Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guadalupe Island - Research Critter Cam

The multi-year CICIMAR research effort at Isla Guadalupe studying movement patterns of regional white shark populations employed some interesting technology in 2009:

Rare Conservation Window - NJ Shark Fishery

Sometimes government can act on the behalf of sharks without even knowing. Just such a limited window of opportunity is happening now in NJ where unsigned bills allowing new fishing regulations for sharks might prohibit the entire 2010 sport caught shark fishing season.

A successful and savvy conservation lead campaign would have a remarkable effect at this time:

New Jersey fishermen could see a shutdown of the summer shark fishery - and the suspension of big money shark fishing tournaments because a two year old revision of the state's marine fishing regulations was not approved before former governor Jon Corzine left office, industry advocates say.

Now they are afraid the regulations could be delayed again by Gov. Christie's declaration of a 90-day moratorium on new regulations and rulemaking.

"Because of Governor Corzine's failure to act on the package, New Jersey is facing a potentially damaging shutdown of our shark fishery," the Recreational Fishing Alliance says in a letter sent today to the governor's office.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to meet in Alexandria, Virginia, from February 1-4, and during those meetings New Jersey is expected to be voted out of compliance on our shark regulations, which will begin the process of shutting down our shark fishery.

Complete Story

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ocean Dancer Supports Maldives Shark Research - Smart

Ocean Dancer is 110' of pure luxury and is a labour of love for French owner/operator, David Mesnard who has lived in the Maldives since 1990.

David is a highly regarded Free-diving and Scuba Dive Instructor and also a keen surfer. In his time in the Maldives he has witnessed dramatic changes to the marine environment. Changes that made him realise he needed to do something to help the oceans flourish again.

The MWSRP team first met David and Gaëlle at South Ari Atoll, in December 2008 when they ended up in the water together on what the research team thought to be a whale shark.

A large dark fin had breached the surface amongst a few tourists close by, so the MWSRP sent two team members in to take the ID photographs required to log the encounter. As the guys approached the ‘shark' they were not greeted by the usual large dark shape emerging from the plankton rich water. Instead, David, on scuba gear, was cruising around at around 5 metres, holding a fin he had carved from wood and painted black. The ocean loving French man then surfaced, removed his regulator and took great pleasure in his fooling of the ‘whale shark researchers'.

Ocean Dancer has always supported shark conservation programmes. Now they have become the MWSRP's newest sponsor, and the team is ecstatic to have them onboard. David and his wife Gaëlle are true ocean lovers. They, along with expert crew, are the shark friendly tour operator who encourages their guests to enjoy their holiday responsibly.

For more information about Ocean Dancer please visit here.

Fishermen catch shark, raise controversy

In Florida fishing for sharks from beaches is allowed in most counties.

While most of these landings are released back into the ocean this method of catching sharks draws the ire of conservationists, and the eye of the media when animals as large as this one are caught on camera.

Last weeks landing of a nine foot animal in Florida's Riviera Beach was no exception.

The article mentions a $9.00 extra shark fishing permit that fishermen are paying each year. It would be interesting to see local co-operative ventures with regional researchers to tag these animals using these fishermen.


Complete Story.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sea Shepherd - Losing Hearts and Minds

Sea Shepherd has "Jumped the Shark."

In the process they have become an open laughing stock of not only the conservation world but of the general public as well. What started with last summers expose on South Park has become a full blown online rebellion against staged reality television under the increasingly thin guise of protecting and saving wildlife.

By any metric including Sea Shepherds own Paul Watson they are losing the media battle for the hearts and minds of a non-radicalized public.

Watson recently posted a long winded and far fetched explanation for why the worlds online comment media is not buying into his spoon fed and faked Whale Wars spectaculars, such as the ill fated "Watson Was Shot" (Whale Wars Season One) and this years alleged ramming of the Ady Gil.

Paul Watson

"One of the most insidious and underhanded attacks has been the ability of the Japanese whaling industry to use cyber warfare. We have reason to believe that they have infiltrated internet social forums and websites with a well funded campaign of disinformation and strategies designed to undermine our morale and erode our support with a barrage of lies, ad hominem attacks, character assassination, and cyber bullying."

The most obvious explanation for Watson's pseudo Clive Barker analysis? The public is no longer buying into patently faked Sea Shepherd media. Sea Shepherd has grossly underestimated its audience and their intelligence.

Therein lies the problem. Across the Internet and beyond Western audiences are tuning out of the conservation message of whaling. Anti-whaling efforts have become an entertainment vehicle, not conservation, and Sea Shepherd is to blame for this bizarre shift in consciousness.

If Western watchers of these seasonal media antics are not buying into them, where are Eastern sympathies for Japans ongoing whaling efforts?

Smart Conservation People

There are some undoubtedly smart, dedicated people who work with Sea Shepherd, and to ignore them would be wrong. Like pirate vessels of old, the captains role as master and commander of his vessel was a "performance based job." Pirate crews had the right to depose their captain if he failed to deliver.

We would like to suggest that happens now.

Over the past decades Paul Watson alone has managed to stubbornly apply a leisure suit wearing 1970's strategy to every "save the" campaign he has put forth. Today, twenty plus years later, whales are still being killed, seals harvested, and sharks taken all over the world.

Meanwhile in just the past two years Watson has lost close to 4 million dollars in donor money, vessels and equipment. Canadian authorities recently sold his impounded vessel the Farley Mowat at auction and now the Ady Gil lies at the bottom of the sea. Not to mention the untold gallons of diesel and oil spilled into the pristine Antarctic, trying to save whales - yet again.

Paul Watson's continual resetting of eco goals is one indication that even he, in his most private moments, realizes his organization is failing to effect any real and lasting changes. Over the years he has been quoted as saying his goal is to "stop whaling." That soon changed to "limit the numbers of whales killed," and today Watson's new and fully open ended commitment to whales suggests that his goals are to "bankrupt the whalers." With that one statement Watson has slyly committed Sea Shepherd and its radicalized followers to another 20-30 years of ineffective media staging.

This years sinking of the Ady Gil was tantamount to a group of camera laden PETA protesters ramming a car into the side of a meat processing plant...and then blaming the plant for attempted murder.

The conservation world is becoming tarnished by a small group of increasing irrelevant media event stagers who have redefined the meaning of metric based conservation to reality entertainment.

Clearly, the public has had enough. What is needed now is leadership change from within.

Which begs the question, are there any real leaders within the Sea Shepherd ranks?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Chatham, Carcarius has landed"

"Non invasive" archival pop up tagging with great whites has been a mainstay of research for the past decade.

CHATHAM — For years, information about the migration and feeding habits of great white sharks has been as elusive as the predators themselves. Now, thanks to information from a tag attached to a shark off Chatham last summer, researchers will soon have something to sink their teeth into.

At around midnight on Friday, Jan. 15, a data-logging tag popped loose from a shark 50 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla., and began transmitting data to researchers by satellite. The tag was one of several which were fastened to white sharks off Chatham last September, and is designed to detach and float to the surface after having collected information on water temperature, depth and light levels.

The tag transmitted information for about five days, and Senior Biologist Greg Skomal of the state's Division of Marine Fisheries is now poring over the data. Spokeswoman Catherine Williams said Monday that the process is slow.

“It was tracking since September, so there's a lot of data on the tag,” she said.

With help from fisherman Bill Chaprales, who wielded the harpoon, researchers tagged five white sharks in September after there were multiple shark sightings close to shore. The sharks prompted officials to close area beaches to swimmers, which in turn drew many curious sightseers to the shoreline.

“We're hopeful that we'll see all of the tags,” Williams said. “We're very interested to see what the data can tell us about this species.”

“For Massachusetts citizens and biologists and shark enthusiasts across the globe, this is an exciting opportunity to study these fascinating creatures,” state environmental affairs Secretary Ian Bowles said in a press statement. “We're looking forward to sharing the findings—so far, all we know is that this particular shark is a snowbird.”

Many species of fish, including sharks, migrate to New England's coastal and open waters in the summer months. At least a dozen shark species migrate in and out of New England waters annually. Massachusetts is the northernmost range for several species, and is an important area for monitoring the health and distribution of shark populations. Although relatively rare in New England, great white sharks are known to visit local waters, where they are sometimes seen feeding near seal colonies.

Last May, the journal Current Biology published Skomal's research on the migratory patterns of basking sharks. Using similar tagging technology, Skomal and his team documented the movements of the species, identifying previously unknown winter habitats. The discovery has implications for that species' conservation.

While many of the secrets of white sharks remain unknown, local officials would be content to have one question answered: will the sharks return this summer?

“That's difficult to predict,” Williams said. “We don't know if they'll be back.” But if the great whites return, and if it is possible to safely tag additional sharks, “we'll definitely take that opportunity,” she said.

Skomal's research is funded through the Division of Marine Fisheries' Recreational Marine Fisheries program. Among the funding sources for the work are grants from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dive Photo Guide Offers Free Online Tutorials

New York (Jan 27, 2010) – In response to the global demand from photographers, scuba divers, surfers and snorkelers around the world, leading underwater photography website DivePhotoGuide.com has launched a highly anticipated free series of comprehensive underwater photography tutorials.

The underwater photography guides offer easy-to-read tutorials for photographers all levels to learn how to take great underwater photos. The tutorials are written by professional underwater photographer Jason Heller and DivePhotoGuide.com editor Matt Weiss, along with contributions from several world renowned professional and award winning underwater photographers, such as National Geographic photographer David Doubilet, Martin Edge, and Alex Mustard. Each tutorial includes beautiful underwater photos and equipment set-up shots that illustrate each technique.

Underwater photography can be incredibly rewarding, but it does pose unique challenges and requires an understanding of basic principles and techniques. Beginners will find the Getting Started Guide very intuitive, including the top ten basic principles of underwater photography and how to select your first underwater camera system. Other tutorials include macro, wide angle, super-macro, composition, lighting, surf photography and a number of creative techniques. New and advanced techniques and tutorials will be added on a regular basis.

Popular underwater photography website DivePhotoGuide.com has been a valuable resource to a community of over 50,000 underwater photographers around the world since 2005. In addition to the new free techniques guides, the website features underwater photo galleries from the top pros and amateurs in the world, daily underwater photography and ocean related news, in-depth articles, a comprehensive underwater photography equipment guide, travel guide, event calendars and a monthly photo contest with prizes.


Shark Research Isla Guadalupe - Complex Emotional Data

Science is not always pretty. Field science even less so. The headlong rush to extract data from big charismatic mega fauna like the white shark has lead us to a real debate within the shark community over invasive tagging methods.

SPOT tagging is a questionable method of tagging whites that involves catching them with baited hooks and attaching a "drilled on" dorsal tech package. The argument is these packages last longer and deliver more data to researchers which is then used to protect the species.

We have been supporters of this method until recently.

Unfortunately when reviewing videos of SPOT tagging, one comes to the conclusion that these efforts are in dire need of set protocols that do less invasive harm to magnificent breeding aged animals. The loss of just one of these animals through invasive research would be a major blow to the entire western pacific population.

At no point should anyone on this team be lacking for any contingency, seconds count, and the lack of basics, like support tires for this animal, multiple and conflicting directive voices, and a fresh sea water tube that is 10% effective is appalling to watch:



More from the Dorsal Fin Blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Australian Shark Conservation - Makos Back on the Grill

One of the most perplexing issues with modern shark conservation is regional and local government buy in. Too often rules and regulations that protect shark species take years of legislative process, time, money, and energy to adopt.

And all too often we see a watering down or outright reversals of conservation rules and regulations. Such was the case in Australia this week, where new laws governing the take of mako shark were overturned by government slight of hand and a shameless buckling to commercial fishing pressures.

That's why we developed and support the Shark Free Marinas Initiative as an effective method to bypass government while enacting shark conservation measures.

The SFMI works with direct source points of shark traffic creating a win-win with local marinas to request that sharks are not landed at their facilities.

The metrics are there. In the USA alone 400,000 sport caught sharks arrive at marinas each year (NOAA) With just 50% of marinas in the USA adopting the SFMI we could save 200,000 sharks a year. Over the planet many hundreds of thousands more while educating fishermen to catch and release ethics making a shark fishery sustainable, without any government buy in at all.

A case study for modern shark conservation and one that has already seen 70% of Fiji go Shark Free with the help of PADI Project Aware, Stuart Gow and others.

Shark Diving Industry - Threats of Violence?

The last report we ever expected to see coming from the Maldives and the South Ari Atoll, home of an excellent regional whale shark research program, might involve commercial operations in the area threatening violence at knife point.

From the Dhivehi Observer this week tales of "ugliness on the high seas" as commercial operations come into conflict with regional researchers over whale shark gold.

This is not a new tale, shark diving operations that are in conflict with each other are the stuff of legends within the commercial shark diving industry. Up until today these conflicts usually stayed quiet and never appeared on the front page:

"MV Orion and MV Southern Cross crews have allegedly threatened to ram rival boats and stand accused of throwing heavy dive weights at tourists and dhoni crews from nearby Diva Resort. Most shockingly, in January, the crew of MV Southern Cross boarded a dhoni belonging to the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme, foreign researchers who monitor the sharks. The MV Southern Cross crew threatened at KNIFE POINT to kill the researchers unless they quit the area."

For the record we fully support the efforts of the Maldives Whale Shark Program and have done so for a few years. Small minded industry ugliness is not a new phenomenon. Calling it out for public consumption is.

The owner operators of both the MV Orion and MV Southern Cross must be made to understand that user groups have rights to animals as much as they do. A smart minded operation would seek ways to incorporate research into the fabric of its dive and marketing efforts, a win-win solution to user group conflicts under the banner of conservation shark diving.

Hopefully these well known dive operators will realize their errors before it is too late and commercial whale shark diving in Maldives becomes tainted by irreparable scandal.

Deep Blues - R.I. Shark Documentary

To all who had forgotten about the venerable Snappa Charters and Captain Charlie, here is a reminder that he's still "Running with the Blues" on the east coast and still thrilling divers almost 12 years later with a recent documentary about his operation. Snappa Charters remains one of the USA's oldest shark diving operations.

Kudos to Scott Tucker for the documentary, as always the Dorsal Fin Blog looked into the media side with a finer comb and brought up some salient points:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Guadalupe Island -Topside

Very few people have had a chance to view Isla Guadalupe from the air. It is a breathtaking sight.

Now, thanks to one mans efforts, everyone can share in the experience. These images are the perfect compliment to undersea encounters with great white sharks at this wild and remote island.

Thanks Eddie, this is really great footage.

The changing impact of whale shark tourist expenditure

An updated paper on the shifting financial impact of whale shark tourism in Australia's Ningaloo region is a must read for those within the shark diving industry.

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the expenditure of whale shark tour participants at Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia; the location of the world's first whale shark tourism industry, established in 1989. We demonstrate that in 2006, participants' expenditure in the region was $894 per trip, total expenditure was $6.0 million (all figures are in Australian dollars), and between $2.4 and $4.6 million would have been lost to the region if whale shark tourism did not exist. Our measure of participants' expenditure is substantially lower than the calculation of $2370 per participant from a previous study of whale shark tourists using data collected in 1995. We argue that this is consistent with a change in the types of wildlife tourists that participate in an activity as the industry reaches the point of consolidation. Our results also suggest that using old data to forecast wildlife tourists' expenditure needs to take into account the industry's stage of development. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Paper Here.

Taiwan civic groups protest chain stores selling shark-fin soup

Smart direct action protests begin with indigenous populations. The issue of sharks fin soup has been a tricky one with the perception of Westerns trying to influence a primarily Asian cultural issue.

Asians, for good reason, are resistant to heavy handed direct action eco push by outsiders. A fact many within the Western shark conservation community have discovered first hand over the years.

So, how do you change destructive indigenous cultural practices?

The IUCN has an idea, protesting and messaging with local populations:

"Lured by high profits, fishermen kill sharks only for their fins. They cut off shark's fins and dump the sharks into the sea and let them bleed to death," said Wang Yu-min, director of the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan. "Each year, some 4,000 to 7,000 sharks are killed for their fins. The International Union for Conservation of Nature warned that 111 species of shark are being threatened, of which 20 species are seriously threatened and 25 species face
extinction," she said.


Complete Story.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Elephant Seal Herd Guadalupe Island old Photo 1920's

Close to a decade later of shark diving operations at Isla Guadalupe we start to forget that people have been coming to this wild and remote place for over 150 years.

Thanks to Big Dawg for the image find.

During the lead up to Televisa's award winning documentary on the island in 2009 I was fortunate enough to meet a woman in Mexico with an amazing first person historical twist to Isla Guadalupe going back to 1917-18.

For years several old structures on the islands North Bay have the subject of rumor, old history, and a few tall tales.

In the next few weeks we will be featuring "Guadalupe a Love Story." Opening up the history of this island in a series of letters and images written from the period. No mention of white sharks, but at the time this remote outpost had other hardships to contend with.

This image for sale on ebay here.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fuchsia Dunlop BBC - Refusing Sharks Fin

The BBC has a first rate story today on the culture of shark fin soup and one woman's determination to end it's acceptance at the dinner table.

It is a classic tale of east vs west mentalities with a surprising twist at the end. The shark conservation movement may just end the practice of eating sharks fin soup "one table sized international incident" at a time:

"There was an awkward silence. My dinner companions had not heard this kind of stuff before and certainly not from me, who they know as the Englishwoman who eats everything."


Complete Story.

Hammers in Love?

Swim at Your Own Risk blog got the scoop from Perth yesterday featuring a video shot from the air of Hammerheads schooling off the coast.

Local experts think this is high seas shark love in action.

We'll let you decide.

Video Here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cape Cod to Florida - Pretty Neat Trick

You have to love the marine sciences for one reason only - data, lovely, undisputed data.

So when we hear tell of a tagged white shark arriving in Florida's waters that's just a cause for celebration, and then some.

For the folks in Jacksonville it may be the cause for some concern, but fear not:

“We were very pleased to hear that this one had surfaced,” said Catherine Williams, spokeswoman for the Division of Marine Fisheries, which led the tagging project. “We’re expecting that the other four will surface any time between now and the spring, but, of course, there are no guarantees.”

Complete Story.

Save the Sharks - Tampa Bay Editorial

Today's in house editorial from the Tampa Bay Newspapers is a perfect example of well researched pro shark discussions.

We need more just like this:

Vilified, maligned and abused, some species of sharks are vulnerable to extinction.

Fortunately wildlife agencies and conservationists, recognizing that sharks are invaluable to the survival of marine ecosystems, are taking steps to ensure that threats to these fascinating creatures aren’t left unchecked.

Complete Story.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The 200,000 Hook Gauntlet - Amazing

What happens when you hold a festival in South Korea featuring mountain trout?

You get a 200,000 plus fishing event that takes your breath away. The images from this event are hard to comprehend.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have descended on a frozen river to drill through the ice to hook mountain trout - or even fish for them with their bare hands. Visitors to Hwacheon in South Korea have arrived for the annual Ice Festival, which saw 200,000 people visit over the weekend, and which organisers anticipate will see more than a million taking part by the end of the three-week event."

Complete Story.

Chip Scarlett and Sharks - Visually Stunning

We are big fans of pro shark PSA's, especially ones that deliver strong and cohesive personal narratives.

Underwater photographer Chip Scarlett knows this art form well and has delivered one of the most engaging shark PSA's we have seen in a while. All that is needed now is a gentle push into the Internet and about 100,000 more viewers.

Kudos:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shark Conservation Australia - Solutions?

Shark fishermen in Australia face potential $11,000 fines for harvesting newly banned shark species like the longfin mako.

Naturally fishermen are unhappy with the arrangement asking the question - are we really saving sharks by just banning shark takes?

We're not so sure there's an easy answer to that without a follow up outreach programs in "safe shark handling" for fishermen.

Featuring heavier tackle, circle hooks, and limited handling protocols shark mortality rates could be effectively curbed with a well coordinated two step conservation approach.

In Florida this approach will be launched in the summer of 2010.

Complete Story.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Million Dollar Vote - Shark Conservation Win

Georgienne Bradley from The Imaging Foundation is the smartest woman in the shark conservation room right now.

With her small team she has managed to create a tsunami of interest in the Chase Charitable Giving Event and with your help her team can capture the ultimate prize of One Million Dollars for shark conservation efforts.

Why are we supporting this effort?

Bandwidth. Bradley's team have managed to capture a lot of it all over the Internet and beyond and that is the cornerstone of today's conservation world.

Bandwidth.

Please support this effort today with your valuable vote. Yes we know Haiti is also an important issue right now so do two things in the next 24hrs.

1. Donate 5-50 for Haiti relief efforts.

2. Vote for The Imaging Foundation.

Haiti thanks you and the sharks thank you. A double win in 2010.

NY Times Featuring Industry Member

If there's one thing we like to see it's well balanced and pro industry reporting in the major media.

Too often the industry receives a black eye when operators fail to heed basic media commandments.

As in "Thou shalt not do extreme shark diving media, ever".

It is once again gratifying to see Beqa Adventure Divers in 2010 leading the charge with a well balanced article by Greg Winters.

All the commercial elements are open for review in this article, featuring the pros and cons of the commercial shark diving industry. Coming on the heels of last weeks anti-shark diving media orgy in South Africa - this is fair and balanced reporting.

It could not have come at a better time.

Kudos.

Al's Discount Shark Cages

Years ago I laughed at a Gary Larson's cartoon featuring "Al's Discount Shark Cages," an instant classic.

In the 10 years since I have seen little evidence of anyone building shark cages "on the cheap," until today.

Thanks Robin for the hat tip.

Apparently the new cage rage in Laguna Beach is, wait for it, PVC Shark Cages.

Kudos to the guys for trying, and to their catch and release ethic, but PVC?

Here's the complete adventure story. Shark diving always starts somewhere. When I see fishermen like Ryan taking an interest in sharks "beyond the hook and line," I am all for it, even with the PVC.

His personal take on the sharks in the water is the reason for commercial shark diving - appreciation, which as we have all seen leads to conservation:

"The sharks are so beautiful and calm it was irresistible. Ok, now I'm sounding like a nature channel guy, but really- part of why I love fishing is the beauty of ocean and its inhabitants!"

Here's to 1000 more, Al's Discount Shark Cages.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 Florida Shark Fishing Regulations

Here are the new shark fishing regulations for the State of Florida.

As a barometer for the sport fishing industry the State of Florida is making improvements to shark fisheries.

■ New additions to the prohibited species list are sandbar, silky and Caribbean sharpnose sharks.

■ Sharks must be landed whole. This means filleting and removing heads, fins, and tails of sharks at sea is not allowed. Gutting and bleeding of sharks at sea is allowed to preserve the meat.

■ There is no minimum size limit for Atlantic sharpnose sharks, blacknose sharks, blacktip sharks, bonnethead sharks, finetooth sharks, and smooth dogfish, all other sharks must be at least 54 inches long (fork length) to harvest or possess.

■ Sharks may be harvested with hook and line gear only. Additionally, snatching and use of multiple (e.g. treble) hooks with natural baits is not allowed.

■ There is a bag limit of one shark per person per day and a maximum of 2 sharks per vessel per day.

■ Smooth dogfish and the Florida smoothhound are now included in the shark regulations. For a complete list of regulated sharks please visit MyFWC.com. Many sharks are difficult to identify and it is up to anglers to learn how to properly identify the sharks they harvest.

Please visit MyFWC.com to view shark identification information and other management information.

Haiti - "The world is coming to an end"

Take a minute today to consider the following video. Under the dust in this clip was Haiti's most populous city Port au Prince - 1,750,00. The young woman who shot the video just went through a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

Haiti could use some help. The people of Haiti, already considered some of the poorest in the western hemisphere could also use your help. We donated this morning to a few of the charities listed. They have long track records and large humanitarian crews in Haiti with the best ability to get needed supplies and assistance to the country now.

You can help by adding your 5,10,20 to the cause.

We're shark conservationists, but we're also human too. Take some time out of your day to help those who really need it. We can get back to sharks next week.

Habitat for Humanity

Red Cross International

World Vision International

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shark Attack - Save Our Seas Response

As a general rule we do not get involved in hyped media surrounding shark attacks, unless they are industry driven.

Today a well researched and thoughtful response to the recent shark attack media hype in South Africa caught our attention.

Save our Sea Foundation have taken an ongoing leadership role in many issues surrounding sharks and conservation.

Today's Op Ed was one more example of industry leadership with a nice blend of pro shark pro conservation messaging. Kudos.

"Hollywood catapulted the great white shark into the world’s consciousness in 1975 when Steven Spielberg’s JAWS hit the big screen. Previously confined to an obscure world below the ocean’s waves, the box-office hit created a monster with a lust for wanton killing in the terrified minds of its audiences. As shark-attack hysteria gripped the world a great white shark killing frenzy ensued. Population numbers plummeted and an apex predator with a history 200 million years older than the first dinosaur started swimming towards the land of the dodo."

Complete Post

Shark Research in Action - Bahamas

Kristine Stump, the current Principal Investigator at the Bimini Biological Field Station, describes the research she is conducting as a part of her PhD studies.

Kristine's doctorate thesis investigates the effects of habitat loss on the juvenile lemon sharks that use Bimini as their primary nursery.

Bimini's mangrove lagoons function as critical habitat for a wealth of wildlife, from seahorses and snappers to stingrays and sharks. Kristine's study aims to quantify the impact that removing these mangrove nurseries will have on Bimini's lemon shark population, and the wider ecosystem as a whole.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Vessel To The Power of 10,000

This mornings conservation image is of a single vessels shark take in Japan.

The image comes from the Blue Voice Blog, normally focused on whale and dolphin issues, this one time take of blue sharks is, none the less, a heart wrenching scene.

Kudos.

BlueVoice.org

Hardy Jones is a former journalist with CBS News and UPI. He has been making television documentaries about the oceans and marine mammals in particular for more than 20 years. "The experience of forcing Japanese fishermen to release hundreds of dolphins simply by pointing a camera at them led to the original concept of BlueVoice.org," says Jones. "The advent of the internet has given us a tool of unprecedented power to end some of the brutalities committed against marine mammals and the oceans."

Our film "If Dolphins Could Talk," hosted by actor Michael Douglas, complimented the work of many environmental organizations when we broadcast video footage of dolphins dying in tuna nets. Soon afterwards Heinz announced it would no longer accept tuna caught by surrounding dolphins with nets.

BlueVoice.org draws on the hundreds of hours of film produced by Hardy Jones/Julia Whitty Productions, a leading production company specializing in films on the marine environment.

Shark Nets: Thomas Peschak Reports

The newly redesigned RTSea Blog has great coverage of premier underwater photog Thomas Peschak and South African anti shark nets.

As a team member with the Save Our Seas Foundation Thomas has been featured in several informative PSA's demonstrating marine conservation leadership with this ongoing and deadly issue.

About SOS

The Save Our Seas Foundation sponsors marine conservation projects around the world from White Sharks in South Africa to Giant Manta Rays in Mexico. We are committed to educating people about the importance of conserving our beautiful oceans.

Find out more at saveourseas.com.

Squalene in Vaccine Protest - On Target?

Over the holidays I got a series of emails from well meaning shark folks asking to join the march against squalene use in vaccines.

Squalene comes from sharks livers and is used in vaccines like the H1N1 vaccine produced by GLAXO pharmacuticals. It is also used in the cosmetics industry.

You can also get squalene from olive oil, and as I came to discover this week humans actually secrete squalene daily.

The question I wanted to know was how many sharks were being killed and did we have any hard data, or was this another of the well meaning series of "save the shark" campaigns based on an emotional appeal.

Here's what I discovered:

Canadian H1N1 vaccine contains (per dose) 3.8 micrograms of viral protein (HA) and 5 micrograms of preservative solution mixed with 12 milligrams of Vitamin E, 11 milligrams of squalene, and 5 milligrams of Polysorbate 80.

According to the best research available and a study in the Journal Of Lipid Research an average person secretes 125 – 475 milligrams of squalene per day from their skin.

The question is - how many shark livers do you need to produce just 5 milligrams of squalene per dose of vaccine?

Granted we're talking millions of doses a high percentage of which have been cut in half due to vaccine shortages. Does anyone have hard numbers of sharks caught for squalene or is this another "save the" campaign without data?

The point I am making is this. If the shark conservation movement is to be successful in next decade we will have to carefully plan and execute our campaigns. The previous decade was full of "save the shark" campaigns that were either made up out of whole cloth, or had serious data shortages.

We can best effect lasting change if we approach our campaign appeals with embedded and researched data. That means getting down to work and unveiling the numbers or at least attaching the campaign to a place where sharks are being harvested for their livers to effect change there.

This blog covered one such place in 2008.

Since that time nothing has been done to effect lasting change to the sharks taken at this site and the current "save the sharks from squalene" rings a bit hollow unless we can bring about measurable change to entire regions and fishermen such as these.

The previous decade was about "shark awareness" this decade has to be about "shark action."

That's not to say these campaigns are not well meaning. Clearly they are. The question the shark conservation movement needs to ask at this time is "what are we in this for?"

We're in it to for actual changes. Change takes strategy, data, and clear metrics for success.


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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sea Shepherd - Mastering Reality Disasters?

We would like to congratulate Sea Shepherd and Animal Planet on a fantastic staged event for television - perhaps one of the best staged disaster moments of 2010.

As production people ourselves we know the hazards and very real dangers of staging live disasters for television. It's a highly technical world only professionals can effectively operate in.

Multi-million dollar staged disasters are often canceled at the last minute due to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) non-compliance or studio fears of death and dismemberment. Sea Shepherd on the other hand have found a way to circumvent all of the requirements for staged disaster television by only allowing volunteer crews and staging the events against non-paid, non-union, Japanese whalers.

By-passing all clean environmental requirements for television productions by producing this man made disaster in the Antarctic ocean was another master stroke. The clean up of several thousand gallons of bio diesel spilled by the Ady Gil and retrieval of the vessel from the sea floor would have cost Sea Shepherd and Whale Wars Productions millions if this disaster had been filmed in the USA.

Brilliant!

Managing to move Sea Shepherds $2 million dollar vessel Ady Gil into the path of Japanese whalers was a quirk of nautical timing by a seasoned captain who knew his vessel and the direction wind, waves, and engines were carrying it. Catching the whole thing on video from the Bob Barker at just the right angle was pure reality television.

We were doubly impressed with the witty and show branding quote from SSCS Paul Watson immediately after the stunt, "Now we're in a Real Whale War!" reminding the global audience that this is, after all, Must See TV!

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have clearly evolved from earlier staged productions such as Paul Watsons being shot by Japanese whalers. In terms of production quality and emotional leverage that earlier staged event was not one of the top three of the 2007 reality television season.

Kudos to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson, and Animal Planet for once again bravely leading the way into a new decade of reality television firsts. The televised disaster staging they have created together keeps getting better and better, and their complete and ongoing circumvention of all production norms and safety regulations allows their organization to literally shoot-for-the-moon.

We're looking forward to more man made disasters in the coming months!

More on Sea Shepherd Conservation Society here.

Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme - Report

The DC Rainmaker Blog has an in depth first person report of whale shark research in the Maldives this week.

We had the pleasure of meeting the DC Rainmaker folks at Isla Guadalupe during the filming of Shark Diver: The Movie in 2009.

"The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (with an ‘e’ at the end, British style…) was founded in 2006 by a group of marine biologists looking to setup a permanent facility in the Maldives to study whale sharks. Unlike many other areas of the world, it appears a bunch of the whale sharks actually stick around the Maldives year round, providing an excellent opportunity for long term research. Though they don’t quite yet have the financial resources to stay year round, the goal is to be able to rotate teams and individuals to the island for sustained continuous research."

Full report, great read and Kudos guys!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Global Conservation Messaging

How do you effect conservation change with media?

For our money this is one of the better efforts out there.

Sharks - Elegance in Back and White

RTSea Productions takes the planet on a journey this month. The end result is visually stunning emotionally guiding the viewer into the magnificent world of sharks.

Shot in the Bahamas at Tiger Beach, this is pro shark pro industry film making.

Kudos.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Google Oceans - RTSea Productions

RTSea Productions spent 2009 deep inside Google producing a series of pro shark tourism and pro conservation media pieces. Richard Theiss is well known in the industry as a competent story teller and filmmaker who seeks to portray sharks in a natural setting, without the added media hype often associated with these magnificent animals.

He was the driving force behind film Island of the Great White Sharks a film that remains the only serious investigation into shark tourism and ongoing research at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. He was also the primary shooter on an award winning television series featuring Isla Guadalupe in Mexico in 2009.

His latest video shows that there's much more to Isla Guadalupe's shark ecotourism than just an exciting adventure. Sharks are critical to maintaining a balanced marine ecosystem, and responsible ecotourism enlightens people to the threats sharks are facing today and the need to protect them.

To learn more, visit Google Earth's new ocean layer or visit RTSea Productions.


Vote for Imaging Foundation in Chase Competition

There are a few dedicated groups out there who could use funding to do amazing PSA's and conservation work for the oceans.

This is why we support Imaging Foundations drive to win the Chase Bank competition for conservation funding.

Join them this month and create your own Wave Rave to celebrate the oceans and VOTE for their funding by Chase.

Your vote will make a world of difference to the oceans.

iDive Sharks - Shark Imaging Festival

One of the smartest web roll outs and concepts for the shark diving industry in 2009 was, without a doubt, Mark Thorps iDive Sharks.

We have been big fans and supporters of this site from it's inception.

At long last a place exists on the Internet where sharks, commercial shark diving, and underwater imagery intersect on a platform where shark people can feel at home. Brilliant.

In tandem with Underwater Videography iDive Sharks is running the first of many Underwater Imaging Festivals open to the public with a first prize of a free expedition to Isla Guadalupe in 2010 with Shark Diver.

We are proud to support innovation in the industry and sites that promote our industry in positive ways. Kudos to Mark for his site and here's wishing him a successful 2010.

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

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus"

One of the highlights of 2009 was the introduction of the Dorsal Fin Blog to the world of sharks, conservation and media.

It would seem that 2010 will be as informative and amusing under their "seasoned media eye."

Kudos for this weeks media find, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus. A film that has plenty of cheese for everyone:

Senior Associate, Global Shark Conservation - Job Opening

Senior Associate, Global Shark Conservation

The Organization


The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Brussels, Pew produces fact-based research and develops practical solutions to challenging issues.

We are an independent nonprofit organization--the sole beneficiary of seven individual charitable funds, with assets of $5.2 billion at the end of June 2008, established between 1948 and 1979 by two sons and two daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew.

Pew provides an exciting learning environment and the opportunity to work with highly talented individuals. It is a dynamic organization that values creativity and innovative thinking and fosters strong teamwork with mutual respect.


The Pew Environment Group



The mission of the Pew Environment Group is to promote policies and practices that protect the global atmosphere, preserve large intact wilderness ecosystems and conserve living marine resources.


For the past two decades, the Environment group has been a major force in driving conservation policy in the United States, and increasingly internationally. The group’s work is focused on reducing the scope and severity of three major global environmental problems:

  • Dramatic changes to the Earth’s climate brought about by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the planet’s atmosphere;
  • The erosion of large wilderness ecosystems that contain a great part of the world’s remaining biodiversity; and,
  • The destruction of the world’s ocean environment, with a particular emphasis on marine fisheries.

Global Shark Conservation



Sharks roamed the seas for nearly 200 million years before dinosaurs were on the planet. However, due to the onset of industrialized fisheries in the last fifty years, many populations of large sharks have declined globally by approximately 90 percent. The world's increasing demand for shark fins, used for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup as well as other products, is killing up to 73 million sharks a year—a rate that is highly unsustainable. Sharks are highly vulnerable to overfishing, as they are generally slow-growing and reproduce late in life with few offspring. As a result, entire shark populations may disappear within our lifetime.

The Global Shark Conservation is designed to reverse this decline of shark populations through public education, advocacy and research. With overlapping jurisdictions over shark fisheries, the campaign will work within both international governance bodies (such as regional fisheries management organizations and the United Nations) and treaty organizations such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to secure precautionary, science-based protections for sharks. Domestically, the campaign will work to secure stronger shark management within the U.S. as well as in other coastal nations that still have large populations of sharks left in their territorial waters.



Position Overview



The campaign senior associate will work with the director of the Global Shark Conservation to provide the information and assistance necessary to design and carry out the campaign strategy. The Global Shark Conservation is designed as a two-year effort which begins April 1, 2009 and will run through March 31, 2011. The position may be renewed, pending its progress and the availability of continued financial support. This position will report to the project director and is based in Washington, D.C.



Responsibilities:
  • Assist the project director and other campaign staff in developing and implementing campaign strategy.
  • Work with the Manager of the shark campaign to develop and execute outreach events with coalition members internationally and domestically to educate and influence policy makers.
  • Manage special outreach projects for the campaign that raise public, media and policymaker awareness of the need for shark conservation. These projects could include managing video projects, working with film and television producers to secure “calls to action” in nature programming, or arranging speaking engagements for the campaign with target audiences.
  • Work with PCT and PEG communications to develop and implement a strategy for new media outreach.
  • Assist in developing public, policymaker, and media outreach strategies for the campaign in target regions of the world, such as in Asia, Latin America, or the Pacific.
  • Create compelling materials for the campaign, including website content, fact sheets, coalition letters, etc.
  • Research and write campaign materials, such as reports, booklets, fact sheets and web content.
  • Represent the campaign at meetings and on conference calls within Pew, with partner groups, federal agencies, and Congress.
  • Maintain knowledge of shark management activities worldwide.

Requirements:
  • Four to 8 years of experience in environmental and public policy required. An advanced degree or equivalent experience is required. Expertise in marine issues are strongly preferred.
  • Able to set short- and long-term planning goals in line with program strategy. A task-oriented style, with focus on achieving clear and ambitious goals. Demonstrated ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization. Able to develop and move projects forward with a high degree of independence and autonomy.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, including an ease in communicating complex concepts in a clear effective manner for a general audience.
  • A detail and results-oriented style with a focus on process and achievement. Recognized ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization.
  • Demonstrated strong analytical skills, including an ability to synthesize large amounts of information and to focus quickly on the essence of an issue. A strong commitment to producing measurable results.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to develop and manage productive relationships with consultants, partners, grantees and others who contribute to the effectiveness of the project.
  • Able to establish credibility quickly and to develop and maintain effective working relationships with internal and external parties, including grantees.
  • Experience with media and other communications strategies to deliver policy recommendations and/or scientific findings to policy makers and the public desired.
  • Fluency in other languages a plus.
  • Knowledge of shark conservation issues a plus.

Some travel for this position may be required, including attending international meetings impacting shark conservation, as needed, and/or visiting campaign consultants working around the world on domestic shark conservation measures.



Application for job here.




2010 "A Decade of Action" for Shark Conservation

Welcome to 2010.

(Image by Christy Fisher)

I have been thinking a lot about this new decade and the direction it is going both in terms of the commercial shark diving world and shark conservation.

What is evident is that we have left a decade of "shark awareness" behind and have entered the decade of "shark action" and I am very happy to see this sea change within the industry.

This post read by most of you - is now a reality. “Noblesse Oblige." Back in October of 2008 this concept was as far away from being a reality as was Americas ideas of going to the moon in 1961, with the exception of a few operators who lead the industry by example.

We were one of them.

In 2009 the shark diving industry, lead by a few dedicated shark folks and a few "industry late adopters" gelled together and created a tsunami of shark conservation efforts, websites, and a few genuine eco wins.

Kudos.

Now we begin the heavy lifting. Shark conservation is a full time effort as many of you have discovered first hand. It is not "awareness" anymore. It is also not a back end way of promoting "stunt work with sharks" under the guise of conservation.

Flipping tiger sharks upside down at well known shark sites is not conservation.

Playing guitars at 60 feet surrounded by white sharks is also not conservation.

These images and video will, in the long haul, hurt the shark conservation movement, and our industry, and only serve to provide fodder for those who would seek to close the industry regionally, and internationally. The shotgun marriage with these "shark stunts" and shark conservation dilute and marginalize the entire effort.

Given the numbers of shark conservationists we now have engaged around the world, will we be able to effect real and lasting conservation change?

I hope so. Real change will involve critical thinking. It will involve taking risks. It will involve dedication beyond online petitions. It will also involve ignoring flashy and ultimately useless efforts that gain media attention and little else - that was the "decade of awareness."

By now we are all aware that sharks need help. That help must come in the form of measurable, serious, and dedicated efforts. Anyone can claim victory for sharks but unless there is measurable change, the effort is next to useless.

In the conservation game "the ends do not justify the means."

A perfect example of serious and lasting conservation change would be the Alibaba.com effort. Without a doubt this single sustained effort did more to save sharks and stamp out the trade in shark fins than almost any other effort in 2009. It remains a shining example of boots on the ground shark conservation.

The conservation world is rapidly changing from large and ponderous NGO's, to small, nimble conservation efforts that will ultimately lead the "decade of shark action."

Once again kudos to all for the new face of shark conservation, and a successful 2010 to you all.

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Saying Farewell to a Fine Man

Underwater Thrills has been down as we said good by to a fine man, a loving husband, and a father to a tribe of very unique children.

If there was one thing our father taught us it was independence of spirit - and thought.

He is missed every day.

JAMES B. DOUGLAS After a valiant six-month battle with cancer, that pernicious adversary, left like a prince on December 29th, 2009, in his 81st year.

His final exit was marked with grit, grace, wit and humour. Best-loved husband of Myfanwy, greatly loved father of Glenella (Glen), Aidan Patric (Jeannie) and Andrew. Much loved step-father of Alison (Julian), David (Belinda) and Robin.

Step-grandfather of Taylor, Conor, Christopher and Emily. Jimmy was predeceased by his mother, Peggy, and father, James, brother Hugh and half-brother Graham. Jimmy was born in South Africa and came to Canada at the age of six.

He was brought up by Dr. Agnes Carmichael, with his brother Hugh, in Toronto and Stony Lake. She had a profound influence on his life. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Amherst College, MA and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After appearing in the West End and touring in England, he returned to Canada where his many film roles included The National Film Board's seminal film The Drylanders, starring with Francis Hyland. He appeared as David Thompson in the documentary of the famous explorer's life and later starred in the Oscar-nominated film After The Axe, with many guest appearances on series such as Black Harbour and Road To Avonlea.

Jimmy's stage appearances included leading roles at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Globe Theatre in San Diego. Toronto's Crest Theatre production of The Long, the Short and the Tall, took him to New York where great notices subsequently led to several years in film in Hollywood, notably as Col. Merril in the motion picture, M*A*S*H. Jimmy returned to Canada to appear in the Red Barn Theatre's production of Teahouse of the August Moon.

A fiercely proud Canadian and passionate man of the theatre, he decided to remain in this country, where, over the years, he made a considerable mark in theatre, film and television and was one of the three founding members of the Tarragon Theatre.

Jimmy's theatrical heart was in musicals - his proudest productions were premieres of a musical adaptation with Joey Miller of Gordon Pinsent's A Gift To Last and War Brides The Musical, book by Grahame Woods. As artistic director of the Gryphon Theatre in Barrie, he nurtured new Canadian talent in every aspect of theatre. Before becoming ill, Jimmy's lauded one-man show, Sunshine and Shadows: an Evening with Stephen Leacock, touched and delighted audiences in Britain, the U.S. and Canada.

Jimmy will be missed by an extensive family; in California, step-mother Marcelle 'Betty', sister Laurenne (Carl) and sister-in-law Anita. Favourite uncle to Hugh, Ann, Craig and, in Colorado, Ian, and their families, his sister Josalee, in Belgium, and his new-found Carter cousins in South Africa, especially Patric. In Canada, sisters-in-law Janet, Hilary and Margaret and their families and his agent Ronda Cooper. He also leaves a large number of cousins and friends throughout Canada, the United States and Britain. As he wished, Jimmy died at home in Stratford, Ontario where he had moved in August with Myfanwy.

A celebration of his life will be held in Erin, Ontario at All Saints Church on January 24th at 3 p.m. Interment will take place in the spring at Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec City. James was passionate, funny, cantankerous, creative and loving. Donations may be made in James' name to the Actors' Fund of Canada.

Jimmy is now probably performing for the angels - a gig, he observed, for which he didn't have to audition.