Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fiji Bull Sharks - full Circle!

Kerstin - intrepid and extremely successful!


We've detected two of our pregnant Bulls in one of our rivers!
Despite of our best efforts and more than a dozen years of research into the life history of Fiji's Bull Sharks, coming up with concrete evidence linking Shark Reef to one of the putative river nurseries has always eluded us as the tags would come off and the frequent floods would wash away the receiver arrays. But we've persevered, tinkered with the hardware, tagged a dozen pregnant Bulls in October and deployed new receivers in several rivers - and bingo, and this despite of the horrendous weather and floods a fortnight ago! With this having been little more than a small trial run, expect much, much more of the same next year!

And the river are teeming with babies!
This is obviously recruitment time, and Kerstin and her assistants from Projects Abroad and  the USP are reporting impressive numbers from all monitored rivers - the bad news being that absent any management let alone protection, the little Sharks are being obliterated by the local fishermen. 
This may well explain the disappointing numbers later in the year and is of course cause for grave concern, not least because it is also directly impacting on the long-term viability of Fiji's thriving Shark diving industry. But now that we have the evidence, we shall certainly go and speak to the powers that be - so fingers crossed!

To be continued no doubt.
Happy New Year everybody - may 2017 bring many more fantastic adventures!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sharkbanz - q.e.d!

And I cite, nor would a band worn on one's wrist prevent a bite to the other hand


Check this out - glad the kid is OK.
And then, stop being suckers - the bloody Sharkbanz and those other bracelets, and those wetsuits etc are all scams! What does work, albeit with caveats, is the Shark Shield!

So be careful folks - and use your common sense!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Everything you need to know about Shark Diving in Fiji!

Nice! :)

Kudos to Sam for having listened and above all, understood!
She was here during the very low season when the pregnant bulls go to the rivers and the others abscond for mating, so thank you for still having found it worthy of a piece on Singapore's online dive mag GoodVis. With Singapore being Fiji Airway's newest destination in Asia, this could not have come at a better moment.
Much appreciated!
With five full years finally in the bag it's time for some data analysis and publishing of results - so keep watching this space!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dean Grubbs about Bycatch - epic!

This is really as good as it gets.

Remember Dean Grubbs the slayer of the exploding Cownose Ray myth?
Now he has penned this excellent and exhaustive overview about fishing by-catch, a veritable tour the force that touches on all the important topics from the infamous Dolphin-safe Tuna all the way to all that at boat and post-release mortality that continues to doggedly threaten the effectiveness of those Shark sanctuaries.

 This is an infographic - open in new tab!

Required reading.
Bravo Dean - and bravo SOSF Magazine for continuing to lend a voice to such an impressive array of illustrious contributors, and for the slick way in which all that science is being presented.
Well done!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Xmas Video!

This is the video from their latest Pelagic Safari.
I actually heard of it one month ago in Playa when some of his friends complained that Jero was not only incredibly lucky, but that he also always managed to get the shot on top of that.

And get it he did!
Obviously I love it, as it exemplifies everything that makes the people, and the deeds of Pelagic Life so special.

So without further ado.
Enjoy - and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016



Check this out!

Yes that would be she, the one and only!
We met serendipitously a few years ago - and lemme tell you, it has been quite a revelation! Turns out that Shelley is very much one of the good ones, very impressive both professionally and as a person, and I've become a huge fan. And if you haven't read her latest papers, click on the above link and do - and above all, learn, especially that operating with faulty numbers and under faulty assumptions is doomed to fail!

We've since kept in touch and I must say that I've learned a lot, something that is very much reflected in this blog where I've gradually transitioned towards a more holistic and pragmatic definition of conservation as trying to keep mortality below sustainable levels = we need to focus not on individuals but at the (local) population level and we need to consider all causes of mortality very much including habitat loss and in the case of Sharks, the overfishing of their prey, etc - and there the situation is dire indeed!

This dive has been in the planning for as long long time.
You truly only become a real friend once we've thrown you to our Sharks - but Shelley is incredibly busy so finding an adequate time has been challenging. But finally all stars did align as the WCPCF did hold its latest meeting here in Nadi, and she was able to slip down to Pac Harbour a day in advance - and throw her to the Sharks we did.
Despite of not having dived for 25 years, she not only survived but did so admirably - so here's to continued friendship and continued collaboration!

The WCPFC meeting btw was, again, shite.
It looks like ultimately, and contrary to the ICCAT that appears to have at least saved the Atlantic Tuna where stocks appear to be recovering (and btw Patric: you owe me a bottle of vintage Chateau Petrus!), those guys don't even care about properly managing their Tuna - so don't be surprised about zero progress for the Sharks that are treated like pests and at best a side show!

Anyway, this can't go on like that. 
Methinks in a few years the WCPFC will have lost all relevance: the North Pacific with its large tracts of international waters will become a free-for all where stocks will get hammered by the Asians; the Tropical Tuna will be more or less managed by the PNA; and the Southern Pacific Tuna, by the parties to the Tokelau Arrangement.

We shall see - but that's my prediction.
To be continued!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fiji Weather!

Christmas Eve weather - fingers crossed!

Well well.

As they say, be careful what you wish for.
So, we got ourselves the weak cyclone slash tropical depression to suck away some of the heat - and suck away it did, so at least the coral must be happy!
Looks like after several days of howling winds and biblical deluge, the bloody system is slowly moving away - so here's to a sunny Christmas and provided that all that brown water manages to dissipate in time, to some epic Shark dives!
With The running of the Bulls fast approaching, you may well be in for a real treat!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve!

Great news!

Read this.
Looks like Playa's Sharks and especially, their habitat are about to be protected, meaning that the petition by Saving our Sharks has equally been successful. Quintana Roo has been experiencing an explosion of only partly controlled tourism, and this measure could not have come soon enough.

And the Shark tourism activities?
There, too, news are excellent as it appears that like in Guadalupe, baited Shark diving will be tolerated within the Biosphere but only provided that the operators adhere to the code of conduct and possibly, that they join and thus contribute to the efforts by Saving our Sharks.

This once again goes to show that given the necessary leadership, responsible dive operators can make a huge difference. As a reminder, Shark diving in Playa and the push to protect them have all started with Chino Loria and Phantom Divers - and the rest as they say is history.
Obviously, Phantom Divers are a member of Global Shark Diving, you global alliance of responsible and long-term sustainable Shark diving operators.

Well done!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

1982 - The Sharks!


Featuring many of my heroes.
Including the world's most famous piece of Shark bait testing the first Shark suit, a rather insane feat that earned her a bloody hand and a bite to the buttocks at 41:34 - remember Collier's demented dog and the moronic paper that ensued?

But I'm obviously digressing.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Südsee: Paradies am Abgrund!

Check this out.
Faszination Erde by the ZDF is Germanic blue-chip nature programming, and Dirk Steffens is their Attenborough.

Very nice indeed.
Projects Abroad and Mangroves for Fiji 09:00ff, BAD 18:15ff.


Playa Sardines!

Charlie with one of his girls. Source.

So, I finally went diving with the Caribbean Sardines.

It was great.
Of course I dove with  GSD member Phantom Divers and I must really say that Chino has created an awesome slick, professional, fun and above all, very safe Shark diving machine that is among the best I've experienced anywhere - and yes, witnessing Charlie, and Ramón with their babies has been a special privilege.

Plus, progress on the conservation front has been simply stellar.
Under the leadership of its new full time director Luis Lombardo, Saving our Sharks is progressing from strength to strength, with more than 40 dive shops and dozens of boat captains observing the code of conduct and contributing funds, with substantial money going to fishermen in exchange for not fishing Sharks, with continued research and public presentations by Shark researchers, and with massive outreach to the public and to schools.

And then there was that remarkable tooth.
A present by Ramón who collected it right in front of me, it looks totally different from any Bull Shark tooth we've ever found here in Fiji - and trust me, we've found a few! 
It's the tooth on the left, together with two large Fijian ones - and considering that those Caribbean Bulls are a distinct genetic population with individuals that are notably smaller than those in the central Pacific, its size is simply spectacular. But then again, those are Mexican Sharks - small in size but packing a mighty punch! :)
Click for detail!

Anyway, nice to be home again.
It's the low season when the pregnant Bulls travel to the rivers to pup whilst the others are getting ready for mating and in turn appear to lose their appetite for juicy Tuna heads - but we've got heaps of other Sharks, and this also gives us a chance to focus on the countless Fishes.
It's already hot hot hot - so here's to a tropical depression to suck away some of the heat, as parts of Fiji are already experiencing dangerously hot surface waters.

But that's the topic of another post.
To be continued!