Monday, July 12, 2021

Shark Rescue - Video!

Silio: when he doesn't rescue Sharks or retrieve stolen cameras, he models for My Fiji Shark!

So, was that Shark asking for help?
Who knows - but it sure looks that way, especially considering that she tried twice! And she definitely chose to come to the right person as Silio was personally trained by none other than our unforgotten Rusi, speaks Shark and knew exactly what to do!
Be it as it may, it was a really remarkable interaction.
This is a completely wild, large alpha predator choosing freely to peacefully interact with a human - which has incidentally also spared her weeks of pain, as the weighted line would have cut deeply into her mouth and left her permanently disfigured like Crook or Granma!
Seriously - how cool is that! 

And before you ask - yes that's a known individual.
Judging from her distinctive crooked smile, she appears to be a habitual raider of fishing lines, and we've accordingly named her Double Crook aka DC - for the smile but also for the petty thievery. 
Bold and friendly, she's prime adoption material, and I would not at all be astonished if Tashi Blue decided to add her to the lineup sooner rather than later - so keep watching this space!

Anyway, this is what we do!
Stay safe everybody - right now it's pretty grim, but we're all getting vaccinated and will definitely see you next year!

Monday, July 05, 2021

Grenzenlos - Video!

Toothy Bull by Ozzie Sam-  click for detail!
This was filmed just before the pandemic hit.
I happened to be away, and it never made it to the blog - so there, as a memento of much happier times.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Do Bull Sharks have Friends? New Paper!

Spoiler: maybe yes maybe not!

In brief, I opined that as their prey is comparatively scarce, evolution would select for large predatory Sharks to be solitary in order not to have to share their kills. 
But whereas that appears to be largely correct for Tigers and Whites, anecdotal evidence and some papers (and here) indicate that Bull Sharks appear to mostly travel in pairs or small groups, and I was eager to see whether our enormous data base could help shed further light on the issue. Yes our Shark feed is obviously an artificial aggregation - but I speculated that if certain individuals would preferentially turn up together, this might be a strong indicator that they might also be traveling together when not attending our dive.

The initial findings were promising.
The data showed some unequivocal, albeit rather weak long-term associations as illustrated e.g. in the following sociogram.

Sociogram depicting the social ties between individual bull sharks observed on the study site on ≥34 dives for the time period from 2011 (C). Only GAI values in the highest 30% were included to highlight the strongest associations between dyads, with thicker edges indicating higher GAIs for both individuals observed throughout the entire sampling period (red nodes), and individuals which were not observed throughout the entire sampling period (blue nodes) - click for detail.
Me too, initially - but then came the crux with the bloody interpretation!
Did those Sharks really turn up together because they like each other? Or was it because their core ranges overlap with the Shark Reef Marine Reserve = they just happen to live in the vicinity? Or because they share some behavioral trait that makes them bolder/more curious/more opportunistic/weaker hunters = more prone to visit our feed? Or are they maybe the remnants of a cohort of siblings who stayed together in the river nursery and have traveled together ever since? Questions questions!
Short answer: who knows - which is kinda disappointing!

But, we now have a starting point.
Those numbers in the sociogram all correspond to known individual Sharks, and somebody could now invest some time into observing how they actually interact during the dive - and assuming that the visual observations confirm the initial evidence, one could then try and equip selected individuals with adequate sensors like cameras and/or say, business card tags to see what happens once the Sharks leave Shark Reef and/or take tissue samples to determine their relatedness, etc.
Yes that's a lot of work - but that's what we do, so keep watching this space!

Long story short, so far so good!
Enjoy the new paper
PS - Juerg here, courtesy of Tom.
IMO the semantics are a lot of splitting of hairs (= do we KNOW that they're not friends?), the more as I believe that some are, and that some (like Blunt and Maite) are very much the contrary - but then again who am I to say!
So thanks for the publicity, much appreciated!

PPS - another really nice piece here - well done!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Surfing Reefies - Paper!

Very cool.
But first, watch.

This is DV footage from 2005, from an old edit.
I was staying at Sané and Annabelle's epic Tetamanu Village and was fortunate to catch the magic moment when the sun reflects off the Sharks on an early morning incoming tide - and for you insiders, the first two clips are from the challenging trou aux requins in Apataki.

Notice how the Sharks are barely moving? 
They are literally surfing the current - and here's the according paper courtesy of Yannis, Johann, Serge, Charlie et al, inclusive of how they use a conveyor-belt positioning system to ensure that the groups remain stationary over the most advantageous spots.
Story here.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Shark Reef - Video!

BRAT, way back then when life was easy
The virus is on the loose.
Government is doing a truly fabulous job in containment and contact tracing - but as we all must play our part, we've all decided to home isolate, meaning that I've had plenty of extra time on my hands. 
So there.
Filmed in 4K and down-sampled to ProRes 1080 due to my measly upload speed of 242 kbps  - and it still took me nearly five full days to post!
Oh and.
There's a reason why ours has been called The Best Shark Dive in the World - and this is why. 
The dive keeps on changing, and we keep on learning and adapting, too - but after literally thousands of dives I for one continue to find it as mesmerizing as on day one!

Watch in 1080 - enjoy!

Feeding and Conditioning Sharks - Video!

Remember this
And I cite,
Let's not forget the impact of the thousands upon thousands of people who feed and condition Sharks and other Fishes on a daily basis, i.e. the fishermen and spearos!
Case in point:

And this is being repeated, mutatis mutandis, countless times wherever there are fishermen = all the time and everywhere!
Do you really believe that the incremental effect of a few dozen Shark feeding operators is in any way relevant to the health of Elasmobranch populations? 
Now watch, and listen = it's exactly like I said back then, and the impact of our industry is absolutely irrelevant.

Story here.
Just gotta love it how they then complain about a problem they themselves have created! 
And, here's another one- see what I mean?
Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

Monday, April 05, 2021


So sorry!
I hate to interrupt Tashi Blue's lovely positive messaging - but this just has to be.
Yes I've finally watched that smug garbage.
Fatally reminds me of similar Sea-Shepherd-fueled production by yet another spoiled, entitled and uninformed white dude a while ago - and I can certainly leave it at that. 
It's nothing but a vegan propaganda con job for and quite possibly, by Sea Shepherd, too - and like a Trump campaign speech, it's so full of bullshit and outright lies that I really cannot be bothered to properly fact check it.
But others are trying.
So if you want to be more than a credulous sucker and get some, gasp, actual facts, I strongly recommend that you inform yourself here, here and here - and don't forget to click on the links!
Yes the above is obviously all very Hilborn.
I've now been a marine conservationist for many years and have started out as a utopian and very vociferous activist, albeit maybe a bit less extremely so than some others - but this is the real world and not a utopia, and as I've taken the time to learn about those tedious actual facts, I've come to realize that matters are actually complicated, and that the solutions need to be much more nuanced, much more species and location-specific and sometimes, much more innovative, too.
For you in the know, nowadays, my choice between the two ideological extremes of Hilborn and Pauly clearly gravitates towards the former - and this very much including my thoughts about Sharks
And when pondering where we want our food to come from, I for one will always advocate extracting food from a natural and largely undisturbed habitat over destroying whole ecosystems in favor of agriculture.
But that extraction will obviously need to be sustainable - and therein lays the crux!
Not convinced?
Just look at this shocking image - and the same applies to food crops, too!

So, is everything in fishing OK?
Obviously NOT, or there would be no need for people like me! 
But it is by far not as bad as depicted, at least not globally - and the big bad industrial fishing complex is most certainly not the only culprit  either! 
So by all means, if you feel the need to become active, first inform yourself and then, don't reinvent the wheel but go and support those many organizations that are actually tackling the issues that rile you the most - and trust me, contrary to what is being suggested, they do exist, and many do an excellent job! 
Sea Shepherd, too - but not always and not everywhere = hint: the louder and more strident the propaganda, the weaker the actual performance - so don't be a sucker and do your due diligence before parting with your precious conservation dollars or engaging in extremist vegan volunteering!
And never, ever forget  this = as a minimum, VOTE!!!!!!
Wanna stop eating fish?
Because you're white, entitled, live in the Northern hemisphere and can amply afford to do so? By all means, knock yourself out - and enjoy enjoy enjoy the organic kale! 
But, please, stahp lecturing the others who are not and can not - OK?

I'm already giving it way too much attention.
Like they say over there, à la poubelle! - and the same applies to all those insufferable idiots, charlatans and pleurnicheurs who praise that shit from their perches atop Mount Stupid, or who promote it because they are ultimately trying to sucker you into giving them your money.
BTW it's always the same folks - so stop listening, let alone admiring them!

Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!
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PS - well, this is embarrassing.
I must confess that I was pretty proud of my comparison at the top - and now I discover this.
I could regale you with some smart bonmot about great minds and the like - but I won't. Guess that after 5 years of that daily verbal diarrhea, the comparison must have been all-but-inevitable.
Anyway, enjoy enjoy enjoy the organic kale - Thumper and Bambi, and millions upon millions hectares of irrevocably obliterated terrestrial habitats included! :) .
PPS - more of those irritating and tedious actual facts here!
So, don't be a sucker!
Pauly here, Hilborn here - never would I have thought that those two guys would agree on anything, ever!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

More Poaching on Shark Reef!

Damn those people.
I knew that little friendly red Grouper.
And those are some of our last Parrotfish, and seeing that dead Angelfish breaks my heart.

But at least Tashi Blue was able to save that little Turtle.
I know, it's not much, just a little Hawksbill - but it is something, and for that little Turtle it is everything. We've known her for many years and can only hope that she will make it.
And Fred the clam is happy, too! :)
The poachers are known and will be prosecuted.
And before you ask and/or start lecturing us in Fijian protocol and the like: no, they're by no means destitute and desperate. 
They all have jobs, and have done this for fun
And the other inevitable excuses are just that.
Shark Reef has been a tabu since 2004, and since the gazetting in 2014, the fishing ban is like any other law and needs to be respected - and no there's no need for special signage or the like: it's up to the fishermen to know what is legal and what not. And we are duty-bound, by law, to enforce the ban - and enforce it we will.
All our local communities know that and don't poach there, the more since for many years, the reef has provided them with spillover fish for their qoliqoli, hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct assistance, and jobs for their youth. 
But those folks are not from here and didn't even bother to follow protocol and ask for permission before fishing in somebody else's reefs - and lemme tell 'ya, over in Beqa that's a transgression punishable by bush knife, not just a bit of shouting!
So people, chill - and as a minimum, know the facts!

And Turtles are protected country-wide.
And everybody in Fiji knows that.
It's so bloody disheartening.
Hopefully, now that the first batch of vaccines is in country, tourism and the economy will slowly pick up and the poaching will subside - but from what we can see, the damage is enormous and will take years to mend.
For now, all we can do is to keep on fighting.

Oh well.
Onward and upward - nobody said it was gonna be easy.
To be continued.
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Please be aware that this is  not a public chatroom, and that comments we don't like will  be deleted.
Our blog our rules! :)