Friday, April 01, 2011

Junior - smell Test!

For those who are still engaging in idle speculation - this is Junior after hooking. No lesions whatsoever.

Talking about accountability.
I was about to write an elaborate post but this will suffice.
From my correspondence with a friend who asked why I had "changed my mind" about Michael Domeier's research, marginally abridged.

No my views on invasive research have not changed and I shall be posting about them soon.
The SPOT tags are an abomination, permanent bling that cripples the animals and they need to be totally re-engineered. The argument of individuals vs population etc are rather disgusting as well. And I’m totally against invasive research and ad hoc experimenting on endangered species in a marine reserve, and condemn the authorities for having enabled it.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I fully believe MD's well supported arguments that the video, if watched in its entirety, will prove that the wound on the head is a shark bite. And yet, somebody sent the video grabs purporting those were tumors/lesions attributable to MD's research. The people who shot the video are competing researchers who also sent the full video to the park authorities, where MD was able to review it.

What are the chances that those competing researchers did not know it was a shark bite.
Why did they then make those allegations, why did they not mention that the shark had further shark bites aft of the head.

Lemme tell u why: Domeier has had the audacity to intrude on s’body else’s turf, an this with NAT GEO (!) - and this is the backlash.
Timing is interesting. They sat on it for 4 months but now that Sharkmen2 is imminent and the research permits are being evaluated, here comes the “public outcry”.

Domeier is being framed and I shall not be an accessory to that.
Despite of all my reservations against the techniques he employs and the ethical framework justifying that, he is a brilliant researcher doing important stuff where I say ”yes great - but you must radically fix the gizmos and change your protocols before proceeding further”. Nothing less, nothing more.
He does not deserve this, the more as I’m convinced that he got nothing whatsoever to do with the injuries.

The emaciated state of Junior: no idea.
There are plausible hypotheses out there but they are untestable – and as a lawyer and also as a scientific mind, I cannot engage in gratuitous speculation at the expense of somebody’s excellent scientific credentials and track record.

Does it explain my stance?

To put things into perspective for first-time readers.
I received an e-mail about the terrible state of a GW that had been tagged by Michael Domeier and wrote this post. I then followed up on the particular thread about the injuries to Junior's head (there are other threads but they have no bearing on this specific topic) with this.
In it, I stated that it was incumbent upon the people who unleashed the controversy by leaking the pictures to make the video available for verification. To date, this has not happened, at least not publicly.

David aka WhySharksMatter has since weighed in here.
This has generated a fabulous thread (61 comments, and counting!) where many passionate and intelligent people have contributed to the debate. One of them is thankfully Michael Domeier himself who has inter alia posted this (the comment has a yellow background and you need to scroll way down).

If I could post the video I would, but I don’t have a copy.
When/if it become public everyone will see two huge shark bites dorsal of the gill region. Furthermore, the corner of the mouth has been peeled back like the lid of a can; the “tumor” is a bulge of tissue that has been peeled off the corner of the mouth. The portion of the hook we left in the fish was posterior to the gills…literally feet aft of the new wound. The wound is probably only 1-2 weeks old.

This is unequivocal and highly plausible.

So lemme tell you this.
I have a big nose and after years of survival in the investment banking jungle, it has become very finely attuned to smelling out shenanigans - and right now, my nose is telling me, something stinks.

I repeat: where is the video from which the pictures were taken and circulated.
As I commented on David's post,
I remain highly concerned about the lack of response by the GFNMS. I remain equally concerned by the lack of response by the people who have started this debate by sending the original e-mail and pictures. Laying low and hoping that this matter will go away will not work – for both parties!

Whoever started this controversy: time to come out, own up and face the music!

Needless to say that despite of those grave reservations, I will always remain open for evidence (!) that my suspicions are unfounded!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We consider the hook and line method to be needlessly injurious while producing largely redundant data.

White sharks are already a protected species in California and its ostensible National Marine Sanctuaries and more recently established MPAs; there already exists enough data regarding the white shark's central eastern pacific range to establish protected status throughout that range; the need for additional data is not what is holding up the show in that regard.

Likewise the 'Okinawa connection' and western pacific's apparent and anomalous presence of large adult, late term gravid female white sharks is already established and being explored via photo ID and DNA analysis.

On site long term monitoring, together with low impact tracking studies is the way to go at this.

Long term monitoring studies involving digital still/video identification, behavioral documentation and genetic analysis is far better than the one off TV expeditionary approach.

Almost all of the late term gravid specimens of female white sharks ever documented in Pacific ocean have come from western pacific, Okinawa in particular.

We see the juvenile white sharks off Southern California/Mexico, but the big pregnant females have thus far all come from other-side of Pacific.

As conservation researchers and environmental activists we are not at liberty to disclose all that we know.

Large adult female white sharks documented off of Okinawa 2010 by Taketomo Shiratori:

It may take slightly longer to attach the PAT tags and acoustic tags but the data is robust and reliable and more than sufficient to track these animals and document their range and seasonality.

The sharks mostly return on a yearly basis anyway and patience is a virtue and a skill set.

If the data collection takes just a bit longer in gathering we think that is preferable to gambling with the animals well being and behaviors in hopes of some sort of ostensible ‘academic-corporate’ coup.

My passion in responding is partly due to Domeier’s lashing out at the local resident long term researchers at Farallones. I think his responses to their having documented the sharks failing condition is ruthless, he's angry because we know better.

In closing I would suggest that Domeier’s SPOT tags (as rigged) are injurious to the fins they are bolted onto. The devices diminish the sharks efficiency for locomotion.


S.R. Van Sommeran
Executive Director
Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
~Now of facebook~
Since 1990

Support California Assembly Bill 376 --(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!