Saturday, October 31, 2009

Very funny!

The Blue Blogs are unleashing.

South Park has taken on Sea Shepherd and many out there have taken that as a pretext to reaffirm their deep misgivings about Capt. Watson's brand of conservation activism.

Prima vista
, as a conservationist and as a businessman, I would have to agree.
Whereas others perform miracles within very small budgets, the SSCS appears very short on tangible results - especially when compared to their marketing and to the obvious costs of operating their fleet. It's an ongoing thread of this blog: the money available for conservation and research is finite, a zero sum, and seeing it squandered on a whole lot of hot air instead of being used effectively is profoundly disturbing.

Then again, there may well be a need for clowns and extremists to pave the way for the more moderate, realist and above all, result- and compromise-oriented faction of conservation.

Thing is, when it comes to Cetaceans, the latter appears to be largely non-existent.
I'm not really terribly interested in Whales and Dolphins and may have missed some of the finer points: but from the little I can see, the "movement" is dominated by a highly emotional and all-to-often, frighteningly New-Age-esque agenda that depicts the animals as some sort of preternatural beings and where any attempt at engaging in rational conversation inevitably leads to teary eyes and outright aggression.
Very irritating and sad, really, as any lasting conservation measures will ultimately have to be based on pragmatic compromises - and yes, I'm repeating myself!

But in the end, it's just not one of my wars and I'll keep it like Eric below.
As always, South Park has managed to expose them all and the result is just simply hilarious.
Well done for saying it as it is!

Enjoy!











Thursday, October 29, 2009

Commercial Break!

SFMI: finally, the Signage!



New signs ready to be distributed to all supporting marinas, resorts and fishing boats in Fiji!
Funding was provided by
Project AWARE! The dock signs are printed and laminated on 0.080 Marine Grade aluminum to ensure resistance against the elements.

The
Shark-Free Marina Initiative has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. We encourage shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. The SFMI works with marinas, fishermen and like minded non-profit groups to form community conscious policy and increase awareness of the need to protect our sharks, our ocean and our legacy.

Once again, big Kudos to everybody involved, especially Stuart of Matava who pretty much singlehandedly put Fiji on the map as being the planet's most progressive nation in terms of Shark conservation and also, modern eco-minded game fishing!

As in: Twenty-one participating marinas and game fishing operators compared to a measly six in the big and all-powerful US of A!

How's that for a turnout!
And, believe it or not: we ain't finished yet!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If you have a Heart


Somebody just sent me this link.

The title of the message was if you have a heart, these images will disturb you - and yes, they do! Very much so!

It's a local tragedy affecting a colony of Laysan Albatross - but much more than that, it's a terrible tragedy affecting the Oceans in their entirety.
I googled plastic ocean pollution and came up with 1,500,000 entries, among which this list of articles. And please read this about the findings of a vessel crossing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (this is Wikipedia with a multitude of links and resources).

Or if you're not into reading, there's of course YouTube with a seemingly endless list of videos dealing with the issue, like the following one, an impassioned speech that has also made it onto TED.



This is Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and having checked out their website, I'm impressed by their research page featuring yet another list of useful resources. If you live in California, you may want to join them as a volunteer. If not, you may want to become a supporter.

Alas, from what I read, I fear that it's way too late.
All the King's horses and all the King's men will never gather up all the plastic and put the Ocean back together again - so true. There are no easy solutions here, no likely happy end.
All-in-all, very, very sad.

Thank you Terry for having me look into this.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Goby


The end of the Bull Shark season is clearly approaching.

To witness, the animals are skittish and infuriatingly picky.
One day, they are ravenous and turn up in impressive numbers; the other, they stick to the sidelines and will only deign to approach if enticed with juicy pieces of Oilfish, a revolting deep-water species (probably this one) that is increasingly being viewed as unfit for human consumption. Much to the contrary of Mahi Mahi which the Bull Sharks however refuse to eat!

What better time for concentrating on our other crown jewels, the surprising and ever increasing abundance of Fishes inhabiting the Reserve!
Being an underwater photographer and now, a videographer, I've always been somewhat of a Fish Taxonomist, but ever since diving with Jack, this has evolved into more of a "serious" interest. In fact, it appears that something may have rubbed off, as I regularly manage to run across some unusual ichthyological trouvaille.

Case in point: this tiny Shrimpgoby, very likely belonging to the Genus Stonogobiops.
It popped up in some footage of one of our skittish Splendid Garden Eels, Gorgasia preclara and I've never been able to find it again. My gut tells me that it may just be a juvenile Yellownose Shrimpgoby, Stonogobiops xanthorhinica, pictured above. But having said this, I've once seen (and equally failed to collect) a very similar, although bigger Fish on Dinah's Reef in PNG and this may well turn out to be a new, hitherto undescribed species.
If
we ever see it again! And manage to catch a specimen!

Well, judge for yourself.
Keep in mind that I was filming the Eel and never saw the Goby - so it is what it is. I've added some slow motion at the end where you can clearly see the unusual white filamentous dorsal spine.



The footage was captured with a Sony PDX10 in a Gates housing equipped with the fabulous super-wide port by Fathom Imaging. Yes, this is the very same lens I use when filming our big Sharks! Talk about unparalleled quality!

These are some of the last such images by yours truly, after which I'll be upgrading to a Sony EX1 - equally in a Gates housing and equally with a super-wide port!
Lemme tell you: I'm stoked!

Florida - update on Lemon Sharks


Looks like the public workshop about the Lemon Sharks went well.
As does the petition!

That's what I gather from the messages I get and from the recaps on Oceanic Dreams and the Shark Safe Network blog. What I particularly approve of is that dialogue is being sought with the fishermen and that everybody is trying to find solutions that incorporate the needs of the fishing industry. No, I don't like it as it means that some Sharks will die - but, alas, it's the only way forward.

It's however not yet a done deal and surprises can always happen.
There will be another meeting and the all-important vote on December 10 in Clewiston and it is imperative that the pro-Shark advocates be once again represented in good numbers.

For now, congratulations to everybody involved!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Knopp's Shark?

From the website of the Florida Museum of Natural History

One sure never stops learning!

Apparently, that's the other name for the Bignose Shark, Carcharhinus altimus, in itself a rather obscure species, at least to this scribe. Even Compagno's FAO catalogue describes a Shark that can easily be mistaken for a whole range of similarly ambiguous Carcharhinids.

This is why the following video caught my attention.
It features the catching, measuring, tagging and release of a Bignose Shark by some of Doc's people over in Bimini. Very cool - although to me, that species will continue to remain a total mystery!

All-in-all, a nice piece, although I always cringe when somebody uses monster and lurking in connection with Sharks - especially when it appears that the guy is an aspiring scientist! It's little things like that that set the tone - and may I be sensing a little Freudian lapse here...?
But granted, he more than compensates for it at the end. Maybe.

Anyway, enjoy!



Friday, October 23, 2009

Please eat sustainably


Check this out.



Full story here.
There's also the Seafood Watch, by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Our choices matter.
One meal, one small deed at a time, we can all make a difference.
Learn what you can do here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maui Shark Attack


A guy got bitten by a Shark.

He was surfing, it was before dawn, he was alone and well offshore, the water was murky.
Please, don't blame the Shark.

And it happened in Maui.
Underwater Thrills have posted all there is to say about the latter.
It reads.

Not weeks after Maui City Council members voted to ban non existent commercial shark diving to "protect swimmers and divers" in Maui - a surfer was bitten this morning by and estimated 6-8 foot sand shark.

He was surfing in the "Kalama Bowls" area of a local beach park shortly after 6:00 a.m. when he was bitten on the upper right thigh and the lower part of his right ankle, according to Maui County officials.

The unfortunate negative intersection of sharks and humans will continue to happen regardless of commercial shark diving operations in any given area.

Maui has never had commercial shark diving in its waters.

Shark do not target humans as a general rule.

Maui's political decision to ban shark diving was just that, a political decision, and with this mornings unfortunate incident proved one thing for certain...sharks do not regard political decisions.

Commercial shark diving is under assault by a global anti-shark diving lobby that trades in on the fear of sharks. When bans are proposed "public safety" is touted as the net benefit to the community at large.

With this latest case in Maui, the anti-shark diving lobby has been exposed for what they are.

Simply put, purveyors of fear based nonsense.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The little dirty Secret?


Somebody sent me this.

Looks like the H1N1, or Swine Flu vaccines may contain Squalene as an immunological adjuvant.

Now, to be perfectly clear, I don't know if this is Shark Squalene, a fact that I would bemoan.
I also don't know if this is credible or yet again, one of the many medical hoax warnings issued by quacks. Dr. Mercola is controversial and so is Chiropractic. And no, for once, I really don't want to go there and get drawn into a debate where I dispose of insufficient knowledge and that is simply not one of my fights. I will thus delete any according comments.

But I wanted to report that there may be a connection between the Swine Flu and the global slaughter of Sharks.
Maybe.

Well, gee, Congrats!

From the Paxton Brothers' Fishing gone Wild website.

The original Abomination (hint: you may wanna change the URL...) has been re-branded into The Ultimate Shark Challenge and honored by the County's commissioners. The tournament is now 100% catch-and-release and that's certainly an improvement (tho far from being "good") and a notable achievement for the Shark Free Marinas Initiative.

I understand the need for this sort of harmonic mythology and mutual back-slapping - but let's not forget to honor the contribution of the people who got the ball rolling in the first place! And of these guys! And others!
Fair is fair - OK?

Yes, I know, others will disagree!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Required Reading!


This February, Why Shark Matter has come up with this epic post.

It discusses the following data.

“Ten thousand sets of purse seine nets around immature tuna swimming under logs and other debris will cause the deaths of 25 dolphins; 130 million small tunas; 513,870 mahi mahi; 139,580 sharks; 118,660 wahoo; 30,050 rainbow runners; 12,680 other small fish; 6540 billfish; 2980 yellowtail; 200 other large fish; 1020 sea turtles; and 50 triggerfish.”



“Ten thousand sets of purse seine nets around mature yellowfin swimming in association with dolphins, will cause the deaths of 4000 dolphins (0.04 percent of a population that replenishes itself at the rate of two to six percent per year); 70,000 small tunas; 100 mahi mahi; 3 other small fish; 520 billfish; 30 other large fish; and 100 sea turtles. No sharks, no wahoo, no rainbow runners, no yellowtail, and no triggerfish and dramatic reductions in all other species but dolphins.”



A whopping 198 (!!!) responses later, the debate is far from being over.

It is intelligent, controversial, passionate and highly entertaining and goes right to the heart of the complexities of conservation, one of the ongoing threads on this blog. It is great reading and I invite you to go explore it - and to add any opinions you may wish to share.
There - not here!



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bravo USA!


I'm being kept busy (and quite frankly fascinated) by this - but this is important!

Great news!!!
The USA have announced their support for Monaco's proposal to list the critically endangered Northern Bluefin Tuna under Appendix I of CITES!

Bravo bravo bravo!!!

Hat tip: Sea Notes, by the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Friday, October 16, 2009

Driftwood!


Check this out - just amazing!

Excellent News for Sharks - less so for Tuna.


CITES reports that it has received 40 requests for the 2010 Doha conference.

Among many other animals, plants and related products, I discover that the EU is proposing to list Porbeagles and Spiny Dogfish and the USA, Duskies, Sandbars, Oceanic Whitetips plus three species of Hammerheads, Great, Scalloped and Smooth under CITES II.
Fantastic!

Do I hear but doesn't that mean that they are still going to kill them?
Yes, alas, killing those species will remain legal!

You may want to check out this post, or this one.
Very unfortunately, in the real world, conservation equals compromise and the best goal we can realistically strive for is that global fisheries become sustainable. That may well imply a temporary moratorium until the stocks have recovered - but after that, one will have to be willing to accept that sustainable quotas are being harvested.

Talking of which: no such luck, I fear, for the terminally threatened Northern Bluefin Tuna.
After the Mediterranean states led by Spain and Malta have successfully torpedoed a European proposal for a moratorium, Monaco remains the lone visionary voice in favor of listing them under the draconian Appendix I.

Will the tiny Principality succeed in convincing the required two thirds of the signatories of the treaty and get the trading ban enacted against the wishes of its powerful neighbors?
I honestly doubt it - but hope, as they say, springs eternal and surprises are always possible.

Like this one: Spain, one of the worst exterminators of Sharks (a charge they deny) has announced that it will enact a Ministerial Order banning the global harvesting, transferring, landing or commercializing of Threshers and Scalloped Hammerheads by its fleets.
Marvelous news!

Talk about a serendipitous positive backdrop for the European Shark Week by the Shark Alliance (and notably, our friend The Sharkman)! Timing is truly everything!
Best of luck guys!

Lupo: thank you for the heads-up!

Great White Calendar!

This is Granma - actually, one of our most relaxed and mellow Bull Shark ladies.

As so often, Underwater Thrills have beat me to the punch!
Damn!

Still, it is with great personal pleasure that I can report that at this year's book fair in Frankfurt, our good and faithful friend Klaus has launched an exceptional calendar featuring his work with South Africa's Great Whites. Klaus has spent months in that region and his (analogue!) pictures of breaching GW are widely considered to be among the best in the industry.

You may also want to check out this gallery documenting Juerg's research within Shark Reef Marine Reserve.

Aside from being an exceptional underwater photographer, Klaus is also a passionate Shark conservationist and a benefactor who regularly donates his pictures to museums, scientists and pro-Shark publications. The proceeds from the sale of this calender will allow him to continue investing his money and his time into one of his principal goals, to document all of the Sharks on the IUCN Red List.
It's a herculean task and knowing the man, a labor of love.

As always, our very best wishes go out to him.
Please show your solidarity and order you calender here - it is for the very best of causes!
Thank you

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brilliant!

Thank you The Dorsal Fin!

They've unearthed this simply brilliant conservation video.
Enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Everest?

Fantastic pic by Chip Scarlett - taken from within the cage!

Told you so!

Amos never disappoints: he has broken his word and taken clients cageless - and some idiotic operator has once again succumbed to the temptation and aided and abetted this reckless stupidity.

This is a blatant violation of the regulations for Guadalupe issued by the Mexican authorities that once again endangers the future of commercial Shark diving in that location.

Will the other Shark diving operators finally man up, state an example and ensure that the enabler is put out of business? Will they tell Amos to take a hike? Or will they now attempt to one-up the other guy and partake in this latest debacle for the global Shark diving industry?
Guys - this is the time to show some vision and some leadership!

Not having ever dived with them, I know very little about Great Whites.
People in the know tell me that it is certainly possible to go cageless with them, and many of them have. They however also warn me that one must be extremely cautious and ever vigilant, as some individual Sharks come across as being dangerous and clearly convey the impression that they regard the divers as potential prey - something I have never observed when diving with the equally notorious Bulls and Tigers.
Does anybody really believe that using a pokey stick if one of those animals ever commits to an outright attack is gonna work? Ever seen the raw power of a GW breaching after a seal?

With that in mind, offering cageless commercial dives with Great Whites is a fool's bet.
If something happens - and let there never be a doubt that it will and it's going to be fatal: how, exactly, will the guilty operator justify deviating from what are the globally accepted practices of conducting commercial dives with this species?

This is Amos' own description of his "feat" (sic).

...after a week of diving with Great White sharks...contrary to public opinion, due to total misunderstanding, lack of knowledge and simply the public willing to believe anything on TV and in the Movies - these sharks were...acceptable of our present in their own domain and only curious in us swimming with them in open water...every breath we take and blow bobbles the shark was turning away...

We have achieved that level of extraordinary success due to the fact that we have used our intelligent rather that get carried away by common practices. We chummed the water to limited extend. I taken the time and introduce only one person at the time and I had a safety diver with us at all time...I had limited team of only seven divers and full five days on site...we were lucky also in having perfect calm and sunny seven days...

I have introduce seven guests to this amazing, second of this kind experience in the world - "the Everest of diving" and they are all elated as they got to experience their life dream more than once...my guests gained respect and admiration for the animal rather than fear.

They also now joint me and being the ambassadors of the BigAnimlas
expressing their first hand experience rather than the dramatic, false portrait and sensational reportage on Discovery and other TV documentaries...the wilderness deserve positive and supportive news in order to increase awareness and protection for what ever left on our planet - what we have left is still fantastic and worth while saving...

...and more blah blah rah rah of that kind.
Trust the man to start marketing his product whilst Still at the San Diego airport on my way home... !

The thing that pisses me off is that by sending around his pseudo-eco-conservation marketing spiel, he creates false expectations among the public.
Now that the dam has been broken, the operators will be swamped by request from what are little more than foolish thrill seekers aiming to climb to the top of a stupid ranking of adrenaline rushes.
This is not about loving Sharks, this is not about dispelling myths, this is not about creating awareness, this is not about Shark conservation, this is not even about capturing better images: this is only about satisfying one's ego and having something to brag about at home. The more as they will be able to unequivocally elevate themselves above the plebs by paying extra - whilst Amos is laughing all they way to the bank!
This is not the Everest, it's the peak of stupidity!

Already, one blog out there has taken the bait hook-line-and-sinker, a fact that I find particularly irritating as the man is clearly no fool and on top of that, much loved and respected.
What he just refuses to understand is that his emotional outbursts ultimately harm the animals he loves. Extreme encounters enhance the risk of accidents and any such event reinforces the determination and the arguments of the Shark haters. I know that having been at the center of precisely such a controversy, he's acutely aware of the risks - so why is he continuing to make those statements in public? Qui s'excuse, s'accuse - and I'll leave it at that!

Yes, those big Sharks don't generally perceive us as prey - but from everything I've ever experienced, they certainly do not reciprocate our love and do not like being touched and even less, being abused as underwater scooters. Luckily for us, they seem to be quite tolerant - but not endlessly so! Yes I know, I'm repeating myself!
In fact, the so deceivingly languid Tigers very much resent being disturbed when they're seeking for food and are well known for reacting violently against anybody interfering with that process. Sometimes, they will warn you by gaping - and sometimes, they just won't. Trust me, I've seen it with my own eyes, more than once - and be assured that you'll never see it coming, experience or no experience!

My friend, do whatever you do - and enjoy!
But in the softest possible way: please, do it on the QT and stop talking about it!
It is indefensible and may embarrass or even harm the operator concerned - and it only emboldens the other side and the copycats that lack the experience, the knowledge and ultimately, the love.

Enough said.

PS Patric has just posted his take on Underwater Thrills.


Just another Petition?

A school of Silkies - great pic of an increasingly rare, and very lucky encounter by Ken Howard.

I hate petitions.

Very often, all they manage to achieve is to embolden the opposition and to anger those that are being petitioned - but this one, I believe, is different.

Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has proposed rules that would expand the list of protected Sharks to include the highly endangered Sandbars, Silkies (pictured above) and Caribbean Sharpnoses.
Whilst this is certainly laudable, it will apparently increase the fishing pressure on other big Sharks like Bulls, Tigers, Hammerheads and Lemons. The latter are especially vulnerable as they conveniently and predictable aggregate in a small area off Palm Beach, where they are the subject of research and a popular attraction for Shark lovers.

Thanks to incessant lobbying by "Mr. Lemon" Doc Gruber and a coalition of scientists, divers and conservation orgs, the FWC seems to be more than willing to add the Lemons, and maybe even other Sharks to the protected list. It really looks like they are good people willing to do the right thing.

The present petition is meant to lead up to the public workshops at the end of October where the protection of the Lemon Sharks will be discussed and hopefully, sanctioned as well. It will add credibility to the arguments of the pro-Shark advocates, as will a robust turnout by Florida's Shark lovers and marine conservationists.

Please take one minute and sign the petition.
Thank you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nice!


Just found this on VacationAgentMagazine.

Fiji Launches Country-Wide Eco Initiatives

In an effort to build awareness and to combat the destruction of its lush tropical marine landscape and spectacular coral reefs (Fiji is the soft coral capital of the world), many of Fiji’s top resorts, retailers, travel operators and environmental societies have teamed up and launched proactive environmentally-conscious initiatives, making the Pacific Island destination one of the most unspoiled visitor vacation destinations in the South Pacific.


Regional Director of the Americas for Tourism Fiji Ili Matatolu commented: “Fiji’s top travel partners across the board have made a great attempt to preserve an ecosystem rich in sea life and tropical foliage for future generations.”

For example, Beqa Adventure Dive located in Pacific Harbor has worked closely with the government of Fiji and the owners of “Shark Reef” to have it designated as a protected Marine Park. Featuring up to eight regular species of sharks and close to 300 different species of fish, Beqa Adventure Divers has been hailed as “The best shark dive in the world” by shark diving pioneers, Ron and Valerie Taylor. Divers who visit the area can witness blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, tawny nurse sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, bull sharks and the occasional tiger shark.

Bull sharks have a worldwide distribution in coastal and freshwater habitats with frequent sightings in some areas, yet many aspects of their behavior and ecology remain a mystery. With a lack of knowledge about local population structures, reproduction sites and the migratory routes to and from these areas, it has been impossible to draw up any meaningful conservation plans.
An international team of scientists works around the clock to monitor Shark Reef in order to better understand the bull shark population of Shark Reef Marine Reserve, with the aim of learning more about this endangered species in hopes of contributing to their long-term survival.

Information: www.fijisharkdive.com

Impressive! Somebody sure has done his homework!
Vinaka
Ili, much appreciated!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Hawaii - so far, Good News!


It looks that after all, they are not that stupid!

A flurry of messages and this post by the guys over at Underwater Thrills inform me that the Honolulu City Council has killed a proposal aimed at banning Shark Tours. The Council is very obviously used to dealing with whacks - like when they had to seriously vote on a xenophobic ban against smelly foreigners. Yes, you better believe it!
Good on them for not having succumbed to the demagoguery and hysteria of the Shark haters and to the shenanigans of the token Uncle Charlies!

Talking of which, read this, by a frustrated and obviously, very brave journalist.
Looks like the native ethno-scamsters are perpetuating their frauds and intimidating the politicians and the communities right across the board:

The religiously loaded word "sacred" is invoked a lot in local political disputes, on issues from astronomy development on Mauna Kea to military training in Makua Valley to Halloween blowouts in Lahaina and Labor Day parties on the Kane'ohe Bay sandbar.

As an example, check out this brazen piece of bullshit from a bill (once again supported by the ethno-whacks over in Maui) trying to ban any research on Taro (or Kalo) aimed at making it less susceptible to pests and disease. Yes, that's right: the haoles were trying to preserve the staple diet of the Pacific Islanders!

"Kalo intrinsically embodies the interdependency of the past, the present, and the future, the essence of procreation and regeneration, as the foundation of any sustainable practice. Kalo expresses the spiritual and physical well-being of not only the kanaka maoli and their heritage, but also symbolizes the environmental, social, and cultural values important to the state."

Riiiiiiiight.........
So what's next:a bill to legalize the host-cultural sacred practice of human sacrifice?

As to the shenanigans surrounding the perceived disrespect of the 'aumākua, please take the time to read this op ed by a fearless, enlightened and obviously, knowledgeable Hawaiian that once again exposes the assertions as a total fraud. This is what he writes.

For those of us honestly concerned about protecting people from sharks in the ocean, all reliable empirical and anecdotal scientific evidence suggests we should ban all near-shore human activity in the ocean, as opposed to deep-water activity like shark tours.

This means all human activity in the reefs, the open-water inside the reefs, and the open-water just outside of the reefs. Virtually all shark attacks occur in the reefs or in the open-water just outside of the reefs. The victims are almost always surfers and swimmers, and to a lesser-degree divers, especially divers who are spear fishing and drawing blood from their catch.
When sharks do venture into open-water inside the reefs, it is usually because they are following spear-fishermen, who are swimming back to shore with their bloody catches, or because of fish that surf-fisherman have hooked and are reeling into shore. Every experienced spear or surf-fisherman can tell you stories of catches they have lost to raiding sharks in the reefs and surf.

In other words, if we are honest about doing something to reduce the danger to people posed by sharks, we need to ban all forms of near-shore surfing, all forms of near-shore swimming, all forms of near-shore diving and all forms of near-shore fishing.
Of course, this ban would be ridiculous, just as ridiculous as the proposed shark-tour ban.


Good on 'ya Scott!

First Amendment anybody?
When will the majority stop soiling their pants, man up and stop the blatant reverse racism?

But back to the Shark ban.
Does that mean that this hypocritical stupidity is finally off the table and that everybody can now concentrate on reversing the ailing economy, on creating jobs and on earning tourism dollars?

Not when it comes to the lone and unsuccessful anti-Shark Councilor Charles Djou, to the infamous Shark Task Force and to the equally infamous Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board that started the whole mess in the first place and spawned the rep. Gene Ward.
And especially, not when it comes to this man, a self professed lawyer by training and a fisherman by choice and a notorius (scroll down to "New Business" at the bottom) anti-industry zealot.

They will continue to ignore the facts, blatantly distort the truth, pander to the fears of the public and perpetuate their disgraceful ethno-scam. Wanna bet?
Nah, this is far from over - alas!

Keep watching this space!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Beqa Shark Dive!

That would be us!

Talking of Fiji's pro-Shark media, meet Jone Kalouniviti of Mai Life!
After his phenomenal pro-Shark debut in February, he has once again written a brilliant, compelling and well-researched piece about our work with Fiji's Bull Sharks. And as I shall never tire to point out: compare this to the hysteria and to the outright hypocrisy of those Uncle Charlies over in Hawaii!

The article is essentially a synopsis of our most recent foray into the country's rivers where we will henceforth start researching and documenting the life history of the pups in the nursery areas. So far, the data have already led to the imminent publishing of Eroni's and Victor's first scientific paper and to a great pro-Shark feature on MaiTV.
As research progresses, Eroni plans to covert it into a Sharky PhD thesis - which may well be the first ever such endeavor in the history of the University of the South Pacific!

Vinaka Jone, great job as always!
Yes and I know that the wrong name is just an honest (and alas, consistent) mistake! (:

Please click on the images - and Enjoy!













Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Twenty!


Check out the list of Shark-Free Marinas!

Yes, that's twenty Fijian operators that have made a commitment for Shark conservation by pledging not to allow any dead Sharks to be landed at their dock. And I just hear that one more has agreed to sign up - and counting!
Is that cool - or what!

This is foremost the direct personal success of Stuart and Matava who have taken the initiative, done most of the leg work and tirelessly promoted the concept.

But this is also a testimony to how much Fiji cares about Nature in general and Sharks in particular.
This is a country that thanks to a visionary network of locally managed MPAs, is well on its way to protecting 30% of its reefs and that has declared all of its waters to be a Whale Sanctuary - and may hopefully once do the same for Sharks.
This is the country that has embraced the International Year of the Shark, with the who's who of conservation, diving and tourism signing up to its local initiative, the Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project. This is where local television and the main media support Sharks and where a locally produced pro-Shark PSA has been a roaring success among the indigenous population, many of which revere Sharks as Gods and Guardian Spirits.

And finally, our thanks need to go to Patric and Luke who have come up with this brilliant initiative and have invested their time, energy and money into what is a fabulous example of smart and inclusive conservation!

Stuart tells me that thanks to a generous grant by PADI Project Aware, the signage is being printed and that it will be distributed within the next two weeks.

A big Vinaka Vakalevu to everyone involved!
I'm sure that Dakuwaqa is smiling!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Honoring Alex

Shark people: Alex (center) with Gary and Klaus (yes this is a link!)

The good guys of MaiLife have done it again!

Please click on the images below: this month's issue features an hommage to our friend Alex the Sharkman who sat down for an interview with Jone during his recent visit. It's the story of how a small boy from the island of Malta became one of the most authoritative and passionate advocates of Sharks.

Thank you Alex!
And Sharkman is now on the list! (:

Enjoy!














Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rampant Idiocy!

Hotlips - very very pregnant!

Little worth reporting from Fiji.

Apart from the fact that many of the big Bull Shark females are pregnant and readying themselves to depart to the rivers.
We've consequently applied several tags and stocked some of the closest rivers with receivers. It's somewhat of a crap shoot - but hey, maybe we'll get lucky and get a couple of pings. During this time of transition, the Sharks are frustratingly finicky: they are ravenous when they are motivated to feed - but more times than not, they just have a quick peek but then maintain their distance. Especially when we have Mahi Mahi like yesterday! For some reason, the Sharks just don't like it and ever since discovering that, it has been firmly banned from my diet, delicious as it may be.

On days like this, I need to go fish for content on the other blue water blogs and there, too, the diet is quite lean, at least when it comes to noteworthy Sharky stuff.

What I however found was this short post about PETA.
Please read it and above all, explore the links. I've had my issues with PETA ever since discovering their idiotic attempt to re-brand, or whatever, Fish as Sea Kittens. What baffles me in general terms is that this is obviously not the work of some single lunatic, but very likely, the result of plenty of soul searching by some committee - a phenomenon that has never ceased to amaze me in "real life" where there is no lack of equally shocking examples (does cheap clothing really need to be that ugly?).

What angers me is that such exercises are costly and waste money that should instead be invested into serious, worthwhile and realistic conservation projects.
Like in science, the total funds available to conservation are finite, a classical zero sum - and in this recession, the sum is shrinking, as many conservation orgs. are painfully experiencing. To squander it in idiotic and inefficient conservation initiatives (or frivolous research, one of my pet grievances) is, I believe, profoundly unethical.

And I also found some remarkably idiotic Shark news in the media.
One is this piece of rubbish, unearthed by the good guys over at The Dorsal Fin, about a small dead Tresher Sharks that got washed ashore in England.

The other one, equally idiotic (and unsurprisingly, equally from England) is about a Shark attack, no less, in Plymouth!
Turns out that some idiot hooked and landed a Spurdog, a critically endangered species that may soon be listed under CITES II (or not - and heed my words, the Europeans will find ways to boost quotas to unsustainable levels if the proposal is accepted). The guy then managed to hurt himself on the Shark's spine - and yes, that would be the attack!

Don't we just love our media!