Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guadalupe Island - New Conservation Video

Only Oceans Aloft could bring you aerial shots of Isla Guadalupe like these and their latest conservation video covers shark conservation at Isla Guadalupe from both historical and political perspectives.

Featuring show host host Natasha Stenbock, CICIMAR's Dr Mauricio Hoyos, conservation NGO Wildcoast, and some great underwater footage shot with Horizon Charters and Shark Diver in 2009.

This conservation video tackles "Conservation Shark Diving" head on and the viewer comes away with a richer understanding of what Isla Guadalupe means to the many thousands of shark divers who have been coming to this unique and pristine island since 2002.

Great industry quotes from Horizon vessel Captain Spencer and dive operations manager Martin Graf as well. Shark finning video courtesy of Sharkwater Productions.

Oil Spill in the Gulf - Whale Shark Impact?

For the past two years we have been covering whale shark aggregations off the coast of Morgan City, Louisiana.

Upwards of 40-100 animals at a time have been sighted here year after year and have become both industry and major media news.

Scientist Eric Hoffmayer has been studying these groups as far out as 100 miles from shore and that's where this weeks news from the Gulf takes a decidedly nasty turn.

The Swiss-based Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sunk last week leaving many in the region to worry about ongoing oil seeping from the wellhead at 5000 feet. The worst case scenario has happened and now experts agree close to 1000 barrels a day are leaking to the surface or close to 42,000 gallons of oil.

Oil clean up crews have dumped over a million gallons of chemical oil dispersant into the region and more is sure to come in an effort to break up the oil on the surface. As whale sharks feed on the surface this oil and chemical dispersant does not bode well for these peaceful giants of the Gulf.

More from RTSEa Blog.

California Shark Research - Nuclear Options

Question: How do you age validate sharks?

Unlike trees or even mammals sharks are cartilaginous, they do not have bones or tree rings to look over after they die.

Bones and tree rings can give you the age of your target research specimen pretty quickly. With most shark species that's a much harder proposition.

Enter some smart folks at the Pacific Shark Research Center in California who are doing age validation of sharks and rays using radiocarbon isotopes.

As it turns out above ground testing of nukes in the 50's and 60's dropped these isotopes (14C) all over the planet and for a time every living thing on the planet had higher levels in their bodies. By tracking these higher levels in cartilage researchers can get a pretty accurate look at the age of long lived sharks like the white shark.

For more information go here.

Isla Guadalupe 1845 History - Introduction

I have spent the last few months in between epic trips to New Zealand and elsewhere at U.C Berkley uncovering the history of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico.

For a small island off the coast of Mexico it has a rich story with ownership documents going back to the early 1800's, complete with title documents, letters, and even "stock certificates".

My journey began after a chance meeting with staff from an NGO in Mexico last year. We were in the process of helping put together a multi part natural history television series with Wildcoast about the island for Televisa.

That series went on to win a number of awards in Mexico last year.

There I met one of the staff members who, as it turns out, had family who actually lived on the island in the late 1800's.

She provided me with a "love letter" and hand drawn images from the period featuring the large building commonly called "the prison" at Point Norte.

Thus began my journey into the history of the island.

At U.C Berkley I uncovered original documents that showed by 1845 Isla Guadalupe was a privately held island owned by the Western Livestock Company out of Boston Massachusetts. To put this into perspective, by 1845 in the USA, many states had yet to join the union. Alaska was not purchased from Russia until 1867.

Suffice to say the discovery of $50.00 shares in stock certificates of "The Guadalupe Island Company" were nothing short of amazing as were small details like wages for staff, $35 in gold each year.

Isla Guadalupe was ceded from the Mexican Government to a Jose Castro and Florencio Ferrano,both Mexican citizens, on January 8th, 1839. They received not just Guadalupe island but all the smaller islands in the region as well. By 1845 Jose Castro had sold 50% of his stake in the islands for the princely sum of $500 in gold.

By 1870 the islands were finally sold to US interests and the formation of The Western Livestock Company in the State of Main lead almost immediately to The Guadalupe Island Company and the selling of stock certificates seeking a total capital of $500,000, the stocks were sold in San Francisco until 1889.

Isla Guadalupe did not return from private ownership to Mexico until almost the beginning of the 1900's and it was a historically interesting repatriation done with a letter from the then Governor of Baja, all but demanding the island back. The owners at that time, who had paid close to $2000 for the title to these islands decided not to fight. Perhaps due to the fact this was a difficult island to become commercially successful with or perhaps by that time they had exhausted the seal fishery and timber operations on the island.

In all the documents I uncovered I could find no historical mention of white sharks at this island.

Not all that surprising as The Guadalupe Island Companies mandate for the period was commercial sealing, timber, and cattle ranching.

Patric Douglas CEO

Palau Shark Sanctuary - Video Interview

We follow a number of blogs one of which is The Palau Shark Sanctuary Blog Shark Talk.

For those that do not know the inspiring story of Dermot Keane there's a new video interview out that makes for fascinating watching:

When Irishman Dermot Keane visited Palau for the first time, he wasn’t aware of the disruptive fishing techniques, or the shocking shark finning that was going on around the island. But once he did, he decided to do something about this.

Big time!

Disney "Oceans" - Epic

Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jaques Cluzaud "Oceans" is a tour de force of underwater imagery.

Run, do not walk or even stroll to your nearest movie theater and see this film.

The underwater world is a fascinating place and for filmmakers bringing this world to a terrestrial audience in 2D or even 3D is a titanic task, "Oceans" does it superbly.

The other things "Oceans" manages quite well are the sequences with sharks. It is very common for filmmakers to try and make a point with sharks, to dispel the notion that they are in fact predators. This film does not do this, instead this film brings a man and shark sequence together that leaves the audience member aware of the dangers and yet understanding of the animal.

In the commercial shark diving world this is what we do, and it is refreshing to see a filmmaker who treats sharks as they animals they are - top order predators.

Kudos once again to the duo of Jacques Perrin and Jaques Cluzaud for a simply amazing film.

More from Huff Post.

Patric Douglas CEO