Thursday, April 24, 2014

Political reality in conservation!

OK, I know this is not strictly shark related, but how can we succeed in persuading our politicians to pass laws to protect our environment and endangered species, when they publicly violate the few laws they are passing?

source
This is a photo that Senator Cruz tweeted today. He's proudly posing with fellow Senator Lee showing himself "doing a little shopping for the office" You can see his tweet here.
  
Just in case you are not aware, that it is illegal to bring any part of an endangered species into this country, here is a quote from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's website. 

"Furs: Most of the world’s wild cats, including tigers and such spotted species as jaguar, leopard, ocelot, margay, and leopard cat, are protected. You cannot import skins or items made from, or trimmed with, the fur of these animals. Furs from seals, polar bears, and sea otters are also prohibited."

You can read the entire section on their Law Enforcement page here.

It is frustrating to say the least, when all the hard work that goes into passing a law to protect our endangered species finally pays off, and a law is passed, only to see the lawmakers themselves violating those laws.

At least these two were dumb (or maybe arrogant) enough to post their illegal activities on twitter.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good news on WA shark cull?

Western Australia has decided to open the shark cull policy to a Public Environmental Review. That is great news! There is a four week period for us to send in our submissions. They have not published an address for those comments to be sent to, which gives us time, to think about how to respond.
Swimming with sharks, cage diving, shark diving, are things Shark Diver is known for.
Once again, Dashark"s has put together some excellent information for you, in his blog today.

source
There are a lot of links with information, that help with writing an effective letter to the Environmental Protection Authority.
Best company to dive with sharks
You can read his blog here.

Along with all the links, Dashark also gives some excellent advice, and I quote:
"But please, be careful with those submissions!
There will be a formal process and those dudes are not those maligned politicians but people that generally know what they are talking about and that are able to distinguish good arguments from sharkitarian BS. So once again, please spare yourselves the insults, the platitudes and the pathos and make sure that what you submit is grounded in fact, for which you will need to inform yourselves.
 
We at Shark Diver wholeheartedly agree with Dashark on this point. Remember, we are trying to convince someone who doesn't necessarily see things our way. Give them reasons to decide in our favor and not reasons to think we are a bunch of lunatics.
As soon as I hear of an address to send your thought to, I will let you know. In the meantime, take a look at all the information and work on that killer response to the EPA.
Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver 
About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

Important information on the WA shark cull!

As most of you know, after the WA government stated that the shark cull was for a limited time, they are now trying to extend it for the next 3 years. The WA EPA is asking for comments from the public, and it is crunch time for getting those comments to the EPA and EPBC. The submission deadline is April 16 and Australia is a day ahead of our calender! So for all of you in Europe and the US, you need to get them in by April 15. Shark diving, swimming with sharks, cage diving, great white shark

"Da Shark" has put together a great list on his blog, with all the relevant links and suggestions.shark diving, swimming with sharks, cage diving
Click here and here for all the information you need to submit your comments.

Very important advice from "Da Shark", "As a reminder. Inform yourself before commenting and refrain from inflammatory language - remember you want them to do something positive, and they will not be amenable to your request if you call them names!"

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How many bull sharks fit in one picture?

On our expedition to Fiji last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to take the picture below. We counted 34 bull sharks in this shot. Great white shark diving, cage diving, guadalupe Island


Now Mike "da shark" tells me, that Sam Cahir has thrown down the gauntlet and taken the following picture. I think he's got 36 sharks in this one. Best shark divecage diving Isla Guadalupe





While there is no shame in having a professional photographer like Sam take a better picture, I gladly accept the challenge and will try to one up this picture on Shark Diver's upcoming trip to Fiji.

We still have a couple of spaces open for May 2-11 and May 9-18. If you want to join us in trying to set a new standard for how many bull sharks fit into one picture, please call us at 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275 email, staff@sharkdiver.com

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"Expert" advice on avoiding a shark attack?

The Huffington post had this nice article yesterday, telling their readers  "What Not To Do Around Sharks, According To The Experts"

I have to admit, I was curious as to what we should not do around sharks. After all, we can always learn something new.

The first think they mention, "Don't freak out!"  Fair enough, splashing and thrashing around wildly, is definitely not advisable in the company of sharks.

The second thing is "Don't try to escape by swimming and splashing away furiously". Kind of like the first one, but again, not bad advise.

Third "Don't turn your back to the shark!" OK, good idea. Not that I think you have to be an expert to come up with that, but like I said, good idea.

Fourth, "Don't completely rely on shark repellents" I don't think the general public relies on shark repellents anyway, but with those snake oil salesmen or women, trying to sell shark repelling wetsuits, (pictured below) it's good to point out, that there is absolutely no proof that they work.


Fifth, "Don't force a moment! touching, riding or forcing any type of unnatural interaction with a shark should be completely off limits. The growing number of videos featuring shark and human interactions can give the average swimmer the false impression that sharks can be easily approached"

Wow, now we are getting somewhere. This is really good advise, specially considering all the people who get bit by nurse sharks, because they pulled their tails. I really thought the experts nailed that advise.

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1386316/thumbs/o-SHARK-570.jpg?6

But,.........  they didn't leave it at that. They had to go on and qualify that last statement by saying
"Unless you're an experienced professional or your name is Kimi Werner (pictured above)"
Wait, you are saying if you are an expert (and Kimi Werner certainly qualifies as an expert, this being her first visit to Guadalupe and all) you can go and touch the sharks?!

The article goes on to say "But even the most experienced divers consider the huge risk factor when approaching a shark and only do so after making an educated assessment." So even though it's a huge risk, even for the most experienced divers, it's OK for them to do it? Even though it's illegal at Guadalupe to dive outside the cages, it's OK for them?

Of course, I get it. This is no longer about conservation or what not to do around sharks. This is simply  another one of these "do as I say, not as I do" kind of crap. What I really want you to do is "look at me, because I'm so cool!"

When they go on to say "More importantly, Werner and her dive partner never intended to 'ride' the fish, saying that the interaction happened naturally" , they really loose all credibility. They must have read my blog here, where I talked about how a photographer explained a picture showing a diver riding a shark by saying that the shark had a "very intrusive personality" Right, the shark wanted Kimi to ride her! I call BS on that!

This whole Huffington post article is exactly why these idiots are doing these stupid stunts. They get into the media. They get their 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately it's those kinds of "experts" that the media relies on, when it comes to covering anything shark related.  How can they quote an "expert", that tells people not to do what they themselves do? Aside from giving hypocritical advice, by giving these guys the publicity they seek, the Huffington post actually promotes the illegal diving outside of cages and riding sharks at Guadalupe.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

Monday, April 7, 2014

Come meet us in San Diego.

If you are in the San Diego area on Sunday, April 13, come see us at the H&M landing, located at 2803 Emerson Street San Diego, CA 92106. We are going to be located at the end of the dock. Look for our cages. Cage diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe. Shark diving at it's best with Shark Diver.

You can get more information on "Day at the docks" here. San Diego shark diving

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Shark Diver is going to Fiji

Shark Diver is going to Fiji in May! Our first expedition is from May 2 -11 and the second leaves on May 9 and returns on May 19

For more information call 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275. Email staff@sharkdiver.com





 Lets go shark diving!


Cheers,

Martin Graf

CEO

Shark Diver


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Is Japan going to stop killing whales?

I know it's not really about sharks, but wow! How could anyone that cares about anything in the Ocean not be excited about this!

Japan has agreed to stop killing whales in the Antarctic!

The BBC reports that "The UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling programme in the Antarctic" and states that "Japan said it would abide by the decision but added it "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision".

Read the article here!

So hopefully pictures like these are now a thing of the past!





source

I have to say that we as Shark Diver applaud their decision to abide by the ruling of the international court and are "deeply touched by the decision of the court" It's a happy day!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

Is everything what it seems?

My last blog sure has stirred up some emotion and sparked some debate. Some people have taken it very personal and have ripped, not just the activity, but also the character of Jean-Marie Ghislain. I always try to be fair and tell things the way I see them. If someone does something that I think is stupid, like riding a great white shark at Guadalupe Island, I call them out. When someone is lying to me, about what they did, I call them out on that, but I try not to question their character.Shark diving, cage diving, shark adventure, diving with sharks, swimming with shark, seeing sharks,
So what do I do when someone I called out for doing something stupid and lied about it,  does something good?...... I give them credit, obviously! I stand by everything I said about the activity at Guadalupe. What I'm about to write here, has nothing to do with it. It doesn't justify or change anything that happened there, but neither does what happened at Guadalupe take anything away from it.

Ironically, one of the actual pictures that we talked about, has been used to promote a new technology that could save thousands of sharks around the world.

Mike "da shark" has made me aware of that new technology "Aquatec" is developing. It could mean the end of drum-lines and nets, if successful. Jean-Marie Ghislain is one of the guys behind that company! I don't know, if ultimately this technology will be successful and replace drum-lines and exclusion nets, but I sure hope it does. Regardless, I applaud Jean-Marie for this effort!

Here is a pretty cool video, showing the Aquatec technology.





What we do have to keep in mind is this. Most of us really have the best interest of the sharks at heart. Some of us may do something that others disagree with. We may have different reasons for doing what we are doing. In order to accomplish our goal of saving the sharks and making sure that generations from now, divers will have the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in the Ocean, we have to keep in mind that we will all make mistakes. If we see something we don't like, ask them why they are doing it and be willing to listen to what they say. Even if you disagree, don't vilify them. It's rarely black and white and by seeking a dialog we are much more likely to get results, than by vilifying those we disagree with. Just look at how much doesn't get done in politics, by playing the blame game.

To Jean-Marie Ghislain, thanks!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

So what is really going on at Guadalupe?

You don't need to go outside a cage to be close to the sharks!
Yesterday I wrote a blog, talking about those idiot who dove outside the cages at Guadalupe Island. I used a couple of pictures that are posted on flickr, showing the incident. In response to the blog, I got a message from the photographer, asking me to remove the pictures from the web and also asking me to remove my comments. I removed the pictures from the blog, (I couldn't remove them from the web, since he posted them there) and posted his message here.

Just to refresh your memory, here is what the photographer had to say!

"Hello Martin, I am the owner of those images and I was very surprised to see them on the blog article you posted. I would like to ask you to immediatly remove them from the web as well as the comments that concerns them- which dont correspond to the reality in that specific situation. The person who is facing the shark had to push the shark away as it was a very intrusive personality and he touched it as little as he could and the dive was aborted immediatly. I don't want the images to be used in a provocative way when they don't reflect the reality of what happened. And I especially don't condone or encourage physical contacts with sharks, but in this specific instance, it could not be avoided by the diver- as I said, he got out of the water right away after the occurence. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon, Thank you, Jean-Marie Ghislain"

I posted Jean-Marie's explanation in good faith. I disagreed with his description of the incident, portraying the shark as being "too intrusive", but didn't come out and call his story a lie.

Now I found some additional pictures of this incident. Since I don't own them, I'll just put the links here.

So Jean-Marie, you say that my comments didn't correspond to the reality of that specific situation and that the shark was very "intrusive" Do you mean like in this picture? I can see that the shark is just intruding on the divers hand. How rude of him!


Or maybe this picture? The poor diver, just couldn't get away from the shark. Is this what you call "the diver touched him as little as he could!"

You say that when the shark got "too intrusive" you immediately left the water. Then how do you explain all these pictures? They show this diver with 2 different sharks, harassing them by holding on to their dorsal fin, touching and riding them. Is that what you call "the shark was being too intrusive?" This all leads up to the shark "Valentine" coming at the diver with an open mouth. Isn't that exactly what I was saying? Stunts like these will eventually lead to someone getting hurt or killed? How exactly did my comments not reflect the reality of this specific situation? You documented the "situation well"! You know how they say, I picture is worth a thousand words? Too bad that your own pictures contradict what you are saying.

So what's really going on at Guadalupe is this. Some idiots are illegally diving outside of the cages, touching, riding and harassing the sharks and then posting pictures on the internet to show everyone, just how cool they are. When someone calls them out on it, they all of a sudden claim that the shark was "intrusive" and try to portray this all as just a misunderstanding. 

Jean Marie, I call bullshit on your explanation. It's just a bold faced lie! You guys illegally dove outside of the cages and were seeking out contact with the sharks. It was you guys who intruded on the shark and not the other way round. Then to top it off, you actually blame the shark for being intrusive. I can only imagine what you would say if something actually happened to the diver. You'd probably call it a shark attack. Your actions did not just endanger yourselves, but all the boats that do shark diving at Guadalupe. If something were to happen, we would all bear the consequences. 

Jean-Marie, I removed the pictures like you asked me to. As for your demand to remove my comments concerning the pictures, my answer is not only no, but hell no! I stand by what I said in my previous blog  if you want to do the stupid things we are talking about here, go somewhere else! Actually, I take that back, I would prefer you'd stay out of the ocean!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

Response to "What's going on at Guadalupe?"

I got this response from the person who says he took the photos that I posted in this blog.

Here is what he said: "Hello Martin, I am the owner of those images and I was very surprised to see them on the blog article you posted. I would like to ask you to immediatly remove them from the web as well as the comments that concerns them- which dont correspond to the reality in that specific situation. The person who is facing the shark had to push the shark away as it was a very intrusive personality and he touched it as little as he could and the dive was aborted immediatly. I don't want the images to be used in a provocative way when they don't reflect the reality of what happened. And I especially don't condone or encourage physical contacts with sharks, but in this specific instance, it could not be avoided by the diver- as I said, he got out of the water right away after the occurence. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon, Thank you, Jean-Marie Ghislain"

I removed the pictures from the blog at his request. When posting the pictures, I linked the source, which is a blog, discussing what's going on at Isla Guadalupe, which I believed to be covered under the fair use of a picture. I'm sorry for the mix up.

As to how Jean Marie Ghislain describes the incident, it confirms my statements, that diving outside of the cages is a bad idea. It's not the shark that was intrusive, I mean, it is in his own space. It's the divers that were intruding into the sharks home! Aside from it being a bad idea to go outside the cages, it is also illegal!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

What is going on at Guadalupe?

The secret is "out of the cage" now! The news has traveled all the way to Fiji!  "da shark", just wrote this blog on diving outside the cage and manhandling great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe.

It has gotten worse and worse over the last few years. What started out as going outside of the cage, has gone all the way to touching, riding and even trying to flip a great white shark.  It seems like some unscrupulous operators are trying to "out-crazy" (if that is even a word) themselves, always looking to top what they did the last time.

Pictures like this and this (I removed the actual pictures by request of the photographer)
are not what we want to see coming out of Guadalupe! They are nothing but self promoting, "Look at me!" kind of stunts, that do nothing to help shark conservation, but everything to hurt it. What's next? Do a dental exam with a cleaning?

Mike got it right when he says "Somebody commented on another post somewhere else,  


Like a high stakes game of musical chairs, (that person) is at the end of a long record that has been playing for almost a decade. When the music runs out someone will find themselves and the sharks in a completely untenable situation. There will be plenty of blame to go around. 
Could not agree more. 

We at Shark Diver completely agree with Mike. We are diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe and would never allow any of our divers to leave the cage, leave alone touch or handle the sharks.

We also dive with bull sharks in Fiji. We don't use cages there, but do absolutely not allow any of our divers to touch or handle the sharks.

In the Bahamas, we dive with tiger sharks. Again, we don't use cages, but would never allow any of our divers to touch, flip or harass those sharks.

Some people are skeptical of us in the shark diving industry and make wholesale accusations, that we are doing anything for money. Let me assure you. Shark Diver has turned down many individuals, as well as film companies, who wanted to do some of the stupid things we are talking about here.

If you are curious about sharks and want to experience what it is like to come face to face with them, if you want to learn more about the sharks and want to dive with a researcher, if you respect those sharks for the predators they are and don't feel the need to touch, ride, flip or harass them, then we are the company for you. If you want to do the things we are talking about here, go somewhere else! Actually, I take that back, I would prefer you'd stay out of the ocean!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver
 
About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

The killers just off our shores!

Here is another stellar piece of journalism! The "Mail Online" has an article with the headline "The killers just off our shores" 

Now what creature do you think they are talking about? Shark diving, swimming with sharks,  
.... yep, a blue shark. In the article they state two things. 

1 "The recent heatwave is thought to have brought killer blue sharks closer to the coast of Cornwall than ever before" 

and

2 "Swimmers aren’t in danger from these sharks. They are highly unlikely to bite humans." 

Hmmm, say what? Killer blue sharks that are not a danger to swimmers!? Now I know about sensationalistic headlines, but contradicting your headline in your article seems to be something any self respecting journalist should avoid!

The article also has plenty of pictures of those "killers", calmly swimming amongst humans. 

The article also incorrectly states that 4 people have been killed by blue sharks in the last 5 years. According to the international shark attack files, there have been 5 fatal bites since 1910! So aside from contradicting his own headline, the author shows a complete lack of interest in getting his stats correct.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Another whale shark caught, sold and chopped!

A lot of people are diligently working to get sharks protected. Unfortunately, enforcement of these laws can be spotty, to say the least. Shark diving, cage diving, diving with sharks, shark adventure, bucket list, shark week, shark diver, eli martinez, shark conservation, great white sharks,
Slaughtered whale shark, photo Dawn.com
Here is report, by DAWN, of a whale shark being auctioned off, not in the dead of night, at a secret location, but out in public, with people posing for pictures with the slaughtered animal. Bull shark diving in Fiji

The article states “This is an illegal catch as we have received information that the trawling was being carried out within 12 nautical miles of Balochistan coast which is banned under the law"

All the laws in the world don't help, if the enforcement is not there. Along with the enforcement, educating the public is also of vital importance. I'm sure that most the people watching this scene, had no idea that it was illegal, and are most likely not aware of the importance of these animals to the Eco-system and their endangered status.

So spread the word and hopefully we will hear fewer of these kinds of stories.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Job opening in paradise!

I just got an email from Project Abroad they have an opening for an in country (Fiji) Marine Biologist/Field coordinator. I'm not sure if this is for the same position we wrote about earlier.

Here is what I got.

Due to further expansion, Projects Abroad Fiji - Shark Conservation Project is seeking a new Female Marine Biologist/Field Coordinator to join the ever growing team. Shark Diving, cage diving, shark adventures, swimming with sharks, great white sharks,
Your Role: 
- To carry out shark research in line with our Conservation Management Plan, under thesupervision of our lead scientist. 
- Coordinate scientific work with our international and local project partners.
- Help develop and grow future scientific projects on a local and global scale. 
- Train and educate research volunteers in all aspects of our scientific and awareness work. 
- Daily, weekly and monthly schedules. 
- Organisation and coordination of all field and related activities. 
- Supervise research volunteers on water and land based work. 
- Data collection, analysis and reporting. 
- Assist with diving, underwater surveys and equipment deployment and retrieval. 

Requirements: 

-Marine Science Degree or similar 
-PADI DM or higher 
-First Aid certification 
-Fluent in English, other language a bonus 
-Must be able to work as part of a team and willing to put in long hours 
-Very flexible approach to work Experience of shark research 
-Long term commitment (min 1 year) 

We offer: 

- 1 year contract with view to extend, subject to a 3 month probation period. 
- Basic salary - Accommodation - 3 meals a day 
- Comprehensive insurance 
- Return flight to your home country after 1 year 
- Visa related expenses 
- Internet and phone 
- Two days off a week 
- Excellent in country support and benefits 
- Working with some of the world's most renowned shark scientists and experts. 

Please only apply if you have the relevant experience.!

Only success applicants will be contacted.
Closing date for applications is: 31st March 2014.
Send a cover letter, CV and photo to Andy Hill:
Email: andyhill@projects-abroad.org
http://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/volunteer-projects/conservation-and-environment/fiji/

Vinaka!
Andy Hill
Project Manager
Projects Abroad Fiji

Good luck! This is truly a dream job! Living in paradise and doing something worthwhile, what could be better?

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO 
Shark Diver 

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Could our love for sharks be killing them?

How could our loving sharks possibly hurt them? After all, we want to protect them and are fighting those who are hurting them. Why would I even suggest such a ridiculous thing?shark diving, cage diving, swimming with sharks, Guadalupe Island, Great White Shark, shark conservation
OK, lets look at what is going on. I have written about what conservation various groups are doing here. This time I want to focus on how they are doing it.

Most of us are interested in shark conservation because we love sharks. This love is a powerful motivator to get us to act and and actually do something, instead of just standing on the sidelines. That same love for the sharks is also what can make our efforts ineffective. We tend to argue from the heart and demonize the ones that don't agree with us.

Take this post on Eco Phuket's facebook page. It shows a spearfisherman who shot a shark, cleaning his catch. The comments range from "That is shocking behaviour bloody Neanderthal" to "We got to get this killer consumer out of the water!" How do you think this spearfisherman is going to react to being called a "Neanderthal" and "killer consumer"? Do you really think that will help him see your side and stop fishing for sharks?

Movies like "The cove" show the slaughter of dolphins and pretty much chastise the Japanese for hunting dolphins. They don't just criticize the way they slaughter them, but  the fact that they are killing them in the first place. How do you think the Japanese feel about the way they are portrayed in that movie?

When it comes to shark fin soup, there are plenty of people who just blame the Chinese for the shark finning that is going on. Again, we are demonizing a culture and it is us (the good guys) vs. them (the bad guys) Aside from the fact that it is not just the Chinese that are to blame, ( watch the video below) it is simply not helpful.


Guang Zhou Market for Sea Shepherd USA from Gary Stokes on Vimeo.

I think the first thing we have to do is realize that a shark is just a fish and a dolphin is just an animal. The issue is not weather we love them or not, but rather is the taking of these animals sustainable, is the killing humane etc.  To give you an example, most of you who read this are probably living in the western world and being used to its customs. So when we attack the Japanese for eating dolphins, the Chinese for eating shark fin soup and the Koreans for eating dogs, because it's just not cool to eat those animals, we don't consider what other cultures, ie: India must think about our custom of eating "holy cows".

I know, it hurts to see a shark killed, a dolphin slaughtered or a dog eaten, but if we demonize the ones that are doing it, we won't really get them to change. It's just like in politics each side is just blaming and demonizing the other and nothing gets done.

It's easy to get fellow conservationists to agree with us, but how do we get those who don't agree with us, to see our way? As painful as it might be, we actually have to seek a dialogue with those who don't see things our way. There are many individuals and organizations that get it and are doing exactly that.

In Fiji, Beqa Adventure divers helped establish the shark reef marine reserve, which included involving 3 fishing villages who's fishermen agreed not to fish in that area in exchange for receiving a fee from all divers, diving in that area. After 10 years of protecting shark reef, a fisherman told Mike Neumann that before the shark reef marine reserve was established, he could not catch any fish from shore, but now there are plenty of fish there, a spillover effect. This is a great example of conservationist seeking a dialogue with the fishermen and working together to make changes.

Another example is the shark friendly marinas project. By talking to marinas that are home to many sportfishermen, it got some of those marinas to agree to not allow any caught sharks to be landed there. Again, this project is relying on seeking a dialogue with those who are fishing for sharks and make them aware of the problem associated with shark fishing.

Yet another example are fishing tournaments. Guy Harvey is someone well known in the fishing industry and a sponsor of many fishing tournaments. It's easy to condemn shark fishing tournaments, and demonize the fishermen participating in it. But here is how I see it. Instead of having a tournament that catches and kills the sharks, they now catch, tag and release the sharks. Is this ideal? Do all the released sharks survive? No, of course not. But it is way better than the catch and kill tournaments and it makes the fishermen involved in the conservation efforts. Also Guy Harvey, a fisherman, supports many other ocean related conservation efforts.

And who would have thought that the consumption of shark fin soup in China could decline by 70%? Efforts by various groups and Chinese celebrities have turned the tide and it's no longer considered fashionable to serve shark fin soup in China. Again, education and working with a culture instead of against it, has shown results.

It is perfectly fine to love and care about the sharks! I do! We just have to remember that in order to change things, we should seek a dialogue with those who don't see things our way and not just condemn and demonize them. If we only accept a world where nobody kills any sharks and we are not willing to compromise, we will never get things to change. We also have to be prepared to be attacked and ridiculed by our fellow conservationists, for working with the "enemy". Personally, if I can do something that saves just one shark, I don't care what anyone thinks. If they call me a traitor for supporting a catch and release tournament, so be it. For me it's not about the praise of my fellow shark lovers, but about saving the sharks.

OK enough of my rant, I just had to get this off my chest.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Man attacks shark! Sharks are demanding "man cull" to mitigate the danger!

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, a man was attacked by a wobegong shark. The article states that "Mr Porter had no advance warning when he was attacked.
“I had no idea what was happening — it just clamped on and that was the first I knew about it,” Mr Porter told The Daily Telegraph today. “It sort of bit through the flipper and went through to my foot.”Shark diving is fun. Diving with Great white shark. Swimming with Bull sharks, cage diving with Tiger sharks
Wait a second, the shark "attacked" Mr. Porter? Wobegong sharks are carpet sharks, that usually rely on their camouflage to hide from prey, so they can ambush it. So most likely what happened is that Mr. Porter stepped on the shark, which bit him in return.

Wouldn't it be more accurate to have a headline that says "Port Macquarie shark bites man after being attacked by him"? Shark had no advanced warning, when Mr porter viciously stepped on it's head!

Injuries caused by shark bite
And the injuries to the man you ask?  Here is a picture of the "severe" wound the "shark attack" has left on the "victim"

Now this type of human/shark interaction is really what I call worthy of newspaper headlines. There are thousands of people who step on a stingray each year and get stung in return, in some cases causing injuries more severe than the ones caused by this shark bite.  Do you recall any newspaper headlines describing those incidents? As soon as a shark is involved, there are headlines, it's always characterized as an "attack" and it almost never states that it was provoked.

Where is the harm in having headlines like this? You may be aware of the shark cull that is going in Australia right now. It is mostly based on the public's fear of sharks and has very little to do with actually protecting the people. Headlines like these, perpetuate that fear and can cause real harm, not only to the sharks, but the entire ocean Eco system in turn.

I know I'm banging my head a against a wall, but had to get this off my chest.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

 About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdivercom.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Last day to bid on a scientific Guadalupe expedition!

Today is your last chance to bid on a scientific expedition with Nicole Lucas Nasby.

Here are the links for the bidding.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261413040920

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261413042322

You can find more info on the trip here. All proceeds go to the Marine Conservation Science Institute, the organization that puts together and maintains the Guadalupe photo ID project.

Good luck bidding!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Are sharks apex predators? Does it matter?

We commonly refer to sharks as apex predators. Are they really? If they are not, does it matter? A few Australian researchers have come up with some answers to both questions.

First, are sharks apex predators? According to their findings, the answer is yes .... and no.

Example of an apex predator!
Here is what they found. "While size can be important in terrestrial ecosys- tems, size is crucial in marine ecosystems — which tend to be dominated by indeterminate organisms that grow continuously throughout their lives (Trebilco et al. 2013). Individual function changes due to onto- genetic diet shifts as organisms grow in size (Karpouzi
& Stergiou 2003, Pinnegar et al. 2003). The conse- quence is that size-structuring within communities, rather than species identity, is an important factor in determining the strength of competitive and predatory interactions (Dickie et al. 1987, Kerr & Dickie 2001). For example, studies have shown high overlap in diet between similar-sized sharks regardless of maturity state and species identity (e.g. Bethea et al. 2004). Therefore, designation of marine species into apex and mesopredator categories should consider the life stage and size of individuals."

I'm not a scientist, but what I'm getting is, size matters!
But so, why should we care? We are not scientists, (well, you may be, but I'm not) so what does a classification matter? 
Here is what they have to say to that. 
Example of a meso predator!
"Our size-based view of the classification of predatory roles raises important questions about what objectives to manage, and how these objectives can be best achieved. Protection of reef communities through marine protected areas (MPAs) or fisheries regulation (or indeed, naturally on those few locations far from human population centres) would ensure the mesopredator sharks on these reefs are sheltered from fishing pressure. However, the same may not be true for apex predators because their broad movement patterns and large home ranges (Meyer et al. 2009) would expose them to a greater diversity of fishing fleets and gears, and thus a greater overall mortality than the smaller-ranging, reef-dwelling mesopredators. Hence, the apex pred- ators of coral reefs may be silently eliminated by offshore pelagic longline fisheries, unbeknownst to those managing reef diversity and function (Cox et al. 2002). Therefore, reef-based MPAs are not adequate to protect these species"

So basically they are saying that we need to do more than establish MPAs to adequately protect apex predators.

Here is a graphic that may be a bit more clear on the subject.
 

This graphic shows, that without MPAs prey species would greatly increase, while both mesopredators and apex predators decrease. With reef scale (small, local) MPAs, the mesopredators thrive, keeping the prey species in balance, but the apex predators still decline.

 
In practical terms, this means that we have to protect apex predators on a much larger scale than the less migratory mesopredators. In order to do that, we need to know both where they are and when they are there. With that knowledge we can push for local and/or seasonal protection for these migratory apex predators. In order to get that data, we need data that shows the migratory behavior of the various species of apex predators. 
You can read the entire paper here.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO



About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Is Australias government coming to it's senses?

http://www.speakupforblue.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/WA-Shark-Cull.jpgGreg Hunt, Australia's federal minister for the environment, has released a statement to the press, "The Federal Government will require the West Australian Government to undertake a full environmental assessment of Western Australia’s Shark Mitigation Strategy."

Even though they can continue the current program until the end of April, the release  further states "However, as I have previously informed the West Australian Government on making the original decision, there would be no further extension without a full assessment.

Western Australia will need to refer the program for assessment under national environment law.  We will work co-operatively with the West Australian Government through this process."


You can read the entire press release here.

This is a good first step. Let's hope that when they review the policy they actually listen to the scientific evidence and not just the fear mongers in the West Australian government.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do you want to see the big "girls" at Guadalupe in November?

Our 2 science trips for this September have sold out in just a couple of weeks and we have been getting a lot of interest in doing another trip in mid November, when the truly enormous females dominate the waters off Guadalupe Island. 

That interest and the fact that our Great White Shark database is in need of pictures of the big, late season females, we have decided to add a special science expedition from November 11- 16.

We are proud to announce, that  Nicole Nasby-Lucas from the Marine Conservation Science Institute, the scientist that started the Great White Shark photo Id database at Isla Guadalupe, will again be joining us on this special expedition to photograph and identify the large females. She will also be sharing her research with our divers and showing everyone how to identify the sharks. So far the database has over 150 individual sharks identified and some of those individuals have visited Guadalupe Island every year since first being identified in 2001. It is amazing to see how those sharks change in size and behavior.


This expedition is a unique opportunity to participate in growing our database. Should we find a new shark, which is fairly likely during that time of the year, the group will get the opportunity to name the shark. Imagine seeing a shark on a future television documentary, knowing you were there when we first encountered it. All the participants will also get a copy of the photo ID book, containing all the identified sharks at Isla Guadalupe.

The price for this special expedition is $3300 and is limited to 18 divers. We recommend that you book early, since our last two science expeditions sold out in just a couple of weeks.


To book or for more information, call us toll free at 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275. You can also reach us via email at staff@sharkdiver.com

I hope you can be part of this exciting expedition!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is shark diving a threat to conservation efforts?


Our friend Mike Neumann from Beqa Adventure Divers is featured in this article on shark diving and it's impact on conservation efforts.

Mike Neumann lives in the tropical paradise of Fiji and scuba dives with large bull sharks all the time. In addition to having a dream job as a co-owner of a scubdiving company called Beqa Adventure Divers, Neumann likes exposing people to sharks so he can help improve the image of these misunderstood and threatened animals. “It is always inspiring to observe the awe and exhilaration, especially of the newbies once they realize that the sharks are nothing like the negative stereotypes,” he says, “but instead simply awesome and beautiful!” 

It's not all fun and games though. Eco tourism goes beyond the operators trying to make a living.

Neumann’s opinion about the benefits of ecotourism for shark conservation is shared by many scuba-diving business owners in the growing shark ecotourism industry, with more than 375 unique shark diving businesses as of 2011 (pdf). Recent research (pdf) suggests that these scuba business owners might be right: public perception of sharks is important to their conservation. For instance, Christopher Neff, a PhD student at the University of Sydney who studies the policy implications of shark bites, says, “Laws often save or protect what the public cares about and can punish what it doesn't. Perception matters a lot in terms of both laws and local responses to sharing beach ecosystems.” 

Unfortunately there has been a trend in the industry to do crazier and more extreme things. Some operators don't care about the possible consequences their actions have, not only for themselves and their clients, but the rest of the industry and most important, the sharks.

Image link
A new trend in “shark riding” has shark conservationists anticipating an accident, which would likely result in negative media coverage of sharks and potential consequences to the industry. This risky behavior includes riding, prodding, grabbing, excessively handling and otherwise harassing sharks. Sharks are large, wild animals, and their behavior can be unpredictable. So, riding or harassing activity greatly increases the chance that someone will be injured. Such an injury could undo the progress made by ecotourism to public perception of sharks. “These close interactions with large predators are always dangerous,” Neumann says. “Highly experienced people may possibly limit those risks through adequate behavior and safety protocols, but the increasing number of inexperienced copycats makes me fear that somebody will end up having a bad accident.”  

Now, if someone does get hurt or worse, we all know what will happen in the media. The article of course states it a lot more eloquently.

Based on his analysis of how the media covers shark bites and a “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality, Neff thinks that if such an accident occurred, the incident would make headlines around the world. Nearly 20 percent of media-reported shark bites in Australia since 1979 resulted in no injury whatsoever to the human, yet the language used in news coverage often perpetuated the misconception of sharks as mindless killers. “The high degree of attention toward shark bites makes them seem more frequent than they are,” Neff says. “Someone in Poland is seeing coverage of a shark bite in Mexico and someone in Montana is hearing stories out of Florida, so even though these events are really rare they appear to be happening everywhere all the time—so our sense of probability is off. The result is often more negative responses.” Neff expressed concerns that media coverage of an accident resulting from risky diver behavior would likely be inflammatory. Such coverage could be damaging to the scuba industry by scaring potential customers away, and harmful to public perception of sharks by perpetuating false stereotypes of them as seeking out humans to eat.
 
So not only would the bad publicity from an accident hurt the sharks public image, but the actual act of handling the sharks could have an impact on them.

In addition to the possibility of an accident that would affect much more than the scuba diver who was bitten, there are other concerns about excessively touching, grabbing and riding sharks. The physiological stress associated with this behavior is unknown, and could be significant. Mike Neumann adds, “I hope that everybody agrees that riding harmless species like turtles, manatees, nurse sharks, manta rays or whale sharks is totally disrespectful and moronic, so why would riding those predatory sharks be anything else?”

So what should we do?

Safe and responsible shark ecotourism helps correct misconceptions of sharks for countless scuba divers. And a “look but don’t touch” policy can help further shark conservation by combatting the broader public’s misconceptions fueled by media coverage of shark bites and the 1975 blockbuster movie, Jaws. The growth of responsible shark-diving ecotourism (pdf) has led to a new talking point for conservation activists: that sharks can be more valuable to a local economy alive than dead. After research showed that a live shark can be worth 94 times as much via ecotourism than a dead shark can be worth through fishing (pdf), the Maldives banned shark fishing throughout their exclusive economic zone in the Indian Ocean.

The increase in dangerous and unnecessary thrill-seeking behavior with sharks makes SCUBA divers, conservationists and researchers worried that it’s only a matter of time before there’s a serious accident that could undo all of this progress.

We at Shark Diver couldn't agree more with Mike's concerns. Our motto is "Safe and Sane" shark diving. We have been operating our shark dives for 14 years, without handling, or riding sharks. Our goal is not to portray the sharks as harmless pets, but rather as the awesome predators they are. We teach our divers to respect, but not fear our toothy friends.
 
Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.