Monday, June 30, 2008

Giant squid found off Santa Cruz dissected by researchers

You KNOW we never pass up a good giant squid story, so when this one hit our desk it landed with a local splat.

Researchers have discovered the remains of, and are 99 percent certain that they have a giant squid, only four or five of which have ever been found in California waters, according to John Field, a fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Santa Cruz.

Found off the California coast only about 40% of the critter was still intact. By all accounts what has been left for study will make a lot of calamari.

Cape Cod Shark Attack-White Suspected

CHATHAM — Fourteen passengers on a seal watch boat saw a shark attack and kill a seal yesterday during a cruise to Monomoy Island.

The island, which is a national wildlife refuge, is home to hundreds of seals and also a favored feeding ground of several species of sharks.

Capt. Bob Littlefield is sure the shark he saw rip a seal in half yesterday afternoon was a great white.

"It was a quite a bloody mess," said Littlefield, who has been a captain on Cape Cod for 32 years.

Littlefield was steering a 42-foot, high-speed catamaran owned by Monomoy Island Excursions of Harwich Port on the ocean side of Monomoy, where hundreds of seals were sunning and swimming, when suddenly there was a commotion in the water.

Littlefield, who said he had always wanted to see a shark eat a seal, turned the boat toward the area, which quickly became red with blood. As the boat got closer, the shark went under, taking half of the gray seal with it. The tour captain estimated the seal to be 300 to 400 pounds, and the shark to be between 14 and 16 feet.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shark Introduction "Fat Tony" Isla Guadalupe

For those of you who will be joining us this year at Isla Guadalupe we thought we would introduce you to some of the "locals" that you'll be meeting this season.

This fellow is called "Fat Tony". For reasons that are obvious, he's also one of the more active animals on site, never missing the opportunity to swing by within inches of our shark cages to stare down the divers inside.

We have been diving with this critter since 2003 and given his very long migration to and from the island each year-we're more than happy to see him when he swings by for a look.

Hawaii diver says he escaped white shark

It would seem as more and more divers, kayakers, and thrill seekers find themselves in the waters off Yokohama Bay...more and more are encountering Great White Sharks.

This mornings news greeted us as another diver/speero claimed to have encountered a 14 foot critter who was moving up his chum line.

Since the beginning of May we have had 4 emails from divers claiming to have seen them but no images (this image is "Shredder" from our Isla Guadalupe site).

Rare events? We think not.

The latest long range tagging data from both Topps and elsewhere suggests a robust white shark migration to these islands each year.

Case in point.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Great White Shark Diving 1.5 Months To Go!

The crew from Shark Diver just about 1.5 months away from our first of many expeditions to Isla Guadalupe, Mexico this season. This is also the time of year we start getting excited phone calls from our divers seeking advice on everything from "bikini's vs one piece?" to "can I bring along a good 30 year old Scotch?"

We say yes to the bikini's and yes to the scotch, as long as it's a single malt. For those of you about to join us and for those of you who want to know what we're talking about, sit back and enjoy:

Tagged white shark moves inland?

A west coast white shark pup tagged and released earlier this year has been tracked into the Sea of Cortez.

As recent data sets would suggest the tag is now moving inland at a high rate of speed. Researchers say this is just preliminary data and that the shark is probably still in the water and doing fine.

Or...the tag is currently on the antenna of a fisherman's truck driving back to the coast. (click image for larger view)

Full news report here. As always we'll keep you updated. On an amusing side note this animal went from being a US citizen to a Mexican national in less than three weeks.

Wyland wants whale art lifted from license plate

Famed oceans artist Robert Wyland will announce at a news conference tomorrow that he is withdrawing his iconic image from one of California's most popular specialty license plates.

The plates, sold in California, have raised an estimated 40 Million dollars for California's Coastal Commission.

Now Wayland wants 20% of those funds to go into his own foundation changing his original agreement with the state. The Cal Commission has said politely told him they need every single dollar here in the state. California, like most states, is suffering from a 20 billion dollar budget shortfall. Unfortunately there's an old saying out there:

Money changes everything.

The well known commercial artist has financial agreements with the following organizations including the Wyland Waikiki Hotel:

Andrews McMeel American Zoo’s and Aquariums Blue Water Surfboards Busch Entertainment Corporation Chammyz Checks Unlimited Crystal Cathedral Deluxe Checks Discovery Communications Disney Consumer Products Eaglemont Press The Encore Group Fine Art Limited, Fine Art Licensee for 2008 Olympics First Commemorative Mint Global Wireless Entertainment Health Communications Inc. Home Shopping Network Hudson Group Laguna Canyon Winery Legoland Martin F. Weber Company Maui Divers MeadWestvaco The Michael Weems Collection MM Fab National Education Association NEXCOM Pin USA Princess Cruise Lines Real Networks Room Service Amenities Seapics.com Scripps Institution of Oceanography Smart Practice Starlight Originals Tatouage Teacher Created Resources Triton Hotel U Click Uncas USAopoly Wahoo’s Walter Foster Publishing World Wildlife Fund Wyland Waikiki Hotel

Perhaps leaving behind a solid legacy of "good will" with Californians would be a smart play. Someone should remind him of that.

Shark Week Mythbusters 2008

With just a few weeks to go until this years 2008 Shark Week we can begin to tell you about this springs shoot with the guys from Mythbusters.

Well actually we can't.

Suffice to say SharkDivers was called upon to select the dive sites, wrangle the sharks, build the cage systems, to provide the right shark environment for Discovery Channels top grossing show hosts Adam and Jamie.

Underwater shark expert Luke Tipple was their go to guy for all things sharky this spring.

We can tell you both Jamie and Adam are two of the most original guys we have either met on and off camera and their entire crew were complete professionals. It's little wonder MythBusters has been the top rated show on Discovery and they were handed the coveted 2 hour show special this season.

Miami, Florida
-- Shark Week, summer television's must-see event, is back for its 21st year on Discovery Channel, from July 27 to August 1, 2008 at 9PM ET/PT.

Cable television's longest-running programming event will kick off Sunday, July 27 at 9PM ET/PT with the Mythbusters Shark Special. This two-hour special follows the MythBusters as they hit the deep blue to take a bite out of shark folklore. Among the myths tackled in this special: Are sharks repelled by magnets? Do dogs attract sharks? Do the vibrations caused by a flapping injured fish attract sharks?


Throughout the week, Discovery will run public-service announcements for the Ocean Conservancy, educating viewers about threats facing sharks.


Last year's Shark Week was watched by 27.2 million viewers, the most successful Shark Week to date.



Blog Note: Shark Diver's CEO was featured during last seasons 20th Anniversary show in Perfect Predators.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Elasmo Thai V.2

We blogged about this most unlikely of critters a few months ago. Now it seems record anglers with 60lb test lines are actively searching for the next trophy catch.

Unfortunately for these benign elasmos (sharks and rays) they lack big teeth, giant poison filled tail barbs, and a mean disposition.

The future for them is looking pretty grim as long as fishermen have no problems jumping into waters filled with Entamoeba histolytica:

Ian Welch and four colleagues spent 45 minutes battling the 6ft wide and 14ft long fish, which was too big to weigh but was estimated to be about 23 stones.

"When we got it to the surface I could not comprehend that something that size existed," said Mr Welch, 45, a doctor in freshwater biology, from Aldershot, Hants. "It was as big as a snooker table."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Remembering "The Summer of the Shark"-Colbert Style

Colbert and the Daily Show pretty much nailed this one. Of course others have gone for the classic Coconut and Shark shtick, but no one does it better than Colbert and crew.

This bit was shot in Colberts pre-hair helmet days, sit back and enjoy:



Thanks to Jeremiah for sending this one our way, nicely done mate!

National Aquarium in Baltimore- New Blog

We got a request from the National Aquarium in Baltimore this afternoon to introduce you "our shark blog fans" to their new aquarium blog.

Covering all things "ocean" from their new dolphin baby they have on the way to sustainable blue crab harvesting in the bay. We liked the clean layout and in depth writing style and who doesn't absolutely love blue crabs?

Our first question was-do they cover sharks?

The answer after a quick look was yes, yes they do.

Shark Attack-Ahem, "Mistake" off Catalina

If there's one thing that we fail to understand here at Underwater Thrills are the new media savvy individuals in our industry who are attempting to re-categorize pretty straightforward shark events.

Case in point-"Shark attacks" vs "Shark mistakes".

When sharks attack people, vessels, man made objects, or anything that is not primary or secondary food sources these new media folks rush in and quickly brand the event as a "shark mistake".

Tragically, sometimes these "mistakes" end the lives of the "victims", a term we're pretty sure will be soon be changed to UPP's or "unwilling predatory participants".

This current school of thought goes as far as stating "if the shark fails to actually remove a part of its victim, then what you have is a "shark mistake". For the sake of reality, let's get back to basics here and recognize that sharks are first and foremost predators. In the same category as bears, wolves, tigers and crocodiles.

Yes, we know sharks are not actively hunting humans.

To suggest that sharks make "mistakes", is to suggest an intelligence far higher then they have been tested for. It is also done to lower the threshold for interactions with these animals. These animals do occasionally attack, they are predatory. Divers seeking encounters with them should first and foremost understand this and move away away from the notion of a "shark mistake". Encounters with these animals should always have safety as the foremost consideration.

99.9% of all commercial encounters with these animals are safe. That's an amazing statistic all things considered. One that proves sharks are for the most part uninterested in humans. But when they occasionally attack, they attack. Plain and simple.

Oh, and by the way-there was a "shark mistake" off Catalina last week involving a Kayak and a white shark. As far as we can tell from reports this latest "mistake" had enough power behind it to completely toss the unwitting kayaker out of her kayak.

Fortunately, she did not become a "unwilling predatory participant" and swam safely to shore.

Oceanic Whitetips-Going...Going...

Depressing news from the Divemaster site this morning. The truth is some dive sites still have robust populations of these critters left, unfortunately almost nothing is known about these long range ocean travelers.

Complete article here:

The research team has linked the increase in longline fishing for tuna with the decrease in numbers of oceanic whitetips and silky sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. Often a by-catch of longline fishing boats, theses sharks have been landed for their valuable fins to supply the increasing demand for shark fin soup.

Bite-Back, the UK’s fastest growing shark and marine conservation organisation, is working to expose the correlation between the demand for shark meat and fins and the decimation of shark populations and encourage a significant fall in consumer and retail demand.

Currently 270,000 sharks are killed worldwide everyday to keep up with consumer demand.

Graham Buckingham, campaign director at Bite-Back, said: “Except for the oceans, there is no other place on earth where the decimation of an entire species would be allowed to go unchallenged. It is our opinion that restaurants and retailers that sell shark meat and fins are effectively endorsing the extinction of these creatures. It has to stop.”

Last year alone 3,290 tonnes of shark meat and fins were consumed in the UK. Yet, since there is little hope for government intervention, Bite-Back says it is down to the diving community and principled consumers to educate and encourage offending retailers to stop selling shark and vulnerable species.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bite-Back.com-THIS is how you do "Conservation"

We have been impressed with the efforts of Bite-Back.com on the local and national level in the U.K to change peoples perception of sharks and shark finning.

Using a slick website and branding campaign, they are making a difference. Have a look for yourself, and if you happen to be from the U.K drop a quid or two in the old war chest for these guys!

Bite Back

Making waves in conservation With the law of supply and demand at its cornerstone, Bite-Back works together with restaurants, fishmongers and retailers to remove shark products from menus and fish counters, effectively lowering the trade in this threatened species.

Since its launch, Bite-Back's ongoing success has seen the organisation take on more mainstream marine conservation issues including campaigns to significantly reduce the trade in other threatened species; lowering levels of oceanic pollution and; protecting fragile coral reefs. Each campaign has been developed to empower the public to become more resolute in its commitment to conserving the oceans, at a local level, through awareness, education, motivation and inspiration.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Werner Herzog-Bottom of the Planet

Like him or not the always interesting filmmaker Werner Herzog has just completed another wildlife film at the bottom of the planet. You'll remember his last work covering the mishaps and missteps of Tim Treadwell in Grizzly Man.

From the guys over at Deep Sea News:

New York Times reviews Werner Herzog's Antarctic documentary "Encounters at the end of the World" calling it 'hauntingly beautiful'. The film is set at McMurdo Station, and features 'melancholy' scientists, extended landscape shots, Weddell seals, and jellyfish.

NYT reviewer Manohla Dargis credits the director for avoiding the trappings of "casual talk about global warming and other calamities might cast shadows across this bright expanse" through artistic beauty and an "unshakable faith in human beings".

It would be thrilling to see Werner Herzog sit down with Wallace Broecker in the SEED Salon, to discuss his recent remarks favoring carbon sequestration in the deep-sea. That's an art and science conversation I would certainly not want to miss.

Werner Herzog directed many documentaries, including "Grizzly Man" and "Klaus Kinski". He was a teacher of Errol Morris. He is known as an auteur, with a unique personal style.

From Internet Movie Database:

His films contain long, extended landscape shots.
His films contain animals doing unusual things.

Hm. Sounds like a good date movie. "Encounters at the end of the World" opened yesterday in New York City. What are the chances it will make it to Texas? Not good. More likely I will have to find a way to New York.

Shark Trust Wines, Sharky Good Vino

Our friends at Shark Trust Wines asked us to provide a testimonial for their website. For the past few years we have fully supported the efforts of this scrappy little wine company to spread the word about sharks and shark conservation...oh, and it's great wine as well:

When we first "discovered" Shark Trust Wines I was excited about the prospects of a "wine company with a conscience". Traditionally wines focus on the message of the wine. Here was one that focused on the understanding and knowledge of sharks with 10% back to shark causes.

As the CEO of a shark diving company I fully understand the power of the shark. People are simply fascinated by these animals, they will travel half way around the planet to see them in person and millions of viewers tune into shows like BBC Blue Planet and Shark Week each year.

Shark Trust wines taps into that shark conscience and directs the consumer into action, through the purchase, and the enjoyment of the product. We stand behind this wine brand because it is a forward thinking "smart wine".

In an age where consumers are increasingly looking at their buying power as a way to effect change, we support that change and look forward to supplying this product on all our shark diving vessels in the years to come.

Being the CEO of a Shark Diving Company

I love my job. As the owner of a great little shark diving company I get to meet some truly amazing people, investigate new and upcoming tech, dive sites and shark research. I also get sent a host of emails that capture the imagination, like the one I got yesterday:

From: Bonny Giardina
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2008 07:50:18 -0700
Subject: Unique Expedition Opportunity

Hey there,

My friend is building a replica of an ancient Phoenician ship to recreate the first circumnavigation of Africa and he's looking for crew. Please pass along if you know anyone who might be interested. It's going to be quite a journey, ending with sailing the boat into London to coincide with an exhibit at the national museum. Philip is looking for crew for some or all of the 10 month voyage. My friend Danielle, whom I think you met at Christie & Steve's place, is the expedition artist. Very cool opportunity for the right person!

FYI: If any of you out there would like to reply to this email, we'll pass it along to you. As for me, Phoenician ships are just not my thing. That is unless there's some sharks involved.

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

Island of The Great White Sharks-Baltimore

From Richard Theiss today:

Greetings Shark Divers,

Well, I’m back home from a screening/lecture of Island of the Great White Shark at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. A very impressive and proactive aquarium and a great group of people. They had quite an itinerary laid out for me – from interviews to tours of aquaculture facilities to a great dinner of Baltimore’s famous crab cakes!

Did an interview for Fox morning television. Was also interviewed by the Aquarium’s communication staff for inclusion in their web site, blog, and quarterly member publication.

The screening went well – great projection and sound system. It gave me an opportunity to discuss many of the issues regarding these animals and sharks in general and to stress the importance of everyone who is concerned with marine conservation to become more proactive by their own example, through the visionary leaders they support, and through their actions to influence others.

Probably, the best compliment of the evening came from the director of membership who said several people came up to her to tell her, “This is why we joined the aquarium as members, for programs like this.”

Also, at a pre-screening mixer, met the director and several board members – many of whom live and have contacts in Washington DC, so who knows where it could all lead down the road.

Island of the Great White Shark - Up Close & Personal - Celebrity bloopers here

Sea Shepherd-Time to Depart From The World Scene?

Here's why we would like to see Sea Shepherd depart as gracefully as they can from the international eco-scene.

For the past year we have been carefully watching the "main event" for the big non profits, the battle to save whales and enlighten the public over Japan's involvement in the ongoing commercial whale slaughter on the Southern Ocean.

Both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd had vessels on site in 2008 chasing hunter and factory ships here. We became increasingly disillusioned and then stunned at Captain Paul Watson's ratcheting hysteria, false claims against the Japanese, and multiple bogus media reports.

These wild reports depicted an eco organization not in touch with anything except making headlines for it's self and titular head. Sea Shepherd anti whaling crews who were "held hostage" by the Japanese were only there when Watsons vessel sailed away "abandoning them" on Japanese whaling vessels.

At one point Watson went as far as claiming he had been shot by Japanese whaling crews, a news report that was picked up verbatim by almost every blog and media source on the planet.

Unfortunately, the entire report was a media charade, and Watson had never been shot. The media had a field day with a video of a bullet proof vest and Watsons surprised look, but no follow up has ever been done by Sea Shepherd and he has not submitted his vest or bullet for any testing to authorities...ever.

But this is not the main reason for wanting to see Sea Shepherd gone. It's the quality of eco-work that is lacking from Sea Shepherd. Paul Watson believes that just showing up with a vessel and creating a bogus media storm by throwing around wild accusations is enough to change the public's view and change political policy. For all intents, once he has departed the area of operations Sea Shepherd ceases to remain on message, choosing instead to highlight the "next big thing".

The term for this is "drive by eco-news". What is needed is follow up, undercover work, and dedication. Case in point Greenpeace Japan announced today that it's members in Japan have uncovered what happens to a large amount of the scientific whale meat harvested from the Southern Ocean. In a stunning revelation they have found much of it gets distributed as a form of graft within Japan, either stolen, or "disappeared" by the crews of the government run whaling vessels. It has created a stir within Japan, where graft is considered a social faux pas and a culturally sensitive topic. This is how you change policy.

For Watson and Company they seem to have missed this point. It is time to consider retirement lest Sea Shepherds legacy devolve into that of hysterical non effective eco crazies who no real agenda but the next fake news report depicting events that never really happened.

Isn't the stark reality of whale hunting enough without the self imposed media theatre that Watson and Sea Shepherd bring to the international scene?

How much harm does this do to legitimate eco groups worldwide who are increasingly seen though the same lens?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Would Yahoo! Invest In?

Has the Internet search giant Yahoo! publicly invested in any of the following wild animal products?

1. Dried bear gall bladders?

2. Dried Black Rhino horn?

3. Dried Tiger penis?

4. Dried Sharks Fin?

If you answered yes to #4 you would be correct.

Now here's the kicker, how much would you imagine this California based Fortune 500 company has invested in the wholesale slaughter of millions of sharks for profit?

1. $10,000,000?

2. $50,000,000?

3. $75,000,000?

4. 1.2 Billion?

Again if you picked #4 you would be correct. Since 2003 Yahoo! has invested close to $1.2 billion dollars in Chinese web portal Alibaba.com home to the New York Stock Exchange of shark fins and shark products on the Internet. Direct sales through this site represent millions of sharks slaughtered live, just for their fins, while the rest of the animal is dumped back into the ocean.

To produce one ton of dried shark fin, an estimated 1200 animals are killed and then dumped.

Thus far Yahoo! has chosen to frame the issue and ongoing slaughter as a "cultural practices one". It would seem that Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma choose only to recognize, invest in, and defend the more profitable "cultural practices" of Asia and beyond.

Swimming with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium

There's little good to say about the Georgia Aquariums decision to allow divers into the premier whale shark exhibit. We blogged about this months ago when they first announced the idea. Now it seems they have started the program and the L.A Times was there to document some of the first dives.

From the L.A Times article let us plainly show you why this is not a good idea:

"A diver named Kevin xxx broke into a flailing aquatic break-dance."

As an aquarium who's animals are already pulling "double duty", all of these magnificent animals are on a one way trip, adding paying divers to the mix is just plain wrong. Adding divers who feel that breaking into "a flailing aquatic break-dance" is a good idea-even worse.

It comes down to respect. Respect for the animals, respect for the aquariums legacy, respect for the idea of animal ambassadors. In a rush to increase corporate profits and bolster slowing attendance rates it would seem the Georgia Aquarium has lost its way.

There's an old saying here, and never truer in the case of the Georgia Aquarium "Just because you can do a thing, does not mean you should do it".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shark Diving Next Generation-Super Submersibles

Shark diving as we know is about to change. A few months ago the crew of Shark Diver visited with the owner/builder of the world's fastest submersibles-Hawkes Ocean Tech.

Locally operated they were reeling from the loss of adventure pioneer Steve Fosset, who's sub Deep Flight was 90% completed and ready to make diving history with the world's deepest flight. They were currently in talks with Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Brandson to do the flight.

Here's why the future of wild oceanic animal encounters is going to change, and shark diving will never be the same. Strap yourself in:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shark Diving Media Milestone-1.5 Million!

If you had told us here at Shark Diver that a short video of a Great White tearing apart a 700lb Elephant seal would cause 1.5 million people to watch-we might have said, "Waddaya, New?"

Today we hit another shark video milestone at the 1.5 million mark and climbing. Of course we need to give credit to those who made it all happen, namely shark operations manager and wild animal show host Luke Tipple.

We also need to mention the media genius duo Adam and Zander from L.A's 689 Design.

For those of you who have not seen it, here it is again. Ahhhh, sweet media:

Manta Rays-Jumpin Jack

Like you, we have not been on a manta dive without seeing at least one of these critters jump out of the water. Usually you hear the tremendous slap as they hit the surface, just in time to look at the faces of the divers who got to see the whole thing.

That's why we like the following video, here's one Manta that could not wait for the inevitable jump:

Commercial Shark Diving Beqa Adventure Divers Blog Post

This morning we read this post from "Dave" at Beqa Adventure Divers Blog.

The points raised here are timely, and truthful:

Commercial Shark Diving is quickly morphing into a global industry and as always in such cases, the transition doesn't come easy.

Whereas the anti-Shark-diving lobby, scientific and not, continues to successfully pester us with their allegations, we just seem to be unable to get our act together, circle the wagons and mount a credible common defense.

Granted, selling Sharks to the public at large will always be a challenge.

The opposition's arguments feed on our primeval fears and convey the illusion of intuitive plausibility. Very hard to refute as in order to do so, we would need hard and unequivocal scientific data. And those are so far lacking. Having said this, I know of at least two papers, one from South Africa and one from Australia, that postulate that what we do has no discernible behavioral consequences.

Actually, make it three, as
Juerg's recent research on Shark Reef may well come to the same conclusions.

I'm thus highly confident that in the end, people will come to realize that our large predatory Sharks are just as fascinating and worth protecting as any other alpha predator. It has taken decades of dedicated research and marketing to dispel the myth that wolves, grizzly bears, lions and tigers are nothing more than man-hunting vermin that needs to be eradicated, so I guess we must be patient and persevere.

Let's just hope that by then, it won't be too late. The real challenge right now however seems to be our incapacity to work together.

Keep in mind that until quite recently, diving was considered a dangerous sport reserved for the passionate few. The Shark Diving pioneers were regarded as, and probably were, a special breed of entirely self-taught, adventuresome, thrill-seeking and death-defying macho warriors and equally intrepid amazons and were consequently accorded Hero status.

Talk about an eclectic collection of unique and charismatic individuals with strong opinions and huge egos!

But now, Shark Diving has gone mainstream and is firmly nested within the entertainment industry. As in: I shall pay for a trip to Guadalupe Island and I shall see Great White - or else!

In the process, the original Heroes are gradually being replaced by media-savvy, nimble and business-minded service providers. Personality cult is being replaced by client service. Adventure and discovery, by interactive and notabene, guaranteed ecological encounters. Roughing it out on the High Seas, by aircon, en suite bathrooms and warm towels. Individuality, by the need for a uniform global product. And alas, sometimes, excitement by bored indifference.

On top of the historical and ever-present personal animosity between the original silverbacks, this has created substantial resentment against what is perceived as a territorial invasion by parasitic upstarts. Having been at the receiving end, but also, having had to dish out my fair share of aggro myself, I know what I'm talking about.

Thus, to finally make my point, getting everybody to sit at the same table, to share our passion, experiences, visions and research in order to devise a common approach supported by unified procedures remains a gargantuan challenge. Once again, we will have to be patient and persevere.

Monday, June 16, 2008

6 Meter White Shark?

Found on You Tube a 6 meter great white shark shot near Enderby Island in the sub-Antarctic:

Shark Conspiracies-The Real Deal?

An interesting look at sharks, shark diving and commentary on both with podcast host Kevin Harris of Shark Conspiracies .

For the past year Kevin has kept a growing legion of shark fans updated on monthly shark news worldwide.

He posits the following thought this month:

"Are the surfers killed by sharks in the last few months around the coastal town of Zihuatanejo the result of bodies dumped into the ocean by Mexican Mafia?"

One things for sure Shark Conspiracies always keeps the listener interested.

"Cowboy" Shark Operations Feared in New Zealand

Further details from this weeks commercial shark diving uncertainty in New Zealand.

The opposition to cage diving at this new site stems not from ecological concerns rather from the fear of "Cowboy Operations".

This growing concern is worldwide and one more argument against the sport wherein some operations "push the limits" with animals that eventually "push back".

Sadly, and we have blogged about this in depth on a number of occasions, many shark diving operators fail to realize their local shark diving activities play into a much larger industry worldwide.

What happens in South Africa, Australia, Bahamas, Guadalupe and other places resonates with the fears and prejudices of sites yet to be explored. Such is the case in New Zealand at the moment.

The Solution?

Shark Diving New Zealand-Hold On a Sec!

Last week we blogged about a new commercial white shark venture in New Zealand.

For almost 72 hours it looked like this was going to be one of the most exciting and new developments in commercial shark diving since the "discovery" of Isla Guadalupe almost 8 years ago.

Now, members of the anti-shark diving lobby-they have no office just a bunch of old musty data-has announced the desire to stop shark diving in Fovereaux Strait.

It always starts with a scientist and some data that may or may not show a change in white shark behaviour with the addition of commercial vessels.

What is needed now is the data from a 5 year study on "chum habituation" done by Rodney Fox in South Australia. His data is fresh and definitive. In the meantime we'll hold our breath for the New Zealand site.

Good luck boys!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why Shark Tagging is Important-Baskers Make "5000+ Mile Trek"

During a simply amazing power point presentation, researchers from the U.K unveiled a Basking sharks 5000+ mile migration from the U.K to Canada and back.

Partially funded by the Save our Seas Foundation-a rabidly pro shark org, this latest data underscores the point that our oceans are not just a series of coastlines "owned and managed" by individual countries, rather an interconnected web of life and pathways.

Marine life it seems does not recognize borders, treaties, and Marine Protected Areas. Life instead follows ancient and well defined undersea highways often becoming the policy definition of more than one country at a time.

Food for thought.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shark Diving-from "human" to "ape like" in 1.3 seconds

We humans are proud of the fact we have left the forests and grasslands behind us and have built vast cities where we celebrate being the dominant animal on the planet. In fact we're about as far away from our "ape-like" predecessors as you can imagine.

That is until you add a 2000lb predator at close range to the mix. The following shark video is amusing not so much for the visual...but for the audio.

Returning to our ape-like roots in three...two...one:

Shark Attacks , Great White - Celebrity bloopers here

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Zealand-Great White Shark Dive Site Opens Soon

Editors Note: This page has been removed. Shark Diver, and Shark New Zealand have removed all support and marketing efforts for the Stewart Island dive site until further notice.

Great White Shark Bahamas? Oh Yeah!

At the start of this week we got a strange email from the Bahamas a great white had washed ashore off Grand Bahama.

"Several of Unexso staff including Christina & Veronica heard about it and went out and shot the pictures below. They heard the shark was chasing bait fish and leaped out of the water landing on a shallow ledge as the tide was going out. They checked the stomach and it was empty. This happened in XXX which is the town XXX of the port on the way to XXX."

Of course we did a little digging around and it sounded like it was a great white. Without any images it was hard to make a confirmation.

Here's the confirmation (with images)

Unfortunately the locals have all but carted away 40% of this critter and the jaws.

This would be one of the rarest shark encounters of the season...too bad no one saw this shark in the ocean where it belongs.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2008 increase in shark sightings-perfect timing with film debut

Island of the Great White Shark set to launch aquarium’s Beyond the Boardwalk summer event series

Irvine, California, June 11, 2008 – As people on both the west and east coasts prepare to beat the heat and high gas prices by vacationing at their nearby beaches, a series of shark sightings has raised the specter of a possible “summer of the shark.” From Martha’s Vineyard to the shores of California and Mexico, large sharks – in many cases, the infamous great white shark – have been spotted. Coincidentally, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is kicking off Beyond the Boardwalk, its summertime event series, with a screening on Tuesday, June 18th of a new shark documentary, Island of the Great White Shark. The film is unique in the shark film genre in its attempt to set the record straight regarding these mysterious and often-feared animals.

The film represents a three-year effort by filmmaker Richard Theiss to provide the first comprehensive look at a precarious population of great white sharks found at the remote Mexican island of Isla Guadalupe, Baja. The film explores many of the issues surrounding these highly misunderstood animals, chronicles the efforts of dedicated shark researchers to study and protect them, and illustrates the destructive and inhumane practices imposed upon sharks by the commercial shark fishing industry. Estimates run from 40 million to as high as 100 million sharks being killed each year either for their fins or as accidental by-catch.

“These are absolutely magnificent creatures living on a razor’s edge of possible extinction. And there are some very dedicated people working tirelessly to prevent that. This is a story that needed to be told,” says Richard Theiss, RTSea Productions, executive producer and cinematographer.

On Sunday, June 1st, a chartered fishing boat sighted a 16-foot great white shark off the Vineyard Sound at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Another shark had reportedly been seen in the same area a month earlier. In Southern California, there have been as many as eight sightings of great white sharks since March, and on April 25th, a great white shark off Solana Beach in San Diego fatally bit a swimmer. Several shark attacks have also occurred recently off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Does this mean that ocean goers are facing a summer full of sharks? Not necessarily, according to Theiss.

“This increase in activity has some people speculating that it’s due to global warming, changing ocean currents, or movements among the animals these sharks prey upon. But scientists need a lot more data before they will make any definitive statements and, in the end, it could all just be a statistical anomaly. It’s happened before,” said Theiss. “What’s still true is that you have a greater chance of being killed by a pig, a donkey, or even a soda vending machine, than by a shark.”

“Ocean health begins at home” is the theme for this year’s Beyond the Boardwalk event series, running from June 18th through June 28th. This annual event will feature a variety of exciting and interactive programs, games and stories to help adults and children discover ways to protect and restore our waterways for the thousands of animals that call them home. Advanced reservations are required for the screening of Island of the Great White Shark. For ticket information, call the National Aquarium in Baltimore at 410-427-3474.

About RTSea Productions
RTSea Productions, based in Irvine, California, www.rtsea.com, is dedicated to capturing nature and underwater images that will impress and move viewers to preserve and protect our precious natural resources – above and below the waves. RTSea has provided video and still production services for National Geographic, PBS, InMER, Aquarium of the Pacific, and others.

About The National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore www.aqua.org a non-profit organization, is Maryland's most exciting and popular cultural attraction, as well as one of the region's leading conservation and education resources, hosting more than 1.6 million visitors per year. The Aquarium's mission is to connect people with aquatic life in order to create a better world for both. It is dedicated to education and conservation through more than a dozen programs that serve the environment and the community.

Contact:
Richard Theiss, Executive Producer
RTSea Productions
949-294-9876
rtsea@rtsea.com
Digital Images/B-Roll Available Upon Request

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

House Panels Approves Ban on Shark Finning

House Panels Approves Ban on Shark Finning:

June 11, 2008 – 1:37 p.m

A bill intended to crack down on the harvest of sharks for their fins was approved by voice vote Wednesday by the House Natural Resources Committee. Lawmakers from ocean states praised the bill as a way to ensure responsible fishing practices.

“There’s a hell of a lot of two-legged sharks around that are a lot more dangerous than the ones with fins in the ocean,” said Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii.

Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall II , D-W.Va., could not resist joking that sharks were not too different from members of Congress. “The chair will note this is not a member self-preservation act,” he said.

The measure would strengthen enforcement of an existing federal prohibition on removing the fins of a shark and discarding the carcass, which was first established in the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000.

Rumors-Acquisition-Dive Boats

Heard at the water cooler this morning (Actually in St.Thomas this week) the following dive industry rumor:

Aggressor Diving is in acquisition of Peter Hughes Diving.

It's been an open secret for the past two years that Peter Hughes has been interested in a buyer.

Exactly when the announcement of this new merger will take place is rumored to be sometime in the next three weeks.

We'll keep you updated. With the cost of fuel rising to astronomical levels expect more mergers and buyouts within the dive industry in the next year or two.

Revisting the Shear Water Affair

The Shear Water affair earlier this spring left an entire dive industry fractured, and the Bahamian Government pondering the whole notion of commercial shark diving in it's waters.

For the most part the media did it's best to highlight the worst aspects of our industry.

Now, for the first time, an in depth look into an industry that needs to spend less time with local "petitions" and more time looking at commercial shark diving as a global industry.

Markus Groh felt uneasy aboard the M/V Shear Water. A buddy had talked him into booking a six-night trip on the charter boat with nine other Austrians to scuba-dive with sharks in the Bahamas. There would be dead fish in the water to attract the big boys — tiger sharks, lemon sharks, hammerheads, and bull sharks — and there would be no cages to protect the divers. Only wetsuits. It would be the experience of a lifetime.

The entire article here. We have heard that images from this event have now been made public and will be posted to the media shortly.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Shark Conservation: Taking It to the Streets

As several of the most recent postings here indicate, there would seem to be a heightened degree of shark activity from the California/Mexico coast to Martha’s Vineyard. It has set the tongues wagging, trying to associate this statistical blip to global warming, changes in prey populations, or something – but as far as most scientists are concerned, the jury is still a long ways out until more definitive data can be collected. And in the end it might just be one of those unexplained anomalies. But will the media pick up on this and herald a new “Summer of Jaws”?

Will people’s fear and misunderstanding be reinforced by sensationalistic reporting?

Well, as lovers of all things shark, that’s where you come in. As I have held screening/lectures for Island of the Great White Shark at major aquariums across the country, I find myself typically “preaching to the choir” and so I often pose this question: “Most of you here have probably never had or ever will have shark fin soup. So you may not be part of the problem, but how do we make you part of the solution?” That gets people scratching their heads.

We must all become disciples to the cause. We need to enlighten those who are still in the dark regarding shark-human interaction and shark conservation. Do what you can and support those who are carrying the torch to areas beyond your reach. But it’s challenging. With Island of the Great White Shark, I hope for as many people as possible to see and hear a different image and different message regarding the public’s perceived “Darth Vader” of all sharks (a big “thanks for your support” goes to Shark Diver.com).

Whether it’s shark protection, marine conservation, or global warming, we need to make changes in our daily lives and we need to exercise our ability to influence others – our leaders, our nation, governments, and business – to move in the right direction. Act by example, vote by choice, influence by action.

Upcoming screenings/lectures of Island of the Great White Shark:

June 18 – National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD w/Richard Theiss

July 17 (tentative) – Harvard Museum of Natural History w/Dr. John Mandelman

Saturday, June 7, 2008

TED-If You Don't Know, You Should

Robert Ballard-Speaking at the TED conference back in 2007. Why are we looking into space when we have unexplored oceans right here?

Join him on a 16 minute trip to 70% of the planet:

Hawaii Shark Fin Loophole-This Week 8400 Sharks

While it is illegal to harvest shark fins from Hawaiian waters...it is not apparently illegal to dry and process shark fins in Hawaii.

In this case 12 tons.

Hawaiian law allows out of state shark fins to land in it's ports, be processed and dried, and then shipped to waiting clients in Asia.

It's a classic loophole-and one that just recently surfaced in Hawaii this week.

Close to 700 sharks comprise one ton of fins. This haul equaled 8400 sharks:

State crews were called in to inspect a shipping container on Thursday after they got word it was filled with about 12 tons of shark fins.

It is illegal to harvest shark fins in Hawaiian waters but shipping documents reportedly showed they were caught overseas. The local company receiving them says they'll be dried here before sending them to Hong Kong. The manager at RC International says he's been doing this for 17 years and wondered why this shipment came under investigation.

"We have this container but we have to clear customs, we have to clear food and truck, we have to clear with Fish and Wildlife and then Matson delivers the container to us," said Rex Chan, Manager at RC International.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Shark Diver "Gear" Sighting-Sweet

Since 2002 Shark Diver has sold, donated, or just plain given away over 3000 baseball caps.

Featuring our homemade logo on the front "Sharky" and our brand on the back-we're told people hold on to these things like treasured mementos.

Now, 3000 baseball caps dropped into the vast pool of the dive industry is not a lot, so we get a kick out of seeing one on a random Flickr page about someone's Cape Cod whale watching trip in 2006.

We have no idea who this is, but one thing is for sure, they sure get attention wherever they go!

Gone Fishin' : Great white shark sighted in Vineyard Sound

It's strange, the world of media. Even stranger still when an east coast shark story uses this image to make a point.

A little about the image.

Amory Ross joined the crew from Shark Diver last season at Isla Guadalupe to get up close with a few Great Whites.We delivered the sharks, and he took the following image featured this week in the local Martha's Vinyard Times:

Menemsha charter captain Scott McDowell made his first trip of the season Sunday. Scott was at the helm of his new boat, a 35-foot Duffy he named the Lauren C in honor of his daughter.

A memorable line from "Jaws" came to my mind after I received a telephone call Tuesday from Scott. I remembered the part in the movie when the police chief played by Roy Scheider gets his first glimpse of the shark. He turns to Quint and says, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

Scott said he was between Dogfishbar and Gay Head when a large shark came out of the water about 50 yards in front of his boat. "It was a large animal," said Scott, "surprisingly fat."

Scott speculated the shark has been feeding on striped bass. As far as I know no fly fishermen have been reported missing from Lobsterville Beach, so it is a fair guess.

Scott is a very experienced fisherman and charter captain. He said the fish came completely out of the water and twisted. He said he has seen three great whites in his life. "I have no doubt of what it was," he said. "It was quite astounding."

His customers were equally impressed. Scott said one of the guys said it was "just like TV." I wonder what he would have said if it came up and chomped on the stern.

This is not the first or the only sighting. About a month ago, Coop told me he and his son Danny were fishing for mackerel off Gay Head. Coop said they saw a fish breach and were sure it was a great white.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Great White Sharks- Southern California Map

The California Great White Shark map (click for larger image) detailing the latest shark sightings up and down the So Cal coast lines in 2008.

If you happen to surf-Huntington Beach seems pretty active.

June 1. 2008
A great white shark was spotted two miles offshore near Doheny State Beach today by a whale watching charter boat.

Captain Chad Steffen said the shark, about 15-foot long, was cruising alongside the Ocean Adventure catamaran at about 2:30 p.m. when it caught his eye. A marine biologist on board also saw the shark, but by the time Steffen tried to swing the boat around for spectators to get a look, it was gone.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shark Diving-Tourism Analysis


This mornings Slate.com features one of the best written looks at shark tourism we have seen in the past few months. A first person account (Elisabeth Eaves) of Roatans Waihuka Diving

Here's an excerpt:

A fisherman on Roatán can get about $40 for one of these sharks, or $720 for 18. Waihuka gets about $80 per diver, so $960 on this 12-customer dive. They can charge $960 for those same sharks again and again, and the sharks don't have to die: The resource is renewable. Assuming similar overhead (a boat, an outboard engine, gasoline), shark-watching is more profitable for the locals than shark-fishing, and it conserves nature rather than decimating it.

Doesn't that make shark diving a good thing? The rosy view of eco-tourism would say we should exploit shark viewing to stop shark fishing. Hire the fishermen as dive masters, and you've got a win-win-win for locals, tourists, and sharks. Shark-watch businesses further argue that the more people have happy encounters with the animal, the more public support there will be for researching and protecting it. (The whale-watching industry plausibly advances a similar argument.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Greenpeace-Managing the Message

When it comes to the "Eco- Message" there are those who flail around with bullet riddled flack jackets and those who get right to the point.

Kudos to Greenpeace...for getting right to the point.

Click image for full size and inhale.

Ach Laddie-That Shark Nay What Ye Think It Is!

Another case of shark "mistaken identity" by the always rabid U.K press. Today's news that a vicious shark rammed a fishing vessel off the coast of Scotland. The real story? Couple of jocks out for a laugh come across a completely harmless Basking shark...that just happens to glide under their boat.

It would seem the crowd at You Tube agrees with us (check comments)

BAN SHARK FEEDING,CAGE DIVING AND SHARK BAITING IN SOUTH AFRICAN WATERS!!!!! SAVE THE SHARKS!

The following is from a new "anti-shark diving petition" making the rounds on the internet. Clearly we here at UT are pro-shark diving, but it's always diplomatic to show the other side of things.

The problem we have as a shark diving company with the anti-shark diving lobby is the lack of information. Case in point:

BAN SHARK FEEDING,CAGE DIVING AND SHARK BAITING IN SOUTH AFRICAN WATERS!!!!! SAVE THE SHARKS!

The reason I have started this petition is because I am angered at the way dive operators and charters are treating an important and vital creature in the oceans that surround Southern Africa. The SHARK!!!!!!!

Shark feeders and baiters claim that they are conserving sharks. The reality is that dive industry-endorsed shark feeders and baiters are only in it to make a profit from so called "interactive shark tours". The truth is that they harm wildlife and compromise public safety!

Just because millions of sharks are slaughtered on an annual basis does not make shark feeding okay.

Manipulating sharks with bait to approach dive boats and "perform" or "model" for diving thrill seekers, tourists and photographers severely damages their natural defence mechanisims and significantly increases the probability that they will be killed by shark fishermen.

We need to wake up and smell the sea water guys. Without sharks in our ocean the ecosystem will go into disarray and our childrens' children are going to one day ask the question... What is a SHARK? The answer might very well be... " they are extinct, lets look it up".

Let's make a difference!

Shark Hot Spots-Korea?

One of the last places on the planet we would have thought was "sharky" would be Korea. No so, according to the latest news from The Korea Times.

Grab your shark cages-word on the street is they even have a few Great Whites lurking about:

By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

Global warming has made the West Sea an ideal habitat for sharks but a dangerous one for beach goers.

A shark warning was issued over the weekend as rising temperatures will attract sharks over the next two months. ``The warning will remain in effect until temperatures in the waters drop below 11 degrees Celsius,'' Kim Jong-sup, an official at the South Chungcheong Provincial Government, told The Korea Times.

Sharks live in waters where temperatures hover between 11 and 22 degrees Celsius. He warned that sharks are likely to gather around coastal surface waters until late July. Scuba divers and ``haenyeo'' ― female divers who scoop up such lucrative crustaceans as shells, crabs and trepang ― are especially at risk from shark attacks, he added.

Six people have fallen victim to shark attacks since 1981, with the most recent taking place in June 2005.

``In-shore sharks are mostly seen by haenyeo,'' Kim said. ``People are obliged to report shark sightings to authorities immediately. Upon such a report, the government suspends any type of inshore fishing and other activities including scuba diving.''

Two Great White Sharks were reportedly captured last month near an island off the province, with six other man-eaters being found in the area recently.

From Russian News with...WTF!?

It's hard to know where to begin with this latest "Shark Opinion and Analysis" report coming out Russia's news agency.

Perhaps it's best just to post the whole sad thing.

Suffice to say 99% of this article is standard "Shark hookum and pseudo science" with much of the shark information presented seemingly gathered sometime in and around 1977.

So, without any further explanation, let us present to you one of, if not the worst, media biased shark reports of the year:

Have Sharks Gone Crazy?

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti commentator Tatyana Sinitsyna) - It seems that sharks, those cold-blooded creatures, have declared a war on the human race.

It is unclear what has caused this war, but a likely suspect would be shark fin soup, which is a much-wanted luxury in the finest restaurants of the economically booming East Asia. It pains one to think how many sharks have been killed to make it.

But sharks may have become aggressive for a different reason - aberrations in Nature are very often linked to changes in the climate. The temperature of oceanic currents is changing, forcing sharks to change their migration routes. This is how Mexican experts explain the massive appearance of sharks off the shores of the Mexican state of Guerrero, where they attacked two windsurfers, and "took a bite" out of one of them....

Konstantin Zgurovsky, coordinator of the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Russia marine program, observed: "I don't think that sharks have become more aggressive. Of course, the changing current pattern could bring predators to new places. Or maybe the route of fish migration has changed, and they have followed it. But if Australians are used to sharks, in other places they are causing panic."

Apparently, this is what happened in Turkey. Dozens of beaches have been shut down and sea voyages prohibited off the western coast of Turkey because of sharks. Older residents say they have never seen so many of them there.

Some experts blame this strange conduct on oceanic acidification.

However, Dr. Vsevolod Belkovich, a biologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oceanology, does not agree: "There is no simple explanation. It is not possible to say that the ocean environment has seriously changed. At the same time, stronger pollution directly affects all ocean organisms."

Dr. Belkovich thinks that man's increasing presence in the ocean is the most likely reason for the aberrations in shark behavior: "Navigation is developing; more and more people are swimming and diving. This is why they see sharks more often. The predators are getting nervous and irritated. But they are not so much protecting their environment as trying to take a bite. People are potential victims, more food - surely a delicacy."

Sharks have exactly the same attitude to anything edible. Well adapted to life, they are absolutely fearless. But aggression is caused not only by dauntless "courage," but also by permanent hunger. They are always on the go, and cover huge distances. They need food for energy. If they do not move, they will not receive enough oxygen through their gills - though the lazier ones are known to sleep on the bottom from time to time. Others act like nurses, looking after children.

Sharks charge at a trace of blood as a bull does at a red cloth. Confrontation with man is historic - people have been improving methods of hunting sharks and protecting themselves against them since they first went to sea. Sharks are extremely sensitive to smells in the water. Nowadays, "shark repellant" chemicals are diluted in the water to scare them off.

It would seem that sharks are almost ideal creatures - they have not changed in millions of years. Paradoxically, these frightening predators are themselves under threat because they are barbarously hunted to extinction. More than 20 species of sharks examined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group are about to die out.

6 Meter White Shark-South Africa

Let's run down the numbers here. For those of you, like us, who calculate our sharks in feet, 6 meters=19.6850 feet.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is one huge white shark.

The following story is naturally out of South Africa where nothing is small-and next to Australia, almost everything is out to bite, maim, or eat you:

A Six-metre great white shark was spotted by divers on Thursday about 3.5km off Durban after they had launched from uShaka Marine World beach. Aquabud Scuba instructor trainer Miguel Nunes said he had been invited to try out a shark diving experience by Patrick Voorma of Calypso Dive and Adventure at uShaka.

"We saw two black-tip sharks, but they disappeared very quickly,"said Nunes.

"Although we spent about an hour in the water the sea was eerily quiet". "There seemed to be no fish, nothing," he said. This was soon explained . . .

They had only been back in their boat for about 30 seconds after completing their dive when they spotted a huge, black shadow. Nunes said at first they thought it might be a whale shark, but the colours were wrong. "Maybe it's a Zambezi on steroids," he joked.