Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our International Team Plans on Making a Great Difference

After a smooth crossing our team had assembled. Canadian and USA core team are
leading this trip. We are also sharing the boat with divers from Germany, France, Russia, Colombia and Costa Rica. We are also joined by Ginger Garrison on this trip. Ginger is the author of the most frequently sited Cocos Island Fish identification book ("Isla Del Coco Fishes") and brings a wealth of knowledge about fish behavior to the group. She is in the process of updating the book with new photos and updated scientific and behavior information. With the changes being made to the marine ecosystem at Cocos Island IF volunteers are contributing to this activity as
much as possible during this expedition.

One of the most interesting aspects of this expedition is the fact that the underwater ecosystem seems to be constantly changing. Tiger sharks are being spotted somewhat consistently. This is the first time these sharks have been seen in many years? What is bringing these sharks to the island? Temperature changes? Ecosystem shift? Longline bait from orphan fishing lines providing an easy meal? These large, reportedly aggressive sharks seem to be frequenting the Cocos Islets at night hunting the white
tip shark populations that congregate there. We hope to document this and hopefully uncover clues about this new behavior here. Stay connected with live video updates and blogs of both our obstacles and successes. Together we can save Cocos Island.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cocos Island Expedition Journal - Dec 17 2008

It’s hard to believe that today is the half-way point of the wholeexpedition. We’ve only learned this evening that the communications thatwere sent over the past few days have not been received. We hope thatthis can be resolved quickly so that the messages don’t have to wait untilour return. Even with today’s modern conveniences and satellite systems,where we are is so remote that many of the daily things that we take forgranted are difficult. To make matters even more difficult almost halfof the expedition crew has become sick with a cold or flu.
The relative trend in large animal activity from yesterday hasunfortunately not continued at the southern and eastern dive sites visitedtoday. In almost all cases, the sightings have been very brief and theanimals have been near the far edges of visibility.
Thankfully, still no signs of fishing boats in the area. However, at“Shark Fin Rock,” the most southern divesite at the island, a largeportion of the dive was spent untangling and removing longline fishingline. Even with sharp knives, it is very difficult to cut through it. In many areas it becomes so wrapped around coral heads that it takes quitea bit of coordination and patience to remove the line without furtherdamage… especially in areas of surge or current. In some cases, the lineshave completely broken off sections of coral. It’s a clear example of howthe lines continue to injure the ecosystem long after they’ve stoppedattracting fish to baited hooks. Even with several teams working togather the lines we know that we left quite a bit behind. We’ll continueto work at removing the lines if the dive conditions there are calm enoughover the next few days.
As mentioned in a previous posting, Ginger Garrison, author of IslaDel Cocos Fishes has been a great resource and inspiration to have peoplefind and photograph as many different fish species as possible on thedives. It’s quite likely that several photos from this expedition will beused to update the new edition of the book and educate and train legionsof visitors to the area. A couple of the more uncommon species sightedincluded both tiger snake eels and freckled snake eels as well as a loneCocos batfish. We also managed to get video of a no-holds-barredterritorial fight over an empty barnacle shell between two Cocos barnacle blennies!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Chase is On!

The Imaging Foundation is back at Cocos Island for round two. With a SAT phone and limited internet access the team is more connected than ever.

Yesterday IF went on the first dives of this week and they took part in a wild chase they did not expect. After seeing numerous fishing boats just miles from the Island we decided to take matters into our own hands. Geared up with still and video cameras the team was able to document the dangerous interaction they had with the fishermen. Below you will find a few from this cat and mouse chase.

::The fishermen finally caught onto us and became quickly frantic::

::The engines roared and they were off::

Friday, December 12, 2008

Expedition Team Recovers Yards of Fishing Line

While in Cocos Island the Imaging Foundation team has pulled up yards and yards of long line with many sharks hooked and dying. These images depict just a small fraction of what the team has accomplished on this expedition.

Cocos Island, Costa Rica - Dec 2008
Day 6 of expedition