Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Understand the Migration and Trophic Ecology of Northeastern Pacific White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias)

A Guadalupe shark - sans tag for now
Hooray for the team at TOPPS. Producing, after many years of careful research and non invasive tagging, a veritable treasure trove of white shark migration info.

Fortunately for the rest of us who are not out in the field year after year struggling with meager research funds, the bureaucracies of California, and a few sad sack high visibility research carpetbaggers who drop into well known research sites to conduct ethically questionable but highly entertaining drilled fin tagging - this data is awesome.

Awesome as in, "take a break boys, you done good" kind of data, and best of all it is open source.

As you can tell we kind of disagree with Da Shark
on this one. Mark your calendars this makes a twice in a lifetime event:

"Needless to say, I very much look forward to finding out how this dovetails with Michael Domeier's multi-year tracking results, and his own interpretation of the data!"

To that statement we say, "Feh!"

The TOPP's team are good folk, they work hard, they produce data and they actually care about the critters that they have spent over two decades getting to know and study.

Once again a well deserved kudos to the whole team. So put the kettle on, pour yourself a big cuppa Joe and sit back and admire the results of long term invested research on California white sharks.

Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Understand the Migration and Trophic Ecology of Northeastern Pacific White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias)

Note: Stay tuned, as of 2012 Shark Diver in tandem with other operators at Isla Guadalupe will be documenting drilled tags on white sharks. If these tags begin to degrade dorsal fins in the same horrific manner as we have seen in South Africa - there will be hell to pay.

To those who have tagged these animals and are currently parading around the world scene like the second coming of Shark Jesus we are putting you and your tags officially on notice.

Claudia Li Nominated for GLOBE Award!

Congratulations Claudia Lee!
Well deserved congratulations to Claudia Li and the entire conservation crew behind the Vancouver non-profit organization Shark Truth this week.

As one of the many grassroots shark conservation groups that sprang up in late 2009 Shark Truth lead the way as an Asian community initiative to stop the slaughter of sharks used for shark fin soup.

Their leadership, branding, messaging and overall community impact has been nothing short of amazing to watch.

If conservation effectiveness had a face it would be Shark Truth and we along with the rest of the conservation community thrilled to hear they have been nominated for a prestigious GLOBE Foundation award.

Take some time to reintroduce yourself with Shark Truth because this is about as good as it gets.

Full story here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Larry Crowder - Offering up a Bloody Brilliant Idea

Thinking out-of-the-box
Vancouver - The indiscriminate slaughter of vast numbers of turtles, sharks, albatrosses and other endangered marine animals that get unintentionally caught by fishermen as by-catch, could be prevented by a radical proposal of mobile marine reserves, according to scientists.
Protected areas of the ocean where commercial fishing was banned would work far better if they were not static conservation areas, as they were at present, but were moveable reserves that took into account the mobile nature of sea life, they said. 

The proposed conservation zones would not impose fishing restrictions in one place, but would shift location according to where threatened species were expected to be found. The idea has resulted from a revolution in satellite and tagging technology that has allowed scientists routinely to monitor the seasonal movements of marine creatures, which would have been impossible a decade ago.
Scientists said existing marine protection areas, where fishing was controlled to enable wildlife to recover, frequently failed to do their job because the endangered animals simply migrated to unprotected regions where they got caught accidentally. 

This is believed to be the main reason that populations of loggerhead and leatherback turtles, both critically endangered, have slumped dramatically in recent years as commercial fishing with nets and extremely long fishing lines has become more intense. 

Leatherback turtles have suffered particularly badly in the Pacific Ocean. Sharks and albatrosses have also declined significantly as a result of being caught accidentally by fishermen.
Creating mobile protection areas monitored by satellite would enable some of the world’s most endangered species to recover, as well as allow fishermen to ply their trade in other parts of the ocean where by-catch was less likely, said Larry Crowder, a professor of marine biology at Stanford University in California, in the US. 

“Small, stationary reserves do little to protect highly mobile animals, like most fish, like the turtles and sharks and seabirds. 

“You might say that the only way to achieve conservation of these kinds of organisms is to protect them everywhere in the ocean,” he said. 

“But we don’t need to close the entire ocean; we only need to close the place where they are concentrated,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, Canada. 

Satellite tagging and other ways of monitoring the movements of marine creatures have shown that sea life tends to congregate near oceanographic features such as upwellings, where rising currents bring minerals to the sea surface, and convergence zones, where ocean currents collide. 

“Those are where everything in the ocean goes to feed, and the fishermen understand that,” Crowder said. These features tend to move, taking sea life with them. 

“Satellite technology, tagging and acoustic technology allow us to look into the ocean and figure out who is going where,” he added. 

“The time is ripe for the idea of mobile marine protection areas and a good candidate to consider is the North Pacific convergence zone. We know it moves seasonally. In the summer, it’s about 1 000 miles (about 1 600km) north of Hawaii and in the winter, it is further south.” 

Several species are threatened. The number of leatherback turtles in the Pacific has declined by 90 percent in 20 years with by-catch a main cause. The loggerhead turtle has been hit particularly hard by shrimp trawling. Albatrosses can become caught on fishing lines and drown. The northern royal albatross is an endangered species. 

An estimated 50 million sharks are caught unintentionally every year. The angel shark, vulnerable to by-catch, is now one of the five most endangered shark species. – The Independent

Friday, February 24, 2012

Marshall Islands - No Shark For You!

If you want to commercially harvest sharks one of the last places you want to be doing it these days is the Marshall Islands.

Trust us.

Some great enforcement news to close out the week with:

 "Last month, MIMRA levied and received a $125,000 fine against the Japanese transshipment vessel Satsuma, the first fine issued under the PL2011-63, Fisheries Amendment Act of 2011 that went into force late last year."

“It is illegal to have sharks on board,” said MIMRA Director Glen Joseph. MIMRA began enforcing the ban on sharks and shark fins late last year, initially confiscating gear but not issuing fines. Instead, enforcement officers put commercial fishermen — and others — on notice that they faced future fines if they continue to bring shark and shark products through the RMI. An unannounced raid at the Marshall Islands Fishing Venture late last year resulted in the boarding of many vessels and confiscation of sharks and shark fishing gear, said MIMRA enforcement officer Marcella Tarkwon."

Complete story here thanks to the Shark Defender blog for the find.

And "The Data" Shall Set You Free!

Cyanobacterial Neurotoxin β-N-Methylamino-L-alanine is undoubtedly evil stuff. Thought to cause all manner of horrible problems in the human brain, think loss of memory and basic bladder functions, and is commonly found in...Florida shark fin?

Or so says a recent study coming out of the University of Miami this week.

What caught our attention was the unprecedented speed at which this study made it to the worlds media outlets. As of this post over 9000 results on Google for this studies title alone. A trademark of one Dr Neil Hammerschlag who, along with a merry band of Fl researchers, has consistently tied shark research data into the global media machine to effectively lead the way when it comes to media messaging, conservation, and really good data.

The study is an important milestone making shark fin less appealing to the masses and giving those on the front lines of the anti shark fin push some additional stone cold facts.
 "A potential link between this neurotoxic nonprotein amino acid and neurodegenerative diseases was originally discovered on the island of Guam in the Western Pacific Ocean. Here an exceptionally high incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), of somewhat late onset with added extrapyramidal features and dementia (ALS/PDC), was recorded in the late 1940s to early 1950s. ALS/PDC is a progressive neurological disorder with clinical and neuropathological features resembling those of ALS, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease"

Study quote here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Counting Fiji Sharks 1...2...3

The folks in Fiji, I mean where do we start?

You want to do conservation right?

Here's where you start.

Mike aka Da Shark has unveiled a multi group effort to count the sharks in Fiji - and we like it.

You can actually join them in April if you are of the counting and diving type, hmm April in Fiji?

Take note Florida, Bahamas, elsewhere, you all have a nice new tool to use underwater and it's a winning combination of groups who are supporting this effort.

As Da Shark says:

"Everybody has been duly notified and barring the advent of a couple of Johnny-come-latelies, these are the operations who care and thus, the places where you should book your April vacation in Fiji. They are all excellent outfits and I highly recommend every single one of them. And should this be too short term, don't despair as we're likely to repeat the exercise in November!"

Hmm, November in Fiji?

Is The Shark Fin Ban Culturally Biased?

Take action now!
RTSea Blog covered Juliet Eilperin's response in the Washington Post this week to the pro-shark fin lobby, and we have to agree, this is great stuff.

Juliet knows what she is talking about and delivers her response with calm cool facts.

Cultural bias in the shark fin debate?

We think not, but racist comments that frame perceptions to this debate, absolutely so, with nasty examples all over the Internet that go unchallenged on a daily basis.

For example the Huff Post this week featured a blog on increased protections for sharks in Florida.

This was the third comment on that posts thread. It has since been removed at our request, but requests like ours are few and far between when it comes to monitoring the oppositions perception of the anti-shark fin lobby:

"There are people who catch sharks, cut off their fins and throw them back in the ocean to die on the bottom, unable to move. They sell the fins for soup and souvenirs. These people are barbarians. They are the same kind of people who run dog fights, cock fights, and are basically sociopaths. If we shot them on sight it would be a better world." 

We are tired of the response we are getting from shark conservation leadership groups who do nothing to disavow these dark, racist, comments on the net. Each and every one should be accompanied by a leadership group response disavowing ignorance, hatred, and redefining what the shark fin movement is all about.

The idea that these comments have "nothing to do" with the groups who are pushing for shark fin bans is working to the pro-shark fin lobbies benefit. Like it or not it is these folks who also sign petitions, they post on Facebook, they are the movements base.

These comments became so toxic in the recent Toronto effort to go fin free that a mysterious group appeared and threatened to poison Chinese and Asian communities all over the city.

A golden opportunity was wasted by leadership groups to get out ahead of this issue who instead stood by and said nothing. Lack of action on that issue and others have provided the opposition with talking points that will resonate on for years. 

As RTSea has aptly pointed out: 

"we should not expect the opposition to simply throw in the towel. On the contrary, they will put up one heck of a fight and it will be based on half truths, blatant misrepresentations, and diversions" 

Including three years of unchallenged comment threads and dark groups with agendas that have nothing to do with saving sharks.

The thing about racism, if you are unwilling to take a stand at the start, those who fill the vacuum you leave behind drag you down into their dark world by inaction.

If you still do not think there's a problem out there take a good look around, perhaps the problem starts with you because as far as those who are being paid to promote shark fin and counter our efforts - you don't appear to be any different.

Food for thought.

Australian Commercial Shark Permits - Good News?

"We lost our shark permits!"
JUST two shark cage diving operators will be able to operate off the Neptune Islands for five days a week.

The four existing licence holders will learn in just over a month if they will lose their licence or if they can continue operating the world-famous tourist attraction.

The licence cuts will come after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the changes were brought about after consultation with the industry and a recent study by the CSIRO that found shark behaviour was changing at Neptune Islands.

Shark dive operators will find out at the end of March if they are able to keep their licences, but the new policy means two local operators will lose their licence to conduct dives within the Neptune Islands Conservation Park.

Adventure Bay Charters owner Matt Waller said the cuts to local shark cage licence holders were an unfortunate decision for both the industry and the region.

"We will apply (for a licence) the same as anyone else," he said.

"We have a good case for our inclusion in the industry in the future and we should know the decision at the end of March, or that is their date at the moment."

The new policy claims it will ensure the sustainability of the popular tourist attraction by minimising impacts on reserve values, improving industry certainty and reducing red tape.

But, it will also change the time shark cage dive operators will be allowed to conduct dives at Neptune Islands.

No more than five designated days each week will be allocated to tourism activity under the new policy.

There will be further restrictions placed on the two operators who receive licences, with no more than one vessel per licence being able to conduct shark diving within the Neptune Islands Conservation Park at any point in time.

By Kimberlee Meier

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CBS News Florida Shark Week

CBS Miami will be featuring sharks, shark conservation, and from the looks of it some pretty awesome pro-shark coverage all this week. Here's the first installment, kudos to those who made this happen:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Way Off Course - Brazilian Greenland Sharks?

Thanks to the Dorsal Fin Blog for this rare find and Happy New Year sir. If there's one thing that deepwater drilling has given us over the years it's been a treasure trove of deepwater critter discoveries.

Anyone remember the alien squid from 2008?

"The crew aboard of the Stena DrillMAX caught some amazing footage earlier this month of a large Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) recorded at over 9,100′ (2,770m) deep. To give a frame of reference, the pipe seen in the background is approximately 5′ (1.5m) in diameter. The depth (in feet) can be seen on the video in the upper-right corner. "


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

SeeFood Shark Movie - Great Stuff - PEW?

Is it just our imagination or is something very conservation creative going on out there?

This film shows great promise. Let's get it a distribution deal here in the U.S.A.

Hellooo PEW Trusts, this is out-of-the-park conservation opportunity knocking:

Dr Bik - When Rage is Good for Discourse

We're big fans as you know of those willing to step out into the limelight and rage against the machine every once in a while.

Especially if that person or persons have a Dr attached to the frothy discourse. It's a position that few within the research or ocean sciences community are willing to take.

But that world is changing thanks in part to a few brave, blog centric individuals, who have created their own public platforms for bringing counter ideas to the masses.

Swimming upstream against a tide of others who are heading en mass to oceans of like minded thought in echo chambers filled with $15 sustainable appetizers, organic Pinot Noirs, and awards ceremonies that often celebrate conservation efforts based in 1970's strategic thought.

Case in point, coming from Deep Sea News this week and Dr Biks questioning of the World Oceans Summit. Dr Bik pulls no punches with this stark opening statement:

"The present dialogue on marine conservation is failing our oceans."

Her post is timely and to the point and matched many of the ideas we bounced around this weekend with various friends, blog colleagues, and others. If you want to understand the undercurrent of feeling within the oceans community, if you want to get past the hype and you have the ability and intellectual curiosity to look forward to conservation change and implementation:

Read. This. Post

Her assessment is spot on. Like it or not there has been fossilization in the global conservation discourse and we all know it:

"Transformative initiatives are commonly borne from unconventional collaborations. Fresh ideas often shake the boat. Innovation is an exciting and inspiring thing. But when I look at the scheduled speakers for the Economist summit, I’m not very excited; there are a lot of titles that include the phrase “executive director”.

Fortunately, the past three years for shark conservation has created a veritable breeder reactor of new ideas, new initiatives, and new thinking. But even after three years the reality of funding pressures, passion vs ideas, and the drag of long haul conservation has taken its toll.

Thanks to Dr Bik and others for bringing this fresh new DNA to the wider discussion about the oceans. Now that she has, what are the solutions?

Here's a thought. A separate well funded think tank developed by large NGO's. This think tank will have the ongoing mission to develop next generation ideas and strategy for the oceans.

Think of it as a playground for wild creative thought tempered with science and boots on the ground realities. In short the kind of flexibility and free movement those on the other side of the conservation equation enjoy and exploit on a daily basis.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pro Shark Finning Talking Points - Got Counters?

Yeah but...
If there's one thing that a recent media bomb in Singapore exposed it was pro shark finning talking points. The ones being proposed last week were, by any standards, pretty good.

The person uttering them was Dr Choo-hoo Giam at a recent conservation round table that pitted Dr Giam against anti shark fin groups seeking shark fishing/finning bans in the region.

We're not going into the side show of last weeks misquotes, or media responsibility here, that's been covered by Da Shark and David quite aptly.

We want to talk about the fundamental currency of mainstream and social media - Talking Points.

TP's are the short media friendly quips that move media sources to write stories and create content. They also help on social media sites.

Talking points are the main arsenal for groups seeking to sway public opinion.

In this world, unfortunately, readers don't care for bulky PDF's filled with researched facts, they want a sound byte, they want instant raison d'etre.

It's a media currency traded by Sea Shepherd and PETA to great the short term. If talking points are currency then these two orgs represent the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac of the talking point world. Dispensing a treasure trove of toxic media to unsuspecting masses, bundled and sold without any thought to the future, just the media meme of "the now".

The problem with talking points is that they have to be factual. Your media opposition will take your talking points and, like a grenade thrown too soon on the field of battle, pick up and lob back into your position.

For the many grassroots shark conservation groups who have been growing, morphing, and relying on Facebook and other social media platforms to save sharks over the past two years the media staple of the talking point became horribly skewed along the way.

We have all seen talking points that have reverberated in social media eco chambers around the world to create free standing monsters made of whole cloth factoids that make no sense and provided the opposition like Dr Giam a treasure trove of his own talking points that actually resonate.

Does anyone remember the following media samples?

1. 100+ million sharks killed

2. Sharks = Oxygen

3. Asians are evil

4.90% of all shark species are now completely extinct

5. Japan kills all the worlds sharks

The list goes on and on with some unfortunate racist undertones to boot. Many in the shark conservation world disavow any responsibility for these talking points, "what happens in chat rooms or how people comment is up to them, we operate to a higher calling, just read our bulky PDF's on the issues and you'll know".

It's not good enough.

There are some seriously flawed media talking points out there and they are the current shark conservation meme. And yes, any group involved in shark conservation has the direct responsibility to disavow these gross misrepresentations and start, today, by doing the following:

1. Full review of the most egregious talking points out there.

2. Broad bi-partisan reworking of all media talking points. Let's all get on the same table.

3. A separate media educational track to the shark conservation base to redirect and refocus.

4. A disavowing of all racist talking points, "Hate the Policy - Not the People".

5. Create and promote talking points that are compelling and make sense.

You can still have talking points that have an impact. But we have to get savvy quickly on this issue.

Thankfully Dr Giam has educated all of us to our glaring media Achilles Heel.

It's not too late to clean house and reverse two years of fundamental media mismanagement. The fact is we got a lot of mileage out of , "100 Million Sharks Killed" but that sound byte has just landed back in our foxhole and we don't see anyone out there in a leadership position throwing themselves on that particular media grenade.

Which is too bad, because when it goes off, everyone will take a piece of it - like it or not.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Singapore Thrown Down - David Diley Dissects

Riding into town on a boatload of shark science?
If you happened to wake up to a heretical article in the The Jakarta Post yesterday filled with all manner of eyebrow raising and or fighting words depending on which part of the article you were mentioned in, suffice to say the next few days should be interesting for you.

The quote that surprised even us was this one:

"Shark protectors claim the dish kills up to 73 million sharks each year, with some of them tossed back into the sea to die after their fins are cut off. But Jenkins took aim at the statistics and pooh-poohed this widely held belief. He said the 73 million figure, attributed to marine scientist Shelley Clarke and cited by shark advocacy groups such as WildAid and Shark Angels, had been twisted to suit their needs."

The takeaway from that quote goes back to the Oxy Shark Myth and what we said weeks ago concerning the intersection of conservation facts and policy makers.

We didn't have the time to dissect the whole article but David Diley did in his own way, so if you are just starting your coffee read on it's good stuff.

Except for the digs on presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. He may well be a vacuous out of touch multi-millionaire who prays to a racist Space Jesus (see video) - but at least he has presidential hair, you gotta give him that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stoopid Shark Videos and the Stone Aging of an Industry

You gotta love the meeting place of commercial shark diving and shark conservation. On one side you actually have good and honest folks trying to persuade decision makers in governments all over the world to consider shark diving as a viable alternative to regional shark fishing.

We happen to agree with this approach and believe that a series of high profile shark sites created in tandem with NGO's around the world would benefit both local populations and shark conservation.

They use the Bahamas as a prime example and an estimated 78 million a year in tourism value for shark diving. Not bad right?

Unfortunately these folks have become the unwitting street sweepers at the end of an Elephant Parade filled with stupid shark tricks and piss poor shark protocols often highlighted with images and video that run in stark contrast to those seeking a better world for sharks.

From the Bahamas to the Red Sea we have an ongoing testosterone handling problem with sharks.

Case in point, this video, and thanks to Da Shark for the find. To the shark apologists out there, and you know who you are, the sharks in this video are not dispensing, "love taps," "shark hugs," and or "shark kisses". This is good old fashioned predatory behavior, and there's no way these folks should have been in the middle of it.

If you really care about sharks and the perception of these animals it is up to the commercial folks to ensure they have a media lock on this kind of garbage shark diving which benefits no one - especially the sharks.

Oceanic white tip shark, massive warning !!! from Ritch on Vimeo.

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Calling All Industry Bloggers - Bring yer Red Meat!

Since 2008 this blog and quite a few others have brought three years of Industry Red Meat to the table.

The kind of blogging that informs, challenges, and sometimes even moves mountains.

Yes mountains. As in the recent trans disciplined, bi-coastal Red Meat Fest of the Oxy Shark Myth.

If you don't think that multi-blog expose fundamentally altered the way people propose shark conservation, you just haven't been paying attention.

Come to think of it, why the hell are you reading this post anyway?

Back to the providers of Red Meat.

We love you guys, and gals, and our blog roll reveals as much. For it is here you will find others who think, propose ideas, and bring to the table the discussions of the day that cause an entire industry and conservation niche to react, move, and consider.

It is also to be noted in an industry filled to the brim with those who are afraid to say what they want, paralyzed with fear at not being part of today's "in crowd", or just too bland to consider a life that has nothing in it but, "sail with the current winds," these few exceptional bloggers exhibit strong leadership for doing the complete opposite.

Life favors the brave, not those who join the pack and run with it until all their stripes fuse together to form one very large moving mass on the Golden Savannahs of Irrelevance (ya like that?).

It's good to shake things up once in a while.

So this is your chance. Get out there, make some noise, write about the things that that matter and make a difference.

Independent voices are the musical accompaniment to any industry including conservation.

You may not like the tune you are hearing all the time, but you have heard it and you had an opinion about it, and THAT dear readers is why Red Meat is so important.

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Monterey Whale Case - Big Names, Big Mystery?

In case you missed it there's a two part investigative article written by Virgina Hennessey with the Monterey Herald about protected whales in the Monterey Sanctuary and an underground story about a whale mother and calf, some Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in hot pursuit, and what may or may not happened when a film crew became involved back in 2005.

The result of that encounter became part of a PBS documentary called "The Gray Whale Obstacle Course".

"In The Gray Whale Obstacle Course, Jean-Michel Cousteau and the Ocean Adventures team search for clues about this resilient, yet threatened species to gain a better understanding of the increasing challenges, both natural and man-made, that gray whales face along the way." 

What is known at this time is that whale biologist Nancy Black is being tried for feeding a Killer Whale a piece of whale blubber.  

"The Monterey resident made her first appearance in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Thursday, pleading not guilty to two counts of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act by feeding or attempting to feed the killer whales. She was also arraigned on two counts alleging she altered a video of a 2005 encounter with a humpback whale and lied about it to an investigator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

What is also known is the bizarre political maneuvering and intrigue from Jean-Michel Cousteau to keep his name and his organization out of the limelight. Including apparent approaches to Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel:

"It is unknown whether authorities are still considering charging anyone in the organization, but Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, said the younger Cousteau asked him to intervene in the investigation. The congressman said last week the investigation involved the Cousteau team's conduct during filming of the orca attack, but he had no other details" .

Monterey Sanctuary is the jewel in the crown of the entire US Sanctuary system. This court case and the levels of intrigue going back to 2005 should be interesting to watch.

If you are not following this case at this time - you should be.

Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or

Friday, February 10, 2012

“Sharks create oxygen”: A scientific perspective

The entire planet can all breathe easier now!

Thankfully the world is not "going to run out of oxygen to breathe if we run out of sharks".

So says David Shiffman, an actual shark scientist.

It took an actual shark scientist to put the final rusty nail in the coffin of the Oxy Shark Myth. A myth created out of whole cloth by a guy trying to sell a shark film a few years ago, a myth that has since taken on an almost 1950's Radioactive Monster feel and scope since it was first uttered.

This myth was the worst of shark conservation filtered through the meat grinder of Facebook hype.

It was also an issue that we swore, up and down, that we would not get involved with unless someone paid us a bunch of money to do so, and yet was so compelling that we just had to jump in with our own brand of "pseudo science snarkery".

Let's face it, it's been a lot of fun.

So now, thanks to The Shiffman and his out of the park, take no prisoners science lashing directed at  the last few hold outs of the Oxy Shark Myth, (Erik Brush we're looking at you pal), we say, victory.

It is over, the end, now we can all go back to the challenges of real shark conservation letting this amusing side show pass. What are we going to do about Latin American shark fin treaty sliding, and what to do about the Maldives and a new government who are pro business and pro shark fin?

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Rethink the Shark - Cute Messaging!

If you want to get an entire generation of youth behind shark conservation, hit them with some first rate animation in the style of PIXAR.

That's what the folks from AfriOceans did this month and we like it:

Every time someone is bitten by a shark it gains international attention. We at AfriOceans therefore remain committed to dispelling the myths and setting the records straight. We did it with our original award winning RETHINK THE SHARK Public Service Announcements (PSA) and now we bring to you our latest RETHINK THE SHARK PSA  which we have called 'Meet Wilson', produced by a highly talented group of final year students from the Cape Town Animation School - a very BIG THANKS to this talented team and in particular to the nephew of our Founder, Lesley Rochat, namely Andrew Mc Nally!

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jessica Perry-Targaryen, Gobbly Gook from a Biologist?

Hear no oxygen, see no sharks, speak no empirical data
Congratulations to Facebook phenom Jessica Perry-Targaryen, de facto champion of the discredited Oxy Shark Myth.

You know the one. It can be found being recited by Facebook hysteria brokers who have little else to do with their time but quote half-witted conservation gobbly gook wherever they can.

Usually with a "like" button attached to some sort of petition.

"If we kill all the worlds sharks we will run out of oxygen to breathe".

According to Jessica Perry-Targaryen her entire justification for embracing the Oxy Shark Myth, much like those who fervently embrace Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monsters, comes from her made up science premise, and we quote with our own questions attached:

"One need merely apply syllogism to solve this argument:

Major premise: Phytoplankton supply Oxygen to Earth.

Minor premise: Sharks keep Phytoplankton in check.
(cite source(s) here)
Conclusion: All Sharks supply Oxygen to Earth. 
(bunk conclusion)

The model:

Major premise: All P affect O.

Minor premise: All S affect P.
(except freshwater bodies where sharks are not present?)

Conclusion: All S affect O."

We'll let actual scientists ponder the finding of Jessica Perry-Targaryen, who is fostering her own unreasonable line of reasoning with the same passion that Flat Earth People try and explain their two dimensional world to the rest of us.

In the meantime, for the rest of us, facts do matter in conservation.

Our world becomes a better place when you can bring others to understand why conservation matters without resorting to bent shark prophecies that have no basis in facts.

To Jessica and the last few hold outs of the Oxy Shark Myth, look around you.

Even the myths first speakers, the few websites that once touted the myth, and the myths old champions are all walking back from it. It's a sea change. One based in the realization that some myths are better off dying on the vine from whence they came.

Oh, and Da Shark just waded in, yikes!

Petition - Save the Black and White Sharks!

Mark Harding vs Irrational Exuberance

Latest Facebook petition, "Save the B and W Sharks!"
We keep an eye on Mark Hardings conservation musings, his on target posts, and his homespun war on Irrational Exuberance and we like what we see.

Mark is one of a few within the industry of those who make a living with the ocean willing to say what he thinks. Swimming upstream against a tide of Facebook Conservation Hysteria where actual conservation has been diluted down to a few images (regardless of their pedigree and age) and a few petitions filled with factoids, whole cloth imagineering, and no end of self serving racist undertones.

Marks conservation posts seek the calmer freestone waters of complex thought and actual hard facts (now with 20% more links), where he can quietly sow the seeds and lay a foundation of thoughtful conversation and strategy.

Case in point, Latin American fisheries loopholes. Read this post.

Shark conservation is an evolving discussion and ongoing global strategy. There are no "wins", there is no "end" and for the foreseeable future only a series of branching conservation paths to choose from if we want to actually put a dent in the global decline of sharks.

To celebrate the Maldives Shark Sanctuary as "finished and done" is to walk away from the glaring Achilles Heel of the entire Sanctuary Movement. Governments change, and the the new boss, when it comes to conservation, is not always the same as the old boss.

Fingers crossed for the Maldives this year and next.

Read Marks blog, and bookmark it. When Mark decides to speak on an issue, you know he's thinking of the next generation who will one day choose to perhaps follow his lead. To be fearless about saying what they think, always swimming upstream, and adding their own DNA to thoughtful conversation and strategy.

We can use a few more like this.

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

From the land of "Holy Crap Kayak Fishing"

Marlin vs kayak in Australia, where else?
Once in a while we come across videos and stories that make you wonder about those who pursue fish with the kind of, "Old Man and the Sea" fervor.

It's a bloody good book by the way, you should read it some time.

This week the tales of lone kayak fishermen Jeff Sheppeard, located 7 kilometers off the coast, take the cake.

''About five or ten seconds later, it's jumped out to the right of my kayak. It's a marlin. I held on for grim life and squealed like a girl. It's jumped out again right in front of me … it's pulling me through the water … it jumped out of the water again and done about five [consecutive] aerials. I thought, 'I hope the camera's recording.' 

Want to see the video?

Of course you want to see the video, here it is.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Very Cool Shark Diving Video!

The question of why people go shark diving has answers that, if typed out and put end to end, would undoubtedly circle the earth many times.

For Shark Diver Chris Johnson his answer and very special video surprised even us:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Group sues state of California over shark fin ban?

Prognosticating since 2008
Welcome to the Big Time. You didn't think that the California Shark Fin Ban would just go away did you?

Nah. We didn't either.

With the sheer amount of anti-Asian nastiness that went unchecked in the lead up and execution to the “Shark Protection Act,” this new lawsuit could well be something of a game changer.

The group behind this push is the The Asian American Rights Committee of California and they have some well heeled, well organized, and well moneyed clients behind them representing:

1. Shark fin receivers

2. Wholesalers

3. Distributors

4. Asian restaurant associations

You can read more about this suit, what it means, and where it is going here at The New Law Fallout Blog. Most notably, a comment at the end of this blog post that serves to highlight what we have been saying for the past two years.

"Conservation groups have to reign in rabid anti-Asian sentiment that has become synonymous with the entire shark fin conservation movement."

While it's noble and earth wise to seek conservation change and modification to consumptive practices within various religious and distinct cultural groups. It is completely unwise, foolhardy, and starkly racist to poke an uniformed stick into the eye of your opponent, and then expect that they will not seek redress.

The current batch of anti-Asian talking points that are swirling about the Internet were created in a media vacuum without strategic leadership from any mainstream conservation group, leaving those who have a new law to deal with less inclined to let that law become, "the law of the land."

Is this really about shark fin and saving sharks? Or do we hate Asians for everything we are not?

Mary S says:
Asian Culture is a pure hogwash excuse. Money is what it’s all about. The Asian People do not have a very good reputation regarding preserving the planet or endangered animals. They are a [slash and burn people.] Consider the loss of Rhinos for their horn, tigers lost for their penises, whales killed for “scientific purposes” bears imprisoned for life for their bile, not to mention dogs and cats for all sorts of purposes. No, we all had to give up cultural things for the sake of the earth and because we overcame,via knowledge, our superstitions. Enough.

Shark Cage Divng in Tasmania? A Good Thing!

A Guadalupe Titan, 2011
Industry rumors of, "a few last hold outs" for white sharks in the Southern Hemisphere have been the stuff of legends and myth for a number of years now.

That changed in 2008 with a nascent operation at Stewart Island, NZ.

Unfortunately conceived of and run by a commercial shark fisherman who has a multi-ton quota of shark fin for export to Asia (yes it's true). Thankfully for the industry newer and greener operations have surfaced at Stewart Island making this site one of the most exciting finds in the past decade.

You owe it to yourself to make the very long trek one of these days to Stewart Island and say hi to Mike Haines in season. The white shark encounters are some of the best on the planet at this remote and special site and Mike is an island local who cares about these sharks.

But what about Tasmania? Where the heck is Tasmania?

Tasmania represents the final frontier for white shark diving. A place so remote, so unspoiled, that white shark populations regularly kick out monster sized animals in the 18-19 foot class.

That's the good news. The better news this week is two enterprising Tasmanian locals, Scott Howlett and Dave Young, have decided to make a go of the operations side after seeing how it is done with Australian commercial shark diving legends Rodney and Andrew Fox.

We wish them the very best, if you want to get an idea about Tasmania white sharks go do a Google search for Tasmania White Sharks, or you can just sit back and watch this video here:


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Saturday, February 4, 2012

S.B. Filmmaker Mike DeGruy Killed in Helicopter Crash

Mike with his million watt smile
When an industry original goes by the wayside it's time for us all to gather round and remember.

This week we remember filmmaker Mike DeGruy's passing with much sadness.

 Mike deGruy was a graduate student in marine biology when he first picked up a 16mm film camera. Thirty-plus years on, his company, the Film Crew Inc., travels the oceans making underwater films for the BBC, PBS, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. He dived beneath both poles and visited the hydrothermal vents in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. And as you can imagine, he collected many stories along the way.

An accomplished diver and underwater cinematographer, deGruy also became a go-to host and expedition member on shows like the recent Mysteries of the Shark Coast with Céline Cousteau and Richard Fitzpatrick. (He was a regular on Shark Week -- and a shark attack survivor himelf.) But his first passion was cephalopods, and in fact deGruy and his team were the first to film two rarely seen cephalopods, the nautilus and the vampire squid, in their home ocean.

The Sad News

Mike DeGruy, the internationally respected and unanimously liked documentarian of underwater nature films who called Santa Barbara home, died today in a helicopter crash in Australia just before 4 p.m. local time. He had just turned 60 years old at the end of December, and leaves behind his wife and two children.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dates Announced for Whale Shark Festival in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO, Feb 02, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Celebrating the beauty and culture of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and championing the need to preserve a fragile marine ecosystem, ecotourism travel agency Ceviche Tours and the Isla Mujeres Department of Tourism announce the Fifth Annual Whale Shark Festival, a community extravaganza that showcases the achievements, traditions and environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres. 

The Festival will be held June 15-17, 2012 in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico. 

Last year thousands flocked to the family-friendly Whale Shark Festival, which offers guests an opportunity to participate in ecotourism adventures such as swimming with whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean and an endangered species; swimming with sailfish; join in traditional dancing performed by local troupes; exploring ancient Mayan ruins and much more. 

Proceeds from the Whale Shark Festival will be donated to Amigos de Isla Contoy, a 501c3 non-profit organization that is involved in the education of the local population on sustainable marine conservation and ecotourism. 

Sustainable Ecotourism The Whale Shark Festival is an effort to raise awareness for the need to preserve the area's marine ecosystem. Isla Mujeres is part of the second largest barrier reef on the planet, and serves as the nursery of the Caribbean and the migratory path of whale sharks, sea turtles, water fowl and game fishes.

"Sustainable ecotourism engages guests in the effort to preserve the culture of Isla Mujeres, their way of life and the marine environment," said John Vater, who co-founded Ceviche Tours with his wife, Adriana, and longtime friend and Isla Mujeres native Luis "Cuco" Refugio and his family.
Swim with 200+ Whale Sharks Kicking off the Festival will be the whale shark bloom, when hundreds of these gentle giants come together to swim in a group near the coast of Isla Mujeres. As many as 1,400 whale sharks may make their way through the waters north of Isla Mujeres every summer according to Dr. Robert Hueter, Director of the Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory and scheduled speaker at the 2012 Whale Shark Festival. 

The Isla Mujeres Tourism Department Director, Eyder Jahil Hoth Perez, stated, "Through this event tourism awareness about the whale shark has increased over the last several years, especially regarding the need to protect all our species and natural resources. Ecotourism-related activities have also been creating a new culture of respect and care for our natural resources in the new generations of islanders. In this, children have been playing a very important role toward changing behaviors that were unsustainable in the long term." 

Exciting Activities for the Whole Family Guests of the Festival can participate in a wide array of activities: 

Swimming with Whale Sharks -- Guests can swim with whale sharks and join a conservation effort spearheaded by ECOCEAN, a non-profit organization that maintains the global Whale Shark Photo-Identification Library, a visual database of the unique markings, or spots, that can identify individual whale sharks and track them. Guests can add their underwater photos of the whale sharks to ECOCEAN's global database. 

Fun for Families -- The Festival will feature many educational children's activities about environmental conservation. 

Academic Seminars and Film Showcase Scientists from around the world will attend to present a series of Academic Seminars on marine biology, sustainable ecotourism and Mayan architecture. Renowned marine biologist Rafael de la Parra, who discussed his groundbreaking research, "An Unprecedented Aggregation of Whale Sharks, Rhincodon typus, in Mexican Coastal Waters of the Caribbean Sea" at last year's Whale Shark Festival, will again be speaking and also organizing the 2012 panel of distinguished speakers. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Oxygen Shark Myth - Debunking the Bunkable

What would Steve Zissou say?
Ah, yes, and now it is an open discussion, any takers?

We're talking about the Sea Shepherd School of WTF Media inspired shark conservation quackery about sharks and oxygen.

You know the one we are talking about because it goes something like this:

"If we lose all the worlds sharks we will run out of oxygen to breathe".

The single most stunning moronic conservation quote of the century. Based not in fact, created to help sell a film, and gobbled up like Conservation PEZ by those who trade exclusively in "shark conservation chatter".

But don't take our word for it.

Good old Da Shark in Fiji has taken this issue on like few others can with a nice mixture of ranting, analogy, historical context, links to others, and yes some freaking science people!

For Want of Some Freaking Science

So here we are with a veritable tide of discontent directed at the purveyors of the oxy shark myth, and so far nothing. No push back, no irate "how dare you," nothing at all. We would have thought if this juicy factoid about sharks was in fact true that our constant poking at shark conservations "most hallowed media byte" would have elicited at least a good old fashioned "F%@!% you".

Frankly we're disappointed.

The oxy shark myth is one more nail in the coffin for an entire grass roots movement begging for credibility and clinging to a never ending series of high energy Facebook postings, twice baked petitions, and Hockey Mom Hysteria based on the cracked and crumbling foundation of, "if we lose all the worlds sharks we will run out of oxygen to breathe".

We even saw this  garbage on a recent petition to get NY to go shark fin free. Naturally we didn't sign said petition, like we wouldn't sign a petition from shark finners who claimed that sharks are now growing their fins back. 

In any language or culture, a lie is a lie, made up conservation facts expose the shallowness of the people behind them. Is this a conservation movement or a spiraling media cesspool?

The question begs about the oxy shark myth, so, can we get some freaking shark science here people?

And for those who read in complete sentences, more great stuff  here and even more here.