Thursday, December 31, 2009


As this decade closes CNN has a nice wrap up story on shark conservation and some of the highlights of the 2009 "International Year of the Shark."

We could not have summed up a year in shark conservation any better.

Kudos to all who participated with unique shark conservation efforts that effected real and lasting conservation changes.

Your passion, dedication, and conservation successes are what keep sharks from extinction.

Farewell to the "Decade of shark awareness" and hello to the "Decade of shark action."

CNN shark conservation wrap here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Solution to Shark Nets - Dorsal Fin Blog

A viable solution to shark nets and drumlines is being tested in Australia this year by the West Australian Department of Fisheries.

The good folks over at the Dorsal Fin Blog have the complete story.

Suffice to say what is being tested in Perth might just save 10,000 breeding aged sharks off coasts from Australia to South Africa in the coming years.

Here's a link to the program with full spec shark geek info. Naturally, we read the whole thing.

Saying farewell to a decade of "shark awareness" and hello to a new decade of "shark action."

Let the conservation science begin!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Australia's Tiger Shark Disaster

Tony Ham is happy about it. Vik Hislop is happy about it, and even Queensland Tourism is happy about it.

For Australia when 11 Tigers are killed by nets and drumlines along the Sunshine Coast the media calls it a good thing.

We have long pointed out that nets and drum lines are a 1950's answer to a modern issue of shark conservation.

4 meter Tigers represent breeding populations and their deaths are no cause for celebration.

The only thing in the way of lasting conservation change with drum lines and nets is the will power of local and regional users to demand it.

We know sharks are being taken by these man made, indiscriminate killers, but what is being done about it?

We'll be the first to support any program that offers regional metrics for success and not just the usual rounds of blog posts and Facebook petitions. As far as shark conservation goes there's little time for "awareness" we have now moved into the "decade of action."

Surely there has to be someone on the Sunshine Coast that would like to see an end to the glorification of regional and unnecessary shark slaughters?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from!

It's kind of a tradition here at Shark Diver posting this image.

It features a shark we named in 2004, "Shredder," with the image shot by Christy Fisher.

This image serves as a reminder of all the shark diving folks, research folks, and media folks we have come to call friends over the years.

Good people who have made the business of shark diving and shark conservation a very exciting place for us.

We are honored to know these unique and special people and look forward to the new decade of shark diving adventures, discovery, and conservation with you all.

Farewell 2009 and very Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Goblin girl on... Happy Holidays!

I would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

The photo is taken in the big Siam aquarium in Bangkok, which I visited in October. I don't know how many sand tiger sharks they have there, but in this photo there are four (and one goblin shark). Maybe eight in total? Very nice indeed. I hope these sharks are good ambassadors for all sharks so people will see their beauty and continue their efforts to save sharks throughout the world.

I'm very happy that the European Union have decided on a complete ban on porbeagle next year and a 10% bycatch quota on spiny dogfish. However, this is only regulating the commercial fishery. I was very troubled to learn that a Danish sport fishery for porbeagle in the North Sea have developed during the end of summer. This has to be regulated by national laws. This and other questions will surely keep me occupied during the coming year.

It's soon season for goblin sharks... I will keep my eyes open. Let me know if you see anyone!

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks - Hawaii

If you have not yet discovered iDive Sharks consider this an "insiders tip." This week Mark Oronzio shared his Oceanic Whitetip footage from Hawaii.

Increasingly rare due to fishing pressure and sought after for their overlarge fins these remarkable critters make better close encounter video.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dive Site "Oceania" - Unveiled 1.1. 2010

The most anticipated white shark discovery in the past decade will be unveiled to the public on January.1.2010

Code named "Oceania" this unique and remote dive site, featuring very large white sharks, resides in the southern hemisphere during a 3-6 month shark diving season.

Stay tuned and expect a very Happy New Year.

Video courtesy of Richard Theiss RTSea Productions.

No Caught Shark Allowed - Matava leading the Shark Free Marina Initiative in Fiji

Matava and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters in Fiji are taking a leading role in the international shark conservation efforts, organizing Fiji to become the first country to fully participate in the Shark-Free Marina Initiative (SFMI).

The SFMI works with marinas, boaters and fishermen to develop policy designed to protect sharks as a vital component of the oceans health. The SFMI has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. Working with marinas, fishermen and like minded non-profit groups, the Initiative forms community conscious policy and increase awareness of the need to encourage shark conservation.

Shark Free Marinas work with, not against, the recreational and commercial fishing community, in order to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy shark population for our oceans, and to contribute to their ongoing survival.

Matava, together with partners in Fiji, has helped many marinas and charter fishing boats become SFMI certified, and Fiji now has more certified Shark-Free Marinas than any other country in the world. Stuart Gow, Director of Matava, said that his team has been actively promoting the SFMI, and distributing information about the Initiative, with the long-term goal of making Fiji “the first country to be proud to announce itself as a ‘Shark-Free Marinas’ Country”.

See the map of current Shark-Free Marinas

The majority of shark species caught by recreational and sport anglers are currently listed by the IUCN as “Threatened” (or worse) and each year, half a million of these sharks are killed in the US alone. It is estimated that 70-100 million sharks are killed yearly worldwide.

See IUCN Red List of Threatened Shark Species

About Matava

Matava is an eco adventure getaway in Fiji, offering a unique blend of cultural experiences and adventure activities in the pristine and remote island of Kadavu, Fiji. Matava is a PADI Dive Resort as well as a Project AWARE GoEco Operator, a title awarded to demonstrate a commitment to conservation and provide customers with experiences that enhance visitor awareness, appreciation and understanding of the environment. Matava is also one of the supporters of the Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project, which aims to raise global awareness of their imminent extinction of sharks and the crises facing our oceans.

With more than 12 years experience in the Fiji Islands, Matava is recognized as a leading educational dive center. Matava is participating in TIES ecoDestinations project (currently featuring “beaches, marine and coastal ecotourism experience”) as one of the Summer Special 2009 sponsors.

Underwater Thrills:Swimming With Sharks: “No Caught Shark Allowed”: Matava leading the Shark Free Marina Initiative in Fiji

GSI - A New Tool For Shark Conservation?

As we say farewell to 2009 and hello to 2010, new tools are becoming available for shark conservation. Soon the issue of shark fins will be changed from a "cultural issue" to an "endangered species trafficking issue."

It's all in the DNA:

Millions of shark fins are sold at market each year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, but it has been impossible to pinpoint which sharks from which regions are most threatened by this trade.

Now, groundbreaking new DNA research has, for the first time, traced scalloped hammerhead shark fins from the burgeoning Hong Kong market all the way back to the sharks geographic origin. In some cases the fins were found to come from endangered populations thousands of miles away. These breakthrough findings provide strong evidence for enacting international trade protection for hammerhead sharks at the March 2010 CITES meeting in Qatar.

Maldives Whale Shark Research - In Depth

The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP), as its name suggests, study whale sharks in the Republic of Maldives, however, that aspect of their work is merely the tip of the ice berg.

The programme was created in 2006 when four young, British university graduates set off to the 1192 island archipelago on a pilot study in search of the whale shark, after a tip off from the dive industry (already well established in the Maldives) that there were a substantial number of whale sharks throughout the country and that not one person was studying them or their behaviour. After a huge amount of research, reality struck – there was nothing known about this magnificent species anywhere in the world – anything these guys could learn would help to further protection efforts for an already ‘vulnerable species’.At that time, the guys did not know exactly what they were about to stumble across. But it would soon become apparent that the rich ecosystem of the Maldives played host to a year-round aggregation of the largest fish in the Ocean, a fact very few places in the world can claim – the majority of whale shark aggregation sites around the world, such as Ningaloo Reef, Australia, are only seasonal ‘hot spots’.

Why the sharks choose to inhabit Maldivian waters throughout the year is still not known, although the MWSRP does have its plausible hypothesis. What is known is that the Maldives is a globally significant whale shark aggregation site, possibly the best place in the world to see and study these animals.

In 2007, the guys again returned to the picture-perfect chain of islands to continue logging whale shark encounters. This time they secured sponsorship from Conrad Rangali Island - a resort with a great passion for protecting the environment. Conrad would and, to this day, continue to prove their commitment to the cause by providing logistical support to make the in-filed research possible.

The team also initiated a collaborative genetic analysis study with Dr Jennifer Schmidt in an attempt to determine how related the whale sharks in the Maldives are to others in the Indian Ocean. The team encountered over sixty whale sharks in the two-month expedition and managed to collect sixteen skin samples from different individuals.

They would also begin to realise the very real threats that the sharks and the ecosystem faced, especially in South Ari Atoll.

With that in mind the guys vowed to return the following year.2008 became a real turning point for the MWSRP. The data collected over the previous two years enabled the MWSRP to bring the issues to the government’s attention and together with the tour and dive industries they developed ‘Whale Shark Encounter Guidelines’ in an attempt to make the explosion of whale shark tourism sustainable. The Maldivian government also pledged their support for the programme and invited the MWSRP to develop a Marine Protected Area proposal for South Ari’s whale shark ‘hotspot’.

The guys had also been busy working with the community and it was beginning to have tangible results - they were realising the ecological importance of the whale shark. Until quite recently, Maldivians used to hunt the whale shark for their liver oil. The older generation can vividly remember when a whale shark was caught, “It was a real community event. The whole island would come to the beach to help drag the shark over the reef and onto the beach where it would be cut open”.

The MWSRP guys realised that they needed to re-establish a connection between Maldivians and the whale shark to be able to achieve their goals. They also began to understand the issues the local people faced – a lack of employment and educational opportunities, no real way of providing power to their islands sustainably, no waste management systems and no direct benefits from the tourism exploiting their natural resources. One particular conversation, with a fifteen year old student, was the programme’s educational focus. When asked which career path he would take his reply was, “I want to be a doctor but I cannot because there are very few higher education opportunities in Maldives. I will end up working in a resort”.

A second collaboration was also instigated in 2008, this time with Dr Brent Stewart (Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, CA) to begin the first whale shark tagging project in the Maldives, a project that would be instrumental in the development of South Ari Atoll’s Marine Protected Area (MPA). Dr Stewart would also become a trusted friend and integral part of the MWSRP team and advisory committee.

The tag tracks showed that the sharks were highly mobile but the tagged animals always returned to the South Ari Atoll, highlighting the Maldives as a preferential habitat for the whale shark. This data, combined with the MWSRP’s three years of photo identification work, collectively heightened the MWSRP’s excitement that the sharks utilising Maldivian waters may be a resident population.

Even with all of the programme’s success, the year proved to be a one of transition. It was clear that to make a real difference the MWSRP would need to commit one hundred percent, but with no resources and a lack of funding it would be a real gamble.

The draw of doing “what you love doing for a great cause” was too much for two MWSRP members - Richard Rees and Adam Harman. So they decided to give up their careers, sell their possessions and pool their resources enabling the programme to exist for another year, when hopefully some long term funding would already be secured.

Richard and Adam returned to the archipelago for December 2008. The goal for the trip: recover the remaining archival tags, attempt to secure some long term funding and to develop the MPA. They also piloted a volunteer scheme which enables the MWSRP to utilise a wide range of expertise while providing each volunteer with research experience or that once in a lifetime opportunity.

The partnership proved to be a great success. Over one hundred whale shark encounters were recorded and the groundwork for the MPA was laid.2009 has been the MWSRP’s biggest year with the successful development of South Ari Atoll’s Marine Protected Area (MPA). The MPA dream: to be the first collaboratively managed, regulated, revenue generating MPA in the Maldives, ensuring the local community benefits from their natural resources whilst making tourism sustainable. Resorts are already committing to sponsoring the initiative following consultations with the MWSRP.

The year also brought the MWSRP recognition from the scientific world, the completion of a follow-up whale shark tag and release project and a vast amount of media attention – ultimately helping to raise awareness of the plight of the shark.

The guys have been present in the Maldives for six months and recorded nearly three hundred whale shark encounters this year alone. The team has grown to four, with two voluntary part time staff (Ben Fothergill and Rachel Bott) and a host of dedicated specialist volunteers and companies providing pro bono support (including Hogan and Hartson, an International Law Firm).2010 promises to be very busy - The whole team hopes to be able to build on the MWSRP’s achievements in the coming year. 2010 goals: The development of a one hundred percent self sufficient eco-facility, to enable a year-round presence for visiting researchers, scientists, students, teachers and volunteers is being planned in partnership with Sheppard Robson (leaders in sustainable design) and the Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism, two foreign student exchange schemes are in motion (one in the UK, the other in Qatar), the MPA development will continue with baseline coral reef and species specific studies and a MPA management specific NGO is being initiated. An American based ‘Friends Of’ organisation is also in the process of registration and the whale shark research will continue to provide the scientific basis behind the programme’s broader conservation goals.

The only missing aspect – funding.

To become involved with the MWSRP or for more information please visit

Divers Save Shark - Rescue

Divers acted quickly when a grey nurse shark swam by with a metal collar attached to it. The grey nurse is endangered in Australian waters with a tenuous population hovering around 2000 individual sharks.

Sport fishing and habitat destruction has left these animals with few chances for survival.

Last year another shark was discovered with a gaff jammed in its throat and was successfully caught, saved and released.

Kudos to divers helping sharks.

Full story.

Monday, December 21, 2009

David Diley - Smart Industry Call

In the world of commercial shark diving there are those who lead by example. There are also those who lead by producing solid industry thought and analysis (click image to read).

David Diley is one of those people.

A man who has looked at the global shark diving industry and who has distilled it's biggest issue down to a well thought Op Ed.

We would like to congratulate him on his ideas this month and fearless interpretation of our industries future and direction.

This blog along with a few others have been advocating for deep changes within our industry. One year later it would seem that we're having an effect.

As we close out 2009 and a decade that has seen shark diving grow from a few pioneers and into a global 300 million dollar tourism juggernaut it is time to streamline and manage this industry.

The scuba industry did it and most other high profile tourism industries have done the same.

Make no bones about it, commercial shark diving is not scuba diving and it never was, therefore it is up to our industry to guide and direct it's own future.

With 2010 right around the corner the fusion of a commercial shark diving guiding body along with shark conservation would be a powerful force to content with, and would go a long way to growing this industry into 2020 and beyond.

Solid vision for the future and thinkers like David Diley will get us there.

Thanks to Da Shark for the original post.

Guadalupe Island Television Documentary Wins Journalism Award

In the summer of 2009 Shark Diver was asked to enable a three part television documentary with conservation NGO WildCoast.

The end result was seen by millions of viewers across Mexico. Today two reporters from Mexico's Televisa, who covered Wildcoast in this multi part series shot at Isla Guadalupe, have been awarded for journalistic excellence in environmental and science reporrting.

The award was in part for positively featuring the resident white sharks, shark tourism, and Mexican lead shark research at this Bio Sphere reserve.

The three part series was shown first in Mexico City to several million viewers and across Mexico in the fall of 2009. The industry got some great quotes from Captain and owner Greg Grivetto of Horizon Charters with on site shark footage shot by Richard Theiss from RTSea Productions.

Kudos to the entire team from Wildcoast who worked so hard to bring positive conservation messaging to Mexico and to all the people featured in this informative series.

DIVA Resort in Maldives Part of the Eco Solution

Luxury resort Diva Maldives has become a flagship supporter of the recently designated FenMaaDhiguRan, the Maldives first fully regulated, and largest, Marine Protected Area (MPA) – home to a globally significant population of whale sharks, not to mention some of the world’s finest dive sites.

The first resort located within the MPA to commit to backing the pioneering conservation project with fundraising initiatives, Diva Maldives has introduced a voluntary gratuity charge scheme enabling guests to actively contribute to the conservation of the whale sharks and their habitat.

A tropical paradise on one of the archipelago’s largest and most beautiful natural islands, with four kilometres of pristine white sand and lush tropical greenery flanked by a crystal clear lagoon, Diva Maldives enhances the picture postcard Maldivian idyll with the elusive luxury of space, and the liberty of choice. The introduction of the voluntary gratuity charge scheme underlines Diva’s commitment to protecting the whale sharks and their habitats, while helping the new MPA to generate improved business, education and employment opportunities for the local community.

Established following successful lobbying by the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme conservation charity, the MPA was officially designated by the Republic of Maldives government in July 2009. The MPA is 42km in length and, through proper regulation and educational community initiatives, will protect important habitats and species in this area from threats including overfishing, unregulated tourism and pollution, and help the local community to protect their natural resources for future generations.

Founded in 1990 and based in Mauritius, Naïade is a renowned hotel group with an undisputed reputation in the Indian Ocean. The group currently consists of nine hotels and one private island: Beau Rivage (five star deluxe), Legends (five star), Les Pavillons (five star), Tamassa (four star), Merville Beach (three star plus), Le Tropical (three star), and the private island of Ile des Deux Cocos, all in Mauritius; Hotel du Recif (three star) and Grand Hotel du Lagon (four star) in Reunion Island; and Diva (five star deluxe) in the Maldives. Each hotel has its own individual charm yet all the resorts in the portfolio share high levels of service and warm hospitality setting them apart from their competitors.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tiger Shark Eats Video Camera

From You Tube December 17th, 2009:

"Tiger Shark eats diver's video camera while it is still rolling. Get a first hand view of what it looks like to be chewed up by a giant shark. Filmed By Stuart Cove and his team from Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas and documented with still photography by world renowned underwater still photographer Stephen Frink."

White Sharks off Florida? Yes!

First posted on Da Sharks blog this is one of those rare shark encounters at sea caught off the coast of Florida last week. While not unknown in the region this video is still very cool to watch.

For those of you who are white shark geeks like us, here's an in depth paper on whites in Florida waters - a good read.

Reminds us of the white shark that was beached in the Bahamas back in June 2008.

What's nice to see in this video is the respect the folks shooting this clip have for the white shark. Kudos:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sharks - Changing Perceptions?

When the shark conservation movement drills down to this level, we will have saved the species.

Until that day there is much work to be done. Please support your regional shark conservation programs. Together, we can "de-demonize" the shark.

Caution: This video contains live fining of a shark.

Undersea Voyager Project - Website

The Undersea Voyager Project has a new updated website.

What is the Undersea Voyager Project?

Smart discoveries, intelligent investigations, and undersea adventure as few have seen before. Project leader Scott Cassel is no stranger to the wild world of the deep and is changing the perception of some of the oceans strangest critters one dive at a time.

Welcome to the Undersea Voyager Project.

The Dark Side of Farmed Tuna 2009

Like moths to candle light, white sharks are attracted to tuna pens worldwide in alarming numbers.

This week another in a series of images from 2009 featuring dead and dying white sharks being taken from commercial tuna pens in October.

While farmed tuna is being hailed as a viable alternative to wild caught tuna in many regions the accidental by catch of great whites that seek these pens out as an easy food source is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Most of the images we have seen are of breeding aged adults, which begs the question, are there no industry wide anti-shark protocols that are in place to save these animals?

We think there are. The lack of interest in this issue and the threat of boycott of farmed tuna products are twin barriers to real and lasting eco change.

Hopefully 2010 will see fewer images like these.

More on shark conservation - One Shark.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Miami Green Oceans Forum 2009

Looking back on 2009, one of the highlights for Shark Diver and Shark Divers in a year that was filled with conservation excitement was attending the Green Oceans Forum as a guest speaker in Miami.

Attended by a who's who in ocean conservation from Sylvia Earl to National Geographic and Monterey Bay, I met and dined with some of the brightest minds in ocean conservation over three days. Our presentation was about sharks, reefs, and monetized eco solutions that are "out of the box."

By "out of the box" I mean ready to go today. Real and lasting solutions that radically change regional shark conservation efforts and are born from 20 years experience in global eco tourism.

The Green Ocean Forum also included several outstanding media PSA's that caught the entire conference attention with simple yet powerful and compelling statistics:

"At the Americas Business Council, we believe that bringing brilliant minds and change-makers together plays a vital role in disseminating messages to audiences worldwide. Yet, we do not stop there. Our Forums serve as the first step in bringing about change. At ABC, we believe that solutions created during forums must be implemented in the short- and long-term; and every year we innovate our strategies in order to make sure that our Forums translate into sustainable solutions and results."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Amazing Gift Ideas - Your Very Own “Shark Week”

Dec 16, 2009 – This upcoming holiday season put some excitement under the tree.

Americans will be gifting novelty ties and slippers again this year in unprecedented numbers, more often than not these traditional gift items end up in the closet.

Instead, consider giving a gift that will be remembered forever, your own “Shark Week” dive adventure. Since 2002 Shark Diver has been thrilling shark fans from all over the planet with “Safe and Sane” shark encounters with the world’s top shark species.

Divers and non divers seeking out the grand daddy of shark diving, the Great White, can join the Shark Diver crew in San Diego, California from August through October aboard some of the top shark diving vessels in the industry.

“It’s all about providing a once in a lifetime personal experience for our clients”, says Martin Graf, on board dive operations manager. “About 20% of our divers are booked as the ultimate gift by spouses and family members, these family members end up having the time of their lives.”

Gifting adventure travel has increased dramatically since 2003. According to The Adventure Travel Report “one-half of U.S. adults, or 98 million people, have taken an adventure trip in the past five years. This includes 31 million adults who engaged in hard adventure activities like whitewater rafting, scuba diving and mountain biking.”

For more information:

Shark Diver: 415.235.9410

Image Credit: Juanmi Almay

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CITES Appendix II - Shark Update

Rome, 14 December 2009 - An advisory panel of independent experts has issued recommendations regarding six proposals to limit international trade in a number of commercially exploited aquatic animals under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The CITES Convention was established to protect wild species whose status is being directly affected by international trade. It is not designed to protect species that are endangered for other reasons. Once a species is listed by CITES, its international trade is subject to varying degrees of control depending on its status, ranging from controlled trading (if listed on CITES Appendix II) to outright bans (Appendix I).

The proposals, submitted by various CITES parties, request the Convention to control international trade in certain shark and coral species and to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna. They will be considered for listing at the 15th Conference of CITES parties (Doha, Qatar, 13-25 March 2010).

The advisory panel consisted of 22 international fishery experts from 15 different countries. It was convened to evaluate the proposals according to criteria established by CITES and to give independent and impartial recommendations based on the experts' knowledge and on the scientific evidence presented in each proposal. This follows a formal process through which FAO channels advice from external fishery scientists to CITES. The CITES Conference of Parties will take the final decision regarding listing of proposed species.

Panel Outcomes

Following a thorough six-day review and using the CITES criteria, the panel determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant placing the following species on CITES Appendix II: Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), Porbeagle (Lamna nasus), and Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini). In addition, the proposed listing of "look-alike" shark species to help enforcement for Scalloped hammerhead shark was found to be justified in two of the four cases, Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) and Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena).

The panel did not reach consensus regarding the proposed listing under CITES Appendix I of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), however a majority of the panel agreed that the available evidence supports the proposal. There was consensus that the evidence available supports the inclusion of Atlantic bluefin tuna on Appendix II.

For the remaining species under consideration, Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and all species of the coral family Coralliidae, the panel assessed that they did not meet the criteria required by CITES for listing on Appendix II. However, the panel did note that inadequate management in many areas of distribution of these species represents a cause for "serious concern". It urged that these shortcomings be remedied by relevant fishing nations and regional organizations in order to prevent rates of exploitation for these animals from exceeding acceptable levels.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Changes to Fisheries Laws - Florida

An extraordinary and diverse group of conservationists, divers, and shark people banded together to effect a change in shark fisheries along the coasts of Florida this year. Kudos to the effort.

We got the final synopsis from Guy Harvey this week:

On December 10th, the Florida Wildlife Commission approved new measures aimed at protecting several distressed shark populations in Florida state waters. Beginning in mid-January 2010, the harvesting of sandbar, silky and Caribbean sharpnose sharks is prohibited within state waters. These species are either currently being overfished or are in danger of being overfished.

In addition, the FWC implemented several other protective measures, including 1) the prohibition against the removal of shark heads and tails at sea, 2) a rule allowing for only hook-and-line gear to harvest sharks and 3) the establishment of a minimum fork length on several shark species.

Another encouraging development at the Dec. 10th meeting was the proposal of a rule that would prohibit both recreational and commercial harvest of lemon sharks from state waters. Lemon sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing, so conservationists – including representatives of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation – have been lobbying the FWC for some time to adopt more aggressive protective measures for lemons. The FWC will hold one more public meeting on this proposal before putting it to a final vote.

All in all, the Dec 10th meeting of the FWC was a great day for shark conservation efforts in the state of Florida. Many thanks to the FWC for taking a leadership role in the protection of our marine ecosystems!

For more information about the new rules, and to view the presentations on shark management and lemon sharks that were used at the meeting, see the official FWC press release published on the FWC web site.


Additional in depth look into Florida shark fisheries here from the Paxton Blog.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NEPTUNE Canada - Deep Water Geek Cool

If you want to know how we spend our time online look no further than NEPTUNE Canada and a series of deep water observatories that the public (that's us) can drop into any time of day or night. We have spent the last few days completely "geeking out" on this project.

The NEPTUNE project also has a sister program VENUS.

"This week, scientists in Canada's British Columbia began collecting data from hundreds of scientific instruments on the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean using the largest and most advanced cabled ocean observatory in the world."

The observatory links are here, good hunting!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shark Conservation Wake Up Call - 14.9oz

Question: What costs $36.89 for 14.9 ounces of canned product?

As I came to discover this week it's a can of Shark Fin Soup made in Taiwan and sold in a corner market in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a major hub for shark fin activity and thousands of pounds of sharks fin pass though this city each and every month.

It was a personal shock for me to discover these cans on shelf at the extraordinary price of $36.89 a can (click image).

Fortunately there are others who have noticed this issue and they are planning strategies using DNA to curb the sale of shark fin in San Francisco.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sea Stewards - Pro Conservation Shark Media

Sea Stewards asks you to join them and help build a shark sanctuary in the San Francisco Bay Area and have produced a new PSA to go along with this unique campaign.

Sign the petition.

Ask our San Francisco leadership to speak out for sharks and stop the sale of shark fins and fin products until fins are obtained through a sustainable and certified source that does not kill sharks for fins alone. Help us educate the consumers and let the community know that sharks are important for a healthy San Francisco Bay and World Ocean.

More from RTSea Productions blog about the need to personalize shark conservation. - Rangefinder Magazine

Last month Rangefinder Magazine featured Shark Diver at Isla Guadalupe in a conservation themed article by Jim Cornfield.

Article here.

About Rangefinder

Rangefinder is the premier monthly magazine for the professional photographer. Each month Rangefinder typically includes:

- product and new equipment reviews
- lighting and technical pieces
- how-to's
- promotion and marketing stories
- portraiture tips
- accessories and system round-ups
- computer technology
- black-and-white shooting
- lens reviews
- processing techniques provides online multimedia resources for the photographic professional. In addition to archives of Rangefinder's print articles, provides original online content, news, and events.

About Jim Cornfield

Jim Cornfield is a commercial photographer and travel writer based in Malibu Canyon, CA. He’s a veteran certified scuba diver and a passionate campaigner for great white shark conservation and coral reef preservation.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Salmon Sharks National Geographic

Back in 2005 I was fortunate enough to fly to Cordova, Alaska and spend a week cage diving with Salmon Sharks, distaff relatives of the Great white. Shark Diver was the first commercial shark diving company to ever drop a cage in these waters and the first to ever work with them on a commercial level.

We were not disappointed.

Fast forward to 2009 and a simply stunning look at these animals in HD by National Geographic:

Shark Conservation Coverage - Al Jazeera

Surprising and in depth front line coverage of the shark situation in Palau, recently declared a shark sanctuary. As we have said many times in the past shark tourism is a viable bridge solution to sustianable fisheries. When local and regional fishermen have the financial incentive to save sharks they are more than likely to push back against outside fisheries.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shark Conservation or Stuntwork?

Leon Deschamps a “Western Australia conservationist,” would like you to believe the only way you can prove Tiger sharks are not dangerous is by riding on top of a dead whale while Tigers feed on it. Seriously.

Additionally Leon and his crew have video proof that petting these feeding animals is actually some form of shark conservation.

It is not.

The Department of Environment and Conservation in Australia have seen through this charade calling this stunt “highly irresponsible and dangerous behaviour.”

We have to agree. This video serves as a wake up call to all would be "shark conservationists," who promote the notion that sharks are anything but top ocean predators. Those few who ride sharks and put themselves into questionable situations with sharks under the guise of "shark conservation."

2009 was a strange year for this off brand of "shark conservationist." Featuring stuntmen playing guitars while surrounded by white sharks, and others who presented their flesh to sharks to prove some sort of conservation point.

Shark conservation is and should always be solid measures for conservation success not stunt work and this disturbing slide towards stunt work in the name of shark conservation continues to malign the entire effort.

More commentary from the Dorsal Fin Blog.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vero Beach Municipal Marina now a Shark Free Marina

Vero Beach Municipal Marina in Florida is now registered as a Shark Free Marina.

The mission of the Vero Beach Municipal Marina is to provide efficient first class service at reasonable cost to resident and visiting boaters in a manner that reflects well on the character of the City of Vero Beach. In order to fulfill our mission Marina personnel are trained to:

  • Exercise time and material cost consciousness, while implementing business practices that meet Marina Industry and City Standards. These practices are carried out in a labor-intensive activity requiring acute safety awareness on the part of each employee.
  • Act as goodwill ambassadors for the city by promoting tourism and local business patronage.
  • Insure that Marina and Mooring operations maintain a favorable relationship with neighboring residents, clubs and businesses.
  • To promote Clean Marina practices and assist in developing programs and procedures to keep the Indian River clean and environmentally safe.

Located on the East side of the Indian River Lagoon, just north of the Merrill Barber (Hwy 60) Bridge, the City of Vero Beach prides itself on being a center for maritime information and hospitality for over 3,000 visiting boats each year. These visiting boaters spend a phenomenal 20,000 overnights with us. Rental moorings and slips are available on a daily or monthly basis (call for monthly details). Gasoline, diesel, and pump out services are available on our 70 ft. fuel dock. Approaches to the fuel dock are 8-10 ft. Facilities and services include free bus service to town, Laundromat, TV lounge, WiFi, mail drop and pick-up, bicycle and vehicle parking, restrooms, showers, trash disposal, waste oil disposal, and a park with picnic shelters and barbecues.

Support their business by dropping by their facility at:

City Marina at Marker 139 on the Intracoastal Waterway
3611 Rio Vista Boulevard, Vero Beach, FL 32963
Phone: 772-231-2819
Radio: Monitoring VHF CH 16 working CH 66A
Business Hours: 0700 to 1900

Are you a marina owner/manager? Follow their example and register your facility with Shark-Free Marinas today.

Want to get involved with SFMI? Visit our Regional Ambassadors page for more info.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Scamming The Blog - Useless Film Promotion

A few weeks ago we got a series of emails from blog reader "Ethan" directing us to a seemingly "leaked clip" from a new film questioning the fundamental numbers of shark conservation. Ethan also contacted other Blue Bloggers with the same clip.

"100 million animals are killed each year."

As it turns out the leaked clip was not so leaked and is part of a half assed production now titled "The Shark Con." The premise being if you absolutely enrage dedicated members of the shark conservation movement by highlighting a few zero credibility, lowbrow naysayers, people will buy your film.

As we did not buy Tiburon Productions last half assed shark film we'll be giving this next effort a wide berth and are a little disappointed they did not approach us directly so we could have told them officially to go "crawl back under a rock."

In the interests of watching folks lose their minds to outrage here is the You Tube clip they are peddling around to anyone who will watch so you can post nasty controversial messages like this one:

"You're full of shit and I think you know you are full of shit. This is an attempt to make money and protect your interests by deliberately deceiving people. Find something useful to do with your time instead of destroying species that have every right to exist and which are vital for the health of our oceans."

On a personal note, with as much shark footage as Tiburon Productions have in the can and obvious desire to be part of the shark conservation movement, why bother with this effort?

Manufacturing controversy is as easy as following Sea Shepherds Whale Wars and a media world where facts mean little. Providing real and tangible solutions to shark declines is where the grunt work begins.

That is what we call shark conservation.

What, you afraid of some heavy lifting boys?

Ocean Encounters - New Website

Ocean Encounters founders Fred Buyle and William Winram will take you places you never dreamed of diving. Both avid world-class breath-hold divers, they have taken it upon themselves to share their passion for the underwater world with the rest of us.

They will bring breath-hold diving courses to your door, take you on live-aboard freediving cruises and organize expeditions for the chance to breath-hold dive in the company of large marine animals.

In their many upcoming activities, you will find one that is tailored to suit your needs whether you are a complete beginner wanting to improve your comfort underwater, or a dedicated breath-hold athlete looking to fine-tune your technique for your next competition.

The more adventurous amongst you will participate to shark encounters for an opportunity to discover the natural behaviour of these amazing creatures in their own territory.

Ocean Encounters is no ordinary endeavour. In addition to organizing courses and expeditions for the public, Fred Buyle and William Winram regularly join expeditions for the purpose of scientific research on large marine animals. From tagging sharks in the wild on a silent breath-hold to documenting unique animal features through photography and video, they contribute to the advancement of ocean preservation.

Buyle and Winram are scheduled to arrive in French Polynesia on December 5, 2009 to complete the last of five HDTV documentaries for the project Ocean Quest, a series which will, without a doubt, change the world’s view on the true nature of the oceans and their creatures.

For more information on Ocean Encounters, visit

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shark Conservation - Making Long Bets

FORT MYERS, Florida -- Jack Donlon, original founder of The Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series, and his co-directors, Sean Paxton and Brooks Paxton II, have teamed up with renowned marine wildlife artist, scientist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey to present an innovative competitive event with $100,000 in cash and prizes that will serve as a model for sport fishing enthusiasts and marine conservationists.

The newly branded Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series will be a catch and release competition off the Southwest Florida coast – and much more. “For the first time, what we call a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ shark tournament will be transformed into a true spectator sport,” said Sean Paxton. He and his brother, Brooks, known as the Shark Brothers, continued, “Our shared goal with Dr. Guy Harvey and Jack Donlon, is to give participants and viewers the most interactive, entertaining and educational shark-infested, multimedia spectacle found anywhere on the planet. This is not your grandfather’s fishing contest, but something completely new for a shark fishing tournament.”

Harvey, a long-time marine conservationist and founder of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, said the tournament will increase global awareness of the important role that sharks play in the world’s oceans and our ecosystem. “The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series will be a uniquely exciting event for participants, spectators and everyone who cares about the future of our oceans,” Guy Harvey said.

A total of 60 fishing teams will compete in the 2010 tournament, which will begin with three separate qualifying rounds next April and May. The series kicks off in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, on April 9 – 11, with additional stops in Marco Island and Sarasota. Twenty teams will compete in each round and the top four will qualify to compete in the two-day Grand Championship Finale on May 22-24. The finale and its sister event, Shark Fest –a family-friendly, educational and entertaining event for all ages – are sponsored by Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and the Center for Shark Research in Sarasota.

Tournament organizers hope that this event will become the “next generation” model for shark fishing competitions. Joining Donlon, the Paxton brothers and Guy Harvey in this ambitious effort are strategic partners Robert E. Hueter, Ph.D, director of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research; Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah; Luke Tipple, director of Shark-Free Marinas; and other advocates of environmental stewardship.

"With the increasing demands facing our marine resources, we saw an opportunity to implement an alternative to traditional harvest formats that is not only environmentally sound, but also a viable tournament business model,” said Jack Donlon. “Through strategic alliances and with the support of like-minded corporations, such as Guy Harvey Inc., our vision will become a reality.”

Hueter noted that the staff from the Mote Center for Shark Research will oversee all scientific aspects of the tournament, including tagging operations. Selected sharks will be outfitted with satellite tags to track their movements after release. “This project will provide a breakthrough in collaborative research involving the marine scientific and recreational fishing communities,” he added. “By working together to develop a 21st century, conservation-oriented alternative, the Mote Center for Shark Research and tournament organizers will provide a national model, while changing public attitudes about responsible use of marine resources.”

Tournament organizers are planning a major television broadcast, which promises to deliver an adrenaline-fueled mix of extreme angling, cutting-edge research and wildlife management efforts. The show will be co-anchored by the Shark Brothers and Tipple, a marine biologist.

“In these days of technological connectivity, we will be able to put spectators right into the action, above and below the water,” said Tipple. “Our viewers will experience the sheer power and raw beauty of these animals, while seeing scientists and anglers working in concert to protect and understand their world.”

Limited sponsorship opportunities are still available and team entries are currently being accepted for review. For more details and additional contact information, visit: and

About Dr. Guy Harvey:

Born in Lippspringe, Germany in 1955, Harvey is a 10th generation Jamaican of English heritage. Growing up in Jamaica, Harvey spent many hours fishing and diving with his father. He was obsessed with the creatures of the sea and began drawing pictures of the many different fish he observed. From those early inspirations, Harvey’s gift of recreating marine life propelled him from Professor of Marine Biology to a wildlife artist and photographer. He initially opted for a scientific education, earning high honors in Marine Biology at Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1977. He continued his formal training at the University of West Indies, where he obtained a Doctorate in Fisheries Management. A vocal proponent of catch-and-release, Harvey generously donates artwork, time and funds for numerous institutions and conservation groups, including the Guy Harvey Research Institute established at Nova Southeastern University in 1999. In 2008, Harvey created the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which supports marine conservation, research and education efforts. For additional information on Guy Harvey, visit

For complete information on the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, visit

Lithodes galapagensis "all you can eat"

The place on the Internet for underwater news is Underwater Times.

They have been the leader in "breaking underwater news" from whale strandings to this weeks announcement of a new species of King Crab discovered by Sally Hall, a PhD student at the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES).

As huge fans of crustaceans in all forms this is an exciting announcement. Unfortunately Lithodes galapagensis is found in deep water off the Galapagos and is much bigger than it's Alaskan cousins.

Looks like a tasty discovery to us.

Can anyone say Deadliest Catch Galapagos?

Southern White Sharks - Video

Over at the Dive Around website John Natoli and Andy Green put together a great trip report about white shark diving in Neptune Islands, Australia.

The dive site "that started it all," still going strong decades later:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shark Diver Santa - We Like It!

Whoever the marketing person is at Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire we suggest someone give them a huge raise.

Double goes for the very cool shark diving website they built.

Yes, it is THAT time of year again when enterprising boys and girls from around the planet capitalize on the "Fat Man in the Red Suit" (not Paul Watson) to sell everything from SUV's to days at the local aquarium.

The shark diving industry approves of this recent effort.

You just have to look at the face of the little girl in the tube to see the next generation of shark divers in action. Kudos!

Shredder - Shark Update 2009

Earlier this year we had reported that one of the most well known and charismatic sharks of Isla Guadalupe, "Shredder" had gone MIA.

Typically Shredder is one of the first big males to show up to the island by early August of each season. His arrival is a much sought celebrated event by our crews.

This year Shredder was no where in sight for the first three weeks of August speculating that he had met with "foul play" during his long migration from Hawaii.

Shredder did eventually appear in late September to "wild cheers" from our crews at the back deck and continued to stay with the shark diving fleet for the rest of the 2009 shark season.

He was even bigger this year and looked as healthy as any of the big males on site. Late to the party but exciting as always.

We said good by to Shredder in mid November of 2009 on our last expedition to the island. After close to a decade with these animal you get attached to them and they remain for us, more than just white sharks.

We look forward to 2010 with Shredder at Isla Guadalupe.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shark Diver:The Watch

The holidays came early for our little shark diving company -

It came not in the form of a trip to a distant dive site, or a new discovery, or even a conservation success.

The holidays this year came in the form of our own branded dive watch by Helson Watches.

Welcome to the Shark Diver perhaps the coolest piece of shark diving tech you can own this year or next.

Whale Sharks - The Nigaloo Papers

In depth industry papers on shark tourism are a must read.The Ningaloo Coast region of Western Australia has been a mainstay for sustainable whale shark tourism for the past decade. A new paper is now out.

Tourism Abstract

Whale shark tourism is an icon industry in Western Australia and a prominent example of successful ecotourism. In 2006, whale shark tour participants spent $6.0 million in the Ningaloo Coast region of Western Australia and added between $2.4 million and $4.6 million to the regional economy in direct expenditure. However, to date no research has been conducted on the predictors of whale shark tour participants' expenditure. In this article, we assess the importance of visitor expenditure for ecotourism, assess the predictors of the expenditure of whale shark tour participants and discuss how this information can contribute towards ecotourism goals. The data analysed here were collected through a survey distributed to participants between April and June 2006.

We assess a range of variables for their relationship to individual expenditure per trip and determine that the duration of stay, household income, age, staying in a hotel, trip motivation and being from North America or Southeast Asia positively correlate with individual expenditure per trip. Group size and originating from Germany or the United Kingdom and Ireland negatively correlate with expenditure. In addition to identifying future steps, we also discuss the relevance of our finding that more motivated participants have a higher expenditure for ecotourism.

Link to report.

Shark Fin -Tracing the Crime Scene

When sharks are caught and finned the resulting dried product becomes an instant cash crop.

Fins are sold for $200-500 per pound USD.

Over the past decade this "harvest of disaster" has decimated shark stocks worldwide, bypassing even the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II demands for monitoring and enforcement of endangered shark species.

Once dried sharks fin hit the open marketplace even endangered species fin cannot be traced back to the original "crime scene."

All that has changed with the stunning announcement of new DNA tests that geographically tag fins and identify species back to their home waters.

For shark conservation this single tool could lead to a serious curtail of shark fin sales globally until certification measures could be put in place to all but guaranteed bundles of dried sharks fin contained no endangered species.

A great tool. Now for the hard part, cross border political will to actually enforce CITES Appendix II.

Complete press release.

Amanda Cotton Priority Reminder

Amanda Cotton shot what we consider the Iconic Shark Image of 2009. Today her blog reminds us sharky folks that while shark conservation efforts are a 365 day a year push, let's not forget there are others who could use some help too.

Thanks Amanda for the post.

Beth's Story from TakePart on Vimeo.

Bull Shark Diving in Cuba - Report

From the always interesting Team Sharkbait Blog, comes a quick report from Cuba and bull shark diving adventures in Santa Lucia.

Blog readers here at UT will recognise the name and this site from several of our posts involving the cardinal rule of bull shark encounters...never wear a Speedo.

In fact Speedos are just not considered official shark diving gear at all -anywhere.

Fortunately since 2004 the Santa Lucia bull shark site has matured and Team Sharkbite had a great time:

"One of the most breath taking moments we had in the holiday was the opportunity to go scuba diving with bull-sharks. As we were down 25 meters below the surface at a location called La Boca, it was a marvel to look at the bull sharks being hand fed by the diving master. Of course it’s even better to have seen them in their natural environment, without the help of a human touch… But I think wikipedia also describes the bull sharks as dangerous to humans, so for me this was more than a good chance to see them really close. When I write really close I’m talking about within arm’s reach, but I think ‘don’t touch’ had the upper hand in my mind."

Complete Post.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Indian Whale Shark Tourism?

Kudos to Tata Chemicals and Wildlife Trust of India for their tourism initiative.

Sustainable shark tourism is a viable bridge solution to lasting shark conservation:

If everything falls in place, Gujarat coast may emerge as tourist spot for watching whale sharks. Foreign experts have taken up a research project to study feasibility of developing whale shark eco-tourism in the state. The research programme is being undertaken under "Whale Shark Conservation Campaign" jointly carried out by Tata Chemicals Ltd, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the forrest department of Gujarat.

Complete Story

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Alex "Sharkman" Buttigieg - Happy Birthday!

Long before the world of shark conservation had a million faces, and long before people even cared about sharks, there was Alex.

With his quirky and unique website and unbridled passion for sharks, Alex has been a mainstay of the shark conservation world.

Today was his birthday and we wanted to wish him a very best of days!

Your passion for sharks has inspired more people then you will ever know.

Australia's Tourism "Shark Holocaust"

Australia's Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, Tim Mulherin, believes in anti shark programs for tourism.

This week it was announced Australia's long standing drum line program had successfully killed 500 breeding aged animals from 14 foot Great whites to 12 foot Tigers.

All in the name of tourism and "incident free beaches."

"Any size shark can cause serious injury or death if they attack. However, sharks more than 2m long are particularly dangerous and are more likely to cause fatal injuries, he said."

Drum lines and shark nets are a surprising 1960's answer to shark attacks worldwide and indiscriminately destroy regional populations of sharks and assorted by catch from dolphins to turtles.

Sadly there are viable options for regional governments that would work to preserve shark populations.

This blog proposed viable "human netting options"
many months ago along with a first alert tagging program.

In the end it is up to regional efforts lead by local stakeholders to effect conservation change.

Until the public is made aware of the abject waste of top predators in their waters the killing will continue and future shark generation will continue to decline.

It would seem that sharks in Australia just cannot seem to get a break. An ecological disaster in the making since 1963.