Saturday, December 28, 2019

TC Sarai!

Oh well.

It is finally slowly departing.
And for you who have asked: Thank You, we all are well and normal operations will resume shortly, hopefully early next week.

Let's go Shark diving!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Here we go!

Well well, lookee lookee.

I just knew it.
The Winter has been way too warm, to the point that this year's Bull Shark life cycle has been accelerated, with birthing and mating happening 2-3 weeks early. And since the ocean has never quite cooled down, now there is already a lot of hot water up north. And here it is bloody hot.
So hello coral bleaching and cyclones!

This would be a Cat 1 to Cat 2.
Yes it's only a forecast by computer models - but I for one am personally convinced that this time it is accurate, so there. Metvuw here; Windy here; Himawari here!
But who am I to say!

Anyway - you know what to do!

PS - NaDraki here!
PPS - They're expecting the cyclone to slow down as it approaches Fiji, gather strength and become a Cat 3+. Not good for the West and also Kadavu and Southern Lau.
PPPS - it is now a cyclone named Sarai, and continuing to intensify.

PPPS - not good.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Click for detail!

Once again I'm mighty relieved.
As always, this is for you El Diego!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Guadalupe - I stand with Mike!

Read this and then, watch this  pathetic shit.
I'm being asked to comment, so there - though for you who are eagerly expecting the usual epic pile of blood and gore, I got bad news as the following has been edited by Tashi Blue and is consequently way nicer than the usual fare on this blog.
So sorry! :)

First and foremost, this is obviously very sad.
Stouffer has definitely been grievously injured and may indeed have perished after they managed to shake him free of the cage. But although it sure looks that way, we do not know for sure - and considering that those GWS are incredibly resilient,  he may also have survived against all odds. In fact some guests on that cruise did claim to have seen him again, behaving "strangely", once activities were resumed after the accident.
So fingers crossed that he turns up again in the future.

Mike Lever is a good man and personal friend.
He is a co-founder of GSD and in many personal conversations and decisions I have witnessed, I have found him to be highly ethical, intelligent, professional, and conservation and safety conscious to the max.

But most importantly.
When the authorities issued the new rules, it was actually Mike who first implemented the new cage design - and this incidentally very much against the wishes of some of his clients, see e.g the stupid comments by the insufferable Ms. Cobb right  here!

And this?
CONANP (who  have incidentally done nothing wrong - and have also most certainly taken no bribes!) are clearly mistaken as the relevant measurements are not between vertical bars as wrongly suggested in the infographic here.
Instead, there must be no more than 35 centimeters between horizontal bars as clearly stated in the regulations (= 5.6) here and here, and in the legally binding “Wildlife Sighting Permits” from SEMARNAT.
Now you know - you're welcome!
And guess what.
The distance between the horizontal bars of the cage of the Nautilus UnderSea is fully compliant!
Detail detail - but it is all-important!
In brief, the fact of the matter is that Mike Lever's cages are fully compliant, and that claiming anything otherwise  is defamation pure and simple.

And just to be clear: there was no fault by the crew, either.
That Shark was clearly interested in something or somebody inside the cage and decided to change course and charge the cage, twice, entirely voluntarily = it is crystal clear that there was no error in bait handling, no teasing, no goading, nor any other nefarious human behavior leading to the entrapment of the Shark. In fact several experts testify that this is unusual behavior - tho considering that this is a predator and a male, I'm personally not terribly surprised to witness what to me looks like aggressive behavior!
In any case, this is clearly just a freak accident and incredibly bad luck.

Which brings me straight to those pathetic FB posts.
The dude is some insignificant animal molesting macho self promoter who however appears to have great media outreach in Mexico. I note that despite of claiming to be a conservation activist, or whatever, he has never done anything for Mexico's Sharks despite of the country's infamous Shark fishing tradition that is specifically leading to the demise of not one but many of those endangered and protected GWS in Baja.

In fact this was his comment on the Solmar accident.
IMPRESIONANTE huh - and what about him and his YouTubers pals illegally feeding from the cages to attract the GWS who then slam into them. Nice, respectful marketing, too!
Hipócrita anybody?

But that was then - so why the outrage and media circus now.
And why the appalling xenophobic focus whereby the people's anger is being directed more at Mike's nationality than at his claimed breach of the rules.
Let's maybe look at some circumstantial evidence shall we.
There is the issue of the origin of that video.
This is not the footage from a single camera but actually, it is a small edit from two cameras filming from two different cages. Having been shown this precise edit a while ago, I know for a fact that there's only one possible provenance, and that is from the Nautilus Fleet itself.

And bingo.
Having looked and also asked questions, there's clearly one disgruntled employee who  has a big axe to grind, had access to the video and disposes of good contacts to the media - and lo and behold, she is indeed busy running her foul little mouth behind the scenes.

Yes she did indeed once again manage to get fired.
But not because of some nefarious conspiracy by Mike but instead, for her unbecoming public behavior when she was partaking in a cruise on the NBA as an employee - and yes there are plenty of witnesses to that = you staunch defenders may want to reconsider your position as right now you are frankly looking like total suckers!
BUT, I also notice that it is asserted that
she stated clearly that this was an accident and not the result of human negligence. She also stated that the vessel’s cages are compliant with regulatory requirements and that the crew did everything possible to save the shark, while ensuring the safety of the divers. She did everything, ethically and professionally...!
And then there would be little media man Mauricio.
He doesn't appear to mind helping mooching foreigners as long as they do his bidding - but I hear that he is not amused by Mike's continued collaboration, and support of Domeier and Nicole, and by Mike's opposition to the mooching Sharkwater.
And, he is some sort of consultant to the park authorities who were given the footage. So may the leak have originated with him - and are we really to believe that he does not know the precise rules he helped draft? Questions questions!
And anyway, everybody knows that he will do anything to please those $harkettes - and in turn, Ocean Barbie is all-too-happy to propagate the lies, the more as doing so will undoubtedly add to her reputation - and trust me, it has!
And so it goes, same old same old!

Anyway - long story short?
This is nothing more than an orchestrated hit job on Mike.
If one can reproach him anything, it is that he has obviously failed to grasp the potential gravity of the situation and missed getting ahead of the curve and media feeding frenzy by being the first to publicly report the accident. But then again, considering that this was clearly a freak accident, there seemed to be be zero upside in engaging in public self flagellation.
So they did what appeared sensible then, ie inform the authorities and hope that the video would not surface - and NO, there was definitely no need, let alone right for the public to see those horrible images!

But be it as it may, it remains crystal clear that Mike objectively holds no blame for what has happened to Stouffer - not legally which is obviously all-important but also not ethically as nothing unusual/nefarious was done by the crew.
  • His cages are fully compliant with the regulations - and therefore, the whole story that he was asked but refused to change their design is nothing but a total fabrication

  • He holds no responsibility for the Shark choosing to slam into the cage

  • There was an observer on board who immediately informed his superiors about the incident - which totally negates the accusation that Mike was trying to hide the accident from the authorities - and why would he. And he has also neither bribed anybody, nor has he lied.
In fact I am sure that he will be fully exonerated.

And then, there needs to be a reckoning.
The way I see it, Ms Domingo is in an ocean of legal trouble.
Mauricio as the stated source of the leaked video edit quite likely too.

The little macho dude?
He is either fully complicit in fabricating and spreading the slanderous lies, or just simply reckless, unprofessional and stupid for allowing himself to be used. But he is also gleefully milking this story for the advancement of his own reputation as activist and media influencer = $$$.
And for that alone, were I Mike, I would sue his sorry ass for his patently brazen and reckless attempt to destroy my credibility and livelihood  which only serves to deprive Mexico of millions in Shark eco-tourism revenue, and thousands of shark divers from realizing their dreams to observe these majestic creatures.
But that's obviously entirely up to Mike.

To the smirking competitors, THINK.
This is quickly morphing into a runaway train that may well endanger the industry as a whole. Whether you like it or not, and whether you like Mike or not: you're all in this together. So be smart, stop the backstabbing and show some public solidarity. And once it blows over, you can resume hostilities.
But not right now - and anyway, you know the man and know he did not do it.

And the pathetic media frenzy?
It is what it is and like always, it'll blow over - but to you all-knowing couch farting Shark tourism experts and self-appointed criminal investigators out there who know NOTHING but continue to regale everybody with your ultracrepidarian diarrhea: scripta manent, and we shall most certainly remember.
And yes I know I know....

Remains the question of those cages.
I notice that those idiotic proponents of out-of-cage diving with GWS, foremost of which that horrible slimeball Amos, are using this to slam cage diving as being bad for the Sharks.

Obviously there needs to be change.
Rules or no rules - over the years, a few Sharks have died and several have been injured during caged dives, and that is just not acceptable.

But this can be remedied.
E.g. by even more stringent bait handling rules and above all, by even smaller cage openings all the way to using sturdy aluminum mesh like they do in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
And to avoid the Sharks getting in and/or the people leaning out, those large openings for the photographers' big dome ports may have to go completely, or be replaced with some sort of transparent viewing ports like in  Hawaii - and fuck the vociferous likes of Ms. Cobb who are financially irrelevant anyway.

But going cageless is nothing but a fool's bet.
Private ventures by intrepid thrill seekers, and professional shoots are one thing - but let there be no doubt that when it comes to commercial Shark tourism, cage diving is the only way to conduct safe and long term sustainable dive operations with White Sharks.
In brief, the cages need to stay - and like I said many, many times, let's please not have the inmates run the asylum.

Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

To be continued no doubt.

PS - personal declaration, or whatever, by Domingo here = much personal ass covering and vindictive verbiage  - but I equally notice that she does not state that the cage was illegal, or that the crew did anything wrong.
Her assertion that it was she who first informed the authorities because Mike would not is a bold faced lie = during that trip, there was an observer from CONANP who immediately informed his superiors - and no, it was not at all clear, and still isn't, that the Shark had perished.
Plus, again, she was not fired in connection with this accident but instead, for her conduct whilst on a cruise on the NBA - which is of zero importance here anyway.

PPS - Domeier here. Agree - but there can, and should be improvements.

PPPS - Ramon  trying to get his 10' of fame here. Ever since Nicole, he is desperate to remain relevant, with little success - and this total stupidity only makes him look like a cheap opportunist.

PPPPS - Patric here. Agree and disagree. 
YES - getting ahead of the curve would possibly have been good - tho back then it wasn't at all clear that the Shark had likely perished (and even now we do not NOW - see Craig's comments below) = there was most certainly no perceived need for a public mea culpa
NO - right now when everybody is hyperventilating, remaining silent is the way to go. 
AND - there will undoubtedly be a reckoning = keep watching this space!

PPPPPS - truly remarkable comments by Craig Ferreira right here. Could not agree more, see above!

PPPPPPS - a friendly GWS cage diving operator writes,
FYI Re: Cage design, I found that shark penetration problems are largely resolved in the positioning, or complete removal of the (trapping) VERTICAL bars within the viewing/camera gaps ... in particular in the corners. Our vertical bars are centrally positioned in the viewing gaps and nosey sharks slide out sideways through the corners.
Excellent suggestion - thanks!

PPPPPPPS -  Craig again here. To cite another authoritative voice,
The sad thing is that the uproar created around this incident does affect shark cage diving around the world, a non-consumptive tourism activity, whilst shark demersal longliners are decimating our shark populations and this where the focus should be. In South Africa, we are seeing a real impact on our shark populations and even our protected white sharks are accidentally caught, but not reported. If only the social media warriors would not be hypocrites and focus on the overfishing versus cage diving which in South Africa is the only official monitoring and conservation of this species taking place
PPPPPPPPS - more pathetic xenophobic showboating, and outright defamation by Allende here. 

PPPPPPPPPS - gloves are definitely off. Talk about being a total hypocrite. But, ride bene chi ride ultimo = keep watching this space!

Comments policy: please comment here and not on FB.
These are our social media platforms and not public chat rooms, and we thus reserve to monitor and/or delete all and everything we do not like. 
Our media our rules!

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Amazing Manta Ray!

Amazing indeed - enjoy!

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Heinous Robbery - Video!

Watch - story here!
And would that scene at 2:15 qualify as a true Shark selfie?

The perpetrator is a pesky and so far unnamed little guy.
Suggestions welcome - or better yet, officially name him yourself once we identify good permanent markers and Tashi puts him up for naming!

Anyway, it was epic.
Bravo, and a huge Vinaka Vakalevu to Silio for having retrieved the rig - and a big tip o' the hat to  Tovatec for their venerable but utterly phenomenal Galaxy 2500s that survived the ordeal completely unscathed! 


Monday, November 04, 2019

Mating Mantas - Video!


Wow - with an extra helping of WOWZA!
Story here.

And since it's so awesome, here's some more Manta hanky panky for good measure!

Thank you Serena!

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Manta molesting - Videos!


Watch = click here or on post below!

The question being, who is molesting whom!
May this be some defensive maneuver, or is the Manta simply having fun like they often appear to do?

Questions questions!
And lest you thought this is strictly a one-off: here's another one from 4 years ago - story here!

Anyway, enjoy!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Idiots and OWTs - Video!


Oh well.
Looks like that attack a while ago has led to zero reflection - and why am I not surprised to find the name of the pagliaccio in that pathetic lineup of Shark molesting morons!

And the comments by Shark Education?
Well yes, maybe. But then again, if this is supposed to be tourism as opposed to some private adventure, then the operators need to approach those dives completely differently and bloody keep the clients in check and suitably protected - and yes it is possible to dive safely and responsibly with OWTs like amply demonstrated by GSD member Epic Diving

And no, no need to elaborate.
Re read this and if you really got too much time, this - it sure ain't rocket science!
And if the industry doesn't bloody self regulate...

And so it goes.
Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

PS - Indeed, the OWT populations are among the most depleted, and these shenanigans can easily lead to further persecution. Bravo Sergio, condivido al 100%! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

GWS Clans at the Neptune Islands - Paper!

Very interesting!

Check this out.
Press release here, stories e.g. here and here.
In brief and assuming I understand this correctly, those GWS don't turn up randomly but appear to favor (and hence possibly travel with) determined buddies and even form distinct groups that appear to persist for years. Nice to see Johann, Charlie and Andrew among the authors, and kudos to GSD member Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions for having enabled yet another stellar paper - and incidentally, congrats for the great new boat

And here in Fiji?

Remember Mike's totally speculative hypothesis?
That was obviously several years ago, and today we know quite a bit more. Specifically, we have learned that although our dive has minor local impacts, effects at the ecosystem level remain negligible as our Bulls continue to roam and do neither get conditioned to coming ever more frequently, let alone residing here or changing their migrations or mating cycles, etc; nor do they in any way become dependent on our handouts - tho I was certainly wrong when speculating about the nutritional value of the Tuna heads! But be it as it may, the restaurant analogy remains fully confirmed.

And the part about the Bulls likely being solitary?
I still believe that in the case of those large reef-dwelling Sharks, and barring any cooperative hunting for which we have zero evidence, evolution would have selected against traveling with, and thus having to compete and/or possibly even share meals with conspecifics.

But then again, who am I to say.
I can't divulge too much - but I can say that 10 years after that post, we are finally about to reveal some conclusive evidence!
Fiji Time anybody? You betcha! :)

So keep watching this space.
To be continued!

Fiji Airways Trailer!

Hunter and Predator at he SRMR - click for amazing detail!


Yup that would be our boats.
More details to follow as this hopefully develops into a finished product.
Or not - as always, we shall see!
Anyway, enjoy!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Gaping GWS - Video!

This Shark is spy hopping - but it sure looks like RAG is not at all rare in SA!


And I cite.
Repetitive Aerial Gaping: A Thwart-Induced Behavior in White Sharks 
WESLEY R. STRONG JR., in Great White Sharks, 1996


Baits pulled away travelled horizontally, just beneath the surface until they came against the hull at which point the sharks generally turned away. In the vertical baiting configuration, however, the bait could be hoisted directly out of the water as a shark tried to seize it, moving it out of reach more quickly than a bait drawn horizontally. This distinction is important, because 11 of 15 (73%) RAG occurrences were elicited while using the vertical baiting technique, but the technique itself was employed less than 5% of the time.

In each case, RAG followed a series of failed attempts to seize a bait and was immediately preceded by an open-mouthed lunge and miss as a bait was withdrawn. Lack of contact with prey after the feeding MAP was initiated appears to play a role in triggering RAG, but does not solely explain its onset. One factor common to each observation of RAG was that a portion of the anterior buccal cavity was exposed to air before (i.e., during the surface lunge) and during its execution. While failure to obtain food while submerged may eventually evoke a similar response, we never observed an underwater bout of RAG during more than 135 hours of underwater observation. Thus, it appears that contact with air is required to initiate the response.
Now you know - also described e.g. herein, and here.
Story here.

You're welcome!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Megamouth in California?


Wow - watch!

For comparison, check here.
And yes, I agree 100% with MCSI that those white tips are a dead giveaway. 

Stories here and here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Terrifying Moment!

Sandbar Sharks - compare with the video. Source.

And here we go again - watch.

And this is the "story", or whatever.
Did you notice that the dude with the rod has something on the line? That's probably why that little Sandbar was there in the first place, and that nip is probably agonistic, i.e. happening in perceived self-defense - and yes I'm of course speculating because we'll never know!

It's same old same old - not the smartest of behaviors, lousy reporting and ultimately, much ado about nothing much at all.
And the Shark gets the bad rap.

Enjoy the Ocean - responsibly!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Cape Cod - Shark Attack Mitigation Alternatives!

And I cite - emphasis is mine.
Personal Shark Deterrents

A growing number of personal shark deterrent devices are commercially available. 
Some are intended to be worn while others are to be attached to surfboards or similar equipment . The deterrents fall into two main categories: electromagnetic (EM) devices and camouflage. 
The EM devices include active (battery powered) and passive (permanent magnet) types that are either worn or are attached to surfboards. Camouflaging patterns are either wearable (wet suits) or applied to surfboards (decals, paint).

EM shark deterrent devices are all based on the same general principal, but they are not equally effective. “Sort of works” versus “doesn’t work at all” are both real possibilities and independent evaluations and comparisons of EM devices that are superficially similar are important...

The evidence for the efficacy of camouflage, whether worn or applied to a surfboard, is limited and inconclusive. We note that claims for camouflage tend towards statements that the swimmer or surfer is less likely to be noticed by a curious shark that just happens to be swimming in the area. This as opposed to statements that the camouflage will prevent the attack of a shark that is actively hunting for a meal.

The existing research suggests that some of these devices may be somewhat effective some of the time....We would always keep in mind that none of these devices provide anywhere near 100% protection under any realistic circumstances.
Finally, from a large shark already on an attack trajectory, arguably none of these devices will provide any meaningful protection at all. 
In brief and with the exception of the Shark Shield some of the time, those Shark repellent gizmos and those ludicrous wetsuits etc are all bullshit, cold-hearted scams and profiteering by unscrupulous con artists - re-read this and this!

And did I just hear, Clever Buoy?
Of the shark detections reported by CB, only ~40% appeared to actually be sharks, while ~60% were other objects, most commonly the baited video stations, which were stationary, or schools of smaller fish, which were moving. Of particular note, when, according to the video record, sharks were present, CB accurately detected them only ~40% of the time and failed to detect them ~60% of the time.... 
Additionally, lifeguard divers swimming in the CB array to clean biofouling off the sonar transducers were continuously tracked and continuously identified throughout the dive as large sharks. Such misidentification might apply to swimmers or seals, clearing the water unnecessarily....

Unfortunately, the documented performance does not remotely approach the promise of the system.

This creates a danger that swimmers and surfers in the vicinity of a system will relax their vigilance and fail to consistently follow safe practices, assuming that this system is protecting them to a far greater extent than it does. It should also be recognized that, even if the system does provide an accurate warning, the shark is already very close to the beach...
Yeah totally not surprised!
And the list goes on and on and on - with the fake kelp being one of the better, albeit prohibitively expensive notable exceptions!
Maybe, sometimes, somewhere! :)

But look for yourselves.
This compendium by Woods Hole is the latest and greatest synopsis of possible Shark Attack mitigation measures, notabene with special emphasis on trying to minimize bites by the resurgent GWS' population on the US east Coast in general and Cape Cod in particular. I must say that I'm seriously impressed - with some notable omissions: where are the wooden spoon and the red broom?
Synopses e.g. here and here, great app here.

As Tashi Blue astutely observes, considering that there are next to no attacks there, it all seems much ado about very little indeed - especially when compared to say, Hawaii, where people get munched  orders of magnitude more frequently but where nobody seems to be unduly hyperventilating much.
That said, what please is  Swimming with sharks in Oʻahu, Haleʻiwa, approx 3 miles from shore?!?

Anyway, it was quite different in the past.
But of course the new attitude makes total sense.
Assuming one observes a modicum of common-sense precautions (and here - plus, don't jump on top of a hunting GWS! :) ), chances of becoming the victim of a Shark attack are really extremely small - and, if more water users get trained and carry some first aid gear, one's chances of survival are very high indeed. In fact, among the known causes of human mortality, I would not be able mention a single one that kills LESS people than Shark attacks!
But on the other side, life in general is certainly most deadly, and people entering the water must be willing to assume a modicum of risk, to wit.
No single alternative or suite of alternatives that can 100% guarantee the safety of individuals who choose to enter the water.
  • Since no mitigation alternative can provide 100% safety, reducing the chances of unprovoked attacks on humans requires a strong commitment to education and outreach, which can result in the adoption of behaviors that may reduce the risk of an unprovoked shark-human interaction.

  • If water activities are avoided, the risk of attack is effectively eliminated.

  • If water activities are not avoided and best management practices and Shark Smart Behaviors are widely adopted, the risk of attack may be reduced, but not eliminated.

  • All individuals choosing to engage in water activities should think carefully about the level of risk associated with their preferred activity, and be comfortable with that level of risk before choosing to enter the water.

  • The decision to enter the water and assume the risk of shark-human interaction is made at the sole discretion of the individual. 
In diesem Sinne.
Enjoy the Ocean - responsibly!

PS - nice - and so true, too!
PPS - good reading!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Octopus Dreaming!

Source.- do click for detail!

Ya know, I'm just gonna post it here without further comments.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Galoa Village: Plastic Repurposing Workshops!


Well, what can I say.
Officially, this is being presented as a spinoff of our stellar My Fiji Shark initiative - but in reality, all the spinning has led way, way off course - to the point that this really got nothing to anymore do with Sharks and marine conservation, let alone Shark adoptions like originally envisioned. 
And yes, it is what it is - and I can certainly leave it at that!
This is now strictly a standalone project by the UNDP, SPTO and local artiste and serial waste-to-art workshop supremo Warwick Marlow where BAD and MFS play no role and also get zero benefit - but as long as this is not just an exercise in BS, and the women from our partner village Galoa are happy and get to earn an extra buck, that's perfectly fine with us!

And My Fiji Shark?
Going strong as ever, and then some! 
And as chance would have it, we're about to celebrate our one-year anniversary - and Tashi Blue has decided that this momentous occasion warrants some special celebratory offers!
So keep your eyes peeled on the MFS website and above all, on the MFS Facebook page where some announcements are forthcoming!

And most importantly.
Please, Adopt Your Shark Now!
Thank you!

Bubble-Net Feeding - Video!


Story here - enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2019

NZ Cage Diving - the Saga continues!


Well well.

Read this.
Looks like the NZ GWS tourism industry has been granted a new lease on life. My sources tell me that  of the two operators, Shark Experience are by far the better - so good on them for having persevered and ultimately prevailed!

And Peter Scott's Shark Dive NZ? 
Thankfully they appear to have thrown in the towel for good. So here's to this being the start of smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive Shark tourism, and to the end of the horrible Shark porn those people have enabled - and worry not, they read this blog and the distaste is 100% mutual! :)

Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pyjama Shark vs Octopus!


Yeah I know it's a tad old.
But many have not yet seen it, so there.
Story here - enjoy!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Terrifying Moment?



It is about this encounter (and incidentally, it is 100% a GWS), and the Shark could not have been more peaceful, much as per Nina's original description here.

Shame on you Daily Mail!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Mystery Sharks from Myanmar?

Check out the above - click for detail.

So, what Sharks are those?
I took the pic at Black Rock way back then in 1998. Back then there was no digital = this would be a so-called "professional scan" of the 35mm Kodachrome 64 slide - and yes those would be fucking hairs!
Anyway, there was a massive El Niño that was cooking the reefs in the Indian Ocean and beyond - but the hot water there was somehow causing a freezing cold upwelling in the Andaman Sea, and we were seeing plenty of deeper water Fishes like e.g. this rather rare Pterois mombasae we found at Richelieu Rock.
Check it out, it's an awesome Fish!

In brief, we were freezing our asses but having a blast.
Richelieu Rock was pumping with the usual Whale Sharks and a whole array of unusual critters among which mating Guitarfish, Kho Bon had dozens of Zebra Sharks and the Burma Banks, the usual assemblage of Tawnies and large territorial Silvertips;  and Black Rock was overrun with Manta Rays, to the point that we decided to turn off the engine of the dinghy and use the oars for fear of hitting one. 
We put down a few fish heads and had a few Grey Reefies come nosy about, only to be scared away by these two much larger Sharks. Both females and both likely shredded by mating, they came in hot and put up a short but awesome display of strength and assertiveness, only to quickly abscond with the bait.

There was quite some debate about the species.
Ron who was obviously way more experienced thought they may have been Graceful Sharks; I was more inclined towards them being unusually large Blacktips, and actually still think they are - and if so, they would most certainly be the largest such Sharks I've ever seen as they were clearly above 2 meters long. Or could they have been large Spinners - tho if so, where are the pinnae brevis?


PS - Will confirms that they're most likely Blacktips. They look identical to Australian Blacktips (C. tilstoni) who are however strictly endemic to Australia - but thank you Julia! :)

GWS vs Kayak!

Watch - story here.
Scary as hell for sure - but getting those teeth in exchange is simply awesome!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Catching GWS in California!


Oh for crying out loud - watch.

Yup that would be a juvenile GWS.
White Sharks are protected in the USA in general and specifically, in California where this is happening, and one would think that this is unlawful and would warrant prosecution.
Regulations here.

Well, think again. 
Very much like what has been happening until recently in Florida, the authorities are apparently choosing to not intervene, or to drop the charges or levy ludicrous fines when they do - and the fishermen know that and continue to target and reel in the Sharks in quasi total impunity. 
Kudos to the indefatigable Mr. Bland for having meticulously researched the topic and published this excellent essay.

I say, it's time for some kicking of lazy bureaucrat asses - like in Florida!


Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Stegostoma tigrinum?

The sandy morph of S. tigrinum: transitional (A–D) and adult (E–H). Close up of the skin pattern on the right lateral flank of a transitional specimen (B–C) and of remnants of the transitional pattern on flank and caudal-fin tip of adults (F–G). Click for detail.

Oh well

After the demotion of the Manta Rays, now this.
Looks like they've changed the species name of the mimic Zebra Shark. I first thought it was just a bad joke - but having asked my Zebra Shark guru, she replies,
Yes. I reviewed it as did Will White. 
They did a pretty thorough job with the taxonomy, though whether it’s worth changing the species name is open to debate me thinks.
Methinks, too.
But then again, they really did do a thorough job so this may indeed be it.

Le fasciatum est mort - vive le tigrinum!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Are we ready for more Sharks?

Good question!

Read this.
It pretty much completely summarizes this timely little scientific article, so no need to write synopses etc. In brief, those Shark conservation successes may turn out to be be fleeting - especially in those highly populated and/or highly tourism-dependent areas where Shark-human conflicts may increase as a consequence, see e.g. the situation in Cape Cod where IMO we're already only a few Shark bites away from the next Shark/Seal cull.

The authors write,
While widespread success in recovering elasmobranch populations is some time away, scientists, advocates and managers need to be prepared for societal conflicts that may arise when and where it does occur. In particular, implications for current and future conservation management need to be considered as part of conservation strategies in the context of how humans will interact and potentially compete with recovering species.

This will require, from the outset, increased public education and outreach regarding the potential future implications of conservation success and strategies to reduce conflict in order to avoid negative responses to successful conservation outcomes or the thwarting of future conservation endeavours.
That is certainly correct. 
But education and outreach can only go so far, and methinks that akin to what is happening in the highly intractable and complex issue of terrestrial human-wildlife coexistence and human-wildlife conflict mitigation, all will have to be highly species-, location- and context-specific.
And in some cases = where and when other less invasive approaches fail, we may well have to accept that some individual animals may have to be sacrificed so that their populations can continue to survive - see the paper's example of the Galapagos Sharks vs the Hawaiian Monk Seals that is highly reminiscent of Eric's Shark profiling proposal.

As always we shall see shall we not.
And anyway, I say, wouldn't that be a nice problem to have = so first and foremost, let's please make sure that Shark populations recover!

But back to more pleasant matters. 
Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

PS - Michael Domeier here.
Like him I abhor the illegal out-of-cage diving with GWS and especially, the Shark riding and molesting. But unlike him I really do not believe that any resulting bites would have any implications whatsoever on Shark conservation - rather, nowadays the victim would be rightly berated for having been a fool and the news cycle would quickly move on.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Surfer and GWS!

Please click for detail.

Wow - stories here and here.

Human Impact on the World’s Ocean - Paper!

Click for detail - you can download a list of the stressors here!

Check this out.

Prima vista, it sure doesn't look good.
But if you explore the graph at the top, there are also a few success stories where some countries like e.g. South Korea appear to have substantially reduced domestic commercial fishing (Really? Maybe only to fish more abroad...?) and also pollution.
Stories here.

The graph also clearly shows the principal threat
We can try and continue tinkering at the edges and reduce, recycle, innovate and manage, etc etc etc - but unless we successfully tackle Global Warming we're all going to be fucked. And yes little Swedish girls and global strikes, or whatever, are nice - but let there be no doubt that ultimately, the only way to achieve positive change is at the ballot box = and who needs to vote is not them but YOU.

Please do your due diligence, and go and kick vote the wrong people out of office, and vote the right people in!
And no I'm not particularly hopeful.