Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Baby Angel Sharks!

Click for stunning detail!

Super cute!

These are critically endangered Angel Sharks.
If you peruse the link (and you should!), you will discover that they were once ubiquitous but are now extremely rare to locally extinct throughout most of their historical range, with the possible exception of the Canary Islands - and that is precisely where Michael J. Sealey has taken these stunning pictures. Michael reports,
As there is no bottom trawling we have nice population. 
When the water gets cold (17-18ºC) they come up to shallow waters to mate and give birth. Then they go back down into the deep for the rest of the year, but in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura they are frequent all year round.
Add this to El Monstruo, and the place is certainly worth a visit!

Great job Michael - and best of luck to the little fellas!

For the Lovers of creepy Crawlies - and there's even a feisty Elasmobranch!

Fabulous footage!
Story here.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

El Diego!

¡Ay! Que guapo!

So this is he, the piscatorial pride of Colombia.

Standing, ecstatically - by popular demand!
Sorry no bikini clad "disenfranchised youth" quite yet - but we're working on it!

Frisky GWS!


Film stunt or for real = no bait?

IMO this is genuine.


H/T: Mr s-r!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

6 the Movie!

This is promising.

I refuse tho watch The Cove - but this, I will watch.
Interview here, website here.

Big GWS off San Diego - or is it?

And I quote.
When you see a picture like this one... you have to be weary, at first, of a hoax - but an EXPERT says, this one is far from it...
And though you and I may not be able to tell how big this Shark is from the picture, (the token owner of a demented dog and lover of large omnivorous plantigrades) can...
"The shape of this fin is very very suggestive of an animal that's in the fifteen foot range".
But watch for yourselves - the man is truly a monster of erudition!

Or maybe, not so much.
Turns out it was an April's fool hoax, and that somebody had crudely doctored a pic of a dolphin, fooling not only Collier but apparently, a number of his colleagues - which of course begs the question, who else disposes of zero academic credentials but continues to publicly proffer EXPERT pronouncements about Sharks?
Lemme guess - the pompous bloviating fireman? The unequaled SVS?

Remains the issue of whether one can truly estimate the size of a GWS from the shape of its fin, a revolutionary technique that would spare the scientific community plenty of headaches and thousands of dollars in complicated and unwieldy laser equipment. When put to the question by Martin who incidentally happens to be the very person that uncovered the hoax, Collier indignantly lectures,

Wow - again!
Let's see... from apex to apex, would that be 55% or thereabouts - and if so, does that make me an EXPERT as well? 

But I'm digressing as always. 
So now, it's the shape, plus the distance between the fins - what, in millimeters? 
Cuz for the life of me, and much like those other laser toting ignoramuses, I could never tell the actual distance from looking at the pic at the top! But I sure can notice the glaring absence of a terminal lobe on the presumed exposed tail (compare to here, here, here and here!) - and thus, I will bravely go out on a limb and publicly call BS on Collier's assertion that he was right because actually, this is the superimposition of the image of a real GWS!

But then again, considering the historical precedent, who am I to say!
Opinions please: a) unfairly maligned EXPERT or b) pompous Sesselfurzer instead?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Flying Devil Rays - Video!


Wow what a spectacle!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sharks4Kids - Swimming with Greatness!

Jillian filming a GHH in Bimini - source.

Amazing Sharks, beautifully filmed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Citizen Science is good Science!


Read this - and here is the paper!
Now we finally dispose of some powerful evidence that despite of many critical voices, citizen science really does work.

Of course we knew that already.
We've been employing trained observers to record data on Shark Reef since 2003, and those observations have been the backbone of many of Juerg's papers where they have complemented the data obtained via acoustic and satellite telemetry. In 2012, the concept has been expanded throughout the whole of Fiji where every six months, the majority of preeminent dive operators are participating in the Great Fiji Shark Count where they are counting Sharks, Rays and Turtles with their customers and passing on the data to the project team and ultimately, Christine. On top of that, Projects Abroad are now conducting such counts on every dive and uploading the data to eShark, meaning that Beqa Lagoon is now being monitored year-round.

And the results?
This is long term monitoring, and trends will only become visible over time - but when it comes to the Sharks, anecdotal evidence is already pointing to local declines. My hope is that we may well see an improvement once the authorities will have to increase their monitoring and management effort in line with the looming implementation of CITES.
We shall see.

But that's another story.
Congratulations to the indefatigable Gabe and the dream team from Western Australia for yet again an excellent job.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WA Shark Cull - Public Assessment!

There are new developments.

For once, this is good news - media statement here.
As hoped for, there will be a Public Environmental Review of the Shark cull, with a four-week public submission period.

But please, be careful with those submissions!
There will be a formal process (good fact sheet here!) and those dudes are not those maligned politicians but people that generally know what they are talking about and that are able to distinguish good arguments from sharkitarian BS. So once again, please spare yourselves the insults, the platitudes and the pathos and make sure that what you submit is grounded in fact, for which you will need to inform yourselves.

Please follow the advice of the leaders.
My preferred source of information continues to be SOS where Ryan Kempster has been leading the fight from day one. He is in WA, is a Shark biologist and as such, he disposes of the required knowledge and also, of invaluable contacts within the scientific community. Here is an excellent resource and please do peruse the open letter by those 100+ Shark experts as a starting point for your argumentation.
Conversely, DO NOT follow the advice, or whatever, of the crazies like Brush and the likes, and DO NOT utter the dreaded O-word!

NGOs: Leadership and guidance please!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie!

Diego Cardeñosa inserting a tiny PIT tag for estimating the population size via mark-recapture - source.


We got ourselves another minuscule Bull Shark!
Kudos to Projects Abroad's Shark supremo Diego for having doggedly persevered and finally managed to hit the right combination of habitat, current, temperature and salinity!

May this be the start of many more such exploits?
We shall see. For now, it's an A+ for sheer determination - the question being, is this the pathway to triumphal glory or will it lead to utter piscatorial ignominy instead?

No pressure!



Remember that redescription of Sharks and Rays?

Try not to be deterred by the pathos - just keep an eye on those Grey Reefies that are recognizable by the black trailing edge of their tails.

Notice those big white tips on the first dorsals?
Those would be those infamous Carcharhinus wheeleri, the (Short Nosed) Blacktail Reef Shark, one of JSD's favorite photographic subjects - compare to the Reef Whitetip and the Silvertip that are equally featured, and then compare to these "normal" Grey Reefies.
Convinced? Me, not so much!

And those Sharksuckers at 0:46?
Go wonder - must be some Maldivian thing as Lill saw the exact same mobbing on a trip to the Maldives in November of last year!

Good to see so many Sharks in the Maldives!

Big GWS in Asia - Paper!

Geographical extent and size distribution of white shark observations. Color legend for country of observation occurrence applies to entire figure. A) Approximate location of observation or landing for individual white sharks. Circles on land indicate observations that only reported country of landing. Annual average sea surface temperature is indicated by color gradient. B) Percentage of white shark observations by country landed. C) Size of white shark observed by country landed (top two panels) and as a percent of all observations (bottom panel). Note–the Philippines observations did not have an associated animal size. 
Click for detail!

Great stuff!

Finally, somebody is describing those sightings from Asia.
It looks like the NW Pacific harbors its own distinct population of GWS, and it appears that Japan may be an aggregation site for large adults much like Lupe or the Neptunes, whereas geographically widespread sightings of subadults suggest that there may be multiple nurseries.
And, a female from the East China Sea measuring a whopping 6.02m is the largest ever reliably measured GWS anywhere, with an enormous individual from Taiwan reputedly even larger!

But check it out for yourselves.
Thankfully, the paper is open source, and it is brimming with interesting information.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stewart Island - troubled Waters!

Looks like matters have come to a boil.
Since writing this post, I've talked to several people in the know and it appears that there has been an abject lack of outreach and education by both the scientific and diving community. Apparently, research reveals that Stewart Island is a major seasonal aggregation spot for New Zealand's GWS that are believed to be mating there, meaning that the cage divers have followed the Sharks and not vice versa, and that any perceived increased risk is not attributable to them.

But that needs to be communicated - any takers?
After the season, the GWS disperse and many travel far north to Tonga, Fiji and New Caledonia (and here) meaning that during that time, the Pāua divers should be safe - and if so, wouldn't that be a starting point for an equitable compromise, as in agreeing on spatial (!) and seasonal, mutually exclusive closures for both activities?

Very much as anticipated, the imbeciles that got turned away from Guadalupe have relocated to NZ and are attempting to illegally exit the cages and flip a GWS there. Fingers crossed that the (other) naive operator that took the booking (undoubtedly, for the Sharks) will exert common sense and immediately stop the shenanigans - or you may as well kiss the industry goodbye once the footage airs.
As always, we shall see - and no, I'm not very hopeful!

To be continued no doubt!

Monday, April 14, 2014

WA Shark Cull - Recommendations by Riley!

Source - and do watch the video!

Read this.

Totally agree.
Please submit your comment right away as the submission period ends this Wednesday, April 16.
Like Riley, I advocate choosing as it is less rigid than API category B and also more open to scrutiny by the public.

Thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A tale of two Atolls!

Juvenile Galapagos Shark, by Thomas Peschak. Source.

Great job!

Story here, in depth coverage here.
Which once again goes to prove that it is possible to enjoy excellent Shark media without having to endure the stupid clap trap, gratuitous drama and narcissistic self promotion of those media whores!


Drones - breaching GWS next?


Story here.
Which obviously begs the question, who is gonna regale us with equivalent footage of GWS from places like South Africa!

Eagerly standing by!

Hooking Great Hammerheads?

Is this cool? Source.

Watch this.

David disapproves.
This is an old and extremely thorny debate.
GHH are protected in Florida, but catch-and-release is perfectly legal - but ever since the publication of Austin's paper, we know that the post-release mortality rate is unacceptably high, meaning that anglers should actively endeavor to avoid hooking that particular species which is obviously easier said than done.
This is also the gist of this article in the Huff Post featuring quotes by both Austin and Neil, and where Kim Holland doubles up by asserting that in many cases, we know that even a moderate amount of handling will result in death even if you don't actually see it happen immediately in front of you.

So far so good.
So what about this - posted by the very same people who have published that paper and are lecturing the recreational anglers?

To say it mildly, this is a tricky one.
Do those mortality rates also apply to GHH that are being hooked by researchers - and if so, can David's passionate defense of research really be regarded as a sufficiently convincing blanket justification for angling for this unusually fragile, protected species?
Yes of course research into philopatry is extremely important (and in some aspects, controversial) - but in this specific case, there exist other, way less invasive protocols (and here) that may well yield very similar data!
With that in mind, would it not be appropriate to sacrifice some of the higher resolution and longer battery life of SPOT tags in favor of e.g. PATs that can be set on the fly either underwater of from the boat after the GHH has been teased to the surface?

Tricky tricky - thoughts?

Comments policy.
Read this. Not everybody's opinion is equivalent, and I shall only post cogent arguments about this specific matter, not attempts at engaging in the usual frothy tirades against researchers in general and/or OCEARCH in particular, etc.
My blog my rules!

And the Number is....


This is Ozzie Sam's count.
But then he writes, when i pump the contrast I can squeeze 4 more - so there! :)

As to Martin's boisterous announcement - we shall see!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shark City - epic!

Click for detail - and marvel!

Huge kudos to Ozzie Sam, especially considering the poor viz!
This is now the clear frontrunner in the ever ongoing Bull Shark wallpaper challenge - and lemme tell 'ya, theoretically, it is possible to one-up it! :)

Which begs the question, how many Bulls are in this frame?
Please answer here and not on FB!

The Huff Post - promoting illegal Shark Rides?

The wealthiest and most curious tourists can dive outside of the cage. No, actually they cannot because it is illegal. Source.

And I cite.
This whole Huffington post article is exactly why these idiots are doing these stupid stunts. They get into the media. They get their 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately it's those kinds of "experts" that the media relies on, when it comes to covering anything shark related.  How can they quote an "expert", that tells people not to do what they themselves do? Aside from giving hypocritical advice, by giving these guys the publicity they seek, the Huffington post actually promotes the illegal diving outside of cages and riding sharks at Guadalupe.
Bravo Martin!
As to the assertion that it all happened naturally - not so!
This was a meticulously planned trip to Lupe on Chris Wade's Shark Boat with the explicit intention of having both the peroxide whisperette and the trigger happy Ms Werner illegally ride those GWS. There were corporate sponsors, cameramen and photographers, scripts, media plans - the works. The bimbos jumped onto the perplexed Sharks, the media snatched up the videos, the pimps made their money, the plebs gobbled up the pseudo-conservation clap trap.
And the rest is history

This is about when and how the shenanigans started - but at least back then in early 2000, people were aware of the risks and not trying to sugar coat everything with stupid sharkitarian sound bites. 

To be continued no doubt!


Source - click (twice) for detail!

Very witty!
And, there's much more here - some of which is truly epic!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Protect the Shark Sanctuaries in the Pacific!

Bravo Shark Savers!

Please sign the petition - more details here.
And BTW, do you like the picture? Those are our Sharks, and they are fully protected because they live in the SRMR! :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Of Sharks and Men - stellar!

Great pic, especially considering the bad viz! Source.

Thank you Jess!

This is really as good as it gets.
Yes of course Shark provisioning will always remain controversial, which is perfectly OK - and of course the Fiji Shark dive is authentic, and then some!

And the title?
Pure happenstance - and no it got nothing to do with David's project.

Vinaka, much appreciated!

Please stand with Guam!


Read this.

I totally support it.
It's about stopping NOAA and especially, those underhanded bastards at WESPAC from undermining the Pacific Shark Sanctuaries and culling the Sharks in the Marianas (and here!).

Please sign the petition.
Thank you.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Bremer Canyon - GWS Hotspot?


Now, watch this.
Yes it's old and a tad sensationalistic, but I found it absolutely riveting.
Story here and here, expedition log here, Bremer Canyon here and here!


WA Shark Cull - three more years?

I must say that I'm totally surprised.

I thought this was it.
World on the street had it that the WA gov't had totally underestimated the push back against the Shark cull, and that they were going to silently bow out by not asking for a renewal of the federal exemption beyond this April.

Not so.
It now turns out that they want to extend the cull until 2017, which is simply a travesty - the only "good news" in this total fiasco being that the WA EPA is asking for comments from the public.

So there.
I trust you know where you stand on this - but just in case, a) this policy is a waste of resources as culling has been shown not to work with highly migratory species like Tigers and GWS, b) there are better alternatives to reduce the risk and address the concerns of the public, c) removing apex predators such as those large Sharks can have deleterious consequences for the marine environment (which is likely the only argument that will sway the EPA), d) this is a regional issue as the cull will impact the thriving Shark diving business in SA that shares the same GWS, e) such an indiscriminate killing rampage is an ethical abomination.

Relevant page here, form here.
The comments period is short, ie only til April 16 - and the only question asked is whether they should assess the cull, the answer being YES meaning that you should tick .

As a reminder.
Inform yourself before commenting and refrain from inflammatory language - remember you want them to do something positive, and they will not be amenable to your request if you call them names!

NGOs: guidance please!

PS: SOS recommendations here - they suggest to tick . Not convinced, but they have posted a list of good arguments against the cull. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Californian GWS - no CESA listing?

The whole gamut of the US Shark conservation scene, from absolute scum all the way to Shark conservation royalty, with a sprinkle of con men, all in one picture!
Priceless - and no I'm not telling!

Have you seen this?

U.S. west coast numbers in the 100s?
Number of adult great whites swimming off our Pacific Coast alarmingly low?
If something doesn't change, they could disappear forever?

Absolutely not true.
The NE Pacific GWS population is already sufficiently protected, much larger than previously stated and on the increase. Far from being a crisis, this is actually one of the greatest Shark conservation success stories. Oceana knows that but was apparently trying to use the listing as a subterfuge for shutting down the Californian drift gill net fishery.

Looks like this may now be moot.
The ESA and CESA listing saga is inexorably drawing to an end, and it looks like my revised prediction is about to be confirmed. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is following the viewpoint of NOAA and is recommending to not list the NE Pacific population of GWS under CESA.
Here's to this finally putting and end to this ignominious chapter of Shark conservation BS and according waste of resources and donor money!
Not impressed - again!

And the Californian drift gillnet fishery?
There's a bill to shut it down, Oceana is still at it, and  Jonathan is still vehemently (a euphemism!) opposed to it. I lack the facts, and the time to properly ascertain them - but from the gut, I'm with Jonathan!

But I'm digressing.
The California Fish and Game Commission will make the final decision about the GWS listing shortly.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Kiwi Invasion!

Intrepid: Mike (camera) and Riley (long fins) on location - click for detail!

Apologies again!
Here's another one I should have posted much earlier.

Actually, make it two!
First, we hosted a small 3-day shoot with Mike Bhana of Wild Film who is producing a Shark program featuring young Shark researcher, conservationist and presenter Riley Elliott. Considering Riley's public palling with the Hawaiian whisperette, I must confess that we did agree to the project with much trepidation - but we could not have been more mistaken.
Mike is the real deal, a true mossback of Shark cinematography - and I must say that I'm rather impressed by Riley who comes across as highly personable, knowledgeable and pragmatic, i.e. nothing like his portrayal in the social media. He may well be the next big thing in Shark-related media - and here's to him navigating the countless pitfalls and never losing his integrity!
So far so good!

And then, there was Demian.
This time it was less of a whirlwind cameo, meaning that he did finally find the time to come for a dive - sporting an All Blacks t-shirt that nearly got him killed! 
Joining him, among many others, were Mark Bond who supervises Projects Abroad's BRUV research in Beqa Lagoon; and as a total surprise and to my great delight, Jess Cramp who was so instrumental in bringing about the Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary. The team are here for another two weeks or so where they are scouring the archipelago, I might add, in style, working on MPAs and also tagging oceanic Sharks.

And BTW!
You South Africans - you may want to ask Mark who, exactly, got the biggest Bull Sharks! :)

Great Fiji Shark Count - it's on!


I should have posted this before - but I've just moved house and it has been hectic!

The April GFSC is in full swing and dive ops across the country are counting Sharks, Rays and Turtles. Here in Pac Harbour it's both us and Projects Abroad, and the numbers are impressive!

It's certainly not too late to make a booking - and I may add, at substantially discounted prices!

Just saying! :)

Mind you, it's just a HUG!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Frisky Whale Shark!



Quite obviously, it just wants a hug!
The second diver, not so much - check out the bubbles!


Helen about preventing Shark Strikes!

Have you seen this?

To be mentioned in the same article as those preposterous (bravo Megalobomb!) Shark repellent wetsuits is the peak of ignominy! But of course we are highly grateful for the plug, and for the equally honorable mention at 20:00ff in her podcast.
Thank you, very much appreciated!

But Helen has of course fallen into the usual trap.
Because with all due respect (!) for the concerned, those Shark strikes are actually totally irrelevant.
They are so incredibly rare, and the variables influencing them, so numerous and complex that any attempts at ever fully understanding, let alone fully preventing them will always fail. With a very few notable exceptions, those poor people that got bitten and sometimes killed did nothing "wrong" besides being in the wrong place at the wrong time - and nothing we will do will ever fully eliminate that infinitesimally small risk.

Obviously there are situations where the risk can be mitigated.
Wherever adequate and possible, ocean pools and Shark exclusion nets work 100%. Some technical solutions appear promising for protecting relatively small areas. Adequate, mostly common sense behavior and risk management can reduce the number of avoidable strikes, as could e.g. seasonal avoidance or even closures of known aggregation sites, etc.

Personal protection devices, not convinced.
Be it e.g. the Shark Shield or those darn wetsuits, they are ultimately untestable and quite possibly nothing more than placebos - but herein lays the danger insofar as the perceived protection may well lead to riskier behavior by their users.

Ultimately, it's all much ado about nothing.
Like Branson remarks, all the noise is actually counterproductive - and many, more savvy tourist destinations have learned that hushing things up may well be the best strategy. 

Because noise or no noise, cull or no cull, stripes or no stripes - people will continue to get bitten by Sharks.
And that's perfectly normal and as such, perfectly OK.

evian - Spider-Man!

I just love good commercials!

Bull Shark Soup - Two!

Yup that would be 30+ big Fiji Bull Sharks!


Here's the video- nice! :)

Wanna experience that?
Martin is coming to Fiji in May which is the start of the busy season!
Details here!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Ten Years of BADness!

Quick&dirty, more pics tomorrow.
Standing, l-r:  Silio, Wase, Ana, Ben, Nani, Tuma, Manoa, Salesh, Mavoa, Tumbee, Andrew; front: Jone, Jone, Api, Aceni. Absent are Netani, Rusi and Miti..

Who would have thought.

Yes today's the day.
Exactly ten years ago, we formally established the SRMR and started operations - first under a different name and about 6 months later, as Beqa Adventure Divers. Lemme tell 'ya, it has been a wild ride - but not now, maybe I'll once write the book.

Now, it's time to say thank you.
First and foremost to our wonderful staff - especially to Nani, Manasa and Rusi for having taken that huge leap of faith in 2004, and for having loyally persevered until this day. Having Tuma's and Rusis' sons, Tumbee and Mavoa follow the footsteps of their fathers fills me with pride and joy.
To the company's founder James who invested all his money into this crazy dream. To Andrew who has tirelessly worked to turn it into what it is now, one of the foremost Shark diving operations. To the village of Galoa for entrusting us with the stewardship of their reef. To the department of Fisheries and especially, Bati, for always being supportive. To Gary and Brenda for invaluable advice and unwavering friendship and loyalty. To Juerg, for being the best scientific adviser and friend one could ever wish for.
And to you, the thousands upon thousands of visitors that have helped us to turn into reality our vision of a tourism-based integrated Shark research and conservation project.

Thank you!