SeaKeepers Giving Owners Underwater Video Cameras

If you’ve seen recent marine documentaries, you may have marveled at underwater video footage of significant-size species like sharks and rays. Imagine, then, capturing similar footage yourself, from your very own yacht. The International SeaKeepers Society will make it happen. In fact, the organization will give you a free underwater video camera, to help it capture much-needed shark and ray population data.

SeaKeepers is handing out BRUVS, or baited remote underwater video stations. Created by a division of the Australian government, BRUVS are used by researchers worldwide to survey fish. The cameras sit stationary on the sea floor and use bait to attract all sorts of species. Notably, they’re especially helpful in deep water, plus on coral reefs and in inter-reef areas. Furthermore, they help film big species like sharks and rays, which tend to avoid scuba divers or cameras under tow. Besides capturing images of fish, the underwater video stations take footage of their habitats.

Both species data and habitat data is important to SeaKeepers for this project. It’s providing BRUVS with the assistance of Florida International University. Together, they’re collecting data for Global FinPrint, reportedly the world’s largest reef shark and ray survey. (On a related side note, Global FinPrint is an initiative of Paul Allen, the owner of Octopus. He’s also a longtime SeaKeepers supporter.) According to the FinPrint website, “The research will improve our understanding of how elasmobranchs influence the coral reef ecosystem and how humans impact these species and their habitats. Ultimately, the consolidation of this collaborative global research into one single analysis will aid management and conservation efforts for life on the reef.”

Here’s how to participate. Contact Julienne Beblo, SeaKeepers’ associate director of programs. Following your conversation, within about a month, you’ll receive a free BRUV. SeaKeepers will train you and/or your crew on how to use the underwater video. Alternately, the organization will send a scientist to deploy it. Either way, you’ll start augmenting much-needed scientific data. Your BRUV will help researchers compare reefs from region to region. They’re examining factors like water temperature in affecting the number, types, and sizes of sharks and rays on these reefs.

Where the Superyacht Set Spends New Year’s Eve

The Christmas and New Year’s holiday is as big in yachting as it is in other travel sectors. Private and charter yachts head in droves to perennial hot spots like St. Barths. Others among the superyacht set head to additional warm-weather destinations throughout the Caribbean. This year is no different, judging from real-time vessel positions being broadcast via satellite. But, there’s always an exception to the rule, right? We found at least one unusual location for a high-profile yacht.

Here’s where some of the most famous yachts in the world are ringing in 2017.

ANTIGUA

Laurel: this 240-footer (above), in the hands of just her second owner since delivery in 2006, is enjoying the island used as a winter base by much of the superyacht set. On a related note, one major media outlet is reporting Laurel in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s likely a misunderstanding, though, of data that comes up on the satellite map. The map shows “St. John’s,” but if you look close, you see the words mark the capital of Antigua.

Bystander: this striking 138-footer resembles a 1930s workboat. The owner commissioned her to accompany his other yacht, the famous J-Class yacht Velsheda. That’s the two of them together, from 2009, in the photo below. So, it will likely come as no surprise that the sailing superyacht is in Antigua now, too.

Inukshuk: pronounced “in-ook-shook,” Inukshuk charters regularly in the Caribbean in winter. The 107-footer gets her name from the Inuit, an indigenous Canadian culture. “Inukshuk” refers to a pile of stones made to resemble a human figure. They served multiple purposes, such as a waypoint or a message for family and friends.

Bystander Velsheda superyacht set

PHOTO: mhobl/Flickr

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Octopus: South Africa isn’t exactly a hot spot for the superyacht set. Nonetheless, Octopus arrived here within the past two days. Interestingly, she arrived from yet another unusual African country, Namibia. Octopus’ owner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is renowned for supporting scientific and oceanographic research. So, perhaps the 414-foot Octopus is engaging in related activities in the region.

MUSTIQUE

Skat: this military-style 232-footer had been in Antigua during the week. She was still there at press time. However, satellite data shows Mustique as her destination by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s the same small island where the 202-foot Mary Jean II has been for a few days.

ST. BARTHS

The list of yachts dotting the waters of this Caribbean island reads like a who’s who of the superyacht set. There’s Aquila, Aquarius, Aspen Alternative, Eclipse, Lazy Z, Limitless, Luna, Le Grand Bleu, Gene Machine, Silver Shalis, and Symphony. And that’s just for starters. The yachts go on… and on… and on. We counted nearly two dozen yachts in slips in Gustavia and about as many at anchor.