Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Megamouth Caught - Not Eaten

A few months ago we reported a rare megamouth (41) caught and eaten by locals.

Todays news is a bit better:

Taipei, June 9 (CNA) A megamouth shark, one of the world's rarest species, was caught Monday by a fisherman from the eastern county of Taitung, marine biologists said Tuesday. According to National Taiwan Ocean University's Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science, the shark is only the 42nd that has been caught or sighted worldwide and the ninth in Taiwan since the species was discovered in 1976.

The shark was 3.9 meter long, weighed 350 kilograms and its mouth when opened measured 75 centimeters across. It was netted off the county's Chenggong coast and was sold Tuesday for NT$18,000 (US$549) to a local shark museum where it will be displayed as a preserved specimen.

The fish was identified by a researcher surnamed Tien, from the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center under the Council of Agriculture's Fisheries Research Institute. Tien said the species is very unusual and that it was the first time in his career that he ever saw a megamouth shark.

Chen Wen-jung, the owner of the shark museum, said he has collected dozens of shark specimens but this was his first megamouth.

The last record of the species being spotted was in late March, when a 500-kilogram, 4-meter megamouth was caught off Burias Island in the Philippines.

The megamouth shark is so named because of its large mouth.

Rednecks from Central Casting

If you were say, a producer, and you wanted to put together a reality television show about say, shark fishing...and you wanted to make the cast look like "beer swilling,knuckle dragging rednecks" - who would you cast?

Sadly this is not a hypothetical stream of consciousness. This show actually happened, and yes they did cast "beer swilling, knuckle dragging rednecks".

Sit back and enjoy, "zero to psychotic in 30 seconds". The guy at the start of this clip reminds us of someone we know:

2004 Isla Guadalupe...10.00am

Found this classic video clip from Shark Diver and Sterns Bullen. Back in 2004 we had a smaller, very aggressive shark on site for a number of weeks:

Maldives Whale Sharks - Conservation

Found on the Maldives blog this morning, more good industry news:

In another step towards becoming environment-friendly, the Maldivian government unveiled plans yesterday to designate three whale shark habitats in the Maldives as protected areas.

Protected areas are allocated Baa atoll Hanifaru, Baa atoll An'gafaru and Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili as protected areas to commemorate World Environment Day and World Ocean Day on the 5 and 8 June respectively.

"We welcome the whale shark sanctuaries," said Ali Rilwan, executive director of environment NGO Bluepeace today. "We don't need paper parks, we need monitoring and more research in these areas." In March, the ministry of fisheries and agricultures extended the moratorium on reef shark fishing to cover the whole of the Maldives as part of a move towards a total ban on both reef and oceanic shark hunting.The main objective of the project was to protect the areas mega fauna, namely whale sharks, Manta rays.

Divided into various zones, in which different activities will be permitted. While diving and snorkeling would still be allowed, a set of guidelines would be provided to instruct on how to deal with encounters with whale sharks.

Further, boats including Liveaboards and dive boats will be subject to speed limits in certain areas, he said.

The reaction of local residents was "very positive". "They actively wanted this to happen and this won't impact any of their activities so they have nothing to lose from this," "That's the findings of the consultation."

The decision would have a "global significance" and the areas were among the few in the world where whale sharks could be spotted.

The polka-dotted whale shark is the largest fish on the planet, but very little is known about their existence, according to the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme's website.

While it is known they swim potentially vast distances across the ocean, eating only plankton, tiny fish and squid, how long they live or where they reproduce remains a mystery.

It was crucial to establish a set of guidelines to counter the impact that the growth of tourism would have on whale sharks in future years.
At present, it is estimated that whale shark excursions generate US$10 million annually.

According to researchers Maldives have spotted 115 whale sharks, although the real number was probably higher.

"Some of these areas are important feeding grounds," "And out of all of them, there are only two females, so the animals are only spending part of their lives here."

The designated areas would also protect other animal species such as manta rays in Hanifaru and Gray reef sharks and White tips reef sharks in Baa Atoll An'gafaru.

Shark Diver