30 November 2011

What lies beneath...

I went diving at Ras Hamar (Donkey's Head) a few days ago. Along with a beautiful eagle ray and two large, dancing cuttlefish, I saw four guitar sharks.  This should have been a joyous occasion. Guitar sharks are rare, and it was the first time I'd ever encountered them, but instead it was heartbreaking. All four guitar sharks were DEAD - caught in fishing cages, along with other unsuspecting marine life.  The worst thing was that these cages weren't even attached to anything. Their ropes were long gone.  No-one will pull them up out of the water and they'll continue to act as marine exterminators.  Four magnificant creatures killed, for nothing.

Fishing cages seem to be becoming more & more prolific in our waters.  The last time I dived Ras Hamar, about 10 months ago, there were hardly any.  This time there were tell-tale marker buoys everywhere.  What, if anything, is being done to regulate fishing in the area?  No-one wants to deny fishermen their livelihood but there has to be a more sustainable way of doing things.  The fishermen don't dive - they don't know what's beneath them when they throw in their cages.  Not only are the reefs getting destroyed, but the fishing cages are ending up in places where the fishermen can't retrieve them because the ropes get caught up in rocky features.  No-one wins. The fishermen lose their cages and their catch, and the marine life perishes unnoticed. 

Oman needs to wake up to what it has and what it's destroying. Even if the environment in itself isn't Oman's top priority, it has to understand the economic ripple-effect of its actions.  Oman is intent on promoting itself as a tourist destination. Scuba-diving brings in big dollars (look at places like the Red Sea in Egypt).  If things continue this way Oman will lose the very attractions that tourists come for.  These marine creatures are worth a lot more alive in the sea than they are dead in a market, or rotting in a cage at the bottom of the ocean. 

Please do something to protect marine life before it's too late!!

Dead Guitar Sharks at Ras Hamar

Dead guitar sharks caught in abandoned fishing cages

07 November 2011

Stormy Outlook? ...

In light of the recent weather in our usually sunny Salalah, I felt compelled to write about the subject.  Afterall, there's nothing like a huge storm to make you feel utterly insignificant and powerless in the world. The forces of nature truly are awesome (and I mean that in the strictest sense of the word, not the overused American version). Here we are in a desert country, lashed this past week by torrential rainfall and strong winds, thanks to tropical storm Keila.  This isn't the first time Oman has been hit by such weather and it certainly wont be the last.  But are these types of storms just part of normal weather patterns or is there something else going on? All over the world we seem to be seeing more and more crazy weather.  Huge areas of Thailand are currently under water, Italy is flooded, New York saw unseasonal snowfall, Myanmar & Cambodia recently faced floods. The list continues...

With the world population at 7 billion and growing, is it possible someone's trying to tell us something?! Are we the masters of our own destruction?

Recent studies suggest that increasing air pollution in the Indian sub-continent is enhancing the intensity of tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea.  Diesel fumes and biomass burning are blamed for creating 'brown clouds' which disrupt normal air circulation. It is believed that this thick layer of pollution helps create the right atmospheric conditions for the formation of large tropical cyclones.

Of course, there will always be debate about these kinds of claims - and I'm no scientist - but whatever your view, shouldn't we see these kinds of events as a wake-up call? We need to start thinking about how we treat the Earth and start doing our bit to preserve this planet we call home!!

On that note, Eid Mubarak!! and, if you haven't already, be sure to visit Wadi Darbat which has turned into a raging river and giant waterfall! Not something I would ever have imagined witnessing.  Sadly though, the beautiful beach at Khor Ruri has all but disppeared - washed away by a torrent of muddy water.  According to some sources, we're not out of the woods yet either. It looks like another storm may be brewing....