1. Fathom was a marine diving magazine published by Gareth Powell & Associates in Australia. It is considered to have played an important role in raising international awareness of the status of Australian marine life, especially sharks with underwater photography, and established new standards in terms of quality, content, design and accurate marine journalism at a time when most was being sensationalized in the popular press.See all the original pages:  http://fathomag.blogspot.com.au


Australia© JOHN H. HARDING


RON TAYLOR  AM   in clear fresh water springs, Ewen Ponds, near Mt Gambier, South Australia.  A good location to check sharpness of camera lens underwater. Ron with  his own workshop-made camera housing with Rolleiflex wide angle 6x6cm medium format camera.


“The last straw”
Can clearly remember the time I decided to give up competition diving. It was on a reef inside inside Broughton Island in toward the little Gibber. Heavily kelp covered reef and a bonus weight Crimson banded parrot fish, he didn’t get to be this big by luck. I used every trick in the trained killers book and several times I gave up and chased other stuff. But the old story one last try, I loaded the rubber to the last notch and once again entered the fray, he would go in and out of the kelp, caves, crevices THEN on the edge of the reef I lay in the weed and he presented me a long shot but swimming away from me. It was now or never The long spiked pranger took him in the shoulder and out the head it wasn’t pretty, couldn’t dislodge the pranger in the water, so back to boat; eventually remove the pranger. The CBP was ripped to pieces on one side and looked unharmed on the other; unharmed (apart from being dead).
That was it (what a waste) a thing of beauty slaughtered for no particular reason. I took the pledge, only (spear fish in future)  for food.
(Robert E Grounds 2013)

Needle-teeth of Grey Nurse sharks were popular trophies in the 1960′s.  Taking a set from that species today, in Australia, would guarantee a terrible penalty.  The young lady is Tanya Binning - a famous surf girl of the era. Grey Nurse sharks made a dramatic return to the east coast of Australia in 1988.  The population has been steadily increasing since. Unreliable out-of-date reports continue to circulate promoting a demise.


Same whale shark in both pictures.  35mm lens vs. 15mm lens

In early 1942, the (RAAF), experiencing air attacks on towns in northern Australia, found itself unable to obtain British-designed interceptors or sufficient numbers of P-40s. US Fifth Air Force squadrons in Australia were already receiving the brand new P-39D-1. Consequently, in July 1942, older USAAF P-39s, which had been repaired at Australian workshops, were adopted by the RAAF as a stop-gap interceptor.

Seven P-39Ds were sent to No. 23 Squadron RAAF at Lowood, Queensland. Later, seven P-39Fs were operated by No. 24 Squadron RAAF at Townsville. In the absence of adequate supplies of P-39s, both squadrons also operated Wirraway armed trainers. However, neither squadron received a full complement of Airacobras, or saw combat with them. The home air defence role was filled first by P-40s, followed by Spitfires. Plans to equip two more squadrons with P-39s were also abandoned. 23 and 24 Squadrons converted to the Vultee Vengeance in 1943.

Source: Wikipedia

Also check out the complete 480 pages from Fathom magazine.  http://fathomoz.wordpress.com

Although similar to the content here there are a few differences.  Click pictures to enlarge them.

There are TEN issues of Fathom.  Each is 48 pages.

Edition numbers can be located in CATEGORIES in right hand column.

First issue was  December 1970.  Issue TEN was 1973.  Fathom magazine is said to have put Australia on the international diving map during those early years, as the stories and advertising will illustrate.

In the same era the Captain Wally Muller owner of charter boat Coralita began operation for scuba divers.  The first live-aboard and with dive destinations to The Coral Sea.
We hope you will enjoy these pages from the past.

Many of the arguments used by China, Japan, Russia and several North African countries to oppose the measure were expected to be recycled by delegates later this week when proposals to tightening regulations on the shark trade are considered.

China and Russia argued that shark populations aren’t suffering. Japan insisted that current measures in place are more than adequate. Developing countries like Libya and Morocco complained that any effort to protect sharks would damage the economies of poor fishing nations and burden them with expensive enforcement requirements.

The Chinese delegation said there was no scientific evidence that the shark’s survival is threatened and CITES was not the right forum to handle the issue. The Chinese would prefer to leave regulation to existing tools like the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and regional bodies which conservationists argue have failed to crackdown on illegal fishing and even uphold their own modest quotas.

There’s a lot of out-of-date information circulating.  Consider these points first.
1.  Fishermen prefer to catch marlin, swordfish, tuna – high value products.
2.  Sharks take the baits intended for tuna, marlin, on lines many kilometers long.
3.  Sharks, unable to swim, then drown.  Unable to swim, they drown, dead in 95% of cases.
4.  So, what to do with the dead sharks?  Throw them away?  Process them for $2-3 kilo?
5.  Many (or most) countries, by law, now make fishermen bring whole sharks home, fins attached.
6.  Shark meat is processed into fake fish products, crab sticks, fish fingers etc.
7.  Shark fins are just a bonus, (as compared with a large tuna) crazy to wast them.
8.  A new bait is being trialed, a bait that tuna take yet is distasteful to sharks. It’s expensive.
9.  Fishermen see many sharks offshore and sincerely believe there is no detrimental shortage.
10. There is a decline in all other fin fish, world-wide this is accelerating.
11.  Shark diving companies would have you believe all of the above shark info is untrue.
12.  Same applies to self-promoting marine ‘experts’.  Easy to be interviewed speaking ‘doom and gloom’ info.
13.  Bottom line at Taipei Shark Conference 2002 “We (scientists) should speak more often with fishermen to help with our research.

A world decline in fin fish is resulting in small shark becoming acceptable as cheaper substitute species.  Fins must not be removed at sea – a law for several years in most but not all countries.

WildAid organized the International Shark Conference in Taipei which focused on shark fining and brought about changes in fisheries laws.  The published magazine for the conference is now available on line “The End of the Line”.

The picture of a recently fined shark was an error in that a blunt knife has been used and only the dorsal fin removed. Otherwise there is some excellent research material here.

Double click picture

A larger and similar picture is at  http://fathomoz.wordpress.com

Walter A.Starck, Vic Ley, Ron Taylor, Phil Eather, Richard Weir, Wally Gibbins, Mal McLeod, Gai Girdlestone, John Harding

Wally Muller, Van Laman, Ben Cropp, Kathy Troutt, Lynn Roberts, John Michael Harding, Bob Grounds, Dean Cropp, Ron Taylor, Trevor Collins (with marlin), Valerie May Taylor, Henri Bource.




RON IBLE (White Water Wanderers) 30 April 2013  R.I.P. mate


Photo’s by JOHN HARDING for Peer Productions, Cairns, Queensland

click to enlarge

We went 250 miles offshore in this tiny fishing boat.   A great adventure with a pioneer of The Great Barrier Reef, Captain Wally Muller- later of Coralita charter boat notoriety. Coralita was Australia’s first scuba dive boat on the GBR, launched in 1969.

Wally Muller built Coralita which was launched in 1969. Originally it was intended as a cruise boat working the islands and reefs offshore on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.   The vessel, while being an excellent open sea craft was prone to ‘rocking wildly’ at anchor. Tourists were often seasick.  Wally Muller then turned to fishing and  diving charters.  Through his friendship with Ron Taylor and John Harding (then the founding editor of FATHOM) he was able to attract local and overseas scuba divers, especially from USA.  Hollywood producers seeking shark scenes obtained these in The Coral Sea.  Wally returned to Saumarez Reef several  times and found a magnificent bommie in 100 feet of water that rose to 30 feet under the surface.  Modestly named “Wal’s Bommie” it was for a short time one of the best scuba dive locations known.  Today the location would be ‘lost’. Although Wally Muller chartered and named many reefs in The Swain Reefs, only one retains one of his original names “Riversong Cay”.

Underwater models of today might enjoy researching the films of Esther Williams.  Hollywood movies based around synchronized pool swimming were big in the 1950′s and no expense was spared in their production.  Esther was the queen of the era.

I spotted this poster at a town west of Townsville, Queensland called Ravenswood.   It was 1978 so the poster is unlikely to be still on display.

Gina Taylor (pictured) and I did presented our underwater film show in the local hall that night, just for fun.   The roll-up was surprisingly good for a ‘ghost town’, formerly a gold mining boom town.

A pair of hotels remained open, otherwise it’s worth a visit to see the main street with old shops with wooden footpaths, just like a Hollywood western movie.

From a video clip posted on YouTube during a recent visit to Taipei.

The herbal medicine street there is Dihua Street.   Shark fins, canned and dried abalone and many items we rarely see in Australia,  on sale from hundreds of small shops that are unique in Asia with Japanese era architecture.

Perhaps the most innovative product of all is dried jellyfish.

It’s not so cheap either.  (Australians regard dried seaweed as being an unusual, so jellyfish is very different)!

We can only wonder if those Asian masters of turning almost every form of sea creature into something edible could tackle making a food product from, say,  Acanthaster planci, the crown-of-thorns starfish?

That would be a challenge.

The spines have a unique poison that is very painful.  Most sea creatures leave the starfish alone. Exceptions being triton trumpet shells and  hump head maori wrasse.

There is a possibility coral trout eat juvenile crown-of-thorns.

Less coral trout = more starfish in an area.  That theory is still to be researched.

Divers visited the shipwreck site, just off the entrance to Sydney Harbour and under the cliffs of Dover Heights back in 1955 and regularly afterwards.  The silver coins shown below are part of Gillies Gold – the collection recovered by the late John Gillies over many years working the site.

Holes drilled in the coins suggest these were being worn as security against theft by some of the 121 persons who drowned in 1857 during a cold winter morning. The ship arrived at Sydney Heads during fog and heavy seas to be wrecked after a long voyage from England.

A disaster so close to their destination after months at sea.  The ship struck rocks near a popular suicide location known as  ‘the gap’.

Pictured above is the late Wally Gibbins – a salvage diver known for his work on Solomon Islands, and for his knowledge of sea shells.  http://xanga.com/wallygibbins


Also a champion with spear fishing and shark hunting exploits during the pioneer era.

Wally Gibbins

John Gillies speared this record-sized Bonito at Long Reef, Sydney.

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