Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Very Own Shark Attack Playset

Must be the holidays again because the parade of shark related gifts from ex shark divers and friends are pouring in. Ahhh, we loves our holiday season.

This nifty present we opened today-thanks Tony, Sheri and Andreas!

As you can see Discovery Channel's "other wing" Animal Planet is behind this interesting and very sharky creation. We'll try and explain what you cannot see in this image. In no particular order:

Animal Planet Shark Attack Playset

"press dorsal fin to move jaws" (huge chomping action white shark)

"I floss everyday" (image of great white mouth open)

"includes diver with accessories, diving cage, great white shark with moving jaws, and smaller tiger shark" (way cool cage design, with diver in rebreather set up)

"say cheese"(another great white mouth open)

"try me!" (reach in and chomp the shark at the diver, hours of fun)

In short we'll rate this almost as cool as one of last years gifts the ever popular "Shark With Frickn' Lazer Beam" still in it's original packaging.

What is this saying to kids 5 and up? Take it up with Discovery Channel if you have a beef. For us we'll just sit back and enjoy the sharky holiday glow of it all. Now with 40% more chomping action!

Massive Mako Mother Makes Good Science

So....we missed the flight to NZ but the story remains one of predatory fascination. Turns out this female had recently given birth. More than 800 onlookers showed up:

The 3.6-metre, 460-kilogram shark died in the Mapua channel last month.

Conservation Department shark expert Clinton Duffy, who carried out the dissection, found an empty stomach and that the mako gave birth recently. The autopsy indicated it may have been killed by an encounter with a boat.

There was massive bruising behind its jaws, Touch the Sea aquarium marine educator Richard de Hamel said. "So it may have been feeling a bit sick, then got a bump on the head, and that's really put her on the downhill slide."

The condition of the shark's uterus showed it had given birth within the past few months.

A sample of its spine was taken and its growth rings will be used to determine its age, which was probably about 30. Video here.

Quo Vadis, Shark Diving?

The $200 million dollar international shark diving industry has one or two seasoned voices who frequently try and replace many of our industries conventional wisdom's with "plain sense".

One of these is Da Shark from BAD's Blog. A regular feature and well known to 10K of you who visit us here each month.

This week a video from the Bahamas has fired up a multi pronged conversation about the "Ethics of Shark Diving". A thread starter which may have been misnamed as the video brings up a host of issues not related to ethics. As always we tend to agree with Da Sharks take on this...with one caveat.

Operations like the one featured on this video have to start somewhere. They are usually inspired by others with images and video to "one up the old guard". Had this site in the Bahamas been locked down with a set of "unmoving protocols" from day one and not promoted as the "Tiger between the operators legs" site or the "Night time diving with Tigers site"-we might not be here discussing this today.

While I agree with 99% of Da Sharks thoughts on this, our industry must be ever vigilant for The Great Slide. In the ever increasing rush to offer closer encounters with macro shark species we are loosing the thin margin of error that is the difference between safe shark encounters dictated by the operation, and relying on a predator with a brain the size of a walnut to "make the call" during an encounter. We as an industry are often resetting the goal posts of encounter safety while the game is still in play.

I personally do not subscribe to the pervasive school thought that says "we have had 300+ safe encounters-so this is fine". It is never fine, not with macros. Ever. We learn from them each and every time we encounter them and we should never push for danger close encounters. That is the essence of The Great Slide, eventually we will get to the final point where the animals push back. It has happened, it will happen, and it continues to happen.

Exploring the "outer limits" of macro shark encounters on a commercial level is a fools bet.

It is unfortunate that we have lost the one voice that could have made a difference here. Credibility in this industry is everything and people do listen to those few voices who have the spotlight (we're not one of them) but those few voices need to maintain the veneer of safety.

You lose that in our industry and you lose your ability to guide a dive sites natural progression and others with your wisdom.

Is it not enough to "witness" these animals in all their grace and elegance? Do we need to touch them and ride them as well? Do photographers really need to shoot inside a Tigers mouth? Do we need to throw pokey-sticks at them? Where does it end, where do we call the game and set the safety goal posts?

2008 was a troubling year for the industry. It was also one of "awakening". Since we started this blog a year ago we have heard from many in the industry who have reached out to say "you know, I was just talking about that the other day".

We're in this together. We may not like the fact we're in it together, but I'll take the recognition that we are in it together as a good first start.

Patric Douglas CEO

The "Imperial Presidency"...Ends With A Shoe

Good by and farewell Mr.President:

What To Do With The Cricket Two?

With the death of Frank Mundus-shark killer extraordinaire-the fate of his vessel remains undecided as it goes up for auction next year.

We have seen some amusing posts suggesting a great fire, or explosion to render this notorious vessel to the cold hellish depths of Davy Jones...perhaps so old Frank could enjoy himself killing sharks once again. But we digress.

There's one solid answer to the fate of the Cricket Two, and that is to make her a commercial shark diving and research vessel. As a media tool few vessels carry the instant recognition factor of the Cricket Two. As a way of pushing the shark conservation message forward to later generations of commercial grade shark killers-we know of no better vessel or platform.

Imagine for a moment having the Cricket Two "blockade" the ongoing Martha's Vineyard Monster Shark Tournament?

It will take a smart media team, cool messaging, and of course about 300k to pry this vessel away from those who would use her to either hunt for sharks or send her to the bottom. If this vessel ends up in the hands of a savvy pro shark hunter the balance of media attention would go there...and it's a real a possibility as you could imagine.

Editors Note: For a production company this vessel could be, with the right show concept,the next Shark Week vehicle. Anyone interested should give us a call we have a *few* ideas.