Saturday, February 20, 2010

Great White sharks 'more endangered than Tigers?' - Very likely

Researchers in California and around the world are raising concerns about the population statistics of white sharks in our oceans.

Some are suggesting the population numbers are less than even tiger shark populations worldwide...and we would agree with that assessment.

For the past 5 years Shark Diver has been monitoring one small fish market in Ensenada, Mexico. What we have found is a thriving white shark fishery sold as "swordfish" for 60-100 peso per kilo on most days.

This image came from a recent trip down to the market with Captain Greg Grivetto from Horizon Charters in late 2009.

We were there to document the take of white sharks and did not have to wait long. Within 10 minutes of our arrival this 6 foot animal showed up. It was a female "young of the year."

Up and down the coast of Mexico and Baja these animals are regularly taken by small co operatives who drop long lines overnight seeking more profitable species like swordfish and tuna.

From our conversation with local fishermen in Ensenada these white shark pups are not being targeted, they are an unfortunate by product of a local fishery, and most animals arrive dead at their boats to be sold later in the day.

Direct evidence of a younger generation of sharks that never get to add to the population cycle. If the numbers of animals at this one small fishing port are evidence of a larger fishery, we might suggest the entire population is at risk if not declining.

Tracking data showing these same animals moving into the Sea of Cortez for extended periods of time do not bode well for their survivability in this well known, and notorious, hook filled environment.


Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkdivers.blogspot.com
www.guadalupefund.org
www.islandofthegreatwhiteshark.com
415.235.9410

MV Horizon at Isla Guadalupe - Film Production

For the next 20 days the MV Horizon will be at Isla Guadalupe with a film crew from Japan.

They are there to discover and document the "islands inhabitants."

Like the 30 day expedition with the BBC they did last year, the crew are sending back regular updates.

This week the film crew with the help of Captain Spencer witnessed something never before seen at Isla Guadalupe, changing the way we view the wildlife here once again.

Captain Spencers Log Day 4

Again we are off the boat before the sun even has a chance to wake up for the day. Away we go off to capture some more footage of the female elephant seal ready to give birth. Or so we thought... after hours of watching, looking and waiting we come to a sad realization that she is gone. Maybe she moved to another beach or maybe she gave birth over night. Nobody knows all we do know is that she is gone. As we wrap up the morning at the beach we get a rare look into the world of wild animals at their finest.

On the way back to the Horizon we spotted a baby Elephant Seal swimming on the surface, so we headed over to take a look and could immediately tell there was something wrong. Maybe he was sick, or injured, all we knew was that it wasn't looking good for this baby out in shark infested waters. As we followed behind the pup, four dolphins joined in on our curiosity. We thought they might try to take advantage of the wounded seal, but fortunately we were mistaken, the dolphin were actually helping the seal back to shore. As the pup struggled for air the dolphin repeatedly dove and lifted the young pup to the surface to breath. It was AMAZING! The dolphins actually were guiding the seal back to shore.

Never in my life would I think a dolphin had such compassion. After the seal made it to shore the dolphin gave a tail slap on the water, as if to say, "high five!" Then off they went into the wild blue. After lunch we spent time on the boat catching up on some editing and interviews. Then out of no where a 12 foot white shark decided it was sick of being cooped up in the ocean and breached 200 yards from the boat. It was awesome. To see such a large shark launch itself out of the water like that.

Now we know for sure the sharks are here. Maybe tomorrow we will put the cage in and see what is swimming below.


Adios
Captain Spencer

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shark Diver NZ - Video Blogging From Site

Last week, after some delay, we announced Shark Diver New Zealand. For many in the shark community who have their "ear to the ground" the announcement of Stewart Island and Oceania was a forgone conclusion (Mike aka Da Shark).

Unfortunately the discovery that the only operator in the region also runs a commercial shark fishing and finning operation caused us to remove our name from this operator and any further dealings with him.

While it is "legal" to catch both sharks and fin them in New Zealand we will not support any commercial shark diving operator who engages in this activity. The operator in question does several toms of shark fin each season while also attempting to make money showing people white sharks.

His vessel information:

Vessel NumberVessel NameOperator NumberOperator NameIMO NumberCallsign
62742Lady Anna9280045William Peter Scott, Beatrix Fredericka Scott
ZM2929


It's a simple choice. You either support shark conservation, or you're part of the problem.

For us it was an easy choice to make.

For others in our community you are now on notice. Do you support the conservation of sharks?

Transatlantic migration and deep mid-ocean diving by basking shark


Transatlantic migration and deep mid-ocean diving by basking shark -

Fine News for Lemon Sharks - Florida

News Release



February 18, 2010
Contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule Thursday to prohibit all recreational and commercial harvest of lemon sharks from Florida waters. The FWC took this action to protect lemon sharks, because they have a high potential to be overharvested.

Lemon sharks are often found near shore in shallow water, especially in Southeast Florida, where they aggregate in large numbers each year. This makes them easy to locate and raises the potential for large numbers of lemon sharks to be removed from the population with minimal effort by fishermen.

Lemon sharks also are susceptible to overharvest because of their life history characteristics. They are slow-growing, reaching sexual maturity at 12-15 years of age, and have a low reproductive potential, producing 6 to 18 pups per litter every second or third year. Juvenile lemon sharks experience a mortality of 40-60 percent.

Recently, some preliminary data from an ongoing tagging study found that at least 7.5 percent of tagged adult lemon sharks from a Southeast Florida aggregation succumbed to fishing mortality in one season. At that rate, the entire lemon shark aggregation could be harvested in a few years.

In addition, recent regulatory actions for other shark species might put more fishing pressure on lemon sharks in Florida waters, where 90 percent of known lemon shark aggregations occur. The harvest of lemon sharks will still be allowed in offshore federal waters adjacent to state waters.Healthy lemon shark populations are especially important to Florida's dive charter industry which provides ecotourism trips to see lemon shark aggregations in the winter months.

The FWC's lemon shark rule takes effect on March 23. More information about recent shark-management actions is available online at MyFWC.com/Rules, click on "Fishing - Saltwater."

Image:Christy Fisher

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shark Hoax Enjoys Airtime - Embarrassingly so for Dale Kobetich

Not even April 1st yet and photographer/surfer Dale Kobetich unloaded a whopper of a shark tale on an unsuspecting surf and shark crowd this week.

In this semi tragic story Dale faces off with a deadly mako (the one in this image) and manages to take some stunning images in the process.

The problem with this story and sadly for Dale is that he mis-judged his audience...completely.

The shark image world is a pretty savvy place and anyone can tell this animal is as dead as they get. A dried out stage prop for a completely faked story of man vs shark in California.

Why did he do it?

Who knows, who cares, suffice to say Dale must be wondering the same questions right about now as well. With April Fools still a few months away, this story would have been a world class contender - instead it is a world class bogus effort.

Editors Note: Click here to see a live mako shot notice the difference?

Editors Other Note: Dale comes clean, admits fakery, of course we already knew that.

113 Nations Agree - Will it save sharks?

113 nations have signed on to conserve migratory shark species. This is being heralded as a landmark decision.

On the flip side we have seen this kind of thing before.

Nations banding together to work long ranging plans for animal conservation and who fall foul to enforcement issues or internal pressures from commercial fishing interests.

In short, while these announcements are always good news, the conservation world needs to radically change the way we do conservation.

Too often nation conservation consensus leads to little in the way of actual conservation, as is the case with blue fin tuna.

Good "news" for sharks does not always translate into actual protections for animals.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Goblin girl on... shark jewelry!

February is such a boring month! I have no new findings of goblin sharks to report of. And I wasn't able to go to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) shark meeting in Manila last week - I still haven't seen what the outcome of the meeting was. And since I didn't go to the Philippines I didn't get to swim with whale sharks - which I've only wanted to do since I first saw Valerie Taylor do it on TV. I was maybe 4 years old then.

But then Thomas Sabo came and brightened my day. And no, I WISH I was sponsored by them, since they're not cheap, but I'm not.

I have lots of shark jewelry (check my own page for photos) so I kind of ignored the sharks when I saw them online, but the pendant is adorable! I definitely want one of those - the one without the rocks. The shark looks very happy. And as always, a lot of attention has been made to the small details.

So far, I only bought the submarine and the carrier - like the one the diver hangs on. The sub reminds me of Alvin (can you have a sub as an idol? In that case "he" is mine!) and it brightens up my dark and snowy days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shark Tournaments - Change From Within

How do you effect conservation change?

That question is the million dollar or million shark question depending on which side of the conservation fence you are currently sitting.

Smart conservationists know that conservation change, real and long lasting change, does not come from direct action, protests, or petitions.

Conservation change comes from new ways of thinking, alliances with forward thinking individuals and groups, and effecting change from within.

That's why we support the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge.

We know hard core shark folks will decry the "support" of any shark tournaments but the bottom line is this - until today no one had taken a leadership role combining shark research, shark conservation, and catch and release into a certified tournament model. A model that will soon become the accepted tournament model to replace the 300 or so catch and kill tournaments currently operating in the USA.

Think about it.

Shark tournaments will not stop because they are money making propositions. Asking anyone to stop making money is hard, demanding that they stop without a sustainable replacement is a fools errand.

To change the shark tournament world you will first have to come up with a tournament model that is so successful that everyone will want to copy it.

Kudos to the team from the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge, and to Guy and his crew for supporting the evolution of shark catch and release tournaments in the USA.

Taking "marlin tournament model" into the world of ongoing shark research and conservation is the way you effect conservation change.

SFMI Regional Ambassador named for Honduras

The Shark-Free marina initiative would like to welcome and old friend of ours to the SFMI Ambassador program. Peter Wilcox is a Canadian born Dive Instructor and shark conservation advocate that has been working in the Bay Islands of Honduras for several years.

Pete’s organization the Shark Legacy Project was recently instrumental in pushing for a complete moratorium on shark fishing in Honduran Waters, a tentative status that for the moment protects all sharks from slaughter. Pete’s work is now really cut out for him as he works with the givernment and their officials to make this temporary bill permanent and regulated.

From Peter Wilcox Director of the Shark Legacy Project:

"We’ve had a major victory down here. After our meetings with DIGIPESCA they pushed up the passing of a bill that has now gone into practice. It puts a moratorium on the fishing of all shark species in all the waters of Honduras! Think that makes Honduras the first in the Caribbean to have a shark sanctuary! Part of the drive behind this measure was to cease use of sharks as a resource until research can be done to evaluate the population/species of sharks here. So finally, a government willing to step in before the problem gets unmanageable.

We met with the government this last weekend to discuss how we can assist in this research (as you may be able to guess they do not have much in the way of funding for their own research). We are travelling to Tegucigalpa this week to discuss further research and affiliations to benefit the goals of protecting sharks here."

As if his work isn’t already cut out for him we’ve asked Pete to step up for SFMI and represent the Initiative in Honduras.

Please support the Shark Legacy Project by visiting their website and spreading the news of their win through your social networks.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

SSACN announce Sharkatag 2010

Volunteer anglers from all over the UK will be descending upon south west Scotland once again in an attempt to tag as many inshore sharks as possible from boats, kayaks and the shore over the three-day period 18th to 20th June.

Sharkatag is just one of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network’s on going projects, aimed at highlighting the urgent need for shark, ray and skate conservation in Scottish waters and raising the public awareness of sea angling and its contribution to the economies of many coastal communities.

One of the main organizers Stuart Cresswell said. “Last years Sharkatag event was a huge success with over 200 volunteer sport fishermen catching, tagging and releasing over 200 sharks. The event received widespread publicity on prime time TV news bulletins and also benefited local businesses to a value in excess of £40,000.

"Our aim for the 2010 event is to increase participation and publicity of the event further and to clearly highlight the fact to Scotland's politicians that a live shark in the sea is actually worth over 20 times more than a dead shark on the fishmongers slab."

According to Ian Burrett, SSACN’s Projects Director the focus for this year’s Sharkatag event will be the tope shark which grows up to 100 lb. SSACN believes Luce Bay and the Solway are a breeding ground for tope, yet unlike in England and Wales, tope are not protected in Scottish waters and their numbers are dropping year by year. "We would like to be to be protected in all EU waters, but need our own Government to support that aim."

Other shark species such as rays, bull huss and smoothound will also be tagged. Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP ) tags, which carry a unique number, are carefully attached to the sharks. Details like weight, sex and length are recorded and entered on a database. When the shark is recaptured, the data can be analysed to provide evidence of species migrations, growth rates, stock populations, make-up and fluctuations.

Mark Harding has a Point - Shark Research

By way of Da Shark over at the always informative Beqa Blog in Fiji photographer Mark Harding questions the roll of shark research when it conflicts with shark conservation efforts.

Mark brings up many good points in this ongoing debate on his blog at Eyemocean. Mark is an eloquent writer who distills the issues down nicely.

Call it an evolutionary thought process.

We raised an eyebrow or two over the same news reports last week.

Submarines and CICIMAR Guadalupe Island

Interesting video of submarine explorations at Isla Guadalupe with Expedition Jaytay
and CICIMAR's ongoing white shark study at this site:


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shark Diver New Zealand Announces New Great White Shark Location – “Open For Conservation”

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SharkDiverNZ.com -- Press Release Distribution 2/15/2010
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Shark Diver New Zealand is currently on hold while parent company Shark Diver makes necessary changes to websites and working partnerships in the region. Please stand by.

The revelation that one of the operations on site has a second commercial vessel that engages in commercial shark finning was a non starter for us. We'll keep you updated as new, conservation minded operations start here.

Planet Shark Blogger Day - Georgia Aquarium

Dear Blogger,

You are invited to attend Planet Shark Blogger Day at the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday, February 20, 2010, to experience Planet Shark first hand from 9:00am-6:00pm (last admission at 4:00pm).

You will receive FREE admission for you and one guest.

Please RSVP to scott@creaxion.com by Wednesday, February 17 and include your blog’s web address for verification. Your tickets will be available for pick up at Georgia Aquarium Will-Call, located at the main entrance, the day of the event.

Planet Shark Blogger Day invitation has been attached to this e-mail for more information. Please feel free to extend the invite to fellow bloggers.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jaws 3D - Blog Reader Notices and Reports

Shark Diver Gabriel Beyrent sent in this story.

As the JAWS franchise slowly slid into the realm of comedy (sharks with personal vendettas?) there's a movement to bring back shark horror in next generation 3D.

As the industry knows there's a titanic footrace at the moment to provide 3D content to both cinema and television, with most of the major players looking for good franchise programming. Alas, Jaws would be the last 3D effort that would make any sense with today's smarter more sympathetic shark public.

We have evolved a long way since the 197o's.

Story by Monika B at Cinbematical

When we hear a ridiculous rumor, it's quite easy to become either incensed at the sheer audaciousness of the claim, or laugh it off as too stupid to be true. Take this latest goodie: Cinema Blend reports that a source at Universal Pictures claims that since audiences are expecting more from their movies, the studio wants to tap into the franchise pile for 3D magic, and are "strongly considering" a remake of Jaws "in hopes of dazzling younger audiences with new special effects."

The notion makes sense. If there's one movie that would look downright gorgeous in Real D 3D, it's Jaws. However, folks, that's not all. That same insider claims that Tracy Morgan has been considered for the role of Richard Dreyfus' Matt Hooper, but it's "uncertain" whether he's still in the running. To hedge their gossip bets, Cinema Blend states that this is a new source and could be hooey just as much as it could be truth.

It's easy to shudder when thinking of a comedic Jaws led by Morgan, because the thought sounds downright terrible, but let's back up. See that shark up there with the super-visible robot metal in his mouth? That's the big beast of Jaws 4. After that monstrosity of moviemaking, is it really that ridiculous to imagine Morgan facing off against a 3D shark?

It's either the stupidest, most moronic rumor of the year, or a sad reminder of where Hollywood is heading in the future. You make the call ...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kip Evans Superb Documentary Effort

The waters around Isla Holbox off Mexicos Yucat√°n Peninsula teem with plankton, a feast for giant whale sharks—10-meter giants that gather by the hundreds from June through September. These super-sized but toothless filter feeders are the core of a local tourism industry, but over-development could threaten this delicate balance.

Dr. Sylvia Earle narrates. Kip Evans - Producer and Director of Photography:



New Jersey Shark Conservation Window

New Jersey has a political shark mess on it's hands, and an open window for shark conservation groups who are looking for a way to close shark tournaments in the region.

We covered this unlikely turn of events last month.

Shark fishing interests in New Jersey are applying pressure to government agencies to sign bills into law enacting new compliance standards for shark fisheries off the New Jersey coastlines.

If these bills are not signed, the entire 2010 shark fishery will be put on hold, a win for conservation.

What is not happening at this time are any efforts by shark conservation folks (large coordinated and vocal groups) to stall these unsigned bills or even demand status reviews that might slow the signing process down.

A rare window of shark conservation opportunity, and the clock is running.

Any shark conservation takers out there?

Keep Fishing Sharks to Support Research?

The world of shark conservation often works at cross purposes as agenda driven groups push for conservation strategies that have unintended consequences.

From direct action protest groups who ultimately embed resistance and cause disparate fishing interests to successfully band together against conservation, to "Shark Messiahs" who push unsustainable messaging about what sharks really are - top order predators.

This week Loblaws' Canada (a grocery chain) announced a ban on the sale of shark meat and a few species of fish declaring them unsustainable.

Clearly a win for the shark conservation folks, but hold on a minute, researchers now claim this ban will damage research efforts as the vessels they use to tag sharks are the fishing vessels that catch sharks for sale at Loblaws' Canada.

If your faith in the shark conservation movement is being shaken at this point, you might not want to read the entire story. The take away from this story is the need for all groups to look beyond just their immediate efforts and push for a holistic approach to conservation.

If you think the chances of that happening anytime soon is as good as Sea Shepherd Conservation Society actually stopping Japans whaling efforts or the Canadian Seal hunt - you would be right.

This blog often points out issues and trends that mature over time, one thought, one idea, and one post at a time.

Sharks and research in Canada.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Law of Attraction - Baited Cams

Currently being passed around the blue blogs some interesting research video from Australia:

Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) have been developed by AIMS scientists in order to monitor the vast areas of deeper inter-reef and shelf habitats inaccessible to research divers so that important bioregions there can be included in marine protected areas.

BRUVS consist of tourist-grade “HandiCam” video cameras in simple underwater housings made of PVC sewer pipe and acrylic, with a canister of minced pilchards on the end of a bait arm in the field of view. The housings are held in steel frames, and are deployed in strings of four to six under separate ropes and floats, to be picked up after one or two hours filming at the seabed.

Baited videos record species attracted to the bait plume or camera station, species attracted to the commotion caused by feeding and aggregation at the station, species occupying territories within the field of view of the camera, and species indifferent to the station but present in or passing through the field of view during the deployment.

The range of fish, sharks, rays, sea snakes and other animals sighted on BRUVS tapes has been remarkable – over 300 species to date, from 3cm leatherjackets to 3m hammerhead sharks.


Seacology Announces Desal Plant at Isla Guadalupe

MEXICO, Guadalupe Island, Baja California Pacific – Sea water desalination system in exchange for a 1,235-acre marine reserve for a duration of 10 years.

Guadalupe Island, with a total land area of 80,000 acres, is one of the most remote islands of Mexico. The island’s only community is mostly fishermen and their families who have been using the island for decades, fishing lobster and diving abalone. Guadalupe Island has one of the best preserved marine environments of Mexico. Since the decree in 2007 of the “Guadalupe Island Biosphere Reserve”, the management and regulated protection of its natural resources is under the federal authority of the Natural Protected Areas Commission.

Guadalupe Island is one of the best examples in the world of an ongoing island ecosystem recovery where different entities (governmental and nonprofit) are participating. A water desalination plant is the local community's most urgent need. A desalinization system will be purchased with the help of Seacology in exchange for the creation and protection of a 1,235-acre marine reserve for a period of 10 years, where fishing, extraction of resources, damage to the sea floor, contamination or any other kind of damage is forbidden.

The desalination system will be able to supply as much as 3,000 gallons per day. The water supply could also support reforestation and restoration projects, particularly in the remaining patches of endemic forest. In 2000 and 2002, Seacology funded projects to construct and maintain fences to keep invasive goats out of the most sensitive areas containing endemic plant species. Goats have since been eradicated from the island.

White Sharks - Isla Guadalupe - Video Snack

Over at the Dorsal Fin Blog a very nice video expose on the perils of fishing at white shark hot spot Isla Guadalupe.

Catching a 100lb tuna at this site is exciting, having said tuna "whomped on" by a 15 foot great white? Priceless.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shark Volunteer Event San Francisco

Hello, COARE volunteers!

We hope that you are all enjoying the new year so far, and that you're as enthused as we are that it is going
to be a good one.

To kick off this year's activities, we have a few volunteer opportunities in February.


Sharks in the Park


Date: Sunday, 07 February 2010
Time: 11am-3pm

Location: Portsmouth Square, SF Chinatown

Lend a hand to save some fins!

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, last year's
Sharks in the Park event was a great success, and we're
excited to do it again!

The consumption of shark fin soup spikes up each year
during Chinese New Year celebrations. This year's
Sharks in the Park event will coincide with the festivals
preceding Chinese New Year, so attendance and outreach
are both is expected to be larger.

We're really hoping for a big turnout on this one.
Even if you can't volunteer, or even attend, please help
us spread the word.

Pass along the link:


For this event, we need volunteers to hand out
literature, answer questions, and generally engage
curious passersby.

For more information, please visit:


Our World Underwater

Dates: Friday-Sunday, 19-21 February 2010

Location: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Rosemont IL 60018

OWU is one of the premier consumer dive shows in the US.
This year, COARE will have a booth there, and we'll also
be giving a seminar on ocean-bound waste and our Green
Diver program.

We're looking for volunteers to help staff the booth and
be part of the COARE team.

If you are planning or hoping to attend the OWU show,
this is a great opportunity for you. In exchange for
your assistance, we'll provide admission to the show for
the days you're volunteering.

Contact Christopher at 510-495-7875 or info@coare.org
for more info.


Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Wishing you healthy oceans,
- Christopher Chin


Please feel free to share this newsletter and these
volunteer opportunities with friends, family, and
colleagues who you think might share our passion.
If you received this newsletter second hand, we
encourage you to join the COARE volunteer force by
sending a note to volunteer@coare.org

Thursday, February 4, 2010

White Sharks in Vietnam?

This image is apparently from a recent white shark landing in Vietnam.

The image and posting was discovered by Helmut N over at the Shark-l who has a long and storied history of attributed images and shark events from around the world.

If a shark event happens in some obscure place, Helmut will usually uncover it.

Date: February 4, 2010.
Location: Phu Yen Province, Vietnam.
Species: Carcharodon carcharias.
Size: said to be 5 metres in length ( estimated 1 ton weight )

For more details.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Shark Legacy Project

The Shark Legacy Project exists to protect sharks as part of the marine inheritance of all people. Founded by PADI Course Director Peter Wilcox, together with Shark Biologist Giacomo Palavicini, our research aims to assist governments in the establishment of shark sanctuaries.

Our pilot research project launched January 2010 in Roatan, in conjunction with the Roatan Marine Park and DIGIPESCA (Honduras Fisheries Department). The project combines shark diving operators in Honduras with our biologists to determine a dollar value of the sharks to tourism, and so protect them as a valuable marine resource. Recently DIGIPESCA enacted a bill establishing a complete moratorium on fishing of all shark species in Honduras until the research has completed, the government has a better idea of sharks as a resource to its people and a management plan can be established.

Victory number one was recently signed into law, now the research begins!

Want to help?

Visit www.sharklegacyproject.com and sign the petition, spread the word with the links on the site or better yet, come visit Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras and dive with us and the sharks!

Elegance in Black and White - Google Oceans

Speaking of RTSea Productions, when Google announced "Google Oceans" joining it's wildly successful Google Earth, Richard Theiss was on the original content team providing video and images to ocean searchers worldwide.

This week his short shark PSA "Sharks:Elegance in Black and White" was uploaded to Freeport, Bahamas exposing millions of content searchers worldwide to the stark beauty of sharks.

In case you missed the video here it is again:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hawaii - Hobbling through conservation and commercial shark diving

Small island politics often breed strange laws, and non stranger then the seven anti-shark diving bills currently circulating through Hawaii's political center in Oahu.

At least one politician sensing the oncoming political circus surrounding sharks has added an anti-shark fin bill to the mix, that's the only good shark news coming from this island.

RTSea's Blog covered the entire political mess nicely in a post last week. Fine reading and summary of small island politics at it's best or absolute worst, depending if you happen to care about sharks, tourism, conservation, and good old fashioned mid term electioneering.

Read here.

Tonga Shark Free Marinas Initiative

The first of what will undoubtedly be many Shark Free Marinas in Tonga came to fruition this month thanks with the help of "interested parties" in the region. Mike over at BAD in Fiji has the scoop:

Bless Henk and Sandra Gros!

They have graciously agreed to act as trailblazers and are now the Kingdom of Tonga's first Shark Free game fishing operators. This is far from being trivial as contrary to many Fijians, Tongans hunt and eat Sharks and will thus regard any attempt at sparing their life as a wasteful and incomprehensible act of utter Palangi foolishness.

Kudos!

In the big scheme of things, this will again turn out to be a wise business decision - like everything the Gros' have done so far.

They are among the original pioneers of tourism in Vava'u and have struck gold on practically every one of their ventures. On the accommodation front, they operate one of the first, and still the only clean and reliable backpacker hostel, Adventure Backpackers and are the developers of Mystic Sands, one of only two beachfront resorts on the main islands. Sandra and Kiwi Magic's Pat also operate the only reliable and highly successful agency for holiday homes in Vava'u, Vava'u Holiday Homes and provide access to reliable and trustworthy local help through their Vava'u Property Services.

Yes, I did indeed stress the term reliable, and for good reason! Whatever your provenience and intentions: nowhere does caveat emptor (and I'm not only talking in terms of legal transactions!) apply more than in the Friendly Kingdom- and I'll leave it at that!

Henk himself is the quintessential factotum and provided that he likes the project, you can avail yourself of his expertise for anything from building your next home (he did build mine) or installing a smoker for the most delicious home-smoked Wahoo, all the way to constructing and then successfully deploying a FAD in 1,000-odd fathoms of azure pelagic waters.

But his true love is game fishing and his Target One Sportfishing Charters is one of the most successful (and reliable!) such ventures in the whole of the Kingdom.

Vava'u prides itself on some of the most pristine fishing grounds in the whole of the South Pacific and anglers flock there from all over the globe to try their skills against good sized Sails, feisty (but generally, rather small) Blues, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and in season, great numbers of migratory Yellowfin. This is also the place where one can still experience important numbers of pelagic Sharks, be it Silkies, Bronzies and even elusive Oceanic Whitetips.

Until very recently and much to the joy of the locals and the chagrin of the environmentalists, all fish caught in Vava'u were being landed and consumed, this largely regardless of species, season and size.

But progress being inevitable, more and more enlightened customers have been asking that the Billfishes be tagged and released and even the most backward operators had to grudgingly abide, to the point where the last national tournament was held under that formula - and won by none other than Henk and his Target One!

This is hopefully yet another step in the right direction.

After Palau's epic declaration and Fiji's simply mind-blowing performance, Tonga is hopefully on its way to becoming yet another Pacific island nation that fully embraces the concept that Shark conservation is not only essential for the health of the marine ecosystem but constitutes great tourism marketing on top of that!

Fingers crossed that after Target One, many more game fishermen in Vava'u will see the light and embrace the Shark Free Marinas Initiative!

Bravo Henk and Sandra - and Malo 'aupito!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shark Legacy Project - Honduras 100% Shark Fishing Ban Enacted

They say big things come in small packages. In the shark world nothing is bigger then governments who enact bans on shark fishing in their waters.

Palau's recent shark fishing ban and the Maldives decision to ban shark fishing in their waters was met with acclaim both in the tourism and shark conservation worlds.

As it turns out other governments were watching, and taking note.

Thanks in part to the Shark Legacy Project headed up by a small and dedicated team in Roatan, Honduras the government just announced they will ban all shark fishing in Honduran waters while they study the issue of shark fishing and the economics of Honduran sharks which, for a Latin American country, is a simply stunning decision.

The next steps will require resources and help from the shark tourism industry and from the research side as well to make this ban a permanent and regional example.

From Peter Wilcox Director of the Shark Legacy Project:

"Thanks Patric - have a major victory down here. After our meetings with DIGIPESCA they pushed up the passing of a bill that has now gone into practice. It puts a moratorium on the fishing of all shark species in all the waters of Honduras! Think that makes Honduras the first in the Caribbean to have a shark sanctuary! Part of the drive behind this measure was to cease use of sharks as a resource until research can be done to evaluate the population/species of sharks here. So finally, a government willing to step in before the problem gets unmanageable. We met with the government this last weekend to discuss how we can assist in this research (as you may be able to guess they do not have much in the way of funding for their own research). We are travelling to Tegucigalpa this week to discuss further research and affiliations to benefit the goals of protecting sharks here."

We would Like to congratulate the Shark Legacy Project and all those who have worked to this point to get the ban in place.

This is very good conservation news indeed.