Friday, April 30, 2010

Americas Greatest Ecological Disaster - Oil Spill

What happened in Alaska in 1989 was once termed "Americas Greatest Ecological Disaster."

For Exxon the remote locale of Prince William Sound and low population base made this oil spill a "parachute journalism" affair.

For BP, 30-6000 barrels a day gushing into the Gulf, one of the most highly populated regions in the USA, media coverage will be nothing short of 24/7.

Add to the fact we are going into the summer season of re-run programming and what you have is the perfect media storm.

The Gulf is essentially a bowl, to get the best understanding of what is about to happen to the region over the summer pour 10 quarts of oil into your average Olympic swimming pool. At best it will be three months to drill a relief well in the region and even then there's no assurances that the oil will stop.

That's 2-6 million barrels of oil in the Gulf by the time the oil stops gushing in three months.

We covered a similar spill last fall by the numbers. The final number of spilled barrels will never be known in the East Timor Sea but one thing is for certain, media coverage in the Gulf will be intense and unflinching.

America's finest conservation moment and ongoing challenge is about to happen.

Let's consider putting aside other conservation efforts and instead turn our focus on the Gulf.

Once in a great lifetime conservation is called upon to act as one, to respond as one, and to rise to great challenges that transcend local and regional efforts.

This is that moment, and this is that challenge. Where will you be?

Back from Pyramid Lake - Insanity?

When you're gone for a few days into the wilds of Nevada you can get into places where Internet service is spotty at best and local weather temps hover at 29 degrees...oh and fly fishing from a ladder in the middle of Pyramid Lake will net you 10lb Cutthroat Trout.

This is where I have been, and yes I was chest deep in freezing waters, in a snowstorm, with about 15 other braves souls pitching weighted sink tips into the deep - searching for fly fishing's top trout this time of year.

The squadrons of white pelicans flying through the snow storms we encountered did not seem to mind one bit.

Of course I was not alone.

This annual fly fishing hajj to Pyramid Lake always begins with a call from Steve Blair. The phone call begins with, "dude the fish report is amazing and the weather is clearing up." You have a choice to believe one of two things about this particular statement, as for me I tend to believe in "the fish report" as some of the wildest weather I have ever fished in has been on Pyramid Lake.

It did not disappoint, and neither did the fish. I landed three quite respectable fish over the past few days, drank copious amounts of Pyramid Ale and basically took a few days off from work, phones, media, to cast, reflect, and enjoy the wilder side of life.

You sometimes have to disconnect to appreciate and gain perspective on things. That's what I came away with this week. Now, it's on to a flight to Nag's Head North you know.

Patric Douglas CEO

Westslope Cutthroat Trout illustration copyright Joseph R. Tomelleri

Rep Jon Riki Karamatsu - Chief Waffler

What a difference a few days can make.

As it turns out Hawaii's historic vote on a complete ban on shark fins was unanimous and the critical vote of Rep.Jon Riki Karamatsu went for the bill instead of against it...

...and then in a stunning display of "flip-flopping wafflery" Riki Karamatsu turned against the bill he just voted for and tried to kill it.

For one brief moment we had thought that Riki Karamatsu had
demonstrated real conservation leadership in Hawaii.

We of the conservation world dared dream that Riki might be the kind of leader who would listen to all sides of an issue but when it comes to issues about the environment, animal cruelty, and unsustainable practices Mr.Karamatsu would understand and act.

Sadly he's just a hack politico who will waver and waffle when important bills are in play pandering to whoever and wherever he can to get a vote or two.

DO NOT VOTE for this man in is race for the Lieutenant Governors seat in Hawaii.When the chips are down, Karamatsu is a poor choice for the oceans, the environment and Hawaii.

Complete story here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hawaii - Shark Fin Bill 2169 Passed!

Congratulations to Shark Allies and the many hundreds of industry folks far and wide who wrote letters, made appearances, worked with the media, and pushed and pushed until Shark Fin Bill 2169 was made into law yesterday by an almost unanimous vote.

The one hold out?

Rep.Jon Riki Karamatsu who, in the end, sided with shark fin interests. Riki, baby, what are you thinking?

This bill now goes before the Governor of Hawaii for signing, and why would she not want to sign ground breaking legislation that will demonstrate to the world that Hawaii is an international leader when it comes to conservation and our oceans?

This bill is not to be underestimated in its impact globally. Well done to all who had a hand in its creation and shepherding through the tough legislative process.

More media Washington Post.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shark Blogging - Making Complete Sense

1800 blog posts and two years later Underwater Thrills has commented and opened the conversation on pretty much everything in the shark world, both good and bad.

One of the things we noticed, along with other early bloggers, was the need for our industry to show leadership.

Leadership in the form of conservation initiatives, film productions featuring sharks, and operations that treated the host country, the sharks and our divers with the same respect our industry was asking from politicians and those who would oppose commercial shark diving.

Today I was sent a blog post that made complete sense, from an industry member we have featured in the past reacting to major media and images online that served to reinforce the notion that our industry was populated by high octane thrill seekers with little care for the resource or the animals.

This post is a 180 degree change from earlier media and needs to be read far and wide. The writer makes complete sense and by challenging the "status quo" of the industry or even proposing ideas and plans for the future that others might disagree with is showing that quality that is most needed, leadership.

Our industry can only hope to be all that it can with open discussion. Painful though it may be sometimes it is necessary to look at where we once were, and visions for the future. 2010 was a sea change of opinion, web changes, operator lead shark initiatives, and positive media for sharks lead by operations who reacted to or who were lead by change.

Kudos for the post. We may not see eye to eye on 99% but when we do, it's nice to know someone will step out and get recognized.

Oil Spill in the Gulf - NOAA Update Site

For those interested in the ongoing efforts to stop 42,000 gallons of oil a day leaking into the Gulf of Mexico NOAA has set up a strategic media site with regular updates.


Natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) activities are now underway. The plan for attacking the spill has the following elements:
  • Try to activate the blow-out preventer (BOP) using ROVs – could stop leaks in several days, if successful
  • Use an undersea dome to contain leaking oil, rigged by ROVs – has not been tried this deep before
  • Drill relief wells which could then be plugged - this process could take several months
  • Aggressive skimming and dispersing of oil on the surface – ongoing
  • Assessment and protection of coastal resources at risk - thousands of feet of oil containment and deflection boom are ready to deploy, experts are on-scene and en route

Read here.

BP reports profit surge, battles oil spill

(UK:BP. 610.00, -16.80, -2.68%) said its profit rose to $6.08 billion from $2.56 billion during the same period of 2009. Excluding the impact of energy prices on unsold inventories as well as $49 million of one-time items, and BP would have earned $5.65 billion, topping consensus estimates by about $900 million.

Revenue rose to $74.42 billion from $48.09 billion.

The stock is up about 2% this year, lagging rival Royal Dutch Shell.

Meanwhile in the Gulf of Mexico an oil spill disaster at a BP well continues to spill 45,000 gallons of oil a day into the ocean. US law requires oil companies to pay for oil spill clean ups.

We're not financial wizards at this shark blog but shorting BP stock at this point might seem like a sound financial strategy:

Monday, April 26, 2010

MTV and Sharks - Bumper?

Not sure where to go with this one. Nicely done as far as Euro spoofs go, but a white shark?

Alison Kock has a point - South Africa

When you start a major media piece about shark diving with the following observations, nothing good can follow:

GANSBAAI, South Africa — Jaw gaping with razor-sharp teeth bared, the great white shark launches after the tuna bait and smacks into the metal cage holding a row of wetsuit-clad tourists.

That's the beginning of an article this week about shark diving in South Africa. Fortunately shark researcher Alison Kock was there to make a point, a very good one:

"From a scientist's side, our main issue with the industry is irresponsible practices. We support the industry as long as it's respectful of the sharks, it treats them well, and people get an educational and informative trip."

The shark diving article is here, and is filled with the usual media hype and quotes.

Glad to see Alison bringing the conversation to a pro-shark, pro-industry level. Thanks.

Whales and Policy - Realism in Tonga

Over at the Beqa Blog Da Shark introduces two expat tourism operators from Tonga.

I spent almost 8 years in the US Virgin Islands so when Da Shark decided to expose small island living in his characteristic and effusive way, he got my undivided if not somewhat nostalgic attention.

Da Shark on Tongan Expat Life:

The local palangi expat community can be safely described as the South Pacific epicenter of, in no particular order, potheads, drunkards and Prozac junkies, new age whackos and neo-hippies, second-rate snake oil peddlers and scamsters, all fatally mired in smallville soap operas and drama and engaging in rabid backstabbing and gossiping and what an Italian friend once called "la guerra dei poveri."

Classic. But the introduction was for two folks who, against all odds, are trying to make a difference to whales by offering first rate whale watching in Tonga while running a dive center as well.

They are also on the forefront of shark related issues in the region and early adopters of the Shark Free Marinas, kudos.

So who are these folks?

My husband Paul Stone and I are the owners of Dive Vava'u in the Kingdom of Tonga, we have been here for 5 years and own a 5 Star resort dive centre. We are also a licenced whale operator, working on eco-tourism based excursions with the South Pacific Humpback Whales.

What really caught my eye was Karen's latest blog post on the IWC and rumors that commercial whaling will come back after a many year hiatus. Complex issues. Instead of dumbing the issue down as many do in the whale conservation world Karen offers the following insights.

Which is where this post was going in the first place. Realism. The conservation world suffers from an appalling lack of it. Doha has brought into laser focus the need to step back and understand how the commercial side of trade works. It works in a vacuum.

We tend to look at commercial trade in shark fin as something to protest about. With few exceptions, like WildAid, the conservation world does not fully understand trade.

We can protest and Whale War all we want, but at the end of the day the conservation world lacks the ability to pick up the phone and call member nations of the IWC to suggest they vote one way or another. That's realism.

If we want to save whales and stop whaling, the conservation world could start building hospitals, airports, and providing roads and infrastructure to the nations who vote with Japan and Norway.

This is the strategy of the whaling nations, and it is devastatingly effective.

Patric Douglas CEO

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guadalupe Island - New Conservation Video

Only Oceans Aloft could bring you aerial shots of Isla Guadalupe like these and their latest conservation video covers shark conservation at Isla Guadalupe from both historical and political perspectives.

Featuring show host host Natasha Stenbock, CICIMAR's Dr Mauricio Hoyos, conservation NGO Wildcoast, and some great underwater footage shot with Horizon Charters and Shark Diver in 2009.

This conservation video tackles "Conservation Shark Diving" head on and the viewer comes away with a richer understanding of what Isla Guadalupe means to the many thousands of shark divers who have been coming to this unique and pristine island since 2002.

Great industry quotes from Horizon vessel Captain Spencer and dive operations manager Martin Graf as well. Shark finning video courtesy of Sharkwater Productions.

Oil Spill in the Gulf - Whale Shark Impact?

For the past two years we have been covering whale shark aggregations off the coast of Morgan City, Louisiana.

Upwards of 40-100 animals at a time have been sighted here year after year and have become both industry and major media news.

Scientist Eric Hoffmayer has been studying these groups as far out as 100 miles from shore and that's where this weeks news from the Gulf takes a decidedly nasty turn.

The Swiss-based Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sunk last week leaving many in the region to worry about ongoing oil seeping from the wellhead at 5000 feet. The worst case scenario has happened and now experts agree close to 1000 barrels a day are leaking to the surface or close to 42,000 gallons of oil.

Oil clean up crews have dumped over a million gallons of chemical oil dispersant into the region and more is sure to come in an effort to break up the oil on the surface. As whale sharks feed on the surface this oil and chemical dispersant does not bode well for these peaceful giants of the Gulf.

More from RTSEa Blog.

California Shark Research - Nuclear Options

Question: How do you age validate sharks?

Unlike trees or even mammals sharks are cartilaginous, they do not have bones or tree rings to look over after they die.

Bones and tree rings can give you the age of your target research specimen pretty quickly. With most shark species that's a much harder proposition.

Enter some smart folks at the Pacific Shark Research Center in California who are doing age validation of sharks and rays using radiocarbon isotopes.

As it turns out above ground testing of nukes in the 50's and 60's dropped these isotopes (14C) all over the planet and for a time every living thing on the planet had higher levels in their bodies. By tracking these higher levels in cartilage researchers can get a pretty accurate look at the age of long lived sharks like the white shark.

For more information go here.

Isla Guadalupe 1845 History - Introduction

I have spent the last few months in between epic trips to New Zealand and elsewhere at U.C Berkley uncovering the history of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico.

For a small island off the coast of Mexico it has a rich story with ownership documents going back to the early 1800's, complete with title documents, letters, and even "stock certificates".

My journey began after a chance meeting with staff from an NGO in Mexico last year. We were in the process of helping put together a multi part natural history television series with Wildcoast about the island for Televisa.

That series went on to win a number of awards in Mexico last year.

There I met one of the staff members who, as it turns out, had family who actually lived on the island in the late 1800's.

She provided me with a "love letter" and hand drawn images from the period featuring the large building commonly called "the prison" at Point Norte.

Thus began my journey into the history of the island.

At U.C Berkley I uncovered original documents that showed by 1845 Isla Guadalupe was a privately held island owned by the Western Livestock Company out of Boston Massachusetts. To put this into perspective, by 1845 in the USA, many states had yet to join the union. Alaska was not purchased from Russia until 1867.

Suffice to say the discovery of $50.00 shares in stock certificates of "The Guadalupe Island Company" were nothing short of amazing as were small details like wages for staff, $35 in gold each year.

Isla Guadalupe was ceded from the Mexican Government to a Jose Castro and Florencio Ferrano,both Mexican citizens, on January 8th, 1839. They received not just Guadalupe island but all the smaller islands in the region as well. By 1845 Jose Castro had sold 50% of his stake in the islands for the princely sum of $500 in gold.

By 1870 the islands were finally sold to US interests and the formation of The Western Livestock Company in the State of Main lead almost immediately to The Guadalupe Island Company and the selling of stock certificates seeking a total capital of $500,000, the stocks were sold in San Francisco until 1889.

Isla Guadalupe did not return from private ownership to Mexico until almost the beginning of the 1900's and it was a historically interesting repatriation done with a letter from the then Governor of Baja, all but demanding the island back. The owners at that time, who had paid close to $2000 for the title to these islands decided not to fight. Perhaps due to the fact this was a difficult island to become commercially successful with or perhaps by that time they had exhausted the seal fishery and timber operations on the island.

In all the documents I uncovered I could find no historical mention of white sharks at this island.

Not all that surprising as The Guadalupe Island Companies mandate for the period was commercial sealing, timber, and cattle ranching.

Patric Douglas CEO

Palau Shark Sanctuary - Video Interview

We follow a number of blogs one of which is The Palau Shark Sanctuary Blog Shark Talk.

For those that do not know the inspiring story of Dermot Keane there's a new video interview out that makes for fascinating watching:

When Irishman Dermot Keane visited Palau for the first time, he wasn’t aware of the disruptive fishing techniques, or the shocking shark finning that was going on around the island. But once he did, he decided to do something about this.

Big time!

Disney "Oceans" - Epic

Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jaques Cluzaud "Oceans" is a tour de force of underwater imagery.

Run, do not walk or even stroll to your nearest movie theater and see this film.

The underwater world is a fascinating place and for filmmakers bringing this world to a terrestrial audience in 2D or even 3D is a titanic task, "Oceans" does it superbly.

The other things "Oceans" manages quite well are the sequences with sharks. It is very common for filmmakers to try and make a point with sharks, to dispel the notion that they are in fact predators. This film does not do this, instead this film brings a man and shark sequence together that leaves the audience member aware of the dangers and yet understanding of the animal.

In the commercial shark diving world this is what we do, and it is refreshing to see a filmmaker who treats sharks as they animals they are - top order predators.

Kudos once again to the duo of Jacques Perrin and Jaques Cluzaud for a simply amazing film.

More from Huff Post.

Patric Douglas CEO

Friday, April 23, 2010

Shark Diver - What's in Your Clan?

Recently I was speaking with a reporter in Scotland about our company Shark Diver.

The reporter wanted a "Scottish connection" for a shark diving story she was working on. I found myself smiling, she was unaware of the Black Douglas, our clan.

The Douglas clan has a long history of adventure seekers going back to the late 1600's. From the discovery of the mummy of Ramses, to early whaling adventures (as the vessels doctor), to the discovery and development of the largest copper mine in the west and Douglas Arizona.

The Black Douglas has clan members who seek adventure, and always look to the horizon.

We're a unique bunch and Shark Diver is the embodiment of the Black Douglas. While our clans motto is "Jamais arrière" which means "Never behind," I decided to tag Shark Diver with "Discover Real Adventure."


Because over 500+ years of Black Douglas adventures and history demanded it. For more reading about the Douglas clan here's a page from Wikipedia:

James S. Douglas (4 November 1837 - 30 June 1918) was a Canadian mining engineer and businessman who introduced a number of metallurgical innovations in copper mining.

Douglas's Scottish-born father, Dr. James Douglas, was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. He had earned the reputation of being the fastest surgeon in town, capable of performing an amputation in less than one minute. Dr. Douglas transmitted his thirst for adventure to his son, taking him on numerous expeditions to Egypt and the Middle East in the mid-19th century. He brought back several mummies from these journeys, selling them to museums in North America. One of these, sold in Niagara Falls, was recently discovered to be the corpse of Ramses I.

James S. Douglas initially chose a different career from his father, studying to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church. He studied at Queen’s College, Kingston from 1856-1858, and later at the University of Edinburgh. By the end of his studies, however, Douglas had second thoughts: “When therefore I was licensed to teach, my faith in Christ was stronger but my faith in denominational Christianity was so weak that I could not sign the Confession of Faith and therefore was never ordained.” He was granted a license to preach, but never became an ordained minister. This secularism remained with Douglas all his life. He was primarily responsible for making Queen’s into a non-denominational University when he served as Chancellor in 1912.

In the 1860s, Douglas helped his father at the Beauport Asylum while studying towards a career in medicine. He worked as a librarian at the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, and later became the youngest president in the history of the Society. There, he presented numerous lectures to the Society’s members, the first on Egyptian hieroglyphics and mummies, and later ones on mining and geological issues.

This interest in mining and geology eventually supplanted his interest in medicine and Douglas embarked on a third career. In 1869, Douglas’ scientific experiments with the assistance of Dr. Thomas Sterry Hunt at Université Laval led him to a discovery that was to change his life. Together, they elaborated a patent for the “Hunt and Douglas” process of extracting copper from its ore. Although Douglas had no formal education in chemistry, he was considered competent enough to fill the Chair of Chemistry at his hometown's Morrin College affiliated with McGill University, from 1871 to 1874. His evening lectures were among the most popular in the history of the College.

Douglas’s patents attracted attention in the United States, and in 1875 he quit his teaching post to work as superintendent for the Chemical Copper Company. In 1880, Douglas was recruited by the trading company Phelps Dodge, which sent him to Arizona Territory to investigate mining opportunities. This eventually led to the creation of the Copper Queen Mine, which became one of the top copper-producing mines in the world. Offered the choice of a flat fee or a ten percent interest in the property for his services, he chose the latter, a decision that subsequently made him a fortune.[1] James Douglas also founded the copper smelting Mexican border town of Douglas, Arizona. He eventually became president of Phelps Dodge, and helped transform it into the Fortune 500 company it subsequently became.

James S. Douglas was always known as Dr. Douglas. His son, James Douglas, Jr., or "Rawhide Jimmy" (1867-1949), followed in his father's footsteps, and built a major fortune with the United Verde Extension mine in Jerome, Arizona. His Jerome mansion is open to the public as the Jerome State Historic Park.

Throughout this time, Douglas maintained an interest in Canadian history and heritage. He wrote several books on the subject in his lifetime, namely Canadian Independence, Old France in the New World, and New England and New France—Contrasts and Parallels in Colonial History. In addition to bailing Queen’s University out of a financial crisis with approximately a million dollars from his own pocket, Douglas also established the first chair in Canadian and Colonial History there in 1910. He also financed many libraries, such as the library of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, where interest from his donations is still used to purchase books.

Douglas also donated to several medical causes, most notably the Douglas Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. This institution pursued the cause which had been taken up by his father, a pioneer in the treatment of mental health in Quebec. Douglas’ donations helped keep the hospital alive in the institution’s early years. Originally called the “Protestant Hospital for the Insane”, the institution took on the name of Douglas Hospital in 1965 as a tribute to James Douglas, Jr. and his father.

Since 1922, the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers annually awards the James Douglas Gold Medal in his memory. The Douglas Library at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, is named in his honor, as is Douglas Hall at McGill University.

Patric Douglas CEO

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oceanic Dreams - Watch This Video

Thanks to Oceanic Dreams for posting this conservation PSA.

Have we evolved in our stewardship of the oceans?

This PSA might suggest we have a long way to go just yet. Impressive media, and this is how you do conservation messaging. The subject matter is stark, ugly and frank.

As conservationists we have to look at these issues in the wider context, for the rest of the world policy making by politicians and viral media PSA's like this one are an absolutely effective means of changing hearts and minds.

Well done.

Hawaii - Shark Fin Bill 2169 Almost Law?

Hawaii's complete ban on shark fins and shark fishing could soon be be made into law after Tuesday's vote.

A vote that has the potential to open a deep fissure in the worldwide trade and sales of shark fin and a vote that will set a unique precedent.

Under the new Bill 2169 shark fins could not be harvested, sold or owned.

The bill is heading for final votes in the Hawaii Legislature. The bills main stumbling block, a conference committee, agreed on the measure Tuesday, sending it to the House and Senate for approval.

Shark conservationists maintain the ban is key to shutting down the overfishing of sharks for their fins is causing an imbalance in the oceans. Currently the price of shark fin is hovering at 1980's gold price levels and is used primarily for soup.

As Stefani Brendl from Shark Allies put it when the final vote was read:

"It's Alive! Getting it out of conference was by far one of the most difficult and critical steps in this process. Many people would have bet that it won't happen. There was doubt and criticism until the very last moment. But here it is! The impossible became possible! This is really a historic moment!!!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pete Thomas Outdoors - Brazil Shark Fin Bust

If you have not yet become a fan of the Pete Thomas Outdoors blog you should do so soon.

Investigative journalism is what this blog is all about. And it's no surprise because Pete is a reporter with a free reign to cover just about anything. Fortunately one of the things he cares about are our oceans, and more specifically sharks.

Pete covered a recent shark fin bust from Brazil that no one is talking about yet. One ton of fins destined for Japan with a $29,000 fine.

"The owner of the export company in Brazil was fined $29,700 and crews of the fishing boats also are expected to be penalized for illegally slaughtering sharks."

Good to have Pete on our side.

Complete story.

Fly Fishing's Mount Everest - Hydrocynus goliath

Angler biologist Jeremy Wade has a hit show on Discovery Networks travelling around the world to catch and release some of the planets more extreme underwater critters.

It's a great job if you can get it.

The critter he is holding is fly fishing's Mount Everest, it is Hydrocynus goliath and to date few have actually caught one and lived to tell the tale.

For obvious reasons this critter is hard to catch (namely teeth) and the fact you'll find it in the Congo River Basin an area not known for friendly gastronomic flora, insects, rival militaristic rebel groups or even ease of travel.

Still, as far as freshwater predators go, this one is at the top of the list. Nice catch, great show.

Still interested?

As rare as "Unobtanium" - Shark attack Guadalupe?

What are the chances that you will have your vessel attacked at Isla Guadalupe by a white shark?

If you are running commercial operations at this pristine and unique island the chances are close to 0% percent. In fact in the many years we have been to this site it has never happened. These animals are curious, but just not that aggressive towards small floating vessels.

If you are running research operations at this pristine and unique island the chances are, once again, close to 0%.

If you are Discovery Networks and stuntman Charles Ingram who are only at this dive site for 72 hours to film a white shark special, the chances that a white shark will attack your floating dinghy with your show host inside are closer to 100%.

Is this real television, stunt work, staged animal filming, or just plain "good luck" for the production company?

"Trieste" by any other name

While the rest of the planet went about its daily business last week a small but dedicated group of explorers joined together in celebration in Washington.

There were gathered to celebrate mans first descent to 35,800 feet and Don Walsh who is the only surviving member of that stunning dive. A groundbreaking exploration he accomplished with dive partner Jacques Piccard...50 years ago.

Luminaries from James Cameron to Sylvia Earl were on hand to congratulate the man, the submarine, and the achievement. They were also on hand to ruminate about the possibilities of going back.

50 years ago deep water technology did not include composite materials, lightweight carbon, and newer composite viewing windows.

As the Washington Post wrote last week, Don Walshes descent almost ended before it began:

At 31,000 feet, they echo-sounded for the bottom. There was no return. At 32,400 feet, a thick window cracked with a bang. Farther down they went. Into the bleak hadal zone, named for Hades, the ancient Greek underworld. Finally, at 35,800 feet, then-Navy Lt. Don Walsh, 28, phoned the surface: "This is Trieste. We are on the bottom of Challenger Deep. . . . Over."

Complete story and video.

Rep Jon Riki Karamatsu - Conservationist!


What a difference a few days can make. As it turns out Hawaii's historic vote on a complete ban on shark fins was unanimous and the critical vote of Rep.Jon Riki Karamatsu went for the bill instead of against it...

...and then in a stunning display of flip-floppery Riki Karamatsu turned against the bill he just voted for and tried to kill it.

For one brief moment we had thought that Riki Karamatsu had demonstrated real conservation leadership in Hawaii. We dreamed that Riki might be the kind of leader who would listen to all sides of an issue but when it comes to issues about the environment, animal cruelty, and unsustainable practices Mr.Karamatsu understands and acts.

Sadly he's just a hack politico who will waver and waffle when important bills are in play pandering to whoever he can to get a vote or two.

DO NOT VOTE for this man and is race for the Lieutenant Governors seat in Hawaii.When the chips are down, Karamatsu is a poor choice for the oceans, the environment and Hawaii.

Complete story here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oceans Documentary - Filming Whites Guadalupe

Catch, Release, Conserve: The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge

Sport fishing, science, business and humane interests are coming together for the first time in support of a new kind of catch-and-release fishing tournament for sharks that demonstrates that a fishing competition really can support shark protection while providing the excitement that spectators and anglers have come to expect.

The new Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge series is a catch-and-release only competition off the Southwest Florida coast, beginning with a qualifying round April 30 - May 2 at Burnt Store Marina in Lee County and concluding with a Grand Championship Finale May 21-23 at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. During the tournament, fishermen will compete by catching sharks and scientists will tag the sharks for conservation research purposes to learn more about the animals' travels in the wild. Spectators will be able to watch the action live via video from the boats.

"For the first time, what we call a ‘love 'em and leave 'em' shark tournament will be transformed into a true spectator sport," said Sean Paxton. He and his brother, Brooks, known as the Shark Brothers, are creators and directors of the event. Along with Co-Director and Associate Producer Capt. Robert Moore, they said: "Our shared vision for this tournament is to effectively combine the goals of sport, science and conservation. By leveraging modern broadcast technology, we'll also be providing spectators onshore with an exciting and educational multimedia experience."

The Humane Society of the United States views the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge tournament design as a significantly more humane alternative to traditional catch-and-kill shark tournaments. "We know shark species are in decline and that we need to better understand their life histories in the wild," said John Grandy, Ph.D., senior vice president of HSUS. "We think this tournament format will help support necessary protection for sharks that would have died in a traditional kill tournament."

The tournament was developed in 2009 when the Paxtons approached Robert Hueter, Ph.D., director of Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark Research, about the idea of an innovative catch-and-release shark tournament. Hueter had run a successful all-release, research-oriented shark tournament from 1989 to 1998 along the southwest Florida coast. Together with Capt. Moore, the group then teamed up with renowned marine wildlife artist, scientist and conservationist Guy Harvey, Ph.D., to present a model for responsible sport fishing that promotes shark protection.

Harvey, a longtime marine conservationist and founder of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, said the tournament will increase global awareness of the important role that sharks play in the world's oceans and our ecosystem. "The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament Series will be a uniquely exciting event for participants, spectators and everyone who cares about the future of our oceans," he said.

Hueter and staff from Mote's Center for Shark Research will oversee the scientific aspects of the tournament, including tagging operations. Anglers will attach identification tags to as many sharks as possible and scientists will outfit a number of sharks with satellite-linked transmitters that will track shark movements after release. Hammerhead and bull sharks will be the focus of the satellite tagging efforts, but other species may be tagged as well. The satellite tags are designed to transmit location and other information about the shark's travels when the animal's dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water.

Once the satellite tags are deployed, the public will be able to follow these sharks' travels on the Internet for as long as one year or more.

"This project will provide a breakthrough in collaborative research involving the marine science and recreational fishing communities," Hueter said. "The fishermen deserve great credit for embracing this new approach. By working together to develop a 21st-century, conservation-oriented alternative to the more traditional kill tournament, the Mote Center for Shark Research and tournament organizers hope to provide a national model for the responsible use of marine resources."

Supporting tournament organizers in this collaborative effort are Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah; Luke Tipple, director of the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative; and John Land Le Coq, co-founder of Fishpond USA, a prominent outdoor and fishing equipment retailer. All involved share a view that this event should become the "next generation" model for shark fishing competitions.

"Shark-Free Marinas has been involved with the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge since its inception and is in full support of its methodology," Tipple said. "Sharks need protection and we need to manage the ways we utilize their stocks. In the past, some shark fishing tournaments have killed reproductively capable sharks, which are a dwindling resource. This catch-and-release format offers the best of both worlds, allowing the sport of shark fishing to directly contribute to our scientific understanding of their population status and functional life history."

Le Coq and Fishpond are also concerned about the status of sharks. "Fishpond must lead by example to influence the destructive perceptions of the magnificent sharks that roam our oceans in peril, and to help end the kill-oriented tournaments that have traditionally existed in ports around our country," Le Coq stated.

Sharks will be caught using heavy conventional tackle, to reduce time between hook-up and release of sharks, and the fishermen will use inline, non-stainless steel circle hooks that minimize injury to the sharks. Sharks will be measured in the water and then outfitted with either conventional ID or satellite tracking tags. Tail snares and other special equipment will be used for angler and animal safety, as well as for humane handling and release of the sharks.

Qualifying Round

* When: April 30 - May 2
* Where: Burnt Store Marina, 3192 Matecumbe Key Rd., Punta Gorda, Fla.

Grand Championship Finale

* When: May 21 - 23
* Where: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla.

Shark conservation facts:

* Many shark species are imperiled worldwide. According to the World Conservation Union, about one-fifth of the 547 species of sharks and rays evaluated are considered threatened with extinction.

* Threshers, tigers, makos and blue sharks are all targeted in shark tournaments, along with hammerhead and bull sharks.

* There is still insufficient information available to evaluate the conservation status of about 100 shark species, many of which are also caught in tournaments.

* Anglers can be important collaborators in shark conservation efforts. Mote scientists have tagged more than 20,000 sharks over the past 20 years along Florida's Gulf Coast, with most tag returns by sport fishermen. Tagging allows Mote scientists to study shark abundance, movements and population dynamics, providing data for better management of shark populations.

Media Contacts

Tournament Directors: 941-416-1788 / 5073,
Mote Marine Laboratory: Hayley Rutger, 941-374-0081,
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation: 1-800-288-1227,
HSUS: Liz Bergstrom, 301-258-1455,

About Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

Founded by marine biologist and artist Guy Harvey, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is an organization of philanthropists, conservationists, scientists and educators focused on developing sensible strategies for promoting the conservation of our oceans and nurturing the next generation of marine scientists and guardians of our seas.

About Mote Marine Laboratory

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent nonprofit marine research organization. Mote is dedicated to advancing the science of the sea through the study of marine and estuarine ecosystems, through our public Mote Aquarium and through an education division that provides unique programs for all ages. Throughout 2010, Mote is celebrating its 55th Anniversary with special events highlighting its groundbreaking ocean research and outreach. Learn more at

About The HSUS

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the Web at

About Shark-Free Marinas

The Shark-Free Marina Initiative supports shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. Registered marinas will encourage sport shark-fishermen to exercise catch-and-release techniques. The acceptance of catch-and-release fishing techniques represents an incremental step in protecting valuable marine resources as well as providing valuable data for research organizations. SFMI also works with the community through it's Regional Ambassador program. For more information visit

Oceans Documentary - Stunning Images

To fully grasp the power of this image you need to click on it to get it to full size.

Now breathe.

Captured from Disney's latest documentary and the follow up to "Earth."

Oceans will be the "must see" documentary event of the summer featuring absolutely unparalleled footage of the undersea world.

Oceans opens April 22nd in the USA and just in time for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Website here.

Shark Repelling Bracelet - For what species?

According to Repel Sharks, LLC and Bob Millings this anklet will repel sharks. The theory being that if you wear this item a potential shark bite might be averted.

It is well known that magnets repel some species of sharks but as far as we know none of these studies have been done on much larger charismatic in shore species like Tigers and Hammerheads.

Back in 2007 and again in 2008 we field tested shark repelling magnets in a non scientific study at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico with white sharks.

The results were less then satisfactory, in fact the sharks took no notice of the magnets and proceeded to devour presented hang baits.

So much for the concept and white sharks at least.

Companies that promote shark repelling devices should be bound by industry set testing with multiple species prior to making claims about repelling sharks.

Magnets are no replacement for site knowledge, local conditions, and decisions to remove yourself from the water when sharks are present.

Hawaii - Karyn Herrmann Shark Conservation

Another in a long string of well thought and researched articles about Hawaii's current conservation track record and the the problems with politicians who only see $$$ when it comes to the environment.

Case in point Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu
who is currently attempting to kill new legislation that would ban shark finning, transshipment, and sales in Hawaii.

Karyn Herrmann:

Currently about 175 countries have signed an environmental treaty to halt shark finning. Will Hawaii really allow an entire marine species to be wiped out forever just to satisfy the palate of a so called "cultural tradition" or the mana of a mythological "deity"?

The only explanation that can be drawn from these most recent events in the Hawaii Senate is that the hidden, money-driven, black market of the Honolulu distributors has paid off both the advocates and the opponents of the bill. Clearly, shark finning is a multimillion-, possibly billion-dollar business in Hawaii, legal or not. When you have so many vocal entities opposing a ban that is supported globally, one must question if the entire process within the Hawaii Senate is riddled with corruption.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Support for Hawaii shark-fin ban grows, but will it be enough?

More reporting on Hawaii's close but not quite decided Senate Bill 2169. A bill that would ban shark fin sales in Hawaii setting a precedent around the world.

Who is holding this bill up and what can you do about it?

Rep Riki Karamatsu, for reasons that remain his own, reasons that run contrary to environmentalists and even the vast majority of politicians in Hawaii who would like to see this done.

Hawaii is poised to show real leadership around the world for it's oceans and the health of our planet, that is unless one man with a dark agenda beats everyone to the gate.

Complete story by Peter Thomas.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hawaii - Shark Fin Bill vs Riki Karamatsu

This is Riki Karamatsu.

He is a politician.

He has been charged and convicted with drunk driving resulting in a crash.

He is currently running for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii.

This man also hates sharks.

Enough to actively work against a new shark fin bill making the rounds through the hallowed halls of Hawaii's legislative offices.

Why is he doing this?

What can you do about it?

The answer to the first question is money. Riki Karamatsu is the patron of several well heeled shark fin businesses in Hawaii, businesses that sell thousands of tons of dried shark fin to Asia.

Currently the cost of shark fin is hovering at 1980's gold price levels. The shark fin industry is a multi-billion dollar global industry. It is also one of the most barbaric animal cruelty issues the conservation world is dealing with now. Akin to sedated wild bears and gall bladder secretions, a wild animal product that is as equally disturbing and one that has no place in Hawaii's business trading community.

So, what can you do about it?

Here is the list of contacts for Jon Riki Karamatsu. Your voice, in your own words, may help this man realize how many people care about sharks and how sometimes, being the patron of people whose business depends on shearing the fins off live animals for a soup a bad career choice.

You can also tweet, blog, and re post this far and wide.

Let's send a clear and unambiguous message to Jon Riki Karamatsu.

"Mr.Karamatsu if you want to see your political career continue, get on the side of millions of people who care about our oceans, and our wildlife. Stop your solo attempts to block or modify legislation that would put and end to shark fin sales in Hawaii."

Note: Do not send threatening or abusive emails, phone calls or letters. You are entitled to use words that describe disgust, distaste, you are entitled to detail how you will support his opponent in his race for the Lieutenant Governor seat in Hawaii. You are also entitled to mention the fact that this man, who would aspire to the higher levels of government, was once so intoxicated he drove his car off the road.

Is this the man who should be leading Hawaii into the new decade?

For the many thousands of sharks that are currently being finned just outside the territorial waters of Hawaii the answer to that question is clearly no.


Jon Riki Karamatsu - Blog

Jon Riki Karamatsu -

Jon Riki Karamatsu - Democratic Offices

Jon Riki Karamatsu - Facebook

Patric Douglas CEO