Last week I had the pleasure of attending the annual ADEX Dive Expo in Singapore. If you want to find out what scuba diving is about, or want to realise what a big deal it is, this is the place. Just to give an indication of the growing interest in diving: the expo received close to 60 000 visitors in 3 days! Besides the many stands from dive centres, resorts, photography shops, etc. who were trying to convince people to buy dive trips or equipment, there was a lot more to see and do. Throughout the weekend, there were non-stop presentations by marine biologists, NGOs, photographers, writers and even mermaids.
This year’s theme was “Seahorses“, so some of the world’s seahorse experts such as Dave Harasti, Amanda Vincent and Richard Smith were around to talk about these funky critters. There were speakers from the Coral Triangle Initiative, Greenfins, iSeahorse, Blue Ocean Network and many more NGO’s. It wasn’t possible for me to see them all, but I saw enough to learn a whole lot of new interesting things about seahorses and their conservation.
I was quite honoured to have been invited as well to give two talks. I talked about fluorescence in camouflaged species and how valuable muck diving can be to small coastal communities. From the chats I had with people afterwards, it seems I wasn’t talking absolute nonsense and people were actually interested in what I had to say. While it is too early to tell, in the future there might even be some interesting projects coming out of these meetings.
The most interesting facts I’ve learned this weekend? It seems seahorses often end up as prey for frogfish, scorpionfish and even the occasional octopus. This is also the reason why successful marine protected areas with lots of predators might lead to less seahorses in those protected areas. I’ve also noticed once again that there is more and more demand for truly sustainable dive tourism in a way that really benefits local communities and not just the owners of dive resorts.
Spending a few days in the comfort of modern Singapore was nice, but now it’s time to get back to work. And for now work = fieldwork! 😀 Yesterday I arrived in Dauin accompanied by none other than Luke, my very good friend and trusty science hobbit! Keep your eyes on the blog for our adventures looking for baby critters…