Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bahamas Shark Attack-The Debate

Heated passions regarding the unfortunate events of last week have boiled over into the Shark Diver Blog on the Internet.

At hand a blog posting, which was intended not as a serious investigative look at the Bahamas Incident but more of a commentary on unfolding events.

We separate our blog from our website for this very reason. In keeping with the existing blog format we had little idea this blog event in less than 72 hours would become as nasty and as polarized as it has. A few of the comments made to our website from Wet Pixels web site were well beyond anything that would be considered normal or rational discourse. This continues to be the case.

I would have expected this response to the Cyber Diver Network.

It is abundantly clear to anyone reading our blog that we had not kept up with current media as to "when and where" this event took place. In the 48 hours following this shark attack no one knew any solid details. For a blog that until Monday got 50 visitors a day-up to date reporting was not in keeping with how we did things.

I spoke at length with Eric Cheng on the phone this evening. He explained a side of Jimmy I had known through our industry. Of a man who graciously introduced a new underwater photographer to the world sharks for the first time. This is in essence what I have always come to know about Jimmy Abernathy. Gracious, loyal and yes, a shark diving maverick.

This does not take away from the fact that a man is now dead, and serious questions remain unanswered. Namely was this an "accident" or the sad conclusion to an ongoing cageless shark diving operation that many have questioned for several years now. The discussion about this needs to happen, minus the vitriol.

In the coming weeks there will be much bigger issues with serious and long lasting agendas to contend with. Shark Diver stands ready to meet those issues and to work with those within the industry that will see positive things come of the shark diving world. These animals are being slaughtered at an unprecedented rate, dive sites are being pillaged even as I write this blog.

A reality check is in order. We can send unimaginable emails to each other filled with hate and vitriol for the next six weeks, point fingers, settle old and new scores, posture, pose and scream, or perhaps channel that same passion into long lasting and positive efforts. The choice is the industries to make.

In the end Shark Diver is beholdent to one group and one group only. Our divers. We choose to offer them the highest safety standards we can give them.That means shark cages with big predators.

Patric Douglas CEO

Death in the Bahamas-Shark Related?

The shark attack story coming from the Bahamas continues to evolve and as expected the industry has broken into two distinct camps. One look at either the Wet Pixel site or Scuba Board will give you a clear look at how high emotions are surrounding this unfortunate death.

As the hard facts coming from this event have all but ceased, speculation on what caused this divers death have ranged from outright shark attack, to embolism brought about from an uncontrolled ascent.

Even the dive sites location story line has changed from Tiger Beach to a new local somewhat prophetically called "The end of the world".

There are some hard facts that we do know:

1. The Bahamas Dive Association did send a Cease and Desist letter in 2006-7 to all operations in the Bahamas referring to non caged encounters with macro predators. They went as far as specifically identifying the species that might put divers at risk. It was clear and concise. There are some who might argue the legal weight of this C and D, but the fact remains we, as an industry who advertise, book and take divers to this pristine dive site were put on notice.

2. Jimmy Abernathy had no cages on site at the time of this shark attack.

Here's the official letter from the BDA in 2006-7:

Dangerous Shark Species Interaction Warning Letter

To: All Dive Operations Conducting Questionable Dangerous Species Shark Interactions in the Waters of The Islands of The Bahamas

From: Bahamas Diving Association, Official Recognized Diving Association for 36 members of The Islands of The Bahamas

To Whom It May Concern;

We have become aware that some dive operators have chosen to disregard standard safe-diving practices as it relates to interactions with Tiger Sharks and other potentially dangerous species of Sharks, in various locations within the waters of The Islands of The Bahamas.

The Bahamas Diving Association endorses and suggests all dive operators in the legal waters of The Islands of The Bahamas follow GMAC guidelines for conducting potentially dangerous marine-life and human interactions.

In such, we recommend all operations immediately cease and desist conducting open-water non-cage Shark Diving experiences with known species of potentially dangerous Sharks, such as Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Lemon Sharks & Mako Sharks.

Species that we have determined safe to interact with outside of a cage are Caribbean Reef Sharks, Black Tip Sharks, Black-Nose Sharks, Nurse Sharks and Silky Sharks.

Many operators in the Bahamas conduct shark diving interactions with ‘safe’ species, and have done so for over 25 years without a major incident. However, due to the potential negative behavioral reactions of Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Lemon Sharks & Mako Sharks, purposeful feeding or interaction with these species without a proper shark cage is highly discouraged.

The Bahamas Dive Association (BDA) would be glad to help communicate industry-standard safe shark interaction practices, should you need any assistance with your procedures.

This letter will be copied to the Bahamas Government, plus all diving insurance and training agencies serving The Islands of The Bahamas.


Mr. Neal Watson
Bahamas Diving Association

Monday, February 25, 2008

Attack on Tiger Beach - Diver Dead

Editors Note 9.27.2008: Many emails have come in regarding this post and a few others that incorrectly suggest facts and site locations for the unfortunate shark attack on Mr.Groh this spring.

In defense of these posts we offer the following. This blog is a real time blog. As events happen, and stories unfold we post information as it happens. You will note the early posts regarding this event were dated almost to the hour of the day of the event.

These posts came from Coast Guard reports, first hand reports from vessels in the area listening in to radio traffic and no amount of general confusion from all media sources.

What is not in contention is the fact this attack (as we covered later) did not happen at Tiger Beach and did not involve a Tiger shark. What is also not in contention is the fact that Jimmy Abernathy himself did nothing to clarify the details of the attack, during the event, or after the event.

At no time did he or any representative of his operation come forth to the media or to other operations in the region to explain the attack, how it happened, where it happened, and what animal was involved. This lead to wild speculation by the media, and a general polarization of the shark diving industry in the region.

We maintain that industry leadership would dictate that Jimmy Abernathy would at some time and in some manner explain this event and to take responsibility away from the shark which quite naturally became the villain in this entirely sad affair. Today and after some 1500 media stories and blog posts later all we have are some grainy images and whispers of a story mainly from supporters of Jimmy Abernathy.

Our blog posts will remain as look at the unfolding of a commercial shark diving shark attack, how the media responded to it, how members of our shark diving community responded to it and the unfortunate aftermath.

Additionally a small group of Wetpixel friends have decided to make an issue of this blog and anyone who would speak out about this diver death. Sadly they have failed to realize how this tragic event has impacted the global shark diving industry and instead are clearly focused on reputation saving and smearing campaign.

Original Post:

A diver with Jimmy Abernathy's Dive Adventures in South Florida was bitten on Sunday by an alleged Bull Shark and then flown via Coast Guard helicopter to Florida.

Last year the Bahamas Dive Association sent a cease and desist to all shark diving operations on this site warning them to have shark cages on this dive site. It is unknown if Jimmy Abernathy had shark cages at this site at the time.

Diver Dead After Shark Attack

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) ― A diver bitten by a shark on Sunday has died from his injuries.

The Coast Guard said they dispatched a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Miami after receiving a mayday call from a crewmember aboard the Sheerwater, a commercial diving boat out of Riviera Beach, around 10 a.m.

The chopper located the dive boat about 50 miles east of Ft. Lauderdale and hoisted a 50-year old man onboard. It then airlifted him to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The boat's crew said the man was diving early in the morning when he was bitten by a shark. They were unable to tell what type of shark was involved; they said it swam off before they could make an identification.

Jimmy's last blog post from his website describing a Tiger Expedition last week reads:

"We also witnessed and photographed Don Kehoe loosing his Aquatica housing with two strobes and a Canon 5D to “Angel” (Tiger Grabbing his camera from his hands). Although we looked for the camera for two hours we had no luck. We have now renamed the special section of Tiger Beach “Kehoe’s Canon Reef”. The camera is insured by DAN which is a very reputable equipment insurance company and hopefully they will take care of this for him. He was very upset to say the least, but also very happy that the shark didn’t get his hand. If you haven’t already insured your camera before the trip, please do so now. You never know what may happen."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

White Shark Cafe TOPP's

In the news again-the team from TOPP's with more revealing data about the Great Whites of the Pacific. While the focus of this study is mostly on three populations off the California coast, our very own Isla Guadalupe population is on the same migration track.

Thanks in most part to the tracking efforts of Marine CSI we know that Guadalupe populations also join coastal populations off shore each season.

" The sharks spend months at the cafe, an area of about 600 square miles, but nobody knows what they're doing there. Even stranger, they dive up and down more than 1,300 feet every 10 minutes. They repeat the cycle over and over for days, a behavior they don't exhibit anywhere else."

This new data is perhaps some of the most exciting tracking data to come from these populations in a decade of research.

Tiger Beach Bahamas - Emergency Evac

There's word this morning from the Coast Guard navel station in Miami that a "survivor" has been airlifted from a commercial shark diving operation at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas.

While the details are thin right now the Coast Guard have confirmed that this was indeed a shark attack. They have also characterized the situation as "very serious".

We'll keep you updated.

Shark Cages: Worldwide Distribution

There's an old saying in the shark world "You only get one chance".

With that in mind Shark Diver has just shipped another complete set of shark cages...destined this time for the Caribbean.

Here's three reasons why we build and ship more shark cages than anyone else in the industry:

1. Quality. When it comes to commercial grade shark cages and divers well being we take care of business. "Safety" is not just a commercial tag line on our websites. In fact-our fabrication teams must also dive in the very cages they build for us. It's unique way to ensure quality control

2. Flotation. Floating cages need to be stable. That's why we engineered a flotation system that has been adopted by 99% of the entire Isla Guadalupe white shark fleet. Gone are the days of Home Depot PVC pipes that degrade in a marine environment. If you're going to trust your life to PVC you are working with the wrong crew. Our flotation systems come from a marine environment and are designed to last.

3. Shark Crews. All Shark Diver cages also come with seasoned shark crews to help you get the most out of your shark cage systems. We have traveled from Alaska to Mexico, the Caribbean and beyond with our private shark cages. Our cages are even currently in use in Tahiti.

Safety, Integrity, and Adventure. That's Shark Diver cage systems.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Isla Guadalupe Shark Science

Mauricio Hoyos, CICIMAR's white shark researcher at Isla Guadalupe, has one of the world's toughest jobs.

As the very first Mexican lead white shark tagging project at the island, his work will be the foundation of other projects to come. Already new, much broader, projects have been suggested with a strong chance of one starting in the fall of 2008.

This will be Maurico's final season at the island before he publishes his paper on the local movement patterns of gws.

From his groundbreaking work we discovered that gws feed almost exclusively on the endemic Guadalupe Fur Seal during the early morning and sunset hours.

It's not easy camping on this ancient volcanic island month after month, but with determination and a whole lot of help from some friends, he has become a local legend out there:

Megaladon-Huge Shark

Once a along time ago, about 16 millions years, our blue planet was infested with 52 foot long-40 ton white sharks. These massive predators, called Megladon, were themselves feeding on critters three to four times that size which had plated armor on the sides.

Man, don't you wish you had a titanium cage and a time machine right about now?

Anyway, we know these beasties existed because, like so called modern white sharks, they shed their teeth faster than you can pump nickels into a Vegas slot machine.

Those teeth fell to the bottom of the ocean where divers are still finding them today. One of our divers who joined at at Isla Guadalupe in 2003 showed us an 8 inch Meg tooth that was still sharp enough to cut steak, we know because we tried. Here's a video of a Meg tooth hunt sucess:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shark Diving "Blue Wilderness"

One of our blog fans sent us this link and video from a company in South Africa called Blue Wilderness . We told you about these guys last week. Here's the quote from their travel blog:

"Blue Wilderness does something a little different. They let you actually scuba dive with the sharks. That means no cage. No protection. No sh*t. Tiger sharks are what they’re looking for here. They’re big. 8-10 meters and they have stripes like, you guessed it, a tiger. More abundant are Black Tips which are much smaller, and have black tips on their fins. There’s also Whale Sharks, which are as big as a…you get the picture."

O.K so not the most eloquent description of a shark diving company, but heartfelt. The crew here at Shark Diver were impressed with the Washing Machine Drum Chum Machine, now that's cool...and so is this video:

Aliens at the Gate?

The Earth is mostly covered by oceans, we're a blue planet.

For a shark diving company with a cool blog this pretty much gives us an unlimited supply of items to cover, like, for example this latest weird news coming out of NOAA.

NOAA has a series of deepwater microphones listening for any underwater sounds they can hear. These listening stations have recently heard "strange noises" in our oceans.

But don't take our word for it, click this link and have a listen yourself. We're not even going to try a speculate what this sound might be...O.K, maybe aliens?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Invasive Species-American Style

While we're on the subject of Crazy Invasive Fish Species (CIFS) and what to do about them, we would be amiss if we didn't introduce you to the Asian Carp.

Now you might be asking yourself as we did, what's up with all these Asian Invasion Fish?

We have no idea.

Anyway, this carp, (from Asia) is also known as the Flying Carp and basically it has completely taken over half of America. Really.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Unlike our friends in the U.K who are all but crying over the Giant Snakehead invasion, and don't get us wrong, that's pretty scary. On this side of the pond, good old American know how, fueled no doubt by Coors Light, has come up with a novel way to deal with the problem, and yes, it has something to do with weapons.

Let us introduce you to the American answer to Invasive Species:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Giant Snakehead Invasion!

Pulled off the Internet and on to your desktop this morning...and we're not making this up.

What you are looking at is a nasty little invasive species of predatory fish from Asia called the Giant Snakehead.

The problem with this critter is what it eats, pretty much everything in sight. Naturally the good fisherfolks in the U.K do not want this fish in their waters and were dismayed when someone caught about a two feet long specimen last week.

Here's where it gets interesting:

"Giant Snakeheads caused chaos to indigenous fish and the environment when they were found living in rivers and lakes in the U.S. in 2002. Snipers with high-powered rifles even set up watch to shoot the fish as they crawled ashore and entire lakes were poisoned to get rid of them."

God bless America, take heed U.K people, we have plenty of high powered red necks with guns willing to come to your country, drink beer, and shoot fish off your banks...just give us the word!

SharkDiver.Com and the Media

When you have a shark diving company like ours you get hit with media requests almost daily.

Recently we just completed a three part article for a German Magazine due out in April. The trick with working with the media is credibility. Never do anything that makes you, the sharks, or your operation look like an idiot. This is just Media 101.

That's a trick here is most media sources come to you with a basic Discovery Channel understanding of how sharks work. It's our job to introduce them to an expanded view of things.

In all media is fun to work with and we have been blessed to work with some of the greats over the years producing what amounts to a massive amount of positive press for both us and the sites we operate in.

After all, we're on the front lines of not only shark research, as is the case of our Isla Guadalupe site, but if we say so ourselves, we run a pretty cool little operation as well.

Tiger Shark Killer Charged in South Africa

In a quick reaction to unprecedented pressure from groups world wide South African authorities raided the home and then charged a man today for the killings of 8 Tiger sharks.

Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast was the site of the recent shark slaughter, witnessed by shark eco tour operations and surfers.

"Conservationists are furious not only because is it illegal to catch tiger sharks in the protected area, but Aliwal Shoal is one of the top dive sites in the world."

As we commented in our blog on this subject a week ago, Marine Protected Areas are the key stone to protecting sharks. As unofficial site guardians, shark diving companies are often the first to report misdeeds at the hands of those who would harm sharks for either sport or profit.

The staff of Shark Diver remain committed to ongoing reporting of these important stories. With sharks being slaughtered by the millions each year and populations falling worldwide it might well be these few protected areas that save entire species in the years to come...if we can protect the sharks in them.

5 Questions with Ethan Gordon

We tracked down famed underwater shooter and Editor at Large Ethan Gordon (hat tip image) to get his take on underwater photography and the future of his industry:

1. UW photography has changed from film to digital and with it an entire industry, your take?

Digital photography has definitely "upped" the game. Now amateurs can accomplish what only the pros could do before. However, this also works to the advantage of the pros - we can now do things we never thought possible before. I think it has also been great for diving in general - there are now lots of divers who are enthralled by their point and shoot digital camera results - this keeps them diving. Remember the days when people used to travel with a bag full of film, only to return home to find out they had their camera set wrong all week?

2. As harder dive sites and rarer animals are recorded at a seemingly record pace, are we running out of new things to shoot?

It's getting harder to find new things to shoot, but we'll probably never run out of those. On the other hand, this might be a good time to take a new look at sites and creatures we've taken for granted.

3. Innovation vs status quo, what's your take on the new generation of UW shooters?

I think there is a new, very talented generation of UW shooters out there. They're tech savvy, creative and hungry to shoot.

4. Latest promising tech for shooters, do you have a favorite?

The new generation of digital TTL systems will revolutionize UW photography once again. Gone will be the days of having to think about your aperture and distance to subject. The electronics are almost there... maybe they've already arrived.

5.Crystal ball time-what's the future of UW photography and magazines that serve these images?

A sad reality hit me recently when I was presenting a slide show to a local Audubon chapter. I was showing slides of sharks and talking about the woes of shark finning. I was shocked when I realized that almost no one in the room had ever heard of this atrocity. The group was largely made up of non-divers, but I falsely assumed that this was a known problem.

The underwater photography out there in magazines today is the best ever. But, if we want to see it continue... the underwater environment continue to be spectacular, then everyone that subscribes to a dive magazine has to convince their friends (non-divers) to start to take an interest too - before it's too late. And, every diver that doesn't support the mission of these magazines by subscribing, well, shame on them.

TOPP's White Sharks

You gotta hand it to the TOPP's people (Tagging of Pacific Predators). They recently announced new findings from over 100 high tech sat tags placed on white sharks all over the Pacific in 2006. This last year was one of the most ambitious tagging projects on record:

"Every winter the sharks leave California's coast for one of two destinations. A minority of sharks head to the Hawaiian Island chain. The majority, however, congregate in a part of the open ocean halfway from California and Hawaii, 1,300 miles from land. Researchers have yet to uncover what attracts the shark to this particular spot. During these journey the sharks will occasionally dive up to a quarter-mile beneath the surface and stay at this depth, where light barely penetrates, for hours. On returning to California, the sharks display remarkable site-fidelity, always heading to the same area of coast they left before. “These animals appear again and again at very specific areas,” Salvador Jorgensen says, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station and the Monterey Bay Aquarium".

Isla Guadalupe
island located in Mexico plays into this ongoing migration drama every year with animals returning every season after visiting the same sites as their California cousins. Making the Pacific a very small body of water after all.

Shark Eco Tourism Debate

There's a long running debate on several shark related chat sites about the rise of You Tube shark abuse videos. These feature eco tour operations worldwide. This is our take on this ongoing and insightful debate. It's one our industry must address:

What I find fascinating in this conversation is You Tube and other video sites becoming the "agent of change" in peoples attitude towards the cage diving industry. Gone are the days wherein operators websites could effectively lie about their operational prowess, and or their claims to be "eco minded". One look at any video featuring a magnificent white shark tangled in a cage and you see how weak those statements become.

Now, for the first time, people can actually see what goes on with some operations and make travel choices and or take direct action based on these viral videos. Referring to ongoing cage breaches as "accidents" by some operators not only highlights continuing abuse, but also shows a high disregard for the very animals they make a living from. It's classic "do not look behind the green curtain" stuff. Shift blame to the wild animal.

Hopefully agencies that effect rules and regulations will now have the evidence they need to make change. In Mexico this very issue with one operation in particular is causing much debate at Isla Guadalupe. I welcome this debate as an operator and to wherever this debate leads us. Clearly something is wrong at this site, and there is no simple answer to it...except lasting change based on a strong desire to never see another cage breach, ever again, at this pristine site.

Cage breaches, playing heavy metal music underwater, and other operational abuses have no place in a Bio-Sphere or any Marine Protected Area. Period.

Shark diving as an eco tour activity, if it is to survive, will have to weed out those who do not treat the resource they use in a manner that terrestrial wild animal operations are bound by. The old saying "out of sight-out of mind" and the abuses some have maintained under that old saying will be ended with the continuing rise of You Tube shark abuse videos.

For those that treat animals badly under the guise of eco-tourism, you are now on notice. You can take a page out evolution for this one, "adapt or perish".

Patric Douglas CEO

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tiger Sharks-Aliwal Shoal Thomas Peschak

Thomas Peschak, photographer and shark eco friend sent us an update on the Tiger killings at Aliwal Shoal today. Turns out the dead animal count is rising every day, we're now at 8 dead animals.

"Less than 2 weeks after returning from a trip to photograph my favorite tiger sharks at the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area off South Africa's east coast for a Africa Geographic magazine feature, my friend Mark Addison of Blue Wilderness Dive Expeditions called me with some devastating news.

A few days ago a young fishermen who should know better caught and killed three tiger sharks within the MPA and landed them openly in broad daylight. Tiger sharks are a protected species within the Aliwal MPA as they are the main attraction for thousands of tourists who come from across the world to dive the shoal and see these sharks. One dead tiger shark might fetch a once off payment of no more than $50-100 dollars for the fisherman, but alive that same shark might be worth in excess of $10 000 every year in marine eco-tourism.

Further investigations revealed the sobering news that a further five tiger sharks were killed the week before. Shark diving tourism at Aliwal shoal is one way to sustainably utilize our ocean resources in a non-consumptive manner and in the process create much needed employment for hundreds of people in the tourism and hospitality industry along this section of South Africa's coast. As this recent incident has demonstrated marine law enforcement at the Aliwal Shoal MPA is practically non-existant at present and poachers are able to operate with impunity from arrest or prosecution. If the sharks of Aliwal shoal are to remain a model of non-consumptive utilization of South Africa's marine wildlife heritage then the government, NGO's and tourism operators must combine forces and act quickly to stamp out these reckless, selfish and destructive acts that could destroy one of the world's true last shark paradises in just a matter of months."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tiger Shark Killing in South Africa-Why it Matters

As the CEO of Shark Diver I was angry at the news of three adult Tiger deaths in a Marine Protected Area.

These killings at the hands of poor and uneducated fishermen are just one act in a play that's been happening in every ocean and off every shore of our planet right now (hat tip Derek Heasley image).

Sharks are the target and they are being harvested at a rate that may well see 90% of them erased forever from the oceans by 2040.

Shark diving eco-tour companies like ours are on the front line of this unfolding disaster. Already off the coast of California, Blue shark cage diving encounters are a thing of the past. Where once the waters teemed with fully grown and healthy animals, today a few small, underage animals might be encountered, and more often than not take hours to arrive if they do. This took less than 10 years to happen.

It is our belief that-safe- face to face encounters with these magnificent animals, and the animals hosted at aquariums, do more good for protection of sharks than almost any other program.

We have watched peoples perception change almost overnight once they have seen a Great White or Tiger in person. From careless man eater-to magnificent predator worthy of our protection. This is why the loss of these three animals from a Marine Protected Park is so important.

Parks that provide refuge for animals worldwide are fast becoming mini ARKS in a sea of human development and habitat destruction. They are necessary, and for the most part are underfunded and understaffed. While the good intentions of governments are there in the creation of these parks-the financial will is lacking to provide for the enforcement of rules and regulations.

I am not saying shark diving companies are the complete solution. Even within our industry some operations see sharks more as a Biological ATM Machine and less as an eco resource. The addition of shark science to eco tourism is a much stronger counter to the ongoing slaughter in places like Coco's and Socorro's and even Darwin and Wolf, Galapagos.

All of these areas proclaim protected status, but the will, and the enforcement once rules have been flagrantly broken remains the key to the future of sharks. What can you do?

Support local initiatives that support parks staff. NGO's are a good first start. In almost any park system you'll find a non profit NGO working to support the way the parks operate. Call it in. If you see sharks being harvested and or sold without permits, or molested or harmed, take action.

The future of sharks is up to us. It's not too late.

Patric Douglas CEO
Shark Diver

Saturday, February 16, 2008

India's Cage Diving Industry DOA

India, the planets fastest growing population and economy has reached a crises point with rampant, unregulated shark finning off it's shores.

As reported by the Daily Star "At least 50 shark processing centres have sprung up along the South Western Coast, employing over 2000 fishermen".

Once again sharks are being harvested for the ballooning fin market and the home cure market which more often than not is driven by hear-say and bogus science. Anyone remember the anti-cancer shark pill craze of the 80's-90's?

We are officially declaring India's cage diving industry DOA. If the global shark slaughter is not halted soon, by 2040 even finding sharks in any ocean will be a rare event. The only way to stop this slaughter is to show local populations another use for these magnificent animals and eco-tourism, so far, seems to be a leading contender.

Friday, February 15, 2008

US to Drop Hydrazine Bomb On Ocean

The Pentagon announced today that it will be trying to shoot down a "highly toxic" dying U.S. spy satellite somewhere into the ocean on March 5th, 2008.

They are worried that this bird will impact an area where humans live-due to the onboard cargo of Hydrazine.

"Hydrazine is highly toxic and dangerously unstable, especially in the anhydrous form. Symptoms of acute exposure to high levels of hydrazine in humans may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, coma, and it can also damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. The liquid is corrosive and may produce dermatitis from skin contact in humans and animals. Effects to the lungs, liver, spleen, and thyroid have been reported in animals chronically exposed to hydrazine via inhalation. Increased incidences of lung, nasal cavity, and liver tumors have been observed in rodents exposed to hydrazine."

And that's just what WIKI says about this stuff. Obviously the folks in the Pentagon will not mention all the other super secret and potentially damaging chemicals on board for fear of mass panic on the land side of things. In fact they are even declining to mention what kind of bird this really is...which leaves us wondering along with about 7000 blogs nationwide, is this a Nuke Bird?

Obama vs Hillary

This has nothing to to with shark diving, so please excuse the break in format. It does have almost naked women in it. If you happen to be a Bikini Loving Politico read on.

With the GOP side pretty much wrapped up (Mc Cain) we look towards the Dems and the heated contest between Obama and Hillary.

Here's why you should vote for Obama:

1. The Obama Crush Girls

Pretty much anywhere you go in L.A, New York, San Francisco, Florida and yes even Texas, you'll spot an "OCG".

Simply put, Hillary does not enjoy this kind of hot support. She's completely lacking the kind of bounce that Obama seems to attract. She cannot get the heft, the lift, the milkshakes, the...

O.K, enough of the grade school shots. Seriously speaking, this guys the real deal and it looks like he's going all the way. Look out America, in November it's going to be a show down between the 74 year old Mc Cain and the 44 year old Obama...should be an interesting November.

Now onto the video that launched 600,000,000 views on You Tube and swung our vote:

Shark Tech Cool

Or not. Turns out this is the week for the roll out of all manner of new underwater gadgets and gizmondo's designed to prove to the entire world two things:

1. That you Mr.Consumer have way too much money
2. That you Mr. Consumer will spend it an anything

Take for example the latest offering from Rinspeed sQuba.

Available at your local dive stores in and around 2015. This underwater electric car will take you anywhere in style. Estimated sticker price...$400,000.

Want to go white shark diving? Tiger diving? Whale sharks anyone?

O.K, so the concept is cool. But like we like to say with commercial shark diving operations...just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

Think we'll pass on this in favor of a ratty old BCD and dive computer that beeps too much, add a 50 square foot shark cage to that with a huge shark on the other side...now you got something!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jamaican Shark Diving Adventures

Question: How can you tell the difference between an eco minded shark diving company and one that's perhaps...a bit lacking?

Answer: In today's website world anyone can make claims like "100% safety record", the fact is the consumer needs to digg a lot more than they do to discover the truth. Not all companies out there will admit serious and ongoing operational problems...even if it's the right thing to do.

In the case of these unrepentant yabbo's anyone with half a brain can see this is probably not the best of vacation ideas. Not only do you get a dorky looking pirate hat in Jamaica to go wrestle sharks, but chances are you'll be drunk in the process:

"See Pirates of the shark's cove and the rambunctious and hilarious Shark Show!" D'arrrr!

We'll say it again for anyone who cares to listen. "Sharks are magnificent animals, isn't it enough to just get to see them in their natural habitat?

The Muffin Man is Coming...and He's Pissed

This has nothing to do with the Muffin Man-sorry Richard. This has everything to do with another strange "Fish Rain" story reported in the small town of Guruvayur in India (where else).

We know some of you reading this will scream, Underwater Onion! and go back to your spread sheets, but wait, there's more:

"Late home-goers painter Babu and his friends felt something falling on their body along with raindrops while they were standing near the bus stop at Kandanassery. On a closer inspection, they found many two to two-and-a-half inch long fish writhing in the ground and road in the area."

Now if we were the painter "Babu", we'd be thinking "End of the world baby, George Bush was right!"

Shark Attack 500,000!

Four months ago the crew and divers of Shark Diver were treated to a rare and spectacular feeding event at our Isla Guadalupe white shark site. In this video-shot in part by CICIMAR shark researcher Mauricio Hoyos-a 15 foot Great White is ripping apart a 700lb elephant seal.

We wrapped the video up and stuck it on You Tube with Luke Tipple our dive operations manager as the front man. Much to our surprise this video just hit 500,000 views this morning. This kind of shark attack is a rare event at this site:

Shark Attacks at 20 Year Low

George Burgess, the world's top shark attack guy has described his latest shark attack data sets as ""spectacular".

He's been gushing to the media the fact that there had only been one fatality in 2007 resulting from a shark attack worldwide.

""The danger of a shark attack stays in the forefront of our psyches because of it being drilled into our brain for the last 30 years by the popular media, movies, books and television, but in reality the chances of dying from one are infinitesimal," Mr Burgess added."

The crew here at Shark Diver could not agree more with George.

Scuba Scooters

This is pretty much the dumbest idea to come down the pike since the invention of the UW Pager For Business Travelers.

Once again some science/business guy has come up with a way to get non divers down to an incredible 60 feet without knowing the first thing about scuba.

"This year the company will build 100 Scuba Scooter units from fibreglass moulds for a chain of international resorts in Malaysia and by next Christmas it's hoped a million of the units will be out for sale".

Shark Diver will soon be marketing the all new "HUD-view mask" guaranteed to warn you when a Scuba Scooter, driven by a Narc'd Malaysian, is weaving its way towards you.

Cue the Jaws music boys...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

5 Questions with a Shark Diver

We caught up with Shark Diver Derek Heasley owner of the online underwater image site Sea Pixels. When he's not shooting some of the closest shark shots on the planet he's usually to be found in Ireland. He just stepped off a 14 day adventure in Socorros with the Nautilus Explorer.

1. What draws you to sharks?

They are shaped beautifully. Just look at the curves on them. They are streamlined for perfect hunting. I get a huge thrill taking images of this shape in motion. From a tiger sharks snout to a basking sharks mouth. There is a lot to see.
2. How hard is it to shoot sharks vs say, blennys?

Blennys are beautiful also.They generally stay in their own area and pop their little heads out to see whats going on. Always a close background in the image. Sharks are always on the prowl and open water is where their at. Blennys tend to be easier by their nature. Stay still and a 105mm macro lens, your sure to get a good image. With sharks its a different ball-game. I mostly stay still when the sharks are around and use either 10-22mm or 18-55mm lens. If your shooting
upwards, watch out for your air bubbles in the frame.

3. Favourite shark story?

Coordinating a photo shoot with a great white and a diver. We noticed the great white sharks were coming up to try catch the bait on the surface. We were cage diving at Guadalupe with Shark Diver. But myself and Colin Ball from England arranged that when I give him the thumbs up sign, that he was to face me and put his two thumbs up while I captured the great white which was right behind him...We couldn't have planned it any more precise. I couldn't have laughed anymore while taking the images:)

4. Your take on shark finning and what to do about it?

Its like somebody coming up to you and cutting your arms and legs off.Then walking away.I think there must be a huge demand for these fins. You and I know that if you eat shark fins its no more going to cure you and make you healthy than it is if you drink pints of Guinness...If there was a pro active government agency in country's where shark finning takes place. A simple education system that categorically list benefits of NOT finning. So education is key.

5. Where's your next dive adventure?

Well, I live in Ireland, so there is plenty of good diving here. Abroad, I think the Coco Islands for the Hammerheads.

Editors Note: We could not agree with you more!

Lava Lamps For Scuba Divers

You had to know this was coming. For all you desk bound scuba fans who would rather be out in the deep blue playing with all manner of big toothy sea critters, here is the ultimate Lava Lamp.

At $169 it gets you where you want to be...at least for 15 minutes. While the promotional video below will put you to sleep, we still think this is pretty cool, and hey, it's a hit in Japan!

O.K, cube dweller, back to $$work$$!

Tiger Beach Bahamas 2007

"After the tenth Tiger Shark showed up I was saying to myself, whatever is going to happen…is going to happen!" explained Luke Tipple, dive operations manager of Shark Diver with a wry smile. This year Shark Diver continued to set the standard for shark eco-tourism as the only company in the Caribbean giving adventure seeking diver’s access to multiple Tiger Sharks-with submerged shark cages.

"It can be a bit unnerving sometimes," explained Patric Douglas, CEO of Shark Diver. "Tigers are perhaps the most curious of the large predatory sharks, they love coming in close to say hello." Until very recently adventure seekers wanting to meet the world's “other” top ocean predator could only do so in rare instances. Since the discovery of Tiger Beach, located in the Bahamas all that has changed. Divers worldwide are discovering the ease of travel to and from this pristine shark site along with the sheer numbers of animals once they arrive.

Shark Diver wrapped its 2007 shark diving season at Tiger Beach with an unprecedented 11 Tigers at the same time at the same place. “This is perhaps the greatest massing of wild predatory sharks on the planet right now unless you’re lucky enough to encounter a migration like Hammerheads,” says Tipple.

This seasons dive groups included several from Germany and the U.K, plus individual divers from as far away as Canada.

Shark Divers' seven-day Tiger expeditions include side encounters with wild dolphins and alternate dive sites for regular non-shark related diving. 2008 will see the roll out of a new upgraded shark operations vessel and departures from Freeport, Bahamas aboard the RV Tiburon with new dates coming in October 2008!

Since 2002 Douglas and his company Shark Diver have also offered Great White Shark cage diving and other wild shark encounters worldwide.

To book a wild shark cage diving adventure with the crew of Shark Diver, call 415.235.9410

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Minneapolis Shark Invasion!

If you happen to live in Minneapolis, first of all, our condolences to you. Second thing we wanted to say was, "Stay out of Minnehaha Creek, it's teeeming with Bull Sharks!"

No kidding, and you can file this one under WTF!?. According to this article we found on the Internet (and you have to believe everything you read on the Internet) there's something really sharky about this spring fed creek.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a report by Gulf marine scientists had warned that the enormous amount of pollution back-flushed into the Gulf of Mexico would cause many species of marine animals to either relocate or perish."

So a team of divers goes down and discovers this female Bull Shark under the ice, and still alive.

This, hands down, wins the "bizzare shark story of the week"...of course this could also be a very amusing Underwater Onion-
Minnehaha Creek?

Georgia Aquarium-Calling Bullshit!

Let us be the first of what will probably be many people, eco-groups, and divers to call "Bull-Shit" when we see it.

Recently, the Georgia Aquarium announced to one and all-real live scuba diving experiences and snorkeling experiences with their much coveted Whale Sharks...part two.

You see, the first set of Whale Sharks they had in captivity died mysteriously and they just Fed Ex'ed in another set a few months ago.

Look, this is not the way to run an aquarium, and the good folks in Georgia should know this. Whale Sharks are a unique and amazing shark species. While we are all for wild encounters with these critters, aquarium dives are just plain wrong.

Fact: If you cannot even keep the Whale Sharks you have alive for more than a year, then you absolutely shouldn't be charging "Scuba Yabbo's" to go dive with them.

We had a feeling that something like this was going to happen, after all this corporate aquarium is sponsored by the Home Depot, and what do they know about sharks?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Karl Stanley Goes Big Time

Karl Stanley, owner of the private deepwater submarine in Honduras sent us a link to a new reality movie he's just completed. We have a feeling it's going to be a very popular movie. Before you watch this let us explain Karl to you.

He can be summed up in three words:

1. Genius
2. Real
3. Adventurer

In the end this is what life is all about. One man, one submarine, and a whole undersea world that no one has ever seen before. Think of him as the Columbus of his time...with a crazy sense of humor:

Forbes Traveler Deep Submarines

Forbes Magazine featured Shark Diver this week and our deep dive submarine in Honduras.

"In 2005 CEO and adventurer Patric Douglas discovered this remarkable operation and spent 6 hours on a sea cliff wall at 1700' staring into the deep green eyes of a 18 foot Six Gill. "It was a pinnacle moment for me, surrounded by an eerily quiet moonscape and deep water creatures that I had never seen before outside of a marine lab.I thought at that moment that it does not get much better than this".

There's a whole new world to discover down there-here's what Forbes has to say about it (click on the slide show). Once you have seen all there is to see from 20-150 feet on scuba, take a ride on the wild side to 2000'. Thanks to Ethan Gordon for the stunning sub images.

Jaws Star Dead at 75

Who didn't like Roy Scheider, the geeky tough guy town sheriff from Jaws?

In a movie that had more eco-blow back for sharks than any single movie on the planet, his was a legacy that no one could have imagined.

From the LA Times:
He probably will be best remembered for his role as Martin Brody, the water-shy police chief in "Jaws" (1975) who uttered the immortal line: "You're gonna need a bigger boat," after seeing the size of the shark. He once lamented that the role "will be on my tombstone.

To his tribute, and as a reminder of how far we have come in the understanding of Great Whites here is that fateful scene from 1975 that sent us and 25 million others out of their pools, lakes, ponds and oceans for an entire summer:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Florida Commercial Shark Killers Cry "Regulations!"

Suffering from one of it's worst budget shortfalls in years, Florida has come up with a novel way to recoup falling tax revenues from crumbling home sales.

"State regulators offered a voice of support this week to West Florida's boutique shark (fishing) industry, which has all but shut down after federal scientists declared several key species dangerously overfished."

"St. Petersburg attorney G. Michael Mastry, who represents the shark (fishing) industry, estimated that about 75 fishermen and a dozen seafood processors would split up about $6-million to $8-million if the request is granted."

So once again sharks are going to the front lines of the continuing eco-slaughter. This time for the sake of 25% of the projected revenues going back into state coffers. As an eco tour company that champions all sharks we would just like to point out one thing:

Florida is the same state that banned sustainable shark diving eco tours off it's shores. To be replaced,not 4 years later, with state sponsored shark killing...all for 25%.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

South Africa Shark Controversy Continues

South Africa has some serious PR issues to contend with. Over the past few years a growing chorus of anti-shark diving voices have hammered the industry with the same old story, "you're causing the sharks to attack humans".

This is one of the oldest arguments against the shark diving industry to date. It's what won the day in Florida a few years ago, and it continues to haunt our industry to this day.

The problem with this argument is that it has no data to support it.

On the other side of this debate there is definitive data from Australia and a landmark, 4 year study, that proves white sharks do not habituate to chum slicks.

As an eco minded shark diving company ourselves, who see our resource here on the West Coast of the USA and Mexico as a resource, we cannot help but wonder why the reporter on this piece missed the biggest story of all:

"When a great white shark rams the cage, inches away from a diver's face, the adrenaline immediately blots out the cold of the southern seas. But while the visitors are safe, others believe the practice is inherently risky."

Enticing great white sharks to ram cages is inherently foolish, and highlights operations that are more interested in "money and thrills" than the welfare of the sharks and the resource.

If South Africa is to shed this continuing negative media-they need to first corral those that treat their sharks like Biological ATM Machines. If this same article featured dolphins ramming cages for sport the entire cage diving industry would have fallen like Rome a long time ago.
Patric Douglas CEO

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jesus The Shark

The Bible, that dusty old tome from times past has a lot to say about Virgin Births.

The Koran, an equally dusty old tome from times past has a lot to say about Virgin Births as well.

We're curious, what would the Bible and the Koran say about the latest virgin shark birth?

"Imprisoned in a tank hundreds of miles from a mate, Ibolya the female shark resorted to desperate measures. To the astonishment of her keepers, she spontaneously produced a perfectly healthy pup.The virgin birth is making biologists think again about one of the oldest and - in evolutionary terms - most successful creatures."

Here's the whole story and this one's not an Underwater Onion-trust us!

Japan: Whale Slaughter 2008

With the eco-wolves of both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd out of the Southern Ocean, Japan has begun its "Scientific" whale slaughter in earnest this week.

"Exhausted and disoriented after a ruthless pursuit from high speed chaser ships, the whales caught on film this week were then shot with pointed harpoons, packed with explosives, to cause maximum damage".

Without any anti-whaling groups in the area to keep Japans fleet on the run-images like these featuring a mother Minke and her calf will continue to surface.

As an eco minded shark diving company we would like to point out that these whales are being harvested as premium food source. It's just plain wrong anyway you slice it.

Great White Shark-South Africa

We can file this latest video under WTF!?

According to Ze German News, a 500 kilo (small) great white shark jumped into a tourist boat in South Africa (where else) and the whole thing was caught on tape. Three things come to mind when you watch this video:

1. German newscasters are hot
2. These tourists all look like they are ready to come home
3. Where's the crew?

If this had been our crew they would have grabbed the shark, tossed it back in, and then jumped in with the shark...hey, it's a living:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Great White Shark Accident

It's not all fun and games when you're a Shark Diver.

Case in point this slightly disgusting video from 2004.

Let us "set the scene". It's late November and we have three big white sharks swinging at the hang baits at the back deck- complete with two jam packed dive cages full of otherwise excited divers....that's when all hell broke loose.

Suddenly, this large 15 foot male lets loose an incredible stream of shark excrement out his tail end. Up until that exact point in time no one in the history of shark diving had ever filmed a white shark doing something like this.

Anyway, the story ending is the best part. Diver Jason Sullivan who shot the whole thing stays in the cage as the current moves this yellow "ort-cloud" of poo all over the guy. He comes up to the surface with with worlds biggest grin and says this "Dude, a white shark just crapped all over me, and I got it on film...cool", he then proceeds to get back in the cage and does not come out for the rest of the day:

Dive Nin-Ja!

O.K, you're probably wondering why in Neptunes Great Sea we would ever feature a T-shirt company here at Underwater Thrills: Diving With Sharks.

They're cool, we said it first. If you're not sporting a Dive Ninja T after your next shark encounter you ain't no kind of diver. And do not let the the £20 price tag sway you from owning a piece of dive history.

When you do buy one, and you will, tell 'em, Shark Diver sent you.

Nautilus Explorer Revillagigedos:Simply Perfect

It's February, 2008. For divers who absolutely need to see sharks this time of year the big question is where to go in February?

Fortunately for you, Shark Diver, there's a small island chain in Mexico (where else) called the Revillagigedos-(just try saying this name correctly, we dare you) that is stuffed with more Shark, Ray, and Manta encounters than you can shake a regulator at. The crew of the long range expedition dive vessel Nautilus Explorer can take you there.

This is what diving should be:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mid East Undersea Cable Mystery-Solved!

Dubai (CMN)- As conspiracy theories build over the sudden and "mysterious"disconnect of 5 intercontinental data cables connecting large areas of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. A small team of specialized "cable divers" went down to investigate the reason for the sudden destruction.

What they discovered this week has shocked the world and answered the nagging question "Where did 5 Billion Dollars earmarked for Iraq's reconstruction go?".

Dive team leader John Magor from Dubai Salvage and Tow came right to the point, "We discovered an entire underwater city, complete with working tram lines (click image) that had inadvertently cut these cables when they ran over them". "This city is brand new, with hundreds buildings...even a Starbucks!".

The US State Department put out the following press release this afternoon, " Yes, dammit, we did build an entire city for 800,000 underwater. Everything we built above water in Iraq was being blown up, so we thought this was a good use of the Taxpayers money".

The following Underwater Onion was brought to you by Shark Diver. Seriously, this whole undersea cable thing is a bit spooky.

Killer Whales+Kayaks=Astounding Video

You gotta hand it to the kayak guy in this next video. Not sure if we would have the right "metal state" to wave to the crowd after getting smashed and rolled by 4 tons of frisky whale. Then again this could just be a Korean commercial with great CGI: