Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Anniversary Offer!

Time flies!
Believe it or not - BAD will be turning ten years old in April!
Boy has this been an interesting adventure...

We want you to join our celebrations, so there:
  • For the whole month of April, 2014, we're slashing our prices to FJD 200.00 for two-tank Shark dives and FJD 150.00 for two-tank reef/wreck dives!

  • Only precondition: you must make a direct booking with us

  • All other applicable costs (e.g. marine park levy, fuel surcharge, rental gear, nitrox etc) remain unchanged.

  • Cannot be combined with other discounts, perks and specials.
And April will also be the next Great Fiji Shark Count!

Cool? :)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bimini Hammers!

For once, not one of those boooring distorted super-wideangle shots!


Story here - well done Steve!
Let's hope that next year, there will be less shenanigans and more fucking RESPECT!

And here's a nice video.


Click for detail!

Story here.
Poppycock - that's a Dolphin!


PS: DaSchiffman here!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pelagic Threshers - epic Video!

All tail - source.

What a beautiful, elegant animal!

This is really, really nice stuff!
It not only shows them hunting but even feeding!
Remember the paper?


Shark Fin Bans - Debate!

This is frustrating.

And I cite.
Those who are against ALL commercial fishing for sharks, managed or not, sustainable or not, should come out and say it, and not hide behind a feel-good but flawed position that pulls at the heartstrings of the public whilst misleading them into thinking that finning is rampant off US shores. 
It is not! 

What we should be doing is the more difficult work of telling the truth and acting wisely on it.
In my view the US should focus domestic policy on:
  1. prohibiting the import of fins from countries without any finning laws and sustainable approaches to shark fisheries management
  2. bolstering domestic penalties for finning violations to eliminate the last vestiges of the practice here and
  3. promoting full utilization in our domestic fisheries that are managed for sustainability
Hear hear!
I totally agree with the first paragraph - but not necessarily with the conclusions!

So there, for the umpteenth time...
  • NOAA's approach is deeply flawed.

    Those fishermen are not fishing their own ocean, they are fishing the commons.
    Those Sharks don't belong to them or to NOAA, they belong to the public i.e. YOU - to whom NOAA is fully accountable!

    And the public has clearly expressed its will, and this not only by democratically enacting those Shark fin bans, but also by submitting thousands upon thousands of comments that have overwhelmingly demanded that those fin bans be respected.
    Unless the Legislative or the Judiciary decide otherwise, the NOAA bureaucrats have absolutely no business in changing existing laws - the more as there is clear evidence that this shit is merely happening at the behest of the special interests within WESPAC.

    NOAA needs to back off - or as a minimum and only if decreed by the competent authorities, they must engage in dialogue and come up with equitable compromises, something they have so far egregiously failed to do.
  • The mainland state fin bans are equally flawed.

    It makes no sense whatsoever -not ethically, not commercially and not in terms of conservation- to prohibit the retention of the fins of US Sharks that have been caught (and have already been killed!) perfectly legally - on the contrary, those bans of legally caught US fins merely unjustly target and punish domestic fishermen which is totally unfair.
    But at the same time, there have to be safeguards against the establishment of targeted fin fisheries for species that nobody wants to utilize otherwise, like Blues and Hammers, e.g by mandating (and not only promoting) the full utilization of those Sharks. Definitions aside, landing whole Sharks but then only retaining the fins whilst discarding the carcasses is exactly as wasteful and reprehensible as finning.

    If like the proponents declare, the aim of those bans is principally to curtail the import, transshipment, trade and consumption of suspect fins from other fisheries, then there should be exemptions for legal US fins and any other fins from verified sustainable and legal sources.
    The onus to prove that any Shark fins originate from sustainably managed fisheries and have been obtained by ethical and legal means should however reside squarely with who possesses them.

    But if the real aim of the bans is to curtail or forbid domestic shark fishing, then one needs to be honest, declare one's intentions and then openly work towards achieving those aims!
  • The fin bans in those Shark Sanctuaries are a different matter altogether.

    Those states and territories have decided to forbid any Shark fishing, and the bans are principally an efficient and effective way to ensure compliance.
    Re-read this!
Long story short?
There are solutions that protect Sharks to the extent where they need protecting whilst at the same time safeguarding the legitimate interests of honest fishermen - so how about more cooperation and compromise, and this from both sides, instead of the current unproductive confrontation!

Or am I missing something here?

Friday, December 27, 2013



Pero un poquito pequeñitas! :)

As always, great job by Chino and Charlie!
And... I'll just pretend I didn't notice those force fins...


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Extinction Soup - done!

Check this out.

This is a simply fantastic result!
Stefanie is of course overjoyed - and we can now all look forward to a great movie celebrating the cause of Sharks.

Huge congratulations!

Shark ID - Field Guides!

Maybe a tad old - but they're for free!

Red Sea Guide here, Med here.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fiji - Heavy Rain Alert!

Tonga next?

Details here and here!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fiji - ominous!

Click for detail!

Looks like I've jinxed it!

Here I go talking about the weather, and now this.
So far, as always, it's nothing but a prediction - but in the past, these Kiwi weather maps have been pretty reliable and with the FMS being reticent as always, it may be a good idea to keep a close eye on further developments.

You know what to do!

Monday, December 23, 2013

They're at it!

Click for detail!

It's that time of the year again.

The Bulls are running, and the action is hot hot hot!
The males are mostly staying away, probably staying deeper in the Beqa Passage where they are likely performing the dirty deed - but we've got plenty of really large females, many of which sport the characteristic fresh mating scars, see above.
Sighted so far: Granma, Tip, Monica, Naughtylus, Pecker, Hook, Lefty, Nick, Curly, Blunt, Nani, Fold, Crush, Valerie, Saddle plus Sharkbite who's obviously still too young - plus very emaciated, and thus revenous Topsail and Gape that have obviously just returned from the nursery and will thus only mate next year!
And for once, the weather is great!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

TGIF - Epic Xmas Split!

Amateur hour!

Eat your heart out van Damme!

Story here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wanted: UK Film Makers!


Of Shark and Man is nearing completion.
And I may add, not a moment too soon!

And David has come up with a new idea.
He is offering a platform to a talented aspiring UK film maker - or could it be more, and could they also be established?
Be it as it may, that person will have the opportunity of editing a "Behind the Scenes" featurette that will be circulated widely among David's ever increasing fan community. I'm hundred percent sure OSAM will be absolutely epic, and being associated with this unique project cannot but be a plus.
Details here - technical requirements here!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ever more Stuff?

Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for god’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. 
All it shows is that you don’t. 
Read this!
Are you complicit?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Have I been too nice?


We've just been hit with 30+ FB likes!
Obviously, as of late, I haven't quite been myself - but that's about to change.

And that's a promise!

Extinction Soup - Congratulations!

Excellent news!

Stefanie's funding drive has reached its goal!
This means less commissions for Indiegogo but above all, that there's enough money for producing the film  - with any donations above and beyond ensuring that the end product will be even better! :)
Talking of which - one more trip to Fiji is still up for grabs!

One down one more to go.
Thank you thank you thank you!

Very friendly Thresher - Video!

Pelagic Threshers - source.

Really nice!
More about those Sharks here and here!


Lemon Shark Philopatry - Comments by Doc!

PIT tagging of juvenile Lemons, Bimini - source.


I just found this in my inbox.
This is what it takes to produce real and like I said, simply epic research - not this amateur shit, and I cite,
We conducted the tests of potential approach preference of sharks with regard to human body orientation in the Northern Abaco Islands, Bahamas, on 8 days between July 7 and 24, 2009. Later on, several days were excluded due to the chosen criteria.

But I'm digressing as usual.
Without further ado, here are the remarks = two cents :) by Doc - needless to say that I am honored!

Reply to Da Shark’s blog on the recent publication of our lemon shark genetic research in the journal Molecular Ecology as reported in the New York Times: 

Like the EverReady bunny, we are still going….and in June 2014 it will be year 19. 
There is still a lot more to be learned from our continuing and longitudinal study of lemon shark genetics but here's the way this all played out according to my foggy recollection. 

In 1990 the Bimini Biological Field Station was established. 
That year we became interested in shark genetics and actually did our first "PIT project" collecting genetic samples and PIT (RFID) tagging the little lemons. We caught 90 lemon sharks that June but alas that was the last I ever heard of the samples which were sent for analysis to a black hole the UK. In addition we caught no lemon sharks in November 1990 so I figured that was that. 

In 1995, I was contacted by a young graduate student, Kevin Feldheim working in Mary Ashley's lab at University of Illinois-Chicago. 
He wanted to study our little lemon sharks but had no funds. I thought we could support Kevin at the station if Mary could deal with his laboratory work. So I went to Chicago and we got into a discussion about NSF funding. I had been relatively successful with NSF in the past but after recovering from cancer in 1989 I hated the idea of writing one of those damned proposal "books" again only to get it turned down. However working together in Chicago the three of us wrote a first-class proposal and MIRACLE! The combination of Mary's expertise and my reputation as some sort of shark maverick did the trick and NSF granted us funds to bring Kev to Bimini for a few years to do the field research. So starting in 1995 and continuing even until today we tagged sharks and collected genetic material; and for three years, funded by our NSF grant we sampled over 700 young lemon sharks at Bimini. 

Of course shark genetics did not start with our project but these earlier studies were mainly set up to determine the relationship between species---molecular taxonomy. 
In contrast, we were interested in the genetics of breeding biology which was entirely unknown for sharks as well as most other aquatic vertebrates. 

I think there were three reasons for the fantastic (to me) success of this project: 
First was Kevin Feldheim who carried out hundreds of experiments until he found the key to DNA finger printing lemon sharks....microsatellite alleles with high variability conferred by high repeat numbers (this laid the background for the research of Joey DiBattista and Demian Chapman); second, the amazing lemon shark, an animal that repeatedly lent itself to manipulation as a model species (think white rat!) allowing us to study the biology of large sharks; and three, the islands of Bimini for which the vagaries of sea level rise and fall created a small lagoon that was the perfect breeding ground for lemon sharks. Importantly unlike Florida only 42 NM to the west, our Bimini lemon sharks hung around the islands for up to 8 years and could be captured time and time again. 

Once Kevin laid the groundwork to open up questions that were previously unanswerable, we undertook a concerted effort to mine this treasure of marine biology. 
Enter Dr. Ellen Pikitch and the Pew Foundation: Already the lead author Dr. Damian Chapman had been to the Sharklab years ago and so had Ellen but now things got serious. I was nearing retirement and thinking about the future funding of the Sharklab. Ellen got the idea to fund the station with a generous 5-year PEW grant and in exchange we would share all the data with her then doctoral student Damien Chapman. This was a dream come true for all of us. Now we had another grant that would see us through the lemon shark's estimated time-to-maturity...shown by my student Craig Brown way back in the 80s to be 12-14 years after birth. 

Simultaneously we began to develop techniques to search out and wrangle the potentially dangerous adult lemon sharks that come into the lagoon for mating and parturition every April and May. 
We were eventually able to predict when they would show up, how to capture them and even learned to do a kind of mid-midwifery to assist in the birth process. This technique provided DNA from both the Mom and all her pups. It then became a matter of continuing the collections until a dozen years went by in hopes that a youngster born in Bimini in 1995 or later survived to adulthood and could be identified in Kevin and Joey's lemon shark pedigree. 

Well....incredibly our gamble our came true. 
After about a dozen years a few survivors began to appear in the lagoon and we thought this was just amazing. Talk about tenacity and collaboration! We predicted based on two decades of prior study that the lemon shark would return---and we toughed out the years and effort to do the labor-intensive but hugely enjoyable task of collecting lemon shark pups for a dozen years and beyond, braving shark bites, tropical thunder storms, dangerous lightening, swarms of mosquitoes, no real sleep for weeks on end and a myriad of other political and biological barriers including serious damage to the nursery from a ridiculously huge resort development on tiny little Bimini. 

Together in collaboration between three research institutions, the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation, University of Illinois-Chicago and Stonybrook University the study that Da Shark so eloquently referred to was accomplished. 
If you actually have time to read this missive you will see that the influence of one group or the other to the success of this remarkable research is total....no progress could have been made without the three institution's cooperation. And even today, 19 years after the project began we are continuing the annual collection of genetic data from not one but three sites in hopes that one day the lemon shark and its vulnerable nursery habitats will receive the protection that they truly need. 

Just my two cents. doc 

Dr. Samuel H. Gruber (Emeritus) 
Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries 
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences 
University of Miami 
Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation 
9300 SW 99 St 
Miami FL 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Sharxpert on the Block!

Sea Turtle? Bollocks! Source.

Dr. Daniel Bucher is making sharky statements.

Who is this guy thinks me and goes rummaging.
I eventually found this - and judging from the list of publications, there's really nothing that would qualify him for the moniker of Shark expert.

And yet I find myself agreeing with much of what he says.
Indeed a tiny minority of Sharks have been amply documented to sometimes attack and also consume people - and GWS, Tigers and Bulls are certainly among the perpetrators. 

And the Whalers = Carcharhinids? 
Some like the Blue and the OWTs yes, but the very large majority of them most likely not - e.g., I've personally witnessed several times how Grey Reefies and Silvertips completely ignore  (lots of fresh) human blood which is in stark contrast to their behavior when stimulated with Fish blood.

Remember this post (if not: read it!), and I cite.
Which brings me straight over to the whitewashing.

Yes we love Sharks, yes Sharks are much maligned and we need to work at improving their reputation: but the fact is that large predatory Sharks are dangerous and that they need to be treated with respect and with circumspection!
That makes them neither bad, nor good – that just makes them large predatory Sharks! I’ve said it beforewe need to remain fact based and refrain from creating our own unhelpful stereotypes!
And here's another citation!
I’ve said it before, any explanations for the causes of Shark attacks are ultimately nothing but hypotheses that may, or may not be plausible but will forever remain untested and thus, scientifically unproven – for obvious reasons!

Plus, really, who cares!
By any metrics, Shark attacks are freak events, an utter nothingness when compared to the deluge of tragedies afflicting humankind – so can we all please stop hyperventilating?
Yes the stupid stereotypes, the voyeuristic trolls and the public’s fascination with Shark attacks are a reliable source of income for the tabloids and Discovery Channel and thus particularly irritating – but let’s face it, that’s just how people are.

What however really frustrates me is that it is us, the Shark conservationists, who ultimately provide a platform for the paparazzi like Harris and Drudown, and the stupid Con-troversies!

As Drudown correctly remarks, there is nothing mutually exclusive about conservation and the truth!
Like many of their terrestrial counterparts, some species of Shark sometimes feed on humans despite the fact that people are not their primary prey - and guess what: it’s totally OK!
It makes them neither Bad nor Good, they are just being predators!

So why our denial, our massaging of numbers, our politically correct lingo, our constant belittling of the risks, our pseudoscience and stereotypes, our unhelpful demonizing of the fishermen? Does anybody really believe that it is helpful?
Do Lion conservationists resort to lying and disinformation when trying to protect Lions?

Thing is, the truth is on our side anyway!
Far from being the stalking, ever-hungry killers, even the biggest predatory Sharks appear to be unendingly tolerant of aquatic recreationists in general and divers in particular. As somebody who has logged thousands of cage-less baited dives with some of the most maligned species, I fully concur with Jimmy when he says that they are nothing but smart, graceful, interesting and COOL – and frustratingly shy on top of that!
And let me add that I never, ever had the feeling that they were sizing me up as a potential meal, ever!

Having said this, one must however never forget that they are at the same time incredibly powerful and potentially lethal!
Shark attacks will continue to occur as long as people will continue to frequent the Oceans. Most will be hit-and-run strikes by small piscivorous Sharks and some, accidents like the tragic death of Markus Groh – and a tiny minority will be genuine predatory events.

The sooner we accept that and abandon our failed marketing, or whatever, the sooner we can start educating the public about the true nature of the animals we love.
It has worked with the big terrestrial predators and I have no doubt that over time, people will come to appreciate the big predatory Sharks for what they really are: potentially lethal and awe inspiring but at the same time, fascinating and once you get to know them better, even endearing – and above all, essential for the health of their habitat and tragically endangered.
So bravo Dr. Bucher.
He may be no expert but he's certainly a Shark conservation advocate - and yet he's not afraid of saying it like it is. 
That, and not the clamoring by the usual extremists and idiots is the correct starting point for finding solutions to the extremely complicated issue of those recent Shark strikes in Australia, Reunion and Recife.

Thank you John!

Yes I know I know...

There is this shit.
But having grown up with SNF, I just have to continue liking the man.

The more as he has just posted this.
That's undoubtedly going to lend a huge boost to Stefanie's funding drive that is all but completed. Talking of which, one generous donor has even snapped up one of our small contributions - meaning that there's only one left!

Chop chop! :)

The other Pelagic Life - Video!


Well, not quite.

The videos by the original Pelagic Life are superb.
This one is a tad pedestrian, and much of the precious runtime is being wasted on the people, preparations and titles which is frankly boring. But, like Pelagic Life, those dudes go out and find their own Sharks, and the underwater footage is interesting.

Long story short: nice!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Natal Philopatry in Lemon Sharks - Paper!

Time for some Hi-Fives! Source.

Now THIS is real science!
No wonder as starting with the Grand Mufti himself, the list of authors reads like the who's who of Shark research - and with the data spanning a whopping 17 years, this is nothing short of epic!

All I can say is, I'm deeply impressed!
Looks like Lemon Sharks not only go back and give birth in the same nurseries (= reproductive philatropy) like the Moorea Blacktips, but that those nurseries are the very where they themselves were born (= natal philopatry or natal homing), like e.g. Salmon or Turtles! This has immediate implications for conservation insofar as it mandates special efforts to protect those nurseries.
Nice synopses here, here and here - and here's a video.

And the Bull Sharks?
Mark has already published evidence for reproductive philopatry of Bull Sharks in Australia, and one of the aims of our new research projects with Projects Abroad will be to check whether this is equally the case for our Fiji Bull Sharks.
So keep watching this space!

Anyway, great job!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Extinction Soup: Best Shark Dive in the World!

One of Stefanie's Duskapagoses - source.

See it? :)

Like I said, this is a great project by a real good person
And with less than 5,000 bucks missing (congratulations!), we thought that we could help fill the gap.
Nice story here!

And it would make for a fantastic Xmas gift!

Fluorescent Shark!

Source - click for detail!

Is this cool, or what!

This is a Chain Catshark, (Scyliorhinus retifer).
Story here.

Gee, Thanks!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

FINdonesia - Fiji Dive Raffle!

The saddest possible way to see a Bull Shark - source.

Check out the Indiegogo page!
See it?

Like it?
Next April will be will be our ten-year anniversary, with some cool stuff planned on top of the next GFSC - so what better time (and price!) to secure yourself a spot whilst contributing to a great project! :)

C'ya in Fiji!

Finning for Dummies!

Back to square one.

Stop Shark Finning yields 289,000 results.
Looks great doesn't it - and yet those petitions do little to save Sharks, and may even harm Shark conservation by delaying and detracting from the need for better Shark conservation measures like sanctuaries and well managed Shark fisheries. 
Plus, implementation sucks - especially in lesser developed countries and on the high seas!

But don't take my word for it.
When in 2011, I stated that finning bans are archaic and ineffective (and by all means, do read the remainder of that post, too - where incidentally, little if anything has changed!), it sure did raise more than a few eyebrows - and now others are spreading the same message much better than I ever could.

Case in point: this great post by AJ Sablan.
Required reading - and then, may I suggest that you invest your enthusiasm, energy and creativity into more worthwhile causes

Thank you!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chris Palmer on Nature Filmmaking - epic Video!

Chris Palmer is simply fantastic.
But of course we knew that already.
And whilst Katy Perry is, probably unwittingly, the latest accomplice in animal torture, and whilst the latest gang of scumbags have set sail for Guadalupe and are busy raping the biosphere for the latest, most reckless and stupidest installment of Shark porn (yes ABC4 I'm looking at you!) - I invite you to lean back and savor this remarkable document that is both an indictment of all those despicable shenanigans (and here!) and a powerful message for conservation and for the role nature filmmakers can play in spreading the message.
Love not Loss - remember?


Bonefish Spawning Aggregation - Video!

Schooling Bonefish - seen it only once in Rangiroa. Click for detail!

Once again, way cool.

Stories here and here!

Wily Crocs - Article!

Way cool.

So, some Crocs and Gators use hunting lures.
Synopses here and here, full article (or is it a paper?) here!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Have they jumped, well, you know?


This is no Sharknado - alas!
(But it sure beats reading Ritter's crap!)


Paper - barf!

Would you hand your money to this man?

Did you see the headlines - as in here?

And I thought those were only Accidents, as per this pseudoscientific snake oil I've found on the SharkSkool webpage?

Stupid me, I went and got myself the paper.
A friendly researcher writes.
This incredibly poorly-written paper is definitely purely meant to serve as another "tick-mark" under Ritter's name. 
There seems to be so much wrong with this "experiment" that "getting published again" is the only reason that I can see behind this paper. 

My favorite line is "To better understand the relationship between sharks and humans, additional studies, like the one presented here, are a priority." 
I would really love to hear Ritter's ideas on just how exactly this can help us understand our interactions with sharks, and WHY studies like this one should ever be a priority! 

Sharks like to approach from behind, great, on to the next obvious statement.
This is merely the latest in a whole series of amateurish fluff (shark attack rates huh - my-oh-my...) originating from the cooperation of the world's only and thus most important sharkxpert and self professed guru of pseudoscience human-Shark interactions, or whatever, with this dude and with the Jersey girl who was likely conned into squandering (even more) donor money in exchange for some perceived and urgently needed academic legitimacy - not!

So what can I say about this stupidity.
I was going to review it in detail but quite frankly, it's so bad that it's really not worth the effort - and incidentally, talk about a simply epic failure of peer review!

Only this.
Let's assume for the sake of the argument that this was a credible and rigorous experiment (it was not!), and let's focus on the conclusions that in brief consist in the observation that those tested Caribbean Reefies would preferably approach divers from behind, with older animals being more wary and/or wily.
  • Dooh.
    Every single Shark I've ever encountered knew exactly when I was looking at it, and has always established eye contact - and so did every single Fish! Ask any spearo how wily those Fishes are, and how they instantly perceive being at the center of attention  - and ask any Shark diver how easily one can stare away Sharks, and how Sharks trying to sneak in from behind will instantly veer away when one looks at them!
    That's what terrestrial and marine predators and prey do.
    They keep an eye on each other, with the predators trying to catch their prey unawares, and the prey trying not to get surprised - and to depict this trivial observation as a great discovery is quite frankly pathetic!
  • And the great unexplained mystery, and I cite?
    The way predators stalk their prey or sneak up on them is often linked with the avoidance of visual contact with the quarry.
    Such a theory demands that a predator is capable of locating the prey’s eyes or at least recognizing its viewing direction. Neither can be assumed for sharks—as the stalkers—in the vicinity of humans, especially in our design, since the chosen human position did not resemble any known prey for any shark species. Although it cannot be excluded that sharks might still be able to make a comparison to a prey species and act on it, our results do not offer explanations as to what that clue might be. Ritter and Amin (2012) showed that human presence does affect the swim behavior of sharks and that larger animals seem to be more cautious in the vicinity of humans than smaller animals. Our results are consistent with this interpretation, showing a significant preference of the larger animals to approach test-subjects via their blind areas.

    Since sharks are evolutionarily more distant from mammals than birds, can it be concluded that human gaze might not be detectable at all and that something entirely different is used by sharks to comprehend a person’s viewing direction?
    A satisfactory answer cannot be given since the shark’s perception and capability of sensory organs are much different from both birds and mammals. Similarly, the different medium could also be of importance. Characteristics of water as a solvent could facilitate a so far unknown human emission that might not carry as well in air.

    Could face masks have an effect in choosing the approach direction?
    As with bubbles, such would not be detectable should the shark be too far away. Likewise, a shark would need to understand where the eyes of a person are located, hence not just to know the body proportions be known but also how to read these proportions when presented in a kneeling object.
    A so far unknown human emission.
    Sez the great Shark shaman!

    How about this for an explanation.
    These are not naive Sharks that have never seen divers - the location of the experiment is in the Northern Abaco Islands, Bahamas = the famous Walker's Cay where literally thousands upon thousands of divers have interacted with Caribbean Reefies!
    For the newbies among you: this was that dive - much copied but never equaled!

    Think that those Sharks don't know divers?
    Think that they've not observed us like we've observed them, that they're not able to detect our orientation and what we are doing even from a distance, and that they cannot approach us from behind if they wish to do so - with the older and more experienced ones being more wily whilst the younger ones are still learning the ropes?
    Hell, the researchers tell us that their cognitive and above all, their learning faculties are impressive, and the Shark diving operators who interact with them on a daily basis will confirm that they even recognize individual people!
    This is so trivial to be painful!
All I really wanted to say was, caveat emptor - whilst global Shark populations are going to shit, Ritter and the SRI continue to squander donor money on amateurish and utterly useless experiments.
And if you're not careful, that money may well be yours!

To be continued no doubt!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



Great project!

Mark Thorpe is one of the good ones.
He's been around forever, and he also forever been a warrior fighting for the cause of Sharks, and now that the gruesome details about the gill raker trade have emerged, equally for the cause of Mantas.

With that in mind, I fully support this project.

Yes I know I know  -  another conservation movie...
But with Indonesia at the epicenter of the Shark fin and Manta gill raker trade, this is a story that needs to be told - and Mark assures me that it will be done respectfully whilst looking for practicable solutions, one of which is of course the possibility of earning more and more importantly, long-term sustainable income from ecotourism.

I am hopeful.
With Stefanie's project going from strength to strength (bravo!), there's really no reason why this funding drive shouldn't be equally successful.

That of course will depend entirely on you.
So, please, give generously.
Indiegogo page here FB pages here and here!

Thank you!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Great Fiji Shark Count - Victory!

Excellent news!

PADI AWARE is going to support the GFSC!
Thanks to YOU, we've won our category - and it really pleases me immensely that other winners comprise a Manta Ray project in Peru (watch this space!) and also a citizen science project under the leadership of our friend Christine of e-Shark.
Story here!

Thank you thank you thank you!

Shark Savers - full Force ahead!

Video here.

Remember this post?

I did raise a few (and uncharacteristically mild!) questions about some statements by Shark activists in Asia, and all hell broke lose!
I spare you the gory details - suffice to say that it earned me an earful by fellow Shark conservationists and some of my good friends. And then I had to patiently endure another helping of abuse about David when he penned his article in Scientific American!
Lemme quickly repeat where I stand on the thorny topic of public debates among conservationists.
This is when somebody will inevitably start shouting, how dare you attack fellow conservationists, and invoke global peace and harmony and-so-on and-so-forth.

I ... believe that like in science, progress in conservation is achieved via dialogue but also, via robust debate where opinions may get heated but where everybody who is legit accepts that those are just the rules of the game – and where those who do not are simply not scientists and conservationists but posers and bullshitters!

In brief, where I’m coming from is that whereas it is great that Shark conservation has become sizzling hot and is uniting many passionate voices around a great common cause, bullshit continues to be bullshit and shenanigans, shenanigans - and the great common cause is in no way an excuse for any of that.
So much for the principle.
In terms of factual information, my sources uniformly educate me that much of the confusion is due to the usual lack of transparency of both the fin trade and the Asian government sources, but also and more disturbingly, to the various agendas and resulting internecine feuds among Shark conservation researchers and orgs.

With that in mind, I applaud this post by Shark Savers.
This is good information that helps to cement the notion that the anti-Shark-fin initiatives are having an effect. We will never quite know to which extent - but they have certainly put the issue on the table and forced the authorities to take notice and very likely motivated them to expressly mention Shark fins when cracking down on corruption and excessive spending. 
And the info about price declines in Indonesia is invaluable!

And David's article?
I agree with the conclusion that the fight is far from over, this because Sharks are increasingly being killed for other products and not only for their fins. And consequently, our advocacy of better management measures (all the way to sanctuaries!) must continue. 
But  I disagree with the general gist of the piece that the best available evidence fails to substantiate an important decline in consumption (although 50-70% China-wide still "smell" suspect), and that the effect of the campaigns has been negligible.
The best available evidence, albeit far from being conclusive, actually points to the contrary.

And the other achievements by Shark Savers?
Simply stellar - but they will of course be the topic of the traditional end-of-year recap, so keep watching this space!

In the meantime, well done - again! :)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lonely Planet - nice!

Click for detail!

People are taking note!

Story here.
Congrats to Basking Shark Scotland and a big Vinaka for the honorable mention! :)

Is Sean van Sommeran a Coward and a Liar?

Would this man ever lie? Source.

You be the judge of that!

Remember the Junior controversy?
If not and if you want to waste a lot of time, you can re-read plenty of posts on the subject and above all, a lot of breathy comments by Sean van Sommeran here, starting from the oldest post.
In brief, an anonymous whistle-blower called ecoshark leaked a few pictures of a mutilated GWS claiming that the wounds were the result of the research by Michael Domeier. It was later revealed that the injuries had been inflicted by other Sharks and that this was a smear campaign by competing researchers against Michael Domeier aimed at evicting him from their research site at the Farallones.

The following is from the comments thread of a then post on SFS
Michael Domeier says:
May 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm 
I think Greg asks a reasonable question, Sean. Are you the source of the original Junior photos?

Sean R. Van Sommeran says:
May 6, 2011 at 4:24
I did not leak the footage, footage like that is made available as a matter of course anyway…. so why is it being characterized as a malicious leak anyway? …
I havent the vaguest idea whose ecoshark link that is and have no comments on that.

Michael Domeier says:
May 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm
OK Sean. Fair question and fair answer. Thanks for answering.
Now, times have apparently changed.
What was then (and still is) a grave and cowardly breach of fair play and collegiality may now confer hero status, at least among a particular frothy subsection of the Shark movement.
Be it as it may: the rabid anti-OCEARCH dipshits with an opinion and a keyboard are busy
cobbling together a film, no less - and SvS has now found it fit to post the following on one of their circular echo chambers.
Sean R. van Sommeran --
We stopped Ocearch at the Farallones ( Pelagic Shark Research Foundation), the resulting scandal that we exposed and documented (shared documentation/videos, stills, etc) fractured the Ocearch and Domeier cartel's incursion into California and its well known 'Sanctuary' Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary) that granted the permits for the hook and line method.

It was PSRF conservation workers, working discretely with fellow TOPP field researchers (only 3 out of the whole lot) that leaked images and video stills and background story (shark named Junior) during the disastrous Ocearch/Domeier expedition into California and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in 2009/10. 

We Pelagic Shark Research Foundation) were the only TOPP members (field researcher) who disobeyed orders and publicly commented on the matter, we were of course sanctioned thereafter... Duty before dogma ~ 
As I said, you be the judge of that.

GFSC - last Day!

Please vote vote vote!

Thank you!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Trip Reports!

Nice! :)

Some of our clients really publish great stuff.
Case in point, this report by Gary and Trish who are some of the most memorable people that have visited this year - not only because they are real nice people but also, because they've forgone corporate life and embraced what appears to be a permanent nomadic lifestyle and really seem to enjoy life at the fullest.
The picture at the top is by Gary, and you can admire more here.

And  here are a nice travelogue and video by Steve Fish.