Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gulf Coast Whale Sharks - Worst Fears Realized

When the Gulf oil platform exploded and sank we began ongoing whale shark coverage in the region on the 25th of April.

That coverage culminated in a first person interview with Dr.Hoffmayer from the Gulf Coast Research Lab on May 24th.

Our blog coverage lead the major media in the ongoing and salient Gulf whale shark story.

Read Whale Sharks - Prime Time.

Sadly, some of the worst fears of this team have been realized this week as Whale sharks have been seen in the most toxic areas of the Gulf oil region struggling to survive.

"Our worst fears are realized. They are not avoiding the spill area," said Eric Hoffmayer, the University of Southern Mississippi scientist who found the large aggregation last week. "Those animals are going to succumb. Taking mouthfuls of oil is not good. It is not the toxicity that will kill them. It's that oil is going to be sticking to their gills and everything else."

As with 90% of shark research stories this one is frustrating for one basic fact. Despite many requests for tag funding that might have allowed Dr.Hoffmayer and his team to fully understand the movements of these animals he was unable to secure the number of tags needed to get the work done. Now his work will be one of "intuitive guesswork" for the next few seasons as he and his team try and understand the effects of oil on these magnificent migratory animals.



Complete Story.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Photographer captures amazing images of waves breaking underwater the "Tipple Clan"

The Tipple Clan, who are they?

We all know Luke Tipple, consummate waterman, marine biologist, show host and shark conservationist, but what about his brother?

Today's Telegraph U.K featured the other half of the creative family behind the Tipple brand. Kudos!

Telegraph U.K

Mark Tipple took the stunning shots of swimmers and surfers emerging underwater engulfed in clouds of whitewater while being frequently rocked by the waves himself.

The 29-year-old captures the split second moments off the Australian coast and regularly gets beaten in the head by his 5kg, specially adapted camera for his troubles.


Mr Tipple, from Sydney, Australia, came up with the idea of photographing waves underwater after becoming frustrated with "normal" surf photography, and wanted to capture the moments from a different perspective.


He said: "During a flat spell in Sydney I shot a few small waves with people swimming off to the side.


"The results were pretty graphic and led to people swimming becoming the focus of the series, which was against my initial intention but looked great.


Mark Tipple took the stunning shots of swimmers and surfers emerging underwater engulfed in clouds of whitewater while being frequently rocked by the waves himself.


The 29-year-old captures the split second moments off the Australian coast and regularly gets beaten in the head by his 5kg, specially adapted camera for his troubles.



"Most of the people I photograph are just enjoying themselves at the beach and I ask them if they'd mind being in a picture.

"I tell them what I'm doing and show them a few photos and mostly they're amazed.

"Most of the time I come off worse than the people I'm shooting, generally I'm looking sidewards to track where they are in relation to where the wave is, and tend to pay more attention to them than the wave; which can rock me pretty hard.



"I'm pretty comfortable underwater from years of surfing, and can ride out the waves breaking overhead.


"Most of the credit has to be paid to the camera though, I'd be lying if I didn't say that most of the time I hold the shutter down and point in the general direction of the people.



Complete Story.

The Bull Shark Tagging Programme - Fiji!

From Da Shark in Fiji. His operation remains a world leader in shark conservation initiatives.

Da Shark

This is Juerg's poster for his presentation at Sharks International.

The Program comprises much more than tagging only.

Over the years, it has naturally evolved into a multi-faceted project exploring all the different facets of what we do here in Fiji, from trying to answer strictly biological and conservation-oriented questions to optimizing our procedures in view of always improving safety but also, reducing our impact on the animals and the reef. This has already led to the publication of several papers, with more in the pipeline.

As always, it is work in progress and subject to change as we gain new insights.
This is such a time where we are re-defining our priorities and formulating new initiatives, some of which will surprise, and hopefully, excite you.

Keep watching this space!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

GPS tracks shark's 1100km journey

Having spent 15 days at Stewart Island this year in the company of these critters I can say this is amazing news indeed.


The deep-sea secrets of the great white shark are being revealed
through a tagging system which has tracked one predator more than 1100
kilometres in 11 days.

Grim, a 2.8-metre great white shark, is the first of its kind to be
successfully tagged with a hi-tech GPS system. A Department of
Conservation team placed the tag on him off Stewart Island in March.

Late last month he decided to abandon his island lifestyle, bolting
into the South Pacific.

Marine biologist Clinton Duffy, who has led the team on Stewart Island
for the past five years, said the data being received from Grim's
transponder was amazing.

Grim became the second shark to be fixed with a SPOT5 tag after the
first attempt in 2007 failed after 18 days.

The tag is drilled into the first dorsal fin and provides accurate
position data to 350m every time it breaks the surface.

Duffy said Grim left Stewart Island late on May 28 and by yesterday
had travelled 1147km, putting him 350km northeast of the Chatham
Islands.

Grim was travelling much farther east than other sharks studied.

While the reason for that remained unknown, the data being received
from the tag meant theories about the great white's migration habits
could be confirmed or thrown out, Duffy said.

"He's certainly gone a long way east compared to our other sharks and
what we don't know is if he's going to turn around out there."

The data would also allow the team to study where the shark stopped on
its trip, its speed and its feeding habits, he said.

During the research 46 individual sharks have been identified at
Stewart Island.

Many of these were tagged with $5000 pop-up archival tags that are
attached to the shark using a long pole.

The chip stores data on depth, temperature and light levels and is
useful for long-distance mapping, but cannot record precise locations.

Great White Shark caught off Mass. coast

(NECN) - A Great White Shark was captured on Stellwagen bank on Saturday morning.

The crew of the SWEET DREAM II, a sportfishing charter boat out of Gloucester, Mass. tagged and released the 7-foot Great White. The identity of the shark was confirmed by Dr. Greg Skomal, according to the vessel's captain, Capt. Bruce Sweet.

The video of the shark, provided by Capt. Sweet, is looped in the companion video player.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Is Sea Shepherd really saving whales?

With the announcement of a not-so-surprising impasse at this years IWC meeting Southern Fried Science takes a hard look at the "other effort" to curb whaling.

The data reveals activist conservation that is more about the media byte than saving whales.

Are we really being effective, or can whale conservation folks break free of the cycle of impasse and group think?

Southern Fried Science

Sea Shepherd claims that their actions in the Southern Ocean opposing Japanese whaling fleets has effectively reduced the number of whales killed. What always rubbed me the wrong way about these claims is that they always compare their success against the Institute for Cetacean Research (the Japanese organization that oversees ‘scientific whaling’) Quotas. So at some point you have to ask the question, in absolute numbers, has Sea Shepherd really reduced the number of whales killed?

To answer that we need three pieces of information:

  1. When did Sea Shepherd begin it’s campaign against Japanese ‘scientific whaling’?
  2. What are the ICR quotas for that time frame?
  3. What are the absolute catches for that time frame?

Sea Shepherd provides a comprehensive timeline for their whaling campaigns that indicates serious opposition in the Southern Ocean began in December 2002.



For the two other questions, we turn to Whale and Dolphin Conservation International, who have produced a truly exceptional interactive graph of the history of whaling since the inception of the International Whaling Convention by the numbers. The relevant figure is reproduced below:

From this graph, we can see that Sea Shepherd began its campaign when whale catches were at their lowest, and catches have increased since then. Despite their claims of preventing whaling, we can see that more whales were killed per year after 2004 than any year before 2004. In other words, more whales are dying on Sea Shepherd’s watch.



Complete Post.

Nations fail to agree on curbing Japan whale hunt

AGADIR, Morocco — Japanese officials and environmentalists traded blame Wednesday as nations failed to reach a deal to curb whale hunts by Japan, Norway and Iceland—countries that kill hundreds of whales every year.


The 88 nations of the International Whaling Commission held two days of intense closed-door talks on a proposal to ease the 25-year-old ban on commercial whaling in exchange for smaller kills by the three countries that claim exemptions to the moratorium on hunting for profit.



About 1,500 animals are killed each year by Japan, Norway and Iceland. Japan, which kills the majority of whales, insists its hunt is for scientific research — but more whale meat and whale products end up in Japanese restaurants than in laboratories.



A key sticking point appeared to be that the agency declared a whaling sanctuary in 1994 in the Southern Ocean south of Australia, but Japanese ships hunt freely there because the agency has no enforcement powers.



Australia has already launched a complaint against Japanese whaling at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the U.N.'s highest court.

Acting IWC chairman Anthony Liverpool said in an open meeting Wednesday that "fundamental positions remained very much apart."



Complete Story.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oil Spill Map Visualizer - Bigger Than Lake Erie?

Getting a handle on the sheer size of the disaster in the Gulf is hard for many folks watching coverage on the nightly news.

Fortunately now there's a visualizer that allows you to place the current spill on Google Maps, anywhere. Curious to see if we had exceeded the size of the great lakes I added Lake Erie...completely covered.

I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to fly over the disaster area at 37,000 two weeks ago, seeing for myself the full extent of the damage. Here's what I posted to Facebook:

Gulf oil spill at 37,000 feet. Flight to Miami took us right over the disaster area ground zero. Oil for as far as the eye could see on both sides of the plane. Long rust colored streamers of oil in sepentine bands. Impression - this is too big at this point for any impactful human response out here. Could not see vessels working any of the area we flew over. Probably the most heartwrentching eco disaster I have ever seen, kept thinking marine life. Nothing survives what we have been flying over for the past 30 minutes.

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

Shark revenge? If you scream like a Girl/Monkey it is.

Currently making the rounds. The fisherman get's points for trying to recover his gear from the sharks mouth. Loses same points for screaming like a girl/monkey when he is bitten.

Coffee Warning: Do not watch this video with any hot liquids in your hand.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shark Diver


South African White Shark Permits - Industry News

A row is brewing in the lucrative shark-cage diving industry after several established businesses in the Western Cape were unsuccessful in renewing their operating permits.

The Department of Environmental Affairs allocated 14 shark-cage diving permits on June 4. Eight are for Gansbaai, three for False Bay, two are for Quoin Point near Agulhas, and one is for Mossel Bay. A total of 26 applications were received, of which 14 were from new entrants.

All decisions are subject to the outcome of an appeals process, and the department said no permits would be issued until this process had been completed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, several operators said the allocations would mean job losses, financial ruin and instability in the industry.

"This is a high-risk tourism industry, which attracts mostly foreigners. We cannot have inexperienced people who do not have sufficient resources when there are lives at stake," one operator said.

The operators added that the government's priority seemed to be race and gender, rather than credibility and safety.

Departmental spokesman Zolile Nqayi said eight of the existing permit holders had been "provisionally" successful, while six new operators had been granted permits provisionally.

"Applicants were scored across a variety of categories, including transformation, their operational plan and readiness to start operations."

Certain existing operators had been excluded on the basis of not using their permits enough, not having submitted the required documentation, or inadequate information.

Complete Story.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Shark Diver in the Wall Street Journal

This week Shark Diver enjoyed some great coverage in the WSJ. Thanks Sue S for the article, hopefully we'll see you this fall at Isla Guadalupe!

Guys Just Want to Have Fun

Ask Marc Van Driessche about a recent vacation, and he will describe an adrenaline-charged shark-diving expedition off the Mexico coast with two menfriends. While he enjoyed his up-close encounter with Bruce, a great white shark the size of a bus, the family stayed home.Sue Shellenbarger discusses the rise of the "mancation," trips for men that go beyond traditional golf or fishing outings. What's in? Extreme sports, such as shark diving and machine-gun shooting.


As much as he loves his wife and two young sons, Dr. Van Driessche, a Mukilteo, Wash., chiropractor, says some vacations are better taken with other guys.



Pop culture has a term for it: the mancation. More men are getting away from family, work and household duties for trips with male friends who will watch your back, push you if you lose your nerve, and take care of themselves if they get seasick, Dr. Van Driessche says. They are departing from traditional male golf outings or fishing trips to engage in extreme sports, from off-road racing to machine-gun training. Also, more men are heading to destinations long regarded as more alluring to women—many with added "man caves" and other mancation-style amenities, such as poker tables and cigar bars.



The trend shouldn't be confused with the bachelor-party stereotype of drunken bar crawls or partying at casinos, says James Hills, founder of mantripping.com, a two-year-old Web site that helps men plan their trips. Nor are they "singles trips" aimed at finding partners, he says.


Instead, more men are using trips to deepen friendships, teach each other skills or push each other into adrenaline-charged activities that their families prefer to sit out. Others want to recapture the camaraderie of high school or college sports, or escape what they regard as an increasingly female-dominated world. A shift toward rising individualism in marriage is fueling the trend, by making separate getaways more acceptable to spouses.




Complete Story.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shark Conservation and the Ugly Politics of Ideas

This post is in response to series of emails I received today. It is about ideas, shark conservation, and the growing ugly internal politics of saving sharks.

A good friend once said about the shark conservation world, "we're all just glorious beggars."

He was talking about the fact that 90% of the shark conservation efforts out there, ones that have great ideas and boots on the ground, are most often stymied by a lack of funding.

How many of us have seen, "Save the Shark" booths selling a few plush toys to pay for the next round of information flyers, or even a simple media campaign?

Does anyone know of one NGO, shark group, or individual who is not is some sort of crisis over funding shortages?

In fact when I asked about funding sources from the smaller NGO's I got the same three answers.

Grants, public and self funding. That is the full extent of how these orgs get the funds they desperately need to effect conservation change.

So I started looking into shark conservation funding a few months ago starting with the question "what if we did things differently?" That investigation has set off a storm of ugly emails, accusations, and starkly nasty shark politics.

After 3 months of looking into, "doing things differently" here's what I discovered.

Online Shark Fin Trade

The global shark fin trade has a robust online component to it. For the most part this trade is done on about seven different trading platforms that may, or may not, be owned by just two individuals. These platforms come and go. Since shark fin is not illegal these platforms generally operate in the open.

Shutting one down causes another to pop up.

Shark fin trade platforms work with two business models. One is a percentage of the total trade value going back to the platform, the other is a flat fee per trade. Most trades are a minimum of 1000 kilos to as high as 50k kilos. These trades are done worldwide by country aggregators who trade to end users in Asia.

It is, as you know, a thriving business.

I then focused on the volume of money being generated by these trades. As it stands now this money goes into accounts of a few individuals who, one can only assume, do not use these funds to pay for enforcement efforts in the Galapagos, PSA videos, anti-shark fin campaigns, or any of a host of initiatives the shark conservation world struggles with.

The Idea

Could it be possible to open a trade platform with a lower percentage rate or flat fee and essentially "own" the trade online, beating the shark fin traders at their own game, with 100% of the proceeds feeding directly into the shark conservation movement?

These platforms would not create new markets for the online sale of dried and fresh shark fin just consolidate existing markets to benefit conservation.

Radical idea? You bet, but one that eventually I came to discover could not only be done, but might net as much as $20-50K a day in trade proceeds along with a plethora of real time trade data that is desperately needed.

Let's look at that number again $20,000-$50,000 a day in funding for shark conservation efforts.

What Happened Next

They say "ideas are dangerous things," they are right. I work with a number of shark conservation folks so when something happens in this world I generally hear about it. Last week I took my radical idea and went to a person in the shark world to get a feeling for it. I had come to the end of my line of inquiry and now I wanted to feel out the conservation side.

The conversation was private, and was understood to be so.

That person, much to my disgust, took my idea and sent it around the entire shark conservation world. Others added their own personal and ugly takes and now it seems there's rumors floating about that run the gamut from "Patric Douglas has secret shark fin accounts in the Caymans," to "Patric Douglas hates sharks."

As of today I have removed myself from three conservation groups I have been working with all because of an "idea" and those few within the shark conservation world who have decided to make this "idea" a burning issue. This was my decision to make.

The Challenge

I do not know how the shark conservation world will fund their efforts or acquire the real time shark fin data they need to make strong fact based conservation arguments. Perhaps facts are not even part of the equation.

I do know there are many bright, smart, savvy folks who could use $100,000 to make their efforts fly. I also know that as of today $20-50,000 of shark fin trade money went into the accounts of a few who do not care for sharks, the environment, or the oceans.

If the shark conservation world can come up with a better plan for funding I would love to hear about it and that is the challenge we all face trying to effect conservation change.

Money drives conservation.

As for the emails, rumors, and associated gossip about the idea?

Folks, we have a shark crisis on our hands. We can all run around trying the same old things, or we can start thinking differently. I think differently.

Now, if you'll excuse me I am either on my way to the private jet and the Caymans for the weekend or here in Florida trying to effect shark conservation change with no money and another conservation idea.

Depending on which email you wrote this week or were involved in, it could be either.

For those who know me, I am in Florida.

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Concerns keep many away from shark-kill tournament

Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge resonating through the entire sport fishing industry.

By Terry Tomalin

Twenty years ago, Florida had a dozen or more fishing tournaments that targeted sharks.


But as shark populations declined worldwide, so did the number of tournaments that resulted in shark deaths. On the eastern shore of Tampa Bay, the 5-year-old Blacktip Shark Shootout has enjoyed success but not without controversy.



"We are not a straight slaughter shark tournament," said Phil Pegley, who helped organize the Apollo Beach-based event scheduled for this weekend. "We try to limit the number of sharks killed and only weigh in the ones that count."



Unlike many species of sharks, blacktips are not considered overfished.



"As a species, blacktips are actually in pretty good shape," said Mote Marine Laboratory's Bob Hueter, one of the nation's leading shark experts. "But it is not the number of sharks these tournaments kill, it is the message that they send."



Many species of large coastal sharks, including the hammerhead and tiger, are in trouble, Hueter said. Years of overfishing and a poor public image thanks to the movie Jaws have put sharks on many anglers' hit lists.



"Kill tournaments are definitely not the way to go," he said.



Complete Story.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Goblin girl... on a Goblin boy update!

You might remember my new friend, Goblin boy?

Well, after soaking in alcohol at the Natural Museum here in Gothenburg for a few months, in a borrowed jar, he is now with me in my sharky office.

Strangely enough some of my colleagues both think I'm crazy and that he is ugly (!). I don't know what they are talking about.

Doesn't everyone have dead sharks in their offices?!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gulf Oil Slick Mystery - Where's The Oil?

It hard not to get frustrated at BP's handling of the Gulf oil disaster, when even basic questions like "where is the oil going?," cannot be answered.

But wait, there could be an answer if only someone would think out of the box - behold this nifty gizmo here.

It's a satellite tag used to track wildlife, like sharks, turtles, tuna. Every time the antenna breaks the surface waiting satellites download position data. It also floats 24/7 when not attached to a critter.

What if BP bought 10,000 of these and dropped them into the major parts of the slick?

Well then you would have a real-time understanding of where the oil was spreading and where it was going, instead of headlines like these that just make you want to break something in frustration.

If we can track a single Bluefin tuna clear across the Atlantic ocean, surely we can real-time a major oil disaster?

Hong Kong's Sharkfin and Marine Products Association

Hong Kong's Sharkfin and Marine Products Association says there are no whale shark fins on display in Hong Kong (Rhincodon typus).

But Brad Norman says otherwise using images from a recent expedition to capture the imagination and the bandwidth of the media.

Herald Sun

The fins of the gentle giants, the same species that delights snorkellers off Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef every autumn, are sold for $300 each and used as window displays in shark fin shops in Hong Kong's Sheung Wan market district.



The Sunday Herald Sun last week joined an expedition to the Chinese territory to expose the trade in the world's biggest fish, which is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union.



Full story here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

British Petroleum - Net Zero Oil Spill?

Wait one minute, hold the phone, stop the damn party!

British Petroleum announced this morning they may be capturing 90% of the oil coming from a runaway well head at 5000' feet.

Cause for celebration?

I say no.

Here's the analysis.

When it comes to hard and fast data for the Gulf oil disaster, getting a handle on actual barrel spill numbers is as slippery as the oil currently contaminating the Gulf.

This is mainly due to the fact that BP, NOAA, and the US Coast Guard all seem to be working from the same oil spill spread sheet prepared by BP's legal teams. For the sake of argument we'll use their published numbers.

Here's what we do know.

1. The estimated daily oil spill prior to BP's opening of the well head was 12-19 thousand barrels a day with an original estimate being 5000 barrels a day.

2. After the well head was opened this week so BP could cap it an estimated 60-100,000 barrels a day was gushing into the ocean.

3. BP's Top Hat procedure, deemed a success this morning "might be" capturing 90% of that full stream of oil.

Playing with the rough numbers here, actually just scratching with a pencil on the back of an AT and T bill, I am coming up with 6-10,000 barrels a day that are still coming out of the well head, a net gain of zero, or close to zero, with a titanic oil plume being generated in the process.

Happy Thoughts

I am comforted by the understanding that the 2010 Hurricane season (see link) is upon us. I am also comforted that BP fully acknowledged that once a hurricane hits the region their ships and oil recovery teams will exit the scene, leaving the full stream of oil to do it's worst until they can come back and reconnect.

If they reconnect.

Let us not celebrate the technical genius that is BP this day. Instead let us all consider the slippery numbers, facts, and outright bull-shit that has been BP's dog and pony show since this entire sad fiasco started over 45 days ago.

With eyes on the Gulf region this month it is not surprising that Sky Truth who were the first non governmental group to declare the oil spill at many times higher than official estimates have found what looks like another, smaller oil spill, at platform 23051.

Live video feeds here.

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

Expedition Great White National Geographic Premier

A hundred sixty miles off the coast of Baja California, a team of
world-class anglers, led by Costa pro Chris Fischer, will land one of the
most challenging fish imaginable: the great white shark. Unlike any other
catch ever attempted, they'll lift an SUV-sized shark onto a platform,
mount a long-lasting tracking tag by hand, take measurements and DNA
samples, and release it unharmed... all within minutes. Marine biologist
Dr. Michael Domeier uses advanced tracking devices to help uncover how
this predator lives, with the ultimate goal of conserving and protecting
this endangered species.


Expedition Great White premieres on the National Geographic Channel on
Sunday, June 6, with new episodes showing each week through July. Check
your local listings, and visit National Geographic Channel online for more
behind-the-scenes of this epic adventure.

Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge - Impacts

Effective conservation change is often a battle of ideas. Changes to set-in-stone ways of doing business takes leadership.

One of the intended consequences of leadership is the transfer of new conservation ideas far and wide.

The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge is over in Florida but the media effects now resonating on the East coast, home to the shark kill tournament model, is just beginning.

Here's to new beginnings.

(June 3, 2010) By Russell Drumm - Shark tournaments are an anachronism, critics say, at least the kind of kill contests inspired by the movie “Jaws” and by the exploits of Capt. Frank Mundus, Montauk’s own Monster Man, a fact he acknowledged with regret in retirement and worked hard to change.



Now, two self-proclaimed “shark huggers” from the East End have set out to inspire contest organizers here to abandon their old ways and adopt a “greener” catch-and-release approach to shark tournaments that seems to have gained a foothold in Florida.



Citing the differences between Southern and Northern fishing tournaments, local fishermen said this week that they had no problem with the catch-and-release concept, but questioned whether it was practical or economically feasible.




April Gornik and Rav Friedel, longtime environmental advocates from North Haven and Montauk, respectively, have joined with the Humane Society of the United States to introduce a model pioneered by Sean and Brooks Paxton, entertainers and conservationists known who call themselves “the shark brothers.”



The Paxtons are pushing a concept that involves a very fast chase boat, or boats, responding to the radio alert of “Shark on!” during a tournament. The boats speed to the location of a hook-up to videotape the action, including the successful tagging and release of the shark.



Sean Paxton was quoted as saying that the chase-boat-video approach was an effort to keep fishermen and spectators engaged by “taking the spectacle of dead sharks out of the sport and replacing it with a live video.”


On Tuesday, Ms. Gornik said the Paxtons helped host the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge held off the west coast of Florida in April and May. She said they were working to replace the “strung-up shark money shot” with action videos.



The brothers have been working on a film about the late Frank Mundus, and following the success of the Florida tourney, they planned to visit Captain Mundus’s home port to share their ideas with the Star Island Yacht Club, the host of Montauk’s largest shark tournaments.


On Monday, Ms. Gornik echoed John Grandy, senior vice president of the Humane Society, who said in a telephone interview last week that the society’s more confrontational approach — banner-towing airplanes flying the society’s message over Montauk Harbor — was not getting the message across.



The Humane Society and Wendy Benchley, the widow of Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws,” endorsed the Guy Harvey green tournament. Dr. Harvey is a trustee of the International Game Fish Association and founder of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, a conservation group that promotes catch-and-release fishing.



Ms. Gornik said it was too late to change tournament plans for this year, but that she and Mr. Friedel had donated thousands of Mustad brand circle hooks to the Montauk Marine Basin for its 40th annual shark tournament scheduled for June 25 and June 26.



The snell, or shank, of a circle hook is curved as the name implies, and therefore less likely to snag in the gut or throat of fish. Circle hooks are more likely to be set in the jaw, causing less damage to the animal to be released back into the wild.



“Our main aim is to reduce mortality, not to keep people from having fun or making money,” Ms. Gornik said. She added that the traditional shark tournament scene was a jarring contrast to efforts to reverse the dramatic decline in shark populations around the world. Hawaii recently became the first state to outlaw the sale of shark fins, most of which are sold in Asia for shark-fin soup.



“Can America please not stand for that? We’re over the ‘Jaws’ thing,” Ms. Gornik said.



“Without taking on fishing per se, this approach supports the notion that sharks are in trouble,” the Humane Society’s Mr. Grandy added.


Carl Darenberg Jr. said the tournaments held from the Montauk Marine Basin had been billed as “tag-and-release” for years. “It’s always based on that. There are more releases than catches, and the weights are high,” he said, meaning that the minimum size for the various species has been kept relatively high to prevent the taking of juvenile fish.



“I think down the road we will go to more of the release type of tournament. The trouble is finding room for observers.”



He was referring to the fact that Southern tournaments run entirely on a catch-and-release basis use trained observers to ride on every boat to certify that landings are done by the book. All observers are trained and certified by the International Game Fish Association. Mr. Darenberg said finding rooms for 100 or more observers in Montauk during the summer would be a challenge.



“I think circle hooks are a good idea. We should all be using them,” he said.


“It’s an economic thing,” said Jack Passie, former president of the Montauk Boatmen and Captains Association. “The Star Island tournament attracts a huge crowd in the middle of June when not many people are around. The bar and store business is phenomenal.”



“The people are attracted to the sharks that come in. In my own opinion, the few sharks that are brought in don’t make a big difference in the overall picture.”


“The thing that bothers me is the yahoo from the city who thinks he’s going to come out and win $500,000, catches the biggest fish he’s ever caught, brings it in, and it’s a 125-pound blue shark” that should not have been killed, Captain Passie said.


“It’s a different mentality around here,” said Michael Potts, captain of the Blue Fin IV charter boat in Montauk. Captain Potts has been taking anglers offshore to compete in shark tournaments for years. He agreed that observer participation in the catch-and-release scenario would be difficult for “six-pack” boats licensed to carry a maximum of six anglers.


“What if I have a six-person charter? Where would the observer go?”


“It’s a mindset more than anything,” Captain Potts said. “I’m not saying it won’t work, but things take time to catch on.” He said green tournaments would reduce the interest in a lot of charter boat customers because they would not have anything to take home.


“You catch a top-of-the-line mako, and you can’t take it home,” Captain Potts said. Such tournaments, he said, “are not going to be charter boat-driven. The economy is tough, and to get a lot of people to put up money with zero chance to take home fish to eat narrows the field.”



On the other hand, the veteran charter captain said he had participated in catch-and-release tournaments. “The people enjoyed it, participants enjoyed it, and we did, too. It was enjoyable not to have to attempt to kill anything, no gaffs, harpoons, guns, just pliers. I would do it,” Captain Potts said.



The Star Island Yacht Club hosts the largest shark tournaments in Montauk. The first is scheduled for June 18 and June 19. Rich Janis, the tournament organizer, said yesterday that changing the tournament format, although perhaps inevitable — “obviously it’s headed in that direction” — was a complex issue.



He said the demographic of the participants was different than at the Southern tournaments, meaning that contests lasting more than two days are precluded here.



“They come from all walks of life,” he said of those participating in the Montauk tournaments. “There’s the retired guy with a lot of money, but also the 8-to-5 blue-collar guy who either can’t get an extra day off work or who arranges his vacation around it.”



Mr. Janis said the video boat idea would be a challenge in the Star Island contest with 200 boats fishing over hundreds of square miles of ocean. But mostly, he said, the hoisting of dead sharks, although the tournaments’ draw, gave a false impression.



“Two hundred boats fish two days. That’s 400 boats fishing to bring in maybe 20 or 25 sharks. The makos and threshers are consumed,” he said, and the blue sharks, not high on the menu in most households, are nonetheless donated — cut, packaged, and frozen — to Long Island food pantries. “These groups lose sight of that,” he said.



Mr. Janis said Star Island had accepted Mr. Friedel’s donation of 5,000 circle hooks and that they would be made available to tournament participants.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Maldives government to initiate fund for shark fishermen

Once again showing global leadership towards the ongoing shark fin crisis, the Maldives has initiated funding for shark fishermen in tandem with NGO's and shark tourism efforts.

We covered the need for new conservation ideas for the global shark fin trade last week.

Press Release

The government has decided to inaugurate a fund on June 8 to encourage families depended on shark fishing find alternative livelihoods.

In a press release, Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture said experts had advised the government that the population of sharks might decrease in Maldivian waters as shark species have slow growth, late maturity, and low fecundity. Research has also shown that shark fishing has negative impacts on tourism and fishery, the two main economic activities in the Maldives, the press statement added.

Fisheries Ministry stressed that the cabinet, on March 25, decided to impose a total ban on trade and export of sharks and shark products within the Maldives industrial zone.

“This ministry is continuously working to facilitate alternative livelihoods to those who were depended on shark fishing. In this regard, it has been decided to inaugurate a fund on this year’s World Oceans Day in collaboration with the parties involved in tourism sector and NGOs, to assist shark fishermen,” the statement read.

www.haveeru.com.mv

NOAA's "Non de Plume"

British Petroleum's CEO Tony Hayward, when not stuffing size 12 Gucci loafers into his mouth at every press opportunity, says there are no sub surface oil plumes.

His latest statement contradicts teams from the University of South Florida, the University of Georgia, Southern Mississippi University who say there are.

In the middle of this "debate" is NOAA, a government agency tasked with all things ocean.

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, called media reports of large underwater oil plumes "premature," adding that research conducted by an academic ocean institute was inconclusive.

Are you kidding me?

Sub surface oil plumes are part of BP's ongoing strategy, we covered this many weeks ago. Anyone except NOAA it seems, can understand why BP would prefer oil to remain suspended at depth. It is also the reason why BP is ignoring EPA directives to stop using COREXIT, their dispersant of choice in the region.

With a disaster of this magnitude you have to wonder why NOAA is ignoring respected Gulf researchers, working the media cycle in tandem with BP, and basically making a laughing stock of the agency?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An "American Shark Fin" in San Franciso

Reality is a funny thing. For example, today I was in a meeting on Clement Ave in San Francisco talking about my favorite subject sharks, and the shark fin trade.

The proposed solutions being bandied about ran the gamut, much of it the same old campaigning rhetoric that's been at the forefront of the anti-shark fin movement for a few years now.

We also discussed the achievements in Hawaii recently, a rare and invigoration success in regional anti-shark fin legislation.

After strolling out of the meeting and walking into a shark fin store just across the street, I was struck by the global trade itself, and how we are not addressing shark fin trade from the trade side.

The reality of the moment.

If you understand that statement then you understand the need for a radical change in our approach to global shark fin trade.

If you think we as shark conservationist are addressing the global trade side of shark fins, then continue to drink the cool-aid my friend.

Reality Number One

Non-Asians, no matter how talented, important, or media savvy can't dictate what Asians may or may not consume.

Reality Number
Two

You cannot frighten your conservation opponent into stopping lawful or illegal trade.

Reality Number Three

The global shark fin trade is like a water balloon, if you squeeze one side it balloons out.

Reality Number Four

Money drives conservation. Without long term conservation funding the effort is not sustainable.

Reality Number Five

Conservation groups spend far too much time searching for money to be effective.

Reality Number Six

Direct action serves only to harden your opposition and drive trade underground.

The global shark fin trade encompasses every coastal nation on the planet, including the USA. It is estimated to be a 500-1 billion dollar industry. It is vertically integrated with well established trade routes. It has politicians, hundreds of thousands of poor people, and even enforcement officials working for it.

Can it be stopped?

That's the million dollar question and all questions begin with a quick reality check.

I am very keen to see the conservation side tap into the unlimited budgets they need to effect conservation change. I am also very keen to support out of the box ideas tackling the global shark fin trade. How about we look at the trade under the global lens and develop strategies that work?

Money, enforcement, and strategy will effect conservation change.

Reality Number Seven

Without each side in play, the whole will fail, and that's the final reality of today's reality check.

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

The first Shark-Free Marina in Turks and Caicos


The latest Shark Free Marina in 2010 is Turtle Cover Marina. A 200 slip marina catering to mainly transient vessels. Very active sport fishing destination featuring the following:

  • Complimentary boat guide service to enter Sellar's Cut
  • 7.5 foot draft max. at low tide
  • Protected harbor
  • Reverse osmosis water and ice
  • 220-110V
  • Diesel and gas - quantity fuel discount
  • Cable TV
  • Wi-Fi Internet Access
  • Limo Service available
  • Hotel, restaurant and bars at dock
  • Scooter, bicycle and car rentals
  • Doctors and clinic
  • Recompression chamber
  • Diving on site
  • Casino and golf nearby
  • Showers available
  • Short walk to the beach and great snorkeling
Website: www.tcmarina.com
Address: P.O. Box 594, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Marina contact: Carole Klinko
Contact email address: tcmarina@tciway.tc
Phone number: 649 941 3

Who Are The BP ROV's? - Meet Little Geek

The unsung hero's on Day 44 of British Petroleum's Oilmageddon in the Gulf are the ROV's and drivers who are on the front lines of this unfolding disaster.

Everyone is watching them and yet no one knows who they are.

This is Little Geek.

Along with Be BOP, R2, The Saw and Claw - Man they have become the unwitting ambassadors and familiar face of America's oil disaster in the Gulf.

Owned and operated by oil services giant Oceaneering these bots and drivers have been working 24/7 since the disaster started, executing a series of technical maneuvers that have set the gold standard for deep water ROV technology.

We started a Facebook Fan Club this week with regular updates.

Little Geek tech specs are online here. We wish the bot drivers and maintenance crews who have been working this incredible effort all the best in the coming days. A pound of Pete's coffee is being sent to your headquarters this week with our regards.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BP Oilmegeddon Images - Aquaman Wins!

The search for The Ultimate BP Oilmegeddon Image is over and we have declared a winner.

The Aquaman BP comic book cover now making the rounds is the hands down classic. With small details like the June date in the right hand corner and the 12 cent cover hearkening back to the 1960's and a time when oil and household chemicals were our friends.

To whoever the mystery creator is behind this first rate BP image slam we say a hearty thank you.

Cannot wait until there's a T-shirt available we'll will buy a few dozen for friends and family.

The irony here being that the logo will have to be created out of an oil based product, damn you irony!

World Ocean Day Celebration San Francisco

Sea Stewards is proud to join hundreds of other educational institutions, conservation organizations, and thousands of individuals in dozens of countries around the world to celebrate our shared ocean. World Oceans Day – officially held on June 8th of each year – is an opportunity to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea.

The Ocean Project, an international network of over 1,000 aquariums, zoos, museums, and conservation organizations including SEA Stewards, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary association and the Surfrider Foundation, is working closely with the World Ocean Network to coordinate activities worldwide under the theme “Oceans of Life – Protecting Sharks, Reducing Plastics” with a special focus on getting the public to connect with sharks to conserve the world’s oceans.


To celebrate a healthy San Francisco Bay and Ocean Sea Stewards will host a beach clean up and shark sandcastle building, and a shark party with films, music and fun to follow.

WHEN: June 5th, 2010, Beach Clean up 3 PM, Shark Party 5 PM

WHERE: Beach Event at Crissy Field across from the Sports Basement and Party at the Sports Basement at the Presidio

Great Live Music with My Peoples formerly Kapakahi, drink with Sierra Nevada and Barefoot Wines, pupus, Ocean Films on Plastics and Sharks, Special Sharky Guest. All items 10% off and a percentage goes to the shark program.

WHY:We can help make others more aware of the importance of the world’s ocean in their daily lives by showing them ways to improve their impact on the ocean by, for example, reducing plastics use, and limiting CO2 emissions. In joining with thousands of people all over the world in celebrating World Oceans Day, we can make a real difference for our oceans of life!
--
David McGuire, Director
SeaStewards.org
Support our Shark Conservation Campaign
"Media for a Healthy Ocean"
415.350.3790

ROV's and Enypniastes eximia

Oceaneering has joined the SERPENT (scientific and environmental ROV partnership using existing industrial technology) project to collect images of unknown deep sea creatures and rarely seen organisms, evaluate the offshore drilling environment, and gather sediment samples.

The SERPENT project is a collaboration of scientific partners, institutions, and a network of oil and gas operators and contractors who specialize in utilizing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

The SERPENT Project’s Dr. Daniel Jones confirmed the sea creature to be a deepwater swimming sea cucumber (holothurian) called Enypniastes eximia. When Oceaneering ROV pilots saw the creature they named it “The Headless Chicken Fish,” although it does not have a commonly accepted name.

Secret shark grotto off Western Australia coast near Exmouth

These kind of shark discoveries make sharks folks excited especially when divers come back with brilliant images.


A 31-year-old marine biologist discovered a secret deep-water grotto, seething with 19 grey nurse shark pups, heavily pregnant females and fully-grown males off the coast of Exmouth.



The grey nurse shark mating cave, or aggregation site, is one of the first of its kind to be documented in WA waters.



Ms O'Callaghan got up close and personal with these docile creatures during a 40-minute recreational dive last month. She surfaced with some amazing photos.



Complete Story.

Cage Diving Trip Report - Guadalupe Island

Editors Note: As a solo female diver from Finland we were excited to meet Sanna Juntunen in person last year.

Fun, adventurous, and always ready for the next shark rotation, nothing could stop this exceptional adventure seeker from discovering her "moment of white shark bliss."


From Finland to Isla Guadalupe – September 8-12-2009


"If we can dream it, we can do it”. This is a phrase I saw in Disneyworld, Florida almost 20 years ago and the same phrase came into my mind again last year when I was looking information about great white shark diving at Isla Guadalupe. "Should I finally make it happen? Well..why not!”

I was aware of the "shark finning situation” and the need of ongoing research and wanted to find an operator that really takes these things seriously and gives effort to saving these beautiful animals and also knows how to work on site on sharks condition. From these basis, Shark Diver came out the most convincing option. A decision I never had to regret.

After almost 7000 miles of travelling I was finally on board MV Horizon on my way to Isla Guadalupe. Seeing ”the shark fin rock” the next morning and hearing Shark Diver CEO Patric Douglas saying ”Welcome to the island!” was the moment I had been waiting for the last ten months.

Less than one hour later I was in a cage with my camera admiring the underwater sights and waiting for the first sharks to appear. Finally, during the second rotation, I saw a dark shadow coming towards the cage and after a couple of seconds it was no longer a shadow..it was the most gorgeous creature I could ever imagine. The shark swam slowly past the cage and I could see it curiously looking at us. Suddenly it was gone but only for a short moment. During the day more sharks appeared and they continued to circle around the vessel and the cages the whole time we had rotations.

All three days of diving were incredible and offered an amazing opportunity to take photos and video and see how the sharks behave in their natural environment. When there are only a couple of inches between you and a 14-foot shark that looks straight into your eyes it makes you feel humble and privileged to be able make this visit to the world of the great whites. There are no words to describe that feeling!

If I can remember correctly we saw a total of 13 different sharks. Also a very big plus was the second night when marine biologist Mauricio Hoyos-who does a great work with the sharks-gave us a very informative lecture about his research at Isla Guadalupe. Now I also know how ”Mau” got his name;-)!

On the last day the crew gave us an opportunity to take a boat ride to have a closer look of the island and it's other inhabitants: sea lions and elephant seals among other things. A very nice extra! At this point I want to say a BIG thank you for the whole crew: Spencer and Wayne, Aaron and Cary, Mark and Mike (great food!) and divemaster Martin. You guys were always there to offer your help and made this trip even more successful!

And Patric from Shark Diver, thank you very much for being so helpful from the moment I contacted you. With your help it was a lot easier to make all the required arrangements and it was also great to meet you in person!

After all, the trip was everything I expected and even more! Hopefully in the future I will have an opportunity to get more shark diving experiences. "If we can dream it..."

From Finland,

Sanna Juntunen
Helsinki, Finland