Thursday, November 19, 2015

Marine Parks: Key to Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

"Mapping the Blue" is an excellent film.  It provides an overview of the benefits -- and challenges -- of protecting large sections of our oceans. I highly recommend watching this short film for the beautiful scenes from the Cook Islands as well as insights into how Marine Protected Areas can shift the conversation towards healthier ocean ecosystems.

By protecting ocean ecosystems rather than focusing on individual species, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are powerful tools for conserving and restoring ocean biodiversity. These special ocean areas also provide benefits to cultural and geological resources and can help sustain local economies. In addition, MPAs contribute to healthier, more resilient ocean ecosystems that can better withstand a wide range of impacts.  No-take marine reserves have been proposed as one of the most successful tools for conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems.

In 2012 the Cook Islands announced the largest Marine Park on Earth at the time. Since then, in 2015 the USA enlarged the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to form the largest MPA on earth at 490,000 sq. miles or 3x size of California.

The magnificent Cook Islands are among the most awesome places on the planet and local people, traditional leaders and the fishermen are determined that it should remain so.

"Mapping the Blue" tells the story of how Rugby League star, Kevin Iro, turned conservationist and founded the world's largest sanctuary where he used to play as a boy. By using high tech mapping, Iro and his team are able to show the best uses for areas within this pristine ocean park which is good for conservation and the needs of local people.

This film is a must-see for all those interested in the health of our oceans from marine biologists to recreational scuba divers. It points to a model of how such precious areas can be preserved all over the world and provides hope for the future.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Photospheres Across the Pacific

Photosphere showing Statendam in Hilo, Hawaii - view in
Google Maps at

Photospheres are a new and exciting way of capturing some of your most scenic locations on a voyage.  I've posted a few of my latest photospheres from the final voyage of the Statendam on Google Maps.  The photo above looks strange until you go to the google maps version and open it as a photosphere.  It feels like you're standing inside a bubble.  This one shows the Statendam docked in Hilo on its final voyage across the Pacific.  We joined the ship in Hilo and I presented a series of lectures across to Singapore.

The easiest way to create a photosphere is with an Android cell phone after downloading the Google camera app.  You can also use a regular camera but it takes more work stitching all the photos together into a panorama and processing the results through another app.  There's an excellent tutorial online at

Taken at the entrance to Lihue harbour in Kaui, Hawaii -
This was taken at Managaha beach, Islet Managaha, Saipan... it may
not be accepted to Google Maps because of the missing piece of sky
Once you've taken a photosphere, you can upload it to Google Maps and it will be available for everyone to see.  One of the neatest things is that you can see how many views your photosphere receives - or any photo uploaded to G Maps for that matter.  One of my photospheres has had over 6,000 views in a matter of three months.

Directions for uploading photospheres are available on the Street view site.  One thing I've noticed with Google -- often unfortunately! -- is that they change things frequently... by the time you read this they may have a whole new approach to all of this... at which point you might have to search for the most recent information.

You can see fantastic photospheres that people have taken all across the planet by visiting the Street view site.