Friday, June 30, 2017

OSAM - Now available to Buy and Rent!

Read this.
I know I should probably say something, so there.

This has been shot way back then in 2011.
A lot has happened since, foremost of which the tragic passing of Rusi but also, on the positive side, the designation of the SRMR as Fiji's first National Marine Park.
Also, most of our staff have changed, and the dive itself is also very different from what it used to be back then = now it's much more of a tightly managed tourism product and much less of a thrill, meaning that nobody will ever get close to the Bulls like David did back then. Having said that, we will certainly bring the Bulls very close to you - check out the reviews here! :)
And when it comes to yours truly, I have continued to learn a lot and as a consequence, many of my thoughts and especially, my priorities have been refined or changed altogether - and yes I'm six years older and six years more cantankerous!

In brief, OSAM is now more of a historical document.
Nothing wrong with that - just don't expect us to be like we're being depicted, because we are not.

Other than that, enjoy!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Queen awesome!


Read this.
Brava, complimenti!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bye bye Manta Rays?

From the paper - click for detail!
It sure looks so - at least taxonomically!

Check this out.
It postulates what has been rumored for quite a while, i.e. that genetically, the Mantas belong to the Mobulas and that consequently,  their Genus needs to be changed from Manta to Mobula. The paper also does away with three species of Mobula (eregoodootenkee, japanica and rochebrunei) that are being subsumed under Mobula kuhlii, M. mobular and M. hypostoma, respectively, thus reducing the total number of Mobula species to eight. 
This does not necessarily affect the common names = we can still continue calling Mobula alfredi the Reef Manta, and Mobula birostris, the Giant (and/or Pelagic or Oceanic) Manta!

And would this be the last of it?
Considering the obvious morphological differences (= e.g. terminal vs sub-terminal mouths, shape of the cephalic lobes etc) but also the emotional attachment to the Mantas by so many folks out there, methinks most likely not - but with Will and Gavin being the current titans of Elasmobranch taxonomy, any detractors better come well prepared!

To be continued no doubt.
Really looking forward to a good frothy brawl - and if the past is any indication, we can all look forward to some epic fireworks! :)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mimic Sole!

This is the unpalatable Flastworm Pseudoceros scintillatus. Source.

And talking of (Batesian) mimicry - how cool is this!
Story here - enjoy!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Carly Shark Attack!

Not a fan - not of the stick, not of the operator. Source.


Yes shit happens - especially when handling those frisky Reefies!
Hence the mesh suit that certainly preformed as advertised. On the negative side, I personally don't like feeding off sticks and am not in favor of teaching Shark feeding to tourists - and boy, talk about zero empathy by the callous so-called teacher, or whatever!

Story here

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

East Wells: Bimini’s Last Hope!


And I cite,
Bimini Island in the Bahamas lies just 48 miles from Miami, Florida and is an ecological wonderland.
But for the past 17 years, Bimini has faced serious environmental threat in the form of a US-owned development. Much of the Island's mangrove forest has already been dredged out to build luxury homes, a casino and most recently, a Hilton hotel. Just to the east of the development lies East Wells, Bimini's only remaining pocket of pristine habitat, but the development is growing and the latest marketing brochures advertise a golf course which will be the final blow to the people of Bimini and the ecosystem on which they depend.

A new government has just been voted into power.
This video is an appeal from the Biminites for the declaration of a marine protected area that will protect their environment. We call on the Hilton Hotel Group to do the right thing and halt any development that will destroy East Wells - a critical nursery area for all marine life in this region of the Caribbean. 
Exhaustive article here

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dominican Republic: Shark Sanctuary!

Still in its infancy: Dominican Shark viewing tourism. Source.

Great News!

Read this.
The linked article tells about an indefinite fishing ban for Sharks and Rays, a 5-year moratorium for Sea Urchins and a  2-year moratorium for Parrot- and Surgeonfishes which is all excellent and once again cements the position of the Dominican Republic as a visionary conservation leader in the Caribbean.

And then there is this.
Where others brazenly claim credit where no credit is due, Rick praises others where much of the credit is his. In fact, this is actually his seventh Shark Sanctuary in the Caribbean - remember back then three years ago?

So, once again, bravo my friend.
I'm proud of 'ya in so many ways!

Hawaii's Aquarium Fishery: Regulated, Valuable, Sustainable!



Background story here.
H/T to MCSI for highlighting this important issue!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Shout Out!

Watch this.

So here's the deal.
Mike Lever of GSD member Nautilus Liveaboards is traveling to Israel in order to participate in this year's edition of the Silence of the Sharks, and he is offering a gift certificate worth a whopping 1,800 bucks to any diver willing to travel there with him; plus, he has launched a children's poster competition.
Details here.

Having been asked to re-post, I'm happy to oblige.
I do this because Mike is a good man; because Nautilus Liveaboards is an awesome operator and member of GSD; because organizer David Pilosof is one of the few remaining mossbacks and deserves our respect; and yes, because the whole shebang features some pals, will likely cause no harm and is even likely to do a little bit of good.

So there you have it - do with it what you want! :)

PS: the  event has been postponed.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cownose Ray Hunting - Moratorium!

Back to the exploding Cownose Rays, and I cite,
The cruelty at play, at times, gives the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, a run for its money.
Read this.
It summarizes brilliantly the whole fiasco in the Chesapeake Bay starting with Myers' fatally flawed paper all the way to the decision to ban those horrible killing contests.
And I cite again,
The story that unfolded across the Chesapeake Bay is one that should give reason to pause: people were quick to read into unrelated research; to scapegoat; to find blame where they wanted. It’s a lesson about the dangers of oversimplifying science. But there is nothing simple about coastal ecosystems, where a multitude of species and processes interact—many of which have yet to be discovered.
Which begs the question, have the lessons been learned?
And more specifically, have those Shark NGOs, educators and awareness raisers removed all references to the paper from their propaganda educational materials - and will they forthwith finally inform themselves and refrain from all the unhelpful hyperbole?

Yeah I know I know.
To be continued!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Cuttlefish: putative Mimicry of a Hermit Crab - Paper!


Awesome - watch!

Paper here, story here and here - additional footage and story here!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Basking Shark Research!

And from us, too! :)


Yes this would be Basking Shark Scotland.
Obviously, they are a proud member of Global Shark Diving, your global alliance of responsible and long-term sustainable Shark diving operators, and it is great to see how they are translating our guiding principles into action on the ground. This is the peak tourism season, and I really do invite you to travel there and give them your business, as every penny will contribute to their conservation and research efforts.

Anyway, great stuff - enjoy!

The economic Value of Shark-Diving Tourism in Australia!

From the paper - click for detail.


So, in 2014, Shark diving in Australia was worth 25.5m.
This compares to 42.2m for Fiji, 18m for Palau or a whopping 109m for the Bahamas - or maybe not quite as this paper only looks at direct expenditures. This also compares to the value of 2.2 bn dollars attributed to Australia's dive-related spending for marine tourism.

Frankly, I'm not terribly impressed.
Considering the size of Australia's tourism industry but also, the sheer potential bearing in mind Australia's enormous coastline and wide array of marine habitats, and its large number of Elasmobranchs, this is really just a pittance. But it is what it is - and if I were to venture an explanation (which I am not), I would certainly want to explore the effects of Australia's Shark attack phobia but very much also that of its stifling regulatory framework.

But I'm digressing as always.
Enjoy Charlie's paper.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Fiji - Shark and Ray Commitment!

Fiji Bull Sharks: big, badass and soon to be protected !

So Fiji has delivered in spades.

Here is Fiji's Elasmobranch commitment.
If you look at the Deliverables, it not only includes as commitment to protect the putative Shark nursery in the Rewa but quite a bit more, including a comprehensive regulation for the protection and the management of Fiji's Elasmobranchs. Having been consulted, I can unequivocally state that the end result will be somewhere between excellent and very good, and take into consideration the interests of all the relevant stakeholders - provided, that is, that nobody barges in to meddle and spoils it at the very last minute like what has happened back then!
So, again, thanks but we do not need your help - you know who you are!

This is of course only step 1.
A very special bravo and Vinaka vakalevu, once again, to the incomparable Aisake Batibasaga for having put this on the agenda - and fingers crossed that this will translate into legislation very soon!

And one last comment.
Under Resources Mobilized you can discern that the WWF will play a special role. This is in recognition of the tireless efforts of Ian Campbell who over the past years, has managed to earn himself the respect and the trust of the local authorities.
Here he is, educating the public - enjoy!

PS: and here come the first scavengers - how fucking pathetic!

Shark Strike!

There are Sharks in the ocean - and spear fishing and especially, trying to hold on to one's catch can lead to conflict.
Fundraiser and story here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The Ocean and Us!

Thank you BBC Earth.

Challenges and Priorities in Shark and Ray Conservation - Paper!

Well done, and I cite,
Over-Simplification Can Hinder Effective Shark Fisheries Management 

The general tendency for sharks to grow more slowly, mature later, and produce fewer young than most fished species is fundamental to the appropriate elevation of their conservation priority and the prevention of population depletion. The fact remains, however, that life history characteristics vary widely across shark species, with many capable of supporting a significant level of fishing if such extraction (in all forms) is limited to science-based levels.

After more than two decades of expanding efforts to publicize sharks’ inherent vulnerability, people appear to increasingly believe that sharks cannot withstand any fishing at all.
Similarly, there appears to be a trend toward blanket bans on fishing and trading, with a focus on shark fins. While complete bans are appropriate, and even long overdue with respect to species that are exceptionally threatened (like sawfishes) and exceptionally vulnerable (such as devil rays), in other cases the unequivocal messages and ‘one size fits all’ remedies may serve to hinder policies needed to curb fishing and ensure sustainability.

Under a general perception that sustainable shark fishing is impossible, there is reduced support for the work necessary to formulate comprehensive fishery management policies that allow for sustainable take while addressing unintentional bycatch, and the need for population assessment. Governments convinced that managing shark fishing is a losing proposition and/or publically unacceptable may opt for full protection, but may also shy away from attempting to set any limits at all. Those opting for blanket bans may be reluctant to admit and address significant incidental shark mortality and/or enforcement inadequacies.
Sharks Contribute to Food Security in Poor and Developing Nations

While shark meat, in some cases, provides a high value product (e.g. gummy shark in southern Australia, porbeagle in Europe, and skates in Korea), it is more often a cheap source of animal protein. The low value stems from the relatively low quality of the product (due to high levels of urea) and the fact that it is often dried for non-perishable storage and transport. While domestic catch and consumption is common, some countries rely heavily on imports and exports, e.g. Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, and India. According to FAO statistics, more than 90% of the world’s reported shark catch is taken by 26 fishing nations (Figure 2), one-quarter of which (7/26) are among the least developed nations (with low or medium Human Development Index scores; Figure 2). Moreover, 40% of the reported global shark catch comes from seven of the major shark fishing nations with the lowest Human Development Indices, most of which border the Indian Ocean (Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Yemen, and Tanzania) and Eastern Atlantic Ocean (Nigeria and Senegal; 
Generally, it is costly to replace fishery losses in countries where seafood provides a high proportion of animal protein. It is understandably difficult for governments in nations facing extreme poverty and food security crises to prioritize shark conservation, particularly when scientific advice for sustainable catch levels is lacking. Similarly, conservationists as well as governments of developed countries are understandably reluctant to press struggling governments for such actions.
Yes in theory, some (but most certainly not all!) Elasmobranchs can be managed and fished sustainably - but in practice, this is currently not possible in many impoverished Shark fishing nations.

Like I never cease to repeat, we are quickly running out of time.
With that in mind, I strongly advocate cheaper and simpler bans now, and costlier and more complicated management at a later stage once it becomes practically feasible. AND, let's not forget that in order to succeed, species protection alone is not gonna be good enough!

Anyway, awesome paper.
Once again, required reading (and understanding!) if you want to be taken seriously when talking about Shark conservation.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Big GWS on a Beach!

Same thing, different ocean - source.

Apparently this GWS is hunting Stingrays.
Maybe, tho to me it looks stranded - but who knows.

Anyway, enjoy!

PS story here.
The conclusion that the Shark was hunting for Stingrays because it was too injured to hunt for sea lions is highly speculative and likely incorrect as even large GWS do not at all exclusively prey on Mammals but instead feed on a wide variety of prey including Elasmobranchs, bony Fishes and Cephalopods etc.

Fiji: Protection of the Shark Nurseries?

Juvenile GHH in the Ba - source.

Read this.

This is of course excellent news.
It's not done quite yet - but having the chiefs support Shark conservation is obviously a huge step in the right direction. There is increasing evidence for Fiji featuring multiple Shark nurseries, for Bulls but also Scalloped and Great Hammers and other species like e.g. Lemons in and around its major rivers; but alas, it appears equally clear that those Sharks are being subjected to massive targeted and incidental fishing pressure that is dramatically impinging on their chances for survival - the good news being that having been alerted, Fisheries are doing something about it.

So let this be a beginning.
Co-host Fiji is about to unveil its commitments at the UN Ocean Conference - so here's to there being something about Sharks!

Fingers crossed!

Monday, June 05, 2017


I must say that this has been way cool.

Thanks to the personal initiative by my pote the incomparable Serge, we've just hosted a group of divers from the iconic French expedition schooner Tara - and lemme tell 'ya, trying to manage a good dozen Frenchmen endowed with national hero status has most certainly not been for the faint of heart! But manage we did: they actually behaved impeccably, conditions were squally but otherwise propitious, and the Sharks did perform - so all is good.
And who knows: hopefully, we may have assuaged some trepidations and reservations and maybe even created some more Shark diving aficionados among the researchers!

Click for detail!

From here they are continuing to Suva.
Coinciding with the ground-breaking UN Oceans Conference in New York and World Oceans Day, they will participate in several events with local partners - see here, here and here. This is important stuff, and there is really something for everybody, including the chance to have a look at the vessel - so do make some time and do participate as nothing could be more vital for the future of the SoPac.

Obviously, for us, every day is Oceans Day.
June 8 is a Thursday, and we'll be diving with our Sharks - so, what are you waiting for!  :)

See you at Shark Reef!

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Abundance and spatial Distribution of Reef-associated Sharks - Paper!

Shark Reef Marine Reserve: protecting the Sharks, their prey and their habitat! Great pic by Ozzie Sam!

And I cite.
Our study found shark abundance to be primarily driven by fish biomass amongst lower trophic levels and functional groups.
The importance of fish biomass in predicting shark abundance suggests the necessity of ecosystem level protection, involving all species and functional groups, rather than species-specific policies, such as shark sanctuaries, which might still permit on-going depletion of prey species.
Similarly, studies across a range of marine ecosystems have found that assemblages of top level predators such as sharks require both healthy environments in terms of prey availability, and a wide range of habitat zones to accommodate different species’ habitat preferences and to permit resource partitioning and ontogenetic changes in habitat use. Individual species or life stages preferentially use particular habitat zones or depth ranges, and, though often highly site-resident, reef shark species have been shown capable of making long movements between neighbouring reefs.
This implies that marine reserves that encompass a wide variety of habitats within the boundaries of the protected area may be more effective in preserving species diversity in the shark assemblage and providing the habitat niches required at different life stages. Very large MPAs such as the BMR, in contrast to more narrowly scoped or zoned protection regimes, have the additional advantage of protecting not only known and surveyed habitats but also the unknowns.
Like I've been stating for a while, e.g. here, we really need to shift away from the current narrow focus on species protection towards a much more holistic approach - and those mega-MPAs are an excellent way of achieving that aim.

Enjoy David and Jessica's paper!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Beto: Comprometido en salvar a los Tiburones!

Beto - a good man. Source.


This is really, really nice.
Alberto "Beto" Friscione has been diving forever, and his witness account, and passionate and eloquent advocacy for the Sharks are important and very much authentic. Together with Saving our Sharks where he is a founding member, he and Chino have been instrumental in bringing about extraordinary progress, for which they need to be highly commended.

Required watching - enjoy!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Shark Bite in Florida!

Nah don't worry I'm not gonna go there.

Just this.
Wishing Randy a successful reattachment and speedy recovery - and may there be a bloody learning curve, and may it be steep!
Fucking steel gloves anybody?