Sunday, September 24, 2017

Lemon Sharks: this has happened in Florida!


Bingo, and I cite,
This Final Amendment updates Atlantic HMS essential fish habitat (EFH) based on new scientific evidence or other information and following the EFH delineation methodology established in Amendment 1 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP (Amendment 1); updates and considers new habitat areas of particular concern (HAPCs) for Atlantic HMS based on new information, as warranted;
....
In addition to identifying EFH, NMFS or Regional Fishery Management Councils may designate HAPCs where appropriate. 
The purpose of a HAPC is to focus conservation efforts on localized areas within EFH that are vulnerable to degradation or are especially important ecologically for managed species.

EFH regulatory guidelines encourage the Regional Fishery Management Councils and NMFS to identify HAPCs based on one or more of the following considerations (§ 600.815(a)(8)):

  •  The importance of the ecological function provided by the habitat; 
  •  the extent to which the habitat is sensitive to human-induced environmental degradation; 
  •  whether, and to what extent, development activities are, or will be, stressing the habitat type;
  •  and/or, the rarity of the habitat type.
....
Amendment 10 creates (a) new HAPC for juvenile and adult lemon sharks off southeastern Florida between Cape Canaveral and Jupiter inlet.
The new HAPC for juvenile and adult lemon sharks is based upon tagging studies and public comments received that expressed concern about protection of habitat in locations where aggregations of lemon sharks are known to occur.
.....
Dated: September 1, 2017. 
Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
Remember the whole drama back then in late 2015?
Whereas the clamoring by the troglodytes and the shark girl  has achieved nothing other than pissing off the fishing lobby and the authorities and consequently, leading to the introduction of a Federal Shark diving ban by the Florida Senators, other people have been quietly looking for a solution - not for camera or applause or perceived fame but only for the sake of the animals.

This may well be that solution.
The Lemon Shark aggregation happens mostly within protected State waters but extends to unprotected Federal waters, and this designation as habitat area of particular concern can now hopefully lead to a temporary fishing ban during the aggregation season from December to April - along with hopefully, less disturbance by pesky divers!

I say, well done ladies and gentlemen!
You know who you are!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Apex Predator Tourism - Paper!



I say, not too bad = a big improvement over last time!
Yes it's once again one of those papers where the academic intelligentsia is meddling and wants to tell us what to do - but when put into context like they have done here, those recommendations do make much more sense. And it's obviously nice that they mention the SRMR, and they also do get extra points for mentioning Rick's SSD!

And the whole mumbo jumbo about the need for regulation?
When it comes to Shark diving, it remains highly irritating - but I'm really not gonna waste my time and try to reformulate what I've said here, so please go and read it there = far from being the rule, regulation all the way to bans (!) is only opportune at a very last resort, i.e. only once common sense, voluntary codes of conduct and self regulation have utterly failed!
And yes, Florida troglodytes, I'm totally looking at you!

Oh and.
Considering the current rampant biodiversity loss within all non-managed ecosystems, I personally find the reference to moral, ethical, and philosophical questions about the commodification of nature naive and highly disturbing - and I can certainly leave it at that!

The good news?
This fad appears to be petering out and from what I can discern, this is very likely one of the last papers on the subject - thankfully!

Anyway.
Judge for yourselves = enjoy the paper!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

And that is why we do it!


Awesome - the picture and the quote, and the dude ain't too shabby, either!
Click for detail!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fiji's Sharks!

Love love love this image - click for detail!

And talking of Tom.
On top of his photography, he has started to film and if I'm not mistaken, this is one of his very first little edits. Great to see Papa in what may well be his very last interview before retirement.

Enjoy!



Friday, September 15, 2017

Diving for Dakuwaqa!


Very nice!

Check this out.
Kudos to Lauren the Sharkiologist for an intelligent, insightful and well-researched piece about our work at Shark Reef and beyond - and nice to see the pics by the BAD Viking and Tom, too! 
 
And BTW.
Yes we got no Wobbegongs but we most certainly got Hammers, and did have a GHH join the feed, albeit only once - and judging by Grim's track, a visit by a GWS is definitely a possibility!
Now that would be something, so fingers crossed!

Anyway, very well done - Vinaka Vakalevu!

If You were born a Shark!


And THIS is why we love you Cristina.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

New Rules at Guadalupe!


Excellent news!
Watch.



Read this.
Following last year's cage breaches (again, BRAVO Katie Yonker!) at Guadalupe, Conanp have tightened the rules and re-designed the cages. And it gets even better: at least for now, it appears that the rules are finally being enforced!

Case in point, the troglodytes are furious, see at top.
Like I said back then, they are but a tiny obnoxious minority that appears to have severely overstayed their welcome, and we can all only hope that this will motivate them to finally fuck off.

And this?
Will the authorities finally clamp down on the fake out-of-cage science by the likes of Ramsey and Winram, ban the people on the black list and fine, and scrap the operating licenses of the enablers?

As always we shall see. 
There are now official observers on the vessels, and the transgressions are becoming increasingly difficult - so here's to a stellar season: with real ecotourism, zero cage breaches, zero shenanigans and zero Guadalupe Shark porn on Discovery!

Yes I know I know.
But hope, as they say, springs eternal!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Dear Friends, Please Stay Safe!

This is a forecast - click for detail.

Best Wishes from the whole team!
Details e.g. here.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Bulking up at Shark Reef - Paper!


Great stuff - and I cite,
With provisioning occurring 3–4 times per week at the SRMR and focal individuals consuming an average of ~0.74 heads per provisioning day, we estimate that these sharks consume ~2.6 provisioned tuna heads per week, which is similar to our estimate of food required to meet their weekly energy budget (2.3 heads per week).
As such, it appears that our focal sharks may be fuelling their energy requirements exclusively from provisioning. However, considering that encounter rates vary widely among individuals and between months and that electronic tracking data show that individuals intermittently leave the area for a few consecutive days, weeks to months throughout the year before returning to the feeding site (Brunnschweiler et al., 2010; Brunnschweiler & Barnett, 2013), at the most this may only be the case for some individuals at certain times of the year (e.g. at the beginning of a calendar year).
....
The foremost limitation to this study is that data and inferences are based on 10 individuals observed on 36 days. 
These 10 individuals may be bolder than other bull sharks encountered at the SRMR and thus predisposed to take food and, hence, the patterns found for these individuals may not reflect all the bull sharks in the area. Given the variable number of sharks at feeding events and days individuals are absent from feeding events (Brunnschweiler & Baensch, 2011; Brunnschweiler & Barnett, 2013), further work is needed to determine the importance of tuna heads compared with natural prey in bull shark diets, for example, stable isotope analysis.
So there you have it.
Very surprisingly indeed, those Tuna heads we feed are not at all rubbish but instead a valuable supplement that can help bulk up our Sharks when they come back all exhausted and emaciated after the pupping and birthing season - and I can fully confirm that we've seen many an individual Shark become chubby and happy again after only a few visits!

But what about the potential negative aspects?
Could we be overfeeding them, and could we be subtracting them from the regulatory role they got to play in the environment?
Likely not, as a) the feeding frequency is not uniform but highly individual and determined by individual dominance and/or boldness, b) our observations tell us that those same dominant Bulls do not simply gorge themselves but clearly stop feeding once they got enough and c) our Bull Sharks are not resident but only sporadic visitors whereby individual site fidelity and thus residency is by no means uniform let alone increasing but instead varies greatly from year to year - re-read this post and paper!

But that's obviously not hard evidence but (highly) educated guess.
Hence the suggestion that one examine the Bull Sharks' diet via e.g. stable isotope analysis - and without wanting to preempt anything, I can state with great confidence that you will need to keep watching this space! :)

And this stupidity with its even stupider title?
Re-read this: the actual problem is not the provisioning per se but the disturbance of the Whitetips' diel rhythm, and not the fact that they are being fed but instead, the fact that they are not getting enough food and are incurring a metabolic loss as a consequence! 
Incidentally, much like at those cage dives where in their collective wisdom, the regulators have decreed that the GWS must chase teaser baits without ever being fed - and even more so in e.g. Shark Alley where they are being lured into wasting heaps of energy on fruitless breaches so that the photographers can get their shots!
Detail detail!

But I'm digressing as usual.
Enjoy Juerg's paper (and here)!