Thursday, November 26, 2015

Shark Bites in Moorea - Paper!

Pretty grim - and these bites are merely superficial! Click for detail.


From the Abstract.
  • Introduction: Shark-based ecotourism is significantly developing around the world, often without appropriate management of risk. This activity involves a risk of accidental bites on divers that can be quite severe or even fatal.
  • Objectives: To determine if ecotourism companies’ liability can be engaged in the context of bites on scuba divers in presence of hand-feeding practices, supporting the legitimacy of financial compensation for the victims.
  • Methods: We analyzed the development from the mid-eighties to 2010 of shark-based ecotourism through artificial provisioning practices in Moorea Island (French Polynesia) and more specifically the features and motivation of two bites on divers by Sicklefin Lemon sharks.
  • Results: The specific practice of hand-feeding can be considered as a facilitating factor for accidental bites on divers, potentially involving the diving operator’s responsibility.
  • Conclusions: Our findings should support the technical work of experts that might be called in such cases.
Didn't I tell you that the last paper had an agenda!
This one, titled Determining the Role of Hand Feeding Practices in Accidental Shark Bites on Scuba Divers is by one of the previous authors, my pal Eric Clua, and by, I believe, anthropologist Frédéric Torrente. It describes two of the numerous non-predatory strikes by provisioned Sicklefin Lemons in Moorea, see pic at top, and comes to the conclusion that in certain cases, the operators may bear some responsibility and may even be liable should a client be injured.

Totally agree!
Like I've stated for many, many years, baited commercial Shark diving is not SCUBA diving, and the clients have a reasonable expectation that we operators keep them safe. Yes, we make them sign liability waivers which should hopefully exclude the most frivolous complaints - but when operators are clearly negligent, it is only fair that they be held accountable!

Seriously, WTF? 
But having said that, Elke obviously likes to get real close and undoubtedly bears her share for the fiasco. Having been at the receiving end many a time, I can attest to the pressure those eager image hunters will bring to bear - not easy to handle in an industry where client satisfaction and word-to-mouth are critical to one's financial survival!

Long story short?
Good one Eric - and for you out there who STILL don't understand what it means to conduct Shark tourism dives, re-read a) these 90-odd posts about our industry and then, b) these 80-odd posts about the need for proper procedures!

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Brinkley - September!

Source - Fabi and the nae nae in the video!

And yes, we got Sharks! :)
Thanks Brinkley!


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Feeding Sharks and Rays - Paper!

One of the many stupidities found here!

Johann alerts me to this new paper.
It comes to the conclusion that ecologically, provisioning can have effects at the individual, group and population level, and that those effects are generally neutral to negative.

Well what can I say - probably that's true!
It just so happens that every single one of the authors is a pal of mine - and because I know them, I also suspect that on top of the science that is probably pretty much irrefutable, the paper also has a political agenda, and that is, to obliquely address the mess that is Shark diving in French Polynesia, see the link at the top.

Now don't get me wrong here.
Shark diving in French Polynesia is nothing short of stellar.
But when it comes to the feeding dives, most local moniteurs appear to believe that they're god's gift to Shark diving, meaning that they are entirely impervious to accepting even the most common-sense advice (steel mesh gloves anybody?) - and as a consequence, bites are rife. So far, most of the accidents did involve the comparatively harmless reefies - but now that everybody and his dog is flocking to the new, completely unregulated and multi-user Tiger Shark dive just outside of Papeete, the risk profile has risen astronomically and once again, it's really only a matter of time til things will end up in tears. Same-same for the stupid idea of having snorkeling tourists hand feed the small reefies - seriously, WTF?
It's same old same old, so I'm really not gonna dwell, the more as having been there, the discourse is way too ego-driven and frankly leads to nowhere, meaning that the situation appears pretty much hopeless unless the regulator decides to finally regulate.
Hint hint! :)

But I'm digressing.
I can't really say that I love the paper because its conclusions are pretty much obvious, and because it does not really address the principal cause of most of the enumerated problems = bad procedures. As an example, the much-cited disaster at Stringray City is entirely the consequence of piss-poor management and regulations!

Anyway - worth reading!
My take-away: better procedures and more research into those possibly negative effects - pretty much done on the former (tho always learning and always adapting!), and very much working on the latter, so keep watching this space!

And one last thought if I may.
The problem is not Shark diving - not for the animals and not for the people.
Compared to the overfishing and the habitat degradation, the inconvenience caused by the industry is nothing. And yes there have been many, mostly accidental bites - but as far as I know, during literally innumerable provisioned Shark dives, there has been a grand total of ONE documented fatality. Compare that to the same time spent engaging in ordinary SCUBA and ask yourself the question, which is by far the safer activity? 

Just sayin'!
So, lets please keep things in perspective - and let's also never forget to always mention the industry's enormous contribution to both conservation and research that outweighs any of those possible minor deleterious effects by far!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Lupe: pregnant GWS with Boyfriends?

GWS with boyfriends?

Oh for crying out loud.

Have you seen this?
So Deep Blue has a boyfriend; she and several other GWS that come to Lupe are pregnant; and they are now at danger of being killed by poachers when visiting the nursery grounds. And Mauricio wants to tag them in order to then help protect those nurseries.

How touching. 
If only this was supported by any evidence.
GWS litters have tested positive for multiple paternity = no boyfriend; GWS females at Lupe often feature mating scars = if they're mating they can't be heavily pregnant; Domeier's multiple satellite tracks do not show them coming to Lupe during pregnancy; most other specialists ascribe their girth to their age (like many other Sharks, GWS do bulk up as they get old) and possibly, recent predation = a full tummy. 

Long story short, methinks this is a load of crap.
I say, hombre: how about more real science and less media!
After all those years of countless donations and freebies from the Shark boats, how about finally coming up with some good old-fashioned quid pro quo = some scientific paper describing the movements of those GWS around Lupe?  Wasn't that the purpose of all that industry-sponsored acoustic tagging?

Yeah I know.
Writing papers is fucking boring, whereas all that playing at science = the television cameos, the junkets, the hanging out with the Shark crowd, and being popular on social media is much, much more exciting - but the output so far is thin, and I hear that the patience of the donors is rapidly eroding, as is the scientific relevance. Plus, is it really still satisfying to be used as the provider of permits, only to then play the token Mexican in those productions and in those papers by the gringos?

Just wondering!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sustainable Shark Diving!

Looks like yet another initiative is about to be launched!
According to this announcement, the indefatigable Rick will be unveiling his Sustainable Shark Diving project at this year's DEMA show in Orlando. Like I never cease to repeat, I'm a big fan, and this promises to be yet another brilliant undertaking.

Like I said back then, there will have to be industry buy-in.
I ignore the finer details but Rick being Rick, I anticipate that BAD will embrace and promote it enthusiastically - and probably also GSD, at least if I should have it my way.

But first, let's see what's been cooking.
My hope is that the criteria will follow Austin & Co's stellar rating system and if so, this could not have come soon enough!

So kudos buddy - for now! :)
More once I've had a chance to see it - keep watching this space!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shark Conservation - Job done?

Yao Ming - Shark saver extraordinaire! Source.

And I cite - proudly posted by Shark Savers.
Ming joined forces with conservation non-profit WildAid to launch a public awareness campaign about the devastating effect this soup is having on the ocean’s wildlife...

The campaign has been a huge success, credited with a 50 to 70 per cent drop in shark harvesting. Even better, recent studies show that 91 per cent of Chinese citizens now support a ban on shark fin soup.

Ming’s not stopping there. Having saved the lives of some 50 million sharks...
Oh well - then let's all go home!
According to the paper, killing those remaining 30 to 50-odd million Sharks (or possibly, based on assumptions, even a lot less - read it!) would more than halve the exploitation rate, allow Shark populations to rebound and thus be sustainable! Plus, it turns out that after all, the Chinese don't like that shit anyway! 

And this is just what Yao Ming and WildAid have achieved!
Add the Shark sanctuaries, the fin bans, the airline boycotts, the management measures and of course the petitions (!) and it becomes blatantly obvious that the problem has been solved!

I say, this is just simply egregious - facts here.
Let's see whether WildAid and Shark Savers have the integrity to post a retraction/correction.

Or not!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015!

This is beyond epic.