Thursday, October 25, 2018

Deformed shark at Guadalupe Island


During our last expedition to Guadalupe Island we encountered "Slash Fin", a shark that has been seen previously and is in our database. She is a very active shark, swimming around normally and exhibiting all the typical white shark behaviors.


There is however something very different about this shark. Aside from a big lump on her side, she only has 3 visible gill plates on her left side. When looked at from the top, the left side of her head is pretty straight, while the right side curves out around her gills. It doesn't look like she is getting much water through her left side gills either and she seems to be breathing mainly through her right side gills.


Check out the video below. Aside from a nice bite injury she has, there are only 3 visible gill plates.


When you look closely, you can see that she has 5 gill slits, but 2 of her gills are completely covered by another gill plate. The bite on her gills has nothing to do with this oddity, since she has looked this way since we first met her and the injury is new.



Aside from her gills, she also has a deformed dorsal fin, with the trailing edge looking all ragged. It could be due to an injury, but I don't see an obvious signs of a trauma there.


On her right side, just behind and below her dorsal fin, she has a growth that is sticking out at least 6 inches. Is it a tumor, or is something embedded in her body?

Watch the video below and check out that growth for yourself.



Slash fin is a subadult female and about 13' in lenght. Despite her deformities, she doesn't exhibit any signs of distress and seems to be doing well.

The longer I dive with these sharks, the more I'm amazed by the new things we discover and learn about them. Are her deformities genetic? Is it a birth defect? Or....? I don't know, I'm just reporting my observations. Any scientists out there want to take a look at this?

Come join us on one of our expeditions to Guadalupe Island and meet our sharks face to face.

Let's go shark diving!

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, October 11, 2018

Meet our Great White Shark "Luca Arnone"


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"Luca Arnone" listed as #163, is one of our recent additions to the photo ID database at Guadalupe Island. We first met him in 2013 and he has been coming back every year since.


2 years ago "Luca" looked a bit rough. He was partially wrapped in a thick rope, which fortunately was being removed by Dr. Mauricio Hoyos, the local researcher at Guadalupe Island. The cut caused by the rope was not too deep and since white sharks have an amazing ability to heal, it did not cause him any permanent harm. When he swam by my a couple of weeks ago, his injury was barely noticeable, with just a faint black mark remaining.




"Luca" is a fairly small shark, probably just shy of 12', but he doesn't seem to mind the bigger sharks and is a frequent visitor to our cages. 


Luca was named by one of our diver, who named 2 different sharks, one after his son, Luca and the other after his daughter Milana. Naming a shark is one way you can support the ongoing research at Guadalupe Island. The Marine Science Conservation Institute, "MCSI" who maintains the photo ID has various levels of sponsorship available, including naming a shark.


Another way you can support "MCSI" is by coming on one of our "science" trips. A portion of these expeditions goes to fund the research and Nicole Lucas-Nasby, the researcher maintaining that database is coming along as the host. She is sharing the results of her research with you and if we encounter a new shark, you'll also have an opportunity to name that shark. How cool would it be, if you see a shark that you named on "Sharkweek"?

If you want to find our for yourself what it's like to come face to face with a great white shark and maybe name one of these sharks, come join us on one of our expeditions. We do have some spaces open and would love to introduce you to our sharks.

Call 619.887.4275, email crew@sharkdiver.com or visit www.sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let's go shark diving!

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.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Awesome new conservation effort in Fiji!



When we dive with Bull Sharks in Fiji, we always go with Beqa Adventure Divers "BAD", because "BAD" is awesome. "Dashark", who's behind their operation is the guy who was the driving force that got the Shark Reef Marine Reserve designated as a national marine park.


Fortunately for the environment, "Dashark" can't leave well enough alone, he's always looking for the next opportunity to improve things. After also being involved with the establishing of "Mangroves for Fiji", he is now involved with "My Fijishark".

https://www.myfijishark.com/

Instead of me telling you what it is all about, here is all the info directly from his blog http://fijisharkdiving.blogspot.com/

We were contacted by the UNDP several months ago. The backdrop were the UN's Sustainable Development Goals in general and SDG 14 = Life Below Water in particular. 
They told us that they wanted to explore alternative solutions and financing mechanisms by partnering with the private sector as opposed to embarking on the usual NGO route, and that we had come to their attention due to our long track record in conservation and ecotourism.

We gladly agreed to a meeting.
Ever since the historic Fiji-led Ocean Conference (and here), we knew that something big was brewing and have been exploring avenues to lend a helping hand if and when Government would pull the trigger and start with the implementation. At stake are not only Fiji's Shark and Ray commitment but among several others, this specific pledge for delivering improved coastal fisheries management. 

Like I said yesterday, the SoPac is running out of fish, and Fiji is certainly no exception. 
Case in point, as Kerstin has been repeating her ground-breaking interviews, it has become sadly apparent that the situation has since deteriorated considerably whereby as the price of seafood keeps increasing,  overfishing and poaching especially here in Viti Levu have become ubiquitous. In essence, we are witnessing what has already happened elsewhere, i.e. that more and more previously artisanal subsistence fishermen have morphed into small-scale commercial fishermen, with locally devastating consequences - and like already stated, we surely cannot hope to succeed in conserving Shark populations if we continue to obliterate their prey and destroy their environment!

Possible solutions?
Look no further than this old post advocating community involvement and ecotourism, etc, etc - but of course the controversy about who really owns Fiji's traditional fishing grounds, or quoliqoli is far from being resolved and Government resources remain scarce.

Anyway.
Sorry it is so long, and for the many links - but as always in the real world it is complicated!

Back to My Fiji Shark.
We did meet several times and after some lengthy brainstorming, we resolved to focus on two principal projects
  • Assisting Government in implementing and enforcing any upcoming Shark and Ray management and conservation measures. This would involve launching a nifty and innovative campaign and likely cost approx. FJD 20,000.00 in its first year, after which the fines collected would hopefully cover the costs.
  • Developing and funding 3 community-based 5-year pilot projects that would trial some simple yet hopefully effective coastal fisheries management measures, this in view of hopefully upscaling them to national level if successful. This would cost approx. FJD 30,000.00 per year and most certainly require some co-funding by other quarters.
  • Any surplus could then be set aside and used for our long-term goal of establishing a more permanent Shark research presence in Fiji, this possibly including a proper field station but also research internships etc. But that's another story altogether.
And the funding?
Very much in line with the new trend towards mobilizing the private sector to assist in Ocean Finance (read this!), we resolved to create My Fiji Shark as the vehicle for collecting those funds. Natasha and our marine scientists will run and manage the adoption program, whereas the UNDP and the Sustainable Tourism department of the SPTO will be acting both as facilitators and marketing entities but also ensure the required transparency and accountability =  you can obviously rest assured that this is certainly not aimed at enriching BAD or its staff and directors!
As to why you should adopt.
Needless to say that on top of having very specific and measurable aims, this program is unique insofar as you are not adopting some theoretical animal but real individuals with totally distinct personalities who we intimately know and love and you, too, may have already personally met!

Anyway, the universe of potential adopters is limitless.
In fact, so far, adopters range from parents wanting to give a very special gift to their children to people interested in marine conservation to our clients and volunteers all the way to people who simply find it a cool thing to do - and we're also talking to our first corporate contact, so fingers crossed!

So there you have it - sure hope you like it.

Thank you very much!

I would definitely encourage you to adopt a shark. They are doing awesome work and have a direct impact on saving the sharks. Aside from helping the sharks, check out the really cool benefits YOU get by adopting a shark. Depending on the level of support, you actually get to dive with these awesome animals.

I have personally adopted "Blunt". She is one of the sharks that always comes really close to say hello and inspect my camera. ;-)

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, September 26, 2018

Unusual shark behavior at Guadalupe Island


The 2018 season at Guadalupe Island has been phenomenal so far. Thanks to Nicole Lucas from the Marine Conservation Science Institute, we have a way to identify and keep a record of all the sharks seen at Guadalupe Island. This is how we know that on our last expedition we encountered a record breaking 47 different individuals, including a whopping 16 sharks that have not been previously identified. This shattered our previous record of 34 individuals seen on a single trip.



Here is a list of all the sharks we encountered.



It's not just the number of sharks we encountered that was unusual. It was also the behavior of a couple of the new sharks. One individual, now officially named "Tryss", or crazy Tryss as I like to call her, displayed a very unusual behavior. She came to the cages multiple times, without any bait attracting her to them, sticking her nose into it,  bumping the boat and squeezing through gaps. She did all that in slow motion, never freaking out  like other sharks when they touch the cage, keeping her eyes open and totally aware of her surroundings.

Check out the pictures and videos of her.


"Tryss" coming between the cages and the boat.


"Tryss" sticking her nose into the cage.

Checking out the boat.


Sticking her nose into the cage.


Hello there!


Hey, anyone up there?



See ya guys!

In 18 years of diving with these amazing animals, I have never witnessed a shark behave like this. It just goes to show you that they will never stop to surprise you. That's why I love my job and am completely fascinates by these awesome creatures.

Shark Diver proudly supports the Marine Conservation Science Institute through our MCSI hosted expeditions.  Joining us on one of these expeditions is  a great way to learn about our sharks and support the research. Maybe you'll even get to name a shark, like the ones who just named "Tryss" on our last trip.

Let's go shark diving!

www.sharkdiver.com, crew@sharkdiver.com, 619.887.4275

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, April 5, 2018

Bull Shark with Cancer?


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There are a lot of misconceptions when people talk about sharks. One of them is the myth that they don't get tumors or cancer. We previously talked about sharks with cancer, here and here, but while those 2 blogs were about a Great White Shark, we also have a Bull Shark in Fiji with a tumor growing out of her mouth. Her name is "Ms Jaws".

DaShark from Beqa Adventure Divers thinks it all started when he first saw her swimming around with a fishing popper stuck to her jaw.

                                     Video ©DaShark Beqa Adventure divers, source

Her jaw got progressively worse. This photo shows the progression of her lesion from 2011-2013.
Photos by Sam Cahir, predapix

When I met "Ms Jaws" for the first time in 2014, her jaw already looked like this.


The next time I saw her was in 2016 and she looked a lot worse. Her jaw was hanging down and it looked like it would be impossible for her to feed successfully.



Aside from her badly broken jaw and tumor, she did seem to be OK though. She didn't look skinny or showed any obvious signs of malnutrition. I have to admit that I was worried about her and didn't have high hopes of her surviving much longer.

                                          video ©Martin Graf www.sharkdiver.com

Now we have some good news! DaShark just reported that "Contrary to my dire prediction, Mrs. Jaws is alive and kicking - and judging from her girth and body shape, she is very capable of feeding herself which is real good news indeed!"

He also posted a video of her swimming around on facebook here and you can read his blog here.

If you are interested in more information on this particular shark's tumor, read this paper by Juerg Brunschwiler from the ETH University in Zuerich.

I really hope that she will continue to do well. She is a remarkable animal.

Of course, if you really want to know how she is doing, join us in May on our expedition to Fiji, where you can look for her on our Bull Shark dives. We have a couple of openings left. Call us at 619.887.4275 or email crew@sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let's go shark diving!

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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Is Shark finning the only threat to Sharks?


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We all know that shark finning is a huge problem and a threat to global shark populations, but is it the only threat? Is the demand for shark meat an equal threat?


There is a new publication by Project AWARE® that addresses this issue.

It is not only the fins that makes sharks the target of the fishing industry. The demand for their meat is also a factor. From the Project AWARE® article:

"The appetite for shark fin soup has played a major role in shark overfishing and is often positioned as the main threat to sharks today. Recent data on international trade in shark fins and meat analyzed in the report however, reveals a global, interdependent market for a variety of shark products across scores of countries, including several in South America and Europe, whose demand for shark meat places them among the world's top shark consumers."

They have an interactive infographic that shows the different issues. The infographic can be found by clicking on the picture below.

https://www.projectaware.org/publication/state-global-market-shark-products


From their article: "With so many shark species and products in trade, it can be difficult to get your head around what is really happening,” says Dr. Shelley Clarke, co-author of the FAO shark trade report and renowned shark fisheries scientist. “Understanding sources and trends is a critical step toward making sure the trade is sustainable and traceable, and the underlying fisheries are properly managed.”

 The infographic reveals the significant growth in markets for shark and ray meat, as well as the countries and inadequately restricted fisheries associated with this largely under-the-radar trade.
“The shark fin trade is at long last receiving worldwide attention from the media, conservationists, and law-makers, but we must urgently broaden our horizons to also consider other threats to sharks and closely related rays,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation. “We hope that Project AWARE’s initiative will shine light on these emerging issues and channel public concern toward workable solutions before it’s too late.”
The interactive infographic and related information can be found here: www.projectaware.org/globalsharktrade

Here is a provocative thought. Could the demand for shark meat actually be a good thing? You might think that's a ridiculous thing. How could demand for shark meat actually be good for the shark population? Could it be possible that a growing market for shark meat might increase the price of shark meat and thus give an incentive to the fishermen to keep the entire shark, instead of finning it and throwing the body back into the ocean? Since there is only so much space on a fishing vessel, this could actually mean that a vessel is killing fewer sharks to fill it's holds, than if they fill it with fins only.

This might be wishful thinking, but if shark meat would become as priced as say blue fin tuna, a lot of fishermen might actually catch fewer sharks for the same profit.



What Project AWARE®'s paper documents is the fact that shark conservation involves a lot more than just shark finning!

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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.