programs blog

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  • May 29, 2019 1:10 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Making Friends With Sharks Without Feeding Them
    By Jim Abernethy

    Jim Abernethy, an award-winning underwater photographer, author, filmmaker and conservationist. He is a pioneer in large predatory cageless shark encounters with some of the world's most notorious sharks. Scuba diving since his youth inspired his life's mission to spread the word about the importance of worldwide ocean conservation.

    For decades, Abernethy has been running photography/video expeditions to guide encounters with the world's largest predatory sharks. He pioneered shark encounters without a cage (day and night) with tiger sharks, great hammerheads, oceanic white tips, bulls, and lemon sharks. Jim’s tireless efforts to help save sharks around the world were part of the reason why the Bahamian waters were recognized as a shark sanctuary, in July 2011. This was a huge victory for sharks around the world.

    His award-winning marine life images are represented in galleries, nature & photography magazines, as well as his stock agent, National Geographic. Raising awareness about the need for conservation remains Abernethy’s primary focus when aiming his camera at wildlife subjects. Additionally, he has launched two separate series of books, in collaboration with award-winning author Jennifer R. Nolan, that seek to educate and empower others to join in key conservation efforts.

    Abernethy has hosted and been featured in many of the world's top nature filmmakers shows, such as Imax, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel. His images are available at National Geographic Image Library. He owns the "Marine Life Art Gallery" in West Palm Beach, FL, where his captivating images and unique and educational books are available as well. When he's not below sea level, Jim is often seen piloting his flying inflatable boat (ultra-light), "Oversear," in order to capture nature at sea with his lens from an aerial perspective.

    While Abernethy is well known as a world-class photographer and passionate conservationist, it's his unique ability to bring divers up close to some of the largest predatory sharks safely, in turn inspiring them to become vocal and passionate ambassadors to save the sharks, that separates him from the rest.

    Abernethy is best known for the relentless pursuit of his life's mission: to save the planet's ocean creatures, starting with sharks, through his photography, books, films, and presentations. His colleagues have recognized Abernethy with four lifetime achievement awards for his relentless dedication to ocean conservation and the protection of sharks. He was the recipient of the Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award at the Go Blue Event in 2011, the Crest Award from Gumbo Limbo in 2013 and was honored with The Wyland Icon award in 2011. Last year he received the Shark-Con 2018 Conservation award for his relentless efforts saving sharks!

    Jim is the founder of three ocean conservation-based non-profits Operation Blue Pride, WildlifeVOICE and Project Seahorse for Kids. Operation Blue Pride helps veterans learn to scuba dive, while forming an army of advocates to take on ocean issues. WildlifeVOICE works with many entities, giving a voice for those who cannot speak. Presently, WildlifeVOICE is working to protect wildlife in the state of Florida from the Red Tide issues. WildlifeVOICE was the driving force in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWCC) April 2018 decision to continue protecting the critically endangered goliath grouper.

    Believing that science is critical to saving our wildlife, Jim works with a number of scientists by providing them with the resources necessary for the collection of marine science data. To date, the fields of research to which Jim’s company has been able to assist include formal and informal studies of: sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, cephalopods, reef ecosystems and coral reefs just to name a few.

    Jim lives primarily at sea, in the Bahamas, running shark expeditions and wild dolphin encounters year-round on his boat, "Shear Water." He can also be found in Mexico running eco-tourism expeditions for whale sharks and manta rays. His dive business, Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures Inc., is based in West Palm Beach, FL. For more information you are invited to visit: www.scuba-adventures.com.

  • April 26, 2019 5:34 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Dive into History with Lisa Mongelia, Executive Director at the History of Diving Museum, as she presents on the strong south Florida connection to recreational diving, marine biology, underwater photography and salvage diving long before scuba was invented!

    Lisa has been an active diver and instructor for over 40 years, enjoying all that Florida and the Caribbean has to offer, as well as exploring Lake Superior and Bonne Terre Mines. She became an instructor in 1978 and moved to Miami to work for Underwater Unlimited as their first female dive instructor. Over the course of the next several decades she taught part time while raising two sons and working as a Billing Coordinator and Records Supervisor in the law firm industry. In her spare time, Lisa wrote for DiveNewswire which later introduced her to the History of Diving Museum to cover an event. After years of volunteering, Lisa left the corporate world to come on board as the History of Diving Museum director. She leads a fantastic team that has developed new exciting community outreach events, specialized presentations, fun scavenger hunts and guided tours. The Museum also offers Museum in Motion educational outreach programs to locals schools and universities.

    Find out more about the History of Diving Museum on the website or when you dive in on your next visit to the Florida Keys, its a great way to spend a surface interval. Check the calendar and join other participants for special events. (become a member to get special discounts and help support the 501 (c)(3) non-profit)

  • March 26, 2019 6:12 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    We are very pleased to announce that Craig Jenni will be speaking to us again at our April meeting. He received formal scuba training at age 12, he started working at a dive shop at 14, became a scuba instructor at 18 and ever since has been a career dive professional. During his 30 years as a dive instructor he has certified thousands of divers and hundreds of instructors. He trained as a Navy SEAL and taught commercial diving at The Ocean Corporation. He has vast experience in recreational, technical, military, commercial, scientific and public safety diving.

    Craig is currently an instructor or instructor trainer with every major scuba certification agency in the U.S. He was formally the Executive Director of the YMCA Scuba Program, responsible for thousands of scuba instructors along with the administration of this diver training agency. He was a representative of the Recreational Scuba Training Counsel (RSTC) and authored training standards for diver education program ranging from recreational, technical, scientific, public safety and commercial diving. He has specialized qualifications including; dive medical technician, life support technician, equipment repair instructor, and forensic medical investigator. He is actively involved in teaching dive specialties such as cave, decompression, mixed gasses, semi-closed and closed-circuit rebreathers and public safety diving.

    Craig is the owner and President of Dive & Marine Consultants International (DMCI), Inc., which specializes in conducting forensic investigations of dive accidents. Since starting DMCI Craig has investigated over 600 diver fatalities and over 3600 diving and boating accidents. He conducts training seminars for PSD, law enforcement, medical examiners and emergency response personnel as to how to conduct proper dive accident investigations and autopsies. He is often called to consult domestic and foreign governments regarding diving and frequently serves as an expert witness for dive accident litigation. Craig is commonly hired to consult diver training agencies and insurance Underwriters to assess and advise them on matters pertaining to risk management.

    As a lawyer, he is of counsel with the law firm of Donna E. Albert & Associates which practices exclusively in defending dive accident lawsuits. As a diver he can be found pursuing underwater interests that most divers only read about. As a dive leader Craig is a strong proponent of maintaining fitness, currency of dive skills and utilizing proper equipment to make diving as safe as possible.

  • February 22, 2019 6:11 PM | Anonymous

    Dr. Stephen Kajiura is returning to give us more information about “Snowbird Sharks: Seasonal Abundance and Spatial Distribution of Blacktip Sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) in Southeast Florida”

    He is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University. His area of expertise is the sensory biology of sharks and rays with an emphasis on the electrosensory system. In addition to his sensory physiology research, Dr Kajiura studies the massive seasonal aggregation of blacktip sharks in southeast Florida. He incorporates aerial surveys with tagging and acoustic telemetry to document the migration of these sharks along the US eastern seaboard.

    Dr Kajiura has conducted research for various agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. He has published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has presented numerous talks at scientific conferences. He has supervised a dozen graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, and has served on numerous thesis committees for students from around the world. Dr Kajiura maintains a strong public outreach service, primarily through television documentary appearances, and has served as an elected member of the American Elasmobranch Society Board of Directors.

    Dr Kajiura received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Hawaii, a MS in Marine Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Guelph (Canada).

    Southeast Florida experiences an enormous seasonal influx of upper trophic level marine predators each year as blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) migrate south to overwinter in nearshore waters. These sharks form aggregations ranging from a few individuals to thousands. The sharks are often found in very shallow water, only a few meters from popular swimming beaches which raises concerns about potential negative interactions. To quantify shark abundance and distribution, an aerial survey was conducted during peak season (December - April) from 2011-2017. A low altitude (150m) survey flight was flown from Government Cut (South Beach, Miami) to Jupiter Inlet at approximately biweekly (2011-2014) or weekly (2015-2017) intervals. A high definition video camera recorded a transect from the beach to approximately 200m offshore. Segments of the survey transect were demarcated by inlets, and the number of sharks found within each segment was counted to calculate shark density. During the seven year study, the greatest shark density was consistently found in February and March. Although sharks were seen throughout the entire 132km length of the survey transect, significantly greater numbers of sharks were found at the northernmost third of the transect in Palm Beach County (Boynton Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet) where densities exceeded 1,000 sharks km-2. The habitat throughout the transect is largely consistent, so it remains unclear why the sharks are not distributed farther south. Southward migrating sharks might simply stop once they reach appropriate conditions and warming oceans might eventually restrict their migration to increasingly higher latitudes.

  • January 18, 2019 12:00 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    A Trip to Guadalupe Island – Diving With The Great White Sharks


    Dr. Gary Rose will take you to Guadalupe Island on his dive with the Great White Sharks. The journey will also review logistics, the do’s and don’ts, and survival tips.  He will also give you an entertaining overview of what makes sharks such great survivors – how their multiple senses are so different than our own.

    Gary Rose MD has been a diver for over 45 years and is a PADI Open Water Instructor. As a Plastic Surgeon and Associate Professor of Microbiology at the College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University he has fulfilled his life passion as a marine biologist with his research, including marine microorganisms, as well as large ocean apex predators.  Dr. Rose lectures all over the world in an interactive and entertaining style. His years of experience are evident in the many stories and anecdotes he relates. Dr. Rose is a member of the Divers Alert Network and The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. You can find him on weekends diving with the sharks and pursuing his love of underwater photography.

  • December 22, 2018 7:11 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Presentation by Bonnie Barnes

    Bonnie Barnes currently serves as Development Manager at Reef Environmental Education Foundation, an International Marine Conservation organization headquartered in the Florida Keys. Bonnie’s heart is in conservation, whether scuba diving, traipsing through a forest, or swooshing down a mountain, she loves and cares about our environment. Having started her first business at 17 in her hometown of Las Vegas, she eventually found her way to Florida where she owned a marketing company for another 14 years in Jacksonville, FL. After earning her MBA in 2006, she jumped head-first into the nonprofit world, as Executive Director of a land conservation organization, North Florida Land Trust. Through this relationship, she was instrumental in the donation of a critical oceanfront property to the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at UF, to preserve this land in perpetuity as a prime turtle nesting site.

    As an avid diver, she volunteered regularly to monitor the offshore environment with the Jacksonville Reef Research Team. For her environmental work, Bonnie was awarded Florida’s Sea Grant Volunteer of the Year Award in 1991. With over 10 years in nonprofit management and cultivation of donors, Bonnie has found her way to the Florida Keys, where she can combine her love of diving with protection of our ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public in its care.

    Bonnie will provide an overview of the 30-year-old organization, updates on special projects and a preview of upcoming work underway regarding Lionfish, Nassau Grouper, Exotic and Invasive Species, Diadema and other marine-related projects.

  • November 27, 2018 8:46 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    John Chatterton

    Speaking about his search for a Spanish treasure ship

    John Chatterton is one of the world’s most accomplished and well known wreck divers. He was one of the co-hosts for 57 episodes of the History Channel’s Deep Sea Detectives television series, and has worked as a consultant to 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and CBS. Prior to his career in television, John spent twenty years working as a commercial diver in and around New York City, and on September 11, 2001, was actually working on a project in the water underneath the World Financial Center, across the street from the Tower #1.

    His passion has always been researching, locating, and diving the world’s shipwrecks. In 1991, the discovery and subsequent identification of the German submarine U-869, off the coast of New Jersey, was the subject of a television documentary, Hitler’s Lost Sub, a two hour special for the popular NOVA series on PBS. This same story was the subject of a Random House bestselling book by Rob Kurson, Shadow Divers. It has been published in more than 23 languages, as well as an audio book  The movie rights to the international bestseller have been purchased by a major studio.

    There is much more to his biography here.
    https://www.johnchatterton.com/john-chatterton-biography/

  • October 17, 2018 1:36 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Hammerheads and Shore-Based Shark Fishing

    Presentation by Hannah Medd

    Hannah Medd, founder of the American Shark Conservancy and marine biologist, has more than 10 years’ experience conducting applied research and conservation outreach for global and local shark and ray initiatives. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology at Florida Tech in Melbourne, Florida. She traveled to South Africa to complete her Masters of Science in Marine Biodiversity from the University of Cape Town, where she learned about many aspects of marine resource management, including research and academia, government and policy, socioeconomics and ecotourism.

    Endangered great hammerheads are popular species among divers and fishermen alike. This species is prohibited from landing in Florida waters and yet seem to be facing a poorly-understood threat, shore-based shark fishing. As part of American Shark Conservancy's research program, this project will describe the impact of this activity on the species and use these data to help inform policy.


  • September 25, 2018 3:47 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    The diversity of shark body shape, function, and habitat use

    Presentation by Sarah Hoffmann

    Sarah is a fifth (and final!) year PhD student at Florida Atlantic University. She is interested the diversity of body and fin shape among shark species and how these may relate to habitat use. To study these questions, she has adapted a technique to capture 3D video with underwater cameras. Her research on movement in different environments will hopefully one day inspire ocean monitoring vehicle design to be customized for different parts of the ocean. She also regularly collaborates with the Apex Predators Tagging Program (National Marine Fisheries Service), the Florida Fish Kill Hotline (FWC), the Florida Manta Project (Marine Megafauna Foundation), and Loggerhead Marinelife Center. In addition to her research, Sarah is an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time on or in the water as possible. She has spent time living and diving in the Florida Keys, the San Juan Islands (WA), and 250 miles off the Eastern coast of Nova Scotia (the Grand Banks, Canada).

  • August 15, 2018 12:24 PM | Anonymous

    Madeline Kaufman Speaking about Coral Reefs

    Coral reefs have been on the decline for the past couple decades, yet millions of people depend on these ecosystems for food, jobs, tourism, recreation, medicinal compounds and coastline protection. With recent global bleaching events, severe disease outbreaks and increasing anthropogenic pressures, reefs have suffered to the point that active human intervention has become necessary. About ten years ago, the Lirman Benthic Ecology Lab at the University of Miami began to actively propagate corals in offshore nurseries and plant them onto the reef. They have planted over 10,000 corals onto the Florida Reef Tract to date. About 3 years ago, they expanded their restoration efforts to a citizen science program, known as Rescue a Reef. As a part of this program, they bring recreational divers out on coral gardening excursions in which divers help maintain the nurseries, collect corals and plant them onto the reef. To date, citizen scientists have helped plant about 3,000 corals. During her presentation, she will talk about the importance of coral reefs, the threats they are facing and what we can do to help.

    She is originally from Baltimore, Maryland but came to Miami 6 years ago to pursue a Bachelor of Science in marine science and biology. After graduating in 2016, she took a gap year and became a divemaster with South Beach Divers, began volunteering as outreach coordinator for the nonprofit Debris Free Oceans and worked as a research assistant in two coral research labs at UM. She just returned to school this past January and is pursuing a Master of Science in marine biology, focusing on coral conservation genetics and restoration ecology.

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