Thursday, July 30, 2015

Birds of a Feather!

Source - click for detail!


Cleverly worded - but everybody understands what is being claimed. 
Brought to you by the very school of conservationism that continues to suggest that abusing Sharks as underwater scooters is leading to their protection. But worry not - certainly this is nothing more than yet another unfortunate misunderstanding!

Actual facts here.
Comments policy: meh, don't bother.
What needed saying has been said!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pacific Islands - El Niño Warning!

Click for detail - Source.

I trust the above is self-explanatory.
FMS outlook here - and yes, it is already bloody cold!
UN-ESCAP here!

Not good!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Shelley Clarke - even more Inconvenient Truth!


This Shark is possibly being finned.
Long-held belief among Shark conservationists has it that the body will be likely thrown overboard as fishermen are only interested in the fins because the meat has little to no value.
But how about the following pictures.

Kesennuma, Japan - source.
Ranong, Thailand - source.
Tung Kang, Taiwan - source.
Vigo, Spain - source.
Lombok, Indonesia - source.
Mirbat, Oman - source.
USA - source.
Mogadishu, Somalia - source.
Mexico City - source.

Think those Sharks have been killed for their fins?
More importantly: think that a single one of those Sharks would have been spared owing to a finning ban? Or for the matter, as a result of some bikini bimbette changing perceptions by snorkeling with Sharks at TB, or some bimbo illegally riding GWS at Guadalupe? 
Think again!

Shelley has done it - again!
In a rather monumental tour de force that leaves me quite in awe, she has meticulously rummaged through the data like only she can, and presents us with an equally amazing and frustrating opus about the Status of the Global Market for Shark Products. Read it!
And here are the two principal illustrations - click for detail.

See what I mean?
This is not about to go away anytime soon. 
And if like I believe, Shark Conservation consists in reducing Shark mortality to sustainable levels, then Shark conservation efforts need to start focusing on the whole range of present challenges: global overfishing, including the still rampant IUU, to aliment the trade in both their fins and other products; the important and largely unresolved issue of incidental bycatch; the widespread lack of data, let alone proper stock assessments impeding proper conservation and management measures; and last but certainly not least, the many-fold threats to both the Sharks, their prey and their habitats.

And talking about bycatch.
Remember this?


Read this report by, again, Shelley. 
Long story short, even with legislation and even if we naively were to assume the best intentions of everybody, the situation on the ground remains complex and frustrating to the max.

Just saying.
Please, do read and above all, understand the implications of Shelley's paper = sustainability not prohibition!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Fiji - El Niño!

See the bloody cold creeping up? 

And I cite.
Future Impacts:
The below average rainfall recorded in June follows similarly dry months in March to May of 2015, and with seasonally low rain over the west and north expected to continue through August, accumulations both above ground (in rivers and reservoirs) and below ground (in aquifers and soil moisture profiles) are expected to be significantly below average. The evolving El Niño event is already placing stress on water resources in parts of Fiji, especially the outer islands and remote rural areas where piped water is not accessible. There is an extremely high risk of major and catastrophic drought impacts during the latter half of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.

This year we can expect an increased risk of tropical cyclones in the 2015/2016 cyclone season with both the overall numbers likely to be greater than average, and the number of severe cyclones (Category Three or higher) is also likely to he greater than normal. The risk of cyclones east of the date line is especially high during El Niño years, and this season will likely be no exception. With rainfall likely to be below average through the summer months also, it is expected that the passage to tropical cyclone systems over or near island groups will be the primary source of significant rainfall.
Not good - despite us being just west of the date line!
Read NaDraki's excellent albeit depressing forecast here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

And THIS is why I love you RickMac!

Aaaah Rick...

Talk about having caught me on the wrong foot!
I was actually planning to get back at 'ya for this comment, and had even asked David to rehabilitate me by posting some unedited clip where I said Fuck - but it turns out that I really didn't say it even once! Talk about fucking embarrassing!
And now this, and I cite,
Did the shark seek out Fanning in search of hugs, and then—after a punch from the surf champion—add more salty tears to an already full ocean?
So there buddy - this is why you're one of my heroes.
First, because this is just fucking brilliant - nothing to add, amend or subtract, and way more eloquent and balanced than I could have ever penned myself. Second, for having the chutzpah of posting Panglossian at a time where the kids when speaking to each other, face to face, actually say the word "hashtag" and then top it up by making the sign with their fingers. And thirdly, for continuing to do all that heavy marine conservation lifting without the slightest shred of ego, to the point where you graciously step aside when others then parachute in to reap the plaudits. 
So kudos and chapeau my friend - again!

And this blog?
I've decided to put it on a backburner.
Because of the kids. Because I'm frustrated. 
Both commercial Shark diving and Shark conservation are clearly at a crossroads - but all I get to hear, see and read is the same old tired claptrap. Little knowledge but plenty of bombastic pronouncements; little fact but plenty of new age thruthiness; no relevant content but plenty of dumbing down wrapped in social media wizardry; little integrity but plenty of breathy self promotion by the posers, cheats, charlatans and media whores; ever more awareness but zero tangible achievements. 
It's the fucking dolphinization on steroids - and now with 30% more political correctness! I mean, seriously, how fucking pathetic! 

But above all, there's zero vision - and I can assure you that despite of all that noisy do-goodery, global Shark populations are continuing to decline along with their prey and their habitats!
Have you seen this? And this? And this? Think they're not having an effect?
Did I tell you that I'm frustrated?

Time to rethink the Shark.
There's also plenty to do, and not having to slave away at the computer has certainly helped increasing real world productivity.
BAD is a Shark research and conservation project that is being financed via ecotourism. Luckily for us, so far, there is still enough divers that do not ask for troglodyte Shark diving to keep us thriving. Luckily for us, there  is an increasing number of  conservation-minded researchers, and there are selected individuals and orgs that pursue marine conservation with integrity, are not after fame but want to get the job done - and they are all happy to engage. Luckily for us, the Fijian authorities are highly supportive, and aware and willing to tackle the issues at hand.

But the area is tiny and subject to significant anthropogenic pressure. In essence, it's little more than a proof of concept - and unless the lessons learned and the public-private partnership can be upscaled to national and global levels, its contribution to Shark conservation will always be ephemeral. So there's stuff to do - and we are. 
We're also wrapping up a multi-year research project, still engaged in two more and pondering a new one. And there will be new papers - one in review and several more in progress.
And finally, there is a need to continue reforming the Shark diving industry - via dialogue with our peers, via GSD but also via other initiatives that will be launched shortly.

But of course I'm digressing, and then some.
All I wanted to say is, bravo Rick, I'm proud of 'ya!

Enjoy Rick's post.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Read this - how can you not love the gal!
And this is that video!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Global Fin Print - epic!

Great stuff!

Read this and this announcement.
I've heard whispers about a meeting of seriously wealthy people wanting to contribute serious money to Shark conservation - and although this is pure speculation, this may well be strike one! Be it as it may, the lead team is just simply awesome and above all, it is finally (!) showing the kind of productive cooperation I've been publicly advocating for so long.
So congrats, and godspeed!

And have you noticed the videos?
Compare to this, showcasing the work by Projects Abroad's science supremos El Diego and Gauthier under the leadership of Demian and Mark - remember?

Great to see it embedded in such a prestigious project!
Just goes to show that once you stop the blathering and start the doing, good things will follow!

To be continued no doubt!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Charlie Charlie!

Fiji: do I have your attention? :)

No worry not.
This is not about what you're thinking of, but instead about our friend Charlie from Phantom Divers - who incidentally, despite being one hundred proof Mexican  has never heard of that stupid game!
And from what I can discern, he ain't no Demon, either!

Anyway, check out this old video.

This is 2011, right at the height of the crisis.
A lot has happened since and you can check out some of it by following this link. And I am really happy to be able to report that now things are even better, this incidentally very much in the spirit of these suggestions!
The one single legal Shark fisherman has agreed to stop fishing for Sharks and is actually actively participating in their protection - and SOS is advancing in leaps and bounds, with ever more dive operators contributing and also, with excellent support by the research community and even the authorities.
So kudos to everybody involved for an excellent job!

And Charlie is right here - and we love it! 
Humble, fun, inspirational and incredibly knowledgeable, he's belongs to a tiny elite of responsible professional Shark feeders who do it out of love and respect for the animals instead of bravado, and we are truly blessed in being able to host him on our dive. After Rusi's tragic passing, the junior feeders have been desperately looking for guidance, and I am beholden to Charlie for having assumed the role of friend, teacher, motivator and mentor in these difficult times. The boys love and look up to him, and some of his suggestions are already being translated into concrete action.
So thank you my friend - much appreciated!

Charlie is planning to hang around for another while.
So here's your chance to witness a genuine Mexican torero in action - and this time with real toros muy gordos and not those Caribbean Sardines! :)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Be Crocwise!


Watch - English version here.

Great stuff, and I cite.
The video's illustrator and creator Michael Roseth said the part where the crocodile bit off and swallowed the head of a nearby person had people talking.

"That's the bit that everybody remembers and laughs at and talks about," Mr Roseth said.

"I discussed it with Parks and Wildlife and they were into it because crocodiles do eat people, including their heads, so they didn't want to shy away from that and it kind of works in both ways.
Indeed, they sometimes do eat people.
The Saltwater Croc is one of the few animals that appears to  consider humans as prey, and will actively stalk and attack them - and guess what, despite of the fact that a lot of people rightfully fear them, they are nevertheless fully protected throughout their Australian range!

Sharks are of course nothing like that.
The vast majority of the 500+ species would never dream of taking on a human, and even the few infamous large predatory species are certainly not active man hunters. But by the same token, it is equally certain that there have been some rare strikes that were both intentional and predatory in nature - and like I never cease to state, that's perfectly normal and neither good or bad!

So, please, let those Sharks be Sharks!
Like in the case of those Aussie Saltwater Crocs, let us depict them as what they are: not monsters but not puppy dogs either, and worthy of our respect and also, of our protection - and yes I'm very much repeating myself!
Or, and I cite from this excellent article,
as Ernest Hemingway wrote in 1952 to a literary critic regarding "The Old Man and the Sea," a story that was rife with sharks and the imagery of savage beasts: 
 "There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse." 
Fascinating and scary indeed!
And this?
Read this old post, and also look at the evidence!
It just so happens that the country that has spawned Jaws and has most endured all that fear mongering on Shark Week is the very country that has enacted arguably the world's best Shark conservation and management  measures! And none of the global Shark conservation and management measures has been enacted democratically but instead, they have been the result of the right people talking to the right people at the right time - and by the same token, no Shark conservation measure has ever been turned down because somebody stated that they were afraid of Sharks, let alone because of the negative portrayal of Sharks in the media!

Just digressing as always - or maybe not so much!
Enjoy the video!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Lindsay on SFS!

And she's fucking smart, too! :)

Very nice!

Check out this post.
It showcases some remarkable ladies like Michelle and Michelle, and Nicole whom I all very much like and also admire.

And then there is our very own Lindsay!
I believe this may be the fourth time she spends her summer in Fiji, and over the years, she has truly become  family - to the point that in 2014, none other than the great late Rusi decided to name one particularly bold Bull Shark lady after her. Great to see her featured there - and great that she has used the opportunity to showcase her work in Fiji's first National Marine Park!

Attagirl - and thank you! :)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Big Sharks scavenging!


That's a whole lotta tabua!
And some bigass Sharks, too!
Story here.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

North Carolina Shark Attacks- Interview with Neil!

Good stuff!
But first, and I cite,
"Scientists believe that most shark bites are a case of mistaken identity. From below, a surfer in a black rubber wetsuit looks a great deal like a seal, for example," explains David Shiffman, a PhD candidate at the University of Miami's Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. 
Really - and if so, who exactly?
Last time I checked, "mistaken identity" was an -incidentally untested and untestable- hypothesis proposed by John McCosker when it came to explaining why GWS attack surfers on surfboards - not some generic statement about any Shark in any situation!
And assuming that David meant "by mistake": is that even plausible considering the Sharks' preternatural senses that we're usually so proud to illustrate? What scientists do believe is that most Shark bites are not predatory in nature - which is only logical considering that the very vast majority of Sharks (like e.g. Caribbean Reefies) pursue prey that is orders of magnitude smaller than people! But there are heaps of other possible reasons, read that first link, for why Sharks could bite people - and genuine mistakes are probably the very last of them! And guess what: in most cases, we'll never know why, exactly, they did strike - which is one thing the majority of scientists will certainly agree upon!
Would this be yet again one of those stupid attempts at rehabilitating Sharks by asserting that they have no bad intentions, or the like?

Which brings me over to this.
It's part of this thread, already mentioned here.
Christopher Neff There is no scientific evidence to support this - Gruber (1987) notes that shark bites are not feeding events
Gruber (1987) huh.
Doc has sent me Gruber (1988), published in Naval Research Review and entitled Why do Sharks attack Humans. Therein I find this - the only possible explanation for it being that Doc did radically change his mind one measly year later! :)
Click for detail!

Whilst the young padawans need to urgently stop making public pronouncements about topics they obviously got no clue about, Neil (and, mostly, Lawrence) shows us how to do it right - especially when you're a scientist!
Enjoy - and well done!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Rusi - a Tribute.

Thank you David.

This has actually brought tears to my eyes.
Unquestionably the world's most accomplished Shark feeder, Rusi did it because it gave him intense joy and not because of some desire for recognition and fame, to the point that he was most certainly entirely unaware of his global celebrity status, and of the admiration and respect he commanded.

A humble, highly reserved and ultimately shy man, he would only ever engage with a few select people he respected like Valerie or Cristina, and nearly never sit for interviews.
This interview may well be his very last, recorded in 2011 when David was here to shoot OSAM.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Pacific Harbour - excellent!

Unforgettable - rafting the Upper Navua with Rivers Fiji.


Have a look at this.
Pacific Harbour has been dubbed the Adventure Capital of Fiji, and these are the principal providers of adventures, from shark diving all the way to game fishing to kayaking to jungle skirmishes and the like.

And it looks like our clients love what we do.
Pretty much out of the blue, eight of us have been notified by TripAdvisor that we were winners of a Certificate of Excellence for consistently receiving excellent reviews. First in the lineup, and this very much deservedly, remain our friends of Rivers Fiji who continue to shine with an excellent product that we strongly recommend to our divers - so kudos for yet another year of primacy owing to great customer service and consistently high client satisfaction!

Cocky Tiger in the Bahamas!

Just got this e-mail from El Diego.
Have you seen this?
The Tiger could try that with Nica, Monica or Blunt and see how it goes hahaha.
Or Chica!
She came back yesterday after a three-week hiatus whith the obvious urge to reassert her dominance around the suspended bin - and reassert it she did, to the point that for the first time, we were able to witness a targeted attack by a Bull Shark on a conspecific that had the bad idea to barge in and try and steal a Tuna head! Our big Fiji Bulls are nothing (!) like those Bahamian Sardines - and we got the science to prove it!

Anyway, interesting video.