Saturday, March 26, 2011

Junior - have I been set up?

We got ourselves a debate!

I must commend Michael Domeier.
After those pictures were published, he did not try and dodge the issue but instead, he has vigorously addressed the various controversies on the website of Marine CSI. It is a toothy piece and I like it. As expected, much of what he writes touches on ethical issues and whereas I agree with some and do not at all agree with some other statements, that is not the topic of this post.

The topic is this.

Recently, another research group working at the Farallones has released images of Junior from the fall of 2010.
These images have been posted on the internet to incite negative publicity about our white shark research. The images clearly show a rather nasty wound on the corner of Junior’s mouth, but what is not explained is that when the entire video is viewed it can be determined that this injury was clearly inflicted by another white shark; it is not a result of the capture and release during tagging.

Very interesting!
My first thought is has somebody tried to set me up? - which in view of the legendary internecine fights in the GW research community is certainly a plausible (and in this specific case, eminently testable!) hypothesis!

Over to the injury.
Prima vista, I remain unconvinced. Those bites by other Sharks are generally "clean" and as Domeier confirms, they heal amazingly fast, this very much in line with what we see on our Bulls here in Fiji; the pictures of Junior however appear to depict a festering inflammation that looks very different. But then again, they are rather fuzzy video grabs and it is entirely possible that they are misleading.

How about some verification then.
Domeier asserts rather confidently that if one watches the entire video, it becomes apparent that Junior's injury is due to a Shark bite. With that in mind, I believe that at this stage, it is incumbent upon the other group to produce that video for independent verification. Either the wound has been clearly inflicted by another white shark, or it has not.
Yes or No - easy!
  • will that video be made available?
  • who will analyze it?
  • what will be the results?
Questions, questions...


Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

This is about cause and effect, not some dark cabal of researchers gunning for Marine CSI.

It is also not about unfortunate circumstance.

This was Marine CSI's project, unsupported by anyone within the Farallones research community (for good reasons), and rammed through by a sanctuary management who were guided by a series of cascading poor decisions.

The end result is a truly grim looking shark,taken out of the breeding population base of an estimated 300 animals.

No one can suggest this animal is anything but a ghost at this point.

Let's start by asking the question "what kind of ongoing damage could 2.3 pounds of rusting steel hook have on that shark?".

Since the facial wounds origins are up for question I want to focus on the hook embedded in the esophagus.

Let's assume it is still there, rusting. I will submit to you the caloric equation that it takes for a Farallones white shark to migrate "over 7000 miles of travel since tagging" was compromised by that hook.

Additionally in a compromised state and now seriously underweight, emaciated, that animal is no longer able to maintain a healthy immune response, hence the tumor.

It is almost irrelevant as to the wounds origins, shark bite, long line, act of malice.

The question is why was that animal not able to heal?

What obvious factors can we look at?

In all the years we have been interacting with white sharks, we have never seen a wound like this, or tumor like this.

In fact I challenge Dr.D to crawl though his extensive white shark image database and produce the following:

1. Before and after images of a shark bite on a white "within one year" that have not healed or any white shark that exhibits dramatic weight loss associated with a shark bite.

2. ANY image with a tumor like growth on a wound from a shark bite, or a tumor like growth on a white shark similar to Juniors.

We have not seen this, ever, and frankly if someone is going to put forward the argument that unfortunate circumstance (another shark bite) is the cause for this emaciated shark I want to see some back up to that straw man.

Sharks possess an almost miraculous ability to heal themselves, it's well documented and we have covered it on our blog for years.

This animal has lost that ability.

Anonymous said...

The Domeier TV expedition was suspended after two animals were clearly worse for wear with one animal not getting hooked in the throat, whereupon the huge barbed hook was only partially recovered using bolt cutters.

Both sharks fled offshore right away.

One of the sharks injured by Domeier has been documented to be in really, really bad condition.

That this method was permitted to be unleashed upon a protected species is doubly vexing in that it was permitted to be conducted within a supposed wildlife sanctuary (GFNMS).

As original sponsor of white shark protected status with California (Assembly Bill 522/Senate Bill 177) and subsequent regulations within Monterey Bay (result of Surfrider Lawsuit) and Gulf of Farallones marine sanctuaries I do not appreciate such methods being inflicted upon animals I am studying (Since 1990).

Moreover, as one who was unsuccessfully targeted with a $21,000 fine for employing lures (now standard issue) in 2003 (had been using lures since 1992) and being featured in award winning (still topp-rrated) documentaries on Discovery channel (AIRJAWS series, Jaws of the Pacific, Great White Uncaged) I resent that the 'permitting experts' would permit such a clearly and obviously invasive and injurious project as the Domeier Project... Some of the sharks from Guadalupe are also missing.

This has little to do with reseacher rivalries, this dispute is about protected species being murphed up for TV profits and retail sales by agenda minded establishment which is playing favorites. That Domeier refuses to share ID photos and is very competitive is nothing peculiar to Dr Domeier, it comes with the territory.

As a researcher invested and involved with white shark conservation, protection and public education for over 20 years I am compelled to risk negative social and Admin sanctions and speak the truth.

I have attorneys and I am hoping for the best with this matter and will protect myself, interests and investments.

Ive tagged well over 150 white sharks and have never used hooks, we dont even feed them.

We use lures and a hand held lance to attach transmitters and acquire tissue samples.

My team was first to track blue sharks across the pacific and white sharks to the open eastern pacific offshore (the so called badlands) and to Hawaiian waters as well we were first to track white sharks from California to offshore Mexican Island of Isla Guadalupe. No hooks needed, we gathered DNA samples and provide them to US Fish and Wildlife Service. Never a hook was need.
Domeier's project is redundant.

Domeier works in defiance to white shark protected/threatened status.

He does not even care, Domeier has gone on record saying to him there is no difference between a striped bass (invasive species) and white sharks (protected species).

The proper, long standing, well tested and true method is to use lures and carefully attach (short term transmitters) to the sharks that doesnt leave the shark burdened with debri and hooks and that sort of crap.

We already know where the sharks are going without having Domeier come out and injure the animals with hooks and haul them out of the water, fondle their claspers, bolt on debri and them dump them overboard to immediately flee the 'safety' afforded by the brochure sanctuary...

As original sponsor of white shark protected status in California and its associated national marine sanctuary I am happy to go on record regarding Domeier's methods and other aspects of white shark research, conservation and public education and the corporate academic cartels that allowed, no permitted this TV stunt to take place in California or it's supposedly nationally protected marine sanctuaries.

And so it goes,

S.R. Van Sommeran
Executive Director
Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
Monterey Bay
Since 1990

Anonymous said...

Here, here is the real deal:

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaShark said...

This specific post deals with the specific injury to Junior.

It just so happens that there is apparently a video.
Domeier claims that the video will clearly show that the injury was caused by another GW.
Let's get that video and have it analyzed by an expert.

Sean your points are well taken - but they are NOT the topic of this post.
Also, this blog is not meant to be a platform for self marketing - obviously except by yours truly! :)

Anonymous said...

Both Shark Diver and Sean have valid and substantiated concerns that point directly to the scientist and the reserve manager.

I am disgusted that this scientist is now trying to blame another shark for his mess.

Another coincidence, the side of the head that was battered by the TV dream team, the same side that was massaged by the bolt cutters, is the same side that poor junior has the "damage" on.

Since the scientist is able to speculate that it was another shark, I will speculate that the cable that was used to fight the shark abraised the jaw during the fight.

And as Shark Diver mentioned, an already compromised immune system wouldnt be able to fight infection caused by the encounter with the Dream team.

Instead of maning up and saying that the incident was not a good idea and a shark was seriously compromised, the chicken-s$%t blames another shark. I think the raw, uncut video from the tagging episode would be a good source of evidence, and I'm not talking about the edited for public version.

DaShark said...


Yes the concerns are legitimate but they are poorly substantiated and some of the arguments are highly speculative.

At this point and after the reply by Domeier, we got to examine the evidence. Domeier says that the video will prove that it was a shark bite - I say, let's see that video.

What you propose is totally off the mark and not at all helpful.
Had you taken the time to better explore Domeier's post, you would have noticed a picture of Junior on the boat. I've seen others.
There are no abrasions that would in any way corroborate your assumptions.

As I said, I am not convinced that the injury is a shark bite - but although I am skeptical, I remain open to proof that it is.

I am also interested in the ethical implications of current Shark research practices and do not at all agree with some of the statements by Domeier.

But this is not what this post is about.
This post is about whether the wound on Junior was caused by another GW or whether it was caused by Domeier.

As Patric has posted on , this is about cause and effect. Full stop.

It is certainly not about, and I do not intend to provide a platform for idle chitchat, the public settling of old scores and/or self promotion.