Friday, September 30, 2011

Underwater Photography - Setting the Bar

For those who know him they know the underwater work he does is transformative.

We know him as freediver Fred Buyle and enjoyed his company at Isla Guadalupe back in 2009 for a stunning week with our white sharks. 

We're pretty sure the work he did with our whites will be featured in his new boook soon to hit store shelves on October 24th called  "Les 100 plus belles photos."

We're also pretty sure that this book will become the bar by which all underwater books featuring big charismatic megafauna will be set.

If you're lucky enough to meet Fred you'll also know him as one of the nicest guys in the industry, truly "wɪziwɪɡ," what you see is what you get.


Congratulations Fred on the new book we'll look forward to taking an adventure with you and your team through the pages in the coming weeks.

Welcome to Facebook the place for sharks

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the raw networking power of Facebook to effect lasting conservation change for sharks.

And you don't have to travel far on Facebook to discover a plethora of shark groups, petitions, posts and pro shark media that have reached millions of potential activists.

Without a doubt one of the main drivers to broad based shark conservation efforts around the globe over the past three years has been Facebook, a revolution for sharks.

Here's a "small sampling" of the Facebook Shark Revolution from groups and sites as small as 1500 members to groups as large as 300,000 plus.

Without Facebook sharks do not have a voice, and the oceans do not have the army of voices, creativity, and focus to effect lasting change for the environment. Kudos.

Stop Shark Finning 

Divers For Sharks

Bite Back Shark Conservation

Shark Fin Free Auckland

The Australian Anti Shark Fin Alliance

Stop Eating Sharks Now

Save the Sharks of the Maldives

Save the Sharks

Save our sharks from a bowl of soup

Shark Tsunami U.K


Stop Shark Abuse


Ban Shark Finning USA

PangeaSeed 

Oceanic Defense

Stop Serving Shark Fins in Vegas

Stop Shark Fishing

Support Our Sharks Europe

Shark Alliance

Shark Rescue

Shark Defenders

Shark Truth

Protect the Sharks of the Bahamas

And the list goes on, and on, and on...

Madison Stewart Sharks - Great Stuff

Madison Stewart is a very lucky shark gal, she's also a first rate story teller, we're impressed:


Thursday, September 29, 2011

PETA SCHMEATA - What's all the fuss about?

PETA's Shark Schock Vintage 2008
Folks, yes you on Facebook who's crying about PETA's latest shark campaign?

And you in the major media who's also crying foul this week?

This image and it's use as schock value is old news, really old news.

How do we know?

We blogged about it back in 2008 and again in 2009. PETA is just pulling an old hat trick out from the dusty confines of their hyper green media bunker, slapping lipstick on a very ugly media pig for another round of disgust and sound bytes.

Sounds like something Sea Shepherd would do but unfortunately it's their mentally challenged media cousins at it again, this time to great effect.

Is PETA effective? Who knows and who cares, as long as folks scream bloody murder everytime they launch tasteless campaigns they feel as if they are reaching an audience.

You want to put a stop to this?

Ignore the mentally challenged vegan crazies and their media output because crazy needs an audience and without it they're just another bunch of  village idiots on the street corner.

Apparently the wise and all knowing RTSea Blog didn't get the memo.

Punching Through The Blog Barrier - Da Shark!

Capt Zissou Approves - Breaking the Blog Barrier 2011
First there was the speed of sound.

Then the speed of light.

Barriers that man has surmounted with guts, know how, and heroic effort.

Today we celebrate the Shark Blog Barrier being broken in Fiji as Mike, aka Da Shark, announces his 1000th blog post.

For the past several years Da Sharks blog has been an industry mainstay, offering up ideas, kudos, and pithy, salted commentary with an industry and conservation focus. 

Why are independent industry blogs important?

Because the shark diving industry, an offshoot of the dive industry, needed it. Prior to the advent of the shark blogs, the industry was a tribal and fractured affair with little direction and no real conservation focus.

In many cases it was an industry that reveled in glorifying stupid stunts with sharks as an industry norm.

All that changed when operations discovered that not only were they being observed on an international level but actions taken with sharks were being talked about, discussed, and even picked over with the best ideas, best practices, and best conservation efforts being recognized.

Additionally the broader industry discovered that shark conservation was a key element to success.

No longer was it just acceptable to make money with sharks and repeat, the concept of regional stewardship for sharks was nurtured by the shark blogs with some first rate leadership examples and and quickly adopted by many.

It is now a fast growing trend.

The impact of the shark blogs will remain one of the shark diving industries least told stories, but today we celebrate the 1000th blog posts by one of the industries leaders. Like what he has to say or not, agree with his positions or not, the Fiji shark blog has blown open the doors on the discussion of sharks and conservation/industry development to a global audience.

And the entire shark diving industry is a better place for it.

Kudos to 1000!

Shark Diving - Guadalupe Expedition Reports 2011

Many of our divers here at Shark Diver choose to send us "after action" trip reports via email. Others write articles in local newspapers, and still others create their own blogs about their experiences in the company of the White Sharks of Guadalupe.

Newly minted Shark Diver Bev Downie from the U.K is one of those bloggers we love so much, encapsulating her sharky experiences in a way that would make even seasoned travel writers jealous:

Guadalupe Great - Shredder - Image Bev Downie
Ever since I can remember, my one and only bucket list item has been to cage dive with Great White Sharks.  I don’t know if it was seeing the film Jaws that generated this enthusiasm but whatever it was, this month it became a reality.

I began researching in October 2010 and immediately found loads of trips leaving from Gansbai in South Africa.  My feelings were that there were so many commercial trips leaving for the same spot, it would not be a real insight into the world of the sharks, more of a sharky X-Factor!

 Further research led me to read stories of murky water, crowded cages and dubious baiting practices.  Back to square one – where else in the world could I experience this but seeing the sharks on their own terms.  Good old Google led me to Isla Guadalupe, off the coast of Mexico.  Again I found a few companies offering trips, but the one which stood out was www.sharkdiver.com which was the only one to offer a shark guarantee.  If you didn’t see a shark on your trip, you could return for free.  Paying $3000+ dollars and travelling half way round the world, this was very appealing to me.  I rang Patric, the CEO of the company and his enthusiasm rubbed off on me and before I knew it I was signed up and on my way!

It is not an easy journey to dive with Great White Sharks at Isla Guadalupe.  For me there was a 11 hour flight to Las Vegas followed by a couple of days of R&R (and gambling!) then an hour long flight to San Diego.  On joining the boat in San Diego, there is an eight hour trip to Ensenada in Mexico to clear customs then another 18 hours to Isla Guadalupe.  We were fortunate to have some of the calmest seas that the crew can remember – for this I was very grateful!

The boat, which is home for the five day trip is the Horizon.  She is a beautiful vessel, not fancy but perfectly suited to the needs of 16 crazy shark fans and a seven man/woman crew.  On arrival on the boat at 9pm on the first night, it was a case of getting to know our fellow adventure buddies, having a safety talk from the Captain and also Martin the Dive Master on what to expect and then to bed for a rest while the boat made her way to Ensenada.  Clearing customs took no time and we were on our way.  Our escort out of Ensenada was a huge pod of Pacific White Sided Dolphins who escorted the boat for several miles.  An uneventful day of fitting wetsuits, reading, gossiping and sleeping followed and again we were all ready for an early night in preparation for what was to come the next day.

I woke early, feeling the boat come to a stop and hearing the engines shutting down.  Along with a couple of other bleary eyed travellers, I made my way on to the deck and got my first glimpse (albeit in the dark) of the vast wall of rock that is Isla Guadalupe.  The sea was jet black and I could only imagine what was going on beneath the boat!  I surfaced for the second time along with my other fellow divers at around 6am in time for a cooked breakfast and safety briefing and then before we knew it, it was shark time!  The first shark we saw from the boat was even before the cages were put in the water and the level of excitement on seeing that first dorsal fin was incredible.  Little did we know what was in store for the rest of the day!

With 16 divers and four divers per cage taking hour long rotations, it was soon time for my team to enter the cage for the first time.  I had an amazing group of cage buddies including Tracie and Munro from Vancouver and Gary from West Virginia.  We got on brilliantly both above and below the water.  As non-certified divers, Tracie and I both received individual help from Dive Master Martin to ensure we were comfortable clearing our masks and replacing the regulator underwater and then it was shark watch!  

Seeing our first Great White from a distance will be something I will never forget.  They move so slowly and gracefully, quite unlike the media would have you believe.  The first hour was over in a flash, and we had seen a shark.  Could it get any better – oh yes!

During our second rotation of the day, we came face to face with Shredder.  Shredder is an adult male Great White Shark around 16 feet in length and as Martin so nicely put it, he is not the most careful shark!  His shredded dorsal fin and numerous scars are testament to the scrapes he has been in.  You can read how he got his name here http://bit.ly/n56AFk  Shredder decided that our first day in the cages was going to be the Shredder show and he treated us to lots of close passes of the cages from all angles, some lovely toothy grins into the cage and also some antics on the surface to ensure those watching from the deck didn’t get bored.  Shredder is definitely the comedian of the shark world!  Occasionally he would give a smaller shark the chance to say hello but chased them off the minute he felt he was missing the attention of his adoring public.  For eight hours he was cruising around the boat and cages and once the cages had been lifted for the night, he breached next to the boat almost as if to say, ‘hey guys, what are you doing, I’m still here!’  Apparently this was the best ‘sharking’ day of the season so far as 13 different sharks were identified.

After a full day of diving, we sat down to one of many amazing meals on board (Mark and Naomi the cooks do the most incredible job of feeding everyone despite not being anywhere near a shop for the entire trip)  We were fortunate to have Maurizio, the Islands Shark researcher come on board to talk to us about the sharks and his adventures to the bottom of the sea bed in a small submersible.  A few beers and comparing tales and photographs from the day and everyone was ready for bed!

Days two and three were quieter on the action front but even so, our rotation saw at least one shark on every dive and it was nice to be able to identify some different sharks.  Sharks are identified by their white markings on fins and gills and permanent mutilations.  We had a book on board to help us identify the individuals.  After two rotations each on the third morning, we set off for the return trip to San Diego.  On our way out of Isla Guadalupe we saw the elephant seals which the sharks like to eat (I never realised they only had to eat around once every two months.  Hardly crazed killing machines!)

The journey back was slightly rougher but still calm according to the crew and it was a chance to relax and enjoy the company of our new friends before arriving back in San Diego.  It was sad to say goodbye but an amazing experience and I made some great new friends.  The trip did not finish when I got off the boat as I had sea legs for 24 hours after getting back to the more ruthless sharks in Las Vegas!

I would like to say a massive thank you to all the crew of the Horizon – Spencer, Cary, Mark, Nick, Mark, Naomi and Martin for making such a memorable trip.

Cheers, 
Bev Downie

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Make Your Video Viral

A buddy in the U.K just finished directing the following video. If viral video had a home it would be right here.

Sit back, sip your coffee, and enjoy the viral-ness of it all, oh and re-post a few times as well:

The Immediate Shark Conservation Horizon - SINO's

SINO's - Sanctuary in Name Only is a pejorative term that refers to a nation state whose recently declared "Sanctuary Waters for Sharks" are considered insufficiently enforced or otherwise not conforming to actual sanctuaries in any form.

Six foot female white shark 2010, Ensenada
The good news about 2011 are the plethora of nations around the world who have signed on for Shark Sanctuaries. The list reads as a triumph to many thousands of hours of hard work and efforts by untold numbers of shark conservationists to see actual conservation change.

But have we reached the Second Act of this shark conservation push?

As Mexico announced a full court ban on shark fishing in their waters in 2012, jumping on the bandwagon in the Latin America behind Honduras, how will they and other nations enforce this ban?

We have seen first hand how hard it is for Mexico to address even basic fisheries policy with white sharks, declared off limits in 2007 in a move that was heralded by shark conservation.

The reality on the ground has been very different for these magnificent animals and other shark species in the region.

As late as August 2011 we have continued to document one small fish market in Ensenada, Mexico where white sharks are still being caught and sold, sometimes as many as six in a day, sold as swordfish and marlin for as little as 50 pesos a kilo.

We began this investigation eight years ago, alerting other commercial shark diving companies and conservation groups in the region with a series of ongoing and well documented blog posts.

Three foot white shark pup sold as Marlin, Ensenada 2008
The economics behind this continued catch of white sharks and blind eye by the agencies meant to be enforcing fisheries rules and regulations in Mexico is the growing reality of SINO's.

These sharks are the by-product of local inshore tuna and sword fisheries. To comply with white shark bans local Mexican fishermen have three choices:

1. Stop fishing

2. Modify long line fisheries

3. Dump dead white sharks overboard

SINO's are the looming Act Two for shark conservation. Getting a politician to make promises for the environment is a time honored tradition. Getting that same politician or his or her successor to follow through with hard and fast enforcement is where the rubber meets the road.

That rubber will cost millions of dollars to the shark conservation movement who have managed thus far to get Sanctuaries declared at a pace that has been stunning to watch. It has also been a relatively cheap affair, conservation light, with dollars spent verses sanctuary acres created part of the ongoing equation.

Where enforcement monies, infrastructure, and boots on the ground will come from for these newly created sanctuaries anyone knows.

Before another country declares a Sanctuary for Sharks we should be looking at how we are going to manage the millions of remote acres we already have locked away in countries that have a long track record of SINO.

It's where we have to focus in the next decade and it all starts with dollars and a plan.

Discovery Channel News and SharkDiver.com

When Discovery Networks came to us seeking some quotes about the commercial shark diving industry you know we had a few.

After a decade in the industry Shark Diver has been innovative, conservation leaders, and commercial film and television developers - all in the name of sharks.

The Discovery Channel article went up last week and we're happy with the outcome:

Companies that arrange for caged shark diving expeditions usually brief you a bit on what to expect. The cages might seem like protection for you, but that’s not the case. 

“The cages are for humans,” Douglas says. “Human curiosity is to want to explore past boundaries.” 

The three most important rules, according to Douglas: “No. 1 breathe, No. 2 keep breathing, No. 3 Have fun.”

Complete article here.


Fishpond Supports Shark Conservation? Oh Yeah!


Fishpond Supports Shark Conservation!

The Shark Free Marina Initiative (SFMI) is reaching out all over the state of Florida and asking marinas to help support conserving the shark population in world. 

Shark populations worldwide have declined due to over fishing.  Fishpond has joined with many other supporting organizations to help reduce shark worldwide mortality. For more information please feel free to check out the SFMI site – http://www.sharkfreemarinas.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Venice Beach White Shark Video - Catch and Release

"A baby great white shark got caught with a fishing pole from Venice Beach pier. The locals brought it to shore, took out the hook and set it back out to sea."

Hat Tip: The Paxton Brothers for the video discovery.


Stuart Cove, Smartest Guy in the Room? - You Bet

Stuarts New Office Old Bahama Bay Resort
I have to admit I have been a huge fan of commercial shark diving operator Stuart Cove for quite some time now. He's one of the savviest businessmen in the industry. Building, growing, and branding what amounts to a Shark Diving Empire in the Bahamas.

The empire is in expansion mode with a new office and dive site at Tiger Beach and rumors of a move to Cat Island as well.

I saw the office and spoke to his crew first hand last week as they arrived to set up with a new inflatable and "one day" Tiger Beach dive offers.

We had been on site with the Tigers filming a 10 day production with the M/V Kate over the past week.

Kudos to Stuart and his entire crew for the move. His new office will help the struggling economy of the West End, Grand Bahama and his entrance into the Tiger Beach arena only means good things for the site as a whole.

Operations typically view each other with suspicion and no end of rancor and angst. It's been one of the ongoing mainstays of our industry worldwide.

We don't see it that way.

The market can handle another operation at Tiger Beach and we are many years out from complete saturation at this pristine and unique dive site.

We look forward to seeing Stuart and crew out there this fall and next spring, if you ever need anything we're here to help.

Let's go shark diving!


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

Fiji Shark Fin Hub in the Crosshairs

Thanks to Mike aka Da Shark in Fiji for the heads up and this weeks great news about shark fin hubs.

As it turns out shark fins are harvested all over the Pacific region and transshipped to Fiji for sorting, packing, and shipment to China.

It's big business, to the tune of 100 metric tons a year. As Mike points out "that's a whole lotta sharks".

Naturally PEW and the Coral Alliance are behind this latest effort to curb the shark fin trade.

Kudos.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Diana Nyad Swim 2 - Shark Handlers on Duty

Photo Credit: Malcolmobbs.com
 For those in-the-know long distance swimmer Diana Nyad is 2/3rds of the way through her third attempt at crossing from Cuba to Florida.

Her shark team this time around features Tiger Beach, Bahamas very own Capt Rob MacDonald who recently had a successful run in with a curious Oceanic Whitetip shark.

By successful, he was able to deploy non lethal techniques to keep the animal disinterested in Diana's long distance attempt.

Around 1 p.m. -- and don't everybody get excited here -- an oceanic whitetip shark was spotted near Diana in the midst of the three-boat flotilla. Diana is deeply committed to the safety of these extraordinary animals. Rob MacDonald, one of her talented safety divers, swam towards the shark, where they faced off within 10 feet of one another. "I guess he thought I was more aggressive than him, and he turned in the other direction," said MacDonald. Everyone else, it must be said, breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Kudos to the entire shark team out there right now and to Diana herself for what looks to he another harrowing but ultimately successful (fingers crossed) attempt at the record books swimming a total distance of 103 + miles.

Diana is the stuff that real legends are made of - the right stuff.

All those involved on the recent 18=30 mile media fiasco should be paying attention.

Tiger Beach Bahamas - Denny the Shark Video

Last week in the middle of another commercial film and television shoot on Tiger Beach we celebrated the arrival of Denny, a little Tiger shark we had come to know and love this spring in the Bahamas.

The celebration lasted until we saw the close up video that Fraizer Nivens surfaced with.

Sadly it looks like little Denny (all three feet of him) had been chomped on by another resident Tiger, crushing his dorsal fin and leaving behind several healing puncture wounds. Additionally he survived a fisherman's hooking event recently.

If you watch this video of Fraizer's you'll see the hook and line in the corner of his mouth.

The good news is that sharks are very resilient critters and if he can stay out of any more trouble little Denny might just get big enough one day to hold his own at Tiger Beach.

Life can be tough for sharks in the wild and we'll continue to follow Denny's progress and update you as he grows up, right now he's a cute little guy who's always showing up in the thick of things not quite sure where he belongs.

Thanks to Fraizer Nivens for the video documentation shot on RED One Digital Cinema camera at 4KHD, 30 fps. RED Code 36. Light color grade in RED CineX, output to Pro Res 4444 and then compressed using Episode into a smaller H264 webmovie.

Let's go shark diving!

Denny the Tiger Shark, Tiger Beach Bahamas from Frazier Nivens on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Are Your $harks Worth? - Op Ed

The Paxton Brothers. Probably two of the most unique conservation/personalities you might ever want to meet in Florida and hip deep in real world shark conservation issues and solutions.

The Paxtons look at shark conservation from many different angles both as sustainable anglers, water users, and conservationists.

As the driving force behind the Guy Harvey Catch and Release Shark Fishing Tournaments they have distinguished themselves as out-of-the-box thinkers movers and shakers.

This month they are delving into the FWC and proposed rules and regulations that would ban the take of Tigers and Hammerheads in Florida waters.

Click on the image to read the article as many of the points Sean Paxton brings up resonates to the idea of sustainable fisheries vs no take, an anathema to hard core shark conservationists whose monolithic "no take under any circumstances" often puts them in direct conflict with other use groups.

We can embrace some sustainable fisheries for sharks like we embraced catch and release, all it takes is some science, some broader perspective, and a large amount of long term vision.

As Florida came to understand back in 2001 with complete bans on commercial shark diving, once laws are set in place the unintended consequences of conservation laws for sharks resonate elsewhere for years to come.

Food for thought.

Shark Cage Diving - Guadalupe Island Trip Report 2011


Photo Jack Mears 2011 Guadalupe Island
When Jack Mears called us in early 2011 his energy, excitement, and love of sharks came through the phone lines from the U.K as clear as the line itself.

This was a guy who just had to go shark diving with the Whites of Guadalupe.

Jack is now an Official Shark Diver and sent us this trip report from August. We'll have Jack come back and join us anytime because hard core sharks fans like him are why we exist:

Jack Mears Trip Report 25-29 August 2011.

I booked my trip with Shark Diver after having previously been on 2 unsuccessful White shark diving trips in Australia (we did have an angry young Mako which helped but still..). 

I have to admit this made me slightly skeptical of the guarantee offered to see sharks on every trip but after a lot of web research and speaking to Patric the CEO at Shark Diver it definitely looked like the best opportunity/trip.


I boarded the boat late in the evening before the date of the trip, met everybody, got paired up with a bunk mate and then after a quick beer went to bed ready to clear customs in Mexico the following morning (which was a complete breeze). We then sailed out to Guadalupe – the boat does move around quite a lot it is an ocean after all but after knocking back a few sea sickness tablets I didn’t have any problems the whole way there (or back).

The first day started with us all being matched into groups for the cage rotations, 4 divers at a time in groups of 8 for the 2 cages. I can’t remember the exact time frame but I’m pretty sure a shark turned up within about ten minutes of being in the water. They then (as promised) turned up during nearly every dive nearly for the rest of the trip. I believe there was only one dive where a shark didn’t turn up but out of about 12/13 dives it seemed quite reasonable to let them have one off.

All in all we had about 10 known sharks I think but the largest, Jacques was around for a good few hours and circled the cages slowly and came very close again and again enabling everybody to get some really good photos and videos. Every time I thought I wouldn’t get a better opportunity to get another one, there he was again right next to us. Bearing in mind that was only one shark on one day of the whole trip, we still had plenty of other sharks to look at and (try to) photograph over the 2 and a half days diving.

After the last dive of the day it was then time to grab a beer or two and sit in the sun waiting for dinnertime as the sun went down. Every meal from start to finish was phenomenal, Mark and Alyssa in the galley did not disappoint on any meal over the whole trip it really was good. Combine the food with the people, the weather, the beer and obviously, the sharks and it was a very good trip.

I haven’t even mentioned the rest of the crew - Martin the divemaster was always helpful and friendly as were the rest of the crew who helped with everything from the chumming to our weights and getting us in and out of the cages whilst also running the boat at the same time. The Captains, Spencer and Kyle, helped out with the work and were more than happy to talk to us at any point as well as the deckhands, Nick and Kyle who were always doing something around the boat. There’s a crew member awake all night as well which helps if you can’t sleep or you have a particularly loud ‘snorer’ in your cabin.

Overall the trip exceeded my expectations, the crew were very good and all of the other divers on the boat helped to make it better than I thought it was going to be. The sea sickness was the only concern I had but I took enough pills and was fine the whole time.

I would highly recommend it to anyone and if I wasn’t already planning their Bahamas trip next year I would definitely be planning on going again.

Cheers,
Jack.

Whale Shark Tagging Expedition - Huge Success!

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in a collaborative effort with several fisheries-based agencies, successfully tagged 10 whale sharks during two recent trips in the Gulf of Mexico.  This represents the largest number of whale sharks tagged at one time in the northern Gulf of Mexico.


The tagging effort is a joint venture between the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, Mississippi Laboratories, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, On the Wings of Care and LDWF.  The team is hoping the project will reveal precious information about the little-studied fish.

“Historical information on whale sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico is lacking,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “We’ve had great success with many other fish tagging ventures and hope that this effort has similar results, providing a wealth of data to assist in the conservation of this species.”

Despite being the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark is one of the most elusive animals to scientists due to their offshore, nomadic existence.  They are extremely difficult to find outside of a few known seasonal hotspots; therefore, obtaining data on this species is extremely challenging and expensive.

“If the tags stay on for a significant amount of time, we will learn a great deal about how these sharks use the waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico, as well as where they go in the winter time, which is still a mystery to us,” said Dr. Eric Hoffmayer, a Research Fishery Biologist with NOAA Fisheries Service, who has been studying whale sharks in the northern Gulf for 10 years.  “It is still unclear whether whale sharks are residents in northern Gulf waters or simply seasonal migrants from the Caribbean Sea or beyond.  Hopefully the data acquired from these tags will shed some light onto this research question.”

One of the most accurate and useful tools for studying whale shark movements is telemetry, which involves attaching satellite transmitters to the sharks.  Other behavioral information beyond the shark’s movements can be inferred by assessing oceanic and physical conditions around the shark.
The satellite tags provide temperature and depth data every 10 to 15 minutes as well as an estimated position each day for the duration of the tag.  The deployment periods for these tags ranged between four to 12 months.  In addition to the standard satellite tags, three position tags were also deployed, which send real-time location estimates to the satellite when the shark surfaces and the satellites are overhead.  These tags should report for up to six months.

Funding for the satellite tags was provided by the International Foundation for Animal Welfare and World Wildlife Fund.

“Another important factor contributing to the success of this project and our whale shark research over the years has been the participation by the public in our Whale Shark Sighting Survey,” said Jennifer McKinney, Research Technician with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.  “After receiving several reports from the offshore community about whale sharks in region, we mobilized a trip to conduct the tagging.  Due to public participation, we knew exactly where to focus our efforts and therefore had great success.”

The Whale Shark Sighting Survey can be found at www.usm.edu/gcrl/whaleshark.  The survey has been an increasing success over the years, in which the general public has been actively involved in the whale shark research program through their participation.

Bonny Schumaker with On the Wings of Care, a non-profit agency, has provided aerial support for whale shark tagging trips since 2010.

For press inquiries, contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov (225) 765-5113 or Kim Amendola at kim.amendola@noaa.gov (727) 551-5707.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tiger Shark Chomp - Denny Takes Some Hits

Last week in the middle of another commercial film and television shoot on Tiger Beach we celebrated the arrival of Denny, a little Tiger shark we had come to know and love this spring in the Bahamas.

The celebration lasted until we saw the close up images that Greg "Moondog" Mooney surfaced with.

Sadly it looks like little Denny (all three feet of him) had been chomped on by another resident Tiger, crushing his dorsal fin and leaving behind several healing puncture wounds. Additionally he survived a fisherman's hooking event recently.

If you click on this image you see the hook and line in the corner of his mouth.

The good news is that sharks are very resilient critters and if he can stay out of any more trouble little Denny might just get big enough one day to hold his own at Tiger Beach.

Life can be tough for sharks in the wild and we'll continue to follow Denny's progress and update you as he grows up, right now he's a cute little guy who's always showing up in the thick of things not quite sure where he belongs.

Thanks to Greg Mooney for the shot and Fraizer Nivens for the image highlighting.

Let's go shark diving!


BBC 2 on Tuna Fisheries - Great Stuff

For those of us who lament the downward spiral of underwater programming, along comes the BBC and a stunning expose on Pacific tuna fisheries.

This is the new bar, it's been reset, the imagery is stunning, the underwater work flawless and the story telling out of this world.

Take a moment today to watch this clip, and if you happen to be in the business, pay attention:



Leaders to launch new shark conservation effort PEW

The president of Palau and the president of Honduras tomorrow are to announce the launch of a global shark conservation coalition.

Johnson Toribiong, president of Palau, and Porfirio Lobo Sosa, president of Honduras, are to be joined by leaders from other countries to sign a new declaration committing to the development of sanctuaries, which end commercial shark fishing in their national waters, the release states.

The signing is to take place at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel in New York City, the release states. Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation of the Pew Environment Group, is also to be at the signing.

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, which is a non-governmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect the world’s oceans, preserve wildlands and promote clean energy, the release states.

Two years ago, no country had declared all of its waters as a sanctuary for these creatures. Today, more than 2.7 million square kilometers have been set aside, more than the area of Mexico and Texas combined, according to the release.

Sustainable Shark Fisheries? Yup!

Sustainable Shark Fisheries?
Kudos to Canada and The Marine Stewardship Council for exploring sustainable shark fisheries. It's an anathema to many within the shark conservation movement to even consider sustainable shark fishing.

In reality this weeks announcement is an arrow in the quiver of a total global approach to shark fisheries.

We cannot rely on bans, set aside areas, and tourism to complete the shark management story. Somewhere shark fisheries will have to be part of the equation.

In Canada the first step to shark management has begun.

Complete story in the Vancouver Sun.


Michael Aw - Some Kind of Awesome

Photo by Michael Aw
It's 2011 and the more cynical among us might imagine a world that has been picked over, where true adventures and underwater discoveries are relics of the past.

Not so if you happen to be Michael Aw and we happen to be big fans of his work.

Michael's expose in this months National Geographic tells the tale of regional fishermen in New Guinea who interact with Whale Sharks in surprising ways.

Run, don't walk, to the nearest Barns and Noble if you are not fortunate enough to get Nat Geo delivered to your doorstep and pick up this months magazine.

This is about as good as it gets and kudos to Michael for the great work.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bikini models, artists, sharktivists and whatnot?

I have said it many times in the past and will say it again. Mike aka Da Shark Neumann in Fiji is one of the industry greats. Willing to go out on a limb to call out those within our industry who "play at conservation" and as his recent post suggests those who's personal over-the-top backslapping media output fails to meet up to the realities on the ground.

Case in point South Africa (thanks Wolf).

We're at a crossroads in the shark conservation game and everyone knew we would get here eventually. The good news is that we have reached a wonderful place where shark conservation measures are being knocked over like dominoes all over the world.

The effort has been titanic and the birthright of everyone who became involved in small and large ways.

With this effort have come a few who have capitalized on the shark conservation frenzy and used this opportunity to self promote themselves with videos and websites proclaiming themselves to be the Second Coming of Shark Conservation.

Really?

This effort should be recognized as a mass effort, not a single individual or even small group success and yet here we are and yes, there are a few who have ridden this wave for purposes that have little to do with conservation.

Unfortunately those who came to the game late and who are seeking to make a name for themselves are using the old dive industry playbook squeezed through the lens of modern social media to appear as if they have had a larger hand in the shark conservation successes then they actually have.

Even worse a few have taken ideas and successes of others and attributed them to themselves in a gratuitous display of theft.

Selfish, arrogant, rude, and disrespectful are just a few of the words that come to mind and well documented by those who are watching. I fail to understand how you can lay claim to a particular shark conservation success when the 30,000-100,000 others who were involved know what they did to effect change for sharks.

A while back I was having dinner with an old California whale campaigner and she told me what's happening with sharks now happened in the 70's and 80's with the various whale groups until the effort imploded under the sheer weight of self congratulatory and ideological bikini models, artists, and whaletivists...sound familiar?

As we head into 2012 and 2013 with the wind at our backs for shark conservation take a moment to look at your efforts for sharks both big and small and celebrate it quietly in your own way.

You deserve it.

We still have a long way to go and the successes to date all come with an Act Two that will need to be dealt with the same passion and dedication that Act One delivered.

Let's focus on the Act Two and leave the high flying media self promotional hits behind. The effort is big and small enough for those in-the-know to hand out personal kudos to those who have gone above and beyond for the effort.

To run ahead of the marching band for sharks wearing an outfit pulled from last years Mardis Gras and say "look at me" is not cool, it's disrespectful, and we could all use less of it.

Thanks to Mike and Wolf for pointing out the issue before it gets out of hand.

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shark Diver Film - The boys are back in town!

Working with the best shark film crews in the industry is a constant reminder of what raw talent looks like both on and off screen.

This week it is my high honor to be working with such a crew. Always exploring Plan B when Plan A becomes hostage to flight delays and local weather conditions to pull off the extraordinary.

We just said goodby to the fine folks over at CNN who were in town shooting a shark conservation piece.

One of our jobs at Shark Diver is to carefully balance commercial work, the shoots and productions that keep the lights on and our folks busy, with conservation messaging. Choosing the right media sources to work with is a big part of that mix.

CNN has consistently treated shark conservation themes with intuitive thought and great story telling and we have been more than happy to help with their efforts.

You'll be seeing the CNN piece in a few weeks, for now the boys are back at it doing some of that commercial work I was talking about for the rest of this week. While I cannot say much about the production at this point I can say it's packed with sharks and Spicy.

I also hear tell our next commercial shark diving group at Guadalupe is having another amazing week. For me it's back to the sun, sand and sharks, wait until you see what happened to little "Denny's" on The Beach this week, it was absolutely raw nature on display.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

White Shark Cage Diving Guadalupe - 2011 Reviews

Morley Armstrong is one lucky Canadian. His wife called us in 2010 wanting to send her husband on an "Adventure of a Lifetime".

The trick was we had to keep this a secret from Morley until the last minute!

We happen to loves wives like Morley's.

They know their husbands, choose their shark diving companies wisely and deliver the goods.

Here's the email we got back from our newly minted Shark Diver Morley this week, and if we say so ourselves, she chose very wisely indeed:

Patric,

Having just returned from Guadalupe, I wanted to share my impressions of the expedition with you. In all aspects the trip was superb!

Most importantly, my cage buddies and I saw several different sharks each day. In accordance with SharkDiver.com and Horizon philosophy, it was incredible to see these amazing sharks demonstrating their natural behavior.

However, the highlight was when Shredder, arguably the most famous of the Guadalupe sharks, appeared on the second day; he did not disappoint!

For approximately an hour he exhilarated us all by getting close up and personal with the boat and cages. He provided some fantastic photos and video footage, both from within the cages and aboard the boat.

The crew of the Horizon was professional, safety conscious, accommodating, very knowledgeable about the sharks, and downright fun. It was reassuring to see the excellent relationship they have with the local research scientist, and the overall love and concern they have for all sharks.

Patric, the trip lived up to all my expectations; thanks!


Morley Armstrong
Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

White Shark Cage Diving Guadalupe - 2011 Reviews


When we tell our divers to prepare for weather on the long crossing over to Isla Guadalupe many are not sure what to expect.

This fall has been a challenge with tougher than normal crossings for the normally calm August month.

For DeGrey & Patty Phillips two newly certified Shark Divers, taking weather in stride meant the payoff of great white sharks and lots of them at Guadalupe, here's their report.

Trip report from DeGrey & Patty Phillips on their Aug. 25th. trip with Shark Diver:

We left Late the night of the 25th in heavy seas, stopping early the next morning in Encenada, Mexico to clear withe that country. After a very rough sea days jouney to Guadalupe we arrived safely. (although about half of our fellow guests were seasick).


Martin, our divemaster instructed us on all the safety and logistical aspects of our shark dive and we got in the cages and quickly saw our first white shark!


It was awesome and overall I believe we saw about 10 different sharks in the 3 days of diving.


My adrenaline would shoot up every time one of the crew yelled White Shark! Everyone not in the diving cage would dash to the rail to see and then pace waiting for their turn in the cage. The 1st day the water was quite clear with visibility of about 100" The next 2 days it was a bit murky, but we were still able to see the sharks well and get decent images.


The crew & captains were great, catering to any needs and the food was exceptional as Mark is an excellent chef. We particularly liked breakfast as Mark would make anything you could want to order!


The personal quarters were small, but you never spend much time in there so it's all one needs too sleep in relative comfort. The trip back was exceptionally calm and we saw sea turtles, whales and dolphins.


Getting through customs etc. was also a breeze. Hats off to Shark Diver for giving us a trip to remember for a lifetime. We are already looking at booking their Tiger shark adventure for next year!


Out of 5 stars we give it a 6!

The Shark Photo Seen Around The World

Recently an image of what appeared to be a Great white shark stalking a surf lineup in California made headlines news.

What's not up for discussion is the shots providence. This is not a photoshopped image and we suspect the photographer, Gary Eliot, is earnest in his work.

But while the rest of the world plays eco chamber with the storyline of a Great white mixed in with surfers at least one marine biologist and California surfer is saying "wait a second."

This week Luke Tipple offers up a plausible explanation of what this image may or may not be.

When it comes to sharks and images of the Great white, only UFO imagery and video captures the imagination of so many and often the associated story lines are as imaginative as the grainy footage that accompanies them.

Read That's not a Great White Shark.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Industry Consolidation in South Africa or Carpetbagging?

When a cage diving industry becomes too successful the possibility of major political players coming in to own a "piece of the pie" becomes almost too good to pass up.

This is the scene in South Africa as long time operators reel from an outside onslaught of shark cage diving permit carpetbaggers.

For the folks who built a South African cage diving industry with blood sweat and tears this news is not good:

Link to article.

Craig Ferreira has no fear of monsters from the deep. But the TV star, world famous for swimming with great white sharks, is worried about land predators as he and a winemaker wrangle over a lucrative shark-cage diving permit.


Ferreira's cage-diving operation in Mossel Bay hangs in the balance pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged permit irregularities.



The probe follows complaints by rival Mossel Bay shark-cage diving firm Evening Star Trading, led by politically connected Cape Town entrepreneur Sheila Hlanjwa, and her business partner, Robert Pace.



At stake is a share of the R70-million-a-year shark-cage diving industry in the Cape, which has attracted celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Michael Schumacher and Prince William.



The industry is still reeling from a controversial two-and-a-half-year permit allocation process that has involved some new players, including a car rental businesswoman, a real estate executive, and operators allegedly linked to the Department of Environmental Affairs.



Thirteen permits have now been finalised. The 14th, and final, one is in Mossel Bay.



Ferreira is the current permit-holder and is known in the industry, having also featured in several TV documentaries screened by the Discovery channel, National Geographic and the BBC.



One of the shoots featured the entire Ferreira family, including Craig's father Theo Ferreira, a shark conservationist.



Heated disagreement between the family members was a central theme of the film, shot in Shark Alley, off Dyer Island. But the friction was nothing compared with that between Ferreira and Evening Star Trading.



Evening Star was unsuccessful in its initial permit application last year, but lodged an appeal. It also launched an offensive against Ferreira, accusing him of failing to transform in line with BEE regulations.



Hlanjwa, an ANC member, this week said she had raised the issue with the ANC chief whip in parliament and the Presidency. "I am prepared to go to the public protector with this.That permit belongs to us. I am a new entrant (to the industry). We followed the protocol to the T," said Hlanjwa, one of two black shareholders in Evening Star who collectively own 50% of the company.



In a letter sent to the Presidency in March, Hlanjwa claimed that Ferreira's company, Shark Africa, had not transformed. "Continuous postponement of the allocation announcement date is also not fair, as it only favours Shark Africa, a company that operates in Mossel Bay, but refuses to transform," the letter said.



Ferreira, however, is furious and said he invested millions in building the industry over the past decade and employed over 30 people. "For me, it seems very strange and uncomfortable now that an outsider is trying to use politics to rob us of our business and push us out of an industry we had a big part in developing and building," he said.



" We completed an application and worked on a scorecard through a proper BEE consultant. Our turnover at the time also excluded us from much of the BEE criteria, however. We put a good application together ."



Department of Environmental Affairs spokesman Zolile Nqayi said the Mossel Bay appeal decision was postponed owing to allegations of corruption that would be investigated.



The stand-off is part of a broader row over shark-cage diving. Permit disputes are brewing in other areas, including Gansbaai and False Bay.



The sole new entrant in Gansbaai, ANC member Yvonne Lungcuzo, is a former domestic worker.



"I am not just somebody from nowhere. Life has had challenges, but my suffering has made me who I am. The whole of Gansbaai was racist about me coming," she said.



Added Hlanjwa: "White sharks are not only for whites, you know."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Guadalupe Shark Alert - Shredder Back for Season Nine!

With his distinctive dorsal fin and well known cage diver curiosity Shredder has thrilled divers from around the world for the past nine years.

We named this iconic shark Shredder back in 2003 in an incident that defined this remarkably animal in more ways than one.

See How Shredder Got His Name.

The good news is that our beloved shark is back this week once again thrilling divers after his 2000 mile migration into the deep Pacific and back to Isla Guadalupe.

We are always on the look out for this special and endearing animal and each season when we do not see him in the first pulse of sharks with characters like Bruce we wait with growing concern.

For our divers who have been asking about Shredder this year, he's back and bigger than ever, great news!

Let's go shark diving!

Isla Guadalupe Shark Cage Diving - 2011 Trip Reports

Guadalupe Island is once again in full bloom with another season of record shark numbers and as always the "unexpected."

Newly minted Shark Diver James Woodhead joined us last week at Guadalupe not sure what to expect - but ready for anything.

It was that mindset that helped James when the "unexpected" happened, it's also the reason why Shark Diver builds and maintains the best shark cages in the business.

Here's James after action report:

Turning 40 this year finally lit a fire under me to fulfil a childhood ambition - diving with Great Whites. Luckily, my web research led me to Shark Diver's website, and I'm so glad it did.

After a long sea journey to Guadalupe we finally got to suit up and get going. Being non-certified, Dive Master Martin showed me the ropes of breathing with the regulator and clearing my mask underwater, and thankfully I didn't have any problems.

On the first day, amongst some 'regular' Guadalupe sharks returning to say hello to the cages, a notable encounter was with a very shy young male White Shark who was very wary of the cages. Martin said we should keep a special eye out for him over the next few days. Again on day two, our young shark turned up and kept his distance. We also saw Jaques, a Guadalupe regular who is now over 16-foot, and a female regular too.

Both sharks got very close to the cages.

On our last day, the regulars turned up again. Our mystery male also arrived, and this time headed straight for my cage. I took a lovely photo of him very close to the cage, which I have attached, and thought "He's not stopping". The next second he'd rammed our cage with his snout - just out of curiosity - and shot off at very high speed.

It might have been the shock of his life, but it was a huge thrill for myself and my cagemates.

I would like to thank Patric for his excellent customer service, and our crew; Captains Spencer and Kyle, Galley Crew Mark and Alyssa, Dive Master Martin, and crewmen Mark, Nick and Kyle, who were always friendly, informative, funny and professional, (and in the case of Mark and Alyssa, damned good cooks!).

I'd also like to thank my shipmates, who to a man (and woman) were excellent company.

They all helped to make the dreams of a 5-year old English kid an unforgettable experience for a 40-year old English guy!

Cheers,

James Woodhead UK

What some call Undersea Adventure we call Shark Diving!

Tiger Beach, Bahamas. When it's this good it's just shark diving heaven. Join us in the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012, the sharks are waiting.

Shot by Fraizer Nivens in RED with the M/V Kate.




Tiger Beach, Bahamas 2011 from Frazier Nivens on Vimeo.


Sustainable fishing for Sharks - Heresy? - You Bet

Mike aka Da Shark is one of the industries deepest thinkers. He can also produce an industry rant that can peel the paint off buildings across the street from any device with Internet access.

His latest post is one that landed with little fanfare and as I suspect, left more than a handful of Shark Messiahs frothing at the mouth.

Yes, Mike is asking questions about "Sustainable Shark Fishing" which is for many within the shark conservation world an anathema.

But go here we must, because the idea of global bans on shark fishing is not comprehensive or even real world and in the end doomed to failure. In fact the entire shark conservation track thus far is setting up a world in which the price for some species of shark is higher than ever, with fishermen moving into set aside areas of abundance to harvest sharks because of little enforcement and high dollar prices.

So the "fishing idea" needs to be explored, vetted, and discussed by conservationists now before we get to the point where illegal fishing of our own design takes hold in areas we once thought protected.

It is easier to monitor existing fisheries than to patrol against illegal fisheries, just ask Sea Shepherd.

Here's Mike post again. It's filled with links, ideas, and some big words. So if you're not into big words or deep thoughts, go back to painting your protest sign with that day glo crayon of yours and happy protesting.

For the rest, read this because it's as good as it gets and about 5 years ahead of the current curve for shark conservation thought and strategy.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Tiburón Cíclope - Baja California - Video

Ya'll remember the one eyed crazy shark they found in Baja?

We do and now there's a video. No this was not a hoax it was shark evolution baby, the next step to sharks with actual frickin' lazer beams on them:

White Shark Cage Diving Guadalupe - 2011 Reviews

When Phil Wiseman called us in 2009 to book a white shark expedition for 2010 he sounded excited. This was going to be a family affair with two of his clan joining him.

Unfortunately "life got in the way" for Phil and his family and they could not join us in 2010, so it was this year that we got to meet the Wisemans...and what a nice family!

Here's Nancy's take on her recent adventures with White Sharks at Guadalupe island.

Thanks guys, we'll have you back anytime, your new friends the sharks are waiting:

Dear Patrick and crew of the Horizon, I just completed a tour with you and would like to share my experience.

I am 68 years old and grateful that my son Phil found your tour and asked me if I wanted to come along. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be within a few feet of a magnificent Great White Shark. I will marvel that event forever.

I had a bit of a problem the first night trying to gain my sea legs but once my body and my brains stopped arguing with each other I was good to go.

The entire staff of the Horizon were just great. They couldn't do enough for me and I indeed felt special. Every meal was fabulous, it was great to wake up every morning to the smell of coffee and bacon frying in the pan. Martin (diver operations) was ever so patient when he worked to help me breath with the regulator. It was fun to hear all the knowledge he had about the sharks of Isla Guadalupe
.

Thank you all for a great experience.

Nancy Wiseman

Thursday, September 1, 2011

RTSea Productions Using Shark Footage for Great Shark Media

Meeting at the intersection of responsible shark media and great visuals is this news piece from ABC. Kudos to Richard Theiss from RTSea Productions who has been a tireless pro-shark media campaigner with many years of shark footage for use by the media that portrays these animals in this most natural light.

This white shark footage is from Isla Guadalupe shot with the crew of Shark Diver. Richard will be back at the island again this season (2011) for more shark encounters: