Giant sea glow worm appeals to domestic divers

In Australian Cultural Exports, Australian Domestic Tourism, Government, National Headlines, Queensland, Tasmania

From EMMA HOPE @themercury.com.au  |   August 07, 2013 12.01am

Glow worm wows web world

TASMANIAN divers have captured footage of a deep sea glow worm so rare it is known as the “unicorn of the sea”.

Mick Baron, from Eaglehawk Dive Centre, recorded a video of the pyrosome off the Tasman Peninsula.

The creature’s hollow, translucent body — which can grow to 30m — is made of thousands of clones called zooids that pull water through its tubes and feed on plankton before pushing filtered water back out.

The zooids are connected by tissue and move as one inside the tube structure. CSIRO research scientist Lisa-Ann Gershwin said the creature was native to Tasmania and New Zealand.

“It is actually more closely related to us than to jellyfish, surprisingly,” Dr Gershwin said.

“In its earliest larval stages you cannot tell us apart.

“It’s amazing that we have these kind of creatures, that are truly remarkable, in our oceans right here in Tasmania and most people don’t even know about it.

“This is one of the most grand and glorious monsters imaginable.”

Dr Gershwin specialises in research on jellyfish and pelagic invertebrates.

The long tube of a pyrosome, also known as Pyrostremma spinosum, consists of a pointed end with a hole on the other that can be as wide as 2m.

The pyrosome is so delicate divers sometimes describe it like a feather boa.

Mr Baron said the Tasman Peninsula was one of the few areas where a wide range of oceanic gelatinous plankton came close to shore.

He has been diving for more than 40 years and only seen a pyrosome twice.

“It was fantastic to watch,” he said.

The images were first posted on YouTube by eaglehawkdive.com.au in 2011 but have resurfaced. The video has been viewed more than 3.5 million times.

Dive industry welcomes easing of rules in Qld

By Sharnie Kim

Updated Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:15pm AEST

Queensland dive operators have welcomed the State Government’s relaxation of scuba diving and snorkelling regulations.

Medical certificates will only be required for first-time learner divers if they are over the age of 45, overweight or have certain medical conditions.

Dive Queensland vice-president Ian McKinnon says the cost of the medicals had deterred would-be divers in the past.

“If they’ve searched the internet they will understand that no other state in Australia and no other country in the world requires this mandatory dive medical,” he said.

“It will save them between $100 and $150, maybe $180, so it’s one less thing that will stop them, you know, objecting to doing the course.”

The State Government has also mandated that two crew members instead of one will have to do head counts to ensure no-one left behind in the water after a dive trip.

Experienced diver issues

Col McKenzie from the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators says the changes to the law are welcome.

“The most significant group of people statistically who are having problems are certified divers – people who’ve already got their ticket – and they don’t require a medical,” he said.

“People are aging and we’re typically seeing males over 40 being experienced divers who are having issues.

“Heart failure is the number one cause, and the medical regime we have in place would not impact that anyway.”

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