Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great White Hype

Back from an interesting DEMA and an equally interesting Fiji, everybody here is speculating about several tags that have popped up down in the South close to the capital Tongatapu.

They've come off three Great Whites that have been tagged at New Zealand's Chatham Islands and may prove that the Sharks make incursions into tropical waters when following the Humpback Whales' annual migrations, possibly in order to target the newborn calves.

Actually, it is old news - but this of course is Tonga, the place where Time begins but then stops dead in its tracks as it is instantly and miraculously morphed into some sort of a gelatinous warp called "Tonga Time", a hitherto overlooked third consequence of Einstein's Theories of Relativity.

But I'm digressing.
In their wisdom, the NZ scientists have asked for help in trying to retrieve the tags and an according request has found its way into the in-box of the local Whale Watching Association, haters of Sharks and purveyors of idle gossip.

Will anything good come of it? Certainly not.
In a place where "sport" fishermen pride themselves in killing juvenile marlin, some redneck monster hunter will merely see this as a welcome opportunity to go set some more drum lines, like last time after the infamous Shark incident.

Back to the tags, one has been recovered from a beach and is being sent back to the Aquatic & Threats Unit in New Zealand's Department of Conservation for analysis.
After one of our tags detached itself from a Bull Shark and floated all the way to Oz, I'm very interested to find out whether the data are genuine or merely a reflection of prevailing winds and currents. But if they are, to paraphrase Patric, "To say this latest tracking data is "epic" is an understatement. It opens a whole new chapter into the migratory habits of the worlds foremost oceanic predator".

As always, time will tell.
Let's just hope it aint Tonga Time!

3 comments:

Shark Diver said...

One tag is nothing to sniff at...three is a veritable land rush. Typically, once they start transmitting on the surface for long periods you can fix the position and know where they "landed". It's not an exact science but it is eye opening.

FYI: For those not familiar with island life (I spent 7 years on St.Thomas) read Getting Stoned With Savages and Sex Lives of Cannibals by Martin Troost funniest books I have ever read.

I am sure Tonga is similar.

DaShark said...

What happened to us is that some tags detached prematurely, floated all the way to New Caledonia and Cairns and only started transmitting once they were programmed to do so, hundreds of miles from where the animals lost them.
Thus our initial euphoria got a huge dampener once we did analyze the depth data and found weeks of "0 meters".

However, and contrary to the "Cairns" scenario that had us scratch our heads when it first transpired, the hypothesis of why the Great Whites should venture so far North is highly plausible and I sure hope these data are good!

As to island life, as you know, one either despairs or adapts - I'm at the point of finding it "endearing" tho just having come back from, of all places, Vegas, I'm still reeling under the culture shock!
This is the second time I hear of the "Cannibal" books in as many days - will place an order w Amazon straight away!

Shark Diver said...

Both are most excellent books, and if you have lived in the tropics or are currently living these are must have guides...enjoy.