Friday, August 31, 2012

Who is this - Competition!

This is a person who really, really loves Sharks.
First one who comes up with the correct name wins one week (7 days) of diving with BAD.

  • for it to count, you must post the name of that person here, not on Facebook.
  • one guess per 24h.
  • after 24h, I shall post one hint and the prize decreases to 6 days; 24h later I'll post another hint and the prize decreases to 5 days, etc.
  • the prize consists in diving on consecutive days, i.e. a combination of those Shark and coral dives that happen to be scheduled during the specific time frame you choose, the latter subject to space availability. You will be asked to pay the marine park levy, any then applicable fuel surcharges and any charges for extra services like rental gear etc.
  • personal friends of that person are excluded from participating.
  • do not participate if you already dive with us FOC, or if you do not intend to come diving anyway; instead, be fair and leave the chance of winning the prize to others.
Good luck!

First hint - 6 days of diving: ManU 

We have a winner!
The person who really, really loves Sharks is David Diley!
Dave wins six days of diving with us.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Le Didier!

Didier Noirot, Corinne Lelong Chevallier, Tom Crowley and the BAD boyz - click for detail!

We're currently hosting a shoot for the BBC, and it's loads of fun.
It's not our usual fare, i.e. intrepid Fijians cavorting with heaps of very large predatory Sharks but rather something very specific and totally unique which I'm not at liberty to reveal. But, it still requires working in close proximity to the beasts, and when Tom Crowley from the Natural History Unit asked whether it was OK to bring along rebreathers, our answer was, certainly, but make sure that the shooter is absolutely shark proof.

The name he came up with was Didier Noirot.

Did you check out the link?
The man is just simply ridiculously infamous, and this not only for having been a member of the équipe Cousteau (e.g., he's the guy who shot the Sipadan Turtle cave sequence that propelled the site to global fame) but more recently, for being the go-to guy for hot shoots with a reputation for being absolutely fearless all the way to having been the first to shoot Nile Crocodiles in the Okawango.
Here is the trailer to his multi-awarded Into the Dragon's Lair  that documents that epic feat - simply ridiculous stuff!

Is that awesome, or what!
But with that in mind, I must confess that we've been looking forward to meeting Didier with much trepidation. The combination of world famous and French! can result in some rather epically megalomaniac characters, and we were frankly bracing ourselves for the worst.

But boy were we wrong!
Turns out that on top of being the ultimate consummate professional, the man could not have been more affable, funny and genuinely personable (=great interview!) - truly an unadulterated pleasure to work with, and a real honor to boot!
And this very much extends to his partner in crime, the equally ridiculously intrepid Corinne (it was she who had the rather questionable honor of lighting up the crocs, and this sans the protection of the mega-housing!) who doubles as rebreather buddy and light engineer. Suffice to say that even Rusi is deeply impressed, to the point that after one day, we've all resolved to let the great man go ahead and do his thing without the hassle of pole-toting body guards - which would very much be a first!

Anyway, I just wanted to say that we're really having one hell of a time.
Can't wait to see the finished product!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Howard Hall - Best of 2011!

And talking about Howard's incredible skills.

This video is my "best of" collection for the past year.
Image capture was with the RED One camera using Nikon lenses. Locations include the Maldives, Alaska, California, Cocos Island Costa Rica, and Mexico. Music was composed by Shie Rozow.


Howard and Richard - Synergy!

Howard and Richard - great people!

Remember this post?

Well, here is the footage.
This being from Howard and very much as anticipated, it is simply brilliant. And it once again confirms that my pal Richard Pyle is utterly and certifiably nuts - no not for riding the outside of a submarine, but for having done so in utterly frigid water dressed in nothing more than a shirt and shorts!
But we knew that already didn't we - WARNING: profane! :)

Anyway, enjoy!

And here is Richard once again.
This is why I like and admire him do much!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting the Shot - Bonefish and Permit!

Bonefish in Mexico - many more great pics here! Click for detail!

Marc Montocchio has done it again!

This is a special treat for the fly fishermen among us.
Both Bonefish and Permit are among the most elusive, challenging and thus most sought after and iconic fly game Fishes, and capturing any good pictures of them has been next to mission impossible.

Until now that is.
Using his signature combination of talent, inventiveness, obstinacy and technical prowess, Mark has once again succeeded in getting the shot, along with publishing a great blog post and stellar video.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Marty's Sharks!

Three's a Crowd, by Marty Wolff - click for detail!

We're currently hosting underwater photography royalty, and we were chatting about how the pros are being hurt by the hordes of camera toting amateurs, and how capturing, let alone selling unique pics from places like, say, TB has become virtually impossible.
And here comes this masterpiece by Marty Wolff.

And how about this one!

Lotta Bull, obviously from Shark Reef!

The recipe?
Like I said here, it starts with being a real photographer as opposed to just wanting to depict reality. But having witnessed him doing so, it then very much continues in post-production where Marty will apply his signature saturation and then something else that I'm not at liberty to disclose - tho a closer look at the Bull Shark pic may point you in the right direction. Add a sprinkling of experience and ideas about altered states of perception- et voilà, c'est servi!
Needless to say that I really like the dude! :)

Enjoy Marty's Sharks!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Fiji Bull Shark?

Carcharhinus dakuwaqa? Quite possibly!
Click for detail - and I mean it!

I knew it!
Not only are our bulls huge and the most incredible collection of charismatic, intelligent sharks on the planet, they may well be a totally unique population - if not more than that!
This was revealed last week at the AES meeting.

From the poster.

Global Population Genetic Structure and Parentage Analysis of the
Bull Shark (Car
charhinus leucas)

C. Testerman1, J. Brunnschweiler2, M. Heithaus3, S. Gulak4, J. Werry5, R. Jabado6, C. Jones7, and M. Shivji1
1Save Our Seas Shark Center USA and Guy Harvey Research Institute, Nova Southeastern University, Dania Beach, FL, USA, 2ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, 3Florida International University, North Miami, FL, USA, 4National Marine Fisheries Service, Panama City, FL, 5Ocean and Coast Research, QLD, Australia, 6United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, UAE, 7University of Aberdeen, UK

Project Synopsis

The bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) is a globally distributed, large coastal shark that occurs in marine, estuarine and freshwater habitats.

It has been assessed as near threatened by the IUCN, is caught in recreational and commercial fisheries throughout its range, and shows evidence of recent declines in the Gulf of Mexico. Regional population studies have reported mitochondrial but not nuclear differentiation between the western North and South Atlantic (Karl et al., 2011) and among juvenile C. leucas sampled in river systems across northern Australia (Tillett et al., 2012).

We expanded on these studies by evaluating the global population genetic structure of C. leucas using 12, bi-parentally inherited, nuclear microsatellite loci and a globally distributed set of 470 samples. Our microsatellite data revealed strong genetic differentiation between samples from the western North Atlantic (WNA) and Indo-Pacific (I-P). No population structuring was detected within WNA and Indian Ocean sampling sites.

Fig. 1. Species global distribution indicated in gold shading. Sampling locations with fewer than 10 samples were not included in the population-based differentiation statistical analyses (Fig. 2) but were included in the individual-based analyses (Figs. 3 & 4).
Click for detail!

Notably, however, samples from Fiji demonstrated statistically significant genetic structuring from the remaining locations sampled.

Fig. 2. Charcharhinus leucas genetic differentiation based on population-level statistical analyses. Colored shapes (ovals and square) represent genetically distinct populations. FST values (p = 0.0000) between each population pair are indicated by arrows. Sampling locations (indicated by circles) within each population are not genetically differentiated.
Click for detail!

Assignment testing (GeneClass2) showed evidence of a low-level of first generation migrants from the WNA and western Pacific among the southwest Indian Ocean samples, a surprising finding considering the strongly coastal nature of C. leucas. Finally, parentage analysis of 2 litters suggests that the species may be genetically polyandrous, although this hypothesis will need further testing with more litters.


Individual and population level analyses are concordant in showing at least 3 genetically distinct populations:
  • Western North Atlantic
  • Indo-Australia
  • Fiji
Fig. 3. pie charts indicate the average proportional membership coefficient of individuals in the 3 distinct lineages inferred from nuclear microsatellite genotypes by the program STRUCTURE. Pie chart sizes are roughly proportional to sample sizes.
Click for detail!

Three 1st generation migrants were identified, indicating contemporary movement from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans into the Indian Ocean. Complex patterns of migration and population structure require coordinated regional management efforts.
Parentage analyses of 2 litters revealed multiple paternity in both litters.

So there you have it!
This is the result of many years of DNA sampling on Shark Reef whereby so far, we've been able to send more than 70 samples to Mahmood - and counting as there are other, more local aspects we would like to explore.

So, do we have a Fiji endemic?
Probably not at all, because nearby locations like e.g. Tonga and Samoa are very likely to harbor the same Sharks. But from everything we know, Fiji with its robust population of Bull Sharks may well be considered to be the epicenter of this genetic strain, meaning that it would be perfectly acceptable to call this the Fiji Bull Shark - and depending on whether this is a subspecies/race or even an own species: how does Carcharhinus leucas dakuwaqa or Carcharhinus dakuwaqa sound to you!

Anyway, is this mega cool, or what!

The Sanctuary (that wasn't)!

Rusi and Granma - click for detail!

So here it is.

A short film commissioned to celebrate the incredible efforts of the Fijian people and their Government in creating the first ever Melanesian Shark Sanctuary which would have provided the most stringent and detailed protection for every Shark and Manta Ray in Fijian waters.
Unfortunately the decree did not pass and was rejected in July this year (2012)

"The Sanctuary" features interviews with leading shark experts, conservationists and the people who have dedicated their lives to understanding and protecting these magnificent animals every day.

We offer sincere thanks and the utmost respect to:

This film also features stunning underwater footage filmed on Shark Reef on the island of Viti Levu from the upcoming film "Of Shark and Man" which will be released in 2013.
Story here.
Again, there is nothing to celebrate - but David has invested an inordinate amount of time into completing it, and some wonderful people have agreed to participate. Now, this has become a tribute to their passion and generosity, and a testament to David's dogged perseverance and remarkable talent.
Thank you so much!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Giant Trevally - lethal!

Giant Trevally at Shark Reef - pic by Daniel.

Ever wondered why the GTs have that big head?
No, probably not for dominance fights like the Bumphead Parrots.

This may be one possible reason.
At least in Palau, they have been observed to attack and kill Sharks all the way to good-sized Tigers (!) by repeatedly, and incredibly persistently head-butting them on the area right behind the pectoral fins.

Paper here
Read it, it describes in minute detail how a GT attacked and killed two Blacktips, and then one hour-long lethal attack on a 3m Tiger Shark.
Absolutely fascinating stuff!

Shark Pencil!

Love it!
Story here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Conservation International - Fiji Bulls!

Yet another stellar pic of wallpaper Bulls by Lill - click for detail!

One more video with our Sharks!

LOVE it, for obvious reasons!
Yes this would once again be Shark Reef!
Apart from watching the various videos, you can read more about Conservation International's Shark work here.


And... did you notice something? :)

PS: Sharks mean business here!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Conservation International - Friend a Shark today!

Yup they can look toothy, too!

Very nice!
Conservation International is posting a series of Shark videos, and there are also several pieces about Sharks and Shark conservation on their blog.
Today's Shark of the Day is the Blacktip Reef Shark.

Recognize the site?
Indeed, this is from the best safety stop on the planet where our guests off-gas after having visited the Bulls in the Arena.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Feeding Frenzy!

Pic by Paul & Paveena McKenzie

Great footage!

The location is undoubtedly the same as here.
The Groupers are spawning Camouflage Groupers and whereas the majority of the Sharks are Grey Reefies, I also detect one Silvertip, two Sicklefin Lemons and some of the resident Blacktips C. limbatus. This is the holy grail of Shark cinematography, i.e. completely genuine natural predation.


David's PSA - awesome!

David in Fiji: realism and documentary guerrilla film-making with a cinematic delivery.

Love it!

And lemme tell 'ya, this has not been easy!
This has been an incredibly time consuming and difficult endeavor, a true labor of love that David Diley has taken on in his own time and on his own money . The clips are from a variety of cameras, with different formats and codecs requiring a lot of technical wizardry, and this on an editing suite that at the time consisted of little more than David's frustratingly slow laptop; and to top it off, the challenge lay in producing something fresh, different and positive within the strict 60-second confines dictated by the aim to eventually air it on local television. Having witnessed its creation from afar, I can attest to many, many moments of utter dejection due to lost footage and computer crashes - so the more power to David for having pulled it off in the end!
But read it here, straight from the horse's mouth - great post!

Shame the public in Fiji will likely never see it.
Barring a miraculous turn of events (don't hold your breath!), the Shark Sanctuary is toast and the best we can now aspire to is that the authorities will come true on their announcement that the upcoming Fisheries decrees will translate into effective Shark conservation measures.
For that to eventuate, the noise that has been, and I cite, a continuous irritant has to finally stop, as especially this government (!) does not appreciate being pushed and lectured in public - and I'll certainly leave it at that, the more as you can read a surprisingly insightful analysis of what happened here. It's not the whole story but it does contain a few valid pointers to the fact that as always in real conservation in a real world, things are far from being simple and straight forward - and yes, Andersen & Co's bloody interference at a critical time did certainly play a role!

But I'm digressing as always.

Please enjoy David's PSA.
As David explains here, it contains many of the stylistic elements that he has chosen for Of Shark and Man and that are also apparent in A Ray of Light. Featuring some of the Shark greats (thank you!), it is a testament to his creativity and technical brilliance - and of course, to the most incredible collection of charismatic, intelligent sharks on the planet! :)

And there's more!
David will shortly post a longer version featuring more awesome people and brilliant sound bites!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eli - Video Blog from Fiji!

Eli and a whole lotta BADness!

Very nice, thank you buddy!
We all really enjoyed having you here, and the conversations have been nothing short of epic! :)

Having said that, check this out!
Need I say more - and it has been like this since Sunday!

GWS Diving - Infographic!

Still my favorite Shark cage pic! Source.

Just got the following.

Dear DaShark

Shark Cage Diving is fast becoming the number one Extreme Travel Adventure and most talked about outdoor experience, and South Africa the best place to do it.
As a result, Marine Dynamics would like to share this awesome Infographic ‘The Great White Shark Cage Diving Hotspots of the world’ as well as a once in a life time opportunity. The infographic shows the few places in the world where people can safely shark cage dive with great whites. It includes a competition with a prize to the value of R25 000 (US$ 3400) and the possibility to enjoy a ‘Luxury Shark Cage Diving Adventure’ in sunny South Africa.

It's obviously a marketing gig for Marine Dynamics.
Now, were I to go GW cage diving, I'd go to Lupe - this because of the viz, because of the cool cages all the way to the SPSC and because I got friends operating there. But I'm posting this anyway, because the graphic is cool, because MD supports the excellent Dyer Island Conservation Trust but above all, because MD employs Michelle Wcisel who has impressed me by taking on the dipshits with an opinion and a keyboard!

You can click on the graphic to view the animated version.

Great White Shark Cage Diving Hotspots of the World - Infographic

Green Apple Award!

Remember Mangroves for Fiji?
We've just received the following.


I am pleased to advise you that the judges have scored your entry and your project has been selected as an International Green Apple Award winner.

We would like to invite you to collect your trophy at the presentation ceremony in
The House of Commons, London
Monday, November 12, 2012

I must confess that I know very little about this.
The entry was submitted by a friend and the website is rather spartan, so hopefully more once I find out some further details.

But great to see that the world is noticing!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fiji - Divers with Gas Burns?

Maybe related to hookah diving?

I have absolutely no clue what this means.
But I'm certainly going to try & find out - keep watching this space for some likely highly bizarre explanation!

79 new Sharks?

Jimmy's Emma - a different species than our Scarface? Great pic by Jim Abernethy.

Not at all!
Trust the journos to parrot the same erroneous information without ever bothering to consult the source! Even the abstract specifies clearly that the analysis comprises approx. 574 Elasmobranchs and that it has identified 38 potentially new species of Sharks and 41 potentially new Rays.
Be it as it may, that's a whole lotta new species - maybe!

The gist?
David has already posted this great review pointing out that if confirmed by further in-depth analysis, the results will have important consequences for conservation, especially for those species that are already classified as threatened with extinction.
Personally, being very much a lumper, I look at these findings with great skepticism - but then again, my taxonomy guru teaches me that the best definition of a species is what a good systematist says it is, so who am I to argue!

But what does that mean for us Shark divers?
Having finally found the time to read through the whole 263 pages, here are the results for some of the most commonly encountered Sharks, in the same order as presented in the paper. It's obviously a subjective selection and readers with a particular interest in other species may find them in the paper that analyzes about half of the species that are currently being recognized.
  • Silky, C. falciformis.
    One single species, with Atlantic and Pacific sub-populations.

  • Blue, P. glauca.
    One single species, possibly not warranting an independent monotypic genus

  • Grey Reef, C. amblyrhynchos.
    Now this is a really interesting one, as the authors are resurrecting the infamous C. wheeleri, or (short-nosed) Blacktail Reef Shark, essentially the Grey Reef from the Red Sea and also the Maldives etc.
    wheeleri can be distinguished by the white upper margin of the first dorsal fin and shorter snout, and by the fact that apparently, it never displays any of the typical agonistic behavior. It was thus once considered to be an own species but then lumped together with was then C. menisorrah (the Grey Reef from the Pacific) into the Indopacific C. amblyrhynchos.
    Here at Shark Reef, we see Grey Reefies with and without white tips and with varying snout lengths, meaning that I continue to remain highly skeptical that these are indeed different species.

  • Silvertip, C. albimarginatus.
    One single species with possible sub-populations.

  • Galapagos and Dusky, C. galapagensis and obscurus.
    The paper comes to the surprising conclusion that these may well be one and the same species, with the Galapagos merely representing the oceanic form of the Dusky that is confined to continental shelves and adjacent pelagic waters, but with sub-population from the Western North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Very interesting!

  • Oceanic Whitetip, C. longimanus.
    One single species although the samples were not sufficiently representative of its distribution.

  • Caribbean Reef, C. perezi.
    Very much unsurprisingly, one single species.

  • Blacktip, C. limbatus.
    Latest since the discovery of hybrids with C. tilstoni, the Australian Blacktip, this whole group including C. amblyrhynchoides, the Graceful Shark needs to be re-examined. Limbatus appears be at least two species, the Western Atlantic C. limbatus proper and then C. cf. limbatus (possibly C. pleurotaeniae) from the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Atlantic.
    Yes it's complicated!

  • Blacktip Reef, C. melanopterus.
    Possibly two species, one being from the Red Sea.

  • Bull, C. leucas.
    Possibly three species: C. leucas from the Western Atlantic, C. cf. leucas 1 from Asia and C. cf. leucas 2 from South Africa.
    This really comes as no surprise in view of the possibly record Bull caught in the Breede River, and as we're always hearing that our animals are substantially bigger than those from the Caribbean.
    But this may not even be the whole story: I hear that Mahmood is finally about to publish his own findings that include the specimens we have collected in Fiji, so keep watching this space!

  • Sandbar and Bignose, C. plumbeus and altimus.
    Possibly two species, one Indo-Pacific Sandbar C. cf. plumbeus (possibly C. japonicus) and then one Atlantic Sandbar C. plumbeus that however clusters with all specimens of the morphologically totally distinct Bignose!
    Talk about a taxonomic clusterfuck - literally!

  • Reef Whitetip, T. obesus.
    One single species.

  • Sicklefin Lemon and Lemon, N. acutidens and brevirostris.
    One single species each.

  • Scalloped Hammerhead, S. lewini.
    At least two possible species, S. lewini 1 from the Atlantic and Western Indian Ocean and S. lewini 2 from the Pacific, with possibly further cryptic sub-clusters at species level as e.g. reported here.

  • Great Hammerhead, S. mokarran.
    Possibly two species, S. mokarran 1 from the Atlantic and S. mokarran 2 from the Indopacific.

  • Tiger, G. cuvier.
    Possibly two species, G. cuvier from the Indopacific and G. cf. cuvier (possibly G. arcticus) from the Atlantic.

  • Shortfin and Longfin Mako, I. oxyrinchus and paucus.
    One single species each.

  • Great White, C, carcharias.
    One single species, however featuring an Atlantic/Indian Ocean and a Pacific sub-population - but then again, read this about the Mediterranean GWs!

  • Zebra, S. fasciatum.
    One single species.

  • Whale, R. typus.
    Probably one species.

  • Nurse, G. cirratum.
    Probably two species, G. cirratum from the Western Atlentic and then G. cf. cirratum (the Pacific Nurse Shark) from Baja as suggested by Castro.
And of the Rays
  • Manta, Manta birostris.
    The authors appear unconvinced of Andrea's resurrection of M. alfredi - but for once, having witnessed the obvious difference both in appearance and behavior between the Pelagic and Reef Mantas, I'm totally sold on the fact that there are at least these two species.

  • Spotted Eagle Rays, Aetobatus spp
    Will White has revised the Genus and come up with various species, i.e. the original Spotted Eagle Ray A. narinari from the Western Atlantic, the Whitespotted Eagle Ray A. ocellatus from the Indo-West Pacific, the Pacific Whitespotted Eagle Ray A. laticeps for Baja, the Longheaded Eagle Ray A. flagellum from India and Borneo and finally, an undescribed fifth possible species from Vietnam.
Of course, I remain generally unconvinced.
I'm an avid conchologist and have witnessed how the Cowries, once grouped within the genus Cypraea, have been subdivided into ever more genera, species, sub-species and races, this very much to the detriment of my wallet and to the delight of the traders. There it is business and here, I fear, much of it is excessive scrutiny.

Granted, I probably don't know what I'm talking about.
But to me, if two Sharks look and behave very much the same, let alone interbreed and produce fertile "hybrids" like C. tilstoni and C. limbatus, they are one and the same Shark.
But speciation is of course a gradual process, and the boundaries between species can thus be extremely fuzzy. As a consequence, the threshold of what constitutes a "species" will always be the result of convention rather than the "truth" - meaning that I'm both right and wrong! :)

What I find more compelling are the biogeographic aspects.
Apart from the strict endemics and the truly global pelagic species like the Blue, most Sharks are situated between the two and there exist distinct regional populations that may or may not be considered distinct species.
One such notable region is clearly the Atlantic where there are already a few Sharks featuring corresponding sister species in the Indopacific, like the Nurse/Tawny, the Lemon/Sicklefin and the Caribbean/Grey Reef Sharks. Other such regions are the Middle East, South-East Asia and Australia.

Long story short?
Whatever the ultimate definition of whether those local populations are species, sub-species, races or whatever, those distinct genetic pools warrant further investigation. And alas, they also warrant specific local management and conservation measures, meaning that the task at hand has certainly become even more daunting.

But a Tiger remains a Tiger remains a Tiger!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pelagic Life - stunning Video!

I must say, I'm in awe of this video.

From an old post.
Shark Diving has gone mainstream and is firmly nested within the entertainment industry. As in: I shall pay for a trip to Guadalupe Island and I shall see Great White Sharks - or else!
In the process, the original Heroes are gradually being replaced by media-savvy, nimble and business-minded service providers. Personality cult is being replaced by client service. Adventure and discovery, by interactive and notabene, guaranteed ecological encounters. Roughing it out on the high seas, by aircon, en suite bathrooms and warm towels. Individuality, by the need for a uniform global product. And alas, sometimes, excitement by bored indifference
And in the process, it has somewhat lost its soul.

This however is the real deal.
This is totally old school: this group is about personal quests, about testing one's limits, about fellowship, adventure and exploration. And of course, about amazing discoveries and encounters, like those absolutely stunning schooling Silvertips. And there is even a grass-roots conservation initiative.

Story here.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Shark people!

Did I just hear a collective gasp?

Yes, el hombre is right here, right now!
From what I can see, he's having a blast - and so are we!
This is part of a larger project which I'm not at liberty to divulge - but in due course, the following shall be revealed
  • is Eli wearing his signature baseball cap when diving in the SRMR?
  • is he feeding our Sharks?
  • have the Sharks started to cork screw?
Questions questions!
Keep watching this space as the drama unfolds!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Avoiding Shark Strikes?

Source (WARNING: graphic!)

What is going on?
Is it me, or is 2012 shaping up to be a particularly bad year for serious Shark strikes, several of which appear to be fully fledged predatory attacks?

Mind you, the numbers are still minuscule.
But these are horrific events and whereas they certainly don't warrant the hysterical reactions by the media, the public and the authorities, it would be equally wrong to just try and spin them away. Yes the sample size is so low that any authoritative statements about the precise causes of the specific events are likely to be fallacious - but that does not mean that we should refuse to talk about plausible hypotheses.

This is particularly true when it comes to the Great Whites.
We may be witnessing the result of successful conservation measures leading to increased populations of both the Sharks and their prey. And on the other side, it appears that there are also ever more aquatic recreationists frequenting ever more coastal areas for an ever longer period of time, the latter due to better weather gear allowing them to prolong the season. And this year, there may even be a weather component that may, or may not be linked to anthropogenic climate change.
Yes at this stage this may still be speculative - but it certainly warrants some closer inspection and once we should have obtained those data, we may well be faced with some highly uncomfortable conclusions. To be blunt: like it or not, that could even imply a revision of the conservation status of some local populations!

But that's then.
Right now, the solution is obviously adaptation.
This is essentially a numbers game, meaning that Shark strikes will continue to happen whatever we do - but we can certainly reduce the chances, and as always, doing so boils down to nothing more than common sense.

Here's the take of Neff .
It's a great piece and I like the suggestion that one needs to acknowledge and then try and minimize the inherent risks of one's activities. In his words

First, education means treating a trip to “the beach” like you would a trip to “the bush.”
This shift in thinking changes our expectations of safety and preparation. Looking at the ocean as the wild, (which it is) means making an informed choice about the risks we are taking based on our behaviour.

Camping alone in the wilderness is dangerous, as is surfing, swimming or snorkeling...

...Third, we need to assume that the beach is not “safe.”
As the wild, we presume that shark bites occur. However, since many of us (including me) love the ocean, there may be things we can consider, to better inform our decision-making and governments can tell us more.

Could not agree more!
But then,I had to laugh out loud when I saw, copy/paste
Here are three examples of steps governments can take to help people avoid shark attacks:
Really? After all that verbose preaching?
Anyway, good intelligent stuff, so kudos.

And here's an equally smart one by para_sight.
H/T Deep-Sea News.

Oh, and then, there is this.
Talk about getting straight to the point!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Big Yellowfin & OWTs!

That's quite a feat!
Story here.

And here's a nice piece about our friends at Matava!

Peter and the Sharks!

Blue Shark off the Algarve - source.

Remember Peter?

He and Georgina have just been in Portugal to kick off We Like Sharks.
This is a multifaceted program including Shark awareness, Shark research and hopefully, maybe even the establishment of Shark tourism in the Algarve. From what I can see, the local team is going through all the correct preliminary steps by involving the local stakeholders and trying to collect some baseline data before thinking about throwing in the first tourists - so best of success to them all!
Here's a report in Portuguese.

Notice the Tiger Shark?
Here's some better footage of that encounter in South Africa, with a plug for Peter's brilliant book about Sharks.

And have a look at this!
This would be Peter documenting the GFSC in April, in totally shocking visibility - maybe now you understand why I am so impressed by the results! The question being, who's the 90-year old Dutch Divinggirl? :)

Friday, August 03, 2012

Fiji Shark Sanctuary - not good!

So now it's official.

The Fiji Shark Sanctuary is toast.
Instead, there will be three new Fisheries Management Decrees, two of which (the third being Aquaculture) will contain special mention of Sharks. These are rather generic laws and only the regulations will then reveal what specific degree of protection Sharks will benefit from, or not.

So what went wrong?
As I said here, we're not part of the Sanctuary team - but one month ago, we were invited to what was billed as the very last stakeholder consultation and left extremely hopeful as the message from government could not have been more positive.

And now this.
No I'm not gonna comment - but I could!

Anyway, tempi passati.
Time for plan B.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Pet Polar Bear?

A completely different take on feeding the Bears!


I frankly don't know what to think about this.
Anyway, check it out.

Now, who does that dude remind me of...

Rolex Award for Barb!

Check out Barbara Block!

Yes this would be a scientific heavy-weight.
She's also the 800-pound gorilla dominating the US West Coast GW research scene and as such, opinions about her as a person are very much divided - and I will certainly leave it at that.

But this project sounds great.
So godspeed and congrats on the award!

Views on Conservation Groups!

Patric is right - this is a great post.

And, have you noticed the tags?
Enough said.

Interview with Doc!

Doc - definitely not just another Shark hugger!


Doc is this week's featured Nat Geo Explorer.
Interview here - enjoy!