Friday, February 28, 2014

How can you save sharks?

Picture BBC
The recent actions by the SW Australian government, deciding to use drum lines to cull sharks, have generated huge protests, with literally thousands of  people rallying against that policy.

Over the last couple of years, there have also been a myriad of shark conservation related groups and posts that have popped up on facebook and the internet, protesting various things, relating to shark conservation.

I looked at a lot of these groups and posts and have noticed, that there are a few main targets, that these groups are focusing on.

1. With the recent media attention, it comes as no surprise that the most attention is paid to the Australian shark cull program.

2. Then there are the posts, generally opposing shark finning, shark fin soup etc.

3. There are some that target specific organizations like OCEARCH, shark fishing tournaments and scientists that catch and tag sharks, because of the harmful effect it has on the individual sharks. 

4. Who can forget the bikini clad women that are hanging on to the dorsal fins and riding great white- and tiger- sharks, or the "shark experts" flipping sharks upside down, claiming that the sharks treat them as one of their own?

Are these protests effective? Do they stop the killing of sharks?

Before we get to that, let's establish a few things first.

Fact: In the first 3 weeks, the SW Australian shark cull program has resulted in 17 sharks, longer than 3 meters (12.9 ft) killed. The sharks caught and killed were Tiger Sharks, which have only been responsible for one death since 1980, according to "sharksmart" a website of the Australian government. They have caught zero Great White Sharks, believed to be responsible for the recent attacks. 

Fact: Although estimated numbers of sharks killed every year vary widely from as few as 30 million to as many as 100 million, even at the 30 million rate, it means that every week, 600'000 sharks are killed worldwide.

OK, lets look at the things that are protested and the effect it has on the sharks.

1. The shark cull. I'm completely opposed to that policy and have written about it here and here and here. I think the program is useless, targets the wrong sharks and does absolutely nothing to prevent attacks on humans. The fact that they killed mainly Tiger sharks that have only been responsible of 1 death in the last 34 years and not one Great White, which has been responsible for the recent deaths, clearly shows that the program is worthless. But let's put the whole thing into perspective. In the first three weeks, the shark cull killed 17 sharks vs. at least 1'800'000 and maybe as many as 6'000'000 that are killed by the fishing industry, during the same period.

If the protests succeed in stopping the program, it would directly save around 300 sharks a year. Even if unsuccessful, the protests still raise awareness for the cause, which is definitely a good thing. It is difficult to assess the actual effect that publicity has on helping sharks, but like I said, it's definitely a good thing.

2. General opposition to shark finning, fishing, shark fin soup etc.

These protests are mainly raising public awareness and may have resulted in a reduction of shark fin soup consumption in China. As with any publicity campaign, the actual effects on saving sharks are hard to determine, but they definitely have an impact.

3. Shark tagging. All the tagging done in a year, may cause harm to a few hundred sharks. Again, that's a few hundred, vs. 30-100 MILLION sharks killed annually.

If the protests succeed and there is no more tagging, at best we could save a few sharks every year and make life easier (no tags, no deformed dorsal fin etc.) for a few more. On the other hand, we could also loose valuable data, that may help save sharks. You decide, if it is worthwhile to focus on this. Personally I think we need to weigh the importance of the data collected against the potential harm to the sharks.

4. The sharks are harmless and our friends approach.

I have to admit, my blood pressure tends to go up, when I see some idiot riding a shark or flipping it upside down, trying to convince me that sharks are harmless with some actually claiming that the sharks accept them as one of their own. Why do I think these actions are such a bad idea? Well, I've been diving with Great White Sharks for the last 13 years and around Tiger- and Bull- Sharks for a long time. The one thing I can say with certainty, sharks are NOT harmless and NOT our pets. We don't need to fear them, but they are apex predators and need to be respected! For those that claim that the sharks treat them as one of their own, I can only say, I hope not! I have seen how large sharks treat smaller sharks, biting them, if they don't get out of the way. Any human would be a very small shark, compared to a Great White, or Tiger Shark. Great White Sharks are not touchy feely with each other. There is no casual touching. When they get to close to each other, or actually touch, there is usually a violent reaction. Even when the are mating, the bite on to each other, definitely not something you would want a shark to do to you.

These stunts do nothing to help the sharks and are purely a means of self promotion for the individuals doing them. "Look at me! I'm so cool!"

You notice, all the efforts that seem to get the most publicity are focused on something other than the fishing industry. Have you seen anyone protesting Triatun Inc., or Sea Venture Inc.? Those are just 2 of many companies, trading in shark fins. It seems to me, that most efforts are directed at things that are relatively minor in the big picture.

With all the efforts mentioned above, even if they are all successful, they are saving a few thousand sharks a year at best! So what can we do to really make a difference? First of all, we have to decide what our goal really is. Do we care more about saving sharks, or do we care more about what other "conservationists" think about us.

If your answer is, saving sharks, here are some things you can do. I have to warn you though. Nobody on the internet will know what you did. There are not going to be a lot of people slapping you on the back and tell you what a good job you did. Aside from very few people acknowledging your efforts, your only reward is going to be the knowledge that your efforts helped save some sharks. Instead of thousands of people saving a few sharks, you as an individual can save many.

You can contact, or visit a local marina and sign them up as a shark free marina. You can volunteer with a local group that maintains or creates estuaries, MPA's, breeding programs etc. If you live far from an ocean, you can still volunteer for or support groups like shark savers, shark foundation or projects abroad.

Maybe you don't have a lot of time. There are still a few things you can do. Write a letter to your local legislator, asking to support or enact laws, banning the trace of shark fins. Is there a restaurant in your area that serves shark fin soup? You can visit and make them aware of the problems associated with shark finning. Just because we are aware of all the problems, doesn't mean that they are. They are not necessarily the bad guys, they may just be unaware. Last year at DEMA, there was a restaurant serving shark fin soup, not too far from the convention. A few of us that went there, asked to speak to the manager and the next day, they had removed the soup from the menu. Here is another idea. This is the contact info for Triatun Inc. Maybe their president, Francisco Valdez, would like to hear from you. Would you like to get in touch with Sea Venture Inc. and let their CEO William Haley know what you think?

The bottom line is this. You CAN make a difference! Even if you are the only one that know what you do, the sharks will benefit. Isn't that the only thing that counts?

Cheers,

Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver



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 staff@sharkdiver.com

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is tagging sharks bad?

Photo source.


Mike Neumann from BAD wrote a very informative blog on shark tagging and it's consequences for the sharks health and survivability. Diving with sharks, Great White Sharks, cage diving, shark vacation, shark holidays and are done with Shark Diver.
Check it out here! It has some excellent links to studies related to the issue. Come dive with us at Isla Guadalupe, cage dive with Great White Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks,
Thanks Mike for keeping us informed!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

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 staff@sharkdiver.com

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

How do get work as a "shark diver"?

It's the time of the year, when we get a steady stream of emails and letters, asking for advise oh how to become a "shark diver"  Do you need a biology degree? Do you have to be a divemaster or diveinstructor? I'm a student, interested in sharks, how do I get a job with you? Shark diving, diving with Great White Sharks, Bull Sharks, Tiger Sharks and hammerheads.
How do I answer these questions? After 13 years of diving with sharks for a living, I can't give you a good, general answer. There are so many variables. Where are you from? Where do you want to work? Do you have a work permit for the country you want to work in? These are all things that may be more important than the education you have. Cage diving, swimming with sharks at Guadalupe Islandis our specialty
The most important thing to know is this. You really, really have to want it. There are very few jobs available and thousands of people who want them. Don't be discouraged by the bad odds, in my case, I grew up in Switzerland, failed biology in school and used to be afraid of sharks, so how difficult can it be?

When you do get a job, it may not be exactly what you pictured it to be.  If you work for us, you will be working on a boat. There are long hours, typically 12 hrs. per day. You will be making chum (not as glamorous as it sounds), cleaning heads and pulling midnight watches. There is very little privacy and your quarters on the boat are cramped. How about time off? Ahhh, not so much. We do back to back trips and you may only have a couple of hrs. off, between trips. You could work 30 days, without a day off. Shark week, bucket list, shark adventure, cage diving, Tiger shark, Hammerhead
Still interested? I can't speak for any other shark diving companies, but here is what you need, if you would like to work with us.

First of all, you have to be reliable, safety conscious and mature! We are working with Great White Sharks and we can't afford to have someone goof off! We specialize in safe and sane shark diving! Guadalupe Island, Shark diving mexico, swimming with sharks,
You have to be able to legally work in the US. We will not be able to get you a work permit.   

You need the physical ability to handle cages, lines, weights, anchors etc.

Previous work experience on a boat, a DM or SCUBA Instructor rating and a marine biology degree are a plus.

We are working closely with SEACAMP San Diego and have hired many of their staff members in the past. Getting a recommendation from them is a huge plus! Generally, the more experience you have, the better your chances.

When we have an opening, we will post it here and let you know, what the specific qualifications are. Good luck!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Baby Bull Sharks in Fiji!

Mike Neumann of Beqa Adventure Divers just reported the arrival of this years first baby Bull Sharks!

A little while ago, we talked about Project abroad and their involvement with the sharks in Fiji. It is this same organization that is tagging these sharks as well as taking DNA samples for research. Kudos to both Project Abroad and Bequa Adventure Divers for all you do to help understand and protect our sharks.




We at Shark Diver can't wait to come visit you guys in May. Anyone that wants to join us, we have 2 trips available. From May 2-11 and May 9-18
Call us at 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275 to reserve your space.

This is a unique opportunity to dive with as many as 70 Bull sharks at once and discover first hand, what over 10 years of conservation efforts have accomplished in Fiji.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

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 staff@sharkdiver.com

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Do you want to save the sharks in Hawaii?

Lately we all heard of Western Australia's controversial shark cull policy, supposedly intended to save lives and help the tourism industry. So how is Hawaii dealing with the sharks that frequent the waters surrounding the islands? Are they using a similar approach?Shark Diving, swimming with sharks, cage diving, shark research, diving with Great white sharks, are specialties of Shark Diver
Hmmm, not quite! Their approach is a tiny bit different, instead of culling sharks they are considering penalties for harming sharks! You can read the full text of the proposed bill here. Since this bill has not been passed yet, they need your help.  You can tell them why you support the bill here,  OMHTestimony@capitol.hawaii.govEco tourism, Isla Guadalupe, Tiger Sharks, Galapagos Island, Whale sharks
The reasons mentioned, for wanting to implement penalties for harming sharks are,

SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that sharks and rays are extremely important to ocean ecosystems.  As ocean predators towards the top of the food chain, sharks and rays keep the ecosystem balanced, regulate populations of other marine life, and ensure healthy fish stock and reefs.

Sharks and rays are more vulnerable to fishing pressures than most other fish species.  They are long-lived, slow-growing, start reproducing at an advanced age, and produce relatively few offspring per year.  If over-fished, these populations take a long time to recover.  If the food chain is disrupted by a decline in the shark population, it affects the entire reef system.  Protection for sharks and rays ultimately means healthier, more resilient oceans and reefs that are better able to withstand other pressures on the ocean ecosystem from climate change and pollution.

Sharks and rays on the reefs not only play important ecological roles but are also valued figures in Hawaiian culture and are important economically to ocean recreation industries and to tourism in Hawaii.  The benefits of maintaining viable populations greatly outweigh any value that would be gained by killing these species.

The purpose of this Act is to protect these species for ecological purposes, for their value to the ocean recreation industry and to native Hawaiian cultural practices, and to establish fines and penalties for knowingly harming, killing, or capturing sharks or rays within state waters.

Again, it's important to note, that this is only a proposed bill and has not been passed yet. Don't forget to support the bill by sending your comments to OMHTestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

Let's help those legislators who are fighting for our oceans and all the creatures living in it!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver


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 staff@sharkdiver.com

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do you want to save sharks?

Our friend Mike Neumann from Beqa Adventure Divers, has just made us aware of an "opportunity of a lifetime". We offer cage diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe, where you will be swimming with shark, on our shark expedition, with tiger-sharks, bull sharks,
Projects Abroad has an opening for a Open Water SCUBA instructor, with a Marine Biology degree. This is your chance to do really do something for shark- and marine conservation. Who wouldn't want to live in Fiji, save the sharks and get paid for it? Mike is right, this is truly an opportunity of a lifetime!We offer cage diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe, where you will be swimming with shark, on our shark expedition, with tiger-sharks, bull sharks,
Here are the details from Mike's blog.

Your Role:

  • To carry out shark research in line with our Conservation Management Plan. 
  • Coordinate scientific work with our international and local project partners. 
  • Help develop and grow future scientific projects on a local and global scale. 
  • Train research volunteers in all aspects of our scientific work. 
  • Organisation and coordination of all field and related activities. 
  • Supervise research volunteers. 
  • Data collection, analysis and reporting. 
  • Assist with teaching of dive courses when needed. 
  • Administration.

Requirements:

  • Marine Science Degree or similar
  • PADI OWSI or higher
  • First Aid certification
  • Fluent in English
  • Must be able to work as part of a team
  • Very flexible approach to work
  • Long term commitment (min 1 year)
  • Proven experience of working with sharks is a big advantage.

We offer:

  • 1 year contract with view to extend, subject to a 3 month probation period.
  • Basic salary
  • Accommodation
  • 3 meals a day
  • Comprehensive insurance
  • Return flight to your home country after 1 year
  • Visa related expenses
  • Internet and phone
  • Two days off a week
  • Excellent in country support and benefits
  • Working with some of the world's most renowned shark scientists and experts.

Please only apply if you have the relevant experience.

Only success applicants will be contacted.

Closing date for applications is: 10th February 2014.



Send a cover letter, CV and photo to Andy Hill:




You can find all the details about the project here.

Good luck - and hopefully, c'ya real soon in Fiji!
Thanks for making us aware of this!
Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver
Great White Shark expeditions at Isla Guadalupe, diving with Bull sharks, swimming with Hammerhead sharks, free diving with Bull Sharks in Fiji are specialties of Shark Diver
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 staff@sharkdiver.com

Who is really saving the sharks?

It seems like there is a new group, or organization, that wants to save sharks, popping up daily. With all these people supposedly having the same goal, why do they all feel that they need to start a new group? Why not join an already established organization? Great White shark, cage diving, swimming with sharks at Isla Guadalupe are specialties of Shark Diver
Just do a search for "shark" on facebook and you get a seemingly endless list of groups that want to save sharks, but most of them do nothing, other than commiserate with each other.Great White shark, cage diving, swimming with sharks
As a company that deeply cares about our oceans and the sharks that live in it, we like to support and work with the organizations we feel are doing a great job, not just talking about conservation, but really doing something about it.

We are proud to say that our Fiji partner, Bequa Adventure Divers, has the same philosophy. They helped establish the Fiji "Shark Reef Marine Reserve" and I love the way they describe themselves as a "conservation project, masquerading as a dive operation". You can read about their philosophy and actions here. Their approach to partner with the local fishermen is awesome and their success proves, that conservationists and fishermen can work together.Great White shark, cage diving, swimming with sharks at Isla Guadalupe are specialties of Shark Diver
Beqa Adventure Divers has also partnered with Projects Abroad a great organization, working, not only to protect sharks, but helping in a lot of different areas. Mike has written an excellent blog about them here.

We are going to Fiji this May, to dive with Bull Sharks and to check out the possibility of organizing a volunteer trip for next year. If you would like to join us on our Fiji adventure, dive with up to 70 Bull Sharks swimming around you and check out what Mike and his crew are up to, call us at 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275 staff@sharkdiver.comGreat White shark, cage diving, swimming with sharks at Isla Guadalupe are specialties of Shark Dive

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


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 staff@sharkdiver.com

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Richard Branson, voice of reason?

Most of you are aware of the recent "shark cull" policy enacted in Western Australia. Since they actually started to use baited drum-lines, there has been a public outcry to stop the killing of the sharks. Many argue the the drum lines indiscriminately kill, not only large Great White - and Tiger-Sharks, but smaller sharks and different species of sharks as well. Some even suggest that the sharks and other animals that are caught in the lines are attracting other predators, essentially acting as chum.

In 13 years of diving with Great White Sharks at Isla Guadalupe, I have observed that the smaller sharks are actually more inquisitive than the larger individuals and are likely more apt to bite something in order to investigate what it is. So even if the drum-lines would only catch the large sharks it intends to, we have to ask ourselves, are we even trying to catch the sharks that are most likely to bite a human?

Here is the problem with the approach with us shark experts and conservationists. We look at the problem from a shark related perspective. There is nothing wrong with that, but we have to address the real reason the shark cull was started.

Sir Richard Branson, foto wildaid.org
Since Western Australian premier, Colin Barnett, has indicated that his goal is to protect a way of life and the tourism industry, I think that Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group, has a better approach. In this article he is quoted as saying, "I'm sure one of the reasons he [Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett] did it was because he was thinking it would encourage tourism. It's going to do quite the reverse, I think. You're advertising a problem that doesn't exist in a major way and you're deterring people from wanting to come to Perth and your beautiful countryside around it. All you're going to achieve, I think, is to worry people unnecessarily."

I believe that Richard Branson knows a thing or two about tourism and promotion. Hopefully premier Colin Barnett will listen to his voice of reason, if not for the sake of the sharks, then for purely economic reasons, to protect the way of life and the tourist industry of Western Australia.

 
Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What's the best place to dive with Great White Sharks?

And the answer is........ drum roll please!..... Guadalupe Island!

According to champion free-diver and ocean conservationist William Winram, "Guadalupe Island, 260km off the coast of Mexico is the best place on the planet to see great whites."  He goes on to say "It has the best visibility, and the most animals of all great white diving spots,"

The fact that the article also mentions Shark Diver as the operator to take you there, is a nice compliment! We love our sharks and are always excited to take our divers to visit our toothy friends at Guadalupe Island.

Check out this article that shows him diving with our Great White Sharks a few years ago.

Cheers,

Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

855.987.4275 or 619.987.4275

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 staff@sharkdiver.com.