropical storm or hurricane. We need you to be ready. Know your risk for hurricanes and severe weather, take action now to be prepared and be an example for others in your office, school or community. Learn more about how to prepare for hurricanes at www.ready.gov/hurricanes.”

Next week, May 25-31, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements in both English and Spanish, featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA Administrator at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

NOAA’s outlook for the Eastern Pacific basin is for a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season, and the Central Pacific basin is also expected to have a near-normal or above-normal season. NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

Tags:
December 8, 2013

Culebra Snorkel or Dive ?

Culebra Beach Tree

Snorkeling is also known as free-diving: Strap on a mask, snorkel, and fins you’ll be ready to quite literally pass through the looking-glass into another world. The warm waters of Culebra will embraces your body and frees you from gravity, allowing you to fly among the parrots, butterflies, angels, damsels, and, turtles then dance with the hamlets and scarlet ladies, and bow to the barracuda and dolphin.

The tropical sea covers an unrestricted collection of life. And one of our greatest attractions is that you can wade into the water off any point of land and find yourself immersed in a universe of outrageous color and interesting characters. Of course it’s always better off a picture perfect gorgeous beach … or one with nothing but solitude and sand.

<<READ MORE<<

cropped-snorkeling-gtrl-img_0006-cropped-4x-10-inch.jpg

December 1, 2013

Best of Puerto Rico (part 2)

Puerto Rico Day Trip to Culebra

IMG_7130At last, here is part 2 of my short trip to Puerto Rico! If you haven’t read part 1 you can do so here. After a wonderful afternoon spent at El Yunque National Park we headed to Fajardo on Puerto Rico’s East coast. Fajardo is just an hour or so away from San Juan and the best spot from which to go explore Culebra and Vieques, Puerto Rico’s beautiful islands. We thought we’d find a small hostel or bed and breakfast in Fajardo but to our surprise there were only two hotels to choose from and the cheapest one was $120 a night! So it was that or sleeping in the car…

IMG_7251Since it was my 29th birthday (uh-oh 30 next year!) and that I had never celebrated my birthday outside of Canada before, I definetly wanted to spend it on a gorgeous beach! We took the ferry (which by the way…

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December 1, 2013

Culebra

gokimdo

We took a ferry from Puerto Rico to visit another island – Culebra! What a gorgeous day at a quintessential beach!

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December 1, 2013

2013 Atlantic Tropical Weather Summary

atlantic latest 2013 summary

2013 Atlantic Summary

SEASON 2013 TROPICAL WEATHER SUMMARY
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
700 PM EST SAT NOV 30 2013

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC
CARIBBEAN SEA 
GULF OF MEXICO

FOR THE 2013 SEASON OVERALL...13 NAMED STORMS 
FORMED IN THE BASIN...WITH ONLY TWO OF THE 
STORMS REACHING HURRICANE STRENGTH. THERE WAS
ALSO ONE TROPICAL DEPRESSION THAT FORMED THAT 
DID NOT REACH TROPICAL STORM STRENGTH. BASED 
ON THE 30-YEAR CLIMATOLOGY...THE AVERAGE LEVEL 
OF ACTIVITY IN THE BASIN IS 12 NAMED STORMS...
...6 HURRICANES...AND 3 MAJOR HURRICANES. FOR 
2013...THE NUMBER OF NAMED STORMS WAS NEAR 
AVERAGE...BUT THE NUMBERS OF HURRICANES AND 
MAJOR HURRICANES WERE WELL BELOW AVERAGE. 
THERE WERE NO MAJOR HURRICANES IN THE NORTH 
ATLANTIC BASIN FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 
1994...AND THE NUMBER OF HURRICANES THIS 
YEAR WAS THE LOWEST SINCE 1982. 

>>READ MORE
November 14, 2013

12 Activities to Achieve the Perfect Vacation in Puerto Rico

Wonder Sonder

Some places never get old. They enchant us the more we reflect on them.

I unexpectedly went to Puerto Rico on my own in 2011, after plans fell through with a friend.

I was going through my hard drive and found these gorgeous pics of the islands of San Juan, Culebra, Culebrita, and the beach towns Isabella Segunda and Esperanza in Vieques. The picture above is of Esperanza, at sunset. You can either catch a short flight, which will take you through views like the one below to get there, or you can take the ferry, which is significantly less expensive at around two bucks each way from Fajardo.

Here are the 15 activities you can conduct in Puerto Rico, which will give you pause for thought and perhaps serve as the best vacation impetus possible.

1. Fly in and out on a tiny plane over the most gorgeous Caribbean…

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November 7, 2013

Culebra Map

Culebra  Beach  Map –  for  Beaches, Swimming, Snorkeling,  Diving, Kayaking  &  Paddle Board  Locations

Beach Listing of Culebra

          Playa Flamenco  [Beach] Ranked # 2 in the top 10 most exotic beaches in the world      [ google view ]

Playa Carlos Rosario [ Beach ] …….Playa de Cascajo

Playa Brava [ Beach ]………….………Playa Las Vacas

Playa Larga [ Beach ]……………..…..Playa Pueblo Español

Playa Punta Soldado [ Beach ]…….Playa Resaca [ Beach ]

Playa Tamarindo [ Beach ]……..….Playa Tortuga [ Beach ]

Playa Zoni [ Beach ]……….………….Playa Melones [ Beach ]

The Main Island of Culebra offers Great Snorkeling Sites accessible by foot.

  Playa Melones/Melones Beach –  Snorkeling/Diving Site                                                 [ 6  areas ]

  Playa Tamarindo/Tamarindo Beach –  Snorkeling/Diving Site                                        [ 8  areas ]

>>> Read More     –      About 12 Other  Culebra Snorkeling/ Diving  Sites

                [ click for google map ]

Culebra Nautical Chart

 [ click here to view Snorkeling Photography  ]

November 5, 2013

Snorkeling & Diving Photography From Culebra

Click Here for the Snorkeling & Diving Photography Wall

Culebra Snorkeler

Some of the greatest pictures from Culebra’s Snorkelers, Divers, and Kayakers

Snorkeling Tip  –

Snorkeling is a breathtaking means of exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer, in Culebra,  from her underwater wonderland.  The most important thing is to just relax. There is no need to hurry up.  Learning techniques to snorkel is about moving in the water without feeling breathless, fatigue or cramps which is the key to maximizing the enjoyment of your Culebra snorkeling adventure.  Snorkeling is an excellent way to view tropical fish in shallow water or explore a coral reef. All you need is a mask, a snorkel or breathing tube, and fins.  Both beginners and more experienced swimmers can learn to snorkel, as it doesn’t require much swimming.  Relax, float face-down on your stomach and gaze down into an enchanting underwater realm.

November 1, 2013

November 2013 Moon Phase

Lunar Phase Motion

17 November    Full Moon

• Full Beaver Moon   –   17 November 2013

This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.
Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers
are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

<< Read More

November 2013 Moon Phase
July 1, 2013

Culebra Questions & Posts

Ask Your Question About Culebra, Puerto Rico HERE!

Culebra, PR flag.jpg

Forum Question

June 25, 2013

Culebra Snorkeling Update

A Guide for Snorkeling Culebra, Puerto Rico’s Beaches and Reefs  the Spanish Virgin Islands a Gateway to the Caribbean’s Best

snorkeler head

If you are new to the snorkeling / scuba diving experience or need advice on the Culebra Snorkeling scene this is the place,  here you will afforded the  years of experience with those who have logged thousands of hours breathing on top and underwater.  Culebra offers a comfortable and relaxed learning environment.  For those of you that are already comfortable in the water, Culebra provides an opportunity for a continuing education about the Caribbean waters like no other.  Our goal is to enable  you to become comfortable snorkeling or diving any time of day or distance from the shoreline that all your friends are always talking about (did you know there are over 20 Cayos (keys) around Culebra, Puerto Rico alone).

No one can offer guarantees, but with the miles upon miles of gorgeous Caribbean reefs Culebra snorkelers are able to interact with the turtles more often than not, usually just by getting in the water and snorkeling over the reef system sharing it with them. When you glide over a sea-grass bed, it’s like soaring over a miniature forest with all sorts of curious animals hiding amid the blades. A short informal classroom session will give you an explanation of a marine mural depicting various underwater environments enabling you to find stingrays foraging in the sand, turtles feeding in the grass, and during different times of the year an explosion of baitfish attracts schools of yellowtail snappers, blue tangs, French grunts, goatfish and others. Many of Culebra lagoon’s lead to widespread continuous reef systems that provide endless shallow wanderings and are surrounded by sandy beaches fitted for relaxation. Stop by Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center for gear and suggestions on the best locations based on current conditions to ensure an experience of a lifetime.

June 21, 2013

NOAA predicts active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season

Era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes continues

In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year.

For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

“With the devastation of Sandy fresh in our minds, and another active season predicted, everyone at NOAA is committed to providing life-saving forecasts in the face of these storms and ensuring that Americans are prepared and ready ahead of time.” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA acting administrator. “As we saw first-hand with Sandy, it’s important to remember that tropical storm and hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline. Strong winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes often threaten inland areas far from where the storm first makes landfall.”

<< Read More

June 21, 2013

Full Moons For 2013

Lunar-phase-Blue-1

Schedule of Full Moons & Names  for 2013

June 23rd                Full Strawberry Moon       7:32 am

July 22nd                 Full Thunder Moon           2:16 pm

August 20th             Full Sturgeon Moon          9:45 pm

September 19th      Full Harvest Moon              7:13 am

October 18th           Full Hunter’s Moon            7:38 pm

November 17th       Full Beaver Moon               9:16 am

December 17th        Full Cold Moon                  3:28 am

June 21, 2013

July 2013 Moon Phase

july Moon Phase


<< More Details

June 21, 2013

June’s 2013 Culebra’s Tide

June’s 2013 Culebra’s Tide

CULEBRA 9752235 Tidal Data July 2013

June 18, 2013

Culebra’s Coral Reef System

Lagoons………………………………………………… Lagoons………………………………………………….. Laguna…………………………………………………..

IMG_0915 w dude & chicks merged visible CROPPED

Snorkeling is a breathtaking means of exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer, in Culebra,  from her underwater wonderland.  The most important thing is to just relax. There is no need to hurry up.  Learning to snorkel is about moving in the water creating  techniques to move without feeling breathless, fatigue or cramps which is the key to maximizing the enjoyment of your Culebra coral snorkeling adventure.  Snorkeling is an excellent way to view tropical fish in shallow water or explore a coral reef. All you need is a mask, a snorkel or breathing tube, and fins.  Both beginners and more experienced swimmers can learn to snorkel, as it doesn’t require much swimming.  Relax, float face-down on your stomach and gaze down into an enchanting underwater realm.

Snorkeling in Culebra is one of the easiest methods to view the Caribbean’s  underwater world. It opens the door to Culebra that most have never seen before and is one of the most relaxing sports related to water. You do not need extraordinary strength, nor do you need to hold your breath, but you will need some basic swimming techniques. Enjoying snorkeling in Culebra is much like relaxing in the water while looking below and enjoying the door to the new world that you have opened. Just about anybody can snorkel and with a little help, you will become better and better.

No Mask Swimmer IMG_0943

June 17, 2013

Boating Culebra Style

Here is a new take on boating…Culebra Style!

Culebra Snorkeling Beach Boat 007

Lessons Available !

June 17, 2013

Snorkeling in Culebra

Local Guide for Snorkeling Culebra, Puerto Rico’s Beaches and Reefs

Culebra Snorkeler w mask on

A Guide for Snorkeling Culebra, Puerto Rico’s Beaches and Reefs  the Spanish Virgin Islands a Gateway to the Caribbean’s Best

If you are new to the snorkeling / scuba diving experience or need advice on the Culebra Snorkeling scene this is the place.   Culebra offers a comfortable and relaxed learning environment.  For those of you that are already comfortable in the water,  Culebra offers a good location for continuing education about the Caribbean waters like no other.  So you can become comfortable snorkeling or diving any time of day or distance from the shoreline that all your friends are always talking about (did you know there are over 20 Cayos (keys) around Culebra, Puerto Rico alone).

June 17, 2013

Boating in Culebra Map

Boating in Culebra can be enjoyable with multiple lagoons and keys to discover.

Culebra Nautical Chart

June 16, 2013

Kayaking in Culebra

I like kayaking in Culebra.