Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pom Pom Positively Turtle Heaven

By Danielle Lancaster

Pom Pom Island is an idyllic paradise.

Relatively unknown, this tiny tropical island around 45 minutes by boat from Borneo’s coast, is picture perfect postcard material. White sandy beaches, turquoise waters teeming with tropical marine life and on land, lush vegetation with brilliantly coloured flowers provide a safe habitat for birds, their feathers as vividly tinted as the flowers that their bills pierce seeking nectar.

For Melissa Mangalis, Pom Pom Island’s Resort Marine Biologist, it’s a perfect office.  Melissa is working hard for change. Not unlike any other island in the world, rubbish is a problem even on this uninhabited (except for the resort) island. Years of plastic use has caused a never ending rubbish problem. And here on Pom Pom its item like plastic bottles and bags washed up on the sandy beach. While yes an eye sore, the foremost problem this plastic waste presents is for the sea turtles. For them it’s a killer. And for Melissa a war that must be won. 

 Melissa at the turtle hatchery on Pom Pom Island

Working hand in hand with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Melissa is an advocate for change. ‘If we can educate the children, we and the turtles have a future,’ she told me today as we sat in the shade by Pom Pom turtle’s hatchery.

Behind us school children from three schools (two from the mainland and another island) are playing games on the beach. Each game has a deep message. Along with their teachers and WWF staff they are being taught through fun the effects of plastics and illegal fishing practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing have on the environment.
‘Some of these children’s father’s may be fishermen, they all use plastic and the children are our key for change. It’s how we can work for change together, and save our precious environment,’ explains Melissa.

Children from schools on the mainland and a nearby island play games to learn
about the impact of rubbish on marine life.

In one afternoon I counted 12 sea turtles just outside my bungalow on Pom Pom. Green and Hawksbill turtles regularly use the beaches of Pom Pom to lay their clutches of eggs. In the water Melissa is just as active and so is the diving team at Pom Pom. 

There are regular reef clean-ups and work removing Crown of Thorn Starfish, coral painting and the team works closely with the Marine Police in Semporna for any breaches in fishing protocols they see or hear. Dynamite fishing is still being illegally undertaken and a group of divers told me over lunch today of a large blast they heard while diving far off Pom Pom this morning.

 A green turtle in the shallows of Pom Pom Island.

Back on land the team on the island are every bit as proactive. Daily beach clean-ups keep Pom Pom’s beaches as pristine as they can be. Visitors are encouraged to join in and there are regular talks and activities aimed at educating.

It’s a great case of every little bit helps, and with people like the young and energetic Melissa coming up through the ranks we can feel positive these magnificent ancient sea mariners the turtles, will be visiting Pom Pom for many more generations to come and its beaches have a chance of staying white and not becoming just another rubbish dump.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Why I no longer buy my camera gear online

Guest blog by Aleisha Hudson
I love the tech savvy world in which we live for many reasons but one of my favourite things would have to be that ability to buy nearly anything with the click of a button. I have bought everything from vintage cigar boxes to gazebo umbrellas using online shopping and 97% of the time I am happy with my purchase - especially the number at the end of the dollar sign. Now I consider myself to be pretty good at doing my research before purchasing from sites especially international ones. Some of the key things that I look for before making a purchase are is the store legitimate, are the products in good/new condition and the big one are the products genuine/authentic brands? Another big question (with a couple of spin offs) is does this item have a warranty/guarantee and if so how do I redeem it if I have a problem, where do I send it and at whose expense?

Many websites say they're Australian/Australian owned but if you go through and have a look at the fine print more often then not the company is based overseas usually somewhere like Hong Kong or China where knock offs are abundant. Just because the company say they are selling "genuine" products does not mean they are genuine distributors for that company. I often hear "It all comes from the same factory just a different label." now it may come from the same factory but that doesn't mean the parts are the same.

We have a family friend who does the electrical side of things for a large building company and they sent him to Hong Kong to inspect and choose what parts to order. He was taken to a large factory and presented with containers in front of him filled with parts, for each item they had three-four "identical" types each varying in price - same factory, same look, DIFFERENT quality. And sometimes they don't even bother with the parts to make it look authentic - some just have the audacity to sell you junk and there isn't anything you can do about it.

Now why as an avid online shopper am I personally against buying my camera gear off the Internet/Internet based companies? Simple answered I've been burned - by more then one site.
There are a couple of experiences I've had with filers for lenses all looking like they were the real deal until you use them or have a very close look and realise you may as well use them for drink coasters because the quality is atrocious especially when it comes to polarizers. The worst experience I have had is with a flash unit that I bought from overseas it would last about five shots and then die but that differences weren't just mechanical, when I had a chance to look at a genuine model next to my import the difference in quality was notable even from the outside including screen colouring. When I emailed the company in regards to mechanical warranty I was informed they would have to check it out but the only way for that to happen was for me to post it back to them registered post at my own expense (over $100) - it simply wasn't worth it.

I want to clarify there is a difference between shopping from an online store like eglobal digital and shopping from a tangible store that has an online option such as camera pro or teds.

I can't say I wasn't warned about shopping online for camera gear but as a 23yr old with all my infinite wisdom I clearly knew better - WRONG! I had even heard other stories but I figured I had done my research and I'm sure xyz from Hong Kong only has my best interests at heart and was really just trying to help save my bank account. When it comes to online camera gear there is a direct correlation between price and quality.

So at the end of the day I'll continue to buy my nik naks and iPhone covers from online but if I want quality and reliability I'll head on down to the camera store and save myself the money in the long run.

 Aleisha during the Bluedog Photography Outback Tour