Friday, October 16, 2009

Great White Sharks - Julie Hazards Adventure

When the office phone rang this summer within minutes into the conversation we knew we had a shark fan on the other end of the line.

Julie Hazard turned out to be one of those shark people you come to love, and cannot wait to meet.

This is her story, encounters with the Great whites of Isla Guadalupe -2009

Julies Story

I have always loved sharks. I remember watching Jacques Cousteau and then 'Shark Week' as a child...I though shark diving was so cool and as I grew older it became an obsession.

When I was a senior in high school, I wanted to study Marine Biology and was warned by someone that it was hard to get a job...because you basically have to wait for someone to die to get a good field position. It turns out studying sharks wasn't a job you ever gave up once you had it.

So instead I became a member of a few shark conservation groups and I even have a shark tattoo on my ankle...did I mention that I love sharks?

A few years ago I decide to go dive with Great whites. I didn't know anything about the dives and wanted to get a great price for the dive so, I did some homework. Last year I found two companies that had pretty good shark diving deals and called to talk with them in person.

Unfortunately I was also in the process of changing jobs and decided to wait one more year. Let me tell you, that was one very looong year. I was laid off in November but I had saved the money for the trip and I was going to go.

I started talking with Patric the CEO of Shark Diver in Feb and I was so excited when I got the confirmation that I was going. Since I had no job at the time, it gave me something to look forward to. Imagine booking a trip with no job? Did I mention I really love sharks?

I had booked this great trip and was so excited I told everyone I knew what I was doing, twice! They all thought I was crazy!

Turns out the Shark Crew were very sweet to me as a single girl far from home, 210 miles in the middle of no where, surrounded by white sharks. They kept you very well fed, the beds were comfy, and of course the SHARKS were great. Something I could never see except in real life a 15 foot white shark face to face. The second day there was 8 sharks at the back of the vessel - eight!

I was so amazed as they swam by and looked at you. Not as "food" but more curious than anything, I was not afraid, they were simply beautiful. We dove with these amazing animals for three days and I did not want to leave.

I have decided that I want to go again, and again. I am looking into getting a group together to come see them next year. I learned a lot this year with the whites, Discovery Channel just does not do it justice.

It was a great adventure and a chance of a lifetime. I will never forget it!

Shark News Roundup - RTSea Productions Blog

From RTSea Productions - this weeks shark news roundup:

Scotland to ban shark finning:
In a bold and welcomed move, Scotland has proposed a total ban on shark finning by Scottish or any other registered vessel operating in Scottish waters. European Union nations constitute the largest exporting group of shark fins to the Asian marketplace and their has been discussion for a new EU policy regarding sharks, but Scotland decided that there's no time like the present.

"As one of Europe's most important fishing nations we have a duty to show that we are serious about protecting the sustainability of our seas, their stocks and the wider marine ecosystem, not just through words but with action," said Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
(BBC News story.)

Shark nets to stay in Queensland:
According to the Brisbane Times, sharks nets in Queensland, Australia will remain for now. There had been discussion about their removal - albeit temporary - due to a higher number of whale calves that have been caught in the nets during the whale's migration season.

Shark control program manager Tony Ham says, "
The program has been in place since 1962 and in that time we've had one fatal attack on a protected beach, at North Stradbroke island in 2006. There were a number of attacks prior to the program going in - some of those were pretty horrific and fatal. We believe the program does work."

Shark nets have often been controversial because on the one hand, they seem to prevent unwanted shark-human interaction, but on the other hand, it prioritizes the rights of humans to enter the ocean over the rights of sharks to be in their natural habitat.

Spanish supermarkets to no longer sell endangered shark:
Two of Spain's larger supermarket chains, Alcampo and Sabeco, have decided to no longer carry endangered shark meat in their stores, only distributing species that are not threatened (effectively eliminating all commercial shark species). One year ago, the same chains decided to stop selling bluefin tuna, which has been pushed to near extinction in European waters.

The stores are promoting the sale of sustainable or aquafarmed species such as talapia and farmed cod, in addition to working with smaller companies to supply mussels, trout, and salmon. In September, Spain's Ministry of Environment and Rural and marine Affairs initiated a ruling to begin on January 1, 2010 that prohibits Spanish fishing boats from taking thresher and scalloped hammerhead sharks - two species that have suffered major population declines.
(FiS Worldnews story.)

Petition to protect Lemon Sharks:
In the winter, lemon sharks congregate off the east Florida coast and with the demand of shark fins combined with the decrease in numbers of many other commercial sharks like the sandbar shark, the lemon shark is coming under consideration by local fisherman as a way to meet demand.

A coalition of scientists, divers, and shark conservation groups have enlisted the aid of to help circulate a petition to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, asking for the commission to take action on behalf of the lemon shark by adding the species to the Prohibited Species List. The coalition is hoping to generate 10,000 signatures and they are currently about a third of the way there. To sign the petition, click here.

Worlds Largest Oil Spill - By The Numbers

55 - Number of days the Montera Oil Platform spill has been sending oil into the Timor Sea.

18,000 - Number of kilometers the spill now covers (the size of Phoenix Arizona).

924,000 - Estimated number of gallons of crude oil spilled off the coast of Australia.

We covered this ongoing oil disaster back in September and watched the main stream media turn its oceanic eye away from coverage here.

With what is now the world's largest oil spill, in it's 55th day, why is the major media in the USA not covering this ecological disaster?

To get updated here is a small sampling of the media coverage from Australia:

Indonesian fishermen say oil spill is destroying their catch

Fifty-five days and counting: oil still spewing from rig

Third attempt to cap leak