Friday, March 06, 2015

Hawaiian Monk Seal and Mantas!


This is cool.

And yes, a Monk Seal beats a mermaid anytime!
Story here.


Fiji - next Week's Weather!

Source - click for detail!

Looks like we're in for trouble.

The forecasts still anticipate a very nasty cyclone.
But as you can see from the Pacific Islands Chart at the top, the eye is anticipated to track south between Vanuatu and Fiji, meaning that both countries and possibly even New Caledonia will experience strong winds and torrential rain but still be spared the worst, see at the bottom. And like I said, this would siphon off a lot of heat and probably mitigate the anticipated Coral bleaching.

We here in the South of Viti Levu are relatively sheltered.
But 945 hectopascal are simply massive, likely a Cat 4 to 5, and any deviation towards Fiji from the anticipated track would be extremely alarming.
So keep your eyes glued to those charts!

You know what to do!

Source - click for detail!

Marine Dynamics joins GSD!

Funny how this has come about.
GSD membership is usually bestowed by invitation, and I happen to be MD's patron - and I can tell you that what really did pique my initial interest in the company has been Michelle's gleeful deconstructing of all those moronic opines posted on that GWS Facebook page during the South African OCEARCH fiasco!
But of course I've since done my due diligence, and the overwhelming majority of the opinions by people I respect agree that this is quite probably the only South African GWS operator that truly walks the talk and that fully matches our three guiding principles of safety, research and conservation - and this in spades!

For the mossbacks among you - this is André's original company.
Via the Dyer Island Conservation Trust he has founded, Wilfred has since turned it into an integrated tourism and research facility, much like BAD. Should you want to know more about the pleathora of rather stellar initiatives they are involved in, please consult MD's website, maybe best starting with this page.
Very impressive indeed!

Anyway, a big welcome aboard!
And it's obviously not over yet - next stop Micronesia! :)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

David - almost there!

It really looks like OSAM is nearing completion.

Read this.
For once, I really got nothing to add except for, godspeed, fingers crossed and all!
This is an equally titanic and crazy undertaking, and I do wish that all that hard, hard, lonely work will finally earn David the recognition he so amply deserves. The movie will be stellar no doubt - light years ahead of that recent shallow, rushed and solipsistic crap many of us have had to recently endure.

Anyway - enjoy!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Woodpecker - Photoshop?

Yes, obviously, the pics at the bottom are - but the first one is genuine!

Or not? :)

Shark Diving Tourism - Paper!

Absolutely agree! 


I say, this is as good as it gets!
After years of frustration at the various stupidities about our industry that have been proffered by an motley array of researchers and other bloviators with little personal experience but obvious agendas, here comes a paper written by people who being Shark divers have been there and done it, and obviously understand what they are talking about.
And... nice to see the frankly surprising cooperation! :)
Required reading!

The global code of conduct and scoring system?
Absolutely agree! 
Developing a meaningful code that is not too generic will be a huge challenge in view of the highly diverging circumstances in terms of legal framework, location, species etc. - but on top of the general statements (= e.g. don't harass), one could envision sub-categories (e.g. provisioned or not) that could lead to the necessary specificity. Plus, there will have to be considerable industry buy-in - so guys, talk to us!
And when it comes to the rating which I strongly advocate, the challenge will be to avoid the obvious issues of liability for the rating agency - but again, it can, and should be done.
And guess what - people are already working on both issues! :)

So, does this paper make me 100% happy?
Of course not! :)

Precautionary approach?
Like I continue to state, we've been enduring decades of unsubstantiated slander despite of having built one of the safest tourism activities anywhere - and I am really sick an tired of that.
Our track record speaks for itself and with that in mind, I do not at all buy into the recommendation that we need to adopt a precautionary approach on all those assumed potential risks pending more in-depth analysis by the intelligentsia.
E.g. Ben and Cristina have been hand feeding those Reefies for what feels like time immemorial, and this with zero documented side effects and owing to their protective gear, zero incidents. With that in mind, it makes zero sense for them to discontinue anything only because somebody proffers some hypothetical caveat - but at the same time, should somebody come up with hard evidence, I am equally convinced that Cristina would be the first to implement the necessary changes!
So once again - stop speculating but show me the fucking evidence instead!

Or the bloody ban of flash photography!
This stupidity has been the "mainstay" of sustainable Whale Shark snorkeling procedures, see e.g. here. Methinks it was likely once developed by some tree hugging do-gooder and then simply copy/pasted uncritically, and it has been my pet hate ever since. 
I mean, seriously: eye trauma? How does the intensity of an electronic strobe compare to those gasquillions of bursts of UV-saturated sunlight that are hitting the eyes of a WS when it basks at the surface? 

And no - regulation is the very last resort!

But yes I'm digressing.
Not 100% happy - but 99.5% I am!
This is spot-on both in scope and content, and I cannot but applaud the authors for an exhaustive, thorough, unbiased and what is more important, accurate analysis of the issues at hand.

Bravo - job well done!

Fiji Cyclone?

Possibly yes!

Of course it's only a prediction.
But the weather has been exceedingly warm and calm, and the ocean has certainly accumulated enough heat to feed a system like what is being forecast.
NaDraki Weather comment here.

The "good" news?
If it eventuates, this could suck off enough heat to mitigate the impact of the Coral bleaching that is widely anticipated for next month.

Anyway - I trust you know what to do!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Migrating Bull Sharks in Australia - Paper!

Read this!

Very interesting!
If I compare what is happening on the East coast of Australia with our observations, I would not at all be surprised if our Bulls displayed the same behavior! 
We know that they are not resident, and although overall, they spend more than half of the time inside of the Fiji Shark Corridor, individual differences are very pronounced and sometimes, certain individuals disappear for weeks if not months which could very well be due to the fact that they may be engaging in prolonged and wide ranging migrations - certainly within Fiji and quite possibly, albeit much more rarely, even further as documented by that genetic analysis from 2012 . 
And then, there's that mysterious regular dip in numbers in April which leads me to believe that something attractive is going on elsewhere, possibly some irresistible spawning aggregation or the like.

Alas, it doesn't look like we're gonna find out anytime soon.
Our Bull Sharks are our pals, and we will neither fish them in order to screw on SPOT tags or insert tags into their abdominal cavity, nor will we tag them conventionally as long as the process will condemn them to a life carrying those anchors that keep irritating the muscle tissue.  
Years ago, I was hoping that somebody would develop a less invasive attachment - but I've resigned myself that most Sharks are not tame like ours that can be tagged on the fly underwater but that instead, they need to first get caught. And then, the new SPOT tags with single bolts and/or the insertion of the acoustic tags are perfectly OK, meaning that realistically, nobody is gonna bother developing something specifically for an obscure micro-project in Fiji.

C'est la vie.
All our research has always been conducted on a need-to-know basis, i.e. initially in order to investigate the effectiveness of the SRMR and later, the Fiji Shark Corridor in protecting our Sharks, with the result being that it ranges from excellent for e.g. the Reef Whitetips to satisfactory for e.g. the Bulls to poor for the Tigers. 
And now that the SRMR is cemented into law, the next challenge will be to determine the most efficient and effective way to optimize that protection by enacting Fiji-wide conservation and/or management measures. No I'm pretty much certain that it will not be a Sanctuary so you guys out there, please don't bother as all you will achieve is to piss everybody off and likely make matters even more difficult than they already are. If at all, there will be a Fijian solution - something that will take time and patience, and require that all stakeholders get something and nobody everything.
And I will certainly leave it at that.

But I'm obviously digressing.
To be continued no doubt!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Natural Predation on invasive Lionfish!

Source - read it!

And I cite.
Seen any Fish population explode as of late?
Yes we have: Lionfish in the Caribbean! But those are invasive introduced species that so far lack any predators - betcha that in 10 years, the picture will be vastly different!
That was yours truly three years ago.
And now, it appears, some Caribbean predators are already, slowly slowly, developing a taste for those Lionfish.

Stories here and here
Pretty cool - but of course for that to work, we need predators! 
And when it comes to the latter, sobering research reveals that matters in the Caribbean are far from ideal, and yes that would be a gross understatement. But I stick to my prediction - coupled with human intervention that is effective and remains vital, this issue is likely to resolve itself.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, February 27, 2015


Fish Rock, South West Rocks where it all happens! Source.

This is one of Mark's dives.

Wonderful stuff.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fiji - Bleaching Alert!


This is not good news.

So far, on Shark Reef, things look good.
We've very recently commissioned a report, and it attests good to very good Coral cover; and having gone walkabout to check for Fishes in anticipation of an imminent visit by a gaggle of professional Fish geeks, I was actually particularly happy to notice countless buds of Acropora on the frontal reef slope.

We shall see - and no, alas I'm not particularly hopeful.
Normally we get hit by a double whammy as whatever survives the bleaching gets nailed by the Crown-of-Thorns - so fingers crossed.

To be continued.

Goodbye, Shark Lady.

We mourn the passing of Genie Clark.

She was a great researcher and I hear, a great person, too.
Eulogy by Nat Geo here, bio here, and here is a touching reminiscence by Andrew who knew her well.

Let us celebrate her life, and never forget.