Reflection on Rob Stewart – Sharkwater

Roger Steene’s long-awaited Colours of the Reef is now available!

World renowned undersea photographer Roger Steene has published a new 3-volume, 1404-page book set containing 6921 of his finest photographs, taken during a career spanning 50 years and thousands of dives in some of the most remote ocean environments on earth. Colours of the Reef – weighing in at 12 kilograms – is an indispensible educational reference for divers, ocean scientists and naturalists, and a visual feast for readers of all ages.

roger_re31_smallerRoger Steene is widely recognised as one of the finest marine photographers on earth, and Colours of the Reef – his 13th publication on marine environments – is the culmination of his life’s work. Steene got his first underwater camera in 1964, and since then has forged a reputation for perfectionism in the art of close-up marine photography. Colours of the Reef is a large-format coffee-table-style book set that is both a comprehensive educational resource and a formidable collection of oceanic imagery. Its sheer scope and coverage of every imaginable type of marine creature places it in a category of its own.

With worldwide focus on the fragile state of the Great Barrier Reef and other threatened marine ecosystems, Colours of the Reef could not have arrived at a better time. While celebrating the spectacular sea life that still exists, it is also a timely reminder of the vivid natural beauty that is rapidly being lost throughout the world’s oceans.

“Every imaginable form of tropical marine life and a lot more in vivid, living colour “

Colours of the Reef  contains nearly 7000 outstanding photographs of marine life and ocean environments, and excels on several levels: as a demonstration of consummate, perfectionist photographic skills, as an essential educational reference on marine life, as an intriguing look at the behaviours and interactions of some the planet’s most mesmerising creatures, and as a joyous celebration of the ocean’s beauty. It is both painstakingly comprehensive and visually enthralling. If you buy just one coffee table book set in your lifetime, let it be this one – it has no equal. A portion of each sale is used to fund the Roger Steene Legacy initiative, an ongoing project aimed at completing the digital scanning and indexing of Roger’s vast slide collection (over 100,000 photos) – a priceless natural heritage resource of global significance acquired over five decades and thousands of dives.

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Be one of the first to own this incredible publication!

Ocean Ark Alliance has just received the very first copies of Colours of the Reef, and purchases for delivery in Australia can be ordered here:
http://www.rogersteene.com/

Colours of the Reef is available in the USA from New World Publications here:
http://www.fishid.com/colours.html

 

Colours of the Reef  at a glance:

  • 6921 stunning photographs
  • 1404 pages spread over 3 separate volumes
  • Epic scope and comprehensive coverage of species
  • Includes over 150 photos of species unrecorded by science
  • Total weight 12 kilograms
  • The culmination of a master photographer’s life’s work
  • Large, attractive coffee book-style format
  • Superb reference for divers, scientists, naturalists and students
  • Photographed over 50 years and thousands of dives
  • Handy photo identification and easy-to-navigate layout
  • Special chapters on marine adaptations and behaviours
  • Stunning section on bioluminescent marine organisms
  • Insights into the techniques of a master photographer
  • Informative, easy to read text (minimal scientific jargon)
  • Every imaginable form of marine life in vivid, living colour

About the Author

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Roger Steene was born in Cairns, Australia, and has been an avid diver and underwater photographer since the 1960s. An Associate of the Australian Museum in Sydney and the Western Australian Museum in Perth, he is regarded as one of the most accomplished underwater still photographers on earth, and he has published and contributed to numerous field guides and large-format books on marine life since the 1970s. Because he normally accompanies some of the world’s leading scientists on major expeditions to remote ocean realms, he has acquired a deeper knowledge of marine life than most undersea photographers. This breadth of experience – combined with a meticulous quest for photographic perfection – leads to spectacular shots exhibiting a vivid, magical quality.

Roger’s stunning, one-of-a-kind photo library constitutes a potential component of OAA’s Global Educational Endowments an extensive collection of media, educational resources and scientific data that Ocean Ark Alliance offers license-free to organisations and individuals involved in scientific research, marine education and conservation (for non-profit uses and applications).

For more information and preview images of Rogers new book visit the website here: http://www.rogersteene.com/

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The state of the Great Barrier Reef: experts respond

James Whitmore and Michael Hopkin, The Conversation:

Two landmark reports on the health of the Great Barrier Reef have outlined the pressure it is being put under by climate change and other environmental factors.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s five-yearly outlook report found that the reef’s overall health is poor, and getting worse.

But federal environment minister Greg Hunt said he is confident the reef will not lose its World Heritage Listing, which comes up for review next year.

The federal and Queensland governments’ strategic assessment outlines how the reef can be better looked after in response to a United Nations request for improved management.

Both reports identify climate change as the reef’s most significant threat, along with poor water quality, fishing and coastal development.

Below, experts give their reactions:


Sarah Hamylton, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong

It is pleasing to read about the progress for whales, crocodiles and turtles, but it is important to recognise the alarms that are being raised. Coral is one of the most important keystone species for the wider Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and the declines are worrying.

Corals are the major calcifiers, a key process whereby marine organisms convert ions from seawater into rigid calcium carbonate. Preliminary calculations based on information collected by the Joint Benthic Field and Remote Sensing Survey suggest that the reefs of the Capricorn-Bunker group are producing 624,000 tonnes of calcium carbonate per year (about 2,000 Olympic swimming pools).The calcification work they do to build up their skeletons and the structural architecture of the reef platforms and carbonate sands that make up reef islands and beaches is valuable.

It would have been nice to see more attention paid to the geomorphic implications of climate change for the reef. What are the follow-on consequences of ocean acidification for the production of carbonate sands that constitute the reef islands? At Lady Elliot Island, we found that although contemporary calcification rates are remarkably similar to historical values, our simulations of anticipated future seawater chemistry scenarios suggested that carbonate sediments might no longer sustain island growth by 2150.

Tim Stephens, Deputy Director, University of Sydney Institute of Marine Science

It is now a question of “when” rather than “if” the Great Barrier Reef will be placed on the List of World Heritage In Danger. These reports paint a bleak picture of the reef’s future.

The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem is considered poor, and to have deteriorated since the previous Outlook Report in 2009. Greg Hunt has said he is confident that the Commonwealth and Queensland governments will prevent the reef from being placed on the In Danger list, and that his task is to “make sure the reef recovers to its former glory”. The reality is that even with the most ambitious management initiatives to reduce local threats to the reef from run-off, this will only buy the reef some time.

The biggest threats to the reef are climate change and ocean acidification, and the Commonwealth’s approach to these issues is completely at odds with the protection of the reef. With the repeal of the Clean Energy Future legislation, and with little prospect of Direct Action being passed by the Senate, Australia now has no legislated policy to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the waters of the reef to warm, and changing their chemistry.

In addition, the government has committed to reduce carbon emissions by only 5% by 2020 compared with 2000 levels. We know from the work of the Climate Change Authority (which Minister Hunt is seeking to abolish) that this objective is far short of the 15-19% reduction needed for Australia to do its fair share and to be on track to keep temperature rises within safe limits that would give the reef a reasonable chance of surviving.

Not only is the Abbott government failing to cut Australia’s carbon emissions (which are very high on a per capita and national basis – they are similar in total to those of large countries such as France), it is also expediting the approval of coal projects, including the massive Carmichael Coal and Rail project in the Galilee Basin. The emissions from this project alone (including those from burning the coal) could account for 4% of global emissions by mid-century. If this and other projects go ahead it is game over for the Great Barrier Reef, even if all agricultural, industrial and stormwater run off were to cease tomorrow.

Without a complete change in policy, it is inevitable that the Great Barrier Reef will lose most of the heritage values that justified its inclusion on the World Heritage List in 1981. The systemic failure to protect the reef also raises questions as to whether Australia has met its obligations under the World Heritage Convention, which in Article 4 requires member states to do their utmost to protect, conserve, present and transmit to future generations world cultural and natural heritage. Apart from some fragmentary remnants, current policy settings mean that the bulk of the Great Barrier Reef will not be bequeathed to future generations in the way the World Heritage Convention requires.

Alison Jones, Technical Director, ReefCSI.org and Adjunct Researcher, Central Queensland University

I’m bemused as to why people are worried about the Committee’s findings. Whether the reef is in decline or not, or however UNESCO labels it, there are two irrefutable facts – human use and climate change pressures are increasing; and it will continue to be the best reef in the world – and worthy of World Heritage listing – for the foreseeable future.

Reef management efforts must increase, but they must continue to be based on good science. Now is not the time to be reactionary, but to show steady leadership, regardless of what the World Heritage committee says.

Bob Kearney, Emeritus Professor in Fisheries, University of Canberra*

The magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef and its worthiness of extraordinary efforts to protect it from whatever threats may arise remain unquestioned. Yet almost four decades after the declaration of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act, which resulted in Australia’s most expensive and intensely researched marine protected area (MPA), “the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor and getting worse”, says GBRMPA chairman Russell Reichelt.

Australia’s reliance on uncritical assumption of benefits from declaring huge areas as marine parks has been at the expense of targeted management of the properly identified threats to marine environments, including the GBR. The impacts of not managing the major threats are increasingly obvious. The current predicament highlights the needs for more critical evaluation of how marine environments, including the GBR, can be protected effectively and for increased commitment by governments to targeted management of priority threats.

*Comment prepared with the help of Graham Farebrother, Senior Research Fellow, Sydney Fish Market

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

The report, and the process around it, has not shied away from some very significant statements about port developments along the coast of Queensland. These perspectives have been – to much encouragement – picked up by Minister Hunt who has clearly put himself behind the statement that there will be no port development outside the long key established ports of Townsville, Abbott Point, Hay Point-Mackay and Gladstone.

The fact that this is now supported by those State and Federal governments is very significant.

However, we can’t escape from the fact that reef-building coral – absolutely essential to the Great Barrier Reef – is continuing to decline, and that we still have a very long way to go. Climate change is a cornerstone problem that we need to get right, and at this point that doesn’t look particularly promising. Our state and federal policies in this respect are minimal and simplistic.

I suspect the current set of reports and responses will go down favourably with UNESCO, especially the commitment to limiting port development to its current footprint. That said, UNESCO would be wise to examine the fine print – especially with respect to what consequences port development. Does this mean that we can dramatically increase the number of terminals and hence shipping traffic at each of the ports? In this case, I think shipping traffic needs to be considered in the light of the overall port ‘footprint’.

Minister Hunt states that “the Commonwealth and Queensland governments are jointly investing approximately A$180 million annually in the reef’s health.” This should be applauded. However, the amount of resources relative to the scale of the problem remains small.

In this respect, we need to remind ourselves that this ecosystem provides over A$6 billion worth of benefits.

Many of my CEO friends would probably have a similar perspective. In terms of GBR Inc, this essentially means that we are investing 3% into ‘a business’ that earns us over A$6 billion each year. Any normal ‘business’ would be investing 5-10% to ensure that the business was viable and sustainable.

Why are we not seeing things similarly with respect to GBR Inc.?


Republished from The Conversation, Australia’s popular on-line journal with academic rigour and journalistic flair:
http://theconversation.com/the-state-of-the-great-barrier-reef-experts-respond-30450