Main features in this issue include:
The waters of Bjurälven flows from Norway’s mountains and into the Swedish province of Jämtland where the river meanders its way past the peaks and through the valley of Bjurälv where it is engulfed by the earth and disappears underground. In a thunderous roar, the great mass of water is swallowed by what is known as the Bjurälven Grotto, only to reappear more than one and a half kilometres away.
What course the water takes and what the passage is like nobody knows. What happens underground and how the water make its way from the entrance to the exit has been an enduring mystery. Until now.
In 2014, off the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, a diver on a discover scuba experience died when she became separated from her group and ran out of air. She was discovered on the surface, floating face down. The inquest found that the dive operation involved was to blame because they had failed to supervise her properly.
The chief health and safety inspector who conducted the investigation into the death was quoted as saying: "… the ill-fitted equipment compromised the victim's ability to try and breathe when her air supply ran out. It also meant she couldn't tell anyone she was in distress or get help.”
“You’re crazy; I don’t get in the water with bitey things!” The announcement of my impending great white shark trip drew a variety of such responses from horrified friends. The undisputed bad boys of the shark world, great whites are the largest of all predatory sharks, reaching lengths of up to 6m and weighing in at over 2,000kg.
The blatant sensationalism of the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" notwithstanding, the movie Jaws has not done the image of sharks, and great whites in particular, any favours. Unfortunately, perception overrides facts. “Sharks are dangerous and eat people,” say those who know better.
What makes an image a really good one is certainly a question, that, at some point, troubles the mind of every image maker. Is it about the subject, or is it about that specific moment captured? Is it about color, or about techniques used?
It is not a new thing. It all began in Pisa, 817 years ago, when a very clever mathematician was thinking profoundly about numbers… and also about rabbits. His name was Leonardo Pisano Bigollo, better known as Fibonacci.
Award-winning underwater cinematographer and documentary producer Nathalie Lasselin reflects upon her dive expeditions in the Arctic and her epic project to raise awareness about the state of fresh water in the St Lawrence River, closer to home in Montreal.
It was the end of April, and it was supposed to be the end of winter. But once again, I had to refrain from putting my thick winter coat on the very top shelf of my wardrobe.
Artist Masayo Fukuda of Tokyo is a master of kirie, the Japanese art of paper cutting. Her beautiful, delicate creations and intricate designs of marine life, cut by hand from a single sheet of paper, have been exhibited in Tokyo, Osaka and Paris, and featured in print, television and social media. X-Ray Mag interviewed the artist to learn more about her artwork and her creative process.
"My role may be to increase the number of people interested in marine life and the beauty of the sea through my artwork."
— Masayo Fukuda
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became an artist.
A huge ramified system of freshwater-filled sinkholes in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico comprise what is known as the Maya Cenotes. The ancient Maya people sometimes used them for sacred offerings and sacrifices.
This huge karst system of underground caves and rivers has a combined length of about 350km and consists of around 7,000 cenotes. The cenotes were formed more than 200 million years ago by the dissolving of limestone into sinkholes, which then filled with underground waters.
How many times, whilst diving, have you seen the most exciting, unusual or incredible critter and wanted to show it to your buddies? You have finally managed to grab their attention and pointed at the critter, only for them to look in the direction of your pointed finger and then stare blankly back at you.
This can be really disappointing and sometimes happens to me when guiding customers or diving with buddies who are not accustomed to our marine life. I realised that to prevent any future disappointments, I needed to find a non-invasive way of pointing out those critters.
Why numbers don’t mean much when it comes to your behaviours!
I remember watching a presentation by Sami Paakaarinen on the recovery of two divers who were his friends who had died while diving in the Plura cave system in northern Norway in February 2014. He put up a slide that said, “We took a calculated risk.
One hundred years ago this year, on 21 June 1919, 74 warships of the Imperial German Navy High Seas Fleet were scuttled en masse at Scapa Flow, the deep natural harbour set in the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland that was the WWI base for the Royal Navy Grand Fleet. The scuttle was the greatest single act of maritime suicide the world has ever seen.
The 74 German warships had not been surrendered—they had been interned at Scapa Flow under British guard seven months earlier as a condition of the Armistice, which had halted the hostilities of the Great War in November 1918.
The first time I met a shark, I was struck by silence. Having observed the wildlife of the Canadian mountains all my life, my knowledge of sharks was limited to the information gained from watching the movie Jaws many years before. All that remained from that brief education was that they bit and badly. Very badly. Essentially, if you met one, you died.
But now I was living in Tahiti. I had been told that there were no sharks in the lagoon, and they were far from my mind, as I roamed one morning upon the barrier reef. The sunshine ran in golden lines across the coral and flashed upon the fish. It was mesmerizing.
Have you ever wondered why some bodies of water, such as the Baltic, have so many wooden wrecks in great condition while other areas have almost no wooden wrecks at all? It has something to do with salinity; however, it is not the salt in seawater that consumes the wrecks but a mussel, which somewhat confusingly is called a worm—and it only lives in saltwater.
In fact, shipworms are not worms at all, but rather a group of unusual saltwater clams with long, soft, naked bodies.
Admittedly, I knew almost nothing about Timor-Leste until I started seeing a lot of great images of the diving there on Instagram. I became curious and started following a local dive operator’s Instagram feed, watching them post daily photos of cuttlefish, nudibranchs, peacock mantis shrimp and beautiful reefscapes. Where was this place and how did I not know about it?
Other research on the internet did not give Timor-Leste’s dive secrets away. Located within the Coral Triangle, which contains the most marine biodiversity on the planet, it was boasted to be some of the most biodiverse and pristine diving left on earth—an untouched area and mostly not dived.