Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shark Ecotourism in Fiji!

Read this.
Nice story that is being re-posted all over the social media.

But notice something?
Yes there is no mention whatsoever of us!
Galoa is our partner village, and it is they who get the lion's share of our marine park levy of FJD 20.00 that is also being used to compensate two other villages, Wainiyabia and Deuba for protecting the Sharks within the Fiji Shark Corridor. And if contrary to our observations, anybody besides us should really be patrolling any reefs, it would be us who have organized and sponsored their fish warden courses.

So thanks for nothing Fiji Times.
Once again, not impressed!

Shark Fisheries Management in Australia - 1956!

Bondi Beach, 1947 - already then protected by Shark-repelling swimwear! Source.

Watch this.

Just amazing isn't it.
And now, thanks in part to the WWF, they are taking it to the next level!

CITES - the hard Work starts now!

Top 20 ‘Rays, stingrays, mantas nei’ catchers, 2002-2011 (total capture, tonnes, FAO Fishstat). All countries reporting catches of ‘Giant manta’ (M. birostris) and ‘Mantas, devil rays nei’ are also included - click for detail!

 Any takers? :)
“There was great elation when these sharks and manta rays were listed in CITES this March, but although it was a significant moment for the conservation world, now comes the task of making these listings work in practice as time is running out for some of these species,” said Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC’s Marine Programme Leader.

“CITES listings do not take away the need for comprehensive fisheries management, they represent one critical part of that management through aiming to control trade and prevent international trade in products of these species being sourced from unsustainable or illegal fisheries.”

 “Key to implementing the CITES regulations will be the establishment of chain of custody measures to facilitate enforcement and verification that harvest is legal,” said TRAFFIC’s Research Officer, Victoria Mundy-Taylor, co-author of the new study.
You may want to reserve a good chunk of time to download and then read this remarkable document by Traffic, and big kudos to them for having done an extremely good job. It is as long and comprehensive as it is frustrating, and it illustrates the monumental challenge that is the implementation of the decisions taken this March.
And there are many surprises, like the unmasking of the Maldives as a major Shark fin exporting nation, page 5 which begs the question, how does that dovetail with the Shark sanctuary?
May this be yet another conservation scam like the PIPA?

But I'm digressing as always.
I was particularly interested in Part III, page 27ff.
Read it! It talks about the challenges of implementing the provisions, this especially in those developing nations whose resources are simply not adequate for performing those tasks.

But is that the only solution?
Why is it that everybody assumes that e.g. the Non-Detriment Findings must be financed out of public coffers and conducted by public officials, and not by those who make the money, ie the Shark exporters? Those findings are akin to ecological impact assessments - and those are usually paid for by the applicants and performed by independent contractors, not the authorities!
Is there any rational and legitimate, and for the matter, legal reason why this cannot be applied to Fisheries?

Please re-read this - and this!
Yes those paradigms need to be changed - especially now that the trade has become so big and so lucrative!


Arrivederci Rick!

Happier days - click for details.

Truly no good deed goes unpunished.

I just got this from Rick.

Friends and Colleagues...

It is with a heavy heart that I'm writing to inform you of my resignation from my position as Conservation Programs Director with the Coral Reef Alliance. My last working day will be August 9, 2013.

I have been with CORAL since early 2005.
It has been a rewarding experience filled with relationships that were unimaginable when I stepped into my role. The journey has been exceptional. It has certainly never been dull nor without drama. The value and importance of people and collaboration as the focus of CORAL's work has been emphasized and magnified time and again. Your belief in--and support for--CORAL's mission over the years is reflected in my confidence that the organization is in a strong position for my transition to new challenges.

I take from CORAL the strength of experience, the integrity of working on a globally significant issue, and the knowledge that our collaborations together over the years have catalyzed meaningful change for coral reefs and the human communities who depend upon them.

Until CORAL appoints a new director, please feel free to contact executive director Dr Michael Webster ( for any organizational issue, or assistant program director Jason Vasques ( for anything programmatic.

A heartfelt thanks for providing me guidance, inspiration, constructive council, and--from time to time--a receptive ear. It's not just rhetoric or "NGO speak" when I say that your collaborations made my successes possible. Your commitment in helping realize our shared missions has been powerful.

I'm not sure where my next steps will take me--and in truth I'm looking forward to taking my first real vacation in nearly nine years. But after I decompress, I look forward to our paths crossing again professionally or personally.

Cheers and my heartfelt thanks,

Rick MacPherson
Conservation Programs Director
Coral Reef Alliance 
That is of course the official version.
There are resignations and then, there are resignations - and this one stinks. And although I'm not privy to any details, I do know this: this is a huge loss for the Coral Reef Alliance. 
Rick is one of last year's honorable nominees, and what I said there is but a tiny glimpse of the enormous respect and affection I have for the man. In a conservation universe that is so often plagued  by lack of accountability, ludicrous agendas, widespread cronyism and outright bullshit, and the total waste of resources that goes with that, he shines by his uncompromising integrity, honesty and total commitment to the cause. And apart from his unmatched professional skills that range from great leadership and brilliant erudition all the way to the arcane arts of successful diplomacy, Rick is a real Mensch, a good man with a big heart.

Buddy you shall be sorely missed.
Only for a while, that is - because I have no doubt that once you have duly decompressed (indulge!), you shall rise again with new vigor and motivation, and with a much better job description.
And we shall all benefit from it.

Le Roi est mort - vive le Roi!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

US Fin Bans at Risk!

This is not gonna be a walk in the park.

Read this.
It describes the whole fin ban fisco including the ignominious role of WESPAC.
It also contains the links to the various petitions, and here is once again the post by Shark Savers with valuable pointers for your submission. Should you still be unsure, do have the Shark Defenders help you as many of the comments posted so far have been useless all the way to being harmful.
The comments period expires on July 31st, so if you haven't already, do it right away!

The oder side has not been idle.
Watch this video - it is of course propaganda, but it is never the less a correct representation of the majority of US Shark fishing insofar as the fishermen do not fin but take off the fins only once the carcasses have been landed.

Like all good propaganda, it all sounds reasonable.
But if the fin bans get overturned, you can bet that they will also land those Sharks that are now being set free because the meat has no commercial value, like the Blues, OWTs, Hammerheads, Silkies etc!

And those bans are still very much at risk.
The US Government is now actively involved in the fight to overturn the California fin ban and has filed this brief. This is not idle talk, it is a powerful document that contains strong arguments against the State, and it will be interesting to read the rebuttal by the lawyers of the pro-ban side.

If California falls, so will all other State fin bans.
With that in mind: is anybody working on compromise measures, like including language that selectively allows for fins from legal and sustainable Federal Shark fisheries - this obviously on top of continuing to vigorously fight the NMFS ruling?
Yes that would equal conceding a major defeat, especially when it comes to WESPAC and its attack on the Pacific Shark Sanctuaries - but it would at least curtail the international fin trade which is the stated aim of those bans in the continental US!

Just saying.
Remain completely inflexible and you may end up losing everything!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Warren - intrepid!

Or is it simply stoicism?

But first things first.
Thanks for this, buddy - much appreciated!

Really, it has been a great pleasure.
Apart from being a much-acclaimed underwater photographer, the father, so to say, of that world-famous parthenogenetic Zebra Shark and a committed marine conservationist, the man is just a genuinely nice person, and meeting him has been a great experience for both the staff and yours truly alike.

And the good things did finally happen, too!
After too many days of absolutely shocking conditions both above and underwater, Warren's super-human patience was finally rewarded with clear skies, calm seas and above all, crystal viz. 

And the Bulls did play.
They are still here in good albeit fickle numbers, meaning that we get 50+ on one day and then less than 20 on the following. We can now clearly identify who is pregnant (Gape is now officially confirmed!), and like every year, the composition is slowly changing away from a predominance of large females to more and more subadults, many of which pesky males.

Meaning that the action was hot hot hot!
Case in point: this video of a rather epic encounter! 
I was on the opposite side when it happened and can attest that whilst bodyguard Tubee was flailing around like crazy with his Shark prod whilst squeaking like Alvin, the man kept his cool and continued to snap away totally unfazed. So bravo to both for having handled the situation more than admirably!
Yes the man is rather intrepid - tho having put him in the really hot seat on his very last dive, I STILL wonder why, exactly, Warren then chose to strip out of his wetsuit, in frigid water, before boarding Predator!
Questions questions!

But I'm digressing as always.
Safe travels - and do come back anytime!

Every Shark Counts!

Click and then click again!

Bravo Sam - again!

These counts are indeed great tools.
If conducted and then analyzed correctly that is - and the Sharks Count project by Shark Savers, Christine's e-Shark and our Great Fiji Shark Count where incidentally, both Sam and Christine play important roles are some of the very best examples of such worthwhile citizen science programs.

Talking of which, I just got this.
Hi Mike, 
Here are general Shark Count stats: 
  • April 2012: 27 Dive operators participated, 855 dives, 3691 individual diver observations. 
  • November 2013: 14 Dive operators participated, 542 dives, 2342 individual diver observations 
  • April 2013: Incomplete as yet. I think a fair guesstimate for the final April 2013 count will be in the region of 15 Dive operators, 600 dives, 3000 individual diver observations.
I say, pretty awesome!
It's obviously still too early for detecting any trends, but the GFSC continues to be vibrant and will eventually provide for excellent scientific data - whilst being great tourism and outreach, and above all, great fun as well!

So bravo, and thank you to everyone involved!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Canada - WTF!


Watch this shit.

Just appalling!
Stories here and here.

The Porbeagle has been finally listed on CITES 2.
That listing does not forbid the trade but requires proof of sustainability = proper fisheries management, plus paperwork.

And Canada has opted out.
It joins the ranks of these bastards - whereas even China, the biggest consumer market for Shark fins and opponent of the listing has stated that it WILL abide by the CITES listing!
I take note of the excuses - so does that mean that Canada is to ratify the CITES listing at a later date?

We shall see shall we not!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pelagic BRUV!

Will eat anything! Source.

And further proof that them Tigers are really all the same!

I want one!
Development and validation of a mid-water baited stereo-video technique for investigating pelagic fish assemblages. Recorded as part of a scientific research project conducted by the Department of Fisheries and the University of Western Australia.
Details here!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meanwhile, in Donegal...

Shark-proof Wetsuits - Questions by Mark Gray!


And it gets even better!

Mark is this dude.
A renown Shark photographer, he is above all a fellow Shark diving industry professional - and having discovered those Shark repellent wetsuits, he has taken on SAMS and is publicly, and doggedly asking precise questions about their, and I cite, scientifically designed and developed shark repellent wetsuit technology.

I c/p it lest as so often, it gets "accidentally" deleted - much like the mentioned "other posting" that has disappeared from SAMS' FB page.
  • Mark Gray So you baited up two tiger sharks and they didnt bite the bucket you had your wetsuit wrapped that the science your using?
  • Shark Attack Mitigation Systems - SAMS Mark, our response to your other post on the site today refers. To clarify, the one minute video sets out one very short extract of a complex testing process, which has been conducted independently by University of Western Australia since January. We welcome you to investigate the science in more detail. The link to which you have responded sets out the science page at the SAMS website, and the FAQ page at may provide more information if you would like to check it out.
  • Mark Gray So the research hasnt involved Great White Sharks? Bit irresponsible in Marketing your products and stating that they "Protect" and "hide" without testing on the major species of sharks which has cause the fatalities in Australia in recent years..........?
  • Shark Attack Mitigation Systems - SAMS Mark, we are trying to come up with a positive solution, based in science. Independent testing will be an ongoing process, potentially taking many years as we discover how the full range of predatory species respond and progressively refine the visual technology. All ocean users are at risk and discretion and caution is always necessary. We think people know that. We are offering information on what we have found so far scientifically, and an alternative to a black neoprene wetsuit so that ocean users can consider that option and make a choice. We are very clear that we are not offering guarantees. Who could? We invite you to also contribute positively to this page. We have responded to two of your posts already on the same theme. If you have suggestions as to how we could better inform, such as making the position clearer on our website or including more detail in our FAQ's then please let us know. We would welcome your constructive contributions.

  • Mark Gray Well according to your previous posting the testing program has only started in January this year with that testing program only conducted on Tiger sharks with baited drums???. Wouldnt it be wise and responsible to do further testing on different species, namely Great Whites and Bull sharks and using test subjects which honestly represent how your wetsuits present themselves to potential predator shark (ie moving dummy surfer or diver)? With all your press releases and your youtube clip you refer to your products as "Protecting" or "Hiding" from a potential shark attack and base all your supporting evidence on a test which produced very limiting results. You have entered into a full scale marketing event without doing your homework on the so call technology and the testing involved. Now if you can not answer my questions from my own experience with sharks on a regualr basis and with little common knowledge well maybe you have a take a reall good look at your product and how your market it and yourself to the community and consumers. I have asked in a previous posts questions which I and I bet alot of others out there would be asking and the last response I recieved from you was to quote "Mark, we note and respect your perspectives and views" but failed to answer the questions at hand.
  • Mark Gray I accept your invitation to contribute positively to this page. What I would like to see is some more transparency to the technology, research, and what you conveyin your marketing of your products to the general public. I would like to see these 10 questions answered: 
     1. When did the in field testing start?
    2. When did your marketing campaign start?
    3. Has there been any testing of your wetsuits on Great White and Bull sharks?
    4. Has there been any other testing procedure which has not included baiting of sharks for attracting? If so what have they been?
    5. Has there been any testing which involved moving a simulated subject wearing you wetsuit through the water (both Diving and Surfing)?
    6. What in field testing program has been used to determine how Cryptic your wetsuits are? And how are the results differ with different visibility, water colour, overhead light ?
    7. Are the Cryptic dive wetsuits loose their ability to “Hide” when a scuba tank, BCD and fins are added?
    8. How does the Cryptic dive wetsuit hide the noise and sight of the bubbles of a scuba diver?
    9. Has the results of the research conducted by the WA University been published and if so which publication?
    10. Do you personally wear your SAMS wetsuit when your diving or surfing?
  • Shark Attack Mitigation Systems - SAMS Mark,

    Responding as follows:

    1. When did the in field testing start? January 2013 – refer previous post.

    2. When did your marketing campaign start? We have not started marketing, we did a media release to let people know what we are doing on Wednesday last week, and opened up the website for review, together with this Facebook page to encourage discussion.
    3. Has there been any testing of your wetsuits on Great White and Bull sharks? Not as yet, we have covered this in your earlier posts and elsewhere in the forum. The next set of tests are proposed to be with Great Whites.
    4. Has there been any other testing procedure which has not included baiting of sharks for attracting? If so what have they been? Not at this stage, the University of Western Australia is precluded from using humans or humanoid forms of any kind and have determined that the existing testing process is satisfactory. Baiting is a necessary practicality to get any engagement with sharks in experimental conditions.
    5. Has there been any testing which involved moving a simulated subject wearing you wetsuit through the water (both Diving and Surfing)? Not as yet.
    6. What in field testing program has been used to determine how Cryptic your wetsuits are? And how are the results differ with different visibility, water colour, overhead light ? We have responded to this question elsewhere on the site yesterday and will include in our FAQ’s at our website.
    7. Are the Cryptic dive wetsuits loose their ability to “Hide” when a scuba tank, BCD and fins are added? We have responded to this in your previous post.
    8. How does the Cryptic dive wetsuit hide the noise and sight of the bubbles of a scuba diver? Obviously it doesn’t.
    9. Has the results of the research conducted by the WA University been published and if so which publication? We have responded to this in the posts above.
    10. Do you personally wear your SAMS wetsuit when your diving or surfing? Yes.

    Mark, you have now posted somewhere between 20 and 30 questions to this page in the course of a couple of days, most of them repetitious. Some include personal statements that verge on troll-like behavior. We have respectfully attempted to answer them.

    We accept that you are not a fan of what we trying to achieve. Equally there are many people who see logic in the concept and wish to explore it further. Over the last few days, this has included previous shark attack victims making contact with us to see how they can help us in our trials.

    We will not be responding to any further posts from you, we hope you understand. If you continue to post in this manner we will, with regret, be obliged to exclude you from the forum.

  • Mark Gray its a shame that after you have invited me for constructive contributions in a previous post your now no longer going to response to my valid questions regarding your product. I am all for trying to achieve a much safer aquatic environment for all to enjoy but I am not a fan on the ways and means in which your company has mislead the general public by telling them that you are scientifically backed, have the technology which has proven itself, hides you from the shark when diving and putting the fear of god into the genral public especially in your youtube clip stating "now the deadliest coast in the world". You have based your whole product line on unfinalised research (Results from 6 months of a 24 months research project) and on a single species of shark which is not the major cause of fatal attacks here in Australia, under different conditions which would not apply for which your products are inteded to be used for. Your Youtube clip and media releases do not included any of the cautionary comments which you have included in you website and your response to my questions above show that your more concerned about getting your product out into the public eye well before any of the scientific results and conclusions have been finalised which to me makes me believe that your company is more concerned with making a quick buck and not addressing the public saferty of water users. Lie to the genral public and you will be bitten on the arse but my concern is more for the safety of potential users of your products who have bought your product based on your mistruths and false advertising.
 Mark has summed up his conclusions as follows.

 Mark Gray From the SAMS face book page they finally answered done of my point blank questions.

1. The field testing is a 24 month on going process which started January 2014. Final results are still 18 months away.
2. The field testing is based on one species
of shark (tiger) which was attracted by baits
3. The field testing has not involved Great White sharks or Bull Sharks to date
4. The field testing does not include testing similar sized subject which would represent the shape and movement of a surfer or diver. According to SAMS bait is required to attract sharks to the test subjects.
5. The cryptic dive suits are tested in clear water on a bright day not results given regarding low light, cloudy, or reduced visibility water quality.
6. Cryptic dive suits also require cryptic patterns to be also applied to scuba tanks, BCD, fins to make the wetsuit cryptic.
7. Cryptic dive wetsuits will not hide the user from the sight of their bubbles or the noise of their breathing.
8. SAMS acknowledged that GWS do attack using a breach method on silhouette prey on the surface.
9. SAMS also acknowledged that sharks also use other senses other than vision to hunt prey.

On the basis that field testing was performed by using baited drums on the test subjects of two tiger sharks in clear water in bright days with this testing only in its 6 month out of 24 set aside for a finalized conclusion makes me believe that SAMS is more interested at cashing in on the fears if the general public that spending time for proper ethical research to base their products on.

And to the Oceans Institute, this:

Sounds like your cashing in with the developers and using half truths to sell wetsuits that "Protect" and "Hide" you from all species of sharks. 
This is making your research look like as joke and is tied up with a bunch of snake oiler promising the world but delivering nothing

As I first mocked, and then stated: it's just total BS and shameless profiteering!

Meanwhile, in la-la land...
David has unearthed yet another priceless life saving  video by Eternal Youth Empire aka Israel-Light  - how to retard ageing by a whopping 30%!!!
And this time, it's all, gasp, for free!


But beware!
You got to clean up the pineal gland, or it's all for naught!

Yes this is (caps lock) SCIENCE!
Exactly like her striped wetsuit - and incidentally, EXACTLY like the wetsuits by SAMS!

To be continued no doubt!

Meanwhile, off the Central California Coast...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Eternal Youth Empire aka Israel-Light?

Source = 16 minutes of pseudoscientific BS!

And I cite
High Intensity Discharge for those who wish to Sleep in Peace is a charity organization and trusted self-help authority dedicated to helping humanity refine its collective consciousness. 

We are a group of artists / environmentalists / philosophers / humanitarians /animal loving vegetarians / scientists / attorneys / surfer mavericks with more life experiences than degrees to which we attribute our learning. Sure we have degrees and awards if that sort of thing impresses you. What impresses us is a great day surfing and coming home to our significant other. 

We are here to save lives.
Yes this would be the scientific development team for yet another striped Banded Sea Krait (not a Sea Snake!) mimicking Shark repellent wetsuit!

Did I say, New Age?

And here's the verbose inventor!

If not, you may wanna go and read the absolutely mind-boggling debate on this post by Shark Year, including, and I cite again, tons of scientific evidence!
And should you still not be convinced , here's Veronica Gray aka scenester reciting her mantra in Louisiana - inclusive of the "dead in 8 seconds" factoid. Did you check out the link - severe envenomations can be successfully treated even 7 to 8 hours after the bite! And - remember the striped Seal decoy by Marine Dynamics!
Talk about a (banded) snake oil saleswoman on fucking steroids!

Yes it's all total BS and bunk science!
JSD's comment is spot on - it's all of that (wowza!!!), plus brazen profiteering!

And so it goes...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The anti-Shark Wetsuits - Two!

So much for zebra stripes deterring predators! Source!

OK, yesterday I had a bit of fun.

But actually, this is a serious issue.
The word that comes to mind is unconscionable.
Far from being good technology that has proven itself as stated in the promotional video and suggested by those dozens of press releases, this is yet again one of those commercial scams targeting the fear of Shark strikes - and if the testimony of Peter Moore in this thread is any indication of the anxiety pervading the surfing community in Western Australia, the brazen marketing strategy may even be successful!

I was intrigued by the comment by Marine Dynamics.
Upon asking for more details, I got this answer.
Our lucky seal decoy is made out of a Zebra striped rug (we were desperate for materials). 
Not only is it good for breaching, but even during a chum trip where the sharks have plenty of time to suss it out, they still go for Zebra!
The zebra suit is just bullshit, much like the camo suit that will, if at all, only work as long as its wearer will remain completely motionless and not expel any bubbles - or does anybody really believe that those Sharks are too stupid to detect a person underwater, the more as they are wonderfully equipped for finding their natural prey that is often exquisitely camouflaged?

And the science?
Like in the case of the Shark Shield, the various chemicals and those metals and magnets, I have no doubt that some positive effects have been detected in small, controlled experiments.
But to take those findings and then simply declare them relevant for the prevention of Shark strikes is at best naive and at worst, utterly ruthless and criminally negligent - the more as under certain conditions, they may sometimes even favor instead of repelling a strike, see the zebra decoy and the controversy about the Shark Shield!
We for one would never allow such a garishly striped suit on our Shark dive, ever!

Here's the catch: we'll never know one way or the other!
Like yours truly and others have said a million times, Shark strikes elude science, this because in real life, they are subject to too many variables and are simply too rare to warrant any statistical analysis, and because they cannot be properly tested via the scientific method - as in getting thousands of volunteers splish-splashing around somewhere in the presence of those large predatory Shark and then comparing the results of one variable (= e.g. the zebra wetsuit) against those of a (in this case = suicidal!) control group. 
Or would those assertive gentlemen in the video oblige and personally showcase those suits at one of the GWS aggregation sites - maybe even with the token Shark media whore filming them in slo-mo?

Long story short?
Normally I couldn't be bothered less.
There's plenty of scamsters out there, and there's equally plenty of credulous suckers eager to hand them their money - as amply proven by the stupendous size and growth of quackery and the various bizarre ramifications of the New Age movement ranging from crystal skulls all the way to Lemuria.
So if those aquatic recreationists want to fork out 500 bucks for a textile placebo, good on them - Shark strikes are so incredibly rare that wearing or not wearing those Shark repellent wetsuits will have zero effect, at least when it comes to the statistics.

That is, only if all other variables remain unchanged!
But what if those surfers and spearos were to change their behavior in response to their misguided sense of security, and engage in riskier activities as a consequence? That is definitely a possibility as amply documented by other (legit) safety devices like e.g. dive computers - and if anything should happen, does anybody believe that this meager disclaimer is gonna hold water?
We shall see shall we not!

No worries re the manufacturers.
That's clearly their assumed business risk.

But what about those researchers?
Considering the breathy marketing, the essentially untested and thus misleading scientific foundation (great formula!) and chart and especially, the brazen assurances - is that really something Professor Shaun Collin and Professor Nathan Hart and especially, the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia want to lend their name to, this in view of the very real risk of being held liable for any future mishaps?

Questions questions!

PS Pete Thomas here - totally forgot about the demented rash guard!

Curious GWS!

Watch the same from Oz here!

Pucker Factor 9.7!
NOTE: A Pucker Factor of 10 can only be truly achieved upon death or dismemberment!

Story here!