Saturday, June 30, 2018

Five-Meter GWS?

Mako vs GWS - awesome pic by Ozzie Sam. Notice how wide the caudal keel is!   
Source - click for detail


For what it is worth, methinks that that Shark does not move with the gravitas of a 5-meter animal but rather, like a much smaller individual; and the very pointy snout and very wide caudal keel appear more indicative of a Shortfin Mako, at least to me.

But who am I to say.
Both species inhabit the Med, with the Mako being far more common, albeit locally threatened like all Sharks there. And do re-read this post about the rather fascinating theory about the Australian origins of the Mediterranean GWS population - paper here!
But my call remains that this is a sprightly Mako of 2-2.5m.

Original FB post here, story here.

PS - Bingo: Michael Domeier here!
PPS - compare to this clip of a Mako @ approx 0:20ff!

PPPS -  and now we got ourselves some experts...

Thursday, June 28, 2018

700 Requins dans la Nuit - awesome!

Source - click for detail! 


Yeah that would once again be Laurent in Tetamanu.
All I can say is, epic - and there is also this ridiculously awesome photo essay and also, this book with his best pictures that I can only highly recommend.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bull Shark vs hooked Shark!

Yes Bull Sharks got big sharp teeth - great pic by Sasha! Click for detail!


Story here.
Not at all sure about the first Shark - but the big one is unmistakably a Bull = a species that will most definitely prey on other Sharks.


Sharks in the Ba Estuary - Paper!

Love love love this pic - source!

Nice job by Tom et al.
From what I gather, whereas the field research has been challenging, the paper has been a rather traumatic experience - and no, no need to elaborate, the more as the good news is that this finally completes Tom's master thesis and that consequently, he can now fully concentrate on his already impressive career as a conservation photographer and filmmaker
So big congrats Tom - in every sense!

And the Ba estuary?
Our own ongoing research suggests that it may well be more than a mere aggregation and parturition site, and confirms that it is certainly a place of great interest warranting protection - but  these things are complicated and take a lot of time, and bycatch mitigation and enforcement will always be a huge challenge, meaning that at present, I'm alas not terribly hopeful for the short term.  
But hope springs eternal, and we're certainly going to stay on it.

In the meantime, enjoy Tom's paper.
To be continued no doubt!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sharkbanz - yes it's a total Scam!



Remember this post?
What followed were a Shark bite and then a devastating impromptu test - and yet the Garrisons and even more problematically, Craig O'Connell of questionable Shark Week fame have continued to defend the indefensible and conned the public (scroll down) into believing that the gizmos had been tested scientifically and proven to be effective, which they clearly never had.

But now those independent tests have been performed.
Bravo to Charlie, and big kudos to Andrew who continues to make GSD proud.

This is a great illustration of the test setup.

And this is the reaction of GWS' to the Shark Shield ( Ocean Guardian ) Freedom+ Surf which is actually the only repellent that worked, albeit only a measly 60% of the time which IMO just ain't quite good enough - or is it?

And the Banz?
And I cite,
Neither the SharkBanz bracelet nor leash affected the behaviour of white sharks or reduced the percentage of baits taken.
These products rely on permanent magnets (Grade C8 barium ferrite), which have previously been used to overwhelm the electromagnetic sense of sharks .....

However, the distance from which sharks reacted to magnets in those studies was small, typically less than 0.5 m  and the effectiveness of the magnets decreased with increasing shark motivation.
Barium-ferrite permanent magnets generate a flux that decreases at the inverse cube in relation to the distance from the magnet, from near 1000 G at the source to an amount comparable to the Earth’s magnetic field (0.25 – 0.65 G) at distances of 0.30 – 0.50 m, showing how rapidly the magnetic field decreases. Sharks would therefore need to be at less than 0.30 m for such magnets to act as real deterrents.
This suggests that magnets are unlikely to be effective at deterring sharks because they will only protect close to the magnet, limiting their applicability as personal deterrents...
Exactly what I said back then!
Incidentally, same same for the ludicrous Chillax wax!
Those of you who remember the episode of Mythbusters where Lemon Sharks were completely unfazed after ingesting balloons filled with mashed habaneros may remember that lacking that necessity, Sharks have simply not developed receptors for capsicain - so a concoction of eucalyptus, chilli, cloves, cayenne pepper, neem, tea tree oil, citronella, coconut, and beeswax was always gonna be a stretch. And it sure was.
Disappointed reaction here - and no, it just doesn't bloody work and sure ain't commonsense, either!

You can read the paper here, and here is a great synopsis by Corey.
Once again (re-read it!), this is not principally about the perpetrators that can (and should!) be taken to court. It's about the public as those things may actually lead to MORE Shark strikes because as Corey states
if a particular type of commercially available shark deterrent happens to be less effective (or completely ineffective) as advertised, it can give users a false sense of security, potentially encouraging some to put themselves at greater risk than is necessary. For example, some surfers and spearfishers probably ignore other mitigation measures, such as beach closures, because they ‘feel safe’ when wearing these products.
Exactly - so be careful people!
If it looks too good to be true, it usually is - so forget those gizmos and best use your common sense, and you should just be fine.

In diesem Sinne.
Enjoy the ocean - safely and responsibly!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Florida Land-Based Shark Fishing - Meetings!

This needs to stop: completely exhausted and moribund GHH - source.

The infamous saga continues.

Please note down the following dates and locations.
The FWC is  scheduling public workshops for land based  shark fishing regulation in Florida. But contrary to the commissioners, the FWC staff are most certainly not eager to issue regulations and will try and defer, delay, stonewall and minimize any intervention whenever possible. It is also highly likely that the land-based Shark fishermen will mobilize, meaning that this won't be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.
With that in mind, there is a strong need for support and informed speakers.

Specific venues will be finalized later.
All workshops will start at 6:00 PM
  • July 18: Bradenton 

  • July19: Ft. Myers 

  • August 6: Panama City 

  • August 7: Pensacola 

  • August 20: Daytona Beach 

  • August 21: Jacksonville 

  • August 27: Melbourne Beach 

  • August 28: West Palm Beach 

  • August 29: Miami 

  • August 30: Key Colony Beach
This is your chance to make a meaningful contribution.
Thank you for your support.

You Are What You Eat - Paper!

Our Whitetip Reefies - happy, well fed and healthy!

And I cite,
The suite of studies available for this site is likely the most comprehensive body of work to date comparing the impacts of tourism on a predator species' behaviour and fitness with conservation and economic benefits.
The various studies address a range of potential issues (e.g. residency, habitat use, consumption of bait, energetic value of bait and diet) and provide a good example of how site-specific information, obtained from multiple methods, can contribute for an effective, evidence- based, management of the predator tourism industry.

Similar multi-methods approaches can be applied to other aquatic and terrestrial wildlife tourism species/operations, to move beyond our current understanding of tourism-driven behavioural and ecological changes, and provide a more holistic understanding of the effects of provisioning on the health and fitness of the target species.
Indeed - and we're mighty proud! :)
And here comes the latest, but by no means last paper investigating the effects of what we do!

I must say that I'm really happy.
This time, we've looked at the consequences of feeding non-resident Sharks, i.e. our Bull Sharks vs feeding much more resident ones, i.e. our Whitetip Reefies.
As a backdrop, keep in mind that we don't merely tease our Sharks like the GWS people do: our Sharks have been fed approx 1 ton of Tuna heads per week (!) for more than 20 years, meaning that they may well be the most, and I may add, best fed tourism Sharks on the planet - and not only that: our research has also shown that far from being junk, those Tuna heads are also highly nutritious!

And with that in mind, the results are simply spectacular.
Stable isotope analysis reveals that there is no evidence of bait incorporation by Bull Sharks; and even for some of the much more resident Whitetip Reefies, the results suggest a mere 8–22% importance of bait, this based on individual preferences - or as the paper states,
Results from the present study, particularly when combined with information from previous studies at this feeding site (Brunnschweiler et al., 2010, 2014;Brunnschweiler and Baensch, 2011; Brunnschweiler and Barnett, 2013;Brunnschweiler et al., 2017), suggest that current levels of provisioning lead to no detrimental long-term impacts on the behaviour or diet (and probably health) of sharks at the Shark Reef Marine Reserve site.
In brief, our feeding does certainly not harm our Bulls - and it equally does not harm the environment as they continue to fulfill their ecological role by quasi exclusively relying on their normal prey.
And when it comes to the Whitetip Reefies, we are actually presently investigating whether instead of feeding them too much, we may actually be feeding too little like what has been shown at Osprey Reef!
And not only that!
This is a strong indications that all other global Shark feeds that feed less, less frequently and have done so for a shorter period of time are likely to be unproblematic, too!

Long story short?
Time after time after time again all the evidence points to the fact that the reservations against Shark tourism in general and Shark feeding in particular are largely unfounded and that in the big scheme of things, far from posing a problem, we are one of the safest and most responsible ecotourism activities and as such, very much a part of the solution!

So well done team - this is just awesome!
My particular gratitude goes to Kátya for being so proficient and rigorous in her analysis, and for never losing her faith and her charm despite of the challenges of essentially working pro bono whilst raising a family, and of having to weather a grueling peer review process.
Thank you!

And our detractors?
Ultimately, they cannot be reformed and will surely continue to come up with ever new unsubstantiated hypotheses, and criticize and nitpick whenever they can.
But at this stage in the game and in view of all the unequivocal evidence, it is for them to finally come up with some fucking evidence, see Juerg's comments here - and failing that, they really need to shut the fuck up!

Enjoy Kátya's paper - this is an author's link so make sure you preserve the text as it may well disappear behind a paywall in the future!

Let's go Shark diving!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Impact of GWS Cage Diving - Paper!

Bingo, and I cite,
"Best practice" among cage diving operations apparently consists in just teasing, but never actually handing any bait to the Sharks.
Were I a Shark hugger, I would immediately object that letting the Sharks waste precious energy on fruitless "hunts" is to be rejected as it is likely harmful to the animals.
Yup that would be yours truly a whopping ten years ago!
And now Charlie has concluded his investigation and comes to the following conclusion (emphasis is mine)
Although sharks are enticed to the cage-diving vessels with baits, industry regulations do not allow operators to feed white sharks and strict limits on the amount of bait and berley are now in place in South Australia and at other white shark cage-diving locations (Bruce, 2015).
Energy burden from the increased activity is, therefore, not rewarded by regular bait provisioning.

Some baits can, however, be consumed when sharks approach the baits using high speed or stealth (Huveneers et al., 2015).
The baits used in SA are composed of gills and stomach lining of southern bluefin tuna and are not as energy-rich as white shark’s natural prey while at these sites (e.g. pinnipeds). Whether the infrequent consumption of these baits provide sufficient energy to compensate for the increased energy expenditure associated with sharks interacting with the operators would depend on the calorific value of these baits and the frequency of white sharks successfully feeding on the baits, both of which are currently unknown (Brunnschweiler et al., 2017).
Spending time interacting with cage-diving operators might also distract sharks from normal behaviours such as foraging on natural, energy-rich prey like pinnipeds.
Combined, these suggest that the increased energy expenditure associated with cage-diving interactions might not be compensated for by either bait or natural prey consumption.

One could, therefore, argue that white sharks should be able to feed on some bait to compensate for the energetic losses resulting from interacting with cage-diving operators.
Bioenergetic models (e.g. Barnett et al., 2016) would, however, be necessary to accurately assess the likely effect of cage-diving on white shark energy balance and whether such compensation is necessary or beneficial. Beyond the potential for short-term energy intake, other aspects of food provisioning (e.g. quality of food, potential for changes in foraging behaviour) would also need to be considered.
Good one - and obviously, totally not surprised!
This is now the second paper (re-read this!) stating that NOT feeding is probably not a good idea - and whereas I concur that further investigation into the precise energy balance, etc may be beneficial, we should really not caught up in minutiae and finally do the right thing.

So what's it gonna be?  
Now that the evidence is in, will the regulators in Australia and elsewhere do the right thing and allow for proper feeding of those Sharks - or are they going to continue cow-towing to those in the populace who will contend that it would lead to more Shark attacks, and the like?
Remember that when it comes to feeding and conditioning Sharks, 99.999% is being perpetrated by the fishermen and not us - so assuming that it really is a big problem (spoiler = it aint: these are the real problems, with overfishing being the principal threat to Shark populations) let's maybe first look there! !
Anybody taking bets?

Anyway, enjoy Charlie's paper!
To be continued no doubt!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Guadalupe - more Shenanigans?

Indeed, a picture is worth a thousand words - click for detail! Source.


Forget all that idiotic clap trap -  and no, no amount of soul searching and overcoming of personal phobias, or whatever, can detract from the simple fact that this is reckless and 100% illegal pure and simple.

And this shit?
That would be this dude, clearly a repeat offender along with his illustrious shark team, all of which are already planning their next trip for this fall, undoubtedly for the Sharks.
And the research permit for this? Questions questions!

And how about this last glorious feat.

Yes, that cretin is really brandishing a piece of Shark bait!
I mean - seriously!

Just great aint it.
And yet and despite of all the unequivocal evidence, CONANP appears once again either incapable and/or unwilling and/or too cowardly and/or, gasp, too corrupt to enforce its own rules and keep those people, and their serial enabler off the island!

To be continued no doubt!

Saturday, June 02, 2018

SOFA - quod erat demonstrandum!

The SOFA: a humongous area in the NE Pacific where GWS disperse to forage.

Behold - and yes it is long!

Synopsis here - and yes this is impressive as hell.
And here's a nice, and short video about the technology - again, very impressive in terms of scope but also cost!

And now, re-read this.
See what I mean?
  • The GWS are by no means "aggregating" but instead, they are actually dispersing in a huge area after having aggregated at the coast! I mean, seriously: watch the first video at 42.12: does that look like congregating to you?

  • In the SOFA (which is the much better name than Café) they very much appear to be foraging and not mating: case in point, just listen to what Barb's got to say at 1:21ff of the first video where she explains how the data illustrate that those Sharks engaging in ROD are most likely targeting prey like Bigeye Tuna.

  • Which obviously means that the GWS are mating in the known coastal aggregation spots like Domeier had postulated all along!

  • And those infamous, and totally cockamamie hypotheses by Jorgensen and Chapple, respectively, that they may be lekking or, gasp, sniffing for female pheromones?

  • And oh yes that would very much be a q.e.d - just saying!
    And no this time I'm gonna be magnanimous and refrain from mentioning sniffing glue and the like! :)
But I'm digressing as usual.
Keep watching this website and also, keep watching this space.

To be continued no doubt!

Friday, June 01, 2018

Thanks for all the Fish!

I must say, this is really nice.
Firstly, because it doesn't do the usual touchy-feely treehugging thing but is instead very personal albeit a tad overly dramatic - the more as Juliette has been diving with us before and was by no means frozen in fear but did instead thoroughly enjoy the experience; and secondly, because this is the very first article about us that mentions the all-important toilet etiquette - and yes please do not pee in our rental wetsuits!

So, a big vinaka vakalevu from all of us.