Sunday, June 30, 2013


Gape swinging by to say hello on yesterday's Shark dive - click for detail.

Is Gape pregnant?

Possibly - but then again, maybe not!
She's what Obélix would have defined as tout juste un peu enveloppée, which probably translates best as naturally rotund, so looks may be misleading.
Be it as it may, the lady is a fully mature and very large Fiji Bull Shark and differentiating between her rotundness and outright pregnancy will be difficult, as evidenced by this screenshot from May = way too early for her to show any tell-tale signs.

A 30-foor Bull Shark???

Normally, it's quite easy.
Mating season starts with the Running of the Bulls in December/January and ends in February, and  during that time, we keep detailed records of any mating scars as evidenced by the below picture of the equally enormous Naughtylus from February. Thus, we usually have a list of likely suspects which in 2013 includes Sickle, Tip, Granma, Valerie, Chica, Nani and  Brenda
But Gape only turned up later and by then, any scars would have healed, meaning that we will have to rely on visual inspections and on personal intuition - and my intuition says, she is expecting!

I interpret those lines, and the wrinkles around the gills as being age marks - but who knows!

As always, we shall see.
If she is, she will become positively obese by latest September, and then depart for the river nurseries at the end of her 10-11 month gestation period which I would expect to be rather December than mid-November owing to the fact the that water temperatures (which influence embryonic development) are already heading towards positively chilly - and thank you again Fourth Element!

All pretty exciting, really!
Keep watching this space for updates!

Gansbaaii Research - Video!

Dolphinization eat your heart out! Yes this would be a Bunnyshark....

Great stuff!

But first.
Looks like I've offended the Megalobomb! Deeply no less!
Well, girl, live with it - in case you've forgotten, yours and mine are Shark blogs, sharp teeth an all!
If your quest is for universal peace and harmony, you may want to consider blogging about origami which is undoubtedly more cathartic and orders of magnitude less suicidal!
Or, how about joining the movement for the unicornification of Sharks, see at top!

Whilst the bloody infographic is yet to be fixed, this is really good - and I may add, this very much despite having been written and directed by Ed Edwards, broken soul, dementia and all!
Must be the therapeutic effects of sucking on condoms!

But I'm digressing as always.

Those Sharks are not a Conservation Issue!

Oh for crying out loud!
Watch this.

Transcript here - un-f-believable!

Or maybe, not so much.
Look up Tosatto's résumé and you will discover that he's very much in cahoots with WESPAC and their indigenous mumbo jumbo.
They were all present at the Shark event, and witnesses tell me that when publicly confronted about the NMFS fiasco, they came across as, and I cite, babbling idiots that tried to evade the discussion and didn't have their facts right when pressed.

But of course public discourse is not how they operate.
They are dangerous, and they will continue pursuing their anti-conservation agenda behind closed doors and could quite possibly prevail if not firmly put in their place - and that place is to act as executors of the instructions of the legislators and the judiciary, and especially, to respect the will of the public who is paying their salaries!
Public servants - serve!

Right now, the whole thing looks at risk.
But the conservation cavalry is saddling up, and the visionary Senator Hee and Pew are leading the charge.

And you can help them
Please do sign the petition and write plenty of personalized letters as they may ultimately tip the balance in favor of Shark conservation.
Instructions here.

Thank you!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

NE-Pacific GWS - no Listing!


There you have it.

The science has caught up with the BS.
According to George Burgess, there are not 3-400, but at least 2,400 GWS off California.
Dunno if this even includes the Mexican GWS - but in any case, talk about the absolutely spectacular! vindication of Domeier who first pointed the finger at the flaws of the Chapple paper years ago (scroll down) and got shouted down by the sharktivists, and also of Chris Lowe's guest post on SFS!

Once published, this will be the best available science.
But NOAA is obviously already convinced and has declined the ESA listing, which is the correct decision.

As a reminder, this is not about GWS protection in general.
They are already a protected species, and may well warrant additional conservation/fisheries management measures to limit bycatch especially of the juveniles in the nursery area.
But the super stringent and wide reaching protection under ESA is clearly not warranted.

And the CESA listing?
I'm inclined to change my prediction.
The flaws have turned out to be so egregious that the petitions have been deprived of any credibility and should actually be retracted. Not gonna happen I fear - but I just cannot anymore see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife exposing themselves to ridicule by confirming their provisional protection.

But then again... :)

PS interesting info here, indicating that NOAA did not see the Burgess draft paper, and that they themselves have come to the conclusion that the NE-Pacific GWS population may number as high as 3,000.
As for this editorial - not impressed!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Operation Blue Pride - one last Push please!

I'm impressed.

Where others fail, Operation Blue Pride is faring surprisingly well.
So far, they have been able to collect 20,000 bucks which is simply awesome and shows that others, too, believe that this is a worthy cause - for the veterans but above all, for the Sharks.
But... this is not even half way towards their goal, and there are only seven days left.

Please, do consider making a contribution.
Donations start at a paltry 5 bucks, and you can find all the relevant details on their Kickstarter page and on Facebook.

Thank you!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shark fishing in Tonga!

Shark fins in Vava'u - report here.


I just stumbled upon this.
The Tongans do eat (great quantities of) pretty much anything, among which Sharks, so I'm not too sure about the allegation that the Sharks are being finned -  but then again, read this!
Apart from the usual factual errors, the petition does contain some reported export numbers that may be useful for making comparisons despite most certainly being too low due to under-reporting.

That was only 4 companies with only a handful of boats. 
So what about those 22 Taiwanese vessels and their impact.
Likely not much when it comes to export figures from Tonga, as the fins are likely to be landed here in Fiji. They will obviously be declared as mere bycatch - and latest since Monday, we all know exactly what that means!

Just saying.
All of this is in no way surprising - but we're approaching an anniversary, and it will play a role then!

Keep watching this space!

Servus, Hans.

Hans and Lotte Hass, ca 1960 - source.

Hans Hass has passed away.

He was the first one.
This is Pirsch unter Wasser, from 1939.


Shark Feeding - Part deux!

Helen and Fiji Bull Shark - pic by Michael Sealey of Biodiversidad Ibérica

Bless Helen!

Here is the second installment of her post.
I could not agree more - including the fact that there is a local effect, this however not so much precipitated by the bait that is actually all being eaten and mostly leaving Shark Reef in the stomach of the Bulls.which do not reside there. For them, those Tuna heads are just a snack, and not very nutritious at that, and I have no doubt that they continue to prey naturally and fulfill their ecological role in their habitat.
Like I said elsewhere, we are very mindful of our impact and have completely stopped any indiscriminate dumping of bait a long time ago. As a consequence, the composition of the Fishes has changed from a rather low species count of 260 that was being dominated by small scavengers and predators, to now 480+  that is highly representative of any (non-fished) fringing reef along one of Fiji's principal islands.

The effects I detect are more behavioral.
Juerg is writing a paper on the subject, so I don't want to preempt his findings on the subject, the more as I'm yet to see any draft. 
But apart from the obvious conditioning whereby we are actively teaching our Sharks to behave in certain ways, I believe that I'm observing inter-specific aggression all the way to competitive exclusion among the various Sharks. And also believe that we've interfered with the diel patterns of at least the Whitetips that are usually crepuscular but on Shark Reef, leave their hidey holes to come and feed at midday. 
But at this stage, I'm obviously speculating, and Juerg will also need to answer the question of so what - even if there's an effect, does that necessarily mean that it is bad?

Anyway, thank you Helen!
Her endorsement is far from trivial.
For years, Shark provisioning has been the target of much skepticism from researchers and NGOs alike, and only recently do I detect a slight shift in positions away from outright hostile to at least benevolently intrigued. This is largely due to the realization that baited Shark tourism, whilst certainly presenting its specific challenges (especially when conducted poorly!) is never the less  years ahead of the alternative = Shark fishing. 
And recent research is also showing that whilst local, hitherto unqualified and unquantified effects persist, effects at large temporal and spatial scales are negligible. 

Sharks, it appears, are just different.
Whilst bony Fishes show all the typical negative effects of conditioning that lead to the well known numerous bites by Groupers, Moray Eels all the way to those notorious swarms of pesky Sergeant Majors, Sharks simply don't do that - that is, provided that who feeds them does so responsibly, see the reports about beggar Sharks from, say, Tiger Beach!

Long story short?
Come and see for yourselves - this is still the top season for high numbers!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Will feeding Sharks teach them to associate People with Food?

That is indeed the question!

Behold Helen Scales' cliffhanger blog post!.
Helen obviously made it, just, or she wouldn't be blogging - but what about the BAD boyz and the other customers on that dive?
Aahhh the unbearable suspense!

Anyway, it has been a real pleasure meeting her.
The term that comes to mind here is Renaissance woman: seriously erudite but not at all geeky, seriously passionate but not at all dogmatic, extremely well documented about the details whilst aware of the big picture, foremost of which the realities of the anthropocene - and seriously witty and charming to boot! Were it not for her decision to associate herself with a bunch of despicable splitters (and here!) I would have really liked her!

But I'm digressing as usual.
With bated breath and whispering humbleness, eagerly awaiting Part 2!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bravo Air Pacific!

A330 wwith the new Fiji Airways livery

First of all, sorry for the silence!
My computer has crashed - and the last days have been interesting!

Anyway, I'm gobsmacked.

Read this.
Air Pacific, soon to be re-branded back to its original name Fiji Airways has decided to do the right thing and to ban Shark fins pending the development of procedures for differentiating between what's sustainable, and what is not - and when it comes to the Pacific in general and to Fiji's fishing industry in particular, much will need to be done.
I'm optimistic - but as always, we shall see!

I say, well done.
Advocating sustainability and transparency is the correct ethical and practical solution, and it is also good PR. With Air NZ, Cathay Pacific and Korean Air all having decided to ban the fin, Fiji's airspace is now effectively closed to the trade.
And that's a good thing!

Big kudos to Alex Hofford for coming up with this initiative!

PS: Alex here!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A giant Cookiecutter Shark?

Click for detail!

Or what else takes circular bites like that?
An over-zealous researcher taking a fin clipping?

Anyway, meet Circle!
Like Sharkbite, she's brand new and like him, she's feisty and has obviously already managed to get herself into trouble.

Welcome to the family!

More Shark Conservation!

Tawny Nurse and jackass!

Check this out.

Story here.
Q.e.d. - I rest my case.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Morons vs Conservationists?

Apparently, people like these are disrespectful morons.

But this new age clap trap is Shark Conservation!

Whatever - right?

So, how is this any different from the first two clips?
I've actually said what I wanted to say a long time ago - about the self promoting bikini bimbettes, the people that abuse Sharks as underwater scooters, and the fallacy of trying to change people's perception, or whatever, by engaging in those gratuitous stunts in order to "prove" that those large predatory Sharks are harmless .
That's 1:1 Ritter - and we all know how that one ended.

So don't worry, I'm not gonna post another rant.
Instead, read the take of one of the most regarded GWS researchers here and here.
I of course agree with every single word, and so do all responsible GWS dive operators - the exception being the token hippy, stoner version of Dog the Bounty Hunter aka the EcoPirate who has established himself as the el cheapo no-holds-barred enabler of those latest stupidities.
Including the upcoming latest folly of Ritter himself!

I say, bravo Michael Domeier!
As Patric correctly predicted, Act Two is shaping up to be a good one! :)

Micronesia: Ups and Downs!

Not quite done yet - but getting there!

First, the good news.
Palau appears to be doing really well, this at least according to this well-researched article which I invite everybody to read. And, Yap and Pohnpei are well on their way to declaring national Shark Sanctuaries, leaving only Chuuk the odd man out when it comes to creating an awesome regional Micronesian Shark sanctuary .

The bad news being that other Sanctuaries are very much at risk.
Yes I'm of course talking about the threat by NOAA/the NMFS to overturn the Shark fin bans, and about the unholy role WESPAC is playing in the Pacific where on top of  holding sway in the Polynesian American Samoa and Hawaii, they also dictate what happens in the CNMI and in Guam.

And lemme tell you, it looks grim.
After my lasts posts about WESPAC, my inbox got swamped with mail from the islands spilling the beans on the dealings of the council and its members.
The writers are people of stature and I have no reason to doubt their testimonies, the more as the modus operandi appears to be uniformly the same: widespread corruption and cronyism, a general anti-research and anti-conservation agenda but above all, playing the indigenous card by creating a narrative of them against us - whilst at the same time brazenly milking the system in the certitude that the big  honchos in DC will always be too politically correct and spineless to ever ask for any accountability from those self-appointed indigenous leaders.
But of course and albeit being highly plausible, that's ultimately just unsubstantiated hearsay, the more as many of the witnesses are equally too intimidated to stand up in public.

But fear not, there are never the less some people with cojones!
When it comes to Hawaii, WESPAC and the unpalatable Kitty Simonds, you may want to read this (3. The Pacific Resolution ff) - this - this (un-f-believable!!!) - this - this (by indigenous bloggers!) and especially, this!!!
Bravo Patricia Tummons of Environment Hawaii!

And then there's Guam.
Please read Timbo's description of Manny Duenas here.
But now comes the shocking part - Duenas has just been appointed to the Department of Agriculture (that controls fisheries), and the comments already rejoice that he's gonna help restore the oceans back to local hands!
Talk about the fox guarding the chicken coop - and is anybody taking bets on his position regarding the overturning of the Guam Shark fin ban?

The question being.
Why are the mainstream investigative journalists not picking this up, and why is NOAA not investigating?

Like i said, this is the moment to make a stand.
Sign the petitions where the deadline is likely to be extended. - action alerts by Shark Savers here and by Shark Defenders here!
And if you live in the islands, make your voices heard.

It's your ocean, not theirs - and it's about time somebody told them!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Is this the World's biggest GWS?

Click for detail!

Quite possibly!

Ozzie Sam writes.
We had been at the Neptune Islands for 1 day and we had heaps of sharks, 18 in fact. 
We went down in the cage at the end of daylight (4.30pm) and I was just hanging out taking shots when I saw a shark in the distance. As she come closer I couldn't believe my eyes. This girl was absolutely mammoth and made the other sharks (some of which were 5m+) look like goldfish. 

Her mouth was so big I genuinely think she could have swallowed me whole. 
Without doubt in the 6m class, Andy thinks she is possibly the biggest girl he has seen in 35 years of diving with White sharks. You will see from the pics that she is not near full weight and may have dropped pups last year her ribcage (for the want of a better term) sticks out so her liver is not engorged. 

Enjoy.... Obviously the highlight of my short diving and photography career. 
Wow - awesome!
That's what I call a GREAT White Shark!!!
Also, nice to see that at least one has survived the likes of Hyslop et al and grown to become one of those elusive submarines!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bubble Ring on Steroids!

Story here!

Big GWS off the US East Coast!


And talking of increasing GWS populations.

Check out the video.
That's a big = old Shark - which of course leads to the question, where were those big mamas hiding all those past years!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mako vs Marlin!


The story and the pictures have actually been around for quite a while - but here is the video.

Kudos for the Shark-friendly commentary!
Bravo Alistair!

Census of the GWS in Gaansbai - Paper!

Really???  Source

Looks like the Megalobomb is human after all - did I just detect a soft spot for the researchers at DICT?
Read her latest post and check out the paper!

Where is the critical analysis?
That is, apart from whinging about the dismal number of GWS! Talk about the lady being totally jaded  - where I come from, 900-odd big Sharks from one single location is actually totally awesome!
Especially considering that previous white shark population estimates suggest that white shark numbers are small relative to other apex predators which is a statement I totally support see below!

Mind you, the paper is quite nice.
I was actually impressed - especially by the meticulous data collection, and by the various programs used for the analysis that are really quite epic. Boy things sure have changed since I did my few semesters of Biology courses back then in the 70ies!

BUT - of course, there has to be a but! :)
I'm slightly underwhelmed by the conclusions and also by the infographic, and this is why.

1. Mark-recapture

And I cite
A common bias in many mark-recapture studies is capture heterogeneity.
In our study we attracted sharks by bait, thus some individuals may have become ‘trap happy’ or ‘trap shy’ over time. This may lead to bias on estimates, but the effects of baiting on individual sharks remains undetermined. To address this, future work should focus on the effects of shyness or boldness in individual white sharks and assess whether they are more or less likely to appear close to a baiting vessel over time as well as incorporating such heterogeneity in behaviour in population size estimation.
This is also one of the principal flaws of the controversial (= flawed) Chapple paper, ie that over time, individual Sharks may develop gradual repulsion or special affinity for the vessels - but much more than that: some Sharks may never approach the bait, decoy or vessel to start with, let alone come to the surface for a picture of their fin, and this despite of very much being in the vicinity!
I don't know about those GWS - but when it comes to our Bulls, I could tell you stories about several known individuals that have been visiting for years and not once approached the feeder. And Juerg's paper also teaches us that whilst we're feeding, there are several individuals in the vicinity that we never get to see, quite possibly because they don't like approaching humans or also, because other individuals may out-rank them and thus monopolize the feeding area.

Long story short? 
The postulated bias is highly likely, is likely to result in numbers that are too low and the effect, whilst unknown in its magnitude, could potentially be highly significant = there may be significantly more GWS than postulated!

2. Population Size and Conservation Status.

And then there is the whole rare vs endangered controversy.
Yes, globally, there are likely not a lot of GWS  - but isn't that what is to be expected simply from their position atop the trophic web? Think about the famous pyramid - the volume at the top is tiny!
Also keep in mind that albeit being temperate water Sharks with a potentially enormous range, they have not at all colonized all available habitats, likely because philopatry is largely preventing them from straying too far from their established hot spots and migration corridors. Thus there are no reliable reports about established populations around South America or in the Eastern Atlantic (and David, don't you start...), with the only exception, i.e. the the Med having likely been colonized by a possibly single Aussie female that had lost its way.

And what about the number of GWS in their known ranges?
We don't dispose of reliable population estimates about most of them, namely the Med (likely very small); the NW Atlantic (more and more sightings but no census); the NE Pacific (currently in revision when it comes to California, but with no published census for the Mexican population), the NW Pacific (where there is little literature apart from sporadic reports of sighted and killed GWS from Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam - tho in view of the status of Asian fisheries, the situation is likely to be grim); Australia that boasts two populations but no published census (tho after so many years of protection, they may well be on the upswing); and New Zealand where research is still very much in its infancy.
And finally, South Africa where the present paper smells like the start of a country-wide revision of previous assumptions.

So yes, indeed, we don't know whether globally, they are 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000 - with my money being on the latter!

And if so, what does that mean?
Does rarity automatically imply that the animals are endangered?
To a certain degree, the answer is yes, and this for the rather trivial reason that smaller populations are generally more prone to be effected by risk - which is quite possibly why the IUCN has classified them as vulnerable despite of not really disposing of much supporting data.

Further conclusions, at least at this point in time, are however problematic.
Thus, comparisons to terrestrial species whose massive population declines and partial extinctions are amply documented, or that are trapped in a population bottleneck like the Cheetah are highly questionable. 
We simply don't know, and I've also not seen any plausible guesstimates about the global rate of depletion of GWS or about the carrying capacity of their global habitats - back then and especially now that the latter are likely equally depleted, see the comments about bottom-up effects! 
There are simply not enough data allowing us to make any such assertions, let alone proffer that this already threatened species may be closer to extinction than we previously thought!

I say, be careful with such statements!
Only because one local census results in numbers that are 50% lower than previously assumed, this cannot just simply be extrapolated for global populations! Just think of the California numbers that are likely to be trebled, or think about the dramatic increase of GWS sightings on the East Coast of the US!
I don't believe for a picosecond that Michelle Wcisel has stated that it was possible that the great white could be one of the most endangered species in the world - but the ingress to the infographic is certainly highly misleading, to the point that the sharktivists are already sharing it as the latest fact, see the image at the top!
It is not!

Anyway, just my 2 cents as usual.
But read the paper and make up your own mind!

PS: Michael Domeier's take here.
In all fairness and at the risk of committing sacrilege by posting a dissenting opinion, the paper does not claim to be anything else than a census for Gansbaai - hence if there are principally subadults, than that's what has been counted.
The question about the numbers of YOY, juveniles and adults becomes only relevant once somebody will publish a paper about the entire GWS population of SA.. Incidentally, that's another major flaw of the Chapple paper where the only animals that were actually recorded, and this in only two of the known aggregation sites were adult GWS.

PS2: more lousy journalism here!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hawaii - WESPAC vs Humpback Whales?

Epic picture by Marty - source!

Think WESPAC is only anti Shark?

Think again!
Look what I've just found - and yes, this would be yet another educational event by their very own Fisher's Forum!

And now, check out this!
Need I say more.

Hawaii - King Shark: From Manō to Jaws!

And talking about WESPAC.

Look what I've found on their FB page!
Think this is really about the culture, science and management of Sharks?

Or, may this be about one topic only?
To wit

And when it comes to covering the cultural justification for killing (but not watching!!!) the 'Aumākua - could they be going as far as to trot out the revered Uncle Charlie who will assure everybody that it's perfectly fine provided that he blesses each Shark as it is being landed, much like he does in his pseudo-cultural scam in Maui?
Questions questions! :)

Only one way to find out!
This FREE event will be held June 27, 2013 (Thurs.) from 6 P.M. to 9 P.M. at the Harbor View Center, Pier 38, Honolulu, HI. There will be informational tables, presentations, and door prizes, as well as a public discussion on the sharks role in Hawaiian culture, the science behind their study, and the issues that arise in managing sharks in local fisheries.
Yes FREE - as in paid for with you tax dollars!.

The real issue?
Listen to what Angelo has to say here!

Maybe somebody should go there.
Maybe somebody should make it a point to educate the public about the real facts and remind everybody of why, exactly, the Hawaiians overwhelmingly chose to enact the State fin ban. Depending on how the discussion is being framed and led, maybe somebody should remind WESPAC and Kitty that as government bureaucrats, their role is to serve the public impartially, and not to pander to special interests by engaging in unilateral activism - especially when it comes to enacting and interpreting the law, a privilege that is reserved for the legislative and the judiciary!
Maybe one could also take note of the identities and statements of the various speakers and interlocutors, and then publish them on some public forum - and thus make a valuable contribution to both public education and public accountability?
As always we shall see shall we not!

But one thing's for sure.
If any Hawaiian, whether Polynesian, Asian or Haole cares about Sharks, this is the moment to make a stand - yes, again!
Because if you don't, you can eventually kiss the manō, the 'Aumākua and a good part of your tourism industry goodbye.

Or is that what you want?

Ozzie Sam - Best of Show!

Click for detail!

Bravo Sam!
One of his awesome Mako pics has just earned him the rank of Best Underwater Photographer of the Year in the prestigious Our World Underwater competition.

Kudos - and I may add, fully deserved!
Sam's new Facebook page is here!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hat Tip - Paddle-out in SA!

Check this out.

This is how you do it.
It's about uniting the concerned community around a common conservation goal, i.e. the removal of the Sharks nets. The way I see it, this was about a moment of quiet reflection, about sending a quiet but unequivocal message to the authorities, and about documenting one's concern and respect for the Sharks that are being unnecessarily killed.
Compare that to the breathy, and misleading self promotion of some of those Shark Angels, and you can see why they never cease to irritate me.


Shark Conservation and Research in Fiji - new Volunteer Program!

Our new partners in crime! :)

And now, to some really great news!

Projects Abroad has just unveiled their latest, and I may add, greatest program and I invite you to check it out here.
I say, awesome!

This has been quite a process.
We've been pondering and negotiating about this for a very long time indeed as we wanted to make absolutely certain that our involvement would result in good science enabling us to further expand on our ongoing conservation projects.
In practice, that meant 
  • obtaining the cooperation and oversight of reputable researchers, along with adequate funding
  • formulating relevant research projects instead of the all-too-common volunteer fluff
  • putting into place a stable local long-term project management structure where we would retain an important role in terms of project oversight and leadership
  • ensuring adequate accountability in terms of progress, timeliness, budgetary discipline, communication etc, the lack of which has so often fatally crippled similar ventures, especially in the SoPac
  • and last but by no means last, avoiding any undue interference by any of the usual outside interests!
All of which I'm happy to say has been achieved!

Projects Abroad have been nothing short of stellar.
This is largely due to the Project Manager who brings to the table the rarest of combinations, i.e. a profound knowledge and passion for marine conservation paired with rock-solid project management skills, business sense and pragmatism. And, she's a dive instructor and highly experienced Shark diver with years of experience working in our industry! How much better than that can it get!
She will be in Fiji supervising the logistical setup and initial implementation of the various projects, and we could really not have asked for a better partner!

And the projects?
More will be revealed in due course - but in general terms, here's what we will be focusing on, this in parallel with the GFSC and in view of eventually helping to formulate robust data-based Shark conservation plans
  • Bull Sharks: nurseries, early life stages from riverine to reef-dwelling, reproductive and possibly natal philopatry, parentage analysis, population assessments, etc
  • MPAs: long term effects on Elasmobranch abundance and species composition
In addition, notable activities will consist in
  • Mangroves: continuation and expansion of MFF - where incidentally, excellent new developments are looming!
  • Shark and marine conservation outreach
  • eventually, cooperation with selected tertiary education institutions, NGOs and even government entities - when and where appropriate and mutually beneficial
Long story short?
If you're interested in making a hands-on contribution to cutting-edge and important Shark research and marine conservation projects under the guidance of some of the word's leading experts (!), this is the program for you - and this pretty much regardless of your previous experience as there will be a useful role for everybody, from total newbie to fully fledged university graduate!

Incidentally, this is not an alternative to the High School and College summer programs with our long-term partner Broadreach where activities are centered around attending Shark courses and diving within the SRMR, and vice versa!
Where theirs is education within the framework a summer camp, this is about partaking in ongoing research and conservation projects where activities are not centered around the SRMR - but don't worry, you will be given the opportunity to do a bit of epic Shark diving as well! :)

Are the US Fin Bans going to be overturned?

Please sign this petition.

Yes I generally hate petitions because they are usually so idiotic to be embarrassing all the way to actually being counter-productive - read this and then its counterpart here!

But in this case, I fully support it.
Factual and to the point, the aim is to send a strong message to NOAA not to summarily overturn the various US state fin bans, namely those in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
I hear that although there is cooperation among the NGOs on the issue itself, this does not extend to petitioning - so expect a deluge of competing products of varying content, stridence and thus credibility!
Sigh - always the same...

Anyway - this is really important.
Having started to research the issue, this appears to have nothing to do with the genuine desire to promote the sustainable management of Shark fisheries as (possibly) more naive observers appear to believe. Yours truly very much included - but contrary to others, I'm at least willing to learn!
Instead, this very much smells of a gang of bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interests - and the name that keeps creeping up is WESPAC under the highly controversial (a euphemism!) leadership of one Kitty Simonds.
I'll comment on that later but if you want a small preview, Google it and have a hard look at all the pseudo-native bullshit and outright rot that's being dragged to the surface by even the most cursory due diligence!

And talking of which.
Here she is trying to undermine the CNMI Shark Sanctuary!

Not threatened and not endangered huh.
As I said: rotten and revolting - the agency and its boss!

But that can wait.
Right now, the immediate issue is to prevent that those people overturn bipartisan (!!!) legislation that was enacted democratically, and with overwhelming public support. This amounts to an underhanded veritable putsch and for that reason alone it must be condemned and stopped dead in its tracks.

If the NMFS wants to discuss the issue, let them at least do so openly,
Not as an afterthought conveniently hidden somewhere (page 2 of 6 under the heading Relationship of Regulations With Current State Rules) amid the amendments of the Magnuson–Stevens Act that deal with Shark finning and are generally perceived to be pro-conservation. 
That is undemocratic, non-transparent and profoundly dishonest = typically WESPAC!

Again, please sign the petition.
This is both urgent and very much the right thing to do.

PS: and sign the Oceana petition, too - apart from the misleading under title, the arguments in the box are quite good!
PS2: you can also write a letter and send it to the Shark Defenders who will assist you and make sure that it reaches the correct people!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Operation: Blue Pride - You can help, too!


Please watch this

This is the kickstarter page.
I believe this to be an excellent initiative, and I encourage you to contribute.

Bravo to Sue, Jim, Shawn and George!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Brunei - awesome!

Brunei is Asia's first national Shark Sanctuary.

Kudos to Wild Aid and to Shark Savers!

Long Beach SCUBA Show!

Go there!

Our booth is # 415.
You will meet two truly remarkable ladies who'll be delighted to serve you!
We're attending for the first time and I hear that the interest has been overwhelming. This is part of our newly re-vamped US marketing strategy where we'll be rolling out a whole suite of awesome products during the course of the year.
Remember that contrary to what others may be suggesting, you will only be able to experience the famous Fiji Shark dive within the Shark Reef Marine Reserve by booking with us and embarking on one of our boats as we do not welcome other operators on our site.

Keep watching this space!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Small 300 lb Bluefin - vintage Video!

Aerial photograph of school of 400-500 pound bluefin tuna off Cat Cay, Bahamas Islands. The reason there are only adult tuna in the photo, is that they have come together for spawning. Source.

Amazing footage,even by today's standards - and this is from 50 years ago!

Which of course did not prevent some jackass from killing a giant 711 lb Bluefin off Boynton Beach  and posting pictures of his feat on Facebook - and this despite of the fact that the fishery has been closed since April 4!

Enjoy the video!

H/T: Lupodiver!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Shark Reef - off the Chart!

Click for detail!
It's that time of the year again!

Today was just silly.
Lousy weather and big surge - and despite of it, the action was absolutely phenomenal, with likely more than 70 Fiji Bulls putting on an amazing display. This is a screen shot from the boat with its super wide angle lens - and there are easily as many Bulls further up, behind me and off to the right!
Try counting! :)

The one in the foreground is Whitenose.
He's the very first Shark I've named back then in 2003 - then a real rascal and now much bigger and finally also with a modicum of gravitas et dignitas!
This is he in 2003, by the great Doug Perrine.

Three more weeks, and then numbers will start to recede.

Tiger Sharks and trophic Cascades!

Great stuff!
Check this out.

Yes the Heithaus labs have done it again!
The full paper is here, and here is the press release.

The take-away message?
  • Tiger Sharks are badass
  • The effects of these large Sharks are much broader than the direct regulation of their prey populations via predation and scavenging - they can also mediate behavioral responses that benefit the ecosystem
  • That's another reason why they should be protected, possibly all the way to restoring depleted stocks
  • When producing a PSA, make sure u got more than one video clip of your target species :)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

When Bull Sharks attack!

Big Fiji Bulls - another epic pic by DaMary!

Big, slow and mellow?

Mostly - but not always! :)
Story here!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Shark Soup!

Click for detail!

From today's dive.
As Martin correctly remarks, not to be confounded with Shark fin soup!
The big shark in the foreground is Hook, still faithful after 10 years!

I told you...

Da Pimpernel dancing with a Vacuum Cleaner!

DDS, somewhere, with very much better half Emily.

Hah - nice one!

Behold my friend Douglas!
The only thing I can state about him with absolute certainty is that right now, he is somewhere - either gallivanting about in search of the best diving, or savoring the finer things in life; or, he might be at home which begs the question, which one!
Other than that, the man pretty much defies description, meaning that I'm always ready for the unexpected.

Like now.
I would have never thought that dancing could actually be an activity he indulges in, as it a) is pretty pointless especially outside of courtship rituals and b) demands a modicum of youth, grace and agility!
Anyway, I was totally wrong - as so often!

Be bedazzled - and JSD, I trust that yer duly impressed!

PS: nice interview here - and spanky new website here!