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Deep impact: the underwater photographers bringing the ocean’s silent struggle to life | Photography

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In July, off the Turkish port city of Bodrum, Kerim Sabuncuoğlu stepped from the edge of a boat into the azure Aegean Sea and began to descend. A scuba diver with more than 30 years’ experience, he took up underwater photography in 2002 and has since devoted considerable amounts of time and money to his “out-of-control hobby” – capturing the wonders of the ocean on camera so that “the less fortunate people above” can also marvel at them.

Sabuncuoğlu has travelled the world, photographing marine life in Palau, Cuba and the Galápagos islands and winning several awards for his work. Closer to home in Bodrum, he was embarking on a standard dive with a group of friends, equipped with a Nikon D800 camera. The camera had an 85mm micro Nikkor lens and was clad in Nexus underwater housing, with a single Backscatter snoot to train light on the subject.

A lizardfish attempts to eat a cigarette end.
A lizardfish attempts to eat a cigarette end. ‘This image illustrates the environmental issue of people carelessly disposing of trash and the harm it does to wildlife,’ says photographer Steven Kovacs. Photograph: Steven Kovacs

Soon after reaching the sandy bottom and making a right turn towards a cluster of rocks, he spotted a broken fishing line on the sea floor. A grouper was caught on one of the hooks, still alive, so he took it to the surface, removed the hook and set it free.

“I went back to see what else was there, with the pliers,” says Sabuncuoğlu from his home in Istanbul, where he runs an event management company, “and that’s when I found this poor animal: a moray eel. Its favourite food is octopus, and of course when it found the arm of an octopus on the floor, it took a great bite.” A hook concealed in the octopus arm went straight through the moray’s jaw. It spun its body frantically to free itself, but succeeded only in entangling itself in the fishing line. Eventually the eel suffocated and died.

A female paper nautilus drifts along on a piece of rubbish, Anilao, the Philippines.
A female paper nautilus drifts along on a piece of rubbish, Anilao, the Philippines. Photographer Steven Kovacs notes that they normally hitch a ride on jellyfish for protection and to preserve energy. Photograph: Steven Kovacs

Sabuncuoğlu had witnessed the result of what’s known as ghost fishing. “When a fisherman leaves his equipment under the water, like a fishing net or line, it keeps on killing fish for many years to come,” he explains. “If I had left this moray eel, some other fish would have eaten the hook, and died as well.”

It’s a worldwide problem. Ghost fishing gear accounts for around an estimated 10% of all marine litter. On the west coast of the US, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported an average of 11 large whales entangled in ghost nets every year between 2000 and 2012. The number of smaller fish and sea life caught annually in nets and pots and on discarded hooks is impossible to estimate, but Sabuncuoğlu puts it in the millions. It is also dangerous for divers, he adds, “because you can get tangled like the moray eel under the water”.

Jason Gulley’s photograph of a dead manatee floating in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida.
Jason Gulley’s photograph of a dead manatee floating in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Pollution is destroying seagrass, one of the mammals’ food sources, causing record numbers of deaths. Photograph: Jason Gulley

Sabuncuoğlu took 60 or so shots of the eel, but it was only afterwards, as he was editing the images on his computer, that he felt a pang of sadness at how it had died. “You realise it was helpless there,” he says. Everyone he showed the image to reacted in the same way: “They went, ‘Eeeeee, ai ai ai!’” and shuddered. When he submitted it to this year’s Ocean photography awards, under the title Silent Scream, it was shortlisted in the conservation category.

The National Geographic photographer and conservationist Cristina Mittermaier was among the judges who picked Sabuncuoğlu as the ocean conservation photographer of the year. “It’s a fantastic image,” she tells me. “Underwater wildlife communicate in a very different way to terrestrial wildlife, and they don’t have the same facial expressions that an animal like a grizzly bear or a wolf might have. Therefore, making images that create an emotional connection with humans, when you’re photographing fish, is really hard. In this image, the photographer was able to capture a dramatic moment, and the eel actually has a facial expression that conveys emotion. It caught me as soon as I saw it.”

Anchovy fishing boats off Phú Yên Province, Vietnam.
Anchovy fishing boats off Phú Yên Province, Vietnam. The small fish are harvested to make sauce but, as photographer Thien Nguyen Ngoc says, that leaves their marine predators without food. Photograph: Thien Nguyen Ngoc

It’s not just the inscrutability of sea creatures that makes it difficult to get humans emotionally involved. Images of environmental devastation can be off-putting too. “You really need to balance the storytelling with beautiful photography,” says Mittermaier, who co-founded the conservation network SeaLegacy, “and I think this image does that really well. When something outstanding comes along that has the power to make people stop, even for just a second, and internalise what they’re looking at, that’s when we start moving the needle.”

It helps that the technology around underwater photography is improving fast, allowing for more vivid shots and illuminating parts of the ocean that were previously obscure. Sabuncuoğlu mentions blackwater photography, which entails diving into deep ocean at night to photograph larval fish and invertebrates as they rise to the surface.

A seahorse that has anchored itself to a face mask, Halkidiki peninsula, Greece.
A seahorse that has anchored itself to a face mask, Halkidiki peninsula, Greece. Photographer Nicholas Samaras dives regularly in the area and says Covid waste is the biggest recent change. Photograph: Nicholas Samaras

“It’s only in the past 10 years that the technology has advanced enough for us to be able to take our cameras deeper than 30 metres,” says Mittermaier. “And the sensors now available are allowing us to see in the inky depths of the ocean things that we could not capture just five years ago. So it’s advancing very quickly, and it’s becoming more affordable. And as more and more photographers take to the ocean to capture images, we’re slowly building an army of underwater storytellers reporting from the furthest corners of the Earth.”

Sabuncuoğlu likens the experience of exploring the ocean to space travel. “If you don’t have the technology or the funds to go to another planet, just gear up and jump into the water,” he says. “That’s another planet.” Reporting back from that other planet, and showing the extraordinary profusion of life there, is “the most wonderful thing I can ever do in my lifetime,” he says. “I hope I will do it for many years to come, and I hope I can teach more people how to do it. Because if we don’t show the beauties of the underwater, nobody will realise what’s down there, and if you don’t realise it, you don’t protect it. It’s that simple.”

A gull caught up and drowned in ghost fishing line in Norway’s Saltstraumen strait, photographed by Galice Hoarau.
A gull caught up and drowned in ghost fishing line in Norway’s Saltstraumen strait, photographed by Galice Hoarau. ‘These are deadly traps for wildllife, especially seabirds,’ he says. Photograph: Galice Hoarau

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Grocery start-up Gorillas raises nearly $1bn in round led by Delivery Hero

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Just a few months after hitting unicorn status, Gorillas has raised another major round of funding from big-name investors.

German start-up Gorillas has raised nearly $1bn to expand its on-demand grocery delivery business.

The Series C funding round was led by Delivery Hero, the German food and grocery delivery giant that recently took a stake in Deliveroo.

Gorillas also received backing from existing investors including Coatue Management, DST Global and Tencent, as well as new investors G Squared, Alanda Capital, Macquarie Capital, MSA Capital and Thrive Capital.

The fresh funding comes just a few months after the company’s $290m Series B, which brought its valuation to more than $1bn.

Gorillas was founded in Berlin in 2020 by Kağan Sümer and Jörg Kattner, promising grocery deliveries in as little as 10 minutes.

It now operates more than 180 warehouses and has expanded to more than 55 cities in nine countries, including Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Munich.

The company plans to use the latest funding for its next phase of development. This includes reinforcing its footprint in existing markets and investing in operations, technology and marketing.

“The size of today’s funding round by an extraordinary investment consortium underscores the tremendous market potential that lies ahead of us,” said Sümer, who is CEO of the start-up.

“With Delivery Hero, we have chosen a strong strategic support that is deeply rooted in the global delivery market, and is renowned for having unique experience in sustainably scaling a German company internationally.”

On-demand grocery delivery is a growing area in Europe that’s attracting investor attention.

Swedish start-up Kavall raised $5.8m in August, Czech player Rohlik hit unicorn status after its €100m Series C round in July, and Spain’s Glovo secured a €450m Series F round in April to expand in the grocery market.

Gorillas differentiates itself from other players in the market, such as Deliveroo, by employing its delivery drivers rather than relying on gig workers.

However, as the start-up has scaled rapidly over the past year, it has seen delivery workers protest over working conditions and pay, and been put under the spotlight for its treatment of employees.

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ICO to step in after schools use facial recognition to speed up lunch queue | Facial recognition

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The Information Commissioner’s Office is to intervene over concerns about the use of facial recognition technology on pupils queueing for lunch in school canteens in the UK.

Nine schools in North Ayrshire began taking payments for school lunches this week by scanning the faces of their pupils, according to a report in the Financial Times. More schools are expected to follow.

The ICO, an independent body set up to uphold information rights in the UK, said it would be contacting North Ayrshire council about the move and urged a “less intrusive” approach where possible.

An ICO spokesperson said organisations using facial recognition technology must comply with data protection law before, during and after its use, adding: “Data protection law provides additional protections for children, and organisations need to carefully consider the necessity and proportionality of collecting biometric data before they do so.

“Organisations should consider using a different approach if the same goal can be achieved in a less intrusive manner. We are aware of the introduction, and will be making inquiries with North Ayrshire council.”

The company supplying the technology claimed it was more Covid-secure than other systems, as it was cashless and contactless, and sped up the lunch queue, cutting the time spent on each transaction to five seconds.

Other types of biometric systems, principally fingerprint scanners, have been used in schools in the UK for years, but campaigners say the use of facial recognition technology is unnecessary.

Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, told the Guardian the campaign group had written to schools using facial recognition systems, setting out their concerns and urging them to stop immediately.

“No child should have to go through border-style identity checks just to get a school meal,” she said. “We are supposed to live in a democracy, not a security state.

“This is highly sensitive, personal data that children should be taught to protect, not to give away on a whim. This biometrics company has refused to disclose who else children’s personal information could be shared with and there are some red flags here for us.”

The technology is being installed in schools in the UK by a company called CRB Cunninghams. David Swanston, its managing director, told the FT: “It’s the fastest way of recognising someone at the till. In a secondary school you have around about a 25-minute period to serve potentially 1,000 pupils. So we need fast throughput at the point of sale.”

Live facial recognition, technology that scans crowds to identify faces, has been challenged by civil rights campaigners because of concerns about consent. CRB Cunninghams said the system being installed in UK schools was different – parents had to give explicit consent and cameras check against encrypted faceprint templates stored on school servers.

A spokesperson for North Ayrshire council said its catering system contracts were coming to a natural end, allowing the introduction of new IT “which makes our service more efficient and enhances the pupil experience using innovative technology”.

They added: “Given the ongoing risks associated with Covid-19, the council is keen to have contactless identification as this provides a safer environment for both pupils and staff. Facial recognition has been assessed as the optimal solution that will meet all our requirements.”

The council said 97% of children or their parents had given consent for the new system.

A Scottish government spokesperson said that local authorities, as data controllers, had a duty to comply with general data protection regulations and that schools must by law adhere to strict guidelines on how they collect, store, record and share personal data.

Hayley Dunn, a business leadership specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There would need to be strict privacy and data protection controls on any companies offering this technology.

“Leaders would also have legitimate concerns about the potential for cyber ransomware attacks and the importance of storing information securely, which they would need reassurances around before implementing any new technology.”

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Apple debuts MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max Arm chips • The Register

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Apple on Monday announced 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models armed with its Arm-compatible Apple Silicon chips, extending its platform architecture transition, and Intel exodus, for its high-end notebooks.

Cupertino’s web-streamed presentation, which also featured new music products and services, was highly anticipated by Apple customers because, as expected, it addressed long-standing complaints about recent MacBook Pro models, namely its failure-prone keyboard, its unasked-for TouchBar, and its finicky USB-C power connector.

Though Apple’s disastrous Butterfly-design keyboard has already been dealt with, the first aspect of the new MacBook Pro models that product manager Shruti Haldea discussed was the keyboard.

“The new MacBook Pro has been reimagined in every way,” said Haldea during the streaming video presentation. “Let’s start with the keyboard. Users value the full height function row on the standalone Magic Keyboard, And we brought it to the MacBook Pro. The physical keys replaced the TouchBar, bringing back the familiar tactile feel of mechanical keys that Pro users love.”

Apple MacBook Pro keyboard

Click to enlarge

But that reassurance took a back seat to Apple’s execs crowing about the company’s artisanal silicon. The new MacBook Pro models bring new chips: the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, Apple’s followup to the Apple Silicon M1 chip that debuted last year.

“Building a pro laptop has meant using a power-hungry CPU and discrete GPU,” said Johny Srouji, SVP of hardware technologies at Apple. “But a two-chip architecture requires more power and cooling. It also means the CPU and GPU have separate pools of memory, so they have to copy data back and forth over a slow interface.

“Not one has ever applied a system-on-a-chip design to a pro system, until today. And we did this by scaling up M1’s groundbreaking architecture to create a far more powerful chip with M1 Pro.”

The M1 Pro relies on 5nm process technology. It sports 33.7bn transistors, twice as many as the M1. The chip has a 10-core CPU – eight high-performance cores and two high efficiency cores. Apple claims it’s up to 70 per cent faster than M1, depending on the workload, delivers up to 1.7x better CPU performance than the latest 8-core PC laptop chip when using comparable amounts of power, and at equal performance levels uses 70 per cent less power than the PC chip.

Apple M1 Pro/Mac performance chart

Click to enlarge

The M1 Pro has an up-to-16 core GPU that’s said to be twice as fast as the M1 and 7x faster than an 8-core PC with integrated graphics. It’s available with up to up to 32GB of memory and up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth.

The M1 Max is what you get when you take the M1 Pro’s 10-core CPU and double its GPU cores to 32. The result is 4x better GPU performance and the original M1, which debuted last year. Built with 57bn transistors, it supports up to 64GB of memory – compare that to the 16GB of video memory commonly available to PC laptops – and offers 400GB/s of memory bandwidth.

Apple claims the 14-inch model gets 17 hours of video playback while the 16-inch model gets 21 hours – 10 more than on prior Mac notebooks.

The other gubbins

The M1 Max also has an enhanced media engine capable of editing up to 30 4K ProRes video streams or up to seven 4K ProRes video streams in Final Cut Pro. The M1 Pro supports up to two Pro Display XDRs (Apple’s $5K monitor) while the M1 Max can handle up to three ProDisplay XDRs and a 4K TV at once.

Both the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models come with macOS Monterey, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple’s magnetic power connection system MagSafe has returned under the name MagSafe 3. Both sport a Liquid Retina XDR display and a built-in anodized black Magic Keyboard and have two fans for chip chilling, unlike the fanless M1-based MacBook Air, but Cupertino claims Apple Silicon is so efficient most users will never hear them.

“With this introduction, we’ve taken another huge step forward in the Mac’s transition to Apple Silicon,” said John Ternus, VP of hardware engineering at Apple.

Apple did not respond to a request to say whether the M1 Pro and M1 Max resolve the M1RACLES oversight reported for the M1 chip in May, 2021, and a reported second blunder identified over the weekend.

In a message to The Register, Hector Martin, founder and project lead of Ashai Linux and the finder of the initial M1 flaw and of the supposed second one, said Apple cannot address the M1 design error except through new silicon. He said he didn’t know whether Apple has done so in the M1 Pro and M1 Max. And he declined to provide further details about his second alleged bug, which has not yet been publicly disclosed.

Apple also announced its third-generation AirPods, “new bold and expressive colors” for its Home Pod mini mic-speaker thingy, the Apple Music Voice Plan (a $4.99 Siri-focused starter plan for Apple Music), and updates to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro so that they can take advantage of Apple’s latest chips.

Apple is now taking orders for the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models and they’re expected to be available on Tuesday, October 26, or sometime thereafter if customized with more memory and SSD storage. The 14-inch MacBook Pro model starts at $1,999, and $1,849 for education custoemrs. The 16-inch MacBook Pro model starts at $2,499, and $2,299 for the student market. ®



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