Wednesday, May 30, 2012

South Africa - Great White Research and other Stuff!

No this time I'm not going to rant.
But I could!

I could rant about some disgruntled GW cage operators.
I could state that they didn't quite have the guts to openly take on Mr. Fischer & Mr. Boyd and that they have instead enlisted the help of some local Kraut who has quickly morphed into a monster, true to the meaning that Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim. I could also speculate that apart from having the usual inflated opinion of self, the guy may suffer from a medical condition called, obviously only in German, Querulantenwahn.

Be it as it may, several open letters and public warnings later, the genie is now out of the bag.
Prompted by the dire warnings of the Querulant and by a totally unrelated Shark strike, the surfers and water recreationists have latched on to the issue of chumming (debunked here) and I wish the cage operators the best of luck. Were I so inclined, I could state that they they will now reap what they have sown, that justifying baited Shark dives smack in front of a major town was always a stretch and that the delicate balance has now been irrevocably upset. Talk about having shot themselves in the foot!
But fear not, I shall not do that!

I could also rant about the couch farting fireman.
I could tell you he has been described to me as somebody who has done a Shark dive and now thinks he knows something about something, that his two brain dead petitions have achieved precisely zero as anticipated, and that he has gone as far as to accuse Fischer of having caused the death of several Sharks 1,500 miles away. Wow!
And I could mention the proud rolling out of his ludicrous Hartzell tag, to be placed with a pole into the center of the dorsal fin that will be inevitably shredded as soon as the gizmo will start collecting flotsam like any other trolling lure.
And it got a GPS antenna no less - I mean, seriously!
But I shall not - tho I'm still holding my sides!

And what about that Facebook group.
I could tell you how several of us blue bloggers were initially intrigued, only to be quickly dismayed by the rubbish posted there, and have stopped bothering. I could also elaborate why I believe that it represents the very worst of social media and that I consider it to be nothing more than the appalling circular echo chamber of, to cite a friend, a bunch of dipshits with an opinion and a keyboard, among which even a barlafüs da Milan who vocally demonstrates his utter scientific ignorance and lack of decorum by publicly rubbishing his peers. Soci, ma indova ta l'é truvad al tó dottor: alla Pavesi?
Notable exception: Michelle Wcisel who has taken it onto herself to gleefully, and charmingly deconstruct the deluge of stupidities posted there. Were I so inclined, I would tell her not to waste her time by engaging with morons and instead devote her energy to further researching and protecting Sharks, that Einstein was correct and that stupidity cannot be cured. PS: it sure looks like she has come to the same conclusions - kudos! :)
But as I said, I shall not do that.

I really got nothing to add there - maybe apart from the fact that I could wonder about the exact relationship between the non-for-profit OCEARCH and the for-profit Fischer Productions, and about possible US tax implications of that synergy. And I could state that I don't believe for a minute that OCEARCH will fund the next five years of GW research in SA.
But again, I shall not - and we shall see!

Leaves the local research community, and the authorities.
I could talk about the utter fiasco in terms of outreach, this by the authorities but especially, by Alison Kock and Shark Spotters. They had obviously known about the project for months and were ideally suited for engaging and informing the public about the unequivocal advantages of researching the philopatry of the South African GWs, for conservation but especially in terms of improving public safety. I could add that enlightened opinion pieces are great - but that it is more important to walk one's talk!

But I shall do none of that.
All I shall do is to invite you to read this interview with the concerned researchers. Without in any way wanting to approve of the way this has been handled, it addresses and convincingly rebuts many of the raised arguments and it finally sheds a light on the research aims.

Still, for my liking, this remains too vague.
Scientific research does not consist in slapping on some tags in order to then "see what happens". Especially in this specific case where the protocols, albeit substantially improved, are still highly invasive, it behooves the researchers to be much more specific and to explain which previously formulated hypotheses are being tested, and why the chosen invasive methods are best for achieving those specific aims.

Concerning the posting of the tracks.
There is clearly a downside to publicizing that information without simultaneously enacting supporting conservation measures. This is part of a larger ethical debate I shall be posting about soon. *Doch doch Dirk, auch ein blindes Huhn... :)

And here endeth the non-rant!

Comments policy.
This is not a chatroom.
But everybody is welcome to post a comment - this once and within the length limits dictated by Blogger, after which I shall feel free to delete whatever I wish.

* PS: post about philopatry, tracks etc here.


Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Ouch. Too True but ouch.

Ila France Porcher said...

Thank you, Mike, for your illumined and forthright overview of the political shark circus on its high horse in South Africa.

DaShark said...

Mais avec beaucoup de plaisir! :)