Friday, May 31, 2013

The global Value of Shark Diving - Paper!

Another brilliant one by DaMary!

Read this paper (click on study).
Synopsis by Pew here.

It is certainly well intentioned.
As one of those Shark diving operators, I cannot but applaud it - and yet, I am irritated as I got a gut feeling that the numbers are inaccurate and that the conclusions may be questionable.

Or maybe they aren't.
More about it tomorrow once I've done some more fact checking

Reef Conservation in Fiji!


Check this out.

Totally agree, at least when it comes to Fiji.
Our coastal people need to be able to feed themselves from the Sea, and slapping on bans on the entirety of their traditional fishing grounds is simply not acceptable. In general, however, I'd rather see a network of large MPAs like in Australia rather than trying to preserve those comparatively very small pieces of habitat where their reduced size alone is making each highly vulnerable to degradation.

The author, Joshua Drew, will be here shortly.
This will have dire consequences.

Keep watching this space!

Fishing and Conservation - incompatible?

Source - click for detail!

Not necessarily.
But it aint gonna be easy!

And I cite.
Are we on a collision course with biodiversity and the Earth’s restorative capabilities?
If these conflicts are not proactively addressed, we will lose fish, fisheries, and treasured traditions of interacting with them. But if the conflicts are addressed proactively, we might enter into an era of “savvy stewardship.”
Read this, it is really excellent.
The problem of course being, that zero, let alone negative population and economic growth are nowhere in sight. We will inevitably get to at least 9-10 billion (if you haven't yet, do invest 13 minutes to watch this - the amazing part starts at 10:00!), and postulating a global freeze of economic growth would equate to squashing the aspirations of the developing and especially, of the underdeveloped world and simply not be ethical.

And it would also not be smart.
Watch this, again by the incomparable Hans Rosling.

Long story short?
We might be able to stop population growth - but only once those poor people move to the right = once they, too, increase their individual ecological footprints!

There are no easy solutions here.
We have long passed the tipping point of where we could have invented some form of living in harmony with nature, or the like, and those who advocate such new-agesque utopias are either stupid or money grabbing quacks and charlatans.
Instead, we will have to engage in some form of compromise whereby whilst we will continue to grow economically, we will need to try to limit the worst impact, spread it as widely as possible in order to avoid accumulation of risk, and then engage in the mitigation of the consequences and where possible, in the restoration of affected biota.

And the fishing vs conservation dilemma?
The need to feed 9 to 10 billion people, most of which will demand more and better food will exert tremendous pressure on all biota including the ocean. 
We can try to address the problem of overfishing by advocating aqua-farming of less problematic species like, say, Tilapia - but the extraction of marine wildlife will continue, and from a conservation point of view, the only realistic solution there is to advocate strict sustainability whilst promoting the creation of vast protected areas where some of the marine biodiversity will at least be given the chance to ark into a hopefully better, albeit more distant future.

That is the hope.
But is it realistic?
Frankly, dunno - but it is at least a possibility and as such, certainly worth pursuing. 
As I said here, let's however be clear that whatever wilderness the next generations will inherit will be less biodiverse and require constant proactive management.
And that's the best case scenario.

And on this happy note!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Watch this.

Looks like the roomba Shark cat was not the nadir of cat media quite yet - and anyway, why do I keep thinking that this is nothing but a thinly veiled hint at eating pussy!

Ils sont fous ces Japonais!

Ozzie Sam - excellent Shark Media!


If only all Shark photographers would care as much!
Sam Cahir does combine brilliant, and always improving photographic skills with the genuine wish to do something for the animals he loves. He demonstrates this by enabling great pro-Shark stories like here, but also by donating all of the proceeds from his pictures sales to the GWS research and conservation efforts of the Fox Shark Research Foundation.
Picture gallery here.

Kudos mate - way to go!

Shark Photographers - behold!

Just how good is this - click for detail!

This is how you do it.
I told you that she's an accomplished Shark photographer!
There's more Bull Sharks than ever, and we've developed now procedures that allow you to capture images just like this one right from the wall and whilst being perfectly safe.

The peak season is right now!


DaMary, Lupodiver and the predators!

We've just said goodbye to Mary and Lupo.

We're honored, really.
Mary is of course none other than the same Mary O'Malley who pretty much single-handedly developed the Manta Ray of Hope project (of course, h/t to Shawn and to Paul Hilton!) and doggedly stayed the course  all the way to the epic decision of CITES to list them on Appendix 2 - and this also very much in the face of all that petty bickering by those Mobula fans, or whatever! And btw, now that she has shown everybody how to do it: have those EXPERTS learned the lessons, and will they come up with anything substantive for 2016?
We shall be watching!

Mary is my current Shark Conservationist of the Year and one of the very few people in Shark conservation I respect unreservedly and whose advice I will often seek and mostly heed.

This has really been rather epic.
Mary and Lupo are both accomplished and highly experienced Shark divers and also photographers, the Bull Shark action was off the charts, and we managed to stage some memorable (...!) encounters - not to mention the conversations on and off the boat!

And the bikini?
Yes she wears one!
Because she can, in spades - but under the wetsuit!
In fact, whilst being equally pretty, she is everything those bikini bimbettes are not: smart, determined, result-oriented, diplomatic - but above all, frustratingly humble all the way to outright self-effacing. 
In fact, where everything the bimbos do is geared towards shameless self promotion (yes Julie Andersen, I'm looking at you!), Mary would rather totally fade into the background, and her many accomplishments would go completely unnoticed were it not for the accolades by her friends and admirers - as it should be!

But I'm digressing as always.
This has been a really memorable, productive and highly rewarding week, and good things will come from it. There are great developments within Shark Savers where Mary sits on the board, and our already proven cooperation is about to be expanded to new projects.

Keep watching this space!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How many GWS in California?


And I cite.
George H. Burgess, curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File, is among nine scientists nearing completion on a separate census study that will show that there are more than 2,000 adult and sub-adult white sharks off Central California
That study is expected to be submitted for review by state and federal regulators. 

Chris Lowe, a professor of marine biology at Cal State Long Beach who has been conducting state and federally permitted white shark research since 2002, said, "The growth of the great white shark population is the most stunning recovery of a marine fish species we have."
Article here.

It's exactly like I said in the yearly re-cap: those numbers of only a few hundred GWS are bad science and will be reviewed, and listing them on ESA and CESA is unnecessary and a total waste of money!
Oceana - once again, not impressed!

To be continued no doubt!

Aliwal Shoal - partial Success!

Read this.
Not quite done but nearly - at least when it comes to Rocky Bay!

This time, I didn't find any breathy self-congratulatory posts by the Shark Angels who are incidentally not even being mentioned, let alone thanked. Having witnessed the last unappealing public catfight, I would put it down to the usual SA tribalism as I'm quite certain that Mark Addison & Co have contributed their part to this success.

So, kudos to everybody involved!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Megalobomb - brave or suicidal?

I would say, suicidal - the more as she lives right there!
Having dared to call foul on some of the BS coming out of South Africa, I can tell you plenty of unappealing stories about the tribalism, the idiotic conspiracy theories, the circling of the wagons and the lynching of the messenger - even in cases where the end result of the fracas was a clear overall improvement like in the case of the ZIBS

But of course that's why she's DaBomb!
She's got guts, and being both a researcher and an industry insider, she's clearly got the faculty to analyze the sharky shenanigans like few others do - if any at all!

And once again, I must concur with her assessment.
The mimic kelp, or whatever, is a load of unsubstantiated crap - much like all those magnetic and other gizmos by Sharkdefense where the effects, albeit unequivocal, are simply not strong and predictable enough to be of any real practical use. 

But maybe I'm wrong,
But then, how about first performing the rigorous research and only then dazzling the public with some spectacular, replicable and peer reviewed data - 1'000 years later

Or here's a suggestion.
Deploy a circle of plastic kelp in Shark Alley and then throw in a) plenty of bait and b) ABC4's Shark-conserving bikini bimbos - obviously whilst he films them in super slo-mo, LIVE! 
Now, THAT's what I call REAL science!!!

But I'm digressing as usual.
All I wanted to say is, read this great post by Megalobomb!
To be continued no doubt!

And, we shall keep checking on her well-being and physical integrity!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Best Shark Dive in the World?

Now THAT's a Bull Shark - not those Sardines in Bimini! :)

You betcha!

Nice trip report by Martin right here!
Thanks buddy!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Global Shark Park Strategy Co-ordinator?

Check out this position with the WWF!

Shark Park huh.
Is that something different from a Shark Sanctuary and if so, in which way? I think I know - and if so and if the involvement of the WWF in Western Australia is any indication, then the principal focus will be on good management and sustainability, something I very much approve of!

Interested - and suitably qualified?
I think it's a great position - and being based in Suva, you can come Shark diving on the weekends! :)

So, give it a shot!
Wishing you the best of luck!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chris - Thank You!

Scarface and Rusi, by Terry Goss - still one of the most iconic images ever captured in the SRMR. Click twice for detail!

I must confess that I am quite touched.

A person named Chris has left a comment on David's post.
I totally ignore who that may be - but after all these years, this is without a doubt one of the nicest and most insightful statements about us I have ever read.
It says.
Then there are the dive operators that do it right. 
They've figured it out. 

One is obviously Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji, and the other is run by a friend of mine in Roatan, Honduras. Both have, through their dive offerings, accomplished real research and advancement of conservation goals. The dive in Honduras even got the government to change laws pertaining to finning and fishing after proving to them the touristic worth of a live shark. 

The Fiji operation is something special though. 
It should be a model for every conservation group on earth. My theory is that this is due to not only Mike's passion and realistic approach towards his chosen subject, the shark, but also due to his background in international business which has allowed him to really put something workable together and then MAKE it work. 

In both cases the dive environment has benefited from the presence of sharks; the coral is healthier, there are MORE lower level prey species and grazers, and the dives are just spectacular. 

The BAD/ Fiji dive in particular is still one of if not THE best dive I have ever done. 
It's the perfect dive. And you don't feel guilty afterwards. You feel like you've contributed to an effort to save a reef, and protect and understand a species.
This is really, really nice - thank you so much for that!
But the praise really goes to our core team of Fijian staff, and friends - Nani, Manasa and Rusi
It is they who took a huge risk in taking a leap of faith and quitting their job for what many thought were the pipe dreams of a total lunatic, and they have remained steadfast and loyal throughout the hardest of times. I will pass on the compliments to them as it is things like this that keep fueling our passion.

A huge  Vinaka vaka levu from all of us!

Tiger Shark Express!

Source - click for detail!

I obviously haven't seen it.
But from what I can discern, it features the iconic Doc aka the Grand Mufti of Shark research, Guy Harvey and Mahmood - and for that reason alone I fully expect it to be nothing short of stellar!
Story here.

And here's the trailer - narrated by none other than Guy himself!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nani - Article in the Fiji Times!

Bless the Fiji Times!

They have published a brilliant piece about Nani.
What can I say, she is everything they claim her to be.

And then some!
Loved by the staff and our clients alike, she is truly the keystone without which BAD would inevitably unravel and fall into ruin, a wonderful human being, strong, compassionate, brave and funny, and one hundred percent honest, loyal and professional. We are incredibly lucking in having her and I am fortunate to count her among my good personal friends.

Enough said.
Please do read the article here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Certified Shark Fins from the USA?

NW Atlantic fishery for Spiny Dogfish - apparently sustainable. Source.


You really must read this post by Chuck.
It's as clear as it gets so there's really no need to paraphrase and elaborate.
The principal statement is included in the Abstract of the underlying scientific paper and reads
Our results suggest that the species listing would provide an economic benefit for the US Northwest Atlantic fishery, and will eventually foster the conservation status of other regional stocks worldwide and the search for a more sustainable global exploitation of spiny dogfish.
Ring a bell?
The argument is very similar to what has been said with respect to the MSC certification of the Western Australian Shark fishery, i.e. that proper management including sustainable fishing of some Shark species is possible, and that instead of continuing to oppose it, we should embrace it as best practice despite of its imperfections, and those of the certification process - or even better: we should become part of the process and rectify those imperfections!

We should actively help promote a premium market for those products much like what is being done for Tuna where everybody appears to be of the opinion that it is great - and this inclusive of the fins of those sustainably caught Sharks!

But be it as it may, those Spurdog fins aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
The ever expanding network of those blanket US fin bans is blocking the exports and depriving the honest US fishermen that abide by the rules of critical income that may well be the key to their economic survival. Not good - and I must also say that I was quite appalled by some of the comments on this post delineating the stance of the US National Marine Fisheries Service!
And yes, I'm still eagerly waiting for a simple answer by the fiery José Truda Palazzo Jr.,  heroic Wikipedia page and all! :)

Don't like the certified Shark fins idea?
No worries, others do - and once again without being at liberty of getting into detail, expect some developments soon!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

David about Shark Feeding!

Great pic by Sasha - click for detail!

This was the first time I heard about David Diley.
Doug Perrine sent me the article and I thought, very cool - and the rest, as they say, is history.

And David is at it again!
Make yourself comfy, relax, take a deep breath and then read this post. It is as brilliant as it is long, meaning that you should really invest the time to read it in its entirety, and then probably read it once more - and no, I'm really not gonna weigh in, the more as BAD is being continuously mentioned as an example for best practice, which it frankly also is!
Plus, I don't advocate Shark feeding!

You shouldn't be. 
If you've paid close attention to this particular thread within this blog, I'm not at all of the opinion that it MUST be done. On the contrary, I'm very much of the opinion that nothing beats the awesome experience of witnessing Sharks doing their natural thing, like in, say, Palau, Malapasqua, the Sardine Run, Ningaloo, Fakarava or Cocos!

But of course those predictable natural aggregations are rather rare.
Plus, some of those Sharks are very shy, meaning that the encounters, although highly rewarding, can be very brief indeed.
Other than that, encountering Sharks in the wild is difficult for some species and all-but-impossible for others, meaning that in most cases, anybody wanting to showcase them to paying customers will have to resort to some form of baiting.

That's obviously what we do here in Fiji.
There, I'm of the opinion that it is neither harmful to the Sharks and their habitat nor to the humans, a fact that is increasingly being corroborated by recent research, this with the caveat that it only applies to large spatial and temporal scales.
But whereas there are certainly small scale effects like e.g. changes in species composition due to competitive exclusion by the boldest or most aggressive species, or the disruption of diel patterns in provisioned Sharks, there does not yet exist any substantiated evidence that those effects are harmful, at least not in the long term. That is, provided that there are some sensible protocols preventing excesses like those that have been recently documented for the Stingrays in Cayman!

But I said that I wouldn't weigh in.
Please go and read David's post.

Kudos mate, well said!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bull Shark Soup!

Click for detail!

Re-posted from Martin Graf's business Facebook page. He has posted it straight from his camera without correction,  whereas I've taken the liberty to marginally increase the contrast and add a watermark.
Now THAT's what I call wallpaper Bulls!

This is from today's dive, Martin's last.
Lousy viz and overcast, but the action was fast and furious - and yes, those would all be big Fiji Bull Sharks of between 2.5 and 3.5 meters in length coming to say goodbye!
I count 34 but it may be more - and that's only a partial view! 


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shark Conservation and the Holocaust?

Total baloney - and Jupp's totally agrees! Source

Out of the blue, Josef Freiherr von Kerckerinck zur Borg has just seen it fit to post a comment on an old post about the Phytoplankton nonsense.

Normally, I wouldn't bother.
Europe is awash in pompous Niederadel, a dime a dozen, and one more messianic Hainarr who has done some Shark dives and now believes that he knows something about something is neither here nor there, totally irrelevant. But Jupp is of course the President of the SRI, and as such, their BS and his assorted platitudes are being regularly  mentioned on this blog, inevitably not in a flattering way.

Case in point, his revamped website.
The Phytoplankton reference is thankfully gone, along with the laudatio of his friend and guru Erich Ritter.
Instead, immer schön frei nach dem Motto I am not a scientist nor am I claiming to be one; but I am not stupid either, we find pearls of erudition like
By the year 2017 nearly 100 of the approximately 500 species of sharks will have been extinct. In the eyes of many scientists, the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is already biologically extinct.
And we learn that
They keep water-birds (!!!) and seals (!!!) at viable numbers, that coral reefs without reef sharks will die within one year (repeated in this recent and otherwise charming interview on German television), and that if we humans continue to destroy this controlling factor in the ocean, we will eventually create the largest ecological disaster in the history of mankind - see Ritter here. Yes that would be Shark fishing - not climate change, habitat degradation and pollution!
Whatever - as I said, it's all rather irrelevant.

But this I believe is egregious.
This is the comment by the president of the SRI, re-posted in its entirely lest it gets "accidentally" deleted.
Mike Neumann is a very mean person and a bloody liar. Quoting things out of context, to make me look bad; quoting things I might have said years ago, when I had little or no knowledge about the ocean and the sharks, is typical for him. I don’t believe that I ever used the words he is putting into my mouth.

Maybe he just does not like me because I am a German and he is still living in the bad days of the 1930s. But even in that case he is wrong again. I was a baby then and my mother spoke out publicly against the Nazis. She was even taken to court a few times because of it. Do you, Mr. Neumann, believe in public guilt? So did they.

Now you are trying to make me look like an idiot in order to make yourself look like a hero; or like the self-righteous super brain of all experts on the ocean and the sharks. Mike, I am sure that you are a smart person, who has a very good way with words, much better than I do. However, it is obvious that it does not help you to get over your inferiority complex. Think about it and leave me alone.
No I'm not gonna elaborate.
I trust that everybody understands exactly what's going on here. Thankfully, far from being representative for the Germans, people like that are very much the minority - and time is ticking.

In diesem Sinne.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Martin: fearless!

BAD to the bone!

He's been with us for the past four days and is posting pic after pic of assorted Sharks big and small!
Very cool!

Martin is of course none other than this dude.
Ten plus years of diving with those big GWS in Lupe is of course quite impressive, and we did show him our respect by throwing him into the hot seat pretty much from day one - and I must attest to the fact that he has passed with flying colors and never even flinched despite of some remarkable encounters, see below!

That was close - click for detail!

Of course his visit will have consequences.
I'm not at liberty to divulge any details quite yet - but we've talked a lot and very much see eye-to-eye when it comes to our crazy industry and the best way forward if we want to ensure good, sustainable long term business whilst always acting in the best interest of the animals. 
Yes, we're concocting something - expect fireworks! :)

Keep watching this space!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Orca vs GWS - interesting Footage!


No they don't lurk - they just do their thing.
But other than that, nice!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Mako vs Swordfish!


Awesome - tho the Swordfish may beg to disagree!

Still, the best ever Mako predation video remains this one.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Topless Bikini Bimbette! And there's a Shark!

Yeah I know I know...

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Fiji - Job Opportunity for Marine Scientist(s)!

Awesome pic by Ozzie Sam - click for detail!

The following ad will be posted in this Saturday's Fiji Sun.

Beqa Adventure Divers, one of Fiji’s preeminent shark diving operators, is looking to hire a Marine Scientist 

Required minimal qualifications
  • Degree in Marine Science from one of Fiji’s tertiary institutions 
  • Solid knowledge of marine ecology
  • Fiji national
  • Excellent computer skills, specifically in working with all Windows Office applications 
  • Excellent English both orally and in writing 
You will 
  • be involved in various cutting-edge research and marine conservation initiatives together with our resident marine scientist and various visiting researchers. If so wished, at a later stage, you will be given the opportunity to work on your Masters or PhD thesis 
  • be a full member of our diving team, for which we will train you to PADI Dive Master if so required.
We are an equal opportunities employer and do not discriminate based on gender, culture, rank, age or ethnicity, and expect the same from you.
Whilst offering you excellent compensation, fringe benefits and working conditions, we will expect you to be self motivated, independent and reliable, to develop your own initiatives and to always give us your best effort, including the willingness to work after hours and to continue improving your professional and academic know-how and skills. 

We will not tolerate any absenteeism, dishonesty and substance abuse, all of which will lead to instant dismissal. 

Successful applicants will be requested to take up residence in the vicinity of Pacific Harbour. 

Candidates are requested to send their application inclusive of scans of any relevant certifications by e-mail only, this to, after which they will be invited to attend personal interviews. 
There you have it.
The work is hard but very rewarding - but only provided that you really have a passion for the ocean and specifically Sharks, both in terms of research but also conservation. If not, and if you are merely looking for any job, you will likely not succeed, especially in the long term.
Also, whilst respecting everybody's culture, please take note that we do not run on Fiji Time and that we do not subscribe to the notion of there being a cultural exemption for non-performance - I'm sure you understand.

You can apply immediately when you read this.
We will closely scrutinize your CV and practical experience in the field is going to be a great advantage. Please also familiarize yourself with our activities prior to any personal interview.

Wishing you the very best of success!

Marty - just futzin' around!

Click for detail!

And this is how it looks when he doesn't!
Love'ya buddy!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Amazing Places to swim with Sharks!

Great pic by Andrej Narchuk - click for detail!


Somebody likes us!
Whoever it was, thank you for mentioning us to Fox News and to The Active Times (and here) - link to website and all! 
Actually, our Bull Shark season runs from mid-December to September, but that's just detail - all-in-all, great stuff!

Vinaka, much appreciated!