Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fred Buyle - excellent Interview!

Unsuccessful - attempt to tag a Bull in La Réunion.

This is Frederic Buyle.

From the interview.

Il y a vraiment un paradoxe car on voudrait prendre des mesures mais on ne peut pas sécuriser un milieu comme celui là. Je pense que maintenant ce qu’il faut faire, c’est responsabiliser les usagers de la mer.

Ce que je pense, c’est que maintenant, on va à la mer comme on va au supermarché.
Les gens ne sont plus responsabilisés. Vous allez en Afrique du Sud ou en Australie, où il y a un vrai problème de requins, il y a des panneaux. Vous connaissez les dangers, ce qu’il faut faire pour les éviter. Après, c’est à vous de prendre le risque ou pas. Les gens s’éduquent. Dès lors que l’on informe les gens, ils vont d’eux-mêmes aller chercher d’autres informations.

Translation here - not great but you'll certainly get the gist.
Could not agree more!

The backdrop are obviously the recent Shark strikes in La Réunion.
Fred and several friends had mounted an expedition to go and tag some Sharks which failed miserably: in 17 days of searching, they did not find a single Shark with the exception of a few Bulls that were however incredibly timid; and once they managed to get closer by offering some bait, the Bull Sharks' skin proved to be simply too tough - and haven't we experienced that!

You can read Fred's report in this excellent blog post.
I was particularly interested in hearing about the proximity of fishing ports and beaches, and was once again particularly impressed by Fred's pragmatic advocacy of caution and common sense.

Kudos again!

PS further details by Fred himself in the comments section!


jsd said...

...But fans of James Bond know that the research into the thickness of the bull shark's hide goes back decades:-

- from about 4:25 on.

DaShark said...

Wow - epic!

But... aren't there two species? The Shark on 04:30 is a small Tiger!

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Fred is one of the last wysiwyg guys out there. What you see is what you get. Proud to know hm and have worked with him.

DaShark said...

Alas, we won't have the honor.
There's no way we would ever feel at ease in welcoming free divers on the Shark dive - and I doubt he would ever consider donning a SCUBA tank!

C'est la vie!

Fred Buyle said...

Hi All,

Someone told me there was a post about the mission I just participated to in Réunion Island so I quickly jump in to give you some more informations.

The report is only in French because I had no time to do it in English but if you translate it through an online translator you'll get the general sense. At some point I'll translate it but unfortunately I don't have time right now.

It was hard to work over there for several reasons: first the local people were very much in demand for answers about these shark bites and we all know there are no "clear" answers to give and secondly because we had to deal with French bureaucracy at its best ... which is unnecessary to comment ...

Only the last day I had the opportunity to work like I wanted to since the beginning (using bait; right location etc) and it paid off: we had 4 bulls at the same time and I could try to tag.
The problem was that the shaft didn't penetrate. It was the first time I encounter the problem even though a few days before I had the same issue but I blamed the depth of the attempt (35m and a very fast/shy shark).

I've been tagging many species so far and using the same gear all the time: a 120cm speargun with one rubber band loaded at the first or second notch depending of the size of the animal or the species.

So far with 5m+ great white, 5m great hammerhead and 4.5m ferox shark that configuration always worked fine.
Once with a lemon shark it felt that the power was a bit low.
But here in 4 weeks, we had 3 shots very close and none of them penetrated!

So I told the local people who would keep on trying tagging the bulls to use twin bands (that's a lot of power....) on the gun.

And yesterday I got a good news, the guy who helped us with the logistics on site and was diving everyday with me succeeded to tag a female.
He is 74 years old, been freediving and spearfishing for more than 55 years and he tagged the shark at 23m deep.

So let's hope he'll be able to keep on the good work and then avoid what will is likely to happen: a massive shark slaughter by the people who want to go back in the water "as safe as they were before the accidents"....

The final message is that it's not nature we need to change but our behavior when we practice activities in a natural environment.
Nobody will ask to cut mountain down when a skier or a climber gets nailed by a rock fall.


ps: here you can see the "on board" camera video footage of the tagging attempts:

DaShark said...

Bonjour Fred

thank you for your comment, much appreciated!

We here work with Bulls and have had that problem many, many times, especially when trying to tag females that have a thicker skin owing to the necessity of getting some protection against the mating bites.

One researcher has also pointed out that skin of the Bull Sharks features a particularly high number of denticles when compared to other species.
That, too, could explain why penetrating the skin is so difficult.

Keep up the good work and once again, congratulations for your rational and balanced approach to this tricky issue.