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.

Patric Douglas CEO

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.

Captain Spencer