Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kudos From Beqa Adventure Divers - 1000

We remain big fans of BAD in Fiji, and this week received some high praise from an operation that has been "leading by example" in their region. Thanks guys:

Patric of Underwater Thrills has just reached this milestone and we feel compelled to shout a big Kudos and Congratulations!

I've said it before, the blog by Shark Diver is as good as it gets: always up-to-date, always interesting, sometimes funny, often brilliant and visionary. And thankfully, often controversial, scathing and unflinching - the way a Shark Diving and Conservation blog should be!

Shark Conservation has recently made very satisfying inroads and we should be thankful for that - and persevere and redouble our efforts!

Sharks continue to be brutally slaughtered by the tens of millions - not only by the industrial Shark finning mafia but also, by the members of the oh-so-noble IGFA.

And they continue to be demonized by the mainstream media - and alas, also by Shark-related media like Discovery's Shark Week who I hear will insist on producing this season's idiotic anchor show "Deadly Beaches" in spite of the outrage by the Shark Conservation Community. Have we managed to keep them out of Fiji or are they trying to sneak in under the radar? Keep watching this space!

And there remains a sad and increasingly lonely group of yesteryear's Shark Diving Operators who insist on tarnishing the reputation of the whole Industry with their reckless cowboy antics and still treat Sharks as mere ATM machines. Which begs the question, who will facilitate Deadly Beaches in the Bahamas?

And whilst this is going on, the relevant Authorities continue to dither and precious resources keep being squandered on frivolous science.

All very dire.

Much to do for people who care. Like Patric. Buddy, very well done and may you continue to entertain, amaze and inspire us for many years to come!

Editors Note: Oh, we will;)

The End of Shark Diving - Farallones?

The commercial and political winds of change are blowing again.

The Farallones Islands are one of the west coasts hot spots for simply titanic sized great white sharks. After years of legal wrangling the anti shark diving folks at the Farallones have succeeded in a series of new regulations guaranteed to all but kill this shark diving site - according to local news sources:

As part of the changes, great white sharks are now protected from people who want to get a closer look at them. There is now a prohibition against getting closer than 50 meters - or 164 feet - of a white shark within 2 nautical miles of the Farallon Islands. The rule also bans the practice of using decoys or chum to lure sharks.

"We have had cases where people in vessels come charging up to the sharks, scaring them away from food they have just caught," said Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. "These activities threaten the health of the species."

"They have been working on the regulations for some time and put a lot of effort into it," said Terri Watson of San Rafael, executive director for the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association. "I'm confident they heard all the issues from all sides."

Sanctuary officials will work with the U.S. Coast Guard as well as researchers to help enforce the new rules. Violations are subject to citations and fines.

"There are many things affecting the sanctuaries: tourism, proposals for wave energy, invasive species, oil spills, they need to be better protected," Schramm said.

Regulations here.

Shark Defenders - The Pharmaceutical Defense?

"Treat the symptoms not the problem".

This is the heart of a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, treating the symptoms of a problem one pill at a time. Have heartburn? Take meds at $6.00 per pill to slow down your acid reflux - instead of loosing weight and modifying your diet.

What does this post have to do with sharks?

Recently an article came out about shark defense technologies. This is nothing new. For years humans have been trying to find ways to stop shark and human interactions, from chemical studies, to sound waves and rare earth magnets. Our company was involved in a week long study with sound waves and big sharks.

Meanwhile, humans occasionally get attacked and killed at sites that, if we dug a little deeper, the data might show were avoidable.

From storm drained waters, to seal haul outs and seasonal migrations, we know where sharks are and most often we know when not to be in the waters. It is unfortunate that few local governments have the will power or the direction to modify human behavior first. Rare earth magnets, chemical bombs, shark nets are not a solution and only treat a symptom.

On a side note the application for rare earth magnets in gill netting, or chemically impregnated anti shark fishing gear is interesting science and should continue.

Let's re-think the Pharmaceutical Defense for sharks and look at a tiered system of anti shark protocols that start first with swimmers and surfers out of the water. It's a bold idea.