Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time Out!

And if yer there - booth 1433!

Monday, November 10, 2014

CMS - bravo Fiji!

It's done.

All 21 proposed Rays and Sharks are now listed under the CMS.
With the pelagic Manta already listed, Fiji did propose the Reef Manta and all 7 Mobulas, and they are now listed under both appendices.

Bravo - excellent job!
And bravo Ian - you know why!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Cocky Sea Lion!


But long-term, probably not so much. 
That big male may become aggressive, and it may end up getting hit by the props.

Story here.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Maldives Shark Sanctuary - Case Study!

Maldives Shark Sanctuary - only a SINO? Source.


Remember this 2013 report by TRAFFIC?
Back then I was wondering why the Maldives were listed as exporters of Shark products despite of their designation as a Shark Sanctuary.
Now, I understand.

Read this.
The Maldives had always been an important Shark fishing nation (an here) - and when they decreed the sanctuary by forbidding Shark fishing but failed to adequately ban the possession of Shark products, the fishing and the trade did continue, this mainly due to insufficient monitoring and enforcement but also lack of awareness and compensation of the fishermen.

There are obviously lessons to be learned here.
Nothing spectacular mind you - just that those things need to be meticulously planned, and that whoever advocates them needs to take on his share in facilitating their implementation.

Jackass jumps on Shark!

Another Ozzie jackass - with a real Tiger!

No way!

This shit has gone viral.
But that is never a Tiger Shark - if that is Australia like reported, then that's a Tawny Nurse.

Anyway, watch.

Global Shark Diving - the Ambassador!


Douglas David Seifert is our first GSD Ambassador.
He will be doing what he's been doing all along, i.e. liaising between the people and the marine life - and being arguably the world's best shark photographer, I cannot think of a better person to take on the role of telling the public about the many remarkable initiatives the GSD members are spearheading around the globe.

And, there is this.
Check out his Facebook page.
See? Zero breathy self promotion!
He just goes to those places, incidentally on his own dime, works incredibly hard and comes back with images others can only dream about. Much like the other truly outstanding photographers and cameramen like e.g. Howard and Michele, the other Doug, MPO and Aussie Sam - and very much to the contrary of all those media whores!

But I'm digressing as always.
Welcome aboard buddy!

Shark Fishing vs Shark Finning - Video!


6 minutes 46 seconds of correct information!
I am impressed - after years upon years upon years trying to educate the animal welfare crowd, it really looks like the narrative is slowly shifting away from Shark finning to the real issue, Shark overfishing.
Well done - better late than never!


Friday, November 07, 2014

WWF - Shark Reef Marine Reserve!

Yet another stellar pic by Allen!
Very nice.

Read this!
So the cat is out of the bag: the management committee for Fiji's first National Marine Park will comprise Aisake Batibasaga from the Department of Fisheries as representative of Government, with full ultimate decision authority; Ian Campbell, Manager of the Pacific Shark Programme, a joint initiative between WWF and TRAFFIC as the representative of civil society; Juerg Brunnschweiler and Ciro Rico as the representatives of academia; and finally yours truly as the representative of BAD which has been tasked with the day-to-day management of the park. 
We are all Shark divers, have all dived the SRMR multiple times and are all uniquely equipped to make the best decisions for safeguarding the long-term future of the SRMR but above all, that of its priceless Shark population - so the future looks bright indeed!

One last word about the management model.
This public/private partnership is truly ground-breaking, and I sure hope that the delegates at the upcoming IUCN World Parks Congress are going to take notice. As an example for its practical application, the governments of lesser developed countries could deputize the local staff of those countless beach resorts whereby they could monitor the resorts' foreshore and apprehend any poachers etc; or mutatis mutandis, the same powers could be bestowed upon those liveaboard vessels plying the remote waters of Raja Ampat or e.g Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos - and the list goes on and on and on! In brief, the private operators would be investing their resources into defending their most precious business assets whilst relieving those resource-strapped governments from part of their burden.
Talk about a big win-win for everybody involved, and especially for marine conservation!

So here's to this model being quickly adopted elsewhere.
Fingers crossed!

You get what you pay for!



Thursday, November 06, 2014

Global Shark Diving - Launch!


Remember this post?
Well today marks the unveiling of one of those initiatives - finally!
Behold Global Shark Diving, the first global alliance of responsible and long-term sustainable Shark diving operators! We pride ourselves in being industry leaders and as such, on top of providing some of the world's best Shark diving and excellent service, we have all committed ourselves to our three guiding principles, namely 
  • excellent safety procedures 
  • the sponsoring of Shark research and 
  • a dedication to Shark conservation
With this initiative, we are hoping to gradually direct the industry towards a more credible, eco-friendly and long term sustainable product whilst safeguarding our most valuable asset, the Sharks.

We are currently inviting more operators to join.
Since everybody in the industry knows everybody, we don't entertain applications but instead, membership is being bestowed by invitation only and after a rigorous screening process to assess the candidates' adherence to each guiding principle - and this not in mere words but in facts on the ground! Gotta walk the talk!
I hear that one very prominent operator has already signed on, with possibly two more joining in the very near future - so keep watching that space!

And what's in it for you?
First and foremost, the assurance that by diving with one of those operators, you are giving your business to an industry leader that has made a commitment to adhere to the highest standards, and that will continuously strive to always remain at the forefront of industry developments. On a more practical side, we shall be distributing GSD cards to selected guests that will henceforth be entitled to global discounts plus an array of special initiatives reserved for GSD cardholders only. 
So be nice, and you may qualify! :)

Anyway, I'm very happy.
And mighty proud, too, and relieved - building an alliance of toothy and opinionated Shark diving operators is certainly not for the faint-hearted! So thank you gents, and Vivian our unrivaled and ever-patient web administrator, for pulling this through - all-in-all, this has been a brilliant experience! :)

To be continued no doubt - onward and upward!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Humaniacs and Whackadoodles!

Well well - and I cite.
Let us look at a case in point.
In August a new report was released stating that the worlds’ smallest cetacean (a group that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises), the vaquita, was down to just 97 animals and would likely to go extinct in the next four years. Crucially, all the necessary laws are in place; the solution is better enforcement and retraining of fishermen. And all this needs is money. And probably less than a movie star can make on a single movie.

On an environmental scale this is both tragic and a surprisingly easy fix. 
But, while a reasonable number of news agencies have covered the story, and continue to do so, the level of public outrage since that time can be best described as non-existent...
Increasingly, dealing with the whacktivists on “your” side is almost as important as dealing with those on the other side of a conservation issue.
Whacktivists make issues more polarized, putting off potential allies, reducing the credibility of conservation movements and undermining outreach efforts. Opponents to your issue will quickly point to the most extreme whacktivists and highlight them, saying “look at who our opponents are – crazy, illogical extremists” and try to paint all those that oppose them with the same brush. 

Why are there so many whacktivists?
Perhaps it’s because of the idea – exacerbated by social media and the internet – that everyone’s opinion is valid and that you have a right to say whatever you want (even if threatening and unfactual). Couple that with the greater ease with which you can do this in today’s social media age. Moreover, you can find any opinion online to back up your personal beliefs or prejudices, and the public has an increasing inability to discern “opinion” from “facts”.
You really got to read this and this post on SFS.
I've been lamenting the pervading dolphinization of the Shark movement for a very very long time indeed - and it's good to see that the sentiment is increasingly being shared, all the way to Chris Parsons' obvious distaste of the belief that everybody's opinion is equivalent and must thus be communicated and accepted regardless of its content and author. Of course, being a Whale man, he's very much sitting at the epicenter of all the crazy shit that is pervading the movement and knows exactly what he's talking about!
Make sure you also peek at the Sasquatch link - you just can't make that shit up can you...

Methinks Parsons' suggestions are only partly useful, i.e when dealing with those well-meaning activists. There, respect, dialogue, education and cooperation can truly lead to fantastic and mutually beneficial results, see e.g. our highly productive cooperation with Projects Abroad.

But you can't heal stupid and crazy, sorry.
Those are the folks that are directly harming conservation efforts, and they really need to be stomped out - by public criticism, insults, ridicule, whatever. Obviously, not very PC - but assuming that those folks are not reformable, are we just simply gonna ignore them and patiently shoulder the additional burden they are creating?

Think about it.
With those crazies, meek tolerance is just simply not an option.

Celebration - BAD Cut!

Brilliant shot by Allen!

So there.

I just couldn't resist.
If you compare this to Dave's edit, whilst hopefully respecting the brilliant original, I've saturated it a bit more, replaced some of the Fishes, de-emphasized the Tigers as really, our flagship species are the Bulls and Reefies, and added some more little tweaks to further accentuate the beat.
But it remains Dave's edit - so praise him if you like it and blame me if you don't!

I trust you know your Sharks - so here' something about the other critters.
  • 00:36: Yellownose Shrimpgobies, Stonogobiops xanthorhinica, with Randall's Snapping Shrimp Alpheus randalli.
  • 00:37: male Squarespot BassletPseudanthias pleurotaenia.
  • 00:38: Gray Sandtilefish, Hoplolatilus cuniculus, a shy, deep-water Fish that can be rarely seen on the deep slope to Beqa Channel.
  • 00:39: Blacklip Butterflyfish Chaetodon kleinii feeding on a Jellyfish.
  • 00:40: male Stocky Anthias Pseudanthias hypselosoma.
  • 00:41: Trumpetfish Aulostomus chinensis.
  • 00:43: Antenna Turkeyfish Pterois antennata.
  • 00:45: Yellowtail Coris Coris gaimard, moving a rock to look for hidden prey.
  • 00:46: Stonefish Synanceia verrucosa.
  • 00:47: Large-toothed Cardinalfish, Cheilodipterus macrodon, mouth-breeding an egg cluster.
  • 00:51: possibly, Minifin Parrotfish Scarus altipinnis. The differently colored Fishes are different phases of one and the same species, with the supermales being blue-green.
  • 00:53: Bluestreak Goby Valenciennea strigata.
  • 00:54: Fire Dartfish Nemateleotris magnifica.
  • 00:55: Map Puffer Arothron mappa.
  • 00:56: Elegant Dartfish Nemateleotris decora.
  • 00:57: Banded Sea Krait Laticauda colubrina, one of the incarnations of Dakuwaqa.
  • 00:58: male Stocky Anthias Pseudanthias hypselosoma with Bull Shark in the background.
  • 01:13: Arc-Eye Hawkfish Paracirrhites arcuatus fighting over a coral head.
  • 01:59: juvenile Clown Triggerfish Balistoides conspicillum, yawning.
  • 02:22: Elongate Surgeonfish Acanthurus mata. Normally seen in schools, they can quasi-instantly change color from dark to silvery.
  • 02:23: Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata.
  • 02:24: Fiji Foxface, Siganus uspi. This Rabbitfish is endemic to Fiji and named after the University of the South Pacific USP.
  • 02:26: possibly, Highfin Parrotfish Scarus altipinnis.
  • 02:34: Narrowbarred Spanish Mackerel Scomberomorus commersoni, the ubiquitous Walu from the local Fish menu.
  • 02:37: Slender Grouper, Anyperodon leucogrammicus.
  • 02:38: Bluestriped Fangblenny Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos, a predatory mimic of the common Cleaner Wrasse.
  • 02:39: female Squarespot Basslet,   Pseudanthias pleurotaeniae.
  • 02:40: Splendid Garden Eel, Gorgasia preclara from the sand patch in front of the 25m feed.
  • 02:42: Gillraker Mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta, often seen but only rarely approached at the 4m safety stop where they engage in spectacular displays of their shiny gill plates. This is one of the few Bony Fishes that filters Plankton.
  • 02:54: Blue-and-Yellow Fusilier, Caesio teres.
  • 02:56: Longnose Filefish Oxymonacanthus longirostris from the 4m safety stop.
  • 02:58: Peacock Smasher Odontodactylus scyllarus, house keeping.
  • 02:59: Striped Cleaner Wrasse Labroides dimidiatus servicing a Grey Reefie. That's a shot I wanted to get for ages!
  • 03:03: Blackfin Hogfish Bodianus loxozonus.
  • 03:05: Pink Anemonefish Amphiprion perideraion.
  • 03:06: Darn Damnsels and a gaggle of Reefies.
  • 03:12: Giant Moray Gymnothorax javanicus watching Granma being fed.
  • 03:14: Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata.
  • 03:17: Bicolor Hawkfish Paracirrhites bicolor.
  • 03:18: Bluespotted Fantail Ray Taeniura lymma. Now reclassified as T. lessoni.
  • 03:19: Banded Sea Krait, Laticauda colubrina.
There you have it - confused? :)
Anyway: enjoy!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Shark Selfie - fail!

Not cool, and pretty darn stupid on top of it - source.

Read this.

I fully concur.
I do like Peter, and the selfies per se are cool - but showing how one recklessly leans out of the cage is not, and the messaging is once again just the usual tired pseudo-conservation clap trap. Belittling the danger posed by GWS actually does them a disservice by not respecting them as what they are, apex predators - and absolutely not, not all strikes by GWS are investigative and/or mistaken identity!

And should you have any doubts that it was just simply stupid.
I got a friend who got nailed in the head when engaging in the exact same antics, and who only got away, with according copious loss of blood and major drama, because the Shark bit the skull and didn't injure the neck! And what would have been the head-lines, pun intended, and the according setback for Shark conservation, had the accident not been successfully hushed up?
Needless to say that my pal has learned his lesson and is not anymore doing any of that!

Maybe the operators should examine the size of those camera ports and ensure that those overly eager photographers are being prevented from taking those unnecessary risks?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Shark Escape!

Happening at Guadalupe right now!

Pete Thomas here!

Great Fiji Shark Count - still going strong!

Yes it's that time of the year again!

Wow, how time flies.
It feels like yesterday when we started, and now it's already our third November session. Thanks to the continued support of the Shark Foundation and of PADI AWARE, all materials have been distributed to the participants, and gaggles of eager divers have already started to swarm over the reefs and are busy counting Sharks, Ray and Turtles.

Have fun everybody!