Monday, May 29, 2017

Competition: Who is this Shark?

Love love love this picture - click for detail!

But, who is it?
This is unmistakably (!) one of our named Sharks - and if you tell me the correct name, you can win yourself up to one week of diving with us.
Because we can! :)

  • Please only participate if you plan to take your prize; if you're not a friend who dives FOC anyway; and if you're not a current or past volunteer or staff member of Projects Abroad who has been trained in Shark ID!

  • Answers as comments on this blog - not on Facebook!

  • You can post as many answers as you like - however only one answer every 24h.

  • Today you can win seven days of diving; tomorrow I'll post one clue at the bottom of this post, and the prize gets reduced by one day; and so on.

  • One week of diving usually comprises 5 Shark diving days and two coral diving days. You win whatever is scheduled in the week you choose, on the basis of one two-tank dive/day. Not included are additional dives and extras like rental gear, nitrox, marine park levy, apparel etc.
Wishing you the best of success!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Welcoming Friends!

Great fun!

Behold Jorge El Chino Loría and his badass jefa Elena La Táfana!
For new readers of this blog: Chino is the big boss of Phantom Divers, and they in turn are a member of GSD, your one stop shop for responsible, safe and long term sustainable Shark diving across the globe!

I must say, I respect the man enormously.
Over the past years, he and the outstanding team of SOS under the leadership of Luis Lombardo have invested a huge amount of time and money into completely turning around the situation in Playa del Carmen from a huge problem (scroll down to the earliest posts in the link) to a huge win for everybody whereby this has now become a world famous Shark diving destination with a cohesive Shark diving industry with its own code of conduct, and where the Sharks are finally being protected.

Anyway, we're having a great time.
We're also hosting Martin of Shark Diver, and the dives and conversations are simply stellar = I can already say that the networking will undoubtedly lead to new initiatives and more cooperation, and to renewed solidarity vis-a-vis the latest irritating meddling (and e.g. here!) by our detractors.

And the big question?
How do the Fiji Bull Sharks compare with the Caribbean Sardines?

Go to Playa and ask Chino!

Friday, May 26, 2017

New Kid on the Block - maybe!


I must say that I'm stoked.
After thousands of Shark dives where I've come across dozens of female Silvertips, I've just encountered my first ever male. Whereas the females are believed to be resident and territorial and can be seen along drop-offs and in channels, the elusive males are thought to be transient and at least in the SoPac, they are said to be roaming much deeper = past the 50 meter mark and thus eluding most recreational divers. With that in mind, this visit may well turn out to be a one-off - or hopefully not!

And his name?
Being the first such male in our data base, there could only be one choice - tho being a perfect animal lacking any notable blemishes = identifying features, it will be very difficult to positively ID him in the future.

Anyway, welcome to the SRMR, Adam!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Close Encounters in the Shark Corridor!

Best Safety Stop in the Word!


Read this - and click on the pics!
As always, Tom shines both through his knowledge, his understanding and his stellar imagery, a great combination that points to a future as science communicator.
As always, we shall see - but that's my prediction.

For now, Vinaka Vakalevu Tom - much appreciated!

Friday, May 19, 2017


From today's dive.
Yup those would be big Fiji Bull Sharks - and in two months' time we may well be seeing double that!



Monday, May 15, 2017

Shark VFX - Awesome!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Real Shark Conservation!


I say, bikini bimbettes, eat your little hearts out!
Forget this archaic shit: like the ever prescient JSD longingly fancied years ago, THIS is how you do it = if it ain't nekkid it ain't conservation, and getting swept along for a ride only increases the effectiveness of the myth-busting!
And, to 55 feet no less -  check out the pic!

Eagerly awaiting the riposte from SA!

PS - priceless!
Michelle Jewell Fukushima radiation melted her swimwear - WAKE UP SHEEPLE

El Monstruo at Kingman Reef!

One of my very favorite Sharks, so there.
And did I say that Kingman is as remote as it gets?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Another one?

To me this looks, at best, like a weak Cat 1 - but better to be safe than sorry! Source.


Looks like after Donna we now got ourselves Ella!
This one will affect Fiji, albeit not in a dramatic way and likely only the North and the East and not so much us - but still, what a bloody pain in the ass!

You know what to do!

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Shark Porn from Florida!

Well well.

Story here.
Would that be a bait crate in the background? Would that be in Fla State waters = would they be feeding illegally? And who's the fucking genius operator who built that flimsy "Shark cage" (!) and enabled that shit?
Questions questions!

Anyway, enjoy!

PS - So, it turns out that it was a fake, see the comments section; but lo, it gets even better, to wit Kevin Harris the voyeuristic parasite vs Chris Hartzell the pompous bloviating fireman right here - and in case you should have wondered, I'm 100% with Paul Friese!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Bloody Cyclone?

Source - click on the link and check out the forecast line at the bottom!

Oh for crying out loud - look at the above!

A bloody cyclone in May?
Anyway, it is what it is and for now, it looks like we will not be directly affected but will have to eat plenty of rain and wind - not nice!

You know what to do!

PS - and here it is, named Donna. Poor Vanuatu!

This is the real thing on Sunday, May 7 - source.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Australia: Reef Shark mediated Trophic Cascade?

Competitors: Grey Reefies and Snappers. Source.

Well well.

Read this.
If I understand it correctly, it shows that several species of mesopredatory Snappers were doing great on reefs where (higher-ranking but equally mesopredatory) Reef Sharks were rare; but on reefs were Reef Sharks were abundant, the Sharks appear to have out-competed, or otherwise influenced the Snappers who had to shift their diet to less nutritious benthic invertebrates and were doing very poorly indeed as a consequence - synopsis here.
The conclusion being that
our findings suggest that overfishing of sharks has the potential to trigger trophic cascades on coral reefs and that further declines in shark populations globally should be prevented to protect ecosystem health.
Yes to the possibility of top-down effects - but if the Snappers' fitness was being adversely affected by the presence of Sharks, who, exactly, did benefit from it? Obviously not the Snappers - but also not the prey Fishes and Cephalopods that were still being killed; and also not the benthic invertebrates that were being killed on top of that.
So where is the evidence that Sharks help preserve ecosystem health = instead, is this not rather the negation of Healthy Reefs need Sharks?

Or am I missing something here?

PS: great comment by Michael in the comments section - thanks!

Friday, April 28, 2017

TGIF - Bondi Beach Seal!

Fur Seal and Bellowfish - click for detail. Source.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Elasmobranch Protection in Fiji!

Schedule 1 of Fiji's Endangered Species Act has been amended to include the Sharks and Rays listed at the top. This is on top of all species listed under CITES, i.e. the Sawfishes under Appendix 1 and the Basking, Whale, White, OWT, Porbeagle, Hammerhead, Silky and Thresher Sharks, and the Mantas and Mobulas under Appendix 2.

Yes I know I know.
It is not perfect - but it is certainly considerable progress. 
After the the failed Shark sanctuary campaign and especially, Andersen's ruinous Operation Requiem, others have had to pick up the pieces and try to re-establish trust, credibility, and a meaningful dialogue - and this may well be an indication that things are slowly looking up.

Baby step by baby step - and no, we definitely do not need your help!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Evolution & Ecology of an Ocean Ambassador!

Like I said, this gal will go places.
Very, very well done indeed - and can't wait to see what will follow!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Grey Nurse vs Mullet!


The Grey Nurse of Australia's East Coast population are listed as critically endangered

Story here - enjoy!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Fiji win the Hong Kong Sevens!

And this for the third time in a row!

Yesterday's Dive!

Click for detail.

Like I said, she's a tad exuberant!


Friday, April 07, 2017

Shark Repellent from Australia!

And contrary to all that other shit, it's tried and tested and really works!
Story here - enjoy!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Tiburón Toro!

For our Spanish speaking friends.

This is great.
Featuring the Playa Sardines, the fantastic Saving our Sharks with its director Luis Lombardo and of course Chino and his unequaled Phantom Divers, a proud member of GSD.
Much like the local authorities that have finally acknowledged the many years of hard, visionary work, I remain deeply impressed by the continuous excellent progress.
Well done my friends, I'm really proud of 'ya!

Anyway - enjoy!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Weekend Cyclone?

Click for detail - source.

My oh my.

Check this out - choose GFS 22km.
Looks like we're in for a very, very late cyclone - the good news being that it looks rather weak, and that it will definitely stave off any incipient Coral bleaching.

You know what to do!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Divelink Cebu join Global Shark Diving!


Watch - story here.

Dennis did then travel to the CITES CoP and the rest, as they say is history. From what I understand, the listing has since led to the full protection of the Threshers within the Philippines.

Dennis works for Divelink Cebu.
Clearly the top of the crop when it comes to diving with those fantastic Pelagic Threshers off Malapascua Island, this admirable locally owned dive shop is at the origin of local marine conservation NGO Project Sharklink,  has organized local fishermen to patrol and protect Monad Shoal and conducts stellar research together with Simon Oliver's  Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project.
They are everything we could ever wish for in a member of GSD, and we are proud and thankful that they have agreed to join our ranks.

Welcome aboard!

Next candidate?
Ideally, they should be hailing from the tropical Indian Ocean or the Red Sea - and they need to meet our three guiding principles!
Any suggestions please right here!

Friday, March 31, 2017

TGIF - epic Video!

Story here.
Watch in 4k - enjoy!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Maya - Fiji Finale!


This gal will go places!
Highlights from my unofficial last dives as the 2016 Australasian Scholar.
Thanks to the new moon weather gods finally pulling through for us with good vis, no current and plenty of sharks. Amongst the mesmerising chaos of nearly 40 big bulls swimming overhead, I looked across the reef to catch Valerie "The Taylor" give me an adorable excited little wave.
I really could not have asked for a better, sharkier finale.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Florida - targeting protected Species?

Read this.
These are the rules governing fishing for Elasmobranchs in Florida. There is a list of protected species that may neither be harvested nor landed but must instead be immediately returned to the water free, alive, and unharmed, see under Definitions, (3).  
Here are some additional recommendations for catch-and-release fishing that latest since 2014 have been shown to be woefully inadequate for Great Hammerheads that are likely to die even when they appear to swim away in seemingly good shape - especially when they are caught from land where dragging them ashore requires particularly brutal handling.
And these are the regs for the protected Goliath Grouper.

So how about the picture at the top.
Or this one

I got this 13'6 hammer with a few friends of mine a couple of nights ago. Many more to come!

Or this one

I hate these things so freaking much

Yes these pics would be the dude from that recent video.
Like those morons targeting Sawfish, he and his friends are deliberately targeting protected species. This is his Instagram account - pictures here, here and here, more endangered and protected GHH e.g. here and here, total abomination here. Here are more horrible pictures. And here is his Facebook account.

And the FWC that should be enforcing the law?
I know for a fact that they've been alerted to the shenanigans, and this several times - and so far, nada de nada, zilch, bubkes!
Like I asked back then, is this because a) this is legal - and then the law or its interpretation are failing their purpose and need to be amended; or b) it is illegal but the FWC doesn't give a shit - and then those people need to be held accountable.

So what is it gonna be.
Are you Shark folks down there gonna continue to play at conservation by going out and molesting some more Lemons and Tigers - or are you finally going to actually do something and actually save a few endangered animals by getting off your arses and having the FWC put an end to the appalling shenanigans by that dude and his friends?
And since we're at it: is Mote still complicit in this shit?

The world is watching!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Great People!

Valerie, the indefatigable Jayne, Maya the scholar, Gauthier, some BAD boyz, and friends - click for detail!

We're having a great time.
And yes, at over 80, Valerie still dives with big Sharks and is as badass as ever!

Need I say more.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Florida: more dead Great Hammerheads!

Same shit from Australia - and repeated journalistic fail by Strege. Source.

Remember this post?
20k views and 3.4k likes later, we get this - story here.

And you local Shark lovers?
Am I really to believe that you're ultimately nothing but big fucking talk but zero action?

The world is watching!

PS: MPO here - could not agree more!
And the little yapping Schmock? If this was legal because the Shark wasn't landed, then get off your fucking ass and work on changing the law, or its interpretation!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

No more Galapusky - Paper!

Or is it, Duskapagos?

Anyway, check this out.
I was sent to me by the Saffron Pimpernel under the heading of mumbo jumbo - and for a genetic ignoramus like me, it sure very much is! 
But having double checked with my trusted geneticist, she confirms that Gavin and Will's putative lumping of the Dusky and the Galapagos is no more, meaning that the two species continue to be valid.

Likely not a Dusky (see the map at the top) but a Silky like first assumed!
Ain't taxonomy fun - and it's so easy, too!:)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Florida - GHH vs Blacktips!

GHHs are hunters of Elasmobranchs - source.

Great stuff - story here!
Watch in HD, and enjoy!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

BRAT - not a Brat anymore!



This is BRAT, and at close to 5m, she's now a serious Shark.
Of interest, on top of all those big Shark Suckers, she sports a small white Remora (possibly R. brachyptera *) that you can discern on her chin as she comes in and next to her gills as she swims away. * Having observed her swimming into BRAT's gill chamber, I now tend towards R. albescens.
Kudos to Tumbee for this great circular feed and to the staff for having beautifully contained the Shark's rather epic exuberance.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nassau Grouper Spawning Aggregation - 360 Video!

Simply amazing picture! Source - read it! 

This is great - story here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reefies and SCUBA Divers - Paper!

Grey Reefies in Palmyra - source.


Reefies and divers can co-exist!
Darcy and Yannis aka the intrepid slayers of the inverted pyramid myth have penned this nice paper where they show that frequent SCUBA diving does not appear to have any notable long-term effects on the behavior of the Reefies of Palmyra. I must say that I'm frankly not terribly surprised considering that a) particularly the Grey Reefies are feisty and generally show no problem approaching divers - this especially considering that b) those divers in Palmyra are mostly researchers who tend to behave themselves!
But nicely hypothesized and nicely tested!

And this is certainly true elsewhere and with other Sharks!
Like a very wise old man once said, it's not WHAT you do, it's HOW you do it! -  and provided that there's not too many divers, and provided that the divers behave in a respectful way, regular diving with Sharks in un-baited conditions is certainly possible, to wit those Shark aggregation hotspots like e.g. Cocos, the Galapagos, Tetamanu and Malapascua where the Sharks appear largely unfazed, or even, gasp, habituated to divers thanks to many years of responsible Shark viewing tourism!

But the contrary is also true. 
Cattle diving multi-user destinations like Ras Mohammad in Egypt or Richelieu Rock in Thailand that were once famous for their Shark encounters have largely lost their Sharks, and it is only fair to speculate that those Sharks have likely fled the masses and the continuous harassment and have relocated to more peaceful locations.

So folks, be nice to those Sharks, and enjoy!
And, do read the paper - story here!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Biopixel - slo-mo Showreel!

This is epic as always.
Watch in 1080 - enjoy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Honoring the Fish Geeks!

Jack, with Helen, at the  Darwin Award ceremony.


This is my pal Richard, he of Tourette's.
I've blogged about him before and was particularly happy to discover this excellent tribute. No he really ain't a mere naturalist but is instead one of today's preeminent fish taxonomists and marine conservationists - but other than that, very fitting and certainly long overdue!

And then there's his mentor Jack, equally a friend.
Yes it's somewhat old and I should have really posted it earlier - still, bravo Christie Wilcox for this wonderful profile honoring the greatest living Ichthyologist and one of the humblest, most accessible and funniest people around. Of interest, the mentioned idiopathic neuropathy is likely due to Jack's long-term exposure to rotenone and not a late upshot of his many decompression accidents like we all thought.

But I'm digressing as usual.
Required reading - enjoy!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Are we killing them with Kindness?

No we are certainly NOT!

Check this out.
I would have never thought that I would have to say this about a paper co-authored by Juerg and Adam, ever - but I find it pretty much shite, and pretty useless to boot. Alas!
To me it smells like some student needed some grades and was told to compile some lists - and like many such meta-analyses, the result is everything and nothing, however very unfortunately with a subliminal anti-industry message at its core, as very much evidenced by the stupid title.
Mind you, methinks that had it not been for my friends, it would have been even worse; plus, there is nothing inherently inaccurate about its findings, and the recommendations are probably formally correct - but it still annoys the heck out of me.

But maybe it's just me.
Thing is, it fatally reminds me of the overwhelming hostility displayed by most researchers and NGOs when we embarked into the Fiji Shark Project 13 years ago.
There was no specific criticism - just a widespread aversion against messing with nature, something that has continued hounding us til today whereby some quarters continue to try and nitpick on what we do despite of the clear benefits the SRMR has brought to Fiji and its Sharks.
Yes of course any wildlife tourism will have an effect (dooh!), and of course those effects need to be analyzed and mitigated which is precisely what we've been doing and also blogging about (yup those would be 100+ posts, and counting!) for years - but to even hint that we may be the problem is just simply unconscionable.
Who is killing them are first and foremost the fishermen and hunters, and the people who destroy and pollute their habitat, and humankind that emits too much CO2 etc etc - and far from being complicit, marine ecotourism is one of the factors that is counteracting that unholy trend and slowing down the biodiversity loss by creating alternative income and employment opportunities, and by instilling a sense of awe and love in the public!
Or am I missing something here?

Which brings me straight over to this opus - press release here.
First and foremost, it's always nice to see one's work being publicly acknowledged along with the honorable mention of the GFSC; also, being one of the (recalcitrant) industry representatives who have been consulted, I'm partially responsible for the final product.

This has been in the making for a very long time indeed.
I did blog about it here and very much stand by what I said then, i.e.
Nice to have academia and the NGO intelligentsia look into our industry and hopefully give us some valuable unbiased pointers for improvement - but any such code will only succeed if there is considerable industry buy-in. And for that to happen, any such rules will not only have to reflect some eco wish list but also be flexible and above all, factually and economically practicable!
So how does this rate by those metrics?
I can say that it is much improved compared to its initial versions where there clearly was a don't mess with nature undertone as per the above, and where the overall gist was much more geared towards the need for regulation (re-read this!).
I can also say that I did submit it for review to GSD and got back a polite average score of 7 out of 10 - but I can also equally unequivocally state that nobody was highly impressed let alone enthused, and that most certainly none of us is now gonna run and follow the suggestions to e.g. (re)define his business core values or get certified by some tree-hugging agency, or the like.

And on a more personal note.
Despite of clear improvements, Tool 7 remains highly irritating because of its largely negative bias.  Precautionary approach my ass! And, we have actually chosen (!) to hand feed as provided that it is done responsibly, we find it highly selective and actually safer than the alternatives. And no, we're absolutely not gonna change our feeding times = opening hours on a daily basis - I mean, seriously!
And then I find other stupidities like e.g. that fucking flash photography ban which is apparently vital when snorkeling with Whale Sharks but not with equally surface-dwelling Mantas and Baskers, or when cage diving with GWS - let alone with the other Sharks at depth whose pupils will be comparatively more distended????!

But now it's me nitpicking.
Overall the guide is quite nice - and nicely presented which will make the donors happy! :)

Long story short?

A. Although this is well meaning and certainly not terrible, the Best Practice Guide is also not great.
With that in mind, I very much doubt that there will be the abovementioned substantial industry buy-in, the more as I don't see any mechanism for encouraging adherence e.g. via an own rating system or failing that, by using one's outreach to strongly endorse and promote Rick's SSD. Yes Project AWARE I'm looking at you!
The good ones among us don't need your help but very much conduct their own research as evidenced by the bylaws of GSD whereby research is a precondition for membership; and failing some form of gentle coercion (and again, I'm looking at you PADI!), the bad operators will simply refuse to cooperate as e.g. already evidenced by their obvious boycott of SSD.
All of which obviously begs the question, cui bono = and could those resources have been invested into something more useful?

B. We are not the problem.
Instead, even the worst ones among us are a part of the solution, see above! But yes we always need to learn, evolve and improve - and this ideally via self regulation. And if not, then regulation is certainly both opportune and necessary!

C. When it comes to the whole fucking never-ending controversy about provisioning.
People who feed and condition Sharks are called fishermen - not a few dive operators! And anyway, this is one of the safest underwater activities by far = with one single fatality during thousands upon thousands of baited dives, it is orders of magnitude safer than ordinary SCUBA!
Yes there are effects on the animals, the principal one being conditioning - but they are largely short-term, localized and sublethal, and in no way comparable to the threats Sharks face otherwise! But yes there too we need to minimize our impact - and guess what, most of us largely do!

D. And finally, to those researchers and NGOs.
We did not ask for this - and all this incessant nagging and lecturing by people who ultimately have no clue about, and zero investment into our industry is frankly becoming terminally irksome. There is now a whole cabal of incidentally mainly female researchers whose academic niche (and thus career and thus income) is predicated upon being considered ecotourism experts, or whatever, and who appear to be operating with questionable agendas and also appear to desperately want to meddle instead of waiting to be asked.

When it comes to the global Shark diving industry in general, there are now one excellent paper (incidentally, by experienced Shark divers!) and several that are not, see e.g. here and also here, with links - and now there is this.

That's plenty enough, thank you very much.
And now, please, why don't you just fuck off - because we actually got work to do, salaries to pay and tourists to wow!
No hard feelings, love you all! :)

Saturday, March 04, 2017

A Shark Cull in Reunion?

Spoiler: not quite yet!

I'm sure you've seen the news - if not, read this.
Kelly Slater had an emotional outburst, and the usual dipshits with an opinion and a keyboard have gone ballistic as they always do.
A prominent researcher writes - and no, no names but you'd be gobsmacked if I told you who she is!
This week Kelly Slater (surfer) posted on instagram that he thinks Reunion should implement a cull so that it is safe to go in the water again. As expected, he took some heavy hits from a lot of people for saying that.
And then this article comes out.

I'm starting to get a bit cranky on how "science" is used to beat down anyone that suggests a shark cull. Over and over "experts" and "science" are cited to drive home the argument that culls don't work...scientists have proven them not to work. 

I have to call BS on that. 
No one has ever done a controlled study to determine if culls work/don't work. And even if they did, each species and location are different. And then you have the hypocrisy of the shark conservation community always screaming about the 100-200 million sharks killed per year and that they are all going to die (and the oceans are going to die and we will die). If it is impossible for culling (fishing) to decrease shark attacks, then how is it possible for overfishing to bring down shark populations?

It's very easy for people who don't live in an area with shark problems, or don't ever go into the ocean, to scream and yell that sharks live in the ocean and it is not "our" place to attempt to manage them. Of course they are typing this from a comfortable human dwelling that required the killing of a terrestrial community that lived where their house now sits!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating managers to start putting culls in their toolbox...I just don't like the misleading rhetoric. At a place like Reunion, I think it is none of my business if the local authorities decided to try to reduce the bull shark population. It is their economy and quality of life that is suffering, not mine. It's their decision.
And...if they decided to do it, I personally believe it would work.

I almost wrote a piece about this, but thought maybe venting here first will keep me from committing professional suicide! 
Bingo - totally agree, see here and generally, here!
The good news being that Reunion Island's Shark attack mitigation measures appear to be holding (= the attack happened on a closed beach) and that the authorities are not advocating any cull - for now!

Anyway, this is not what riles me.
What does, is that like the lady above, an increasing number of researchers are voluntarily muzzling themselves for fear of incurring the wrath of the wailing Shark conservation hyenas.
This is especially evident in Australia where those Shark attacks are happening at the intersection of there being ever more aquatic recreationists but also more large GWS due to the successful protection of both the Sharks and their prey. Same-same for the US East Coast where IMO a fatal attack is all-but-inevitable - yet in both locations, the GWS researchers are treading very lightly indeed, lest the unwashed masses accuse them of being Shark haters, or whatever.

I say, this is not going away but will escalate instead.
And unless we allow the researchers to do their job and analyze, and then properly describe ALL aspects of the problem and explore ALL possible solutions, the strikes will continue to happen - and if so, the culling will eventually resume everywhere.

Is that what we want?

PS - not bad at all!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Niu Island!

Behold - right click for detail!

Shark Reef has its own emerging islet!
For now, it's merely a large sand bank that has been growing steadily for the past six months and been colonized by dozens of black and white Terns - but now that we've adorned it with its own niu, we fully expect it to develop into something more substantive.

To be continued no doubt!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Inverted Trophic Pyramids? Not so fast!

Bingo - watch.

Those inverted trophic pyramids are bullshit.
Stories here and here: all excellent stuff so no need for synopses and interpretations.
Paper here - read it, it's open access!

Well what can I say.
First and foremost, bless Darcy and Yannis et al, very well done!

But I must also say that for me, this was a given anyway.
I've been a traveling diver for more than 40 years, and some of my friends for decades longer than that; and having once again asked some of those friends, and with the obvious exception of the known aggregation spots: none of us remembers anything even remotely resembling Sala's hypothesized Shark Eden - and lemme tell 'ya, we all have been to some locations that back then were mighty remote and mighty pristine and certainly not overfished!

Don't get me wrong here.
Back then, those reefs were teeming with life, with amazing coral, heaps upon heaps of fishes including numerous large predators among which Sharks, see e.g. here, meaning that the postulated biodiversity loss and the shifting baselines are more than real and cause for great concern - but again, even those absolutely magic spots were nothing like what Sala et al would have us believe!

Long story short?
Prima vista, not to worry.
Re-examining and possibly, falsifying previous scientific findings is quite normal and in fact, dissent is often how science and our knowledge progress.

But this is now a pattern.
Starting with the bloody numbers where some quarters continue to recklessly disregard the latest peer reviewed science (and no you fucking morons, you did not fucking "find" 80 million "missing" Sharks - you know who you are!); to the bloody tourism numbers (and here!); to the bloody oxygen BS; to the bloody exploding Cownose Rays; to all the bloody pseudoscience surrounding e.g the thorny issue of Shark strikes, or those Shark repellents, or Shark feeding, etc; to those bloody petitions - and now those bloody inverted pyramids: all-too-often all that spurious garbage is being commissioned, or outright invented by so-called Shark conservation circles, this sometimes in the misguided opinion that it may constitute good marketing for the "cause".

It is not.
It is just spurious garbage - and like I never cease to repeat, it is bad conservation as the truth will eventually emerge, incidentally often at great expense of resources that could have otherwise been invested in better undertakings. Plus, the reality is already so dire that there's absolutely no need for all that hyperbole!
Can we please stop with this shit and tell it as it is?

Which brings me straight over to this op ed - read it!
I can certainly see where Shelley is coming from. 
Near Threatened (by the conservation-friendly IUCN no less!) equals NOT Threatened, and from a formal standpoint, this outcome was most certainly based on breathy marketing and not fact, and as such the wrong decision - and we can only hope that it doesn't eventually end up biting us all in the arse!
Again, we really need to stop those shenanigans!

But having said that, 
I must confess that given my advocacy for a change of paradigms (and here), I applaud any Appendix II listing because of the mandated NDFs; and I certainly fervently believe the precautionary principle to very much be one of the tools of public policy = e.g. specifically when declaring Shark sanctuaries as stop gap measures pending the implementation of proper Shark fisheries management, especially in lesser developed countries!
But all-in-all, fully agree, especially about the demise of expertise - so well said!

But I'm digressing as usual.
Great paper and great op-ed - and should you have some spare time, you may also want to consult this syllabus about bullshit! :)


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GHH vs Stingray - Video!

Just saw this.
Absolutely amazing - enjoy!