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! :)


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