Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White sharks making a comeback off California, expert says

Outdoor reporter Peter Thomas surprised us this week with his latest expose on sharks.White sharks and growing population numbers off the California coast.

Rising shark numbers? Appearntly so.

From Peter Thomas Outdoors:

It might come as unwelcome news to swimmers and surfers, but great white sharks appear to be mounting a comeback off California.

"I think there are more sharks," Christopher Lowe, a professor at Cal State Long Beach and director of the university's Shark Lab, said during an exclusive phone interview. "And that's not a bad thing; it's a good thing."

It's the first declaration by a prominent shark researcher that a recovery of the embattled great white shark -- the world's most notorious predator -- seems to be occurring.

A longstanding statewide ban on fishing for white sharks, an increased survival rate among young white sharks because of fishing gear restrictions, and an expanding sea lion population as a prey source are chief reasons for the comeback.

Lowe, who has performed extensive tagging of juvenile white sharks off Southern California and has pored over data dating back generations, said personal observations and increased incidental catch rates of small white sharks by commercial fishermen help support his contention.

Salvador Jorgensen, leader of the white shark research team at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, did not disagree with Lowe's assessment but was more guarded when asked for a response.

Complete story.

South Africa - City erects new shark signage at its beaches

The City of Cape Town, in conjunction with the Shark Spotters Programme, has designed three new signs to improve shark safety on Cape Town’s beaches. These signs seek to increase awareness about the presence of sharks (Great White sharks in particular), and to guide beach users on the workings of Shark Spotting Programme.

“Significant improvements have been made to the shark warning system used by the shark spotters, and the City urges the public to familiarise themselves with this system,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Councillor Brett Herron.

The new signage can be found on beaches monitored by shark spotters, where the flag warning system is utilised, namely: Noordhoek Corner (the ‘Hoek’), Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Clovelly, St. James, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg. The signage is designed to be highly visible and has been strategically placed to ensure that it is accessible to all beach users.

The following changes have been made to the shark warning system:

All flags now have a shark printed on them. This is to ensure that beach user are able to differentiate between the shark spotting flags and other, unrelated flags.

Signs indicating a ‘high risk’ have been placed on Jaggers Walk at Fish Hoek Beach – a site where the most recent shark attacks have occured. However, beach users are reminded to always be vigilant and exercise caution when they swim at any beach.

The modified shark spotting information sign explains the meaning of the colour-coded shark warning flags; shows information on shark spotter duty shifts; provides general visibility conditions; indicates the date of the last shark sighting and lists emergency services contact details.

A new ‘Shark Smart’ sign conveys general information on sharks in Cape Town waters as well as advice on using the ocean. These will be erected in the near future.

The Red Flag now indicates a general shark alert, and is raised when a shark has been observed in the area in the past two hours, when an increased presence of sharks has been observed, or when conditions conducive to increased shark activity exist e.g. high fish activity or whale strandings. This flag will be lowered only when the alert is no longer necessary and will be flown in conjunction with one of the other spotting flags.

The City appeals to the public to please locate and familiarise themselves with the new signs on the beach and the Shark Spotting Programme. Beach-based shark spotters are also available to answer any questions related to shark safety, and informational brochures can be obtained from them or the Save Our Seas Shark Centre in Kalk Bay. For recent shark activity and more information please visit www.sharkspotters.org.za

The public should continue to apply caution at the beach. Swimmers must immediately leave the water when warnings are sounded and not return to it until the shark spotters have given the all-clear.

In addition, the public are encouraged to:

1.Swim in groups

2.Ensure that they are visible to others when swimming

3.Ensure that they do not swim when there are marine mammals

4. Ensure that they do not swim if a marine mammal or carcass has washed up onto the beach

5. Ensure they do not swim if there is a stranded marine mammal in the area

1000 Over in Scotland - Conservation in Action

We have been big fans for the past couple of years of The Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP).

SSTP celebrated a milestone last week with the 1000th shark tagged and released in regional waters. It was this unhappy looking fellow who did the catching.

Seriously, this is a 1000th tagged shark victory smile?

The you read on and discover he's from Amsterdam, that explains it.

We digress.

Kudos to the entire effort over at SSTP and for the new website, looking good, helping sharks.

Shark Conservation: The problem, the goal, and how to get there

Once again "provoking thought" with David Shiffman over at Southern Fried Science this morning.

Where we tend to point out issues with the shark conservation movement that either work or do not, assuming that folks know what we're talking about, David has gone in depth and drilled down to the essentials.

We tend to agree with David on a lot of things, because he thinks strategically and often.

The shark conservation world needs critical thinking. Reacting is good, but you can only get so far "reacting to" a global shark crises.

Read Davids post today.

When it comes to critical and startegic thinking out loud this is about as good as it gets.