Sunday, September 06, 2020

T-Shirts - Limited Lockdown Edition!

Click for detail.

Check out the above mock-up.

See it - and no, that would not be an asterisk!
We've decided to pimp a few of our traditional best-selling t-shirts - and just to be crystal clear: this is about remembrance, not some sort of Statement.

Also available with long sleeves.
Free world-wide shipping for online purchases - and we will also keep a very few in the shop.
First come first served as numbers and sizes are limited.

And here comes the best part.
Every single cent will go to supporting our wonderful staff.

Thank you!

Friday, September 04, 2020

Running of the Bulls!

Happier times.. - click for detail. Source

This is just great
Last November and after a much too long hiatus, we had the great pleasure of hosting our deep diving, dear friends from Hawaii.
Year end is when the Bulls are terminally pregnant, and you can discern several such individuals like Gape and Tip. And there is also Hillary who still carried a tag from 2018 and will undoubtedly deliver a simply epic data set!
Everybody was toting a camera, and Brian has put together a masterful edit of their footage.
In loving memory of Josh Copus.

Monday, August 31, 2020

GTs vs Sharksuckers - Paper!

Remember this post?
That was not the only observation by far.
This never before described novel hunting technique probably started as an attempt by a single innovative Giant Trevally, only to be quickly adopted by the the whole gang of miscreants. At its apex in late 2011, the 15m Take-out had become a veritable gauntlet, with dozens of GTs targeting the Sharksuckers whenever a Bull would come in for a feed. The Trevallies would wait in front of the feeder and then follow the Shark throughout the feeding area, only to then return to the starting point in order to intercept the next approaching Bull.
Of interest, not all caught Sharksuckers would perish as some would manage to latch on to the attacker,  only to then jump back onto a passing Bull Shark - click on the the pic at the top.
It however all ended at year end.
When the Bulls get ready for pupping and mating and are less interested in our bait, we relocate the feed to 25m where the topography is completely different and the trajectory of the feeding Bulls is much less predictable. And then most of the Bulls leave for 4-5 weeks, and the few who remain feed way less, thus further greatly reducing the predation opportunities of the GTs.
Whether it was the above and the Trevallies lost interest, or whether the individual Sharksucker-hunting GTs moved away or were fished: the fact is that we've never witnessed that behavior again.

But we had plenty of footage.
Here's a quick-&-dirty little iMovie edit of some memorable moments. Yeah I know the slo-mo kinda sucks - but you get the gist and I promise that I'll post something better later on.

And now Juerg has also written the paper - finally!
On top of the above story, it also describes other really interesting observations of Sharksuckers at Shark Reef and other Shark provisioning sites in Fiji.
Press release here, additional clips here.

Enjoy Juerg's paper!  

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Tashi Blue about Diving with Sharks!

Tashi and her babies - click for detail!

Great stuff!
This has happened today.
Our friends at Saving our Sharks are hosting a series of video talks with Shark diving operators, and BAD has somehow managed to be the first of the lineup. I am obviously biased, but I believe that Tashi Blue has done a fabulous job in representing us but above all, her epic My Fiji Shark project.

But you be the judge of that.
Without any further ado - enjoy!

And the gorditas?
They sure are cute and cuddly, but... :)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Fiji's Sharks in Peril - Paper!

Remember? It is still happening!

Well well - watch.

And this is the paper.
Shame that it's hidden behind a paywall, the more as it is being hailed as a major achievement which it quite possibly is - but I will leave that determination to others.

What however irritates me is the characterization of Fiji.
The press release has quite obviously been re-worded as the initial version stated that Fiji's Sharks are functionally extinct which is a load of horse manure -  but even after the redaction, we are still being flagged as being particularly problematic which is just not true.
Here's the corresponding graph - click for detail.

Seriously, WTF?
Fiji down at the bottom - and then e.g. Tonga of all places near the top? Lemme tell 'ya that having extensively dived, and lived in both countries, this is just wrong wrong wrong in so many ways - which obviously begs the question, may other data sets be equally faulty?

So what exactly happened?
Having consulted the relevant map for Fiji, I learn that having dropped 382 BRUVs on 14 sites, they only recorded 5 Shark and 7 Ray species, and this only on 28.7% of the videos which is perplexing to say the least. But having asked, it turns out that instead of tapping the available local capacity and know how, they decided to parachute in some dude from New Zealand who I hear may have only sampled the sites of a particular NGO and not a representative cross-section of Fiji's reef ecosystems - and if so I can certainly leave it at that. *

Now compare that fiasco to the data of the GFSC.
Or to the fact that in our little region alone, we harbor at least 10 frequently encountered Sharks = GHH and Zebra, plus our usual Bull, Tiger, Sicklefin Lemon, Tawny, Silvertip, plus Grey, Whitetip and Blacktip Reefies, with several other diving operators and also research papers reporting the same and even more, equally ubiquitous reef-associated species like Scalloped Hammers or Blacktips from many other locations.
And then there's the simply massive data set from the hundreds of  BRUV drops by Projects Abroad that had incidentally been initiated in collaboration with the very same Demian Chapman who is one of the paper's leading authors - surely one should have added those sightings, too?

And the data from Tonga?
They are from a grand total of 24 drops on two sites... see what I mean?

Anyway - it is what it is.
Whereas the situation here is most certainly not remotely as bad as depicted, there is equally clearly room for improvement, see e.g.this old assessment, Kerstin's papers here and especially here, and also the description of Fiji's Elasmobranch fishery here at page 188 ff.
In brief and despite of the reduction in the Asian demand for their fins, our Reef Sharks and the juvenile Sharks in the riverine nurseries are now increasingly being targeted as an alternative source of protein as many of the traditional food Fish stocks are being depleted.
And to top it off, we're now witnessing a massive Covid-19- induced increase of indiscriminate fishing and poaching that is  threatening years of conservation efforts and also indirectly threatening our Shark populations by obliterating their prey.
Talking of which, I really did like reading that
Without an absolute estimate of the abundance of sharks, it is difficult to know how effective the estimated levels of conservation potential might be in restoring shark populations in reef ecosystems that have been degraded by overfishing.
Although research has shown that fully recovered reef fish communities have biomasses between 1,000 kg ha−1 (ref. 27) and 1,500 kg ha−1 (ref. 12), we have no current estimate of the size of the forage base that is required by a recovered shark population, or how the bottom-up effects of prey biomass might influence the recovery potential of reef sharks.
A key question remains as to whether management strategies that only pursue shark conservation can make substantial or limited gains, relative to those that include the restoration of the wider reef ecosystem.
If the restoration of the whole ecosystem is necessary to fully restore shark populations, our results underscore the need for managers to engage with the wider social, economic and cultural drivers of marine exploitation.
Could not agree more!

Long story short, the paper is certainly welcome.
Far from being defeatist, the authors suggest several pathways for improvement that I can only second, albeit with the usual general caveats (= e.g. follow the links here).
The good news is that here in Fiji, there is already some progress, namely the fin ban, the CMM for Sharks by the WCPFC  (incidentally once again courtesy of the simply unequaled Shelley) and an upcoming, WWF-sponsored, long overdue NPOA (Sharks) that will provide a framework for subsequent regulations and pacify the FAO.

And then, hopefully, we will get The Big One.
No, likely not a Shark Sanctuary but instead this comprehensive regulation - and having checked, all appears to be on track for the December deadline at the end of this year!

In any case, we stand ready.
Thanks to Tashi Blue's boundless and also, infinitely endearing passion and commitment, her My Fiji Shark project has been able to accumulate a nice little war chest that will greatly help us assist with the implementation of the regulation.
So fingers crossed and yes, very much to be continued!

But I'm digressing as always.
Enjoy the Shark paper!

* PS - Demian informs me that there was no parachute science as the vast majority of drops was effected over several years by that local NGO - which obviously begs the question, what went wrong?
Wrong habitat/site selection? Lousy bait?
Anyway, it is what it is.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

GWS vs Humpback - Video!


Pretty awesome ain't it.
Story here - enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Selective Removal of Problem Sharks - Paper!

Click for detail!


Remember this paper?
Now Eric et al have doubled down with this further publication that specifies possible techniques for first, a) establishing a data base of potential perpetrators and then, b) identifying and removing individual problem Sharks after they have attacked a person.

Well what can I say.
Like I've already stated here, I am absolutely convinced that problem individuals do indeed exist, much like what has been shown with large terrestrial predators. And I'm equally of the opinion that removing them selectively (whatever that means) would ultimately be vastly preferable over indiscriminate broadcast culling - though having said that, there are obviously other solutions (like eg hazing, etc) that would need to be exhausted beforehand!

But that's the theory.
In general terms I remain unconvinced that individual profiling and selective removal is a practicable solution for large geographical areas featuring thousands of potentially dangerous Sharks, like, say, the USA or Australia. There methinks that one will need to continue trying to reduce the risk and mitigate the consequences - but by the same token, one will have to accept that the odd Shark bite is ultimately just simply inevitable and part and parcel of coastal living.

And in comparatively small areas?
Interesting to see Cocos and Reunion mentioned in the paper!
I've said what I wanted to say about both situations back then and really got nothing to add - maybe with the exception that Reunion looks like an ideal testing ground, the more as there is already an adequate scientific infrastructure allowing for the proposed broadcast DNA sampling and visual identification. So by all means, go for it - tho bon courage trying to establish a feeding station like suggested! :)

Anyway, all very interesting indeed!
Knowing Eric, something is likely brewing - and if so, godspeed, Fair Winds and Following Seas and all!

To be continued no doubt!