Friday, August 30, 2019

High Seas: Sharks vs Fishing - Epic Paper!

Posted with kind permission - thank you! Click for detail!

Story here, here and here!

This is really beyond phenomenal - especially the tracks!
Just look at the GIF at the top - I mean, seriously, how bloody awesome is that!
Philopatry anybody? 

And the overlap with the fishing fleets?
Having spent countless hours looking for birds when trolling offshore, I know all too well that the prey is not distributed evenly but instead comes in patches, and that consequently, predators converge - and it only stands to reason that as we are supplanting the Sharks as the top predators on the high seas, their footprints will increasingly overlap with that of our commercial fleets, leading to high mortality rates both due to targeted Shark fishing but very much also due to (more or less) unvoluntary bycatch - see this rather recent report about the status of pelagic Elasmobranchs in the SoPac.
Earlier papers e.g. here and here - and here is also an important paper describing the grotesque irony of those fisheries being increasingly unprofitable, story here.
Anyway, huge kudos to Nuno and David - this has truly been a titatic endeavor!

Possibly the postulated well-placed (and well-enforced!) pelagic MPAs but that sure ain't gonna be easy (and here!) - and read this about the need to better identify, and then include those few remaining marine predator refuges! And what about the continued Climate Change-induced poleward shifts (and here!): shift accordingly?
Detail detail! :)

Yeah I know I know.
That's a lot of links - but they are simply a must as things are complicated!

Enjoy the paper and the links!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

CITES - so far so good!



Now everything will need to get formally ratified in the plenary session, and I got little doubt that it will. So well done everybody - and well done El Diego and Debbie for continuing to shed a light on the trade!

And what about Fiji?
As always, we are working on something - and should it eventuate, it will be good news.

Keep watching this space! 

PS - all have been adopted, and some endangered Sea Cucumbers, too!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Shark Reef - it's working!

Forget Tumbee and the Bull: we got Fishes, too - click for detail! Great pic by Jayne!

Great News!

The SRMR is continuing to be a success story.
We had heard rumors about poaching in the Reserve, and did embark in a series of aggressive, and also successful patrols together with the good people of the new Department of Inshore Fisheries - and although we are still missing some of the once ubiquitous larger Groupers and Sweetlips, and although some total asshole has poached our biggest Giant Clams, the effects on the reef are nevertheless quite encouraging.

Here is the evidence.
The indefatigable Helen of Marine Ecology Consulting has been tasked to do a survey of several reefs in Serua and Beqa, see the below map - click for detail.

The results are pretty much unequivocal.
The following are unpublished excerpts of her report, reprinted with kind permission.

General reef condition in the area 

Overall, from the perspective of coral cover and diversity, most of the reefs in the Beqa and Serua area are in good condition, and have both a history, and the future prospect, of having some of the highest coral cover in Fiji, showing resilience to, and swift recovery from, crisis events such as elevated water temperatures and cyclones. 

However, the numbers of fish and macro-invertebrates targeted by the subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing industries are much lower than seen in many other comparable areas of the country, and, particularly on the west side of Beqa, near Yanuca Island, were quite starkly low, some of the lowest populations this surveyor has seen in over 20 years of carrying out reef surveys in Fiji.

Algal cover on the reef floors of the west Beqa reefs also correlates with the extremely low number of herbivorous animals such as sea cucumbers, surgeonfish and parrotfish. Such algal films can retard new coral settlement, and suggests that the extreme levels of overfishing in Beqa may very soon be at the point where the overall health of the reefs may become impacted in an irreversible way. 

Effects of Marine Protected Areas  

There were four MPAs within the surveyed reefs, of which two are regularly patrolled and enforced (Shark Reef Marine Reserve SRMR, and the Kauvala Tabu at Lawaki Beach House). The other two are larger, and more distant from the managing communities, so the level of observation and enforcement is uncertain. 

Coral cover and diversity did not seem to be affected by marine protection over fished reefs. Fish and invertebrate levels were low at all sites except the SRMR and, to a lesser extent the Lawaki MPA and one of the two survey sites within the Cavity MPA behind Yanuca Island. The other three MPA survey sites were no better, or in one, case worse, than fished sites, indicating the importance of proper management and enforcement on the success of marine protection.
Please click on the below for detail. 
Of interest, the results for the SRMR are merely from the shallow back of the reef where we actually expect to encounter less Fishes compared to the highly productive frontal reef slope to the deep Beqa Channel where we dive - and yet the Reserve is still a clear standout!

Bingo - remember what I said here?
Convincing some village to declare a tabu is the easy part - but that it is only a start, and after that comes the real heavy lifting. One needs to train fish wardens (we have sponsored 5 courses and trained dozens of people so far), and then one has to engage in regular long-term monitoring and enforcement which is both expensive and bloody frustrating as it consists of tedious night-long patrols where little to nothing ever happens, and this often on the weekends where poaching is traditionally worst. And when you catch someone, the evidence collection and the prosecution are equally time consuming and laborious.
But it simply must be done - especially where one aggregates Fish and Sharks for tourism and has the moral obligation to assume their stewardship as a consequence!

So again, stop lying talking and start doing!
And to you out there: please do your due diligence - especially you clueless and frankly, terminally irritating  foreign chicks who fancy yourselves some sort of thought leaders and commentators of the local shark feeding scene!

Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

CITES Cop 18 - it's Complicatedl!

So here we go.

The postponed CITES Cop is upon us.
"Our" people are advocating the listing of the two Makos, plus the Wedge- and Giant Guitarfishes - great guide here. For what it is worth, I've said what I wanted to say about the Makos here, and I fully support the listing of those poor highly targeted and now critically endangered Rays.

But that's not why I'm posting this.
Whilst searching for background info, I've stumbled about this post but above all, this in-depth position paper by the WWF. It's great stuff and should you be interested in the topic, I warmly recommend that you read it.

It is also bloody complicated.
Like always, achieving lasting wildlife conservation = halting extinction and limiting long-term mortality to below sustainable levels -which if we're honest is really the only thing that ultimately counts- is way more complex, detailed and comprehensive, and also way more challenging than commonly thought, see e.g. the reflections about hunting quotas, or the ongoing nightmare of trying to get a handle on the ivory trade (also read this!), or those dreadful tiger farms, or the often difficult coexistence between rural communities and wildlife to cite but a few, some of which requiring compromises that may greatly challenge one's ethical sensibilities.

When I read about representatives of  183 countries, 56 new proposals and about 550 species being affected, it promises to get interesting to say the least!

So best of luck everybody.
And to you all out there, beware of pied pipers and simple solutions!

Let's go Shark diving - sustainably!

Friday, August 16, 2019

More Shenanigans with Tiger Sharks!

Shark conservation at its very best!

Here we go again.

Have you seen this?
Yeah that would be the absolute genius I referenced here.
And like all those other self promoting media whores in Ramsey's pathetic Ohana, or whatever, he is obviously a Shark whisperer. And he is obviously not molesting those perplexed Tigers for personal vanity and for camera = $$$. Instead he is, reluctantly, literally putting his life on the line for conservation, in order to dispel the myth! And to calm them down because that's obviously necessary! For the Sharks!
And incidentally, all this invaluable whispering, Shark conserving and myth-dispelling is happening smack in the middle of one of the few well enforced Shark sanctuaries where all Sharks are already fully protected!

And incidentally, where Shark feeding is currently banned.
And yes once again this umpteenth Shark stupidity would really be nothing new - or do you believe that those Tigers would approach the dude sans bait in the water?

I mean, seriously!
But worry not, it is merely a continuation of the same old tired and disrespectful shenanigans, and there really is no need to elaborate - just follow the link at the very top  and for the record, for once I agree with David 1000%!

And how about the following.
It looks like shortly after my recent post on the subject, the victim of that Tiger Shark bite has posted a third and much more graphic video of the incident.
Before the usual couch farting apologists start boring everybody with their interpretations and excuses: this is bad bad bad, and the dude is incredibly lucky that the tank took the brunt of the abuse and that he got away with only minor lacerations.
And because people don't stop asking - no it was most definitely not us, nor was it the guys down the road!

Really - what a fucking disaster.
And to think that for years, everyone there has been personally Schooled in ADORE-SANE!
Then again... :)

But I'm digressing as always.
Behold the video.

Let's go Shark diving - responsibly!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

El Monstruo - new Videos!

 Absolutely click for amazing detail!

Awesome stuff!

The saga continues.
This remains one of my very favorite Sharks, and I was really happy to stumble across the following videos of big, beat-up and possibly pregnant females from their possible parturition and/or mating site in El Hierro  - and how about the above, among many other stellar pictures by Claude Lespagne!


Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Freshwater Megafauna, too!

Giant salamander vs Northern Water Snake - click for detail. Source.

Read this and this.

It really sucks doesn't it.
As a reminder and despite of our very best efforts, most marine species are still faring better - at least for now, tho for some cetaceans with limited geographical distribution, the writing is clearly on the wall.

Papers here and here, great slide show here.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Cannibal Seals - Video!


So there.

This is for our long-term readers.
Blog aficionados will remember that way back then, after having made a big hoopla about a dead Racoon, Patric made another big hoopla about a string of then unexplained grisly Grey Seal fatalities in the Northern Atlantic.

I had already put the matter ad acta, but now I find this.
Looks like Grey Seal cannibalism is more common than thought, with new evidence coming from e.g. Ireland and Germany. And I've even found a paper, and video evidence from Scotland, to wit.

*WARNING - Very Graphic Content!*
           You have been warned!

So this is it - once and for all, promise
Let's go Shark diving!

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Mako Sharks - CITES Listing?



Great job by Shawn and Riley.
I'm not really sure that from a conservation POV, Makos deserve global protection via the proposed CITES listing as I would argue that contrary to what is happening in the Atlantic, e.g. SoPac stocks are faring rather well - but I certainly advocate acting in a precautionary and proactive manner and in that sense, the NDFs mandated by CITES will certainly be helpful.
So, well done guys.

But I'm digressing as always.