Monday, September 03, 2007

Carnival of the Blue IV

Carnival of the Blue LogoI'm really excited to be able to host Carnival of the Blue on The Saipan Blog this month! I've been waiting for this opportunity since June. I'm thinking that a monthly carnival may not be enough; we might have to do it twice per month.

Anyways, before I jump into the Carnival, please allow me to tell you a little about Saipan, the island I call home:

Saipan is the largest and capitol island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The island is about 17 miles long and 5 miles wide and depending on who you ask, about 60,000 - 75,000 people live here. Of those people, about 1/4 are indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians, 1/4 are Chinese guest workers, 1/4 are Filipino guest workers, and the rest are a mix of Mainland Americans, Japanese, Koreans, Micronesians, Thais, Bangladeshis, Canadians, assorted Europeans, Mongolians, and two Jamaicans, Walt and Sean (no relation).

Saipan is a divers paradise. You can dive 365 days a year here. Most boat dives are no more than 30 minutes from shore and there are numerous shore dives, wall dives, and wreck dives. At Eagle Ray City and Ice Cream dive sites you can be almost guaranteed to see an eagle ray on every dive, sometimes as many as 40. The Grotto, an underwater cave that leads out to the ocean, is our premier dive site. It is considered the World's #2 Cave Dive. A whale shark was even spotted there last month.

There are 5 Marine Protected Areas in the waters surrounding Saipan. Two of them are single species reserves, while the other three, Bird Island, Forbidden Island, and Managaha Island are all no-take reserves.

I work for a small non-profit called the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance. Our acronym, MINA, means "resource" in the Chamorro language. MINA's mission is to protect and restore the full range of habitats that sustain the CNMI's natural biodiversity and natural heritage for the economic and social benefit of present and future generations.

MINA is a proud partner of Beautify CNMI!, a local campaign and coalition of concerned citizens, private groups, and government entities on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota united to enhance the CNMI's natural beauty and foster community pride in its residents and visitors. I coordinate all of the volunteer work of Beautify CNMI!

Well, that's enough about me. Hopefully if you find this stuff interesting you'll keep coming back to The Saipan Blog and the work I do with the Beautify CNMI campaign.

So without further ado, I present, Carnival of the Blue IV:

Mike Tripp and Harry Blalock are two dive bums on Saipan who blog about diving. Harry Blalock takes amazing photos of the underwater life around our island, especially of nudibranchs. He posts them on his blog and on his Smugmug. Mike is the creator of Saipan's only dive video, The Underwater World of Saipan. He also posts a lot of video on his personal blog. He recently created a lot of controversy which started a conversation on diver ethics with this video of a crown of thorns starfish killed by a diver.

Jennifer Jacquet over at Shifting Baselines has two submissions this month. Shifting Spearguns: Hunting Smaller Fish uncovers a new trend in spearguns...smaller guns for hunting smaller fish. Is this just a trend or is it because the fish are getting smaller? You decide. She also writes about illegal shark finning in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Kevin Z from The Other 95% writes about something that should hit home with some of Saipan's local bloggers (I won't mention which ones). His post titled Invert PSA: Help the Homeless (Hermit Crabs That Is) is about, yup, you guessed it, homeless hermit crabs.

Mike and Corey have posted some great photos of Sanderlings on their website, 10000 Birds.

I'm a chordata, urochordata! has pictures of a bizarre observation of a "sessile" tunicate actually exhibiting mobility by extending its colony in one direction, and then re-absorbing or losing part of its old colony. Gross! I!

Hugh Powell's post is titled, PCBs: Particularly Cruel to Baby Seals. He writes about how the bio accumulation of PCBs is disrupting vitamin A pathways in baby harbor seals. This one gets the kawaii award.

Brian from Laelaps writes about he evolution of whales and how they move. Cool stuff.

Rick from Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets posts a commentary on how the general election in Papau New Guinea shook-down and what it might portend for marine and terrestrial conservation efforts. He also writes about the impacts Hurricanes have on our coral reefs.

While on the subject of Hurricanes, here is a post from The Intersection on how hurricanes may or may not impact our fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking of fish, Mark over at Blogfish has discovered some spas in China, Japan, and Korea (hey, that's my neck of the woods!) that are using fish as exfoliants...and not in the way you would expect.

We've got a lot of people writing about fish this month. Dr. Carl Safina, president and co-founder of the Blue Ocean Institute, reports about the fish off Long Island’s eastern end that have recovered and those that haven’t reached former levels of abundance – and why.

Ever wonder how gills work? Mark H explains how over on his Daily Kos Diary.

...and we're back to coral:

In this post Charles Shepard and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg criticise a proposal by Andrew
Baker to save coral reefs. In this post Andrew Baker defends his proposal. Thanks to Caspar at Coral Bones for the submission!

In LIVE BLUE: Emotion + Reason for our Ocean, we are given advice on how to build a stronger ocean conservation movement.

Changing topics now, James Hrynyshyn writes about alarmist climate science. A new study has confirmed earlier propositions that the most recent ice age will be the last.

We'll end this carnival with a fun post. Jason over at Cephalopodcast has started a new feature, What the Shell is That?

Well, that's Carnival of the Blue IV! If you'd still like to make a submission, just leave the link in the comments section and I'll add it the post...and don't forget to add a link to Carnival of the Blue IV! Next month's Carnival of the Blue will be hosted at Shifting Baselines.

Late additions:

Bruce from Saipan digs deeper into the mystery of the plane wreck in the Saipan Lagoon on his blog, Saipanuvian.


A G Gatto said...

I was talking to Mark Michael (formerly) of Dive Rota the other day and he was saying that he really wished folks like Harry would come down to Rota and dive/write about the sites and wrecks here.

He said that someone was gonna come down and write about it, but that person expected everything to be free, which, of course was a jerk thing to do. Nonetheless, I hope you guys come down here and check some stuff out.

I'll give you Mark's ## if you want it.


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Hi Angelo,
here is a link to a post suitable for Carnival of the Blue:

Thanks, and where do I find the counter link? Should I link it back to your site or their main site?

Jeff said...

If the guy was writing for a major dive magazine, and given that there is one dive shop there at all in Rota and all the business that article could generate, it wouldn't have been a bad idea to take the guy out on a few dives. Harry mentioned he would like to do that kind of thing, but Harry isn't making money on his blog, either, he's doing it for fun. A trip to Rota would be major expensive for him. The dive shops profit off of that stuff more than Harry would. Last May I wanted to go on a dive trip and diving there in Rota, my first idea, was costlier than Palau, so I just went to Palau instead. The flight costs to Rota are also absurd. I know the gas costs are outrageous there in Rota, so it may just not be a viable business at all right now. Too bad, I really want to dive Rota, but not for $110 for two dives.

Rick MacPherson said...

great job with the carnival, angelo!

corey said...

Nice hosting job. I learned a lot about the briny deep.

A G Gatto said...

I can't believe how expensive the flights are either; however, the story I heard about the writer was quite different than you describe, and so, I think I'll put myself on the sidelines of that one.

The issue of the price of things down here on Rota is partly a matter of non-cohesion, whereas Rota is a part of the CNMI, but does not enjoy the (albeit modest) buying power of it's sister Saipan. So, along with the astronomical fuel costs, Rota is also limited to selling expired food and charging double the high price of Saipan's goods.

It's a toughie.

As for the mag. I got an almost completely different story. But, Mark seems like a good guy and maybe you all can work something out if you have the desire to. Personally, I am not a diver. Were I, prob. solved.



A G Gatto said...

Also, there are at least 3 dive shops here.


Jeff said...

I don't know anything about the writer or the story. All I am saying is publicity for Rota is probably worth taking the guy out for a dive.