Friday, October 31, 2008

Shark Fin Du Jour-Sponsored by Yahoo! Inc

Our new weekly feature on Underwater Thrills:Swimming With Sharks is the "Shark Fin Du Jour".

It's a weekly look at the NYSE of Shark Fin Products on the Internet-Sponsored by Yahoo! Inc.

We will take you into the individual sellers listed on that site and introduce the top companies, what species they sell and how many thousands of pounds of shark fins they have for sale on the global market.

Today our Shark Fin Du Jour is Horn of Africa Traders based in the U.K. While their commercial website states they are traders in Myrrh and Frankincense dried gum resins. Once they became a member of they started trading in sharks fin as well:

Horn of Africa Traders first established in North Eastern Somalia and our current head quarter is in United Kingdom. Our company specializes manufacturing and exporting of various products such as dried shark fins salted and unsalted.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sea Shepherd Whale Wars-Sinking to New Depths

Observing Sea Shepherd these days is like watching the last days of any long running television series. The final shows are just tragically anemic versions of the original.

And so it goes with Sea Shepherd whose messaging has seemingly become more important than actual boots on the ground efforts.

Case in point the heroically poor "performance art" that is the ongoing Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign. While accomplishing very little in 2008 the entire campaign did manage to globally embarrass the NGO community at large this spring and was punctuated by a series of high seas stunts culminating in the "Fabrication heard round the world" that of Paul Watson being shot by Japanese Whalers.

As a point of order we are strongly against whaling of any kind and do not side with nor condone the Japanese "scientific whaling" in any form.

Now it turns out the eco-antics of the 2008 whale season were driven in some part by an on board film crew who are now launching a 7 episode series called Whale Wars on Animal Planet.

Animal Planet's programming is known for "reality style" television, plot driven with little focus towards facts. It is little surprise that Watson chose this programming outlet to team up with.

Allowing a reality televsion film crew to essentially direct eco protests is a new low for Sea Shepherd and highlights a rudderless organization whose primary eco focus has been turned into "big media at any costs".

To say that Sea Shepherd has strayed off the NGO reservation is an understatement and for those camp followers who think this is a good thing it is not.

Eco enforcement is serious work-not stunt work-and those few that heed the call to the world of front line eco protest are professionals-not reality television stage actors-for a television series whose mandate is ratings and not long lasting and effective action.

White Shark Cafe-SOFA-White Shark Cafe...

After what has seemed like a decade of tagging and tracking the Marine Conservation Science Institute has published data from it's multi-year white shark study at Isla Guadalupe.

Pete Thomas from the L.A Times got the scoop.

As a side note the battle between TOPP's and the Marine Conservation Science Institute for the naming rights to the mysterious terminus point these animals gather at each season has heated up with MCSI's addition "SOFA" (Shared Offshore Foraging Area).

We'll let you decide which name will stick:


2. TOPP-"White Shark Cafe"

Editors Note: We like both.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Shark Wrangler-Mercy

A respected "Gray Beard" in the industry sent us this link today. The Shark Wrangler

This is no joke, this guy is "The Shark Wrangler". Here's a quick look at his bio:

...And, though he wrangles them very much "hands on" even riding on top of them when necessary, he IS NO cowboy. Ken tries to promote responsible handling of and passive interaction with all animals.

By the way that's a vicious little Atlantic Sharpnose shark pup The Shark Wrangler's got there in his hands.

Just in case you doubted The Shark Wrangler's street creds. Lord knows we didn't.

Derek Heasley-Shark Calendar

Last season we got to meet Derek Heasley from the U.K. His shark imagery is some of the best we have seen shot from a surface cage in the years we have been at Isla Guadalupe. His Tiger Shark work is also amazing. Derek has recently completed a desk top calendar and we thought we would bring it to you today. His work has been featured in magazines all over the planet:

Sharks-Description:A 2009 calender collection of various sharks. A great white shark theme but also tiger sharks, lemon sharks and Caribbean reef sharks. Also a few humans thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wise Words-Where Credit is Due

From the Oceanic Dreams Blog words to stop and read:

I just finished reading the new book by Seth Godin: Tribes. The book is essentially about "opportunities for leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, readers...etc." One of the sections is called "Where credit is due"It says that leaders don't care about credit...this made me think of the shark community: photographers, videographers, scientists, non-profits, activists, and the hundreds of online communities that have sprung up on Facebook and other social networks. It is unfortunate to see that lack of togetherness because too many people want credit - they want credit for bringing the media’s attention to something, changing a law, making a movie, getting a grant…the list goes on.

I see the bickering between people on Shark Group forums; I have heard that scientists do not like one another and that organizations refuse to work together. Too many people have their own agendas and are just using sharks and their misfortune as an opportunity to springboard themselves to “fame”. If everyone’s agenda was to save sharks - sharks would be safer today.Unfortunately I feel that our shark community has no leader and therefore not as much gets done and change is slow. I hope that whoever reads this does not in any way feel attacked-and if you do, you are probably one of the people that wants credit.

The section of the book ends with: "There's no record of Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi whining about credit.

Credit isn't the point. Change is.

Editors Note: Along comes one of the most insightful posts we have read in a while, Kudos!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Simply Amazing-Whale Shark Rescue?

Not sure what to make of this video. You're alternately cheering on the fishermen to save this critter and then...anger:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mark Addison Terrible Day For Sharks

Mark Addison runs Blue Wilderness shark diving in the Ailwal Shoal Marine Protected Area.

Today was a dark day for Tiger shark conservation at that site as he and his team discovered three stunning animals caught in fisherman's nets.

One of the smaller animals was "rescued" by Mark but the blow to this dive site is something you cannot even begin to imagine.

We'll keep you updated as to the next steps to be taken here. Overall it's been a tough week for sharks, highlighting the global need from Australia to South Africa for local protections and initiatives for sharks.

Here's the email we got this afternoon:

Dear all,

Today was a tragic day for the tiger sharks in the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area. Two animals were killed in the shark nets at Scottburgh this morning and we were able to free another little girl later in the day.

Kind regards

Blue Wilderness Dive Expeditions
see us at:
or call us: +27 (0)39 973 2348
fax: +27 (0)86 648 5072

Australian Marine Conservation Society-Update

Image:Luke Sorensen

We got the following update from the Australian Marine Conservation Society who are taking the lead in the recent government sponsored white shark kills in Queensland.

We requested contact information from them so divers, shark conservation groups, and blog readers could directly get involved. Here are the points of contact they suggest we all take a minute to register a complaint about white sharks being targeted off the coast:

Hi Shark Divers,

Thanks for the email

It is great to see you guys out there helping save sharks. Your blog is fantastic. We are all very impressed.

Our key shark campaign is getting the QLD government phase out shark fishing across Queensland and this ties in well to getting rid of the Shark Control Program.

At the moment, it is worth taking a shot across the government's bow on sharks via the shark control program, but alluding to the need to stop all forms of shark fishing in QLD (which helps our key message)

Proposed Ask - In order to protect Australia's precious sharks and secure a better future for Queensland's marine ecotourism industry, we call on the Queensland Government to amend the Fisheries Management Act (Section 3A (1)) to discontinue the Shark Control Program, and to commit to phasing out shark fishing in Queensland within the next 4 years.

Key background reference -

Key contacts:

Hon Tim Mulherin, MP
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
GPO Box 46

Cc: Hon Peter Garrett, MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
P.O. Box 6022
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

The Hon. Deslie Boyle
Minister for Tourism, Regional Development and Industry
Office 1 "McLeod South"
78-84 Spence Street

Let me know what else you might need,

Kind regards

Craig Bohm, Campaigns Director
Australian Marine Conservation Society
PO Box 5136, MANLY QLD 4179
ph: +61 7 3393 5811
Mob: 0427 133 481
fax: +61 7 3393 5833

Help protect our ocean wildlife. Become a Sea Guardian today!

Capt. Stanley's unlicensed, DIY shark dives

A few years ago I enjoyed a truly remarkable shark adventure taking a submarine down to 2000' to get knocked around by monster 6 Gill sharks (Hexanchus nakamurai).

What was remarkable about this adventure was that it started at a seaside Argentinian restaurant at 10.00pm and after liesurly consuming two bottles of red wine, some grilled beef and a coffee we boarded the submarine Idabel down the beach and were submerged in the inky darkness for the next 5 hours.

That was a few years ago, today Karl Stanley's submarine in Honduras is the hottest non commercial adventure you can do in the southern hemisphere.

Don't take our word for it, here's the latest this morning from CNN

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stinkin' Dead Shark Award October 2008

At the end of this month we would like to present the SDS Award to those within the global community whose abjectly abhorrent behavior towards sharks and sustainable fisheries or shark conservation warrants a big black eye.

This months award winner is:

Tourism Queensland who along with the Queensland Shark Control Program are keeping the fine white powdery beaches of the Gold Coast free of annoying Great White Sharks by killing them with professional grade shark killing drum lines.

The Queensland Shark Control Program has been in operation since 1962. If you would like to register your displeasure (we have) at the recent deaths of two white sharks killed by this outdated system here's who you email and call:

Queensland Shark Control Center

Fax: +61 7 3404 6900

Tourism Queensland

30 Makerston Street
Tourism Queensland House
GPO Box 328
Tel + 61 7 3535 3535
Fax + 61 7 3535 5438

Editors Note: Please make that call or send that email today. It's 5 minutes of your time, and for the sharks could mean everything. In today's oceans there's no place for publically funded shark killing systems anymore.

Mea Culpa-Unknown Parasites?-Bah!

Earlier this month we picked up a story about "unknown parasites" covering a dead Salmon Shark (Lamna ditropis) that washed up along the north west coast.

While these standings have increased over the past few years-we decided to follow up on the story today. Here's what we found out this morning and it's another case of media oversell...mea culpa we posted it as well:

Hi Folks,

We're following up on a story from last month about a young Salmon Shark that washed up on the beach covered in "unknown parasites". Did the autopsy reveal of what this animal was covered in?

Thanks for the follow up.

The Shark Crew

Hello Shark Divers,

Yes the parasites were identified and are quite common. The story itself got blown out of proportion, as most news stories do. The "unknown parasites" were not unknown they were just parasites we had just not seen before as we do not deal with sharks that often.

Have a great day!


Sharks Australia-'Hypocritical' over great whites

Image:Luke Sorensen

As we reported yesterday a 2.3 meter great white washed up on Mermaid Beach, Australia attached to some serious shark killing gear. What we had hoped was a "rouge fishing event" turned out to be a longstanding government planned policy to eradicate predatory sharks along the coastline. That effort killed two animals at this site this week (click for images):

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has accused the Queensland Government of being hypocritical for protecting great white sharks and also setting drum lines for them.

Two juvenile great whites - both more than two metres long - were killed on baited drum lines off Gold Coast beaches last week. The AMCS's Craig Bohm says great whites are endangered, but 12 have been killed on the coast in five years.

Editors Note: As a commercial shark diving company we're outraged at this senseless slaughter off the coasts of Queensland, Australia. In the coming days we will supply you with the email and phone numbers of the agencies involved with the shark eradication drumlines in the region. Don't bother sending in another shark petition, they are not effective. Direct and personal emails and phone calls are effective, and we'll be on this one for a while now. Policies from the 1970's in regards to shark eradication have no place in today's oceans.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

White Sharks in Australia-Killing Gear

This just came in. What's disturbing about this image is the tackle that is attached to the shark.

What you are looking at is professional shark killing gear:

A 2.3m great white shark washed ashore at Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast. October 16, 2008.

Photographer : Luke Sorensen

Editors Note: We're pretty sure there's more to this story than meets the eye and we'll keep you updated.

Sharks and the Media-It's about selling papers

Woke up this morning to the following headline:

New shark terror off local beaches

If you're reading a headline like that you know it's early summer in Australia...again.

Sharks inhabit a mythic place with the media, words like terror, and killer, are bandied about with storylines so weak that it's amazing people read them. This weeks white shark flyby of a couple of boaters notwithstanding.

Unless these guys were in a vessel made of plastic bags they were never in harms way, but that does to stop the media from hyping the encounter to sell some more papers:

"I think it could be a horrific summer, it doesn't look good I've never seen them that close." As the shark held the boat captive by bumping the boat, the savvy passengers decided to pull up the anchor and allow the boat to slowly drift before making their quick get-a-way.

Editors Note: We could use some shark reality with the media these days.

Friday, October 17, 2008

California Great Whites in Full Swing

Occasionally we drop by the Shark Research Committee's website for a quick update on the state of great whites in California. Looks like it has been another busy month:

Newport Beach — On October 13, 2008 Tom Cupp was surfing near the Newport Beach River Jetties at Newport Beach. It was 5:30 PM with a clear sky and moderate Santa Ana winds. Cupp reported the following: “I was surfing and sitting very close to shore waiting for the next set and a seal swam in front of me, maybe 75 yards out from my location jumping in and out of the water like it was being chased. It was heading North about 100 yards then it tried to get out of the water, but a man was standing on the shore. The seal looked at the man for a minute or two then decided to swim South. I saw the seal’s head surface in front of me three times and again it was about 75 yards beyond me. Trailing the seal by about 50 yards I saw a triangular shaped fin that was 18 inches above water. It submerged after a couple of seconds but I got a good look at the fin and it was a shark. There was also a dead dolphin on shore but it did not appear to have any bite marks on it."

Ocean Beach — On October 13, 2008 Ryan Sincic was surfing at Ocean Beach, San Francisco. It was 11:00 AM and the sky was clear and the ocean calm. He had been on the water about one hour. One marine mammal was observed prior to the encounter. Sincic recounted the following; “While surfing outside the break, about 50-70 meters from shore, I saw a very large black fin with a white base come up above the water level. It moved horizontally along the water for 2-3 seconds and then disappeared. It came very high out of the water as well, higher then dolphins normally do. The fin was probably less then 15 meters from me, so I got a really good look at it including the details of the markings. My first reaction was ‘that was the biggest dolphin I have ever seen,’ my second thought was ‘wait that was way too big to be a dolphin.’ I continued to watch the fin to see if would surface again. It did not. I went online to see videos of dolphins and Great White Sharks to compare, and the size and markings on this fin resembled the inferior side of a pelvic fin of a very large Great White Shark. If I had to estimate the size of the fish I saw I would say definitely more than 10 feet. I swam in toward shore near a group of surfers, one of which also saw the fin as well and said it was very dark and very large.”

Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

Sammy the Shark-Dubai

By now the world knows the plight of "Sammy the Whale Shark" in Dubai. As the story unfolds
this "rescued animal's" back-story has changed from one of wild animal care to wanton wild animal acquisition.

Which opens the door to an interesting story we can now tell you.

Several months ago we got a phone call from Dubai and an unnamed source who was looking to acquire "several great white sharks" for display. The source was wondering if our company Shark Divers was in the business of sourcing white sharks for public mega aquariums.

Naturally we were interested in the mechanics of the deal. How soon might they want these animals? One year. How many animals? Up to 5. How much per animal acquisition? The numbers varied but all told we were looking at $20-30 million for the entire project.

Which opens up the questions, the ethics, and the debate about wild animal acquisitions and large aquarium's desire to have and display charismatic almost any cost. While we're not implying the call came form this particular aquarium, the trend in Dubai at least at this time is animals at any cost.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Isla Guadalupe-Jeff and Pat Stein

Shark Divers Jeff and Pat Stein joined us recently at Isla Guadalupe For a couple who had been waiting a few years to experience the great white shark, this expedition was everything they had hoped for.

Trip Report

This trip is something Jeff wanted to do all his life. He was not disappointed. It was more than he ever imagined. We had never done anything like this before and we were a little afraid. The first time Jeff went down he was shaking so hard he could hardly hold the camera. But once he was in the water he had a great time. He gets tears in his eyes when talking about the trip and says it was life changing to him because he is so into saving the sharks efforts.

We have to mention how helpful the crew and Luke were. Pat was shot a few years ago and as a result has a foot that doesn't work properly. This made things a little hard for her to get in and out of the water. All of the crew were so kind in helping her. Also, the first time she went in the water she kind of panicked, so Luke took her a step at a time and got her into the water. She was afraid she would not make it, but was so happy he got her into the water so she could see all the beautiful sharks.

She saw so many sharks and some very close up and personal. Also, on the last days the captain took us close to the island so we could see the seals and sea lions and explained the differences between them. He also, told us about the history of the island. Very interesting!!

We also must mention "Skippy" the cook. The food was awesome!!! He was very nice and made exceptions in the menu with kindness and grace.This was truly a trip of a live time and we highly recommend it to everyone we talk to.

P.S Jeff says he would love to do it again.

Peace out, Jeff & Pat

Shark Fin Du Jour-Sponsored by Yahoo! Inc

Our new weekly feature on Underwater Thrills:Swimming With Sharks is the "Shark Fin Du Jour".

It's a weekly look at the NYSE of Shark Fin Products on the Internet-Sponsored by Yahoo! Inc.

We will take you into the individual sellers listed on that site and introduce the top companies, what species they sell and how many thousands of pounds of shark fins they have for sale on the global market.

Today our Shark Fin Du Jour is Mariss International Inc-india who can actually source Whale Shark Meat and Skin:


Shark blood 'offers cancer hope'

Here's what's wrong with this weeks story from Australia. It has the words "sharks" and "cancer" in close proximity.

For anyone in the shark conservation world we all remember too vividly the wild neo-scientific pondering of shark cartilage and cancer cures. The end result was a decades long rush for raw shark product and the death of millions of sharks for cartilage that years later proved no link between cures for cancer.

Now this.

With the numbers of sharks being killed for both sharks fin and sharks liver (squalene) the planet can ill afford another headlong rush into sharks blood cancer cures. Soon to be available on yours and ours favorite web portal

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shark Free Marinas, Bahamas

After three weeks and some great push by the shark bloggers out there we're happy to report the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative is a "go" in the Bahamas.

To date eight marinas have "agree in principal" to join this conservation effort. On the East coast there's some interest with a larger NGO to roll the project out there. They see how this would work on many levels to raise awareness about sharks.

We would like to thank the shark bloggers who jumped on this and got the ball rolling. You guys are the backbone of the shark conservation movement. Let's make some changes.

One website. One blog. One person at a time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Goonch? Yes, a Goonch Dammit!

Every once in a while we get a fish story that just sticks in our for instance this story from last week of the Goonch.

Yes, we know we're a shark blog but the story of a wild Killer Catfish in the high Himalayan Mountains attacking honest and hardworking villagers was just too juicy to pass up.

It could be the name that got us...Goonch, or the story...probably the name.

Anyway this thing stuck on us so badly we looked into it and "surprise" there's a mess of Goonch related websites out there if you're interested:

1. Killer Goonch Fishing India

2. Katmaster Forum Goonch?

3. Blogfish Goonch!

Always Fish for Sharks With a CPR Buddy

You can file this latest beer fueled shark fishing story under "Shaudenfreuder" or any other Nordic word for "You got what was coming to ya buddy".

Turns out sharks do have the last laugh sometimes, it also turns out this guy was from a place in Australia called..."Darwin":

Man Bites Shark:

"I just pulled it on board and it thrashed around a little bit and the hook sliced my leg," he said. “The hook did more damage than the shark. There was blood going everywhere. I reckon I would have lost liters. I had to lay down and Jacky had to drive the boat back in."

Aquarium of the Pacific-Sea Fare

Shark Diver is one of the proud primary sponsors of the Aquarium of the Pacific's annual Sea Fare event set to go off October 18, 2008. The crew of Shark Diver and some of our special invited guests will be on hand.

Sea Fare is an evening of culinary delights prepared by top local chefs accompanied by wines and incredible brews by local providers at the aquarium.

This special evening also includes a silent and live auction and their popular "Live music, dancing, and an open bar" in an after hours setting at the Aquarium.

To view several of Sea Fares hot auction items (including free trips to Isla Guadalupe), click here. You can purchase tickets at their special 10th Anniversary price of $100 each by calling (562) 437-FISH(3474)

See you this weekend!

Guadalupe Island-Sharks, Tuna, Wildlife

Isla Guadalupe is wild place. Big game fishermen come here looking for monster tuna, divers come here looking for the sharks that sometimes feed on the tuna.

Occasionally the two meet at the same place at the same time, usually with spectacular results as a recent article in 976-TUNA will attest:

"Guadalupe Island provides both agony and ecstasy for anglers fishing its waters. The weather can be flat calm or brutal. The fishing can be epic or dismally slow. The dolphins, fur seals, elephant seals, whales, great whites, sea birds and flying fish provide continual entertainment for the naturalist in all of us."

For those few who have witnessed the sudden and very violent 2300lb addition to their catch, these words are nothing short of poetic.

Shark Divers-Classified Projects

Since the launch of Shark Divers a few months ago we have been busy with interesting projects and proposals ranging from white papers on shark tourism to this latest project off the big Island that Luke Tipple is on right now. While the report he's sent in is a little "dry"-due to the sensitivity of the project we can only reveal a few details:

Sitting here in my makeshift office (undisclosed hotel in Hawaii) I can’t help but grin. I was woken this morning by the subtle sounds of the pacific ocean washing up on the shores of the Big Island of Hawaii and this is certainly a day that I don’t mind having to work.

I’ve been on Hawaii now for about a week working on a project that regrettably I can’t talk too much about. This year has been a record year for shark sightings on the big Island of Hawaii with many popular tourist beaches being shut down due to large Tiger Sharks cruising the coast a little too close for comfort. Partly due to this Shark Divers was contracted by a private company to assess the danger inherent with their ocean going activities. The necessary legals and non-disclosure agreements between our companies restricts me from divulging exactly what their product is but what I can say is that their technology stands a chance of revolutionizing the way we study the ocean. With military and biological applications and potential 8 figure investments (yup, millions and millions of bucks) this is extremely important technology and highly classified… and I’ve had the privilege of seeing it first hand!

So the last week has been spent diving and training with some really smart and very cool people, who just happen to have one of the greatest offices on the planet! I’m now shacked up in my hotel writing the safety manual and soaking up some Hawaiian joy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Isla Guadalupe-Shark Diver Olivier

You get to meet some amazing people in this gig. None more so than Olivier, whose enthusiasm for diving with sharks started way before he first heard these words over the phone "Shark Diver, can we help you?":

Trip Report:

It has been about two weeks now since I got my first fix. The world then rocks for about 2 days which makes every simple task somewhat of a challenge. Then the rocking stops, but the static images flashbacks in my head have not stopped, if anything they increased.

Hi my name is Olivier and I am a great white sharkholic.

I work in an environment where I deal with sharks every day, mean ones too . And I do it without the safety of a cage. The TV business is full of them, one hungrier than the other. The hours are very long, the pace is at best hectic, the tension high and my imagination is always on demand but I love it all.

Every time Shark week hits the discovery channel, I hit that either live or with TiVo. "Cage diving with great whites, I really wanna do that!" My wife of 11 years, the woman who I love more than life itself looks at me with her beautiful blue eyes and in unison we start reciting a couple of line of jaws:" You go in the cage, the cage goes in the water, our shark is in the water too?" Yeah... I really wanna do that.

I asked her a few days ago if she really thought I would go through with it. "of course I did, I know you."

There is now a beautiful great white on my enormous computer monitor. Enormous, I'd say about a 17 footer. Powerful, majestic and I took that shot as it swam toward the cage to check me and the other sharkholics out.

Guadalupe Island is truly magical. It is a place of beauty. The perfect setting for this adventure. You forget why you are there, until the first fin appears, even then what a rush. The journey was pure and fantastic, I found myself for 5 days with people sharing the same interest or fascination. There is nothing like your first time they say. well I had my first time 5 or 6 hours a day every day for 3 days straight and every time I stepped in the cage my heart was pumping like my first dive. Not out of fear though which surprised even me. It is one thing to say you want to step in a cage where at times 3 or 4 great whites are swimming around the cage, it is something else to do it all together. The critters all have different names and personalities. Jacques, Bruce, Pablo, Lucy, Shredder among others, My favorite? "Jacques" of course. He came by quite a few times, seems he was as curious about me as I was about him. Now it is entirely possible he looked at me and saw lunch. Why not? I looked like a seal and he is the predator of all predators. Yet in the cage I was never afraid, always in awe, but never afraid. I can't even tell you how many times the soundtrack of jaws played in my head and I am willing to bet that every single diver who has stepped in a cage with a great white heard that soundtrack at least once if not 12 times. I am so glad I did this. The Crew of the Horizon was perfect in every way. They know the animals and their behavior, they surely respect them all. They had great humor were very supportive and so helpful. On my trip there was a marine biologist who was nothing short than a shark encyclopedia . Perfect. Every question I had was answered. he was there to film, photographs the great white for a future documentary he is making. I gladly offered my services for any help he may require and I do hope he takes me on my offer.

Quite frankly I can't wait to go back and do it again And I will. I went from a sharkholic to a sharkaddict in one minute and I bet I am far from the only one. My beautiful wife got it and as much as she made sure every single part I was born with was still attached to my body when I got back, she seems to understand why I went even more than I do and for that I am and will be eternally grateful.


Documenting Science-DNA Sampling 2007

From the RTSea Blog today:

In my capacity as a filmmaker with a special interest in nature, I've had the opportunity to film some fascinating animals. Sharks in particular, like tiger sharks or great whites, can be exciting because

1.) you're in the presence of an apex predator

2.) they can be unpredictable.

In filming a sequence for Island of the Great White Shark involving taking a biopsy sample, the plan was to lure a white shark close to the cage to allow the researcher, Mauricio Hoyos, to take a small sample using a biopsy pole spear. Taking the hangbait, the shark turned unexpectedly towards the cage and there were a few tense moments as the shark, weighing in between 1,500 and 2,000 lb., thrashed back and forth, slamming the cage several times with its tail before turning aside and moving on. Being in the cage at that moment was like standing inside one of those huge Buddhist temple bells; with each swing of its tail, the "gong" effect of the rattling cage could be felt right through your bones!

While responsible shark diving means not exposing the "paying customers" to unnecessary risks for both the sake of the shark and the diver, researchers and professional documentarians often put themselves in less than ideal situations. As a filmmaker, you occasionally get to offset hours of tedium with a few heart-thumping moments of pure adrenaline

Record year for white shark tagging 2008

Your 401K may have tanked but for the understanding of Great whites and their migratory habits, it's been a great year:

Another tagged New Zealand great white shark has migrated to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia – 1 of nine sharks to be satellite tagged this year.

The 3.5 metre shark, nicknamed ‘Thomas,’ was tagged with a popup archival satellite tag. The tag records information on light levels (from which approximate daily latitude and longitude can be estimated) as well as water depth and temperature so that the shark’s movements can be tracked.

After a predetermined time (six months for this shark) the tag pops off the shark, floats to the surface and transmits the data to a satellite that emails the information back.

‘Thomas’ was tagged by Department of Conservation (DOC) scientist, Clinton Duffy, off Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait, in February. The satellite tag popped up at Swain Reefs, off Rockhampton, late in August.

"This is only 100 kilometres from where another tag popped up last year from a shark tagged at Stewart Island after having travelled over 3000 kilometres," says Mr Duffy.

Charismatic Megafauna-Anyone? Anyone?

It's kind of like a matra around here at U.T:

Charismatic Megafauna= Sustainable Tourism.

It's simple enough equation if you want to apply it to sharks, whales, or even these toothsome critters all you need is a good marketing department, some vision and some great critter encounters:

The newly-opened attraction, Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin, offers the chance to be lowered into a tank full of crocs, among them suspected man-eaters, wearing nothing more than a mask, snorkel and swimsuit or trunks.

The 'Cage of Death' is said to be "perfect for serious adrenalin junkies" who have perhaps become jaded with swimming with dolphins or cage diving among great white sharks.

The cage is hexagonal-shaped to stop the crocodiles from getting a grip on it with their fearsome teeth.It enables tourists to come within a few feet of several 'salties' measuring more than 16ft long, some of the largest in captivity in the world

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shark Fin Du Jour-Sponsored by Yahoo! Inc

Our new weekly feature on Underwater Thrills:Swimming With Sharks is the "Shark Fin Du Jour".

It's a weekly look at the NYSE of Shark Fin Products on the Internet-Sponsored by Yahoo! Inc.

We will take you into the individual sellers listed on that site and introduce the top companies, what species they sell and how many thousands of pounds of shark fins they have for sale on the global market.

Today our Shark Fin Du Jour is Escualia Market Spain who can source a staggering 220,000 pounds of sharks fin per month:

Company Dedicated To The Purchase And Sale Of Frozen Shark Fin's In The Market Spanish (VIGO)


About 100, 000 KG monthly

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guadalupe Trip Report-Second Times The Charm

For Shark Diver Steve Kuruc, joining us for us for a second straight year at Isla Guadalupe was the charm-complete with a surprise dead E-Seal:

Trip Report:

Thought you might be interested in a few words about my recent return to Guadalupe. I tend to be rather wordy, but with everything that happened I'm not sure how to condense it.

We were haze gray and underway, bound for Isla Guadalupe on Saturday, SEP 27. Despite the cloud cover, our crossing was unusually calm. It set the stage for what was to be an interesting excursion. The cover didn't let up, and so we missed the usually spectacular Guadalupe sunrise that I remember from last year. It did make for a very atmospheric arrival at the island, with clouds clinging to the cliff sides. We geared up and hit the cages. Diving in the second group, my first sight of the sharks this year was from the surface about 15 minutes into the first rotation. I couldn't wait for my time in the cage!

The sharking was fairly quiet that first day. They made a few passes near the cage, but remained below the divers for the most part. But then, all the fishes were acting rather odd (okay, I didn't know that at the time, but the crew of the MV Islander enlightened me at the end of the day). As Luke stated, when the experienced crew of a fishing boat tells you that the fish are behaving strangely, you know that something must be up. Maybe it was the new moon, or maybe it was the cloud cover. Or maybe we just weren't that interesting that day. During one of the afternoon dives, I happened to look up to see a carcass floating just next to the cage. It turns out that someone had noticed the elephant seal carcass floating nearby, and arranged to have it towed to our boat. Needless to say, we were all interested in what this might bring. As it turns out, for that first day, not too much. One shark nosed around the carcass briefly, but seemed to lose interest and swam off. After the day's diving was concluded, we decided that the carcass was worth hanging on to for the night, despite the rather interesting aroma it brought to the deck. We all went to sleep wondering if it would be there in the morning.

Day 2 started early for me. I was out on the deck at about 0600 talking with the other early birds and waiting for breakfast (excellent as was every meal, thanks, Skippy!). I happened to be gazing toward the carcass (which had indeed survived the night), when suddenly a white pointer hit the 'head' of the dead seal. I can't possibly describe the power as the shark breached, and then arced over the seal. With a shout of 'Shark on the carcass!' I ran to grab my camera and wake up anyone still asleep. The shark circled the seal for about 10 or 15 minutes, and devoured everything except the entrails. Definitely one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. This set the stage for another interesting day of diving.

Once again the sharks were quiet, staying relatively deep. When the sharks were out of sight, we were treated to another amazing sight. Several yellow fin tuna took an interest in us, and in the hang baits. They put on a spectacular show, moving around at incredible speeds. I saw as many as four tuna around the cages when the sharks were away. Though I missed it, one diver saw a shortfin mako make a quick circuit beneath the cages before heading away. Divers also witnessed what might have been mating behavior, with a male great white nipping at the fins of a female. Definitely an interesting sight seeing the same, larger female submit to these attentions by rolling on her back under the Islander. The highlight for me, though, had to be the afternoon arrival of one of the largest sharks I've ever seen. She was 15 or 16 feet, and as big around as my Wrangler! It's strange how easily I forget about the girth of these animals. She moved gracefully around the cages, showing a modest interest in the hang baits. Comparing notes at the end of the day, we divers were fairly certain that this was Sarah, one of the known returnees to Guadalupe. Even Luke and Oscar thought this might have been she.

A quick digression. The opportunity for education on these expeditions is incredible! Last year we were treated to a presentation by Mauricio Hoyas, a doctoral student studying the feeding habits of great whites at Guadalupe. This year we were incredibly lucky to be joined by renowned shark researcher Dr.Oscar Sosa. I thought that I would wear out my welcome with Oscar, cornering him at every opportunity to discuss great whites and sharks in general. Mr. Sosa never seemed to grow weary of talking with me, or any my fellow divers, and graciously shared his great knowledge with all who were interested. Definitely another reason to do everything I can to continue diving with your operation.

A rapid change in weather, and the advent of a strong and very hot wind blowing over the island, forced us to change our anchorage during the evening. Day three got off to another quiet start, but Sarah's return and evident interest in the divers quickly cheered everyone. Exiting the cage after the expedition's last dive, I begged 'Daddy' Luke to stay out for just 10 more minutes. Sadly, we prepared for a return to Ensenada. After a brief sea tour of the island, we departed on seas that were, once again, unusually calm. Our journey home included flying fish, a lone blue shark on the surface, and a blue whale off in the distance. It almost made up for having to leave the island.

Though it's the norm for them, I still feel the need to comment on Luke and the crew of the MV Islander. Being lucky enough to return for the second year, I felt a kinship with the crew. And they were kind enough reciprocate. All behaved professionally at all times, and went out of their way to attend to the comfort of the divers. Friendly, knowledgeabe, hardworking... go ahead and throw out any other cliche because it will be true of this crew. From the wonderful meals to spending an evening on the bridge with Captian John (who indulged my need for a Monday Night Football fix by listening to the game with me), every aspect of my time on the ship was, once again, one of the most enjoyable times of my life. I'll continue to dive with as long as I can, and will plead with everyone to experience this at least once. See you at Tiger Beach!


Scuba Diving Magazine-Guadalupe Coverage

Editor Travis Marshall with Scuba Diving Magazine broke the Isla Guadalupe chumming controversy in September.

In the next few months more articles about this ongoing declaration and controversy with the MX Navy banning chumming at this pristine site will be forthcoming.

Our goal is to keep divers informed and direct the conversation into sustainable solutions. If this unique dive site is to survive and flourish cross border cooperation and unified direction will have to happen here.

The options for not doing anything are no longer available. As we have been blogging about for a while now, the commercial shark diving industry is linked. What happens at one site reverberates around the world to others.

The fate of the ban on chumming is being eagerly watched by proponents for and against commercial shark diving worldwide.

Shark Capital of the World-Volusia Florida

"You say Barracuda people say hun, what?...You say shark"...heck you know the rest.

So what's up with Volusia County, Florida anyway? This year they celebrated, or rather completely ignored the fact they have become the defacto shark bite capitol of America with a record 22 bites (no deaths) and counting as of last month.

What's a seaside county to do?

We say embrace your sharks and do several things:

1. Adopt the sharks. People will come for miles to see sharks, shark tourism will boost your local economy by at least 20%

2. Educate your tourist. What an amazing platform to educate people about sharks and sytematically debunk the fears of sharks

3. Celebrate the Volusia County Shark Festival-that's a novel idea

Now we know there are many of you reading this saying "you're crazy", perhaps we are. But we are also veteran commercial shark guys who have been in adventure tourism for almost 18 years. We know what works when it comes to sharks and shark tourism.

If you look on the counties website you'll note an almost 1970's whitewash about sharks, attacks, and the beaches of Volusia.

"Shark tourism" is not a bad word, and when the city managers in Volusia come to realize this they will also come to understand the power of the shark for commercial and sustainable gain.

Australia-Goonch This!

Australia is one dangerous place. With more critters out to kill you than any other place on the planet today's croc story was no real surprise. As our readers know-if it happens in Australia we cover it:

Aussies Flee "Terror Shark"-Cirque Cast Member Saves Beachgoers

Australia-Things that kill the things that will kill you

Shark vs Croc=Crikey, Great Shot!

Record Shark Taken-Eco Debate

Goonch Attack-No, Seriously!

And you think sharks have a bad reputation...try being a Goonch.

Turns out these voracious critters found in rivers on and around Napal and India have been scarfing up local swimmers like Pez:

An 18-year-old Nepali disappeared in the river last year, dragged down by something described as like an “elongated pig”.

But the first victim of a goonch attack was thought to have been a 17-year-old Nepalese boy.He was killed in April 1988 as he cooled himself in the river.

Witnesses said he was suddenly pulled below the surface.Three months later a young boy was dragged underwater as his father watched helplessly.

Editors Note: We're in the process of designing a Goonch proof cage system, no, seriously!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Trip Report-Malapascua Island Thresher Sharks

From the Life is Beautiful Blog your basic first hand (and very excited!!!!) account of commercial Thresher Shark diving on Malapascua Island.

Thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus) are one of our favorite sharky critters out there. For divers in California La Jolla Canyon is a great place to spot Threshers-if you're lucky.

Trip Report:

And the luck didn't stop there. The second morning dive, we left for Monad Shoal at 5.30am and saw 1 thresher shark at the Shark Point. Then we moved to the Manta Point... and... after waiting for 5 minutes.... there was 1 thresher shark coming and swimming towards my direction!!! Whoaaaaaaaaaa... it came closer and closer... my heart beats faster.. I thought, "Omigod... what am I gonna do?? If the shark attacked me, shall I swim fast or shall I stay still pretending to be a rock?" I tried to make as little bubbles as I could. The shark came really close, about 4 meters away! Then it turned to another direction... fffiuuuhhh.. but... it came back again! Waaaa.. and... guess what... there were 2 other thresher sharks coming!! Whoaaaaa.... three of them swimming and circling in front of us for more than 20 minutes!!! OH MY GOD!!! Wonderfuuuuullllll... our sights were locked to those three sharks. It was such a stunning view to see those pellagic thresher sharks with their weird shape-long tails swimming in circle, just like dancing in a group of three... sooooo cool!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Benthic Cage Design-Open Source

With our 2008 Tiger Beach season just a few months away we thought we would share our Bahamas Benthic Cage Design with you.

Called the "Alamo" this open top cage system sits on the bottom and allows divers who are not as comfortable as seasoned shark diving professionals to enjoy close macro shark species interactions with all the benefits of a shark cage.

We pioneered the concept of Safe and Sane Shark Diving (tm) a few years ago. The understanding is that close predator interactions with macro sharks such as Tigers and Bulls need to have a "defined space" between the animals and divers. It's an approach geared towards sustained commercial shark diving with these animals.

Safe and Sane Shark Diving (tm) does not allow pre-predatory investigative bumps by Tigers on divers. Euphemistically called "love taps" by some operations we feel these closer interactions on a broad based commercial level is in the long term not sustainable.

The goal of our operation is to see sustainable solutions with macro shark species. As such we are making the Alamo Design by Luke Tipple an open source design for use by any operation that would like it. We'll email any operation the full cage design specs and site design specs should you request them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act

How about some good news about Shark Finning? Seems the US Coast Guard is on the ball in Alaska:

JUNEAU, Alaska - The Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet temporarily terminated a fishing voyage approximately 30 miles northeast of Kodiak at approximately 2 p.m., Monday.

A boarding team from the Acushnet, a 213-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska conducted a routine fishing vessel inspection and found a shark fin hanging from the rigging of the fishing vessel Arctic Wave. Having a shark fin without the carcass is a violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996.

Upon further inspection of the vessel, it was found that the Arctic Wave had an insufficient number of immersion suits. (Editors Note: If you read through the lines here, this vessel is under suspicion of doing bad things with sharks but only has one fin on board so gets cited for the suits instead). The Acushnet contacted Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak and National Marine Fisheries Service personel and terminated the fishing trip. The Acushnet escorted the Arctic Wave back to Kodiak.

The fishing vessel was met in Kodiak by Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak and National Marine Fisheries Service personnel. The captain of the Arctic Wave was able to acquire a sufficient number of immersion suits while in port. After the Coast Guard reinspected the fishing vessel and found no other violations, the Arctic Wave was allowed to continue their fishing voyage. The fishing vessel left Kodiak at approximately 9 p.m. Monday.

White Shark? Dolphin? White Shark?

For our money this is a dolphin, here's why:

1. No tail, white sharks tails are vertical, if you can see the dorsal on this critter you should be able to see the tail.

2. This story was brought to you by a U.K paper-home to the guys who brought you last month's White shark in Wales.

For those of you who subscribe to Occam's Razor...yeah you're looking at it.

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate"

Isla Guadalupe-Sarah Beatty U.K

We get divers joining us from all over the planet. In the past 6 years Isla Guadalupe has become the "defacto" white shark observation and research site on the planet.

For those observing the mechanics and models of sustainabale shark diving-this site is also a continuing lesson in how it can be done:

Sarahs Trip Report

I have been interested in sharks, in particular Great Whites, since my
teens (so, about 20 years). I remember watching documentaries by Ron and Valerie Taylor on the tv and being fascinated by the sharks' behaviour, their commanding presence in the water and that beautiful cunning grin.

So, I decided it was time to get up close and personal (but not too
close) with these creatures and go cage diving. The location, Isla
Guadalupe, was beautiful with its abundant wildlife, clear blue
waters, blue sky and sun. I was still slightly apprehensive about how
I would react when I saw a shark for the first time. Within a few
minutes of being in the cage, we saw a shark in the distance and
watched it glide effortlessly in our direction and check us out.
Watching it was one of the most calming, relaxing experiences I have
ever had. I didn't feel scared. I was stunned and thrilled with what
I was seeing. Although I'm a photography enthusiast, it was better to
forget the camera was there and just watch the sharks and observe
their characteristics and behaviour.

They would gradually wind their way towards the cage and sometimes appear to look directly at you, with that wonderful grin. On several occasions, we would lose sight of the sharks then one would suddenly appear directly in front of us and so close to the cage. We saw about five or so different sharks on the first day, some of which reappeared throughout our time there. Lucy
was a regular visitor and was fairly distinctive with her damaged caudal fin. It was always a treat to see her. Unfortunately my namesake, Sarah, didn't appear. But if she's anything like me she was probably having a lay in!

It was overwhelming to see the sharks in real life and the experience has reinforced my respect and admiration.

This trip was a truly wonderful experience from the moment the boat
set sail to the (sad) day that it returned to San Diego. A week
later, I don't think I have yet come down to earth.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Ask a Shark Guy

It's nice to get asked sharky questions and we answer about 20 of these a week. The short answer to this weeks question is "jump in the waters fine".

In the 100 year history of the SF Bay there has never been a recorded shark attack:

Dear Shark Divers,

I saw your blog while I was searching for information regarding San Francisco Bay, and I would appreciate if you could advise me.

I live in the UK and a friend of mine also from the UK, has been trying to persuade me to do a swim in 2009 from Alcatraz to San Francisco Bay. She has done it with a team last year and would like me to get involved.

Although I am interested in this idea and I see it as a great challenge, I am a bit afraid as I worry about the sharks in the bay. Do you get white sharks around Alcatraz towards the San Francisco Bay? Is it really dangerous to do a swim of this kind? What should I be wary of?

I would really appreciate your advice. It will help me to reach a final decision.

Thank you in advance and all the best!

Great White Hunters Wins Award!?

We covered these guys a few weeks ago, as a fluff piece. As in "Check out the Noobs who are catching white sharks for sport-complete with a beer holder-mounted to a roof-mounted to a fishing chair...on a truck".

Today thanks to Chum Slick we found out this film, and we use that term in a lightest refrain, has won an actual award. Which leads us to our Sex in the City-esq question of the week.

How is it that idiots who essentially do really bad things with sharks are rewarded for their efforts?

Could be the stubby holder, must be the stubby holder.

"In my day he'd get a big boot up the arse.''

Sorry, we just could not help ourselves. Seems the old adage "Boys will be boys" went a little too far last week as a seven year old miscreant in Australia systematically fed other zoo critters to a 12 foot resident saltwater croc.

We happen to like the curators response to this horrific event and hope they opt for that solution- The Big Boot:

He also bludgeoned three lizards to death in their pens. Police cannot charge the boy because of his age the NT News reports. Security camera video footage clearly shows every move of the youngster's 35-minute rampage.

One CCTV image shows him with a big smile on his face as he watches the saltie splash around its pool as it attacks a northern blue tongue lizard.

The malicious foray happened at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre in broad daylight between about 8am and 8.30am on Wednesday. Centre director Rex Neindorf said the behaviour was "disgusting''.

"The fact a seven-year-old can wreak so much havoc in such a short time, let alone even think of doing something like this, is unbelievable. "If it was back in my day he'd get a big boot up the arse.''

Shark washes up in Oregon with unknown parasites

Now, this is disturbing. For the past 3 years we have been watching an increase in the numbers of Salmon Sharks (Lamna ditropis) that have been washing up on the shorelines of California and Oregon.

Until recently their migration patterns were unknown. We now know they migrate many miles south from Alaska and back each year.

The latest parasite development is always cause for concern:

SEASIDE, Ore. -- A shark that washed up on an Oregon beach was covered with unknown parasites.

Seaside Aquarium officials say the 4-foot salmon shark that washed up in the Cannon Beach area Wednesday was covered with a dense layer of parasites in an unusual way. Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said staff members could not identify the type of parasite and have begun seeking opinions from other marine experts around the Northwest.

It was the fourth salmon shark found by the Seaside Aquarium in the last six weeks. They have been showing up in the fall and late summer months in recent years, with increasing frequency.

Gulper Sharks in Tasmania

It's been a banner year for shark discoveries, from recent new shark species discoveries in the South Pacific to this Gulper Shark (Centrophorus granulosus), In Tasmamia last week.

Thought to be almost extinct in these waters researchers were surprised to find this one.

Dogfish have been hunted relentlessly over the past decade for their livers which hold squalene used as a moisturizer. Ironically, some commercial shark diving operations in South Africa also use shark livers to attract white sharks for paying tourists.

While the rest of the planet fights against shark finning-deep water sharks like the Gulper Shark are loosing the battle as well. Unfortunately for the deep water species we know almost nothing about their reproductive habits.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gay Friendly Shark Diving-Kudo's

Sometimes the industry surprises you. This morning was one example.

Kudo's to African Shark Eco Charters for taking the lead in Gay Friendly travel initiatives.

For years we have hosted gay couples on our vessels but never thought to "market to" this savvy well heeled crowd who, if the travel stats are correct, account for close to $200 million worldwide.

Wow, there's a market, and Kudo's again to the guys in South Africa who are making that market work for them.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we have some website changes to make.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gone Fishin' : More Next Week

We'll be at an "undisclosed location" this weekend- in the rain-trying to entice 5lb Caddis Fat Rainbows to come to our nets after slurping back a few hand tied imitations.

That means the shark blog will on hold too. May we suggest you visit the several very good alternate sharky blogs listed on this site until we get back...including you "Mr. Piedmont" what did we say about blog stalking last month?