Friday, December 5, 2008

South Africa-Sharks-Nets-Conservation?

From the folks over at Beqa Adventure Divers blog this morning this is a serious issue. As with all shark conservation issues this one has many actors. The fact remains that shark protection nets and drum lines are an antiquated 60's solution to a modern ocean and to shark conservation.

It is using an indescriminate "anvil" to squash a "mosquito", we can do better. In the end it will be up to South Africans to ensure their own sharks survival and for the local shark diving operations to show leadership by addressing this head on. They are not alone, this is an issue facing commercial shark diving operations worldwide-loss of sharks:

The English version of Jérôme's shark film carries the following dedication:

To Ella and Mathilda
victims of man's madness

This is in reference to a recent spate of Tiger Shark fatalities in Aliwal Shoal.

Very tragic and very stupid, too, as South Africa benefits from a thriving Shark Diving Industry and has much to loose indeed in terms of reputation as an Ecotourism destination but also, in terms of tourism revenues and related employment opportunities.

The incidents have caused much uproar among Shark aficionados - but I fear, not much beyond that. I hope I'm wrong. In that respect, the comment by one "Anonymous" on a South African blog may have been prophetic. The author is clearly an insider and probably someone with a pedigree of getting things done (I got my suspicions...). He evidently also knows of the harmonious, dispassionate, un-opinionated, pragmatic and never controversial world of Shark Conservation, as witnessed by his choice to remain unrecognized - and by the ensuing comments!

This is what he wrote.

"Look guys,this is what? 3-5-6-7-8 dead Tigers this year alone?

If you cannot figure it out let me suggest the following things that can be done by YOU today to get some traction on this as neither you nor Julie-let's saver some sharks-really have a clue.
  • Start a damn website, go after the sharks board by highlighting who's on the damn board and why they are there in the first place. Any dirt on those folks? Find out!
  • Get some help from a qualified NGO like say, PEW Trusts, not Shark Savers as that whole message on a pizza box thing plus blog posts equals shark hopelessness 101.
  • Start making some real noise. You guys have hosted some of the top UW photographers over the past 5 years, leverage those guys to make some damn noise. Are they just in it for the image and money? If so shame on them, get them to start some action.
  • No shark petitions, they are as useless as third teats.
  • Local media, hit them up for action. Surely, in all of the media you have, there has to be a friendly shark voice. Find it!
  • Create and post at least 10-2 min PSA's on You Tube, yes 10, and get your dive buddies to spread the word and that means all those photographers you know as well.
If you cannot get some action from your own home waters then stop posting this crap. DO something better than this. These are YOUR damn animals and YOU have to make changes not the rest of the planet. Good luck."

Good Point!

Question is: what has happened since?

Is everybody over there (as in local dive operators, NGOs, etc.) working together and has dialogue been sought with the Authorities? As in, finding solutions?


Guillaume Foutry said...

This is without any doubt a unique blog you have here! I was wondering was is your opinion about this kind of tourism because shark feeding and all the things around seems to disturb these animals and makes them more aggressive towards humans. Do you know any means to watch sharks that would be more eco-fiendly??

RTSea said...


Opponents of shark tourism often use the argument that shark ecotourism makes the animals more aggressive towards man. Yet, what I have heard from respected researchers and from my own professional experience, that just doesn't seems to be the case. My biggest concern is that year-round feeding of marine animals in some locales might disrupt the sharks normal feeding characteristics, making them too dependent on provided food sources rather than hunt on their own.

But these are apex predators and the more time we spend with these animals, particularly in unsafe situations, the greater the possibility of being bitten. Safe dive protocols combined with conservative chumming techniques will provide people with the opportunity to see and be enlightened by sharks - animals that need our appreciation and protection.

Shark Diver said...

Hi Guillaume,

I think Richard covered what I was going to say here. The short answer is there are easy answers to this.

There are solutions but they require dedication, maturity, and open mindedness on all parties behalf to get things done.