Friday, December 16, 2011

Shark Diver Happy Holidays 2011

We will be in Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba for the next several weeks taking a well deserved rest from all things sharky.

Actually that's not entirely true as we plan to do some shark diving along the way.

You just can't take the shark outta Shark Diver, you can try, but after a decade it's in our DNA.

To all those who touched our lives this year and made it a better place with your laughter, good will, and sense of adventure we say "thank you" and very Happy New Year.

2012 will be one of the best years ever if 2011 was any indication so let's go shark diving!

Image shot by Christy "The Shark" Fisher featuring Shredder in 2006.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anderson Cooper for the Sharks?

Would appear so in this in depth look at healthy reef systems and our toothy friends in the Bahamas(?). Kudos to Anderson and his crew for the expose, unfortunately this is only a taste of things to come you'll have to wait until Sunday to see the rest.

Let's go shark diving!

Holiday Gift Giving Shark Style 2011

The Island of the Great White Shark is an award winning documentary, the first and foremost of it's kind on Isla Guadalupe. It features an in depth look at commercial shark tourism and the now internationally recognised white sharks of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico.

Filmed by renown underwater photographer Richard Theiss this documentary remains the only comprehensive look at this unique island, it's inhabitants, and the current threats to the white sharks here.

For those who have seen this magnificent island for themselves and wish to relive the adventure and excitement of white shark encounters, or for those who will be coming to the island soon this DVD remains a hot stocking stuffer for the sharky set.

If there are any left in stock you can find them here.

Look for three of the islands most recognized sharks Bruce, Shredder, and the long missing Fat Tony in this remarkable DVD. Fat Tony's appearance in this DVD is the last time we saw this amazing heavyweight at the island.

Enjoy and have a Happy Holiday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Wacky Gods of Mormonism and Mitt Romney

Jumping right in here for a moment. A lot has been said about the current GOP field and a lot has been said about Mitt Romney the man with the Presidential hairstyle. Frankly I like his hair which goes to show you just how far I have evolved as a voting prospect in the 2012 race.

I am also vaguely aware that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, slapping that religious construct in with the Amish, nice folks who believe in an all knowing deity with a white beard and a fluffy cloud.

That was until I saw the following video, made by Mormons, for Mormons, to explain their religion.

Seriously? Space Jesus? Star Base Khola? Endless Celestial Sex? UFO's? Negroes?...Negroes?

Far be it for me to say that folks cannot believe what they want in their own homes, or within their own church. But as we all know religion tends to shape folks perception of the wider world in which we live, as in George Bush's famous quotes "God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

Mitt Romney's take on the wider world? After watching this video, you don't even want to know:

Travel Channel and Sharks in Fiji

Rumors of this show have been circulating the community for the past three years with an initial show treatment that was passed around for review.

Today this unique concept is a reality and we have to say, we like the premise:

A new show on the Travel Channel is airing this Sunday (9 PM EST/6 PM PST) and it has a novel premise: send a team of high-end Hollywood photographers to a series of remote locations and recreate a professional photography studio underwater. To this end, the team has pioneered new camera rigs, shooting platforms and lighting equipment that supplies the kind of high-voltage illumination normally reserved for the cover of high-fashion magazines like Vanity Fair. 

 

In their first shoot in Fiji, Mike Muller and his team descend 70 feet where they find and photograph over 8 varieties of sharks. One of their goals is to finally put a face on these elusive creatures who in many regions are struggling to survive with increasing pressures from shark-fin hunters, overfishing and changes in ocean temperature.

Kudos to Mike Muller and good luck with the show.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Greenpeace And Palau Bust Pirates In Palau Shark Sanctuary

The next phase for protected Shark Sanctuaries has begun and we like it, kudos this week to Greenpeace.

It's has surprised few within the shark community that Palau has an ongoing shark problem in the form of outside illegal shark fishing fleets that routinely drop into protected waters to harvest shark fin, even though Palau declared all their waters a Shark Sanctuary in 2009.

We have blogged about the immediate need for millions of dollars to enforce declared Shark Sanctuary gains and to support ongoing shark conservation in the past.

All that has come to a very media worthy head this week as Greenpeace, in tandem with the only Coast Guard vessel Palau owns, busted Taiwan based shark fishing vessel - Sheng Chi Hui.

Unfortunately this great news made the rounds and vanished almost as quickly as it appeared. Hopefully the folks at Greenpeace can raise the bar on this vessel capture and turn it into long term funding.

As a conservation leader Palau has set the bar globally causing other nations to follow suit for sharks. The last three years for Shark Sanctuaries have been the "golden times" but all that hangs in the balance of effective Shark Sanctuary enforcement or lack thereof.

It's an issue that remains the most pressing shark conservation issue on the boards right now.


"The lack of resources available to effectively patrol the waters of the Western and Central Pacific, the unregulated nature of the high seas, and the inconsistent and unreliable nature of monitoring all make it far too easy for illegal activities to take place out here. These serious loopholes need to be closed and pirate fishing needs to be eliminated."



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shooting Sharks - New iPhone Housing

This fall I joined our Shark Diver crew and a private yacht for a unique late fall Time of the Titans Expedition to Isla Guadalupe. Late November is when the really big 18+ sized female white sharks prowl the waters of Point Norte looking for unlucky seals.

As luck would have it within two hours we were visited by a simply titanic animal and witnessed something amazing. The underwater footage was being shot by an award winning DP, Kenneth Corben, who was at the island three weeks prior shooting a Ford Commercial with us.

He brought along his latest creation a "bullet proof" underwater housing for iPhone that I got to try out and can tell you it's probably the best underwater housing on the market.

Shark tested at the worlds foremost white shark site, get yours today.

For divers joining us at Isla Guadalupe in 2012 there will be several of these amazing underwater housings for you to try on board. It's as easy as place, snap, and shoot.

Let's go shark diving!

All I want for Christmas is...a Fez!

Back in 1933 Laurel and Hardy Rocked the Fez in the classic film Sons of the Desert.

It's of of their best films and a personal favorite of mine, but it has left me asking, "what happened to the Fez?"

As hat wear the Fez is as appealing as the Cubano Porkpie, a fashion that came roaring back into the public's style consciousness after a nearly 40 year hiatus.

Alas the Fez as a style choice seems to have died out with Laurel and Hardy in 1933 and I say it is time to bring the Fez back.

In fact I am willing to stake my entire Christmas wish list on it.

This is the kind of hat wear that commands attention, standing tall above a sea of baseball caps, Porkpies and others, and I want one, nay, I deserve one.

As the CEO of a commercial shark diving company I believe it is my solemn duty being in the public eye to set early trends and "Be The Penguin."

"Be The Penguin" you ask?

Yes. We have all seen the Nat Geo doco's of the massive ice shelf with thousands of penguins milling about looking down into the ocean. None of them want to be the first into the sea, that's today's baseball cap wearing crowd. Suddenly one penguin pushes his (or her) way to the front of the pack and leaps.

Your Fez wearing penguin.

The end result is an avalanche of black and white bodies spilling into the sea, a veritable tidal wave of ornithological joy. As an analogy for life in general I have always believed it is better to "Be the Penguin" and several decades later that basic philosophy has proven wise.

So that's my Christmas wish list, hint, hint and hint to bring back the Fez and to celebrate joy with everyone in the Fezzes aura because unlike ordinary hat wear the Fez casts it's own celebration everywhere it goes. Otherwise Laurel and Hardy would have worn top hats, or cowboy hats, they knew back in 1933 that the Fez was truly something special and unique.

Happy Holidays everyone, here's to a Fezzy 2012!


Cheers,
Patric Douglas
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkfreemarinas.com
415.235.9410



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wind Up White Sharks - Marc Montocchio

About as good as it gets for Isla Guadalupe shark images and after 10 years on this site we would know. Kudos to Marc Montocchio who shot a simply stunning expose with our favorite friends at Isla Guadalupe:


"She came within a few feet of the cage with as much effort as it would’ve taken me to form a benign thought.  The sunlight rippled across her gray sandy back like the spotlight reserved for a great queen or empress.  Her right eye looking straight at me she was simultaneously acknowledging my presence and assessing my place in the world that surrounded her.  The eye was not the empty black hole I was expecting.  It was shades of brown—an almost amber disk with a bright ring surrounding a smaller inner pupil."

The image we featured is a rare one, what Marc captured is the exact moment a white shark is "wound up" for a powerful high speed maneuver. Either this male (Shredder) was being challenged by an off screen rival, or he had become startled. This is the exact moment these magnificent animals show to the world the grace and power that is Carcharodon carcharias. 

For those in his wake you'll never forget the experience.

Great stuff and hat tip Mike for the find.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tintorera! The Movie That Just Won't Die

Tintorera!

It's the kind of film that will have you alternately cringing with it's 1970's vintage hyper sexual liberated Mexican vacation scenes while at the same time rooting for several poor unfortunate Tiger sharks that were press ganged into appearing in this god awful film.

The Tigers and the films gory shark attacks are pure nonsense but technically challenging from an underwater filmmakers point of view. This was the 1970's, so pay close attention. The dive team behind this film were pushing every shark boundary there was at the time and no number of Cojones dipped in Patrón Platinum tequila will ever truly describe this dive teams first few raw encounters with Tigers in Mexico - circa 1977.

Kudos to the late great Ramón Bravo for being the man.We all walk in your footsteps sir.

This is great underwater work, if you can get past the fact all the sharks in this film were harmed. Kinda reminds us of a recent chain wrapping event in the Bahamas as of late, but hey, that's film and television with sharks for you.

Fast forward to the 1980's and the other famous underwater Tiger scene with Fonzi et al Happy Days and you see the pure genius that was the DP's work with Tintorera!

We're also impressed that the main paramour in this film, a very sweaty bearded Hugo Stiglitz, managed to channel the onscreen energy and look of another well known television character the "Manah Manah Guy" from Sesame Street.

Whether this is a case of crazy 1970's zeitgeist or in fact the Muppet's creator Jim Henson was a stone cold fan of the film Tintorera! we will never know. Unless you track down Mr.Stiglitz who rumor has it is still alive and well at the ripe old age of 70 in Mexico City.


Anyone? Anyone? Bueler?

If you need more Tintorera! analysis and discussion you can find it because this film has lit a small fire under the shark bloggers. Must be the vintage shark footage, alcohol, and sex, and David Diley has the complete scoop on Tintorera! for you this week. It's a must read.

Tintorera! is the film that "just will not die", thanks largely in part to bloggers like us, You Tube, and a growing fan base perhaps nostalgic for real cocktail glasses on unspoilt Mexican beaches and a time where you could vacation to Mexico without fear of two dozen headless bodies showing up with your vacation luggage courtesy of some local drug gang. 

Looking back on it, Tintorera! is a bit of a time warp, and what a weird and wonderful time machine it turned out to be.

Mark Tipple's "Underwater Project" released on App Store

World renowned and award winning photographer Mark Tipple brings his Underwater Project to iOS devices. Just in time for the holidays and 2012 a new season of underwater magic.

Check it out here

“The underwater portraits of Mark Tipple have an otherworldly look and lighting that no studio could match.” ~ VisualNews.com

As featured in

✎ The Telegraph (UK)
✎ Australian BodyBoarder
✎ The Dive Photo Guide
✎ The Australian (AUS)

"The most powerful images in documentary photography projects are rarely the ones on the surface of the issue, they’re the ones that go deeper. Australian documentary photographer, Mark Tipple, has taken this concept quite literally in a new series called “The Underwater Project”.” ~ ChaseJarvis.com

ABOUT THE PROJECT

A haze of smashed blues and whites, the bright sting of sunlight and a briny hit. The wave rolls onwards, lurching forwards with a power that seems so benign from afar. It throws itself in a powerful lunge, crashes down and topples everything in its path – but for the ocean swimmers who know that to survive a wave is to dive deep.

Visionary photographer Mark Tipple brings his world renowned and ongoing photographic series to the iPhone, iPod and iPad. With regular new releases and weekly visual updates you'll always have new experiences and images to discover.

Try the app with full functionality for free and be amazed by the imagery. You may also unlock dozens more images from the series with a one time in app purchase of just $1.99.

APP FEATURES

✔ 20+ Images from each released series
✔ Browse, zoom & explore the shots
✔ Landscape and Portrait image view
✔ Slideshow viewer w/ custom effects
✔ Create your own custom slideshow
✔ Slideshow never goes dark
✔ Music player in slideshow
✔ Read the UWP Blog
✔ HD iPhone 4.0 Retina Display
✔ Supports iPad native resolution

Official Site: http://www.theunderwaterproject.com

Commercial Shark Diving - Can it Save Sharks?

Talking a bite out of fisheries with sustainable commercial shark diving?
"Data provided by Pew Environmental Group highlights the economic value of live sharks. Belize, for example, rakes in almost $4 million annually from whale shark tours. Shark diving in the Indo-Pacific region generates an estimated $40 million annually, and Spain’s Canary Islands get $24.7 million each year from shark diving. Sharks and shark-related tourism have earned the Bahamas more than $800 million in the 20 years since the country banned long-line fishing."

All that data is well and good but are sharks being saved globally in the balance between sustainable commercialization of sharks and the non sustainable kind that sees sharks reduced to component parts?


I am going to run out on a limb here and say no - not yet.

I don't think we have reached a point as a commercial shark diving industry where we have the ability to partner with mainstream resorts and developments to create commercial shark diving sites globally, and we need to, soon.

To do this we need to partner with an NGO that has the reach and the heft to scale up commercial shark diving in areas that currently have no shark diving at all. Think of this as a string of pearls with dive sites linking each other under a global umbrella, each one creating it's own local set aside area for sharks that are monetized.

An NGO like PEW with Matt Rand would be an excellent choice.

PEW fundamentally gets commercial shark diving, and done right, it's positive ripple effects for regional shark fisheries are undisputed.

Those within our industry who are invested in sharks sustainably work with conservation to preserve their resource. We have seen this from Isla Guadalupe, to Honduras, to great effect. But these efforts are still a drop in the bucket compared to the many millions of sea acres that contain the right matrix for commercial shark diving:

1. A solid tourism infrastructure, with regional hotel partners and government buy in

2. Accessible dive sites, snorkel sites, and or long range boats

3. Accessible "marquis species" sharks from whale sharks to great whites


4. Set shark diving protocols for safe encounters


Our industry, thanks to many early trailblazers, enjoys several shark diving models with different species, all of which have proven to offer safe encounters over time. We need to scale these models up and offer the incentives for regional interested parties to begin their own commercial shark diving operations in their own backyards.


For the less inventive of you out there saying, "this is impossible" we say, not so.

One of the primary problems for small regional shark diving operators is marketing. How do you tap into a global audeince, how much does that cost? With today's Internet we might propose an umbrella site wherein all the small scale shark dive sites were listed in detail with video, images and contact information for prospective shark divers. Think of this site as a planning site and a partner like Travelzoo.com, or Lonely Planet might offer the marketing reach and platform for this.


It can also be built as a stand alone site and marketed as such.

Having an NGO like PEW push governments to sanction shark diving and provide backing for government sites would help scale this effort.


As a decade long veteran of commercial shark diving and having seen our industry grow and mature over the past decade I believe we have reached the point where scalability is not only the right thing to do but the inevitable thing.


If we really want to help sharks and change the way people see them, put two decades of operational knowledge, marketing, and if possible government sanctions behind an effort to bring commercial shark diving to the world in a way that is visionary, safe, and an investment in the future.


It's not rocket science, but it is a science and we can do this, the question is, does anyone want to?


Cheers,
Patric Douglas
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkfreemarinas.com
415.235.9410

Wolf in the Henhouse - Costa Rica?

What happens when you appoint a fisheries agency in bed with regional commercial fishing interests to "analyze the management of the country’s marine resources?"

You get the oft bizarre world of Latin America fisheries. In this case 
the Costa Rica Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) long known for pro-fisheries "look the other way" management styles.

Fortunately there's a plethora of NGO's and regional media folks who are watching this development and keeping the world informed and educated.

Keep your eyes on this one as it develops, hopefully the folks over at Incopesca with choose leadership over business as usual and regional shark species will get a break.

Complete story.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shark Jobs? PEW is looking for someone

The Pew Global Shark Conservation Campaign is looking for a communications expert.  Pew is the leader in global shark conservation having supported efforts to end the commercial fishing of sharks in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.  The job posting is online.  Follow the link to apply.  The position is based in Washington, DC, United States.

Overview:
Organization: The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life

Department: The Pew Environment Group – The mission of the Environment group is to promote policies and practices that protect the global environment, preserve healthy forests and marine ecosystems. For the past two decades, the Environment group has been a major force in driving conservation policy in the United States, and increasingly internationally. The group’s work is focused on reducing the scope and severity of three major global environmental problems:
  • Transition to a clean energy economy from one based primarily on the burning of fossil fuels.
  • The erosion of large wilderness ecosystems that contain a great part of the world’s remaining biodiversity; and,
  • The destruction of the world’s marine environment, with a particular emphasis on global fisheries.
Position Overview: The communications officer will work on a daily basis with programmatic campaign staffs, and will assist and advise Pew Environment Group (PEG) campaigns on outreach to journalists, web content, and all aspects of public communication. While supporting issues relating to PEG, this position reports to the head of communications for PEG within the central Communications department.

Pew’s global and highly visible shark campaign is seeking full-time communications support. The ideal candidate will have a passion for shark conservation, keen ability to shape and pitch stories, strong writing skills for preparing press materials, fact sheets and web content and the ability to translate dense information into compelling visuals [emphasis mine].

Responsibilities:
  • Facilitate the development of concepts and strategies for crucial projects;
  • Advise and coordinate with PEG Communications and PEG campaign staff on energy, oceans and land issues;
  • Develop and support Pew’s use of “new media” and social media outlets for the campaigns’ messages;
  • Participate and advise in the drafting of campaign-related communications tools and web content;
  • Work with PEG Communications staff on support and promotion of the organization’s brand;
  • Develop and maintain news media contacts to be used by all campaigns;
  • Provide support for PEG related communications as needed.
Requirements:
  • A minimum of eight years in advocacy communications. College degree required.
  • Must have excellent oral communications, writing, editing and research skills, and proven ability to frame and develop cogent messages.
  • Skills associated with completion of an undergraduate degree program in communications, journalism or related major required. Graduate degree preferred.
  • Must demonstrate understanding of media and news organizations, particularly broadcast media and web-based outlets.
  • Must be flexible, creative, consistent and assume high accountability for all areas of responsibility. Must demonstrate strong collaborative spirit and leadership ability.
  • Ability to think strategically, handle multiple priorities, be extremely well-organized, manage time effectively and identify resources for projects required.
  • Aptitude for understanding organizational structure and working through administrative systems preferred.
  • Must be able to work in groups and individually to meet goals.
  • Passion for achieving goals to protect the environment.
Travel
Domestic or international travel may be required.

Compensation
The Pew Charitable Trusts offers a competitive salary and excellent benefits package, including a generous 401(k) plan, four weeks vacation and flexible benefit options.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Shark Diver is now...Really Good Beer?

In stores today the all new Shark Diver IPA (India Pale Ale).

It's the culmination of a several month long project with a small independent brewery and your friendly neighborhood shark diving company Shark Diver to produce "Conservation Brands."

It's an idea we have been tossing around for a while, creating a long term money making venture for shark conservation with 100% of the profits going back into projects for sharks worldwide.

The idea is not new, thanks to the Cayman Islands Beer, who give back a small percentage of profits for shark conservation efforts.

We decided to give back 100% and this weeks launch of the Shark Diver IPA at select test market stores should tell us how the market reacts to the brand and the beer. It is really great stuff and many Kudos to the brew team who have made the Shark Diver IPA a small but interesting reality in the nationwide micro brew market.

Drink well and be sharky.

We'll be posting a list of stores in the coming weeks where you might discover your own Shark Diver IPA, keep your eyes peeled and let's go save some sharks.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Room Full of Naked Emperors - Epic Rant

The wise industry sage sez, "good stuff"
We have been blogging about our industry, conservation, the heroes, the idiots and just about everything you might want to read in the shark world for the past three years.

It's been an amazing run with a readership that tops 25k a month celebrating over a million unique pageviews last month.

That's right, one million people stopped by to read what we had to say, agree with it, or become angry and emailed over to their particular clan grouping for dissection. These brilliant posts were then ripped apart with a creative and sometimes unusual assortment of interesting international put downs. South Africa currently holds champion status for, "ways to say things about your mother."

It's all good.

But nothing we have written to date comes close to an Epic Rant by David Diley this week who distilled conservation facts and efforts to re-brand sharks by some down to the basics.

If you do not possess the following abilities, do not read this expose:

1. The ability to detect nuance

2. The ability to understand multisyllabic wording

3. The ability to detect dark and intuitive humor

For the rest of you, the majority, our fan base, enjoy.

David hit a home run this week, and good on him for swinging for the fences.

How to attract sharks and influence them

Papua New Guinea. Apparently rubbing a plastic bottle to create vibrations is a something you can do to attract sharks.

Knowing that you can attract sharks is one thing, doing so with no plan for the sharks arrival is something else altogether.

Folks, we have said it before and we'll say it again.

No matter how many times you see commercial shark diving people interacting with sharks, never, NEVER, think to yourself, "hey that's easy I can do that".

Especially at 187 feet where in the event of a bite you would most likely suffer an embolism on your frantic race for the surface:


Monday, November 28, 2011

Micro Bikini's and the Politics of a Vote

Girl with the 30 million dollar bikini sez vote!
It has come to this. The venerated Shark Diver blog offering up jewel clad string bikini images to capture the last few of you out there who have not yet voted for David Shiffman.

Who's David you ask?

Only one of the smartest ocean science bloggers out there and oh, so close, to winning a much needed $10,000 blogging scholarship so he can continue to be innovative and science-y.

You want David to win this scholarship because he has promised to invite all of us to Miami for an all expenses paid weekend to his new tricked out Science Blogging Crib on Miami's South Beach with a one of a kind flowing Cristal Olympic Swimming Pool and 24 hour lectures on Cephlapodia.

Actually we made that part up, but, you can do your part by voting here today.

Takes but a minute and there's $10,000 great reasons why David should win this award.

Seriously vote, today!

PS: Hope this post will do David. You have no idea how hard it is to blog from 36,000 feet, they say they have Internet, but try and load up an image or two, oh and suffer the disgusted looks from the nice Mormon family across the way in seats 42 CDE who think you're looking at porn.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson - Lords of the Documentary

When it comes to amazing in the documentary field two names stand out, way out. Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson have come back with some of the best underwater footage we have seen in a while.

Kudos to the entire team for this unique underwater expose shot near Little Razorback Island, close to Antarctica's Ross Archipelago. About as good as it gets:

Shark-Free Marinas and NBC Miami

Congratulations to Dr.Neil and to NBC Miami for this great little pro-shark conservation media hit with the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative this week.

Growing one marina at a time with the focus this year on Florida, thanks to everyone who has helped this initiative save sharks and educate the public from Fiji to Panama and now Florida:


View more videos at: http://nbcmiami.com.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Australia - No to cull, yes to text?

Shredder says "thanks mates!"
Just when you thought the voices of reason had fled Australian politics and the Fox News "Shark Attack Media Machine" had dealt another blow to our favorite shark species, a reprieve, and some good news.

As it turns out and after some soul searching done at the end of a double barrel of worldwide outrage regional politicians in charge of a proposed white shark cull have walked back their position opting instead for a $14 million dollar pre-emptive shark warning system that also includes a SMS system that would alert ocean users of tagged sharks movements.

Is this a good plan?

Hell yes it is, and some kudos to be sent to the many emaillers, letter writers and media placers who gave those with the pen in government an earful.

Protected sharks need to stay that way, and if you want to stop shark attacks, stop humans from using the places where white shark congregate, like, um, Rottnest Island during certain months of the year.

Just our two cents in a debate that has already enjoyed enough coinage for one year already.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Carcharhinus longimanus to get a break? Fingers crossed one more time

The Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC);
 
Noting the Scientific Committee’s concern about the steep declining standardized catch rates and size trends of oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) in longline and purse seine fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean and the Committee’s recommendation that the WCPFC consider mitigation measures for the species at its eighth regular annual session;

Recognizing the resolution of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) on oceanic whitetip shark and desiring conservation and management measures that are consistent with those of the IATTC;

Adopts the following measures in accordance with Article 10 of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention):

1. Members, Cooperating Non-Members and Participating Territories (CCMs) shall prohibit vessels flying their flag and vessels under charter arrangements to the CCM from retaining on board, transshipping, storing on a fishing vessel, selling or offering to sell from on board a fishing vessel or landing any oceanic whitetip shark, in whole or in part, in the fisheries covered by the Convention.

2. CCMs shall require all vessels flying their flag and vessels under charter arrangements to the CCM to release any oceanic whitetip shark that is caught as soon as possible after the shark is brought alongside the vessel, and to do so in a manner that results in as little harm to the shark as possible.

3. CCMs shall estimate, through data collected from observer programs and other means, the number of releases of oceanic whitetip shark, including the status upon release (dead or alive), and report this information to the WCPFC in Part 1 of their Annual Reports.

4. This Conservation and Management Measure shall enter into force on January 1, 2013.
Source:  Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baited Shark Diving - The Controversy

One of the better looks at the controversy surrounding commercial shark diving. Wherever you have commercial shark diving you will also have those who do not understand it, or who feel negatively impacted by it.

But at the end of the day, done right, commercial shark diving delivers a suite of positive results for sharks in any given area, it's all on how you look at it:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Calling All Film Makers - Dugongs Calling

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) would like to call for tenders from qualified and experienced film makers and producers who can offer their services to provide a documentary on the Pacific dugong.

The successful applicant will need to provide a completed documentary by 31 December 2012. 

Please read Attachment Annex 1 for full requirements for tender submissions.

======
Lui A.J. Bell
Marine Species Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)
PO Box 240
Apia
Samoa

Phone: Direct-+685 66281; +685 21929 Ext 281
Fax: +685 20231
Website: www.sprep.org
 

Brazil Tiger Shark Values - Jaws and Fins

Called a "Flat Head Shark," residents of the coastal town of Juréia, Brazil quickly take apart this Tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier) for its most valuable parts - jaws and fins.

We might suggest a third value for this animal, commercial shark diving, as commercial Tiger sites like the Bahamas benefit greatly from sustainable, live Tigers and other shark species:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Battleground for sharks Western Sahara?

Shark Fishing in Africa circa 1876
The shark population in occupied Western Saharan waters is under threat by Moroccan and European fishing. That is one of the many disturbing conclusions of the independent post-evaluation report on the EU's fish deal with Morocco.

Through targeting sharks, rays and skates, European vessels fishing in Western Saharan waters have adopted the same exploitation strategy as the Moroccan vessels, says the evaluation report from Océanic Developpement - an independent consultancy firm hired by the European Commission to review the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA).

The Moroccan fleet has long-time held a special interest for sharks. Up to 4.000 tonnes are landed each year to accommodate the demands for shark of the Asian markets. Particularly the deep sea species are targeted, as their large liver makes them interesting for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.

Deplorably, the EU fleet is not lagging behind. No less than 70% of the total catches of the three Portuguese vessels active in Saharawi waters, consists of sharks, rays and skates. That's well above 450 tonnes of endangered species. This is said to be the findings of the independent study written for the European Commission. The report mentions that one single Spanish vessel fished about 60 tonnes of sharks and rays, equalling 30% of its total catches.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers sharks, rays and skates to be in danger of extinction. These species are highly vulnerable in terms of reproduction, and are as a consequence in danger of extermination when exposed to over-fishing. And that is precisely the case in Western Sahara: the EU's evaluation study concluded that the fish stocks of both Moroccan and Saharawi waters are either fully exploited or over-exploited.

In order to protect sharks and rays, an International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks was adopted by the FAO in 1999. The catches of sharks, rays and skates by European vessels are furthermore in violation of the EU’s Action Plan on Sharks, adopted in 2009. That same year, the Moroccan government issued a set of guidelines to reduce the fishing impact on sharks, but the evaluation report found no information as to whether and how these measures have been implemented.

Since sharks, rays and skates are already in danger of extinction, continued fishing will have detrimental effects on all ongoing attempts of conservation. Three out of ten sharks captured by the EU fleet are of types that are considered 'vulnerable' by the IUCN, meaning that their population has already been reduced by 80%.

Report.

Gulf Oil Spill Research "Cornucopedia?"

What do you get when dozens of researchers from a variety of oceanic disciplines drop hundreds of pages of fresh research content on the Internet representing thousands of hours of field work...all in the space of a week?

Why that would be a veritable 
"Cornucopedia" of study material, and folks it is time to get busy with the answers to many of the questions we have been wondering about concerning the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010.

Of course the big answer, "did the oil spill have an impact?" is here in stark black and white.

Yes it did.

If you ask a BP rep/lawyer/evil incarnate baby eater the same question the answer will be vastly different and that, people, is why we have scientists to break it down for you.

But this work is absolutely no good to anyone unless it is read, dissemintaed, and talked about and that's where you come in. Now if you're some of the folks we know in the shark biz, forewarning this link contains big words and some numbers that go as high as 12, as in 12 pack beer. So you might want to wait until others have posted on Facebook pages with big glossy pictures of oiled seabirds so you can get angry, otherwise you'll just get lost with this stuff.

OK?

If you're the other folks we know in the shark biz, the majority, read on, and pay close attention to the next few months with fresh papers coming out concerning Whale sharks in the Gulf.

We hear tell this is going to be some interesting stuff. Then again we have been watching closely since this event broke in 2010 helping to drive the media where we could in response to these magnificent animals who, at the time, were migrating right through bands of oil.

For these animals it would appear they suffered greatly.

Tagging Tigers Guy Harvey's Clan Returns Home

Three tiger sharks tagged off  the coast of Grand Cayman as part of a collaborative research project have returned to local waters after almost a year travelling around the Caribbean. Although Tina was last tracked off the coast of Jamaica, Coco is in the deep water off Grand Cayman at present and Luiza, who was last heard of off Honduras – Nicaragua in the summer, has come home for a visit and officials are watching to see when she will leave again on her voyage around the Caribbean. The three sharks were given satellite tags as part of an extensive survey of the sharks around the Cayman Islands, which has revealed information on what species there are and some of the threats to Cayman’s large marine animals.


The project is a joint effort between the Department of Environment (DoE), Marine Conservation International (MCI), the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University and the Save Our Seas Foundation.

Studies elsewhere have shown that where large sharks have been fished out, the resulting catch of desirable fish for the fishers has drastically changed and reduced in species and numbers. The current study will provide information on the situation in the Cayman Islands and help to prevent such a disastrous situation for our waters.

The long migration paths of the three tigers show the sharks use a large part of the Caribbean Sea. Dr Mauvis Gore from Marine Conservation International said the tracks show the extensive areas that the tiger sharks need to patrol for food and in turn help to keep a balance in the seas.

Despite their precarious situation, there is no law to protect sharks in Cayman waters but hopes for the species have been raised in the region following the ban on shark fishing by Belize, Mexico, St Maarten, Honduras and the Bahamas. Timothy Austin, Deputy Director of the DoE, welcomed the ban by neighbouring countries.  “This will give a boost to the health of the marine environment for the Caribbean,” he said.

A boost to shark conservation has also come from the Cayman Islands Brewery, which is donating five cents to the project from the sale of every can of its new award winning White Tip lager.

You can watch the Tiger tracks here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Could tilapia help save endangered sharks? Market driven solutions

The most popular farmed fish species in Taiwan may soon help save endangered sharks.

It turns out that the caudal fins of Taiwan tilapia -- a hybrid of Oreochromis mossambicus and Oreochromis niloticus niloticus -- can replace shark dorsal and pectoral fins in the highly sought-after shark fin soup, said Wang Yi-feng, general manager of the Kouhu Fisheries Cooperative in Yunlin County and a Taiwan tilapia expert.

Just over a year ago, Wang began studying how to turn tilapia tail fins into something very similar to processed shark fins. Tilapia fins are already on the market as a substitute and their increasing popularity could lower the demand that has been driving the overfishing of sharks, Taiwan Today reports.

“Caudal fins of Taiwan tilapia are a perfect stand-in for shark fins because they have the same appearance and texture,” said Wang. “Most importantly, the fact that Taiwan tilapia is a farmed fish guarantees stable supplies of the delicacy, which could prevent sharks from being wiped out.”

Just like shark fins, tilapia fins are made up primarily of cartilage, which is flavourless but has a desirable chewy consistency, Wang explained.

As opposed to shark fins, which can be extremely harmful due to the high levels of mercury accumulated by sharks, Taiwan tilapia fins pose no threat of heavy metal poisoning, he explained.

Founded in 1997, the Kouhu Fisheries Cooperative is made up of more than 200 fish farm operators from three southern Taiwan counties with a combined pond area of 2,300 ha, and represent a fourth of the country’s total tilapia farming area. Wang specified that the cooperative is Taiwan’s largest exporter of frozen tilapia fillets and also runs in compliance with European Union (EU) food standards while offering traceable product resumes.

Notably, shredded fins cost around USD 120 per kg -- one-quarter the cost of shredded shark fins. However, tilapia fins can only be used shredded because they are much smaller than shark fins, Wang pointed out.

The product is becoming increasingly trendy in Hong Kong, Japan and many five-star hotels in Taiwan.

Currently, the Tilapia fins’ monthly output stands at 1 ton, but this is expected to double or triple by next year to meet growing market demand now that the manufacturing process has matured, Wang said.


“I believe there is great market potential for tilapia fins and I’m confident that consumers will love them,” he added.

Wang is now researching the use of hyaluronic acid extracted from the crystalline lens of the Taiwan tilapia eyes to create cosmetic products.

Content source FIS.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dive Sentry - See it. Report it.

Dive Sentry - See it. Report it. 

1.2 million active divers from around the world are the eyes and ears of Sanctuaries, set aside areas, and Bio-Spheres.

In the beta testing phase.

The main two elements of this initiative will allow divers to anonymously post fisheries violations from around the world to a central RSS media site which in turn allows the major media, conservation groups, and secondary media (blogs, You Tube) free access to all images, content, and video of violations.

The second element will automatically email regional authorities submitted violations including images and video in english and the native language. Reports will automatically be paired to Google Earth coordinates for ease of tracking.

Dive Sentry is fully integrated on primary social media platforms and has a beta iPhone app that allows divers to upload video, content, and images automatically.

Dive Sentry enguages the major media with fresh global conservation content daily.

Dive Sentry provides a timeline and archive for regional repeat violations in a public format.

Dive Sentry engages regional agencies responsible for fisheries protections and mgmt automatically.

Dive Sentry - See it. Report it.

CNN Sharks: From predator to prey

Shark Diver was asked to help CNN this summer with an investigative report into the state of sharks.

The team, featuring CNN's Kaj Larsen, was introduced to the sharks of the Bahamas by Luke Tipple the Director of the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative. The Bahamas remains one of the most forward thinking governments in the Caribbean when it comes to sharks, conservation, and commercial shark diving efforts.

This is why we do conservation pieces for sharks and when it comes to shark conservation media it doesn't get much better than this. Kudos to everyone who worked on this piece:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research and Jeff Corwin

NAPLES  -- Shark research at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) will have the national spotlight tomorrow in a segment of Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin. The new production, launched jointly by the Georgia Aquarium and Litton Entertainment, is part of the Litton Weekend Adventure Saturday morning three-hour educational programming block on ABC. The shark research episode, featuring RBNERR’s fisheries biologist Pat O’Donnell, along with Mike Hyatt and Paul Anderson, PhD., two of the other researchers involved in the study, is scheduled to air tomorrow Saturday, Nov. 5.
“We are thrilled that the Rookery Bay is being recognized in this production,” said Rookery Bay NERR Manager Gary Lytton. “Millions of TV viewers nationwide will have a great opportunity to learn more about sharks and the importance of mangrove estuaries as shark nurseries through our collaboration with Corwin and the Georgia Aquarium.” 
Five years ago, Rookery Bay NERR’s long-term shark monitoring program caught the attention of Florida Aquarium veterinary staff working to improve captive shark handling techniques. Subsequently, Rookery Bay NERR entered into a cooperative research effort with the Florida Aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium and Shedd’s Aquarium in Chicago. The collaborative shark stress response project required access to wild-caught sharks, such as those encountered monthly in RBNERR’s project.
As production plans got underway at the Georgia Aquarium for Ocean Mysteries, the Rookery Bay shark capture project became the perfect opportunity to put Corwin in close contact with wild sharks. Filming took place aboard a Rookery Bay NERR research vessel in the Ten Thousand Islands in August 2011. The crew encountered four sharks:  two lemon (Negaprion brevirostris), a bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) and a blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus). While the cameras rolled, the sharks were measured, weighed and had other data recorded before being tagged and released with Corwin’s assistance and enthusiastic explanation of their significance to the ocean ecosystem.
Programming times vary during the Saturday morning Litton’s Weekend Adventure on ABC. Check your local listings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shark Fishing with Shotguns?

Yup, once more You Tube has provided us an ugly window into the grunt filled world of lower organisms and the manner in which they fish:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hagfish vs Shark - Cool Video

 So we all know the Hagfish as a disgusting relic of the Devonian era. They are basically the critters who will consume your mortal remains should you be unfortunate enough to perish at sea.

But there are other deep water critters who also vie for that honor as your mortal remains sitting down at 2000 feet represent a veritable cornucopia in the desert like environment of the cold dark deep.

To combat this underwater arms race and to not become part of the movable feast, Hagfish have developed a unique slime that until very recently researchers didn't know a lot about.

The following video aptly reveals the Hagfish defense mechanism when a deep water shark shows up and thinks it will make an easy meal of the eel like critter it has just discovered at a research bait station.

 Great stuff and kudos to the team behind the video from Australia:

North Shore pro surfer Jamie O’Brien needs a media team - and a condom

Raising awareness?
I wish you could make this stuff up but sadly you cannot, and thus begins today's lesson about wildlife, media messaging, and stupid animal tricks.

Folks, we have said it before and will say it again, there's something wrong with the media message out there.

First a bit about this image.

Pro surfer Jamie O’Brien is trying to get folks to understand Fibropapillomatosis which is causing an epidemic amongst sea turtles.

Fibropapillomatosis is most likely caused by a herpes-type virus.  

He chose this image of him engaged in a sex act with a turtle, no wait, he was just riding the turtle, no, it's a sex act, to convey the conservation message.

Really?

This is on par with, if not as moronic as, recent media hits that were meant to convey important conservation messages such as:

1. Playing a guitar underwater while crooning to white sharks in a protected Bio Sphere Reserve. The message was, "white sharks are not dangerous." Since that video there have been 6 fatal white shark attacks and 11 non fatal predatory events on surfers and divers worldwide.

2. Holding up pizza box lids with lip stick on them to convey complex messaging about shark nets in South Africa. Since that media image over 2000+ sharks have been killed in shark nets all over the world.

3. Placing billboards at recent shark attack sites with the message, "Payback is Hell". We're not even going to go there.

The list goes on.

It's not like we don't know media messaging and complex conservation management. We have been involved in it for the past decade and while images like this one with Jamie O’Brien elicit giggles, web traffic, and a bunch of kudos from your particular tribal group, they don't last, and ultimately they are not effective.

You want to save turtles? This is not the way to do it. 

But that does not stop folks from trying. Media messaging is as complex as the issue you are trying to get across and you have to play to a much wider audience than just the folks who reside in your smart phones contact list. It's a point that seems obvious but far too many within the conservation community miss it time and again.

Hits on a You Tube videos do not translate into conservation laws. Quasi-sex turtle images do not translate into grants and funds for long term studies. Awareness is not worth a dime unless it translates, and translate into something that will actually help.

Conservation messaging needs to be done without the "stupid pet tricks with wildlife."

We can do better than we are with smarter messaging that actually translates into conservation gold.

Highlight the issue. Create the solution. Translate into action.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Himalayan Griffon Vulture vs Russians

You know, occasionally we break format here at the Shark Diver Blog to bring you something that defies description, fortunately for you there's a video.

Welcome to Russian para-gliders vs Himalayan Griffon Vultures, a smack down that will leave you wishing you understood Russian swearwords:

Barry Bruce and Russell Bradford CSIRO Industry Study

The effects of berleying on the distribution and behaviour of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Neptune Islands, South Australia, August 2011

 

Research Summary
A study by Barry Bruce and Russell Bradford of the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources South Australia
 
Cage diving at Neptune Islands
Seas and sealions (pinnipeds) form part of a white shark’s annual diet, and sharks may spend from days to months per year at pinniped colonies. Between these visits they travel to other locations seeking other sources of prey. They can swim thousands of kilometres, from temperate to tropical waters, and across the open ocean during these annual travels.

Pinniped colonies that are regularly visited by white sharks can be ideal for shark-viewing tourism. White shark cage diving activities are established near to such pinniped colonies in South Africa, Mexico, California and Australia.

In Australia, white shark cage diving occurs only at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park (60–70 km south of Port Lincoln, South Australia) comprising the North and South Neptune Islands.These islands host Australia’s largest pinniped aggregation.

Commercial tour operators involved in white shark cage diving must be licensed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 and, if berleying to attract sharks, must have an exemption under the Fisheries Act 1982.

Berleying practices
In South Australia, shark cage diving provides an opportunity to view white sharks in their environment.The sharks are commonly attracted to the viewing vessel through the use of berley (chum), a mix of chopped or minced fish and fish oil. Berleying attracts sharks that are already present in the area to the shark cage-dive vessel and increases the chances of a shark being seen.

Increased frequency of berleying
The shark cage diving industry has worked under a Code of Practice since 2004 to ensure that its operations minimise negative impacts on sharks. Permit requirements also restrict the type of berley than can be used to fish-based products only and these products must be kept refrigerated prior to use.

Days of berleying activity in the SA shark-cage diving industry had remained reasonably stable at an annual average of 128 days from 2000 to 2007. However, the number of days of berleying activity at the Neptune Islands significantly increased after 2007, reaching 270 days in 2009–2010. Berleying activity increased over this time both within the main bay at North Neptune Island and at a second site outside of the bay.

This increase in berleying activity has caused some concern as wildlife tourism that attracts or rewards the target animals, such as through provisioning (feeding), can cause changes in behaviour.Worldwide experience suggests that such changes in behaviour, if they occur, can often have negative consequences for the target animal.

Increasing interest from potential new operators to enter the SA shark cage dive industry combined with concerns regarding the potential for negative impacts on sharks from berleying operations, prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) to set research on the impact of berleying on shark behaviour at the Neptune Islands as a high priority. Such research was also consistent with objectives under the National recovery plan for white sharks as a listed threatened species under Australia’s Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

White shark research at the North Neptune Islands
The North Neptune Islands is a key site for many white sharks in Australian waters and have been the focus of CSIRO-based research on white shark movement patterns, behaviour and habitat use since 1993.

Sharks tagged with electronic tags (satellite, archival and acoustic) have been tracked from the Neptune Islands to Exmouth in north-western Western Australia and to Rockhampton in central Queensland. Sharks tagged with other (non-electronic) tags at The Neptune Islands have also crossed theTasman Sea to New Zealand.

A 2001–2003 CSIRO study at the North Neptune Islands found that the level of berleying at that time had a localised and short-term effect on the distribution and behaviour of sharks and that the effects were concentrated in the bay of the main island where most berleying and shark cage diving activities occurred. Having the results of this initial study provided an opportunity to examine if white shark behaviour had changed at the North Neptune Islands since the 2007 increase in berleying effort.

Acoustic monitoring study: 2010–2011
The purpose of the 2010–2011 study was to see if there had been any changes in the amount of time (residency) white sharks spent at the Neptune Islands since the previous study in 2001–2003 and if there had been any changes in their movement patterns or behaviour.The 2010–2011 study observed the movements of 21 tagged white sharks ranging from 2.8 metres to 4.8 m.  The sharks were tagged with acoustic transmitters each of which produces a unique signal that can be identified by moored acoustic receivers.

The presence/absence of individual tagged sharks was monitored by arrays of acoustic receivers at both the North and South the Neptune Islands from December 2009 to April 2011.These receivers were removed at the end of the study so that the data they collected could be examined.These were complemented by monitoring data from a single satellite- linked acoustic receiver maintained inside the main bay at the North Neptune Islands since 2008.The satellite linked receiver automatically sends information on sharks present in the bay each week to researchers at CSIRO in Hobart. Daily logbook records of shark cage dive operator activities from 1999–2011 were also used in the analysis to identify when operators were present and to monitor the number of sharks sighted each day.

Acoustic receivers identical to those used in this study also form a network of stations around the Australian coast as part of the Commonwealth Government funded Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).The acoustic receivers form part of the Australian AnimalTracking and Monitoring System (http://imos.org.au/aatams.html) and allow researchers to monitor the long- term movements of tagged sharks after they leave the Neptune Islands.

The tagging procedure
Acoustic tags were attached to a small stainless steel arrow head by a short tether. Sharks were attracted to the vessel using fish-based berley and tags were attached externally to each shark as they swam past by using a tagging pole.

What did the monitoring reveal?

General shark movements
As seen in previous research, white sharks tagged during the study were found to be temporary residents of the Neptune Islands. Despite berleying, sharks continue to arrive and leave the Neptune Islands. As in previous years, the number of sharks present at any one time was highly variable.There were some periods when no sharks were present.These patterns are probably driven by differences in the ocean conditions between years and seasons.

Increased berleying has not led to sharks taking up patterns of permanent residency and sharks left the Neptunes Group for other destinations across their Australian range during the study period. For example, three tagged sharks were detected by acoustic receivers moving through south-western Western Australia after leaving the Neptune Islands during the course of the study.

When resident to the Neptune Islands area, some sharks made return transits between the North and South Neptune Islands which are 12 km apart. This occurred regardless of berleying activity and appears to be normal behaviour for sharks in this area.

Changes in shark behaviour

 

Despite sharks continuing to arrive and depart the Neptune Islands during berleying periods, the 2010-2011 study identified some significant changes in shark behaviour at the North Neptune Islands since berleying effort and regularity increased in 2007.
These changes in behaviour were not observed at the South Neptune Islands where berleying effort has not markedly changed since 2007.
The study found the following changes in the way sharks used the Neptune Islands:
  1. The average amount of time (residency period) that individual sharks spend at the North Neptune Islands has increased from 11 days in 2001- 2003 to 21 days in 2010-2011. 
  2. The average number of consecutive days (visits) spent at North Neptune Island during residency periods has increased from 2 days in 2001-2003 to 6.5 days in 2010-2011. 
  3. The average number of sharks seen by operators has increased from 2.2 per day prior to 2007 to 3.4 per day after 2007.This does not mean that the abundance of sharks has increased but reflects that they are staying for longer periods and that each individual is seen more often. 
  4. The daily movements of sharks has changed to more closely match the arrival and departure of shark cage dive operators, so that now sharks arrive in the berleying areas at about the time operators arrive and leave the area after the operators leave.This pattern now occurs on days where operators are present and also on days when they are not present.
Why is it important to take notice of these changes?
These observations all suggest that berleying operations have changed the way sharks use the environment at the North Neptune Islands. 

At present, there is no evidence to suggest that these changes have been harmful to the sharks or that they may lead to changes in their behaviour at any other location. Many of the sharks also visited South Neptune Island and their behaviour at that site was not significantly different to the behaviour of sharks in the 2001–2003 study.

Understanding the impacts of such changes is complicated because each shark is only a temporary visitor to the Neptune Islands and thus is only exposed to berleying for the short time they are there. Also, although berleying provides an attraction for sharks, by itself it provides no reward in the form of food. Small ‘teaser’ baits used by operators to lure sharks closer to the vessel offer some form or reward but this is small compared to the source of natural prey in the area.

Research in other areas of the world has identified that a variety of problems can occur where marine wildlife has been attracted for tourism purposes. For white sharks and their environment at the Neptune Islands, this may include increased aggression between sharks if more sharks remain on site, distraction by tourism activities resulting in fewer opportunities to feed on seals and sealions, changes in predation pressure on seals and sealions, sharks provisioning on a food source (teaser baits) that is not as nutritious as their natural prey and increasing the abundance of fish life that can feed on the small particles that make up berley. These problems can lead to unintentional impacts on the overall health of sharks and to changes in the ecology of the area.

White sharks are a listed threatened species and protected in Australian waters. Minimising identified impacts on them and the environment within which they reside is important, particularly when the implications of such impacts are unknown.

In the case of shark cage diving, all parameters measured in this study suggest that berleying operations have changed the way sharks use the area at the North Neptune Islands. Reducing the impacts of these operations on sharks is thus important to ensure that there are no long-term negative effects on sharks visiting this area or the marine ecosystem of the region.

The challenge for government agencies and the SA industry will be to reduce the impact of shark cage diving on sharks and the ecosystem while maintaining a world-class diving experience that contributes significantly to the local economy and provides a platform for education, research and conservation. Achieving this balance has the potential to provide a benchmark for managing cage-diving tourism worldwide.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The study makes the following recommendations:
 
Reduce berleying/provisioning effort
The current level of berleying should be reduced, or at least capped, to minimise further behavioural changes.‘Teaser’ baits should be of a minimum size required to be effective and all reasonable efforts should be made to minimise the number of baits taken by sharks.

On-going monitoring of shark behaviour
Shark residency periods, duration of visits and daily patterns of movements should continue to be monitored to evaluate the sharks’ response to any mitigation actions and enable feedback to managing agencies and industry to ensure such actions are effective.
The most cost-effective monitoring approach would be to maintain the satellite-linked receiver at the North Neptune Islands and to continue to tag sharks with acoustic tags. Additional satellite receivers should be installed at the second berleying site at the North Neptune Islands and at South Neptune Island, (the latter to compare shark behaviour).

Education and awareness program 
The shark cage dive industry in South Australia should be provided with educational material for clients that explains:
  • shark ecology, movements and conservation
  • the risks posed to sharks by excessive berleying or provisioning;
  • the importance of minimising the impact of shark cage diving on sharks
  • the industry and management actions used to achieve this.

Edwar Herreno Great Stuff - Baitball Video

Hat Tip: The folks over at the Guy Harvey Blog for bringing this video to our attention, nature at it's finest and rawest, a video by Edwar Herreno:

Shark Conservation Media - Busy Month for Shark Diver

We have had a very busy month rolling out positive shark media around the world with hits from CNN, Casa Grossa in Brazil and this months Futureal Magazine in Toronto, Canada talking about shark finning.

Toronto just went shark fin free this month so the article and quotes were timely.

Positive shark media is something we just do, it's a service to the sharks we make a living from and we have been doing it since our inception back in 2000.

At the time I was acutely aware that sharks didn't have a voice - and they needed one, badly.

In fact back in 2000 we were still in the "dark ages" for shark conservation. Few if any commercial shark diving operations really considered sharks beyond the commercial side. All that changed in 2007 with the "shark conservation movement" which is now in full bloom.

In 2008 I penned one of the most read articles of our blog with 300,000 uniques and counting, it was titled Shark Diver Noblesse Oblige, it was call to action for our industry worldwide to act on behalf of sharks.

Today you'll be hard pressed to find a single operation that is not engaged in the shark conservation movement in some way or form. It's been an amazing revolution.

This weeks barrage of media hits from Shark Diver closes out another amazing shark diving season for us both in the Bahamas and Mexico.

We still have a few more weeks of white shark diving operations in Mexico and will be the only commercial vessel operating at the island this late in the season as all the other operations will soon be ending white shark diving for 2011.

Our last few expeditions to this unique island allow us some quality time with the animals we have come to know, understand, and love over the past decade and there's not a single day where I do not consider ourselves fortunate to be able to work with these unique sharks year after year.

Let's go shark diving!

Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
415.235.9410