Column Series for Oceanographic
Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean
Oceanographic Magazine published a series of columns from me as we explored different marine protected areas whilst travelling as liveaboard sailors. Their remit was to link each piece with a thread of marine protection but with the flexibility to create varied stories from each place. I began with a story from La Graciosa in the Canary islands, after a breathtaking encounter with a critically endangered Angel shark while freediving there. We anchored off the island for two weeks swimming and freediving often, observing and photographing the marine life which allowed plenty of time for ideas, images and research to form into column-worthy content.
Subsequent columns came together in a similar fashion, inspired by firsthand experiences along the way. From short-finned pilot whales in Tenerife, bluefin tuna in El Hierro, coral disease in Dominica and artisanal whaling in St Vincent and the Grenadines, it became an emotional ocean tour of great learning.
Excerpt from Saving Dominicas Corals, Issue 24
“Today I‘ve arranged to dive with Simon Walsh, operations manager of Nature Island Dive for a tour of the corals they are monitoring. Whilst the human world has been battling Covid-19, the corals of Dominica have been set upon by a deadly sea borne virus. Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), is a lethal disease that afflicts more than 22 species, including some of the most iconic and important reef building corals of the tropical Atlantic.
Following the brutal sweep of SCTLD across other parts of the Caribbean the first recorded case in Soufriere-Scotts Head Marine Reserve was picked up by Simon and his team in 2021. With advice from coral experts they began monitoring and successfully treating infected colonies with an ointment developed by a team of scientists at Ocean Alchemists in Florida. This CoralCure Ointment Base2B mixed with amoxicillin trihydrate has been used to treat SCTLD throughout Florida with an 85% success rate. Pasted on at the line of infection, the ointment adheres to the coral, slowly releasing the amoxicillin into the tissues over a period of 3 days.
When Simon first consulted with the scientists they warned him, “Pick your friends, your most cherished corals to treat as you won’t save them all.” Left untreated the infection usually kills the corals within weeks or months. Yet with swift and direct action Simon and his team have saved the lives of multiple coral colonies, “If you wait a week it’s gone, you have to act fast”. “