Saturday, February 25, 2017

Niu Island!

Behold - right click for detail!

Shark Reef has its own emerging islet!
For now, it's merely a large sand bank that has been growing steadily for the past six months and been colonized by dozens of black and white Terns - but now that we've adorned it with its own niu, we fully expect it to develop into something more substantive.

To be continued no doubt!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Inverted Trophic Pyramids? Not so fast!

Bingo - watch.

Those inverted trophic pyramids are bullshit.
Stories here and here: all excellent stuff so no need for synopses and interpretations.
Paper here - read it, it's open access!

Well what can I say.
First and foremost, bless Darcy and Yannis et al, very well done!

But I must also say that for me, this was a given anyway.
I've been a traveling diver for more than 40 years, and some of my friends for decades longer than that; and having once again asked some of those friends, and with the obvious exception of the known aggregation spots: none of us remembers anything even remotely resembling Sala's hypothesized Shark Eden - and lemme tell 'ya, we all have been to some locations that back then were mighty remote and mighty pristine and certainly not overfished!

Don't get me wrong here.
Back then, those reefs were teeming with life, with amazing coral, heaps upon heaps of fishes including numerous large predators among which Sharks, see e.g. here, meaning that the postulated biodiversity loss and the shifting baselines are more than real and cause for great concern - but again, even those absolutely magic spots were nothing like what Sala et al would have us believe!

Long story short?
Prima vista, not to worry.
Re-examining and possibly, falsifying previous scientific findings is quite normal and in fact, dissent is often how science and our knowledge progress.

But this is now a pattern.
Starting with the bloody numbers where some quarters continue to recklessly disregard the latest peer reviewed science (and no you fucking morons, you did not fucking "find" 80 million "missing" Sharks - you know who you are!); to the bloody tourism numbers (and here!); to the bloody oxygen BS; to the bloody exploding Cownose Rays; to all the bloody pseudoscience surrounding e.g the thorny issue of Shark strikes, or those Shark repellents, or Shark feeding, etc; to those bloody petitions - and now those bloody inverted pyramids: all-too-often all that spurious garbage is being commissioned, or outright invented by so-called Shark conservation circles, this sometimes in the misguided opinion that it may constitute good marketing for the "cause".

It is not.
It is just spurious garbage - and like I never cease to repeat, it is bad conservation as the truth will eventually emerge, incidentally often at great expense of resources that could have otherwise been invested in better undertakings. Plus, the reality is already so dire that there's absolutely no need for all that hyperbole!
Can we please stop with this shit and tell it as it is?

Which brings me straight over to this op ed - read it!
I can certainly see where Shelley is coming from. 
Near Threatened (by the conservation-friendly IUCN no less!) equals NOT Threatened, and from a formal standpoint, this outcome was most certainly based on breathy marketing and not fact, and as such the wrong decision - and we can only hope that it doesn't eventually end up biting us all in the arse!
Again, we really need to stop those shenanigans!

But having said that, 
I must confess that given my advocacy for a change of paradigms (and here), I applaud any Appendix II listing because of the mandated NDFs; and I certainly fervently believe the precautionary principle to very much be one of the tools of public policy = e.g. specifically when declaring Shark sanctuaries as stop gap measures pending the implementation of proper Shark fisheries management, especially in lesser developed countries!
But all-in-all, fully agree, especially about the demise of expertise - so well said!

But I'm digressing as usual.
Great paper and great op-ed - and should you have some spare time, you may also want to consult this syllabus about bullshit! :)


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GHH vs Stingray - Video!

Just saw this.
Absolutely amazing - enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2017

And that Cyclone?

Looks like it's not gonna happen after all.
But there will be loads of rain with risk of flash flooding in the North - yes, again! :(
The good news: sunshine by Thursday!

You know what to do!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fearless Feat?


Turns out that I was wrong.
Turns out that the dude in those old pics by Ghislain was not who I thought (= Morne who has hopefully stopped offering those illegal expeditions?) but some self important kraut who could obviously not resist the temptation to parade himself in the media.

And the fearless feat itself?
Nah, don't worry, I'm not gonna unleash again -  but I must really say that I'm greatly disappointed by Strege and GrindTV for failing to conduct even the most basic due diligence, the more as all they needed to do, is ask their own Pete Thomas who really knows what he's talking about.

Anyway, looking forward to the backlash.
The Guadalupe black list is a fact, and the authorities have vowed that the next season will be different.

We shall see shall we not.
To be continued no doubt!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Anthropocene Defaunation - Papers!

Did you know? Click for detail. Source.

Very disheartening.

Remember these posts?
Back then I was more optimistic - and now, a tad less.
This remarkable paper analyzes the patterns of global defaunation (extinctions and decline in abundance of individuals within populations), and the findings are depressing indeed. Couple that with this analysis of the particular vulnerability of large animals (paper here), and the future looks grim = e.g., I'm personally convinced that any large animal living in Africa is essentially toast.
CNN interactive exposé here.

And the Sharks?
The oceans are a very large piece of real estate, and methinks there still is hope - tho time is definitely of the essence.

Anyway, essential reading. 
And the bloody conservation drudgery continues.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Let's keep an eye on this one shall we.
You know what to do!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sustainable Shark Fishing?

Sawsharks? Who would have thought... Click for detail!

Bingo, and I cite,
To some, the solution is to simply stop taking them from our oceans, or prohibit carriage, sale or trade in shark fins. Approaches such as bans and alternative livelihoods for fishers (e.g. ecotourism) may play some role in controlling fishing mortality but will not solve this crisis because sharks are mostly taken as incidental catch and play an important role in food security. Here, we show that moving to sustainable fishing is a feasible solution. 
Well - yes and no!
A big YES to sustainable fisheries and certified sustainable fins! 
And of course sustainable fishing for some, comparatively few species is possible, and of course establishing well managed fisheries for those species is very much a feasible goal, and of course, the developed countries should assist the developing ones, and of course full traceability would be great!

But only in the long term - right?
Because short term, it just simply aint gonna happen anywhere besides the USA, Australia, maybe NZ and Canada and hopefully once Europe.
And like I said a squillion times, we simply do not have that time and need fast, stop-gap solutions like fishing moratoria, Shark sanctuaries and even better, those mega MPAs that protect the Sharks, their prey and their habitat - and yes the latter largely work!
Later on, once good management has indeed been established, some countries may decide to relax the prohibition - but right now, it's by far the most practicable solution.

And the bycatch?
Read this - and this!
Long story short, that bloody bycatch is of course a cause of great concern, and mitigation is exceedingly complicated - and this incidentally under any scenario including a managed fishery!
But contrary to what is being suggested, this does not automatically invalidate those Shark sanctuaries, but it certainly greatly impinges on their effectiveness at reducing Shark mortality below sustainable levels.
Methinks they work and Nick does not - but as long as there is no scientific evidence one way or the other, we definitely need to give them a chance!

And one last thought if I may.
Commercial fishermen fish what the traders tell them to fish = it is the traders that drive the fishery and I would argue, it is they who also drive most of the IUU. Methinks we need to much more concentrate on the trade, especially domestically, the more as the traders are far fewer and much more visible (and thus much easier to monitor), and that by the nature of what they do they also dispose of a wealth of data about the fishery.
Think about it.

Anyway, nice paper.
Certainly useful and truthful - but with caveats!
And, do click on, and read the links! :)

Good article here, infographic here!