Saturday, December 31, 2011

Part Two: The BAD and the Ugly!

Yum yum!

And now, to the juicy part!

But first.
This is when somebody will inevitably start shouting, how dare you attack fellow conservationists and invoke global peace and harmony and-so-on and-so-forth.

So lemme state this loud & clear, I don’t hate anybody here.

What I however do hate is bullshit.
And in the spirit of qui tacet consentire videtur, I will always reserve the right to criticize situations I don’t agree with - and if they happen to be in the public domain, I will also feel perfectly entitled to do so publicly!
I also believe that like in science, progress in conservation is achieved via dialogue but also, via robust debate where opinions may get heated but where everybody who is legit accepts that those are just the rules of the game – and where those who do not are simply not scientists and conservationists but posers and bullshitters.

In brief, where I’m coming from is that whereas it is great that Shark conservation has become sizzling hot and is uniting many passionate voices around a great common cause, bullshit continues to be bullshit and shenanigans, shenanigans - and the great common cause is in no way an excuse for any of that.
And like in real life, people are sometimes simply incompatible and thus mutually exclusive.

If you don’t agree, stop reading now - HNY and have a great life!
Seriously, spare yourself the aggro because the following aint gonna be pretty – but if you cannot resist and end up being outraged, spare me the lessons in ethics and instead, debate the assertions!

If the meteoric rise and the astounding successes of Pew teach us one lesson, then it is that the correct way to save Sharks is to pursue their protection by pragmatic, science-based advocacy and by hard work and smart negotiations aimed at legislative changes.
The rest is just stupid fluff and hot air, and counter productive to boot. We are not the ones who enact Shark protection - and rest assured that the people who do have zero time, zero patience and zero respect for the vocal clamoring of the Shark whacks!

Again, Shark conservation is inextricably liked (q.e.d.) to political and economic considerations, and he who does not understand that is just a fool.
Shark fishermen don’t hate Sharks, they want to make a buck – and the authorities don’t subscribe to conservation because they have changed their perspective and suddenly love Sharks, they do so because they have been convinced of the (eminently economic) need for sustainability and in the case of Sharks, because they have learned about the importance of several (not all!) species in regulating the marine environment and thus, of their economical value all the way to generating millions in income from tourism.

Shark finning?
The finning bans are archaic and ineffective and thus not anymore worth pursuing in isolation. Yes finning is an ethical abomination and needs to be abolished – but what is killing the Sharks is Shark fishing and if you care to open your eyes, you will quickly discern that many of the major Shark fishing hubs are processing the whole animals as the meat is increasingly sought after by ever increasing populations starving for protein, and other products like leather, squalene and even the eggs are introduced into the wider economy.

The facts and numbers?
Science is in continuous flux and the data do indeed change – but until they do, the latest peer reviewed science remains the best approximation of the truth.
Thankfully, there are now plenty of resources where anybody can consult the latest insights and data, meaning that those who continue to operate with inflated statistics and outlandish assertions lack any excuses and credibility whatsoever. The facts are plenty horrible as it is – so let’s please stick to those and refrain from the usual stupid inflated hyperbole!

The industry?
If there has been one trend at this year’s DEMA, then it has been Shark conservation - and everybody in the dive industry is now claiming that he has always been deeply and passionately involved.
Great – if only they all did walk the talk!

Instead, the usual shenanigans have continued unabated.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that nothing is just black or white. Competition is continuously leading many Shark diving operators to ever up the ante, this also very much in order to satisfy the continuous requests for ever more adrenaline by their clients. There is also an insatiable demand for images featuring stunt work with Sharks.
I understand that these are businesses and that those folks are merely trying to make a buck – but I certainly do not subscribe to the notion that these developments are inevitable, the more since we at BAD are doing very well indeed by promoting a totally different kind of experience, do not enable Shark porn and have in fact continuously tightened our protocols as a result of the stupendous increase in large Sharks visiting Shark Reef.

But you can’t have it both ways.
Stunt work with Sharks and promoting gratuitous adrenaline thrills got nothing to do with Shark conservation, period!

And the much-invoked Demystifying and Changing Perceptions about these Misunderstood animals?
Indeed - respectable Shark diving operations do that daily, and this without having to resort to those stupidities, and so do respectable Shark media!

Think about how the same was achieved with the terrestrial top predators: certainly not by showcasing scantily clad death-defying bimbettes perambulating in the savannahs and the Sundarbans and also not by turning alpha predators into pets by allowing tourists to physically interact with them, let alone ride them!

Changing perceptions by attempting to “prove” that we’re not on the menu of Sharks actually perpetuates the myth by reducing the animals’ fascinating and complex life history to one element only, that of shark-human interactions where some of the large species actually do devour people – which is perfectly normal and merely illustrates that they are the opportunistic top predators they just happen to be!

Nobody in his right mind asserts that Lions and Tigers are harmless – but most of us have learned to respect and love them for what they are, beautiful, charismatic and awe inspiring essential elements of their natural habitats, and very much endangered.
Think BBC documentary: that’s how you do it – and yes, the rest is just moronic BS!

Anyway, I’m digressing – here’s the list.
  • Least credible Shark Conservation Org: Shark Research Institute

    Founded in the early nineties and once rightfully considered to be the visionaries and trailblazers in Shark conservation, this org has simply ceased to evolve and is now quite obviously well past its sell-by date.
    A motley grouping of baby boomers whose claim to fame, if any, lays way back somewhere in the distant past, they doggedly cling on to outdated concepts, data and strategies and achieve nothing substantive in the process. This year’s media by some of their featured members have been simply appalling, see below, to the point where the whole org is little more than a purveyor of clients for Amos’ pinnacle expeditions and has frankly become a major embarrassment to the cause - and being my usual polite self, I will certainly leave it at that!
  • Most disappointing Shark Conservation Org: Shark Angels

    A great concept combining a promising initial triumvirate of passionate and good looking female Shark advocates, Shark Angels could have become the next big thing in Shark conservation.
    Well, after several years of waiting it turns out that it did not. Pretty girls posing with cardboard signs next to dead Tiger Sharks are just that, pretty - and the actual track record is that they have certifiably saved zero Sharks from the nets of the KZNSB or otherwise, not then and not after several years of pretty PSAs and obscure conservation work in SA. Now it appears that the epicenter has been moved to Canada and I remain equally unimpressed. Did I hear Toronto? Yes, maybe - but then again, maybe not so much!
    Up next? Canada. And the world... we shall see!
  • Conservation Snake Oil of the Year: United Conservationists

    Wow. How could I be so blind!
    Like all strokes of genius, it’s so compellingly simple: humankind just needs to stage a media-based Revolution under the leadership of those visionary dreamers and doers - and the Planet will be saved! Because we are all inherently good deep down inside - and if you give us 50k, we'll even take you diving! We are the 99%!
    Send us your money and we will save the Sharks, Lemurs and Tigers! And we will end Ocean Acidification because once they see my movie, the uneducated masses in China, the US, Europe, India and Russia will rise and force global governments to agree on reducing emissions! Just like the Arab Spring – or whatever, just send us the money!
  • Least impressive Shark Conservation Achievement: California Shark Fin Ban

    As they say in German, The Better is the enemy of the Good.
    Talk about a missed opportunity! Nice – but given the impressive widespread good will, resources and star power, this is simply not good enough! Check out the legislation, corollary with exemptions and analysis: this is a (bad) licensing law that bans the possession of Shark fins (notabene, fins that are imported from Asia where they first get processed for consumption) and clearly unilaterally targets the principally Asian consumers of Shark fin soup in California.
    Is that really Shark conservation? Does closing down the Californian shark fin market really impact the global trade and really save Sharks, let alone combat Shark finning, one of the stated aims of the legislation? Convince me!

    Plus, there is this.
    The demise of California’s Blues and Makos is legendary - and yet with this law, the local commercial and game fishermen are still free to go and kill California’s Sharks, and anybody is still welcome to continue eating Shark steaks and to consume all other Shark products. And the outlawed fins of those Californian Sharks? Betcha that they get exported to Asia!
    Compare that to the excellent progress in Florida where more and more Sharks are being protected – still think this is an achievement to be proud of?
    But as I said, nice!
  • Curiouser and Curiouser: Erik Brush (& Co!)

    "On the day that too many sharks have gone you will not know that a line has been crossed. It is only a while afterward that the sudden unleashing of methane hydrate into an already weakened atmosphere will show us our error. Then we will long for our predatory friends that could have regulated the food chain and kept the gas exchange of phytoplankton working for all life!" - Self Quote.

    New Age meets Shark conservation meets pseudoscience - and, meets the (obviously mad!) Hatter!
    Check out IMEC, Brush’s curious Facebook page and his curiouser personal website and tell me if I’m not right! And we've even got ourselves a new and mysterious Alliance!

    Anyway, all of this would just be harmless and actually, quite entertaining albeit in a bizarre way, were it not for the fact that the self professed marine biologist, Shark specialist and friend of Doctor Erich Ritter has managed to accumulate quite a loyal following (really? Are we witnessing the dumbing down of Hollywood?), among which some prominent representatives of the SRI who very much appear to endorse his pseudoscientific ramblings.
    Does Collier really think that Erik’s Shark math is very nice?
    Does the President of the SRI (doesn't R stand for Research?), apparently a German TV star and associate of Brush, really totally agree with Erik’s assertion that Sharks are the most critical factor besides human pollution to global warming and mass extinction?
    Whatever – right? But the cartoons are cute!
  • Shark Pornographer of the Year: ABC4

    Well, no need to further post any evidence here.
    Andy is actually a nice personable guy, an accomplished cameraman and also brave to the point of being crazy - and thus highly sought after when it comes to filming stunts with large predatory Sharks. Several other cameramen do the same and although I hate the imagery they produce, I know that that’s what the market wants and respect them as professionals as I understand that they do what they do because competition in that field is fierce, jobs are scarce and they got bills to pay.
    What however riles me here is Andy's total hypocrisy of regularly partaking in Gurney’s despicable productions, see below, and then turning around and pretending to be a fervent Shark conservationist. Thing is, even if that were true, for every person conceivably heeding Andy’s self-professed conservation messaging, thousands are being certifiably influenced against Sharks by watching the images he produces.
    Can’t have it both ways buddy – either finally walk the talk, or take the $$$ and shut the F up!
    And the exact same applies to those Shark diving operators who continue to enable that shit - and no, I'm not about to post names lest I once again get accused of engaging in some food fight or the like: they know who they are and so do you!
  • Shark Porn Production House of the Year: Gurney Productions

    Again, follow the link here.
    Discovery’s go-to people for those appalling Shark Week programs featuring idiotic scripts, idiotic experiments and idiotic anchors, they really transcend negative attributes. Absolute scum!
  • Shark Porn Channel of the Year: Discovery Channel

    I’ve long stopped watching that shit that is Shark Week – but sometimes I catch a glimpse whilst zapping thru the wonderful selection of Fiji’s Sky Pacific and guess what, nothing whatsoever has changed. Not that they would care in the slightest - but I will continue to boycott Shark Week and BAD will continue to turn down those yearly requests for atrocious film shoots!
  • Worst Shark Porn: How Sharks Hunt

    Featuring the chain wrapping of Emma, courtesy of ABC4 and Gurney - nothing to add to what I said there.
  • Most embarrassing Shark Conservation Advocacy Stunts: Bikini Bimbettes and Warriorettes

    And I cite from a message by one of the Shark Greats – you would be amazed (and the bimbettes, totally ashamed!) if I told you her name!

    How I hate the latest bit of National Geographic Society shark porn!
    Absolutely ghastly that they have fallen so low, pandering to the lowest common denominator--sex and sharks. Not a scintilla of redeeming quality. I say this sight unseen as I refused to watch it after seeing the trailers.

    But that would be but one, albeit particularly pathetic example.
    Why some otherwise modern and emancipated women would agree to demean themselves by partaking in these embarrassing stupidities will forever remain a mystery to me – and undoubtedly, to the other 99.9% of intelligent modern and emancipated women who love Sharks but don’t engage in those shenanigans!

    Oh - did I hear Demystify and Changing Perceptions?
    By “proving” that Sharks don’t strike bikini bimbettes? Well guess what, they do, so sorry folks – and that makes them neither good nor bad, nor does that fact in any way diminish the validity of the assertion that we need to protect them!
    The swimwear stunts and experiments are moronic pseudo-conservation and pseudoscience that presumes that everybody out there watching is a retard – thing is, most people are not and will quickly identify them as what they really are, highly embarrassing self promoting publicity stunts!
    Tip o’ hat: Erich Ritter– and we all know how that one ended!
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Pseudoscience: Erich Ritter for Sharkitarianism

    Yes the above link is plenty sufficient!
    And after more than a decade of spouting those outlandish and I may add, very much self-debunked theories: still eagerly awaiting the first peer-reviewed paper on the subject!
  • Most preposterous Assertions by Shark Expert: Ralph Collier

    George eat your heart out!
    Having managed to completely supplant him as this year’s undisputed token Sesselfurzer, Collier and his Shark farts have been nothing short of spectacular. From the epic dog analogy to having linked JAWS with the starvation of Grizzly Bears by means of the dreaded domino effect, the man is truly a cornucopia of moronic pseudoscience. Will he be able to further exceed this year’s stellar performance and grace us with more, forever unforgettable tidbits of hot perfumed air?
  • Shark Conspiracy Whacknut of the Year: H E Sawyer

    We've finally got ourselves our very own, home-grown conspiracy – and shame on Wikipedia for not having posted it on the ominous list!
    So it turns out that not only are the numbers a conspiracy concocted by the scientific intelligentsia, but that all of us are (once again!) nothing but the puppets of Big Oil!

    Because, and I cite, shark conservation is actually a fig leaf for oil & energy corporations, through their ‘charitable trusts’ to ring fence large areas of international waters through MPAs, MCZs and ‘shark sanctuaries’ with the purpose of leasing it out to other oil & energy corporations, & using the money from that to fund the science that supports the policy of ring fencing large areas of international waters for ‘protecting sharks’ etc!

    Utter humbug? Far from it, here is the proof, black on white!
    Wow - makes Erik the Mad Hatter of Sharktivism look like a genius in comparison! If these are really the exhaust fumes of democracy, may I humbly suggest that this may indeed be this year’s ultimate Furz from the Sessel. May I further humbly suggest that the man urgently get himself a life and quite possibly, a diagnosis by a qualified psychiatrist, chop chop!

    As a reminder, here’s what the despicable cabal of evil has been doing in 2011 - unequivocally highly suspect!

    Story here - check it out!
  • Stupidest Shark Media: Guadalupe Mermaid

    Yes that would be the f@$%ing mermaid – and I’m still completely astounded by the sheer scope of the bullshit, hubris and mind-blowing stupidity!
  • Irritating: Personality Cults

    Just one example among several.

    See, some of our founders made a little movie called Sharkwater. Soon NGOs started popping up and government policy started changing. All it took was information and a spark, and the world will never be the same.

    Have we got ourselves a case where the salesman is starting to believe his own marketing, with symptoms of incipient guru-esque megalomania?
    There is no doubt that Sharkwater hit a nerve and that it has done much for popularizing Shark conservation among the masses. But Rob is not the visionary trailblazer, Shark conservation did not start with Sharkwater and the recent spectacular successes are not at all attributable to that movie!

    Anyway, it is just one example and certainly not the most brazen one.
    The Heroes and heroines, warriors, whisperers, experts, specialists and whatnot are all legit if the moniker is being assigned by others - but when it is self promotion and really nothing more than branding, it becomes irritating.
    Does sharktivism really need its own version of the Kardashians and the associated frothy adulation and gossip? Maybe – but like in real life, I don’t like it one bit!
  • Most Brazen Conservation Heist: Shark Research Institute

    Having nothing much to show for, the SRI is now mooching on other people’s hard work by insinuating that they were somehow responsible for all (!) of this year's Shark conservation achievements. From the SRI's Winter Newsletter - and I cite

    Thanks to you — our members — 2011 has been a very good year for sharks. Through SRI active participation, advocacy and legislative efforts we have achieved spectacular results. We still have work to do, but look at what has been accomplished this year alone!
    Give yourself a pat on the back!! Thanks to your support, 2011 has been a fantastic year for sharks. This year alone:
    * Honduras announced creation of 92,665-square mile shark sanctuary.
    * The Bahamas converted 243,244 square miles into a shark sanctuary.
    * The Marshall Islands, Guam and Palau created a region-wide 2 million square-mile shark sanctuary.
    * Chile banned shark finning in its water.
    * ICCAT agreed to reduce fishing of shortfin mako shark and porbeagle sharks (At least get your facts right! I thought you were there?)
    * The trade in shark fins, outlawed in Hawaii in 2010, was also prohibited in Guam, Oregon, Washington and California

    Certainly cleverly worded!
    I say, how cheap, sad and frankly revolting - simply unforgivable!
  • Low Point of Academic Competition: Junior Controversy

    Got some time to waste?
    Read this and track back through the links. What you will discover is an ignominious smear campaign against Michael Domeier orchestrated by competing researchers. Dunno and don’t care much about what happened after it backfired, except for noticing that the Monterey Bay Aquarium has obviously not severed its contacts to the very much implicated Sal Jorgensen and Scot Anderson of TOPP.
    All very revealing and very disturbing!
  • Stupidest Shark Conservation Memes and Slogans.

    Here, I did a quick brain storming session with some of my Shark friends.
    In no particular order: the Oxygen myth; No Fin No Shark No Future period (can anybody please tell me what that means?????); Fintastic; and last but not least, Fins Up!
And here endeth the list - happy I finally got it off my chest!

And, are you pissed off?
I sure hope so - the question being, at whom!
Comments welcome!


Gary Adkison/Shark Foundation said...

OMG! You have certainly thrown a pile of S%#T against the wall this time, amigo! Sadly, I am afraid, quite a bit of it will stick! And here's to less "smoke and mirrors" in the coming New Year....and more research and science grants! You make us think my friend.

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

God bless you Mike. I have officially spilled my first cup of coffee for 2012, in Cuba no less. I was hoping that 2012 might be the year my hot coffee satined shirt budget decreased but alas, no, thanks to you and this post it looks like 2012 will be a banner year. Fortunately for me the iPad is coffee proof. Methinks the development team at apple also reads your blog!

jsd said...

Bull's eye.

Is this your long-lost cousin? -

DaShark said...

Nah this one is! :)

Unknown said...

I didn't make the list?! C'est la vie! There's always next year! J.

Seriously though, this is why I read you, Mike!

DaShark said...

Love u2 big man and HNY!

The way things look, you will most certainly make this year's list! :)

Wolfgang said...

Mike - You are simply the best analyst of our shark world. Period.
Untouchable, uncompromising, unforgiving. Thank God I am your friend, not your enemy.... :-)

Cristina said...

Thank you for always making me think.

Anonymous said...

Karma is such a beautiful thing...

Anonymous said...

"The Little Angry Boys Club" ;-)

Anonymous said...



DaShark said...

Best wildlife portfolio I've seen, ever!

So if that's you Andy - why, exactly, are u wasting your time & mind-blowing talent on those shit productions by Gurney?

Vee said...

This whole blog looks to me like it's written by frustrated small minded man that just will do anything to get some attention. If you do not agree with some organizations or people, just don't work with them, don't friend them, ... Just writing a whole lot of SH** is pityful and small minded. Get out there and actually do something about shark conservation yourself instead of just writing this kind of "very objective superb journalism" And yes, I know I just give you want you want : attention, but hé, consider it my New Year's gift to you and enjoy the "fame"

Jupp said...

Oh no, Vee. You are mistaken. This is the great Herr Neumann, the self proclaimed Godfather of all shark activists. He dislikes everything we normal people do and has a way of telling the world, that he alone is the divine power who shows us the way to become worthy of his approval. He thinks that his opinion should be like a bible to us all, because we have no idea what we are doing. I know what you wanted to say: He comes across like an arrogant, self-important and pompous ass, but in reality he is His Highness who loves to use the poison of his vicious soul to make everybody else look bad. He is Herr Neumann who tries to become as famous as his father was, but is using a very low road to get there. He makes other people look bad so that HRH looks like he would like to be seen.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Those who can answer criticisms answer them. Those who can't abuse.

Anonymous said...

My problem with SRI is that they don't offer scholarships or internships. How are science students supposed to help if SRI only allows access to the elite? I guess if you have a billion dollars like the Baron of Germany then you can buy your way in and they all have an attitude toward people who are not on their level. Well I'm sorry that I don't have a disposable income that allows me to travel the world, dive with sharks and then call myself a shark expert. I actually have to go to college and I am young so I have to work hard. It would just be nice if organizations like SRI and these other "elite" groups would allow some of us people who are ACTUALLY BECOMING REAL EXPERTS to have a chance at working on the shark issues. What is with the ridiculous membership fees? And that Eric Brush guy is a crackpot. You can't just say you are a marine biologist because you have been swimming in the ocean for a long time. He claims his IQ is higher than all of the PHD and Master's degree holders. How can he even know that? By which scale is that information gauged? Why the heck do any of us bother to go to college when we can just call ourselves shark experts and make a terribly designed website? And stop talking about how you write and speak five languages. Do you want a medal for that? Then go be a "language" expert instead. I am just tired of all of these weirdos and their stuck up attitudes thinking they know everything about sharks because they can afford to dive with them or because they live near the ocean. What have any of you actually done for sharks?

Anonymous said...

Oh and call me crazy but there was a book published in 1996 by Richard Leaky and Roger Lewin called The Sixth Extinction. Then in 2010 Eric Brush "self proclaimed marine biologist" uses a site like lulu to self publish a book of the same title. How can you do that? And anyone can publish a book on lulu I can go do that right now. I just wish these so called shark experts would stop padding their backgrounds with nonsense. It waters down the legitimacy of the cause and makes the government and other agencies laugh. How will you change the laws if you are attacking a celebrity like Rosie ODonnel? She is wrong for killing a shark but going crazy and harassing her is not gonna make anyone look good.

Anonymous said...

SRI is a joke. try and dig up one decent peer reviewed article by this research Institue. There are none, because they dont know how to do any good research.

DaShark said...

Vee & Jupp: guilty as charged.
Congratulations for your brilliant analysis, that's exactly who I am!

But enough about me.
The question was, Jupp:

Does the President of the SRI, apparently (and I cite) one of the worlds top shark experts, German TV star and associate of Brush, really totally agree with Erik’s assertion that Sharks are the most critical factor besides human pollution to global warming and mass extinction?

Yes? No?

OfficetoOcean said...

Preferring to look at positives as I generally do, that showreel by ABC4 is indeed amazing. Avoid the "man up bitches" shit though because talent like that doesn't benefit from being associated with the kind of things a dumbass frat boy would say after one Coors light too many.

DaShark said...

SRI publications, peer reviewed, here.

And I actually did like the MAN UP BITCHES bit!

OfficetoOcean said...

Reminded me of the guys in the campervan on Borat.

That said, the footage is awesome as I said.

Anonymous said...

In fairness, the whale shak genetics papers are good. Thats about it.

Anonymous said...

Compare the publication list of the 'Shark Research Institute' with a shark research outfit that uses scientists (rather than tourists) such as the Bimini Biological Field Station and alarm bells should be ringing.

Anonymous said...

"Compare the publication list of the 'Shark Research Institute' with a shark research outfit that uses scientists (rather than tourists) such as the Bimini Biological Field Station and alarm bells should be ringing."

Agreed! And Bimini allows students to have access to the facilities and to partake in research. SRI does not have a working relationship with universities, at least none that I am aware of.

OfficetoOcean said...

Bimini also has the incomparable Doc, a real shark hero and a conservation treasure :)

Incidentally, a treasure who doesn't rely on obese marketing and self aggrandisation on social media to "make a difference," he just gets on with actually making a difference.

Anonymous said...

From the SRI website:-

'Shark Research Institute (SRI), a multi-disciplinary nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific research organization, was created to sponsor and conduct research on sharks and promote their conservation. Founded in 1991 at Princeton, New Jersey, USA, SRI has field offices Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and the United Kingdom.'

...My desk is called the Academy of Advanced Astrophysics. The Academy of Advanced Astrophysics was founded at Harvard. We have other desks in Canada, Nepal, Italy, Russia, Ireland, Ecuador, Germany, Argentina and Spain. Please donate or buy a place in our space shuttle for an exciting adventure that we will call scientific research.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of publications on the SRI 'publication' list are not peer-reviewed. that says alot when all the years of 'research' leads to no peer reviewed papers. My biggest surprise is that they managed to sucker a legend like Len Compagno into their group.

Anonymous said...

I know a hairdresser who was granted 501(c)(3) status because she was taking in stray kittens and adopting them out to people. :P

DaShark said...

Pax vobiscum! - what's with this orgy of SRI-bashing?

The definition here I think is "Nothing Substantive", as brilliantly exemplified by the comparison to Doc's Shark Lab in Bimini.

Not to worry.
The Jersey girl is crafty, has been there before and will sit it out.

The prez?
His comments sure put the nieder into the Niederadel, and I was going to add that having somebody of his caliber represent Shark conservation at the big conventions like CITES is just plain scary - but then again, it'll make the good folks of Pew shine by comparison!

Long story short?
If you got some money to spare and want a real bang for your buck, give it to the likes of the Bimini Lab, the Shark Foundation or SOSF if you want to sponsor research; and if you want to sponsor advocacy, give it to the likes of Shark Savers, the Coral Reef Alliance or the always impressive Shark Trust - or even WildAid if what they do is your cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

Okay, have been through your post three times now.

Conservation is achieved through two arenas - science = laws and regulations (sanctuaries), public = awareness, media and outside pressure (namely tourists). Neither one can be targeted with the same effectiveness and strategy however they do need to co-inside with the information being shared. Palau was an easy sell in some way for a sanctuary when there main tourism role is scuba diving and seeing sharks. Other countries such as the Bahamas come to me under the same category.

Other countries whose main tourism emphasis is not scuba diving or especially not sharks have a much harder time both at legislation and public awareness to get these species protected. We have discussed many times the need to protect ecosystems and not singular species.
Science and legislation make the most effect however public awareness has to be carried alongside these and is essential in the enforcement, enactment and success of the legislation.

Am I an "armchair" conservationist - No.

Does it bother me about the way the message of sharks are spread - Yes by all types of media.

Do I subscribe to some of the groups you talk about, yes, to see reactions of people that may or may not have a direct contact with the ocean or sharks.

The problem with the tourist point of view, is everything has to be the most exciting for them, gone are the days of just showing someone a shark underwater. Now they need to jump through hoops for a shot that no one else has got. So is tourism contradicting some of the conservation efforts to protect these species? Tourists looking for this attraction will follow anyone into it that promises them something different. (No I am not talking about BAD).
So how do we unite the science and the public awareness, you love the science, I love the science, but not all that are involved need to spout in Latin or statistics that can not necessarily be proven.
Exaggeration of statistics has sadly hindered conservation efforts, it has made skeptics instead of protectors.
As you said yourself, its opinion, opinions can be swayed or changed but sadly so can science.
So where do we go from here? For me we share science that is factual, proven and solid in a way that interests others outside the industry. As with the lions and tigers, many documentaries and films were done, sharks sadly just have a perception harder to change.
Like with media and books, there should be a clearing house in some ways that takes the scientific publications and presents them to the media and population in a way that creates energy and not anger.
Just my two thoughts.

DaShark said...


Whoever u are - that was impressive!

Don't forget that I've also written a "Part One" where I do mention several advocacy groups.

My (opinionated) reservations here are against the self promotion, hyperbole and BS, not against the strategies per se that need to be adapted to the individual challenges and situations - and in some places, outreach may indeed be the biggest driver of change.
Provided that it is fact based!

Anyway, kudos and thank you for an excellent contribution!

OfficetoOcean said...

That is an excellent response.

My very simplistic two pence/cents/euros/diram etc on the issue of the science to public awareness issue...

Let science do the research and establish the facts, the points of interest and the areas which need to be addressed on a wider scale then provide creative/artisitc/media savvy people with the info and support to get that information out to the public at large in engaging, creative, cool and exciting ways which remain true to the facts and illustrate the message in appropriate ways.

Will the man on the street want to read through the scientific findings of various field and lab studies? No, will he be more likely to digest important information, maybe even be inspired, by well made media that appeals to him and makes the information relevent to his life and interests? Maybe.

It's all in the delivery, don't tell people, show people. That's a lot to do with the misiniformation and the sceptisism as well, anyone can talk a whole load of manure on social media, but without the facts to back it up, it means nothing.

Angelo Villagomez said...

I don't think that all conservation requires science. All humans inherently have what EO Wilson coined as 'biophilia.' Aldo Leopold talked about a land ethic and the need for wilderness. This applies to the ocean, too. Wild untouched places need to exist. They are especially a part of the American psyche, but I think all humans have a love for the natural world the way god intended it.

Science is just one argument, but not the final one, and hardly ever the most influential.

Anonymous said...

"Let science do the research and establish the facts, the points of interest and the areas which need to be addressed on a wider scale then provide creative/artisitc/media savvy people with the info and support to get that information out to the public at large in engaging, creative, cool and exciting ways which remain true to the facts and illustrate the message in appropriate ways.

Will the man on the street want to read through the scientific findings of various field and lab studies? No, will he be more likely to digest important information, maybe even be inspired, by well made media that appeals to him and makes the information relevent to his life and interests? Maybe."

Are you saying that scientists are not cool, artistic or creative and their place is only in the laboratory pumping out data? Or did I read that wrong? I think the vast majority of today's scientists are young, cool, artistic, creative and more in touch with their social skills compared to the old stuffy idea of what people used to perceive a scientist to be like.

I have no problem with conservationists who lack science degrees or any degree for that matter. I do have a problem when they pretend to have a degree or think that they know spit about the elasmobranch just because they went diving with them and maybe fed a few sharks by hand. I can't even believe that I have to point out that a person who has never taken a science class outside of high school doesn't know boo about sharks besides how they acted on the day they happened to dive with them.

I do believe there is a place for both conservationists and scientists but they need to learn to work together. Maybe conservationists should be more interested in taking some college level classes to learn at the very least some basics about marine science and perhaps scientists should be more open to accepting the opinion of those who didn't have the oomph to go out and get a grad degree in science.

Either way sharks will never be okay if they are relying on humans who would rather fight than get things done.

DaShark said...

Depends on the circumstances Angelo.

Yes you are of course correct.
But a) wild untouched places are of course a thing of the past and the best we can hope for now is for well managed, wilderness-like places;
and b) there are now 7bn people that require space, food, quality of living etc, meaning that there is considerable push-back due to ultimately economic considerations (nobody I believe hates Nature), meaning that there will be a debate - and there, we need to have the facts on our side.

Like the last Anonymous posted, some countries have been relatively easy.
That does not in any way diminish the fact that creating those sanctuaries has been a fantastic achievement - but other countries have a well established fishing industry and powerful fishing lobbies, meaning that biophilia alone will not fly but needs to be flanked by sound economical arguments, the principal one being the need to fish sustainably and to conserve the environment for future generations of fishermen.


DaShark said...

Last Anonymous

you may want to read this
excellent post about the conundrum of being a jack-of-all-trades.

Yes the new generation of researchers is great - but outreach remains a challenge and some disciplines do remain rather arcane & necessitate a lot of translation.

And then, there is I believe the problem of the big picture, i.e. putting things into context in a real world with (too many) real people who have real problems and aspirations.

When it comes to Sharks, the last written publication I'm aware of attempting to do that in an objective way was Juliet Eilperin's Demon Fish; and when it comes to movies, it may be Shawn Heinrich's Sanctuary.

Anyway what I'm trying to say here is that there is certainly a legitimate role for "mediators", and this across the whole spectrum ranging from books and mainstream media all the way to social media etc. - and there's absolutely no reason why scientists should not be a part of it, see the many excellent marine science blogs!

I personally believe that we are already very much advanced in that process and that there is already a plethora of excellent resources about Sharks anybody can consult, and this with very little prior knowledge.

But the problem, and hence this rant, are the fluff, the hyperbole and the self serving BS.
I call it the dolphinization of Sharks and it angers me as far from being helpful, those extreme positions and pseudoscientific ramblings actually inhibit conservation and appropriate management measures.

The challenge for the proverbial "ordinary person" lays in distinguishing between what's "good" and what's "bad" - and I have no easy recipe for that, as the marketing by some of the charlatans is quite crafty and nicely packaged.


Angelo Villagomez said...

Look, Mike, all I'm trying to point out is that my opinion matters the most!

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard a squeak out of Jupp recently?

OfficetoOcean said...

Re; Anonymous...

Are you saying that scientists are not cool, artistic or creative and their place is only in the laboratory pumping out data? Or did I read that wrong?

Yeah you did, my point is about utilising skills across different platforms, different ideas, different approaches, different visions etc to try and establish regular output of the highest standard across different types of media which would hopefully encourage people from different backgrounds and skill sets to work together productively.

Most of what you say is valid but...

"I can't even believe that I have to point out that a person who has never taken a science class outside of high school doesn't know boo about sharks besides how they acted on the day they happened to dive with them." insanity in its generalisation. I get what you're trying to say and I understand the type of people you're referring to but you cannot claim that applies to every person who doesn't have some kind of scientific qualification. Dr Eugenie Clark is a fine example of an academic shark expert and someone for whom we should all have the utmost respect, using your argument, her academic credentials make her more credible than Ron and Valerie Taylor when in fact, we can learn enormous amounts from both.

Shark biology is learned in a lab but shark behaviour can only be learned in the water and a lot of these people with letters after their names, talking about sharks, are severely lacking in experience with sharks in a natural setting.

In conclusion, let's judge each person or at least their credibility on an individual basis and not through academic snobbery or indeed, inverted snobbery towards academics.

Anonymous said...


Agreed on all points. I wasn't trying to generalize but I see the way I wrote it did make it come across that way. Of course there are many people without a degree who have contributed to shark research but they shouldn't be pretending they are something they are not for example there is a guy out there claiming to be a marine scientist just because he made jewelry for some celebrities. They should be forthcoming about their education or lack thereof. And scientists do need to make room for those who did not go to school but instead spent their time working directly with the animals in question. If everyone comes together and just gets along things would be much easier. We just need to take the egos and frauds out of the equation.

OfficetoOcean said...

Totally agree on all points! :)