Monday, October 31, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Praising Fiji!


Read this.
Could definitely have happened sooner - but I'm sure that Bati et al will greatly appreciate it and more importantly, that they will continue to be supportive whenever the NGOs will come knocking again. I also hear that after having already posted this in the lead-up to the CoP, the Manta Trust has formally acknowledged and thanked the Fijian government, as it should be.

So well done folks - better late than never! :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cyclone Outlook!


The question being, how strong?
Report here.

Fingers crossed!

Nautilus Cage Breach - Videos!

Nothing about this is cool, sorry - source.


And this one is from inside that cage.

Not good.
Nautilus Liveaboards are a member of GSD and owner Mike Lever is a friend who genuinely cares and is trying to do the right thing - but I cannot just pretend I haven't seen this.

Once again it appears that Mike is being torpedoed by his own staff.
If you watch at the very beginning, you can discern that some fucking moron trying to emulate the Deep Blue moment (where the diver also had no business being where he was and doing what he did) climbs to the top of the cage and starts gesticulating to, and then manhandles the Shark who then obviously targets him on the second pass - and what follows, including the injuries to the animal, is the direct consequence of that one idiot's gratuitous bravado.
Trip report here.

Katie Yonker who filmed the 2nd video writes,
Allowing people to experience these majestic animals raises awareness that these are calm and curious animals enticed by the scent of tuna, not humans, and has influenced advocacy efforts worldwide. With a set of jaws selling for thousands on the black market, the sharks are also at risk of poaching, which is greatly deterred by the presence of the shark dive boats. 
In going on a trip like this, we all must accept that there is an element of risk to ourselves. 

But incidents like the one in my video are unacceptable...for the sharks. 
As a group of ocean-loving environmentalists, we should not allow this to happen. Whether it's a redesign of the cages, prohibiting "chum bags" in the submersible cages, or ending wrangling, it's time to start a serious conversion about what can be done to better protect the sharks, the divers, and the future of Guadalupe operations.
Totally agree, well said!
It's not about the wrangling that is perfectly OK if conducted properly; it's about recognizing that this is not some kind of "adventure diving for adrenaline seekers" but a product in Mexico's ecotourism industry. If conducted properly, it is a fantastic wildlife encounter, has close to zero ecological footprint and endangers neither the animals nor the tourists - so bloody keep it that way!

Follow the bloody rules - to the letter and in spirit, too!
Put the people into the bloody cages and keep them inside, including their heads, arms, hands and bloody cameras. Abolish the balcony. And when it comes to your staff, you know what to do - theirs is a job, not "fun" = the dive is not about them but for the clients!

End of rant!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baiting and feeding Sharks - good or bad?

Oh for crying out loud!

After those two incidents, the shit has hit the fan.
Out of many, read this defense by Martin, and then this and this by some ultracrepidarian chick at Nat Geo, and this misleading piece (the Nautilus did not break, but did certainly bend the rules correction: the video evidence now shows otherwise; and the Solmar has a history like many others) by some other ultracrepidarian chick on Earth Touch News.

Nah don't worry.
I'm not going there - but if you really care, feel free to consult my 50-odd posts on the subject. Or if you cannot stomach that, simply do re-read this one from 4 years ago.

Just this.
Burgess needs to comb the data he has been hoarding for decades and come up with evidence about a causal connection between Shark provisioning and unprovoked, let alone predatory Shark strikes. There is none - but until then, he really needs to shut the fuck up. Pavlov my ass - or did those dogs bite and devour unsuspecting bystanders?

Yes the Shark diving industry needs to always improve.
Provisioning has effects, albeit overwhelmingly (!) only locally and temporarily, and those effects need to be identified, investigated, understood and then mitigated and managed. Our best players know that and have started to associate in order to promote a more long-term sustainable product; and the others need to reform and failing that, they need to be exposed - and now there is a public tool for that.
So don't whine - rate!

And finally.
We are not the problem. 
Commercial and recreational overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and habitat destruction are. But we are certainly part of the solution - even the worst ones among us!
So go barking there, not here!

End of rant!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lupe - Great White Shark Cage Breach Accident !

Source. Methinks, same boat!


The caption reads,
This is not our usual kids content and Gabe and Garrett did not go on this trip, this video is from my trip to Guadalupe Island (I'm their dad).

On a recent great white shark cage diving trip we experienced a very rare event, a shark breaching the side of the cage. What might appear to be an aggressive great white shark trying to attack the cage, this is not the case. These awesome sharks are biting at large chunks of tuna tied to a rope. When a great white shark lunges and bites something, it is temporarily blinded. They also cannot swim backwards. So this shark lunged at the bait, accidentally hit the side of the cage, was most likely confused and not able to swim backwards, it thrust forward and broke the metal rail of the cage. There was a single diver inside the cage. He ended up outside the bottom of the cage, looking down on two great white sharks. The diver is a very experienced dive master, remained calm, and when the shark thrashed back outside the cage, the diver calmly swam back up and climbed out completely uninjured. The boat crew did an outstanding job, lifting the top of the cage, analyzing the frenzied situation, and the shark was out after a few long seconds. Everyone on the boat returned to the cages the next day, realizing this was a very rare event. The boat owner, captain, and crew are to be commended for making what could've been a tragic event into a happy ending. I'm sure God and luck had a bit to do with it too!

I want to return next year for another great white shark adventure!
And this is what the Guadalupe regulations state,
6.8 The permit holder shall ensure that the bait line is immediately removed from the water if the white shark following the bait approaches within 6.5 feet (2 m) of the vessel.

6.10 Bait shall be thrown from port side or starboard side at the stern in an angle of 45° from the cages to the outside of the boat. Bait line will not be shorter than 40 feet (12 meters) and it shall not touch the cage or pass over the top of the cage.
And now you know why!

Shit happens, and like in this much publicized, and likely equally preventable case, the crew did react admirably - but it is equally clear that competitive pressure continues to tempt some operators and their crew to push the boundaries of legality and good old common sense, instead of all agreeing on sticking to the rules and offering a safe, sane and sustainable tourism product.
I've said it back here: this is just simply bad business.

Oh well.
Like I said, shit happens - provisioned Shark diving does carry specific risks that will sporadically eventuate, and this despite of one's best efforts to manage and mitigate them - incidentally, just like in, say, the airline industry!

But it is still WAY safer than recreational SCUBA! :)
Let's go Shark diving!

PS: Martin here!
PPS: the operator here!

Friday, October 07, 2016


Fiji meet the Sharklab two weeks ago - now Bimini lies smack in the center of the path.

This is a bad one.

Our heart goes out to our friends in the Bahamas and Florida.
Stay safe!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

CITES - done!


Congratulations to everybody involved.
But not to the POB in Jersey who don't even know what the FAO is, contributed nothing as always but still have the audacity to claim credit for the success!

I really got nothing else to say about the Sharks - but lemme say something about the Mobulas.

Because the proposal to list them came from Fiji.
The parties to CITES are not those NGOs but nation states, and it is only they who can make proposals and cast votes. In brief, had it not been for Fiji, there would have been zero pamphlets, PSAs, press releases, articles, posts and interviews and above all, zero lavish junkets essential trips and conferences, meetings and committees by all those terribly important conservation professionals (yes that's only the provisional list!) that are now busy clapping themselves on the back whilst making terribly profound statements in the media!

And did anybody thank let alone praise Fiji?
So here's to the Fijian Delegation.
  • Here's to you Bati who together with Eleni from Environment obtained Government approval and ensured that the powers that be kept on signing all the relevant paperwork. As always, you rock!

  • And here's to you Ian who greatly, and quietly assisted in keeping the ball rolling!

  • And to you Art who I hear gave a rousing speech that did sway several delegates!
Vinaka vakalevu and very well done!

And since we're at it.
Here's to you DaMary - you know why, and so do they!

And the dreaded Mobula lovers?
I hear that having been led to their senses, they did in fact assist - so here's just a hint of a slow hand clap for those who will always believe that they know better! :)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Squadron of Hope!

And talking of Mini Mantas.

This is absolutely stunning.
And if you thought that Mobulas were only filter feeders, think again!
The description reads (sic),
There's a few places that I dive and I saw it's getting better and better every year I visited. "Misool" in South of Raja Ampat is one of that places.

Thanks to Misool Eco resort who established MPA(Marine Protected Area) in the area. It changed the place from Shark's poacher campsite to be one of the best MPA in the world.

Recently year I spend time with Black and Blue Manta Liveaboard and we tried to captured one the most amazing phenomenon in Misool area.Millions and millions of Slender Silverside fish (Hypoatherina barnes) all over the reefs and created the baitball attracted lots of the predator. Long-horned Pygmy Devil Rays (Mobula eregoodootenkee) is one the most graceful ray to join this battle. A squadron of rays attacked the baitball again and again created very dramatic scene above beautiful reef in Misool.