Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sea Shepherd-Wagging The Conservation Dog

We blogged about the "shot that never was" a few months ago.

A lie sent forth by Sea Shepherd so egregious, so fantastical, that we were pretty sure people would see through it's blatant transparencies and demand action.

Alas, as Shakespeare once pointed out, "all the world's a stage and we are merely players". It would seem that Paul Watson's media people read Shakespeare.

As Sea Shepherd flounders around in the Southern ocean (once again) searching desperately for television ratings under the guise of saving whales let's pause for a moment and perhaps listen to the other side of this issue. The points they bring up are important.

Real conservation is goal and result oriented. What Sea Shepherd is doing with the hard earned millions of well meaning eco donors is tantamount to creating a floating version of the Moulin Rouge...except at the end of this bacchanalia of poor judgement, made up press releases, and missed opportunities there remains next years whale hunt.

Sea Shepherd is as ineffectual this year as it has been for the past ten when it comes to stopping the hunting of whales. The addition of a 24/7 film crew from Discovery Channel's Animal Planet adds to the dangers and unnecessary hubris that is Wagging The Conservation Dog.

Press Release JWA

“Last season in the Antarctic, the presence of the Animal Plant film crew pushed the Sea Shepherd extremists into committing more and more dangerous actions, all for the benefit of the camera,” said the President of the JWA, Mr Keiichi Nakajima.

“Paul Watson even orchestrated a fake event to make it look like he was shot, all of which was aimed at denigrating Japan and boosting the ratings of the Animal Planet un-reality TV series.”

Mr Nakajima said JWA was even more concerned this season because there is now the added expectation that the Sea Shepherd-Animal Planet crew will take even greater risks and perform even more serious criminal acts for the second series for Animal Planet.

Note: Whaling has no place in today's oceans, we have always said this. But profiting from the death of whales as Sea Shepherd and Animal Planet are doing with their new show Whales Wars is, in our opinion, worse.

When Shark Tourism

We got a nice surprise last week in the form of a USA Today travel article on sharks featuring a shark diver from many years ago Jupp Kerckerinck zur Borg and his daughter Philipa. They both joined us in 2003 at our Isla Guadalupe white shark dive site.

Jupp has gone on to become a world class shark diver with over 120 shark dives to his credit and is the driving force behind his own shark conservation website.

Done right
, commercial shark diving inspires others to raise awareness about sharks and conservation. Thanks Jupp!

He was in over his head — and loving it

I learned scuba diving at the request of my daughter Philipa when I was 60 years old and fell in love with it. As a thank you, I invited her on a cage dive to see great white sharks at the Pacific island of Guadalupe, Mexico, with Standing in the cage, I saw my first shark swimming by, so close that I could almost touch him. I was 64 years then and I never imagined how this trip would give my life a totally different direction.

When I sold my ranch in upstate New York a couple years later, I started to book dive trips where sharks were included. My first shark dive without a cage was in the Bahamas. Jumping into the ocean, knowing that there were at least a dozen Caribbean reef sharks down there, was a bit weird. But I jumped in anyway.

The sharks were inquisitive but never aggressive. I fell in love with those beautiful, amazing and highly developed animals. I started to read every book I could find and started my own website, I am now an avid shark protector and am now on the Board of Trustees of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, N.J. I give presentations about sharks in schools and colleges to tell as many young people about the importance of sharks in our oceans.

After 120 shark dives, I am still in love with sharks and take every opportunity I get to dive with them.

— Jupp Kerckerinck zur Borg, Millbrook, N.Y

Documentary tackles threats facing sharks

Birch Aquarium at Scripps hosts screening, "Island of the Great White Shark " with Filmmaker Richard Theiss

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
6-8 p.m., $8 per ticket
RSVP: 858-534-4109
Video Trailer: Click here

The great white shark, one of the world's most amazing predators, is facing unprecedented threats to its survival. Join filmmaker Richard Theiss for a special screening and discussion of his award-winning documentary, "Island of the Great White Shark," from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

In his film, Theiss takes viewers 200 miles south of San Diego to Isla Guadalupe, one of nature's dwindling sanctuaries for the great white shark. In a race against time, marine researchers and eco-tourists have forged a unique alliance to study and protect these animals from potential slaughter. Through dramatic underwater close-ups and expert interviews, the 43-minute documentary captures the true nature of these magnificent predators and chronicles the efforts of conservationists and scientists working to understand and protect the sharks before it is too late.

Worldwide, more than 100 million sharks are killed each year, either as accidental bycatch or as a source of fins for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. In contrast to their undeserved reputation as malevolent man-eaters, these animals serve a critical role in the health of ocean ecosystems.

Theiss, whose work has been utilized by National Geographic, PBS and Animal Planet, was inspired to create his documentary following a diving trip to Isla Guadalupe nearly five years ago. He recognized an important story in the successful relationship between scientists and eco-tourism operators as well as the need to present the majestic great white shark in a more accurate context.

"I wanted to enlighten audiences as to the importance of these powerful apex predators and the perilous fate that they, and all sharks in general, are now facing," Theiss said. "Like so many environmental issues today, we need to act now; to delay any further would be tragic."

"Island of the Great White Shark" DVDs will be available for purchase in the aquarium bookshop until 6:30 p.m. and can be signed by the filmmaker.

RSVP: 858-534-4109
Location: Birch Aquarium at Scripps, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla

Deepwater sharks-why we shark dive

Back in 2003 I met Karl Stanley in Roatan, Honduras with his homemade submarine Idabel. Karl shared a beer or two with me before casually mentioning he often came across simply huge sharks down at 2000'.

Of course I had to go down for what quickly became a pinnacle adventure moment with sharks. Today Karl's operation is a standout in the small world of submarines. You can see video's of his operation almost anywhere these days.

May we suggest you start saving up now?

Hat Tip: The guys over at Deep Sea News. PD