Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gulf of the Farallones - Hooking Sharks Round Two?

Research teams are back at it with a new draft proposal to bait, hook, and tag more sharks at the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary.

The draft proposal is here.

Public comment can be emailed to sanctuary staff member until October 12, 2010.

Last years effort was well documented when a breeding aged white shark was foul hooked, and the hook had to be cut free with a pair of industrial bolt cutters.

The hook was embedded so deeply that cutters had to be pushed through the sharks gills.

Only a small percent of the hook was recovered and the rest was left inside the animal.

Apparently, and much to the research teams relief, the animal lived. It still has a man made hook embedded deep in its throat prompting Maria Brown, Farallones Sanctuary Manager, to give the following assessment of this kind of research:

"I equated it to, it felt like what it's like when I go to the dentist; when you go in, you get a cavity filled, it's something that maybe you don't want to go do, but you do it, it's quick, it's over, it's done."

Please read that statement again. It was for the record to ABC News in regards to a throat hooked protected species in a National Marine Sanctuary. The 2009 permit was issued for a research/television show called Shark Men.

A team of expert anglers, a renowned shark scientist and a Hollywood heartthrob join forces to unmask the mysteries of the world's largest predatory fish. Their bold expedition includes a unique vessel with an unprecedented way to lift Great Whites out of the water for examination.

The ensuing foul hooked shark media calamity was a black eye for both the Farallones, the entire NOAA sanctuary system, and invasive shark tagging programs. Our views on the matter were for the record and we were one of the few commercial shark diving operators to take a public stance against this kind of research. For reasons that remain obvious to this day.

No one can guarantee a hooked white shark will not suffer grievous damage with this kind of work.

In the end this brand of invasive research/television programming will have to be decided by interested parties, use groups, other researchers, and the general public.

Should be an interesting few months.

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