Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Shark Dive of the Year!

And what a dive it was!

Suffice to say that this is the first time I've seen El Diego duck!
Like last Saturday, the Bulls were plentiful and simply unhinged, and the poor viz meant plenty of close passes and plenty of work for the bodyguards.

In brief: great fun! :)
Spotted for the first time: Maite - and Hotlips has been obviously partying like there's no tomorrow, see at top!

So, Happy New Year everybody!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

GWS from a Glass-Bottom Boat?

Have you seen this?

Brilliant idea!
Especially the part about watching those big mamas cruise by whilst getting shitfaced and listening to AC/DC and more recently, the Hilltop Hoods!
Great marketing!

But seriously.
Ever since Cousteau's venerable Calypso, those underwater observation chambers have allowed their occupants to witness amazing scenery and behavior, and this without having to learn any special skills - and from a commercial POV, this sure greatly increases the number of potential customers.
So, why not?

I say, well done and godspeed.
Or, am I missing something here?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Insane Ski Line!


What can I say.

That guy is just nuts.
Story here - enjoy!

South Africa - Verdict!

Great pic and report! Source. Click for detail!

Have you seen this?

Is that the end of diving as we know it?
Methinks this is nothing to be concerned about.
This was not a diving accident where certified divers are generally believed to be responsible for their own actions, but instead a boating accident where the passengers have every right to expect the operator and the skipper to act responsibly - and if the verdict is that they did not, then it is only fair that they be held accountable.

And in diving?
Same-same. Operators that are found to be grossly negligent should not be allowed to hide behind liability releases - and at the same time, divers need to assume their own responsibility and not blame the operators for their own failures.

That simple - or not?

PS - interesting at at times, brilliant thread here!

Guadalupe - breaking News!


Just got this in the mail.
Did you hear that Cantamar got nailed by the mexican authorities for taking over 200 guests scuba diving with white sharks this past season.  The federal authorities have been showing video of what was going on and announcing that they would be taking legal sanctions against Cantamar.
All I can say is, it's about bloody time!
Club Cantamar that operates the Sea Escape and the  Southern Sport has been brazenly flaunting the Biosphere's regulations for years, first by accommodating Amos' idiotic pinnacle expeditions but later on, by "secretly" letting everybody and his dog leave the cage, to the point that now several tour operators and dive guides are regularly offering those illegal trips to their "special" customers.
This is a small world and I personally know of more than 10 people that have done it - and I wasn't even investigating, meaning that the number of 200 is certainly absolutely plausible! And anyway, we've all seen those images because those idiots cannot even keep a secret but continue to flaunt their heroic feats on the social and even the mainstream media - meaning that the authorities got heaps of evidence to back up their case!

Now we wait.
Mexico being Mexico, a phone call by somebody connected could still derail everything - or not.

So here's to the end of the stupid shenanigans!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Surfing in Iceland - awesome!



Why Professional Photographers Cannot Work for Free!

Only sometimes! Source.

This is rather epic.

Well said Tony Wu!
And since we're at it - mutatis mutandis, this also applies to our dives!
Unless they are filthy rich, researchers and legitimate Shark conservationists usually dive for free, and provided that they are willing to invest the required time, the genuine image pros get the royal treatment. The dreaded discount-demanding semis however not so much - much like we usually refrain from perusing the services of semi-professional lawyers and surgeons!

But I'm digressing.
Bravo Tony!

Shark Reef - The Running of the Bulls!

Bull Shark love - not for the fainthearted. Click for detail!

Brilliant brilliant brilliant!

Gareth is absolutely correct.
Even by our standards, yesterday's dive was nothing short of epic - especially considering the time of the year! The weather sucks and the viz was not perfect - but we did count a minimum of 40 Bulls, and many of the big mamas are already back in fast and furious action!
Having checked my video, I can discern Granma (our oldest) and Tiny Stumpy (still a juvenile) that look great and are obviously not partaking in the general partouze. Nick, Pointer, Colombiana, Chica, Tip, Ms Jaws, Funnygirl, Moana, Brenda, Bum and Tail on the other hand are busy partying, frankly look like shit and are ravenous - much like Nica that contrary to Blunt who left early, came back first and has been bulking up nicely, is still looking gaunt after having given birth. And check out poor old skinny Monica who has obviously managed to pick up some skin infection whilst in the river!

And the males?
They are busy trying to knock up anybody they can get their teeth, and obviously, other parts in - and  as long as the ocean is carrying those irresistible female pheromones, it is quite obvious that they are totally impervious to the attraction of bait, juicy as it may be! In fact, many years of experience teaches us that the mating season won't be over til we get to see Whitenose, the biggest Casanova of them all!

All in all, simply fascinating stuff.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Middle Eart on SFS - Fail!


And I cite.
However, I much prefer Bilbo Baggins’ approach to dealing with trolls. Instead of ignoring them, trick them into talking so much that sunlight, the best disinfectant, gets them into trouble.
Agree in principle - but Bilbo had nothing to do with it!
The correct citation is,
“Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!” said a voice that sounded like William’s. But it wasn’t...
“Excellent!” said Gandalf, as he stepped from behind a tree, and helped Bilbo to climb down out of a thorn-bush. Then Bilbo understood. It was the wizard’ voice that had kept the trolls bickering and quarreling, until the light came and made an end of them.
Detail detail!

And I cite again!
In a cave in the Lonely Mountain there lived a dragon.... it was a dragon-cave, and that meant gold. At least it did, until a nasty band of poachers found Lonesome Smaug, the last of his species, alone, asleep, threatening none, and smote his genus from the red ledger, stripping Middle Earth of critical biodiversity....
Gandalf the Grey, one of the more powerful, though among the least conservation-minded, of the wizards would remark: “It has been said that dragon-fire could melt and consume the Rings of Power, but there is not now any dragon left on earth in which the old fire is hot enough.”
The Grey Wizard failed to mention that, were it not for his callousness, there would be.
Absolutely not!
That was not a dragon-cave, it was the Great Hall of Thráin under the Lonely Mountain where Smaug was hoarding the gold that he had robbed from the Dwarves, see at top. And far from being some useful native apex predator worthy of protection, Smaug had been bio-engineered by Morgoth and was thus an invasive, eminently ecologically disruptive, albeit already functionally extinct super-predator with no legitimate role in the ecosystem and that urgently needed to be dealt with! Far from precipitating a trophic cascade, his demise finally re-balanced the biodiversity of Middle Earth and allowed the native predators to fulfill their ecological roles undisturbed!
Be it as it may, his demise is not attributable to the Company of 14, let alone Gandalf who was not present when those events unfolded. Smaug was killed by Bard the Bowman from Esgaroth – and this not upon instigation by Gandalf but clearly in self-defense and helped by a thrush.
As for Gandalf not being conservation minded.
Of the five Wizards that were sent to Middle Earth, two departed to the East;  Radagast was close to the animals and the plants and may have protected them - but there is no record of him actually doing so; Saruman turned Isengard into an industrial wasteland, and he sent Orcs to cut down the trees of Fangorn.

Gandalf on the other hand made it his life's mission to defeat Sauron and was instrumental in demoting and eventually, evicting Saruman from Isengard. Through his actions, he was the single most influential individual in the removal of the two worst perpetrators of ecological crimes in Middle Earth.
As Gandalf himself explains - The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith", talking to Denethor, Steward of Gondor.
But I will say this:
the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. As for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?

And one more!
Like the grey wolf, wargs were extirpated during the Third Age–they were captured and domesticated to serve the Mordor war machine. When Thoren (sic) Oakenshield and his band fled the Goblin tunnels, they were set upon by goblins and barely-domesticated wargs. When the Fellowship marched, decades later, they saw no wild wargs.
Thus, the domestication of the warg is so complete that they are are no more wild wargs in Middle Earth. At the Battle of Five Armies, there was still enough ecosystem resilience to withstand the gradual removal of wargs, but by the battle of Helms Deep, these magnificent creatures had been fully extirpated for six decades and the environment had fallen apart around them.
Without the massive carrion the wild wargs leave behind, the Great Eagle populations declined. As their numbers dwindle and resources become scarce, eagle colonies destabilize and social hierarchies fall apart. 
Hell, no!
The Fellowship was attacked by rider-less Wargs in Eregion prior to entering the gates of Moria; and there were warg-riders (from Isengard not Mordor!)) at the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen, and wolf-riders in Helm's Deep!
And anyway, the Wargs were never tamed or domesticated, let alone by Mordor from where there is not a single account of any Warg. Rather, they were somewhat intelligent, had an own language, and chose to consciously ally themselves with Orcs - and thus the "wild" Wargs were never extirpated like asserted!
Furthermore, due to the fact that the bodies of the killed Wargs from the skirmish of Eregion were gone the next morning, it is believed that they may have been demonic much like Hellhounds and Darkhounds and if so, may not have needed to hunt for food and thus would not have left behind any carrion. With that in mind, the postulated trophic cascade affecting the Great Eagles is, at best, highly speculative - but it matters not since the extirpation of the Wargs never occurred in the first place!

Long story short?
Far from engaging in the required research, the SFS dudes don't know what they are talking about and instead, belittle, besmirch and defame the greatest of Wizards and come up with the very same pulled-from-the-arse effects we all had such a hard time getting rid of a couple of years ago!

A pox on them!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Yes I know I know.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Vaquita - a Glimmer of Hope?



Read this.
If implemented, this last-ditch solution is certainly a bold effort - but it's really little more than clutching at straws, and alas I'm not terribly hopeful. The poaching for the Totoaba is an eminently intractable problem, and the Vaquita may be already functionally extinct.

Bravo, and fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lill - Photographer of the Week!

Well done Lill!

And of course there's a Fiji Bull Shark!
Story here.

Pelagic Thresher Birth!

Click for detail - amazing!


I just got this from a friend.
More once I know more.

PS: thank you Saffron Pimpernel and thank you Johann for the link to the article!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bimini - here we go again!

Same old same old. Source.

Good one!

Honestly, I thought that it would be business as usual.
The first pictures of people manhandling those Hammers have already hit the social media - but then I get this in the mail. 

Greetings from Bimini,

The magnificent Great Hammerheads of Bimini have proven to be one of the islands most popular tourist attractions.  In order to sustain this annual event, and ensure that both the sharks and Bimini's stakeholders benefit from this experience, the Bimini Tourism Advisory Board (BTAB) would like to present guidelines and etiquette for all participating operators.

We would appreciate your help in circulating these instructions amongst any and all off-island operators who plan to dive with Bimini's Great Hammerheads.  Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Great Hammerhead Diving in Bimini, Bahamas
Guidelines & Etiquette, as put forth by the
Bimini Tourism Advisory Board (BTAB)

Attracting & Feeding the Sharks
1) There shall be no direct hand-feeding of the sharks.
2) There shall be no unnecessary touching or handling of the sharks.
3) Only fish (fresh or frozen) shall be used to feed the sharks.  No ‘human food’ or other non-related animal products.
4) Visiting boats should bring their own bait, and not rely on harvesting from Bimini’s fisheries for bait.
5) Bait should be presented down-current from divers.
6) Bull Sharks (C. leucas) should NOT be fed at Bimini’s Great Hammerhead sites. Anyone wishing to dive with Bull Sharks can contact the Bimini Bull Run operation in Alice Town, or utilize a location outside of Bimini’s Great Hammerhead diving zone. (See map attached separately).

Navigation & Anchoring
1) Sites used should be in areas that do not damage or disturb nearby reefs, seagrass beds, or other sensitive marine habitats.
2) All boats should make sure their anchors are set in sand.
3) If necessary, divers should set anchors in place on the bottom to avoid dragging.
4) When available, boats should use permanent moorings.
Related Etiquette & Protocol
1) Visiting boats should contact the Bimini Tourism Advisory Board (BTAB) prior to their arrival and report the duration of their stay, number of divers, etc.  Email
2) Visiting boats should coordinate via VHF radio to ensure each boat has plenty of space to operate safely and comfortably.
BTAB suggests a minimum distance of 0.5 miles between each boat when more than one boat is in the area.
3) Visiting boats should be willing to report sightings and observations to the researchers at the Bimini Biological Field Station (SharkLab).  Any divers seen interfering with research or tagging efforts should be reported to BTAB, or the Royal Bahamas Police in Bimini.
4)  “Diver Down” flags must be displayed at all times when divers are in the water.

Regulations & Restrictions
1) All non-Bahamian vessels must comply with Bahamas Customs & Immigration regulations.
2) All production crews must acquire abide by the proper permits from the Bahamas Film Commission
3) All vessels engaging in any fishing activities must comply with the Fisheries Regulations of the Bahamas
4) All visiting researchers must acquire abide by the proper research permit prior to their arrival.
5) All divers and operators should be in possession of necessary certifications and permits.
6) Hooking or catching any sharks, without proper permits and permissions, is prohibited by Bahamian law.
Additionally, Great Hammerheads are especially vulnerable to the stress of being caught, and this should never be attempted without extensive consideration.
And Grant Johnson, currently the BTAB's chairman doubles down as follows.
Greetings from South Bimini, 

As some of you may have already seen, the Bimini Tourism Advisory Board (BTAB) recently sent out some guidelines for any and all operators coming to dive with Bimini's Great Hammerheads this winter. 
The BTAB group consists of a wide variety of Bimini's stakeholders and after discussions with the islands businesses, residents, and researchers we've decided that these guidelines represent the best way forward in conducting these dives. Things may change in the future, and deviations from these protocols may have existed in the past, but we'd appreciate your cooperation in conducting these dives in accordance with the current BTAB standards. 

Bimini's Great Hammerhead dives have generated an enormous amount of positive publicity for the island and given a significant boost to the tourism industry here. 
That being said, there has also been some unfortunate behavior from a small minority of the visiting operators. From simple trash-talking to boats making illegal entries into the country, to the outrageously disrespectful act of interfering (removing tags, transmitters, etc.) with ongoing research, we'd like your help in advising these reprobates to stop. We have already alerted the Defense Force, Customs & Immigration, and the local Police of these and other potential concerns. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. For what it's worth, I'm currently the chairman of the BTAB group, and can make sure your comments/concerns are taken into consideration. Please see below (and attached) for the BTAB Guidelines for Bimini's Great Hammerhead Dives, and help us spread the word amongst any visiting shark divers. 

Thanks for your cooperation. 
Grant Johnson South Bimini, The Bahamas
I say, great stuff.
It reflects much of what I posted back in February and earlier, and having seen who it got sent to, it definitely puts an end to all the potential excuses by the usual serial Shark molesters and media whores. Leaves the intruding foreign liveaboard vessels - but people in the know tell me that there, too, stuff is very much in the making and may be announced shortly.

So godspeed everybody.
Enjoy the beautiful Hammerheads - and this time, fucking behave by respecting the wishes of the locals but above all, by finally respecting the animals!

To be continued no doubt!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Florida - wrong Priorities?

Is this a matter of public safety? Source.

Here we go again.

Have you watched and read this?
I'm certainly no fan of Jordan's specific brand of troglodyte Shark diving - but it definitely does neither endanger the Sharks nor does it pose a safety risk for the public, the more as the old tired myth about training Sharks to associate humans with food has long been debunked as being utter nonsense.

But how about this.

Think that the chum is no public safety hazard?
Yes that would be once again Team Rebel, serial persecutors of critically endangered Sawfish who like many other land based anglers continue to target and drag protected Lemons and Hammerheads onto the beach instead of immediately releasing them as prescribed by the law.

And the response by the FWC?
Quite obviously, nada de nada - the more as "Chumming" or feeding fish for the purpose of harvesting marine species as otherwise allowed by FWC rules is permitted = you can feed Sharks in order to harass and kill them, but not in order to watch them!

Overreach and hypocrisy anybody?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Western Australia - Imminent Threat Policy!

Oh for fuck's sake.

Read this.
Seriously, how can a Shark be a threat if you know where it is!
But instead of doing the sensible thing = telling the people to stay away from that beach til the GWS moves on, they are using the pings from the tags to go and kill it.  This idiotic policy is saving no-one but instead, it will only have one possible outcome: they will eventually end up back at square one, i.e. with no more tagged Sharks and no more information about where they are.

Seriously - what a bunch of morons!

Deep Sea Fish - and I mean it!


This is the deepest recorded Fish - so far!
Story, and more videos of weird deep-sea critters here an here.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Shooting Cownose Rays!



How fucking pathetic, and I cite.
Most killing contests are in June, when the rays have returned from the Gulf of Mexico to the Chesapeake to mate and give birth. The biggest rays are pregnant females, and they are the contestants’ prime targets.
“It’s the luck of the draw when a man shoots it and it’s a female: A lot of the times before they get to the scale, the pups are already coming out,” said Bowe. “They try to retain the pups inside to get more weight.”

“They want to kill them while they’re still pregnant,” said Grubbs, the Florida State research biologist. “They’re getting a two for one in their mind,” he said, echoing a sentiment expressed on tournament chat boards.
“I’m a hunter and a fisher,” he added, “and I can tell you, it takes zero skill to kill a cownose ray.”
This is as bad as it gets.
Yes it may be perfectly legal - but ethically, it remains a total abomination. And the propaganda by the apologists is, alas, the direct consequence of the fable about exploding Ray populations that continues to be uncritically parroted by the Shark conservationists.
Populations of Elasmobranchs don't explode, and the habitats in the Chesapeake Bay have not been degraded by the Cownose Rays but by us.

What The Fuck!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Shark Reef - Transition Time!

Unknown pregnant Bull.

Cool dive!

Looks like this year, everything is happening at the same time!
Normally, the pregnant Bulls leave for pupping in mid-November and come back in mid-December, after which everybody else disappears for some hanky panky, likely to the deeper reaches of the Beqa Passage. Then in January, we got the Running of the Bulls where  we witness plenty of mating scars and ever increasing numbers of Bull Sharks that are particularly ravenous and also appear to be re-establishinging rank, meaning that during January, the action is hot hot hot!

Not this time!
I wasn't here but the staff tell me that instead of the usual 3 to 5, numbers were never below 20. And on yesterday's dive, I witnessed a very late pregnant mama, see at top, whereas the ever toothy Blunt who had been enormously pregnant has obviously given birth and whilst still being impressive, is but a shadow of her former self, see below.

Blunt pregnant, July 2014

Blunt yesterday.

And guess who's already partying like there's no tomorrow!

Whilst being her usual greedy feisty self!

To be continued!

Humpbacks Bubblenet feeding!


Great video!

But the soundtrack... hmmmm...
Anyway, enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gold Coast - Bull Shark Alert!

Forget the article.
But that's a real nice picture of Crook - so there!

Mimic Squid - way cool!

Nanomia siphonophore (left) and juvenile Chiroteuthis calyx squid (right). The animals are about 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 inches) long. Image: © 2014 MBARI 

Story here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Great White Shark Tumor Biopsy!

Top row: Aussie Sam's pics of Santa's tumor. Paper here. Source.

Cool stuff!

Story here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Do Maui's Manta Rays need saving?

This is by far the biggest threat facing global Manta Ray populations - source.

No don't worry.

I'm not about to totally blast this and call it a scam.
Mark Deakos is certainly a good man who cares deeply, and the projects he is suggesting are certainly legit.

But of course there has to be a BUT! :)
Assuming that there are only so many people willing to invest only so much money into Mobulid conservation - is that the best way to invest those 75 grand?
Yes those Maui Manta Rays may be inconvenienced and some may even fall victim to accidental entanglements - but nobody is actively trying to kill them, and I really have a very hard time believing that the Hawaiian population is at risk of extinction like asserted, meaning that in reality, they also don't need to be "saved"!
Surely the real problems facing Manta Ray conservation are their continued wholesale persecution in e.g. the Subcontinent and Asia, and the challenge of enforcing local protections but also the CITES regulations in order to curb the totally unsustainable disgrace that is the gill raker trade - or not?
And when it comes to the Mobulids in general, surely the biggest and most urgent conservation challenge is to obtain the population data and the other science that are the prerequisites for a CITES listing of the Mobulas - and oh yes, I'm very much talking to you, slow hand clapping mobula fan!

I say, better send your money to the Manta Trust.
This is really the clearing house for global Manta and Mobula conservation, and Guy Stevens, DaMary, Shawn  & Co are probably best suited for conducting the required triage and directing any funds to where they are most needed - including to Deakos who is one of the project leaders!

Or am I missing something here?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Elasmobranch Field Guides - fucking awesome!

This is just great.
Shark References announces them as follows
New open access field guide of the Western Indian Ocean from Dave Ebert!
The present field guide is designed to assist in the identification of pelagic sharks and rays of the Western Indian Ocean that are major, moderate, or minor importance to fisheries. It encompasses the offshore, high seas portion of FAO  Fishing Area 51
  • FAO_Pelagic Guide-part1  here 
  • FAO_Pelagic Guide-part2  here 
  • FAO_Pelagic Guide-part3  here
  • FAO_Pelagic Guide-part4  here 
  • FAO_Pelagic Guide-part5  here

Clever Buoy - another Scam?

You be the judge of that!

Have you seen this?
Yup that would again be SCAMS SAMS, inventors and breathy promoters of those ludicrous Shark repellent wetsuits. I've gone snooping on their website and more than one year after the breathy announcements, the featured field tests still amount to a staggering n=1! Wow!
But Bear Grylls has worn one, likely in Shark-infested waters, and is still alive - so it must be legit!

And now we got the buoy, and I cite.
The idea for Clever Buoy was the brainchild of advertising agency M&C Saatchi, ranked second on the BRW Most Innovative Companies 2014 list, which decided to take a non-traditional approach to the brief from the telco to promote its ­network coverage.
Instead of creating an ad campaign about the Optus network at work in some far-off corner of the country, the team decided to bring to market a new product that would showcase the network.
“We got the idea of producing something fairly quickly, but that wasn’t innovation, it was just a smart idea, the innovation comes into it when you make it a reality,” M&C Saatchi chief executive and group innovation director Jaimes Leggett says.
Right. A marketing campaign for Optus.
Trust the ever crafty Hamish and Craig to have identified the financial windfall and come up with the usual mix of breathy announcements, crafty marketing, heaps of media exposure and zero proof. Check out this link and like with those wetsuits, you will consequently find zero evidence of rigorous testing let alone conclusive results.

Next, another self-promoting TED talk!
Wanna bet?

Helium Shark!

Pretty cool in a weird way.

Yes this would be CGI.
From what I understand, Thomas Marqué is using this tool - but then again, what do I know.

Anyway, enjoy!

Aaron Moir, Moron!


Looks like I've missed this whilst I was away.

In the big scheme of things, this is nothing newsworthy, just one more jackass doing moronic things, dime-a-dozen - but I'm never-the-less posting it for future reference. And because Aaron and his pals obviously believe that it is somehow cool.
Oh, and: great marketing for Blue Juice Charters!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

NZ GWS Tourism - new Rules!


Here we go.

Read this.
With baiting and decoys forbidden, one has to wonder how the operators will manage to attract the Sharks to the cages - the flip side being that the Pāua divers will henceforth have a hard time substantiating their claims that Shark diving is conditioning the animals and making them more dangerous!
With that in mind - good decision!

Here's to somebody having learned the obvious lessons, and to no more access for those US Shark pornographers!

PS - Controls on commercial filming. Hear hear!
PPS - Permit of Shark Dive New Zealand here, of  Shark Experience here - note Article 7 about termination if the operators do not adhere to the Code of Practice and Schedule 3 about the requirement of special permits for any commercial film productions!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bahamian Nassau Groupers - Good News!

After the Cayman Islands, now the Bahamas.

The yearly fishing moratorium is now permanent.
The closure protects the Groupers' spawning aggregation and is hopefully a big step towards having the populations recover, thus protecting the livelihoods of the Caribbean fishermen depending on this important fishery. Once ubiquitous, the Nassau Grouper is now listed as endangered, this principally owing to overfishing.

Well done!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

WCPFC - fail!

Dirty business. Source. Click for detail.

Nothing good to report from the WCPFC meeting in Apia.

Once again, it has been business as usual.
The depleted Tuna are getting no reprieve despite of reasonable recommendations by Pew and the WWF.  And the dirty politics have continue unabated, with the distant water fleet nations Europe, China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan once again refusing to enter into meaningful dialogue and effectively stalling any progress.

And  the Sharks?
There, the outcome has simply been ridiculous. 
Instead of tackling the huge problem of Shark bycatch on Tuna longlines by finally banning both those Shark lines and the use of wire leaders, it is now only forbidden to use them simultaneously.

And now?
The leveraging of their development aid by those distant water fleet nations continues to be a huge problem - but slowly slowly, the Pacific nations are recognizing that they need to take matters in their own hands if they don't want to end up losing their most precious resource. The PNA continues to be at the forefront of Tuna management, and their Vessel Day Scheme is reputed to be highly efficient whilst also being highly lucrative. And to my great satisfaction, Fiji has signed the Tokelau Arrangement that will hopefully put the management of the more Southerly Tuna fisheries back into the hands of the real resource owners - and I may add, not a minute too late, read this very interesting report!

So, here's to progress.
Yes it is frustratingly slow - and whilst the parties continue to dither, Tuna stocks continue to decline. But at least there's the hope that one day, things will really start improving.

Fingers crossed!

A Ray of Light II - finally online!


Like AROL I, this is simply a masterpiece.
Story including not one but two making of here and here!


NZ GWS Tourism - more Trouble!

Mobile Shark cage - maybe a solution? Source.

And I cite.
11. In spite of the clear duty of care, the paua industry is currently incurring significant costs as a direct consequence of health and safety risks arising from shark tourism operations, as detailed in the attached case study. This suggests that the current legislative framework is not sufficient to ensure that the duty of care in section 16(1)(a) is :
  • reflected in practice by businesses – for example, some shark tourism operators publicly display a cavalier attitude to the safety of others in the vicinity .
    A Stewart Island shark tourism operator, when asked if he would dive with great white sharks without a cage responded “ No that would be stupid! ...the answer is categorically the same each time – NO! ” and yet this operator is well aware that commercial paua divers and other marine users are frequently present (without the protection of a shark cage ) in the waters in the vicinity of his business.
    The same operator allowed a television host, deliberately posing as a vulnerable diver, to goad a great white shark into attacking the shark cage ;

The Pāua divers are on the offensive and so far, they are winning.
So far, none of the NZ GWS Shark diving operators has been issued a license and research permits are being withheld. This is the direct consequence of a continued abject lack of outreach and education coupled with naive and greedy operators that have been goaded into those stupidities by the kings of Shark porn, ABC4 and Jeff Kurr.
And so it goes.
To be continued no doubt!

    Sunday, December 07, 2014

    Turtle vs Tiger Shark!

    Tiger Shark teeth - remember those old can openers? Source.

    Cool footage.

    Yes this is how Turtles try and defend themselves.
    But as we all know, those Tigers are patient and incredibly persistent. Eventually, the Turtle will have to go and breathe at the surface and then the vulnerable edge of the carapace will be exposed.


    Sustainable Shark Diving?

    And now, to that post by RickMac.

    But first.
    Avuncular? WTF!
    That's a whiff of a pico-fraction of a galaxy removed from Yoda, and I don't like it a bit - but then again, coming from the guy at the top, should I even care?
    But I do like this - spot on!

    Lemme cite.
    My very personal and subjective (although I also suspect accurate) summary on what I’ve observed to date is that there is money to be made on shark dive tourism and it is a powerful incentive to “get in on the action,” regardless of experience and awareness of lessons learned.  And like all businesses, there’s a continuum of what I would consider sustainable practice… some are deeply invested in good training, supervision, and safety and some are in it to simply turn quick profit.
    Indeed, astute observation!

    Now, this is frankly nothing new.
    Yours truly and back then, Patric Douglas of Shark Diver have been blogging about the future of Shark diving for years, and for the need of the industry to reform and move towards a more long term sustainable model. Back then, we were being decried as troublemakers and party poopers - but ten years later, the public appears to be shifting towards a more authentic and holistic experience, and much of what did preach back then is now increasingly being proffered in the mainstream. With that in mind, this is a great chance to elevate Shark diving to the next level.

    Plus, now, we dispose of the science.
    Not of just two papers like Rick asserts but actually, of quite a few. They all come to the conclusion that whereas there are certainly local effects, Shark provisioning appears unproblematic at the ecosystem level i.e. over large spatial and temporal scales, meaning that overall, the impact on Shark populations is negligible to nil.

    Not convinced?
    Don't speculate - show me the fucking evidence to the contrary and no, rubbish like this doesn't count! And incidentally, no, the Shark feeding in Playa did not precipitate the attacks in Cancun. The Bulls in the Riviera Maya are sexually segregated = provisioned females in Playa and non-provisioned males in Cancun!
    And since those events, progress has been remarkable!
    Just sayin'!

    But of course those local effects are eminently relevant.
    It is there where we will discern the biggest discrepancies based on the specific protocols, or lack of, of the operators, and it is there where the various initiatives will hopefully have the biggest impact, by emphasizing the good and reforming the bad.

    And yes, some notable NGOs are starting to take notice.
    Considering the dead-set opposition to any form of Shark feeding I've encountered in the past, this is certainly progress. I'm not a fan of breathy announcements and will not comment on Rick's name-dropping which is both partly inaccurate, premature and certainly not for him, nor for me to do - but yes, this may or may not eventually result in an initiative to develop a common code of practice and if so, I for one would certainly welcome that! 

    This however with the following caveat.
    Nice to have academia and the NGO intelligentsia look into our industry and hopefully give us some valuable unbiased pointers for improvement - but any such code will only succeed if there is considerable industry buy-in. And for that to happen, any such rules will not only have to reflect some eco wish list but also be flexible and above all, factually and economically practicable!
    But again - at this stage it's nothing for me to comment about and certainly not fodder for social media! 

    And then, there is now Global Shark Diving.
    We did the soft launch at DEMA and the response has been simply overwhelming. Like I said, potential new members are undergoing a meticulous screening process and will only be accepted if they are already truly invested in conservation and research. Failing that, any aspiring members will first have to establish track record and will only be considered once they are able to produce tangible results on the ground. Our principal asset and the one factor setting us apart from similar ventures is market leadership and credibility - and we will certainly not risk losing that because of shortcuts due to friendship or economic expediency.
    But worry not: more members are going to be announced very shortly indeed!

    And BAD?
    We will continue to do what we've been doing all along, and that is to lead from the front. We may or may not be the best - but we're certainly among the leaders in Shark ecotourism and have every intention of keeping it that way!
    The establishment of Fiji's first national marine park via a ground-breaking public-private partnership has been a great milestone. But of course the proof is in the pudding, and we have no doubt that for it to succeed and be picked up elsewhere, the honor bestowed upon us needs to translate into a lot of hard work on the ground. To that effect, we have started establishing new baselines by recording the current coral cover and conducting a census of all the Fishes and Sharks. We will also considerably enhance enforcement by conducting more frequent patrols and by training further honorary fish wardens. And finally, we are currently developing yet another project that will hopefully have repercussions Fiji-wide and even abroad.

    So, keep watching this space.
    Like always, it's not a matter of making announcements but of coming up with actual results - and I can say, so far so good!

    To be continued!