Wednesday, January 7, 2009 sharks fin 5000 kilos a week

Last month online sharks fin trader and parent company put out a press release stating " announced to its 400 million online members that all shark fin products will be banned from trade on starting 1, January 2009."

Full release here.

This release was heralded by the conservation community as an exciting development. Net the fact Yahoo! was still heavily invested in and had never disavowed the rampant sale of sharks fin via a web portal they had invested billions in. In many cases sellers were producing and selling 5000-10,000 kilos of sharks fin per week-1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds.

While we are cautiously optimistic about this announcement we decided to run with the old adage "trust but verify". Unfortunately over the past 7 days of verification we have come across a 98% continuing sales rate of sharks fin at

The problem is "window dressing". While has stopped all overt sales of sharks fin via web searches, they have not stopped buyers from asking the sellers of sea products directly for sharks fin. Over the past 7 days we have posed as three different buyers asking for 5000 kilos a week (11,000 pounds) of product from various sellers.

We posed this question to eleven sellers. Nine answered positively, we did not get a response from two others. The aggregate total of sharks fin we were able to source in just 7 days from, was a staggering 40,000 kilo or 88,000 lbs.

Here is one example from just one inquiry:

Date:Mon, Jan 05 2009 01:14:24 (GMT)

Dear Mr. XXX XXX,

Thank you very much for your message.

As per your requirement we can supply you good quality product Shark Fin's from XXX at reasonable price.

Kindly mail us.

Yours sincerely,

XXX, Bangladesh.
Mobile :XXX
Fax: XXX
E-mail: XXX

Message IP Address:123.xx.xx.*
Message Origin:Bangladesh aims to provide you with accurate Sender Details, we are not able to fully guarantee the accuracy of every Sender's IP information.

Note: The final legal wording on this email "Alibaba
.com is neither responsible nor liable for any of the above information."

Top 10 Found Inside Sharks-Times Online

We normally steer away from stories like these but the Times reporter did such a great job we had to re-post this. "Found" inside of sharks:

1. It just eats money
The first piece I could find dates from 1821, headed Singular Circumstance: a bored sailor, with more money than sense, decided to use dollars (coins presumably) as bait. He chucked one over the side then, finding bait and hook missing, tried another, and another. All with the same result. Four days and 300 miles later, someone else on the same boat caught a shark “which contained two of the hooks baited with two of the dollars. In about fifteen minutes after, a dolphin was caught, which contained the other hook and dollar.”

2. Plat du jour
1823 was a bit of a bumper year. First report was a news in brief, treating the shark’s contents as a nicely balanced dinner menu: "He was found to contain a sheep, a calf's head and feet, a horse foot (marine animal), a sea-owl, and several articles to serve as trimmings"

What on earth is a sea-owl - anyone know?

3. He’s not heavy ... any more
Next up, in the same year, was a macabre story from the West Indies, “Curious facts”: "On opening the shark the instrument struck upon an impenetrable hard substance in his stomach, which, upon digging out, they found to be a six pound cannon ball"

Fair enough, but why would he have eaten it? The report speculates that the cannon ball had been attached to a human body, to make it sink, and that the body had been digested.

4. Ship's papers
A deeply bizarre story, dating from the American War of Independence: sailors on a British ship caught a shark with a lump of pork. The thrifty captain ordered them to save the pork to use again, and when they opened up the shark they found a bundle of papers relating to an American brig, the Nancy, which was masquerading as a neutral vessel. Read the original – it’s straight out of Patrick O’Brien.

5. Best bib and tucker
This graphic report, from New Orleans in 1856, more or less says it all on this subject: "We have read many fish stories, and they are generally of that tenour that the very name inclines one to disbelieve them."
But of course, having said that, here is one story that absolutely can be vouched for:

Some days ago, the captain of a ship at anchor outside the Pass threw overboard a shark hook baited, not expecting in the least, as the captain himself says, to catch anything of the fish tribe. There was hooked, however, a shark of the spotted kind, and, as it afterwards proved, a regular 'man-eater' … His size and weight may be imagined from the fact that it took 11 men to hoist him in, with a double lift on the mainyard. The monster … had seven rows of teeth, three of the rows being almost hidden in the upper gums ... In his paunch was found the body of a man in a half decomposed state. So far as could be judged, the corpse was that of a well-dressed man, of medium size - shirt white, with pearl buttons, coarse silk undershirt, cotton socks, and shoes nearly new, of the Congress gaiter kind. The shark had also in his stomach several pieces of old canvass, such as are used by vessels on their rigging.

6. So good, they ate it twice
OK, now we’re in the realms of the seriously silly: the steamer Jutland, of Hull, was caught in a storm and a goose, belonging to the second engineer, Mr Tate, was washed overboard. The goose, of course, had a label tied round one of its legs carrying its owner’s name and address, so when it was subsequently found inside a shark by the captain of a fishing smack, it could be returned. Mr Tate was delighted, and had it cooked up for his dinner the next day.

7. Catching crabs
More mundanely, this monster specimen from the South Pacific, caught in Moreton Bay, Brisbane, contained a miscellaneous collection of eats, “among which may be mentioned a sheep skin and an unusually large crab”

8. Made for swallowing
This rather bald report just records, Shark caught at Fiume: "The stomach contained a pair of human feet with boots on them"

9. Turtle soup, nearly
Great story from 1922 about a giant turtle which, amazingly, survived being swallowed and was rescued and taken to the New York Aquarium where, “recovering from cuts and shock”, he was christened Jonah

10. Fingerprints still legible
Back to the macabre, in fact could this be the only murder evidence retrieved from inside a shark? A shark was caught in Sydney harbour and transported, alive, to an aquarium whereupon it was sick, quite reasonably. One thing that came up was a tattooed human arm: "From tattoo marks and finger prints, the arm was identified as belonging to James Smith who, police believe, was murdered and thrown in the sea"

That’s ten, but here’s a bonus, a proper old sailor’s yarn:
1922: A shark and The Times "The shark, 14 feet long, was hauled on board, and on cutting it open a copy of The Times was found in its stomach". The explanation was that a "mail steamer had passed a few hours before, someone had thrown overboard his Times, and a shark following the ship had swallowed it"

And you could still read it. No smudgy ink in those days

When Animals Attack-Discovery Channel

Recently Discovery Channel Networks ran afoul of the Bear People in Alaska.

Note: The Bear People are serious contenders in Alaska, you do not want to kick that beehive.

Seems that taking human dummies and enticing Grizzlies to attack them is both disrespectful to bears and a disservice to the general public who's impression of bears is diminished after watching the show. As the story unfolds the production company responsible for the shoot "staged the event" with caged bears...they failed to let the public know this was the case much to the networks chagrin.

Story here Kudo's to MSNBC for breaking this story.

Which leads us to an ongoing problem with Discovery Channel and shark programming. Last year a similar stunt was done with Tiger sharks at Tiger Beach, Bahamas. A dummy was dressed up in full dive gear and the sharks were enticed to attack the dummy. Where does this end?

It begins and ends with the operations that do business with the production companies, who in turn do business with Discovery networks. As operators who take productions companies to find and shoot sharks we have an obligation to inform and help direct the production company into quality pro shark programming. That's a tall order, and sometimes it cannot be done, but the far end of that spectrum is a dummy being attacked by a Tiger shark.

Without revealing who was responsible for that particular shoot, the blow back from it had serious and continuing repercussions for others who use this site:

1. The Bahamian Tourism Ministry were very upset with this shoot. The Bahamas relies on water based tourism and the depiction of Tigers attacking divers is not what they want to see in their waters. Furthermore, when it was discovered that this shoot was done by a US based company the anger grew. The Bahamas are currently wrestling with what they perceive are US based commercial dive interests who give very little back to the Bahamian economy and are doing "bad things" in Bahamian waters. After watching that show you can see why.

2. The Bahamas Film Commission also voiced serious concern for this site and continued filming here.

Often the net result or blow back of "When Animals Attack" programming is seen months or perhaps years after the shoot. Operators need to take the lead here. The reason why programming like this exists is built on the backs of the last 10 production companies who delivered it to Discovery. We can not only break the chain-but we can also show production companies new and better programming that cost less, delivers more, and keep the audience engaged.

It can be done. Great programming with sharks that delivers thrills takes time and dedication and thought. It's not rocket science.

White Shark Autopsy Two-The Live Version

If it's an animal autopsy streamed live on the Internet, we're there. Last year we watched the Giant Squid autopsy with fascination and this year it's the Great White shark:

In a broadcast reminiscent of a scene in Jaws, where Richard Dreyfuss cuts open a shark to discover a car licence plate and a crushed tin, scientists will carry out the two hour operation on a 10ft great white shark.

The live dissection will be carried out at an amphitheatre outside Aukland Museum on Thursday.The operation is expected to be watched by an estimated 1,000 people at the museum and streamed live on its website ( to millions more.

Scientists from the museum hope the operation will help add to their limited knowledge of one of the ocean's most feared animals. During the operation, scientists will examine stomach content, measure internal organs and record all their findings for international shark research.

Editors Note: We will be out of the office Thursday-let the science begin!

Shark Conservation-Kristie Knowles

There are many passionate shark advocates out there. What's missing in many cases is "conservation eloquence". The innate ability to distill down complex eco problems and present them in a manner where ordinary people want to take action.

For conservationist Kristie Knowles, getting the message across is par for the course:

Kirstie Knowles: Human predators driving sharks to the brink of extinction

Full story

Sharks are monsters of the ocean - creatures of myth and movie. Or so they say. In reality, they are the victims of the horror stories, not the perpetrators, as shark populations worldwide decline.

Sharks are not the top ocean predators - humans in fishing boats command that spot. A total of 112 species of shark are found in New Zealand waters, 70 of which are caught in our fisheries.

Of these, 28 are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of species threatened with extinction.

Only one threatened species - the great white shark - is protected in New Zealand. It is ironic that this species, which was portrayed in the Jaws films as a relentless human killer, is now at risk of extinction largely at the hands of humans.

Fishers work under the Quota Management System but there's so little information about shark populations - with good information on only three of the 70 species caught in our fisheries - that it is hard to know if present catch levels are sustainable.