Monday, May 30, 2016

Paper: does Shark feeding harm the Sharks?

Provisioned Whitetips at Shark Reef - at risk? Great pic by David Fleetham.

Bingo - very interesting!

But first.
Quick quick - download the PdF as it will eventually disappear behind a paywall!
And now, and I cite, 2008
"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.
And this example from the Coral Sea?
It's actually very similar: the paper reveals that the metabolism of those provisioned Whitetips increases by about 6.5% on feeding days compared to non-feeding ones, and that the according incremental energy expenditure is not likely to be offset by the feeding as the dominant Grey Reefies consume the bulk of the (calorically inferior) bait.

Click for detail!

Like I said, very interesting!
The authors postulate that even if the Whitetip Reefies were to compensate by hunting more, this would come at a cost to other activities like resting or reproduction, and that consequently, the Shark feed at Osprey is likely to negatively impact their health and fitness, albeit only minimally.
In fact, what is actually being bemoaned is that the Whitetips are NOT being fed but only inconvenienced and teased - think about those caged GWS dives where feeding is illegal, and draw the inevitable conclusions! :)

Not good, and certainly warranting further investigation!

And our own feed?
I'm not so concerned about the other Sharks as they don't usually rest during the day - but our Whitetip Reefies are certainly equally at risk. What however makes me slightly more optimistic, is that our visual observations indicate that they wake up and remain active for a far shorter time frame; and that contrary to Osprey where the operators dump the food, we do hand feed and have always made sure that all the Sharks get a fair share of the handouts.

But we will certainly investigate!
And on top of that, we will also consider handing them calorically superior food like maybe Sardines or the like!

To be continued - and do read the paper!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sharks in the Navua River - Paper!

Zero gravitas: Kira, Josh and El Diego - source.

Remember Victor?

Sure you do - that's the dude who  investigated the presence of Sharks in Fiji's rivers using LEK and TEK and later on, by fishing for Sharks in the nearby Navua.
Back then I said that there needed to be follow-up.

And there has been, and here is the paper.
Courtesy of Project Abroad's Shark Program, it documents a further extensive LEK survey along with 385 hours of fishing that yielded 2 juvenile Sicklefin Lemons and two juvenile Scalloped Hammers in the estuary, plus only a measly 9 juvenile Bull Sharks - meaning that a) either the breathy hype was totally unwarranted or b) that El Diego actually knows what he's doing but that something has changed compared to 2010 when Victor was able to catch 5 Bulls in a fraction of that time.

My vote goes to the latter - reluctantly!
Once again, the bloody peer review has nixed what I believe is the most important aspect, i.e. that in the meantime, the Navua has been subjected to massive dredging for gravel in mid-river, along with further dredging at the river mouth. Think that maybe, there could be a correlation with the reduction in juveniles as this may have spooked the pregnant females and/or chased away the juveniles and/or  destroyed important nursery habitat?
But who I am to say - right?

Anyway, the investigation continues.
Keep watching this space!

PS - and talking of possible Shark nurseries in Fiji, read this!
       Very well done Tom!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tiger Shark feeding Frenzy!

Wow - absolutely epic!
Story here - enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fiji are World Champions again!

Story here.
And now, off to Rio!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Maui Tiger Shark Paper - fucking Brilliant!

Wow - you must really read this paper.

Stories here and here, tracks here.
And here's even a bunch of video clips for the lazier ones among you - from exhaustive to easy all the way to basic. I must say, this is all very impressive indeed.

Epic stuff - enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lemon Shark petting: Conservation?

I really can't believe I'm doing this - again!
Anyway, watch - story here, rebuttal here.

So the troglodytes are molesting petting a Lemon.
No idea why the Shark is letting this happen. Maybe, like Cristina and Jimmy's Sharks, it likes the sensation, or has developed a special bond to some individual diver - or maybe it has been taught that this is conducive to getting a tidbit from the bait crate you can discern in the lower right hand corner. Who knows. But it seems to have initiated the contact, there is certainly no forcing, and  the animal is completely free to leave at any time, just like it does at the end of the clip.

Is this dangerous?
Yes quite possibly - but if so, only moderately so.
Blondie is clearly a conditioned Shark that is highly habituated to divers and likely to be rather forgiving; but she might once have a bad day, or get fed up of the effusions, and nip the handler. And if so, I can promise you that everybody will state that the diver was an idiot that had it coming, and that will be the end of it. 
Blondie will not get killed, there will be no Shark cull, and Shark conservation will be in the exact same place it was before the bite. Remember  - and did anybody go on a Nurse Shark killing rampage as a consequence?
Contrary to what Rick sometimes preaches, Sharks are not Bears and fed Sharks are not dead Sharks - at least not so far. I'll be happy to revise my position should anybody show evidence to the contrary - but right now, it's just yet more unsubstantiated speculation. Please, people: tone down the breathy ultracrepidarianism!

So - is this conservation?
Does it help dispel the myth and assuage the Jaws-induced nightmares of the populace like those folks want us believe? And if so, will it help reduce Shark mortality like asserted by the awareness raising and myth dispelling legions of self promoting image hunters, daredevils, media whores, mermaids, Shark huggers and bikini bimbettes etc that continue to propagate like fucking rabbits?

Nothing so far has helped, so lemme try a different approach.

Do people hate Tuna? 
Or Sea Cucumbers? Or for the matter, do they hate Tomatoes which they are now recklessly dispatching after having been traumatized by the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?

I mean, seriously.
Tuna and Sea Cucumbers are being wiped out because fishermen target them preferentially - not because they hate them but because catching them is highly lucrative. And the exact same thing is happening with Sharks - and I can assure you that not a single commercial fisherman will give a flying f#@k about Blondie and her molesting Addict!
And conversely, we do protect Lions and Crocs and Tigers and Polar Bears and other big dangerous predators without denying that they are dangerous!

Like I said, it's same old same old.
Jordan wants to sell Shark dives, and the Shark Addicts want to be somebody in Sharks, or whatever; and in order to generate the required noise and $$$, they are not satisfied to partake in what could otherwise be awesome wildlife encounters, but are instead resorting to those gratuitous, tired and I believe, totally disrespectful antics.
Nothing exceptional mind you - but instead of trying to play the conservation card by showcasing those stupidities and publicly blasting NOAA, etc, they should maybe also first have a real hard look at their own impact, i.e. at whether feeding = aggregating Lemons in unprotected federal waters right outside of protected Florida waters may make them part of the problem rather than part of the solution?

Just sayin'!
Let's go Shark diving - respectfully!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

False Killer Whales vs Shark!

That's a mouthful of teeth! Source.

Way cool!
Story here - enjoy!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Pacific Islands - more People, less Water!

Source - click (twice) for detail!

Not good.
Paper here, synopses here - and flying blind pigs here!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Eli - Monster Mako!


Love it!
This is good television, and good Shark media to boot.

Big kudos to Eli for a job well done - and for the cojones, too!
Although we rarely speak and although I don't really follow what he does, the tidbits I see and read document a remarkable evolution that I cannot but applaud. In brief, he really continues to grow on me - and I must alas also add that conversely, the abject jealousy and pathetic Wadenbeissergekläffe of his serial detractors is really becoming terminally insufferable!
No no names - you know who you are!

And the bloody flipping of the Tigers?
Like I said back then, it doesn't harm the Sharks; plus, now that it has been trivialized as everybody and his dog has started to copy it, betcha that it will be phased out sooner rather than later - the more since manhandling Sharks will lead to lousy scores on SustainableSharkDiving!

But I'm digressing as always.
Enjoy the video!


PS - talking of which, look at this - amazing!