Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Industry Paper - Developing a Code of Conduct for whale shark interactions in Mozambique


The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a popular focal species within the global marine tourism industry. Although this has contributed to increased protection being granted to the species in several countries, tourism itself can be detrimental to the sharks in the absence of appropriate management. Potential impacts can be mitigated, at least in the short term, by adherence to well-designed interaction guidelines.

A burgeoning marine tourism industry based on swimming with whale sharks has developed at Tofo Beach in Mozambique. However, no formal management is currently in place at this site.

The behaviour of whale sharks during interactions with boats and swimmers were recorded during 137 commercial snorkelling trips run from Tofo Beach over a 20 month period. Whale sharks were encountered on 87% of trips, which operated year-round.

Boat proximity and shark size were significant predictors of avoidance behaviour. No avoidance responses were recorded at >20 m boat distance.

The mean in-water interaction time between sharks and swimmers was 8 min 48 s overall. There was a significant decrease in interaction times during encounters where sharks expressed avoidance behaviours, and also in cases where sharks had expressed boat avoidance behaviour before swimmers entered the water.

It is suggested that mean encounter times can be extended through adherence to a basic Code of Conduct for operators and swimmers that enforces minimum distances between the sharks, boats and swimmers. Using encounter time as a measure of the ‘success’ of interactions holds promise, as longer encounters appear to be indicative of lower impacts on sharks while also providing higher customer satisfaction for swimmers.

Complete Paper.

Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Shark Tourism Under Siege - Hawaii Appeal Denied

When chumming becomes illegal, shark tourism operators often find themselves in a tough battle for legitimacy:

Star Advertiser Hawaii

A state judge denied a request to dismiss charges of illegal shark-feeding against a North Shore ocean excursion employee yesterday as protesters rallied at the courthouse.

Pier Diem District Judge Christopher McKenzie set a Dec. 2 hearing at Wahiawa District Court for the five shark-tour employees. A trial is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 20.

Maurice Lee Chalker Jr., Richard Bock Whyte, Nickolas Gargaro and Eric Christopher Nourrie each have been charged with one count of shark feeding. Kohl William Ragragola was charged with two counts.

Each faces a $100 minimum fine, a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail if convicted.

Attorney Tom Bush, who represents Nourrie, moved to dismiss the charge, but McKenzie denied the request. Nourrie, who was not present, was a deckhand for North Shore Shark Adventures. Bush said Nourrie no longer works for the company.

Complete Story.

Media Meltdown New Zealand - Ouch!

Occasionally we come across a media moment almost too painful to watch.

This is Ex-TVNZ morning show anchor Paul Henry as he mangles the name of India's Chief Minister in Delhi - Sheila Dikshit.

Realizing he's in a media hole of his own making, and sinking fast, he "doubles down" on the insult by making a racist comment, meanwhile his two show hosts remain steadfastly not amused.

If there was an award for "Blind Moronic Decision Making On The Fly" we would like to suggest Paul Henry gets it.

Henry was fired from broadcast television this week and will be attending TVNV's Clown School in the near future in hopes of getting a job with the TVNZ Morning Show with Muppets: