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The Finding Nemo Sequel and our Responsibilities as Coral Reef Lovers and Aquarium Hobbyists

Rumors have been flying around that Pixar is in the process of ramping up production on a Finding Nemo sequel, that film writer and producer Andrew Stanton has signed up for the directing job, and that television writer Victoria Strouse will be writing the script. I call them rumors because Pixar does not comment on development.

There is a double-edged sword to these rumors. On the one hand, I love it. I loved the first Finding Nemo, and it is still one of my favorite Pixar films. Of course I do, I love most things about coral reefs, tropical fish, and ocean life. I also think Pixar does a fairly fantastic job at creating all of their animated films.

Sure, us nerdy ocean and aquarium lovers can pick apart some of the inaccuracies of such movies. But Pixar did a pretty good job with the original Finding Nemo of entertaining my 2.5 year old nephew, me, and my 60 year old father while incorporating a few scientific names and some of the basics about ocean life and underwater ecosystems.

Underwater is a place that most people don’t look at and see very often. Therefore, it was out of sight and out of mind for a majority of people until Pixar released Finding Nemo in movie theaters across the globe and put those ocean ecosystems right in front of toddlers, teenagers, parents, and grandparents across the world.

Finding Nemo was also fantastic for the aquarium hobby. Kids wanted to go “find Nemo” at the public aquariums. They started dragging their parents past the puppies and into the fish section of pet stores. Tanks, stands, aquarium filters, and all sorts of aquarium equipment started flying off the shelves like never before. The added interest and money pouring into the industry allowed for advances in husbandry, technology, and research.

So, the other edge of that sword? The downside to all of this is that all of those fish that people now want to keep in their home aquariums come from somewhere. Did anybody realize that the whole movie was about a tropical fish being snatched out of its natural environment by a SCUBA diver, ripped from its family, and placed in a small tank thousands of miles from home? We learned some great things about the oceans on the journey to find Nemo, but he just wanted to be out of that tank and back at home with his family and friends.

Luckily, the aquarium hobby didn’t seem to take much heat for that. In the end, the clownfish populations did. Those new aquarium hobbyists were looking for the “Nemo” fish left and right to put into their new aquariums, and these new hobbyists mostly lacked the proper setup and care knowledge. Then, if one of their ocellaris clownfish died, they would just go grab another one from their LFS. Clownfish populations were practically wiped out in certain parts of the world. There are also new advancements and technologies that have made fish keeping better, and easier.

As tropical fish lovers, coral reef lovers, and aquarium hobbyists we have a responsibility to educate about conservation, proper aquarium setup, and proper aquarium maintenance this time around. Luckily, breeding of tropical saltwater fish has come a long way since the first Finding Nemo. It kind of seems like every other person in the aquarium hobby is breeding clownfish these days.

If people start asking us questions about setting up new tanks we should take the time to show them how to do it correctly. We should educate new hobbyists about the oceans and underwater ecosystems. We should teach them about fish and reef compatibility, the nitrogen cycle, water chemistry, and water quality so that new hobbyists can keep their fish happy and alive. Most importantly, we should teach them about conservation, fish breeding, and tank bred fish.

Aquarium Tip Tank will be here to help. If you are new to the aquarium hobby please ask questions, and let us know what you need help with. That is what we’re here for. If you have been keeping fish for a while, and you’d also like to help, get in touch with us. You can comment below, send an email to support@aquariumtiptank.com, say hello to us on Facebook, say hello to us on Twitter, or find us on YouTube.

TJ

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Happy 4th of July USA! Help Save Your Coral Reefs!

It’s been a little while since we’ve talked about coral restoration here at Aquarium Tip Tank. In the last few days we’ve come across an interesting read about suggestions for market-based strategies for sustainable funding of restoration projects of marine environments in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). We’ve also found a link to a quick, and easy survey on Reef Relief’s site that asks SCUBA divers and snorkelers that have recently visited the Florida Keys a few short questions about their experience, and their awareness and participation level in reef conservation programs.

The Georgia Aquarium is involved in the Florida Keys reef conservation initiative. Brett Howell has been involved in his Conservation Fellowship at Georgia Aquarium for about a year and a half now. To sum things up, he is trying to find market-based solutions to funding issues of marine conservation programs. Many of these programs are currently funded by time-limited grants. At some point, the money necessary to run the coral nurseries and reef conservation efforts will run out, or the time will be up. They are trying to restore reefs that us SCUBA divers, snorkelers, and fisherman love to enjoy. There has got to be a way to keep these reef restoration programs running and they want your help and your ideas.

For much more detailed information about what I am talking about please head on over to the Gaia Endeavors blog post that contains the comment, from 19 endorsing organizations and 7 individuals, to support market-based strategies submitted to FKNMS here. I implore those interested to download the full comment that is at the bottom of that post and read it to get an understanding of their suggestions for a market-based funding solution.

Then, if you’re a SCUBA diver or snorkeler that has visited the Florida Keys and enjoyed the wonder and beauty of the underwater Florida Keys ecosystem, head on over to Reef Relief’s blog post here and leave your own feedback in the quick, easy survey that they have included at the bottom.

Got any coral reef restoration ideas?  Are you good at raising money for a good cause? Leave your comments below!

TJ

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SCUBA Diving Dry Rocks Coral Reef and Christ of the Abyss

Every once in a while we here at Aquarium Tip Tank get the chance to take some vacation, get out into nature, and do the things that got us interested and excited about nature and the underwater world. I had aquariums before I started SCUBA diving, but really got interested in keeping an underwater ecosystem in my home when I strapped on a tank and dove for the first time in St. John, USVI. We had a little bit of a long weekend for Memorial Day this past weekend and were able to jump on a buddy’s sailboat out of South Florida for 4 days. Dry Rocks Coral Reef and the Christ of the Abyss in John Pennekamp State Park off the East coast of Key Largo is one of the places that we had the opportunity to SCUBA dive.

It was our second day of sailing and we were on our way to Key Largo Sound in John Pennekamp State Park to grab a mooring ball for the night. On our way we decided that we may as well stop at Dry Rocks coral reef. When we arrived it was late afternoon and there were several boats with snorkelers that had already grabbed the mooring balls closest to the statue. We grabbed the mooring ball on what I believe was the South West side of Dry Rocks coral reef. Of course, this was the one farthest from the buoy marking the Christ of the Abyss statue. No worries though. We had the gear to allow everybody to swim on over and plenty of air for those that were certified and wanted to strap on a tank.

We got all geared up, I grabbed some coordinates to swim to on my compass that I was diving with, we performed all of  our checks, jumped in, and started swimming to the Christ of the Abyss statue!

Divers Swimming to Dry Rocks Reef and Christ of the Abyss

This reef is quite spectacular! Honestly, I was delightfully surprised by the health and beauty of this coral reef! I’ve been on a few dive trips with SCUBA dive charters in the Key Largo, FL area before and I seem to remember them saying something like, “Well, its nothing special.” or, “It’s only in 20 feet of water, so its better for snorkelers.” I disagree.

First, the reef is something special. There was an abundance of thriving coral and fish swimming happily through the reef. Some of the brain corals were gigantic! I saw schools of blue tang, grunts, a spotted box-fish, golden trevally, lobster, conch, and many more! What I didn’t see was any lionfish, and that is also a delightful surprise.

Large Brain Coral at Dry Rocks Coral Reef off Key Largo, FL

Second, so what if it is a shallow site? Okay, I’ll agree that when you’re paying for a dive operator to supply you with tanks, take you out to nice coral reefs, and you’re paying to rent SCUBA gear that maybe you want to go someplace deeper than 20 ft. so that you can feel as if it was necessary to pay all of that money. I’ll also admit that we have all of our own tanks and gear so we weren’t paying for any of that anyway. However, I’ll let you SCUBA divers in on a little secret, corals like sunlight, and a lot of the beautiful reefs with lots of colorful corals and fish are going to be found in shallow waters where they get maximum mid-day tropical sun. I was also bringing my underwater camera with me. I knew that I was going to want to be at the bottom of the Christ of the Abyss statue at 20 feet deep taking pictures of people with the statue. I wanted to hand my camera to somebody so that they could take a picture of me. This is a lot easier to do if you don’t have to hold your breath.

Christ of the Abyss Statue in John Pennekamp State Park

In the end, it ended up being a fantastic dive for the people with tanks on their backs and the people without! Then, I was able to use the pictures that I had taken to educate some of the less informed on the boat about what they saw, how the organisms live, and the beauty of the underwater ecosystem!

Christmas Tree Worms on Coral at Dry Rocks Reef John Pennekamp State Park

Have any fun SCUBA or snorkel stories? Leave a comment below!

TJ

 

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100% Coral Coverage Video

I happened to recently stumble upon this great video of 100% Coral Coverage at a reef off of Kisan Island in the Solomon Islands. The video was uploaded about a month ago, but was filmed in 2006.

Its been 3.5 years. My question is, of course, is it still there? There have been storms, tsunamis, ocean water temperature increase, acidification, and a myriad of other issues destroying the coral reefs and with them, delicate ecosystems. Has anybody seen anything like this since 2006? Has anybody been back to this isolated location? By the way, if anybody (travel agency, research institute, conservation society, dive shop, etc.) wants to send me out there to take some video and report, I think I could probably find some time! Just leave a comment or head on over to the contact page and fire me an email!

So, hopefully you’re asking if there’s anything that you can do to help. First, get educated about what’s going on and help educate others. Go with your friends and family to your local aquarium, take some time to get a good look at their fish and coral reefs, and talk to them about their conservation programs. Ask them about their volunteer programs and volunteer if you can. If you live near water, head on out to the beach, put a mask and snorkel on and check out what’s under there. Take a SCUBA or snorkel trip on your next vacation, but do some research to make sure that the company you take the trip with values ocean conservation and follows some sort of an ocean conservation plan. Maybe its an extra $10 donation on your trip to help maintain the marine park that you end up swimming in, and make sure you look but don’t touch.

You can also head on over to sites like NOAA, or the Coral Restoration Foundation. While there you can learn about all sorts of environmental issues, the research that’s being done, and even leave a donation if you so choose. Also, check you this article in National Geographic about the Coral Triangle Rescue Plan.

Got some good underwater videos of fish and corals? Leave a comment below!

TJ

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Whale Shark Feeding

So, this past Friday I started my day out with a SCUBA dive in the largest aquarium in the world. Yes, at about 0740 I once again found myself submerging for another volunteer dive in the Ocean Voyager (OV) tank at the Georgia Aquarium. The dive plan was a little different than the dives that I had done in OV to date, and in the end, I found myself staring straight into the wide open 4 ft. wide mouth of the largest fish in the world.

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Video of Peppermint Angelfish in Natural Environment

We here at Aquarium Tip Tank recently heard of a peppermint angelfish (Paracentropyge boylei) finding a new home, at least for a little while, at the Waikiki Aquarium. This in itself is special news because it is one of the rarest fish to be kept in a marine aquarium. This one that recently arrived at the Waikiki Aquarium is only the second Paracentropyge boylei to be kept in an aquarium…ever. The only other one that is known to be alive in captivity is kept by a Japanese aquarist.

The peppermint angelfish is also very difficult to obtain because its natural habitat is at 35o ft. below the surface. It is also extremely difficult to get a video of this specimen in its natural environment. It shows up at about 2:41 into this video in the top, middle section of the frame, swimming out and between the rock crevices. This video was shot by Dave Pence at a depth of 350 ft. while on a dive near the island of Moorea. The peppermint angelfish that is currently at the Waikiki Aquarium was caught at 365 ft.  by Rich Pyle on this same dive. The rebreather equipment you see the SCUBA divers using is what allowed the divers to go so deep for such a long dive.

The specimen currently at the Waikiki Aquarium is reportedly happily adjusting to its temporary quarantine tank, but will eventually be transported over to the Smithsonian as part of the Moorea Biocode project.

TJ

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Coral Nurseries Reviving more Reefs

Its always great to hear a story about how underwater coral nurseries, SCUBA divers, and the knowledge and techniques of the aquarium hobby are helping to revive the natural coral reefs out in our world’s oceans. When we hear about these stories, Aquarium Tip Tank will always share them.

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