Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Official - Florida Senate Outlaws Sex, Yes They Did!

On October 1, 2010 a new law went into effect in Florida. As with most laws involving sex this one was poorly worded as if the actual paper these worlds were written on might in fact burn though the desks of lawmakers.

It was passed quickly and unanimously.

An act relating to sexual activities involving animals; creating s. 828.126, F.S.; providing definitions; prohibiting knowing sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal; prohibiting specified related activities; providing penalties; providing that the act does not apply to certain husbandry, conformation judging, and veterinary practices; providing an effective date.

Unfortunately as the fine folks over at the Southern Fried Science Blog pointed out today, the law makes having sex between humans...illegal (see helpful graphic).

As it turns out we humans are by definition animals. But don't tell that to 80% of the religious conservatives that infest Florida's legislature for they clearly do not want to hear it.

Enjoy your next conjugal visit Floridians, as of this year "getting busy" has been redefined to "accepted animal husbandry practices, conformation judging practices, or accepted veterinary medical practices."

Sure makes even the idea of sex awfully bland don't it?

Shark Weekend in Punta Gorda

This weekend the quaint city of Punta Gorda, Florida will be invaded not by sharks, but by shark hunters. On Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 the second annual Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge will be held at Laishley Park Marina on the banks of the Peace River.

With $15,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, there should be no shortage of experienced anglers in search of the big one. Thirteen teams of either two or three entrants are already registered. Organizers hope even more will be tempted to join in the search of the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor Estuary for the notorious saltwater predators.

Twelve different species of sharks will be targeted by the competitors and each catch must be at least five feet long in order to be eligible for points. This is a catch and release tournament and part of what distinguishes it from others is an emphasis on conservation and scientific research. Each boat will have a trained observer on board to ensure the proper release of captured sharks. Furthermore, these observers will place satellite tags on various types of desired sharks, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, and hammerheads. These devices will enable researchers to follow the travel patterns of the sharks upon their release.

While the action is underway on the water, the Ultimate Shark Challenge also promises to provide excitement back on land. The weekend will see a festive atmosphere at Laishley Park in support of the fishing tournament. Here updates and highlights of the fishing competition will be broadcast for interested spectators on a LED screen. The event's numerous sponsors will showcase fun demonstrations and product giveaways. Fishing seminars will be offered for those not bold enough to enter this year's competition. Several attractions will be set up for visitors' amusement, including Mote Marine's popular mobile aquarium, which features a 1200 gallon fish tank and displays on sharks, sea turtles, and shells. Admission is free and live music, food, and refreshments will be available to liven the experience.

Where the Salmon sharks are, now with 20% more research

In 2004 I was fortunate enough to get face to face with the Salmon sharks (Lamna ditropis) of Gravina Bay in Alaska on a private shark diving adventure on board the M/Y Triton that we set up.

These critters are the sporty little cousins of the white sharks and not much is known about them, by sporty I mean jumping out of the water and tearing up local shoals of salmon kind of sporty - fun to watch.

So it was with great interest that I read about regional aggregation sites of these amazing animals in British Columbia in and around Haida Gwaii, in Queen Charlotte Sound this week.

In a paper published last year, and tabled last week with the Cohen Commission in Vancouver, Dr. Williams states an estimated 20,000 blue and salmon sharks gather in a relatively small area each summer.

That's a lot of sharks. Of course there's been some stunning tagging research done on these animals in the region, but you might never know about it because this team does not have a television show, nor do they seek the limelight like a "moth to a flame" as some do in the shark research community.

When it comes to shark researchers we prefer the quiet professionals, they just seem to be more...credible.