Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saving sharks at the expense of fishermen

We're huge fans of shark biologist Andy DeHart-he's got a way of drilling down to the issue at hand in a way everyone can understand:

“We’re taking sharks out of the water faster than we are putting them back in,” said Andy Dehart, a shark biologist who works with the National Aquarium in Washington.

Sharks are a vital part of the ocean’s eco system because they are an apex predator.

“An apex predator is key in maintaining balance,” said Ray Owczarzak, an assistant curator at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. “They eliminate the weakest population of fish so the biggest and strongest are the breeding animals.”

Without sharks, the ocean would be out of whack: In North American Atlantic water, Hammerhead Sharks eat Cownose Rays, which feed on Bay Scallops. If there are no sharks, the ray population explodes and eats the scallops, leaving fewer scallops for people to eat.

Isla Guadalupe Trip Update 8.20.2008

The old saying "It aint' over till the fat lady sings" was in full force today as the Mexican Navy arrived and proceeded to board all the vessels at Point Norte, Isla Guadalupe.

This is what we had feared. The final edict after many months of back and forth conversations and negotiations with various government agencies was absolutely "No Chumming".

Unfortunately Mexico has chosen to deliver this final message on site and at the beginning of the 2008 shark diving season with an actual Navy Frigate.

This leaves us as eco tour operators in an unusual spot and our divers wondering what's next?

In the short term no chumming means that while sharks will be seen this year (they are extremely curious animals and will come-non chummed-to the cages) we will be slower than usual. That's the short term.

The long term prognosis is grim indeed. Mexico needs shark tourism, it also needs to be benefited by shark tourism. Right now it is not benefiting. Right now divers pay the equivalent of $20.00 USD for permits to enter the Bio Sphere and that's it. They should be receiving a whole lot more. We're in full agreement with those within Mexico who see it that way.

Additionally, the very real specter of rampant shark fishing at this site once shark diving operations fade away is something that must be contended with. You may say it would never happen here, but 2.5 tons of shark fins were taken from the Socorro's this spring-right under the nose of the Mexican Navy base stationed at that Bio Sphere.

This is a clarion call. If Mexico is successful in essentially gutting the relatively nascent 3.1 million dollar white shark dive tour industry and these vessels cannot continue to educate divers, support field research, and continue operating in a sustainable manner-we will lose upwards to 30% of the entire Western Pacific White shark population to shark fishing in a matter of two years.

Left to their own devices shark fishermen have a strong financial incentive to harvest sharks even within protected Bio Spheres. We will submit to you that Mexico's government has their guns turned on the wrong people at this point.

Isla Guadalupe Auction-Current Bid $1000

It's no surprise that we have been huge supporters of IEMANYA OCEANICA and the local efforts they have made within Mexico to educate the public about sharks and rays. This org puts boots on the ground and as such we donated an expedition to Isla Guadalupe with funds going back to I.O:

In Partnership with IEMANYA OCEANICA we would like you to bid on this 5 day Great White Shark Expedition to famed white shark dive site Isla Guadalupe in Mexico.

Here you will discover one of Mexico's last remaining pristine underwater environments and home to the Great White shark. Discovered in 1999 and with the hard work of a small team of shark researchers from CICIMAR and UC DAVIS, we now know these animals congregate here every season to feed on the endemic Guadalupe Fur Seal.

The Expedition lasts 5 full days and departs from San Diego, California. We look forward to having you join us on this amazing adventure at this rare and beautiful site 210 miles off the coast of California.


IEMANYA OCEANICA is a non-profit organization, dedicated to the conservation of sharks, rays and their habitats. IEMANYA is an international organization of scientists, educators and environmentalists committed to protecting marine life, especially sharks and rays, while addressing the socio-economic repercussions of conservation within the communities that depend on marine resources.

Iemanya currently conducts programs and conservation efforts in Southern California, USA (under IRS code 501(c)3) and as Iemanya Oceanica A.C. in La Paz, Mexico.

Shark Diving East Coast-Snappa Charters

One of the things we love about our industry are those that started it all. The few forward looking operations who, on a whim, built the first cages and lowered them into their home waters...hoping to see a shark.

Without a doubt if you're looking for one of these operations you need not look much further than Snappa Charters and captain Charlie Donilon. When we first looked at the world of shark diving in the USA many years ago-Snappa Charters was one of a small hand full of plucky industry leading operations. The good news is they're still going strong and summer isn't over just yet:

Snappa Fishing Diving Charters has been incorporated for 26 years. We offer both inshore and offshore fishing trips, shark cage diving, ash burials at sea, bird watching and lighthouse tours. Private groups and individuals are welcome.

We have been seen on National Geographic Explorer, NESN and Chronicle. Feature articles have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Boston Globe, Yankee Magazine, and the Rodale's Scuba Diving.

Bigfoot-Never Trust a Policeman from Georgia!

Naturally you're asking yourself, why all the fuss? Well, last week along with about 15,000 other blogs, news outlets, and hopefuls we broke format to bring you what looked like the first and the only Bigfoot claim that looked, for a moment, like the real deal.

It had all the elements. An off duty cop, a frozen corpse, images, and an actual press junket with the world's media. You need to watch this video-just for the fact that everyone in this video is lying through their teeth...and they know it.