Sunday, November 01, 2015

Feeding Sharks and Rays - Paper!

One of the many stupidities found here!

Johann alerts me to this new paper.
It comes to the conclusion that ecologically, provisioning can have effects at the individual, group and population level, and that those effects are generally neutral to negative.

Well what can I say - probably that's true!
It just so happens that every single one of the authors is a pal of mine - and because I know them, I also suspect that on top of the science that is probably pretty much irrefutable, the paper also has a political agenda, and that is, to obliquely address the mess that is Shark diving in French Polynesia, see the link at the top.

Now don't get me wrong here.
Shark diving in French Polynesia is nothing short of stellar.
But when it comes to the feeding dives, most local moniteurs appear to believe that they're god's gift to Shark diving, meaning that they are entirely impervious to accepting even the most common-sense advice (steel mesh gloves anybody?) - and as a consequence, bites are rife. So far, most of the accidents did involve the comparatively harmless reefies - but now that everybody and his dog is flocking to the new, completely unregulated and multi-user Tiger Shark dive just outside of Papeete, the risk profile has risen astronomically and once again, it's really only a matter of time til things will end up in tears. Same-same for the stupid idea of having snorkeling tourists hand feed the small reefies - seriously, WTF?
It's same old same old, so I'm really not gonna dwell, the more as having been there, the discourse is way too ego-driven and frankly leads to nowhere, meaning that the situation appears pretty much hopeless unless the regulator decides to finally regulate.
Hint hint! :)

But I'm digressing.
I can't really say that I love the paper because its conclusions are pretty much obvious, and because it does not really address the principal cause of most of the enumerated problems = bad procedures. As an example, the much-cited disaster at Stringray City is entirely the consequence of piss-poor management and regulations!

Anyway - worth reading!
My take-away: better procedures and more research into those possibly negative effects - pretty much done on the former (tho always learning and always adapting!), and very much working on the latter, so keep watching this space!

And one last thought if I may.
The problem is not Shark diving - not for the animals and not for the people.
Compared to the overfishing and the habitat degradation, the inconvenience caused by the industry is nothing. And yes there have been many, mostly accidental bites - but as far as I know, during literally innumerable provisioned Shark dives, there has been a grand total of ONE documented fatality. Compare that to the same time spent engaging in ordinary SCUBA and ask yourself the question, which is by far the safer activity? 

Just sayin'!
So, lets please keep things in perspective - and let's also never forget to always mention the industry's enormous contribution to both conservation and research that outweighs any of those possible minor deleterious effects by far!

1 comment:

Shark Diver said...

I just got done doing shark presentations on a cruise ship. In one of those presentations I talked about why we have a decent chance of surviving a swim in the ocean and why we should not fear what lurks beneath. I also addressed shark feeding, the problems associated with it, the benefits to the environment and of course used the example of BAD to illustrate those benefits.

I think a lot of the problems associated with shark diving are due to the egos of the people involved. The all want to be the "shark whisperers" and god's gift to conservation. The hardest part seems to be to admit that our love for the sharks is not reciprocated by the sharks and that they really don't care much about us, one way or another. As much as it pains me to admit it, "my" sharks really don't miss me, when I'm not at Guadalupe ;-)