Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Horror: Diver Survives Two Hours Inside Gulper Shark!

One lucky diver! Photo Credit David Armstrong
(REUTERS) Australia April 1 - An Australian diver escaped an attack by a 3-metre (10ft) gulper shark (Centrophorus fourfirsticus) by poking the creature's stomach after the shark swallowed him for nearly two hours.

Eric Nibald, 41, a diver who fishes for abalones, was flown to hospital with injuries to his head, body and left arm from the attack off Cape Howe, near Eden, 250 miles south of Sydney.

The shark grabbed Mr Nibald by the head, crushing his face mask and breaking his nose, said Dominic Alders, a fellow diver who saw the attack. "He was actually bitten by the head down - the shark swallowed him whole, I thought he was a goner."

Mr Alders followed the massive shark to shallower water where it became disoriented and beached itself on a shallow sand bar where Alders went for help.

Amazingly Mr Nibald was not dead but trapped in the gulper sharks expansive throat pouch unable to move and running out of air from his dive tank. He later told rescue workers that hours later and almost out of air he was able to free one arm and poked the shark in the stomach. The animal regurgitated the diver just when rescue services arrived.

Mr Nibald was pulled from the water and rushed to hospital, suffering from blood loss and shock.
 
"Gulper sharks are a rare deep water species with a notorious reputation for snagging unwary divers," said Dr Sarah Gomes with the Sydney Aquarium.

The massive shark was dragged to shore by rescue services teams and will be sent to the Sydney Aquarium for study later this week.

Shark attacks are relatively common in Australian waters, with an average of 15 a year. Just over one attack a year proves fatal.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

And Now a Happy Video

Hat Tip Dorsal Fin Blog, just a few caring folks trying to free a whale from a fishing net, 24 hours later they succeeded. Nicely done.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dr Rachel Graham - How To Shark Media 101

Finally, a real shark conservationist who is unafraid to place at the alter of mainstream media a bountiful trove of balanced sound bytes and realistic shark numbers.

Are you paying attention Sea Shepherd, Shark Angels and United Conservationists?

Yeah, you can stop your collective conservation fog machines for just one second here because this is important.

Numbers matter in the shark conservation game and when you quote 70-80-90% of all shark species facing extinction, or when you try and get New Yorkers to sign a petition  that suggests the worlds entire oxygen supply is somehow hinged on the continuation of all shark species you make the conservation world as a whole looks like a bunch of rank amateurs playing at conservation for reasons that boggle the imagination.

100 million sharks killed for their fins? You still peddling that garbage? Seriously?

Have you read this?

What started with a dubious shark movie and some gal with a pizza box lid in South Africa that said, "Save the Sharks" written in lipstick, has metastasized into media fog factory of pulled from the arse conservation misquotes lead by some pretty awful street corner doom criers.

But back to Dr Graham, read her article in the NY Times today and start writing numbers as fast as you can. 17% of 1,200 species of the worlds sharks threatened, oxygen has nothing to do with sharks, no mention of the 100 million sharks killed each year for their fins, and yes we can reverse the declines.

This is how you do shark conservation media folks.

You can try and scare the general populace into signing your petitions and donating money to your various shark causes but the real conservation numbers are stark enough. Real facts are in fact quite actionable without the added made up conservation fantasy that far too many are peddling out there.

Thanks Dr.Graham.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

James Cameron at 35,756 Feet!

Unless you have been sitting under a rock then you might not be aware that James Cameron has arrived at the deepest part of the planet in his all too cool submarine today 35,756 feet down on the Challenger Deep.

Well done sir, and on behalf of the Oceans Community, "Welcome Back!"





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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

About That Tiger Shark Video - Bahamas

Image by Flying Bloghouse
Well, as expected a recent video has aroused many within the shark community to come forward with opinions.

What we had hoped might happen.

Here are our final thoughts on the recent Tiger shark video making the rounds. For those "offended by our tone" this is as serious as it gets and opens the wider conversation about shark handling at one of the top shark sites on the planet.

We are lucky to be able to operate there. But that ability is not a god given right, it can and will be taken away if this site suffers any more mass media shark bite events.

Are there solutions? Yes there are, tightening down the protocols so each and every dive group acts and baits in the same manner with sharks in the Bahamas.

Why is it that some sharks are hand fed while others are not? Some sharks are fed from the left, the right, some are crate dumped, some are tube dumped? Some are baited at night, others not at all with the same general population of animals in the same geographic area.

For magnificent animals like sharks who, for the most part, work on well honed instinct where bait plays an all important roll, our multi-operator inability to treat the animals we all profess to care for and love in a consistent manner leads to animal confusion.

Confused sharks are inherently dangerous sharks.

Name one long term successful baited shark site on the planet and we'll show you set protocols for each and every dive group that never wavers. Success is measured with animals that know what to expect. Success is measured with divers who do not switch up behaviors with animals on any given day or week.

Success with sharks allows our entire industry to move forward and grow.

This is not about the use of cages or not, or the rights of underwater photographers, or even the old and ugly standby, "divers accept risk with sharks." That standby has to end, because it is being used currently as a free license in some cases to do spectacularly dumb things with sharks - with paying customers in tow.

This is about just respecting the animals first and foremost by providing them with a set stage to interact with divers on. An area or areas we all agree to use, and a set series of shark protocols we all agree by so the animals we encounter have the best chance of positive and long lasting encounters with the humans who have thrust themselves unto the world of the shark.

It's not rocket science but it is a science and it will take leadership. Leadership that has been lacking, leaving the sharks to make on site predatory split decisions on how to react to the multitude of baited divers who are just hoping for a great vacation...and nothing more.

Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkdivers.blogspot.com
www.guadalupefund.org
www.sharkfreemarinas.com
415.235.9410

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Roche Pharma and Sharks Blood?

Media Release by La Trobe University
 
Australian research into shark antibodies that holds out the potential for new drugs and diagnostic agents is a step closer to realising its goal following an agreement with international diagnostic and pharmaceutical giant, Roche.

The pioneering work, which has attracted world-wide interest, is based on research led by Associate Professor Michael Foley at the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS).

It builds on discoveries over the last decade that shark antibodies could offer a lot of advantages over existing therapies in the fight against cancers and autoimmune diseases.

The research agreement between Roche and the Melbourne-based biotechnology company AdAlta aims to identify and evaluate the way in which these small antibodies isolated from shark blood are able to bind to a diagnostic target.

Dr Foley is founding scientist and Chief Scientific Officer of AdAlta. He and his co-researchers have built the world’s first test tube ‘library’ of disease-targeting antibodies based on modified shark antibodies.

He says his company is pioneering a range of new technology that uses modified shark antibodies for both treatment and diagnosis, offering prospects for new and more effective approaches to a wide range of diseases.

Shark antibodies are very small and extremely stable protein molecules, says Dr Foley, and are particularly good at seeking out and binding to target cells.

‘Furthermore, because they are extremely stable, they may overcome some of the problems encountered with traditional human antibodies when stored and used at high temperatures.

‘Because of their small size and stability, such new therapies can be manufactured in bacterial systems rather than in animal cells, as is presently the case for therapeutic antibodies, and it raises the possibility that they may be taken orally instead of injected.

‘So the next generation of pharmaceuticals might make good use of these small proteins, and sharks have them naturally in their blood.’

For the global pharmaceutical industry antibody treatments represent a multibillion-dollar market.
Dr Foley says as part of the collaboration with Roche, AdAlta will screen his shark antibody library and provide relevant shark antibody ‘binders’ to Roche for further evaluation.

He explains his research involves taking genes from sharks and modifying them in the laboratory by inserting random sequences – mimicking the way the human immune system works – to develop antibodies capable of a defensive response.

In other parts of the world, Dr Foley say, shark antibody research is done by injecting captive sharks, usually held in tanks or pools, and drawing their blood.

But the system invented by Dr Stewart Nuttall within the Cooperative Research for Diagnostics and now developed by AdAlta, enables this work to be done in test tubes at a bench – a far quicker, not to mention safer, method.

Dr Foley’s discoveries on shark antibodies follow his earlier work on malaria. He says one of the key features of shark antibodies is they have a finger-like loop that can ‘bind’ into a cavity on a target protein, something he first came across in his malaria studies where it was ‘irreverently tagged as “giving malaria the finger”’.

‘Then, when we saw pictures of the shark antibody binding to a hole in the protein, we immediately thought of a situation like the flu,’ Dr Foley says. ‘That’s because this sub-cellular sabotage was similar to that involved in the development of the anti-influenza pharmaceutical Relenza.

‘It’s like covering up part of a keyhole. You don’t have to cover the whole keyhole; if you cover up part of it, you can’t get the key in.’

Source: La Trobe University, Victoria / Australia

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shark Fin on Business Insider, With a Steaming Bowl of NY Hate?

Reporter Matthew Kassel with the Business Insider got on to the shark fin debate in New York City in a unique and eye catching way this week.

He ordered and ate a bowl of shark fin soup.

This is one of the better written articles we have read on the multilayered issues surrounding shark fin bans, conservation efforts, and of course New York, currently in the middle of debates about shark fin bans.

The article is filled with facts, good quality interview subjects, and of course the actual moment that the reporter orders up a bowl of shark fin soup as part of a grander social experiment.

What got us was the extreme level of Asian hate on the comments section of this article. A level of acidic racism directed towards the NY Asian community that went unchecked and unchallenged until we stepped up today to say a few words.

Is this really the shark conservation movement and where the hell is the leadership?

Peter Puck 
Unfortunately, there is no practical way to inject a highly lethal poison into the fins of a sufficient number of sharks to kill a sufficient number of soup slurping scum. It's equally unfortunate that there's no direct connection between eating shark fin and contracting cancer. 
rufusmcbufus

I swear by god i'd rather see every single east asian dead before they kill the last shark. Mark my words, if it comes to this, I'll be on the sharks' side.
-rufus

Abalone + White Shark = Cool Video

"This 4 metre plus female great white had just bitten Mark's cage and was circling when he turned on his camera .... at 1.09 he see's it approaching from behind his cage. He's been down at 26 metres for over half an hour and is forced to make a decision. Stay on the bottom and run into decompression time or confront it .... Starvation Bay, South Coast Western Australia, October 2011."

 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Commercial Shark Diving vs Hysteria

Hello? Yeah, I have a baited shark...
Since 2008 this blog and others have documented a tide of media and agenda based hysteria leveled against the commercial shark diving industry.

What usually begins as a small agenda group seeking to end regional commercial shark diving, quickly morphs into something that left unchecked can end badly for commercial shark diving interests.

And it's all based on the premise that baited sharks become regional killers. It's 1970's based hysteria, and with no research data to counter that ugly argument, our industry has been left hanging in the wind.

All that changed this week, thanks to Dr Neil Hammerschlag and crew who have produced the first and hopefully not only research study to look at baited sharks in the Bahamas.

We featured their outreach video this week, Hat Tip Dorsal Fin Blog, and will let Da Shark take it from there. His blog basically covered this study and it's impacts from Hawaii to Fiji in great depth and it's fine reading:

Fantastic new paper by Neil!

Friday, March 9, 2012

James Cameron - Good Luck from the Oceans Community!

 

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Does Ecotourism in the Bahamas affect Tiger Shark Movement and Behavior?

Proving What Sharks Are(n't)?

Each and every year the shark diving community is subjected to a series of stunts with sharks that are designed to prove that sharks are not dangerous to humans.

And each and every year those engaged in these one off stunts are drowned out by a series of high profile actual shark attacks that are part of the human/shark storyline.

What is it with members of the ocean community who are still trying to redefine the shark?

We only mention this because Pete Thomas posted a promotional video for Monster Energy Drink featuring surfer Mark Healy engaged in a baited situation in Fiji with several Bull sharks.

The idea, once again, was to prove that Bull sharks are not dangerous to humans.

Bullshit.

That being said we were extremely impressed with the actual technical shoot itself. This is first class stuff and Mark Healy comes across as an honest, non nonsense guy who earnest love of the ocean is organic, natural, and frankly compelling to be part of for the few short minutes we get to join him in his world.

But redefining the Bull shark? We're not buying it, we're also not buying the fact these animals were baited in for a quickie shoot to once again "prove a point."

Mark should get his own television show, soon, because he's that good on camera. On the flip-side and as a word of advice, stay away from the one off shark stunts Mark. It's like watching Van Gogh try and paint a masterpiece with colored yogurt.

More here from The Diley at Office to Ocean.




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Shark Fin Trade and Actual Solutions - Interested?

The Maven of Data is back, Dr Shelley C. Clarke, and a new video/online look at the shark fin numbers.

BTW we are big fans of Dr Clarke:

"Data on shark harvests have always been poor. What the new trends suggest, Clarke says, is that "if we're going to have any hope of managing shark populations, we're going to need far better data." In particular, she says, there is a growing need for observers on fishing boats and for more comprehensive trade figures on sharks. The observers, she says, are needed to begin collecting reliable, international data on where sharks are being caught, their size, their maturity, and their species."

Oh but wait! There are reliable sources on the Internet right now to ascertain not only shark species, but regional fishing pressures, volume of trade, end user volumes, and even misidentified and mislabeled fins.

And where would this magical database be you ask?

Online shark fin trading. You know, where a seller seeks a buyer and makes a transaction? Never heard of it? Are you even aware that many thousands of pounds of shark fin are sold globally online each and every day?

We said it before and even suggested, much to the ire and moronic disposition of few tiny brained sharktavists back in 2010, that the entire online trade of shark fin might in fact be - compromised.

The data coming from a "discreet ownership" in these few trade platforms online would be invaluable. We would know for instance where new and emerging markets were seeking shark fin, where dumps of species might indicate harvesting of breeding areas. If set aside marine areas were in fact failing or working. Age, sex, deep water vs in shore species.

The list goes on and on.

The fact is, and we have said this before, shark and ocean conservation efforts are for the most part small in scope. When real time shark fin data is as reliable as the metric tonnage of fin that is sold and traded each and every day, but not used by those seeking solutions to the shark fin problem, one has lick ones palm and slap it loudly on the nearest forehead.

Preferably your own.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are actual real time solutions to this stuff. You just have to have the vision and bandwidth to seek them out. Or stay in the dark.

The choice is yours.

Tech Geek - Shark USB

From time to time emails come in with shark based tech that's too cool not to share.

This is one of them. Enjoy.

Hi Dear Friend,

This is Charlene from Gigaplus, with a professional OEM/ODM manufacture in USB flash Drive. I am writing to you because we found that one of our products is suitable for your promotion.

Nowadays, people would like to use the USB Flash Drive with printing their logo for promotion because USB not only can be as an office tool but a gift. What’s more, your clients would love to receive the special & unique gift from you. So do you have any idea of sending a gift for your clients? If yes, our Shark Shaped USB is best choice to represent your company’s image. What do you think?

If you need, please kindly let me know your expected quantity & capacity so that I can check the price for you.

Also you can send your logo & I will let our designer to make the artwork for your reference.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask you.

Looking forward to your reply.

 Best regards

Charlene Zheng

Account Manager
Tel +86 20 38372606 ext.109
Mobile +86 15920555500
Fax +86 20 38372660
E-mail/MSN
Charlene@gigaplus.com.cn Skype:Charlene.gigaplus

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Barrage of anti-fishing rhetoric"

Switch to pork products?
How do you change fisheries status quo while at the same time remaining a relevant voice?

This latest news article had us wondering:

Anti fishing campaigners accused of misleading Australians on state of fisheries

Dr Ray Hilborn - who is Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington - said the "relentless" anti-fishing campaign by various NGOs had led to government imposed restrictions on fishing that had resulted in making Australians more reliant on imported seafood from overseas markets that may not have such stringent regulations on fisheries management.

Dr Hilborn, a vocal opponent of the "barrage of anti-fishing rhetoric", is in Australia as a guest of the Sydney Fish Market and has been meeting senior federal politicians to put his case on the issue of marine national parks specifically the Government's proposal for a one million square kilometre marine park in the Coral Sea.

He has used the visit to release a paper titled "Australian seafood consumers misled by prophets of doom and gloom".

Speaking to a gathering of chefs and the media at the Sydney Seafood School this week Dr Hilborn questioned the motives of NGOs in "perpetuating myths" about the sustainability of Australian fisheries, and said they were out of touch with recent global developments and "in denial of the fisheries management outcomes in Australia.

He said Australian fisheries today were amongst the best managed in the world.
"Australia is subject to a relentless anti-fishing campaign that is causing doom and gloom myths from misrepresentations of overseas examples of inadequate fisheries management," he said.

"Australia did not always have its current enviable record in fisheries management, but addressed the generic over fishing problem forcefully. Destructive fishing practices and continued overfishing are no longer significant problems. The great majority of fish stocks are in very good shape and. even more importantly for long-term sustainability, continues to improve.

"Australians have excellent reasons to consume Australian seafood with confidence and enthusiasm."

Asked for his advice for foodservice operators who want to ensure they are choosing sustainable seafood for their menus, Dr Hilborn said they should look to Australian fisheries.

"Buy Australian seafood," he told Hospitality. "You can be pretty confident then that the seafood you are buying has come from a properly managed fishery."

He said while he was a firm supporter of bodies like the Marine Stewardship Council which markets its certification logo as a true sign that a fishery is sustainable he did not see it as a practical.

"It's a great thing but it's expensive for a fishery to get. Just because a fishery has gone through and spent the hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the certification doesn't mean they're not a sustainable fishery."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who's Running With The Bulls?

Patric Douglas with a 27 inch buck!
Each spring, as if by magic, massive Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) run up a few select rivers in the Pacific Northwest.


For those who know me, they know that's where I can be found.


Our Tiger Shark season in the Bahamas is still a few weeks away so I am currently trudging through almost five feet of fresh snow pack to access crystal clear rivers in the hopes of encountering this unusual fly fishing quarry.


It's also damn cold up at these higher elevations, did I mention that?


Some call this pursuit of giant and rare native fish 'crazy.' I find the quiet solace of the rivers with their endless curving snow covered vistas a place to call home.


This five pound buck came to hand after a 15 minute battle and a few screaming runs up and down stream and was released carefully back into his native waters to spawn and continue his amazing life.


If you want to discover more about these increasingly rare critters you can go here


As for me the next few days will be spent battling the wintry elements in hopes of meeting a few more River Titans before the inevitable pull of warmer waters and much, much, bigger fish finds me face to face with a few of our Tiger friends in the middle of March.

Cheers,

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maldives Shark Sanctuary vs Military Coup 2012


In 2010 the Maldives government was lauded for declaring its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 90,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean, as a shark sanctuary free from all shark fishing and also banned all imports and exports of shark fins.

Today the Maldives is in the middle of what many are describing as a full blown military coup.

The first very real test of the global shark sanctuary effort will take place in the Maldives over the next two years.

For a look at how this might play out we went in search of a website that would give us the, 'Maldives political landscape in a nutshell' and found it here at the Institute of Development Studies:

"After the 2004 Tsunami which devastated the Maldives, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States offered reconstruction funds and support to educate imams and teachers. This was coupled with the introduction of conservative Wahabi and Salaist interpretations of Islam. Since then, public flogging of women for alleged offenses has re-occurred, and more conservative dress and practices are on the rise. The Islamic political party tabled a law banning massage and alcohol on the tourist islands; although this decision was quickly repealed, since it was not in the interest of tourism industry elites."

There's a lot going on in the Maldives these days, suffice to say that sharks and shark conservation might not be a top priority.

Stay tuned.

Online Sales of Shark Fin? - You Bet

Wolfgang in the Bahamas. Amanda Cotton amazing shot
Back in the day a loosely knit group pre-shark activists took to the Internet to demand that Alibaba.com stop selling shark fin online.

Lead by the irascible and wizened shark sage Wolfgang Leander, and worked on by a host of others, Alibaba.com eventually caved and stopped selling shark fin.

A victory?

You could say so. It was really that first corporate turnabout and a movie that appeared shortly after which started the shark conservation movement as we know it today with a plethora of shark groups, agendas, and some real wins to celebrate five years later.

But the story of online sales has not ended. Like a water balloon, in the corporate world if you squeeze a market on one side it bulges out the other, and where shark fin is concerned at $300-500 a kilo, that marketplace is still thriving.

Or so says Mark Harding who highlighted Rich Clothier from Shark Guardians this week.

We have to agree. Over a year ago we posted this finding online to mostly dead air from the shark conservation community working on consumption side economics of the shark fin equation.

But sales online continue, they may not be called shark fin anymore, fish maw, fish bones, and other names have changed the way traders seek buyers. In fact 90% of the sellers who sell dried seafood products still, when asked, will provide and source shark fin.

How do we know?

We have been involved with this since 2007. It's not hard to track online portals, pose as a buyer, and ask for shark fin. The results are immediate and abundant to the tune of several thousand kilos per transaction and sometimes even more.

Are there solutions to this problem? You bet.

But the problem has become a 'wider problem' if you want to harness the conservation bandwidth out there to make a dent in the trade. Right now that doesn't seem to be the case.