Thursday, February 28, 2013

Judas Conservationist?


OK, I'll own that! :)

Lemme try and re-iterate where I stand.
  • The finning bans were the big Shark conservation idea of the 80ies.
    Then, their purpose was to limit the number of Sharks a vessel would catch by forcing it to land, and thus transport the entire animals, i.e. reserve space in the cargo hold for Shark meat at the expense of the much more desirable target species, usually Tuna. Nowadays, the Tuna are scarce, the Tuna quotas strictly regulated and the fins much more valuable, meaning that those vessels are more than happy to target and transport Sharks. In terms of conservation, finning bans are now obsolete but remain a valid animal welfare concern. It must also be said that most countries (but not all RFMOs) have already enacted finning bans, meaning that the issue has now shifted away from advocacy towards enforcement and prosecution.
    In brief, advocating only finning bans has become utterly useless as a means of Shark conservation.
  • The next big thing were Shark MPAs all the way to national and supranational Shark sanctuaries.
    The way I see it, the advocates of those solutions are quickly running out of potential real estate. It must also be said that going forward, nothing is preventing those governments to repeal those legislative measures, meaning that with the exception of those countries where Shark tourism is well established and making a substantial contribution to GDP like in Palau and the Bahamas, those Sharks may be living on borrowed time.
    This is one of the reasons why despite strongly advocating those sanctuaries, I assert that they are merely stop-gap measures in view of subsequent effective and efficient management measures.
The problem we face is.
  • The efforts to reduce consumption are having an effect - but probably only locally and not sufficiently to impinge on global Shark fishing volumes.
    This is a supply limited fishery and demand would have to drop precipitously before a single Shark less would be killed - and chances for that to eventuate are slim indeed. At best, this is a long-term strategy, spanning generations - and we simply don't have that time. As an example, after decennia of advocacy by passionate and intelligent people, many of which have now embraced the cause of Sharks and Mantas, there remains enough demand in Asia to kill the last Rhino, Elephant and Tiger - and the advent of a wealthier Asian middle class is making things worse and not better!
  • Most global Shark fisheries are completely unsustainable, un-managed, undocumented and unenforced and the trade lacks any transparency and appears dominated by criminal elements.
    In brief, the status quo is essentially a free-for-all that is leading to the rapid depletion of local, if not global stocks of commercially exploited Shark species. There are already signs that like with other Fishes, once the valuable species have disappeared, the industry is targeting previously less desirable species or moving on to previously unexploited locations, but also habitats and depths. Ultimately, as many locations will become completely depleted, this will eventually end up exerting tremendous pressure on established Shark sanctuaries.
  • There are however an increasing number of relatively well managed and relatively sustainable Shark fisheries, this however exclusively in developed countries where governments dispose of the resources for adequate data collection, monitoring, enforcement and prosecution. Yes, granted, they are not perfect - but that can be improved, and they are light years ahead of the free-for-all in most waters and hence, a huge step in the right direction!
    Chances for the establishment of equally sustainable Shark fisheries in the developing world (where the bulk of Shark fishing takes place) are practically nil - that is, unless there is a radical change of paradigm.
  • As a consequence, most of the large, commercially valuable Sharks are threatened with extinction.
    It must however be said that this is not uniformly so, meaning that despite of their global conservation status, there is great variation among local populations - this quite possibly even in the case of those widely distributed pelagic Sharks where new research (paper here) is revealing surprisingly strong philopatry.
Solutions?
In the end, it has to be sustainability.
If fully implemented, it preserves Shark populations and does not reduce biodiversity and harm the environment. Implementation for Shark fisheries is difficult but for some smaller, shorter lived and more fecund species, it is certainly possible, this even in commercially viable volumes.

To the Shark conservation orgs.
Please do re-read this post and the links - I am convinced that this is the way forward, the next big trend in Shark conservation. Obviously it is quite a shift away from the past sometimes successful strategy of  only advocating bans, closures and prohibition. It may also be disturbing to many among you as it defines Sharks as being merely another marine resource - which is what they have alas become, like it or not.

Yes you can continue to operate as before.
You can continue with the awareness and with changing perceptions and the like - but please, at least do it where it counts, i.e. in those developing countries where the Sharks are being slaughtered!
And granted, there are other solutions, as in providing for alternatives - tourism being the principal one.
But let there be no doubt that those projects will always remain localized and small-scale and not adequately counterbalance the pressure exerted by the fishermen, commercial as well as increasingly subsistence-scale.
In essence, those projects will be nice - but in the big scheme of things, they will not change anything.

Advocating smart sustainability will.
Helping establish premium markets for sustainably managed and legally traded Shark products will.

Others are looking into this.
I can't elaborate - but trust me, I'm not being disingenuous here!
You can position yourselves at the forefront of this trend and continue to be relevant - or you can try and oppose it and then find yourselves trying to catch up later. Much like what happened when Pew started advocating those sanctuaries - I'm sure you understand.

Please, do think about it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Really - tonic?

Source.

Wow.

Playa Bull Sharks - Protocols!


Love it!
Just stumbled upon it now - but better late than never!

These are the Bull Shark diving protocols of Phantom Divers.
Inclusive of the part about not touching any stray bait, they are basically exactly what we brief here, this obviously taking into account that their dive happens on sand and ours, in a reef environment. E.g., where they use a rope as delimitation, we were able to build coral walls and position cement slabs. Real interesting to witness how commercial Shark feeding operations words apart end up coming up with the same rules - and reassuring, too!
If I had to add one suggestion, then it would be to provide all guests with black gloves because pasty hands sticking out of dark wetsuits might be easily mistaken for bait, this especially in reduced visibility.
But all-in-all: brilliant - provided that everybody sticks to it! :) 

Enjoy!



Zero Syntax!

Barf - source!

Yay!
We got ourselves a winner, and I cite!
I have to agree ... in what comes along as a lofty latin aphorism, everything is pretty much messed up ... essentially, there is no visible syntax, and as such the sentence is not translatable. My suggestion:
„Vos custodes estis nostri oceani, aspicite nostri oceani diversitatem".
Maybe someone really wanted to cement his intellectual supremacy among the ignoramuses - who ever it was...
Bingo!
I must say, I was initially dismayed by the total absence of comments by English-speaking biology students, the more as I thought that the prize of one week's diving with Sharks would prove irresistible. But then, a lecturer explained that in today's times, the required foreign language in Biology is not Latin but Computer!
O tempora!

It lacks any proper declension and conjugation, and the words are arranged in the wrong order. Translated into English, it reads as follows
You the guardians they are of our, the ocean, may he used to look upon the our the ocean the diversity.
Whatever, right?
Who cares about those minutiae as long as one can continue to bask in the uncritical adulation by the Sharkanatics whilst posting atrocious photoshopped Götterdämmerungskitsch-edits, see above, an denen Adolf seine helle Freude gehabt hätte!

But back to Marlen's answer.
It fulfills all my preconditions and is formally correct - but having said that, I believe the vos to be redundant and would also rearrange the words as follows, this to better reflect classical Latin sentence structure, e.g. verb at the end (tho imperative may be an exception) and genitives before accusative and nominative.

Ergo.
Oceani nostri custodes estis, oceani nostri diversitatem aspicite!
Thoughts?

Mantas Last Dance!

Source.

This is the video.
Enjoy!



PS: Shawn here!
PS2 more here!

Bimini - Video!

For the sake of photos, videos, or bragging-rights, see below!

Nice video!
Aren't these just magnificent animals!



And because this is such a precious resource.
Let me cite from Grant's excellent letter, re-posted by Jillian the Shark Girl.
Due to the rarity of interacting with these sharks, and the incredible potential for research opportunities on an IUCN Redlisted species, local guides and tour operators have resisted the exploitation of this yearly “hammerhead season” around Bimini. It was decided that research should be the priority surrounding this event, rather than commercialization. 

For better or for worse, and against the wishes of many of those involved with developing this phenomenon, that all changed in 2012. 
An off-island SCUBA operator caught wind of the situation around Bimini and convinced a former SharkLabber to show him the basics of how-and-when-and-where to attract these incredible sharks. A year later, after the wide publicization of that promised “one time only” expedition, we now have at least 10 off-island dive operations converging on Bimini to experience this event. 

Anyone coming to dive with these sharks around Bimini needs to accept that there is considerable amount of responsibility that comes with your expedition. 
You hold in your power the ability to do an enormous amount of damage to the reputation of this island and to this endangered species of shark, and hopefully you do not take this lightly. I’m a firm believer that under the right circumstances and with the proper insight, any species of shark can be safely encountered in the wild. 

That being said, I would imagine there is little to no agreement on exactly what those circumstances and insights are. 
But if you think its acceptable to put yourself, or your guests, or the sharks, at any elevated risk for the sake of photos, videos, or bragging-rights, you are wrong. If you or your guests get hurt around Bimini because of your own recklessness, the tourism industry on this island could face irreparable damage, as could the public perception of these sharks, and we want people to take that very, very seriously.
Let me reiterate this.
Somebody needs to take on the leadership role there.
There is indeed considerable dissent in what may constitute the best Shark diving protocols, and because of that, somebody in Bimini needs to come up with a precise, detailed code of conduct. My suggestions are here but in the end, only a local will know what is best in those specific circumstances.

This needs to happen right now.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mantas Last Dance - Making of!


Remember the Eco-terrorists?

Well, they're at it again!
This time they are not terrorizing Whale Sharks but Mantas, this in view of the upcoming decision on whether to list them under CITES appendix II.

But hear it directly from Shawn!


Picture gallery here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baja!

Silky Sharks - source.

This is phenomenal stuff.

Baja has a special place in my heart.
I used to dive it in the 80ies off Tim Means' legendary Don Jose (talk about losing some epic drinking contests!) and the now I believe defunct Baja Explorador - and this video captures many of my recollections, from the gigantic Mantas with the twin "bike handle" Remoras, to those Hammerheads, the ginormous schools of Fish and above all, that eerie dark water.

Really, fantastic Job!

Enjoy!



Bull Sharks, Playa!

Source.

Nice!
Those people got skills!

Enjoy!




PS: interesting guide - with pictures from here! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Straight from the frothy Piranha Tank!

Bingo!

Remember the jugular-slicing ninjas?
Well, the first salvo in the scientific debate about the validity of those NE Pacific GWS petitions has just been fired - and I may add: just as expected!

This post is required reading.
It is by one of California's preeminent GWS researchers and basically echoes the reservations of the majority of the GWS research community and of the fisheries managers.

It is not anti-GWS, or whatever.
It just states that the Californian GWS are already sufficiently protected and actually very much on the rebound, meaning that the status of that population doesn't warrant investing additional resources into further reaching conservation measures. And did you notice: so far, no comments by any prominent representative of the pro-side - I wonder why! :)

To be continued no doubt.
And I re-iterate my prediction that in the end, there will be CESA but not ESA listing - the former not because it is necessary but because this is CALIFORNIA!
Nice!

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Sides to a Fin - not bad at all!

Source.

Please watch this.



You must either ban Shark catching or control Shark fishing.
Absolutely correct Mr. Giam - and since we're at it, let's control the trade, too!

So here's the deal as I see it.
The tide may indeed be turning, at least when it comes to Singapore and Hong Kong, and the Shark fin industry is certainly getting increasingly nervous. Same-same for the Shark fishing industry that is being confronted by a surge of sanctuaries, bans, management plans and increased scrutiny in general.
At the same time, however, it appears equally clear that the aspirations of some quarters to completely eradicate Shark fishing and the trade and consumption of Shark fins everywhere are an illusion.

With all of that in mind, may this be the time for a smart compromise?
As a Shark lover, I'm of course against the killing of any Shark - but as a Shark conservationist and pragmatist, I advocate finding practical solutions, meaning that given that the Shark industry is a long-term reality, we need to stop combating it but instead ought to try and reform it. 
Please re-read this - this - this - this and finally this!

So what would the compromise look like.
For it to be successful, every side would have to give up something
  • on our side, we would have to give up fighting for absolute bans and instead advocate full sustainability - which before you start getting agitated  does of course imply finning bans!
In exchange, this is what we should ask for
  • That anybody trading in Sharks and Shark parts come up with independent proof that his merchandise originates from sustainable and legal fisheries and has been obtained by legal means
Incidentally, the latter is why the next CITES CoP is so important.
CITES II listing does not protect a species per se - that is the purview of nations and international orgs. But it does impose the obligation of showing that a species is being managed sustainably, and to create a paper trail about the trade, meaning that it leads to better management, transparency and  conservation and reduces IUU. 
With that in view, I shall always be amazed by the vehement opposition all the way to resorting to outright disinformation by Japan and its astroturf minions - are they not interested in establishing more transparent and legal markets?

But I'm digressing as always.
As long as that proof is not forthcoming, the pressure on the industry should be kept up.
But once the industry shows a willingness to reform,
  • Let us help establish a premium market for certified Shark fins from sustainably managed Shark fisheries!
Too far out there?
It is not - it is happening all over the world already, for Fishes but also for other produce, and this with great success both economically but also in terms of conservation!
So why not be pragmatic and smart and give this a chance!

Yes?

Raja Ampat - Congrats!


Excellent news!
After having been declared a (huge) MPA specifically for Sharks and Mantas in 2010 locally, now the protection has been ratified by the Indonesian Government.

For obvious reasons, I'd like to point out the special role Shark Savers and Misool Eco Resort have played in initiating this, the support of the local liveaboards, foremost of which the Pindito under Edi and finally, the contribution of CORAL under the leadership of RickMac.

You guys rock!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hear Hear!

And you ain't a Shark conservationist, either!

Wow.

I just stumbled upon this post by Patric.
Links are mine.
Real change will involve critical thinking.
It will involve taking risks. It will involve dedication beyond online petitions. It will also involve ignoring flashy and ultimately useless efforts that gain media attention and little else - that was the "decade of awareness." 

By now we are all aware that sharks need help.
That help must come in the form of measurable, serious, and dedicated efforts. Anyone can claim victory for sharks but unless there is measurable change, the effort is next to useless.
In the conservation game "the ends do not justify the means."
Yes that was more than three years ago!
Maybe some people may want to start paying attention.


Sharkbite - welcome to Shark Reef!


Wow!
That's one lucky little Shark!

He turned up for the first time today.
Completely unafraid to the point of being positively feisty, he kept buzzing the feeders and yours truly and even nearly accepted a Tuna head from Rusi - which certainly bodes well for them developing a long and mutually enjoyable relationship!

The dorsal?
Contrary to Topsail where the stunted first dorsal appears to be a birth defect, this very much looks like a Shark bite and consequently, he henceforth goes by that name. My money would be on an attack by another Bull as the species is known to be cannibalistic.

Click for detail!

Anyway, lil fella, welcome to the club!

Ozzie Sam - great News!


Sam Cahir aka Ozzie Sam has always being talented - but his tenacity and dedication are progressively tuning him into one of today's great Shark photographers.

And I'm not alone in having that opinion!
His stellar Mako shot (here's an even better one!) has bagged him the coveted Best of Show award in the prestigious Our World Underwater international underwater photography and video competition!

Huge congratulations mate - and it could not have happened to a nicer guy!
 

Bimini - Barbarians at the Gate?


Check out that pic.
Five people found it fit to send it over in e-mails replete with expletives - and yes this would be the daily fare in the life of an infamous watchdog blogger! :)
Prima vista this is certainly disturbing - but having been accused of jumping to conclusions prematurely, let's maybe hear it from the horses mouth first.
Eli, what happened?

This is obviously one of Bimini's Great Hammerheads.
I was first alerted to their existence by Joe's fantastic portrait and then later, by these stellar pics about the research conducted by Doc's Sharklab. And now that the Hammer is out of the bag, so to say, there are reports that everybody, his dog and the dog of is dog are invading the island in search of those elusive images - foremost of which the infamous twins of Discovery Channel Shark Porn made in the Bahamas, Stuart Cove and Gurney Productions! And of course, I hear, everybody is filming for fun and not commercially, lest they would have to, gasp, apply for the proper permits - I mean, seriously, is Discovery really that cheap?
Actually, forget that question!

But I'm digressing as always.

Don't get me wrong here.
It is great that Bimini is experiencing a growing influx of Shark enthusiasts that may, if properly managed, inject valuable long-term tourism dollars into the local economy.
But at the same time, this is already feeling like the proverbial free-for-all where an excess of exuberance may well end up ruining it for everybody - let alone desecrate the hallowed research sites of what is arguably the world's foremost and certainly most revered Shark research institution!
In brief - don't you go messing with Doc's Sharks!

From an initial missive by Tristan Guttridge, Executive Director of the lab.
For the past 23 years the Bimini Biological Field Station, "Sharklab" has been documenting the occurrence of Great hammerhead, S. mokarran sharks around the Bimini Islands.
In 2003 we located an area, "The Grate" where these animals could be baited in for snorkeling experiences and to facilitate tagging and genetic sampling. Last year this site was used for the first time commercially as a scuba diving experience for tourists and in the past two months a number of live-aboard vessels have begun to explore its potential. Whilst we are delighted to see people from around the globe interact with, and observe up close one of the worlds most charismatic predators we are keen to ensure that such experiences are conducted in a safe and responsible manner.
And there's also this open letter.
I must applaud Grant as this is really as good as it gets - kudos!

Indeed, luckily it's by no means too late.
With a bit more of respect and mutual cooperation, this could be turned into a win-win for everybody: Bimini's tourism industry, the Shark divers, Shark research and most importantly, the Sharks themselves! The solution: some of that good old fashioned self regulation for which the diving industry has always been a shining example!

At the risk of being accused of interfering.
We here at BAD sit very much at the junction of where Shark tourism intersects with Shark research, and are continuously learning and always thinking hard about the best ways of improving and promoting both sometimes conflicting sides of that equation.
Here's what I would suggest for Bimini's Shark viewing tourism - for Hammerheads but eventually also for other sites and species.

First and foremost.
  • Somebody needs to assume the leadership role.
    The natural candidate for this would have to be the Sharklab which is by definition neutral and also disposes of by far the most comprehensive knowledge base about the local Sharks and potential Shark viewing sites. But this would imply their willingness to devote part of their resources to something ouside of their strictly academic purview, and they may not want to assume that responsibility.
    If so, is there some local tourism org (maybe Grant's?) that could do the honors?
Then, I believe that everybody should agree on a common set of procedures.
They should address the following.
  • Snorkeling/free diving or SCUBA?
    This depends on species and possibly also on how the Sharks are being provisioned. Lots of bait/dangerous species = no snorkeling!.
    In the case of Great Hammers that appear to be specialized hunters of Stingrays and smaller Sharks but also Fishes and that as far as I know have never been implicated in predatory attacks on humans, I believe that both is possible and desirable, also in order to maximize the number of potential tourists.
  • Baiting or hand feeding?
    We hand feed as we believe that by doing so, we can control the behavior of the (many) animals by controlling the amount of food we introduce. But we're the only operator on site and our feeders undergo many months of training. Also, Great Hammers tend to be solitary so control is not a primary concern and judging from this picture gallery, baiting via rigged baits is an effective and proven technique.
    But you can't have both!
    E.g., the Sharks in Tiger Beach experience both hand feeding and baiting. The result is that TB has become notorious for its beggar Sharks, i.e. Sharks that when there is no feeder acting as a focal point, approach and bump and even maul (!) unsuspecting clients - which to say it mildly is slightly disconcerting!
    We strongly believe that for the sake of the tourist but above all, the animals, protocols should be kept uniform in order to establish a predictable and thus safe routine.
    With that in mind and because not everybody is as good as Eli who really knows what he is doing, and because many oppose hand feeding for perceived ethical reasons: hand feeding is likely to be a no-go.
    And may I strongly advise against indiscriminate dumping, especially from the surface as this precludes any control over the animals' behavior!
  • No more than one operator on site at any time - meaning that operators should announce themselves and that outings need to be coordinated (like e.g. in Cocos and the Galapagos)
    Compare once again with TB where multiple simultaneous operators have resorted to out-baiting each other in order to draw the Tigers to "their" side! There's also a risk of overcrowding and according lack of control by the operators. And most importantly - there needs to be coordination with the Sharklab not to interfere with their research!
Further suggestions
  • Those bigger liveaboard vessels should install fixed moorings not to unnecessarily disrupt the habitats!
  • Visiting vessels should make it a point to contribute to the local economy, e.g. by docking, buying souvenirs, having a meal at a local eatery, taking local tours, even refueling, much along the lines of Grant's letter.
    Ideally tho, clients should be encouraged to fly in and go out with a local operator - whilst staying at e.g. the Bimini Sands and Bimini Big Game that are Shark Free Marinas and that do not contribute to the destruction of Mangroves (and thus, of the Lemon Shark nurseries) like their principal competitor!
  • Sharklab researchers should be invited to join in in order to add to their data and maybe even make presentations which would be a big plus for the tourists.
  • The Sharklab could develop a simple citizen science questionnaire.
    It could comprise data about numbers, sex, size, presence of tags, simple behavior etc., and operators should encourage their clients to participate. This is valuable science and also great tourism as customers love taking part in research!
  • The Sharklab could offer guided tours of the lab.
    Once again, shark divers love that kind of stuff and will undoubtedly be happy to pay a fee or make a donation!
So much for the Hammerheads and Reef dives

And the Bimini Bull Run?
As far as I understand it, it's a caged Bull Shark dive for punters off a dock at the Big Game. If you recall, that's the marina where that jackass hooked one of the resident Bulls, camera running - but those shenanigans are now being contained.
It is totally safe and utterly harmless, and good on them for having set it up.

But - and yes there had to be a but... :)
With experience telling us that it won't be long before some moronic punter will try and do this cageless (to change perceptions and for the Sharks!), may I suggest to prophylactically already develop adequate protocols for dealing with that inevitable eventuality!

Anyway.
As always, just a couple of personal suggestions..
But in the end, these are not my Sharks and this is certainly not my territory - and there are undoubtedly good local people already  looking into this and hopefully, taking charge!

Wishing everybody all the very best of success!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just another Day in the Office!

The office!

Like I said - interesting times!

All are screen shots from today's Shark dive - click for detail.
Of note, every single Shark that has popped by to say hello is a known old-timer, whereas the youngsters have stayed well away! It's just a friendly nod - the mouth stays closed and they only touch the lens by mistake. And they all come from the left hand side like we've taught them to do!
But be it as it may - it is interesting!

Oh and Marlen: Marlen has absconded with a pole - again!

 Monica, Curly and Naughtylus
Hotlips
Tip with mating scars and shredded first dorsal
Nani with already healed mating scar
Blunt
Chunky
Crook
Naughtylus with deep mating scar
JJ

Give Shark Sanctuaries a Chance!


Wow!

First it was only Juerg.
Now,  the crème de la crème of Shark research has penned a response to that idiotic letter in Science. Please also re-read this.
Re-printed without permission.
Give Shark Sanctuaries a Chance

Several developing nations have established shark sanctuaries, most commonly in the form of a moratorium on both commercial shark fi shing and the export of shark products in Exclusive Economic Zones.
In her Letter “Shark sanctuaries: Substance or spin?” (21 December 2012, p. 1538), L. N. K. Davidson raises concerns that this ambitious strategy might be doomed to exist only on paper and could discourage investments in other types of shark fisheries management.

We agree that enforcement will determine whether these shark sanctuaries live up to their promise, as is true of any new management regime.
We disagree, however, with the argument that shark sanctuaries are more challenging to enforce or are less likely to be successful than typical fisheries management strategies, especially considering that even basic information such as fishery catch is often unknown and underestimated in developing countries.

Shark fisheries management is notoriously difficult and resource intensive, owing to the extreme vulnerability of sharks to overexploitation.
The countries that have successfully managed shark fisheries all possess substantial research, assessment, monitoring, and enforcement capacity devoted to fisheries management. Developing nations typically have much smaller fisheries management capacity; what they do have is national capacity to detect illicit trade of contraband items (i.e., police, maritime authority, port authority, and customs).

By making all shark products illegal, national authorities can work with their fisheries agencies to enforce the moratorium. Enforcing catch or size limits on shark fisheries is more complicated and will generally fall almost entirely under the purview of the fisheries agency on its own.

There is cause for optimism about the conservation potential of well-enforced shark sanctuaries nested within broader international management efforts.
Smaller-scale marine protected areas have been shown to benefit certain inshore shark species, while other species tend to return to certain areas on a regular basis. These studies suggest that large protected areas may benefit these populations and match biological and governance scales.

Well-enforced shark sanctuaries clearly have great potential for shark conservation, and we suggest that the international community and funding agencies should help those developing nations that pursue this approach to ensure that this promise is realized.

DEMIAN D. CHAPMAN,1,2* MICHAEL J. FRISK,1 DEBRA L. ABERCROMBIE,2 CARL SAFINA,1,3 SAMUEL H. GRUBER,4 ELIZABETH A. BABCOCK,4 KEVIN A. FELDHEIM,5 ELLEN K. PIKITCH, 1,2 CHRISTINE WARD-PAIGE, 6 BRENDAL DAVIS,6 STEVEN KESSEL, 7 MICHAEL HEITHAUS,8 BORIS WORM6

1School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. 2Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. 3Center for Communicating Science, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. 4Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149, USA. 5Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, USA. 6Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada. 7University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, N9B 3P4, Canada. 8Florida International University, North Miami, FL 33181, USA. 
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: demian.chapman@stonybrook.edu
Thank you thank you thank you!
Oh - and eagerly awaiting the next round of fencing Mr. P! :)

More amazing Shark Behavior!

Stomach eversion in a Reef Whitetip - source.

Remember?

Here's another one!



Juerg's post here.

Lupe: even more Shark Bait!


Behold!
It's an extraordinary love affair, frightening and full of affection.



Yup, the Lupe Shark bait has posted another one!
I'm sure JSD will be visually delighted - and like many other media outlets, the poor unsuspecting Fiji Times has swallowed the bait hook-line-and-sinker and has found it fit to re-post her stupid pseudo-conservation balderdash.

I was impressed by Martin's take on that shit.
Contrary to the bimbo who parachutes in and back out, he has been operating in Lupe for over ten years and thus knows those GWS like few others do - and his analysis is among the most insightful, unflinching and truthful I've read in a very long time!
Kudos - and great to see an operator call it for what it is!
Where do these stunts lead to?
What is the next person that wants to get their 15 minutes of fame going to do? Open the sharks mouth and brush it's teeth? Her video is not about shark conservation but simply an attempt at self promotion. If we really are concerned with shark conservation, we need to accurately show what these magnificent creatures are like.
They are neither mindless killers, nor are they pets.
Indeed!
But of course this got nothing to do with conservation and everything with shameless self promotion!
The saddest part? It's not even about female emancipation - this is all being pimped by a male shark molester who wants to sell the images!
As my wise friend said
It stopped actually being "about sharks" a long time ago.
It's about the individual and what the sharks as a vehicle to notoriety can do for them.
And talking of which.
What is the ever industrious ueber-bimba doing these days?
You guessed it - she has already come up with the next stupidity!
Get up close and personal, freediving safely and comfortably with Oceanic White Tips - regardless of whether you are a beginner or have experience!
  • Learn to safely freedive with sharks - and maximize your interactions!
  • Long, up close and personal encounters with Oceanic White tips - as well as the possibility to see 7 other species!
Wowfor beginners! With OWTs! 
Interactions - up close and personal!
Betcha that's Shark conservation, too - to dispel the myth or whatever!
And I must say, I'm disappointed that Fred is part of that shit - and I used to be a fan!

Debra, Vincente: is that you?
If so, is that really the kind of publicity you want and need, and are these shenanigans in the long term interest of your business?

And so it goes...
Back to diving with our Bulls!

PS: News flash, it's 2013, the age of greater equality than ever, a time when people earn respect for what they do, not merely because they have a vagina and do cool "man stuff". 
The Shark world is swarming with all manner of girlies elbowing each other to ensure they get their slice of the media pie and part of the routine is to find the biggest, most badass shark you can and climb all over it, capture it on film and send it to the world's media.

PS2: my good friend Jillian, an intelligent and emancipated woman and Shark nutter, here - the correct citation being, “Sharks are not FUCKING underwater scooters!”.
Detail detail! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shark Free Marinas in Fiji - Video!

Jillian and Duncan - great people! Source.

Bless Jillian and Duncan!

They're some of my very fave people out there - and now even more so! :)
This is the result of their all-too-short short trip to Fiji and celebrates the fact that Fiji is STILL one of the standout countries for the SFMI.
Stellar report about the Fiji Shark Dive here!

Enjoy!



PS: Jillian the original! Shark Girl here!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

In between Blog Posts!

Click for detail!

This is Naughtylus.
Like Granma, she's currently at it and covered in bites - and consequently, slightly irascible which translates into interesting encounters!

From today's dive.
60+ Bulls - and this is only the start of the season!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mozambique - Faustian Pact?


And I cite.
Fishing for sustenance has long been a staple here, with few alternative sources of income. But it is an open secret that Chinese syndicates are supplying improved fishing nets, buying shark fins and manta ray "wing" tips and shipping them back to Asia, where there is increasing demand for delicacies such as shark fin soup. 

Nhamussua's nephew, Americo Gilamba, is 19 and has scant other career prospects. "We do it because we don't have a good job," he explained, standing in the small, sandy family settlement that includes huts made of reeds and coconut leaves. "We know it's not good and the Chinese are killing things that are not allowed to be killed, but we do it to survive and get some money. We don't want to have to steal from other people. 
If we were given an alternative, we would stop."
Great article - with one reservation.
Rather then the Chinese, this appears to be the result of criminal Chinese interests colluding with corrupt Mozambican officials. When criminal money meets abject poverty, the results are always devastating - for biodiversity and ultimately, for the people depending on it.

Very, very difficult to tackle.
And the more time goes by without decisive action, the more the indiscriminate slaughter of those charismatic species is directly undermining one of the possible solutions, i.e. marine tourism.
I'm sure that good people are already talking to the authorities - and if you want to help, you may want to intervene in the debate about short-term economic gain versus long-term sustainability by making a direct contribution.
 
Please do consider traveling to Inhambane when planning your next diving vacation..

Waxing or waning?


And when has this picture been taken?


State of the Sharks - now with even more Shark!


Shark Savers report here.
There are also a new great interview with Mark and Chris here and a nice podcast with Chris here - and now that Victor has contributed one of his iconic sculptures, see on top, the whole thing has become even better!

And if you got 20 minutes to spare, watch this!




Dutch Shark Society - good People!

Yup that would be a gaggle of Fiji Bull Sharks! - click for detail!

Great project and website!

This is how you do it.
After their all-too-short stint at the SOSF, Georgina and Peter continue to invest their time and personal money into Shark conservation. With Peter being an excellent Shark photographer and Georgina, a brilliant writer and communicator, this new media-based initiative has all the trappings of becoming a great success - first of course locally in the Netherlands and the North Sea but also globally!

Wishing you the very best of success my friends!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Not some Crystal and Patchouli wearing Vegans!

Compare with # 10 - q.e.d.!

This post is perfection.

Satis dictum!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nostrum oceanus?

¿como se le dice a alguien que va a hacer el ridículo sin llamarle idiota al mismo tiempo?

Ecce!
Vos custodes sunt nostri, oceanus, aspiceret nostrum oceanus diversitas 
(You are the guardians of our ocean, behold our ocean diversity)
Wow!
And who do we have to thank for regaling us with this inspirational aphorism? Look no further than the Querulant and intrepid Fuehrer of the latest and greatest Shark group, favorite playground of such unequaled luminaries as van Sommeran and Hartzell
Far from engaging in his habitual querulare, he has instead found it in his heart to pen this awesome public missive whilst so ganz nebenbei nonchalantly showcasing his remarkable erudition! As so often with Doktor Schmidt, this is bordering on unadulterated genius - and judging from the adulatory comments, the foule en délire fully concurs! 
And the DAFF must be both elated and deeply impressed!

Right.

I say,
Der Fuehrer hath no clothes - this is utter gibberish and not Latin!
The question being, why would anybody in his right mind choose to even go there, and this totally unnecessarily and in full knowledge of one's own abject linguistic incompetence?

A terrible mistake?
Or could this even be, horribile dictu, intentional?
May this be nothing more than pseudo-cultural grandstanding in the attempt at cementing one's intellectual supremacy among the ignoramuses - whilst fully expecting that being ignoramuses, they wouldn't catch on to the con?
May the Querulant be a Blender, too?
Honi soit qui mal y pense!

But granted, my Latin has become awfully rusty.
I could be totally wrong and may have missed something here, like some obscure (and undoubtedly sinister) Latin-derived Transylvanian dialect or the like - so let's spice things up a bit!

Competition!

The best Latin translation of "You are the guardians of our ocean, behold our ocean diversity" (whatever that may mean) wins the author one week's diving with BAD!

Rules:
  • for the sake of comparison, let's stick with aspicere in the sense of beholding = "looking upon" instead of the usual ecce as per the start of this post
  • same-same for the Greek-derived oceanus vs the Roman mare
  • classical Roman Latin please!
  • you are welcome to post as many suggestions as often as you want 
  • an illustrious panel of anonymous reviewers will judge the submissions and choose the winner 
  • bonus point for posting the correct plural of "Sir"!
Howz that for a challenge!
Here's your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate your hopelessly anachronistic linguistic prowess whilst monetizing it in the process!

Enjoy!

Sam and Granma!

Granma by Sam - source!


Having witnessed it, this was the clash of the titans!
When two equally formidable, irreducible and feisty (and granted, provided one behaves = defers to their authority: mostly quite sweet!) ladies meet, it does get interesting! But when push comes to shove (literally!), 600 pounds of raw muscle sporting several rows of razor-sharp teeth end up asserting their right of way! :)
And I got the video to prove it - screen shot here!

Right now, it's mating season.
And Granma is very much at it - regardless of her protracted age, gravitas and being half blind! Equally covered in mating bites: Tip, Sickle, Naughtylus, Bum, Nani and a whole gaggle of no-names, meaning that that we can look forward to another bumper generation of youngsters! And with numbers already regularly above 50, and this at the start of the season, we can equally look forward to record numbers in mid year!