Having been in Luanda for the last few days, I decided it was time to go to the local fish market, to find out what fish there are in the area. An Hours drive later (Through the most frustrating traffic you can imagine) I found myself at the Market. The first ting I noticed was Mountains of trash, right on the beach. Now don’t get me wrong, when I say Mountains I MEAN Mountains, You could load 20 Dump trucks and you wouldn’t have made an impact yet, I tried to snap a pic, but had some very upset policemen bouncing around and shouting at me in Portuguese, so I merely apologized and walked on down to the fish stalls.

There were a fair number of fish on display, from Large Cob and Tuna, right through to Sardines, And the Odd Squid as well. It was all very interesting, however the stench from the fish guts, used diapers, and beer cans was starting to get to me a bit. I tried once more to take a panoramic shot of the filth on the beach, and was again confronted (People in Angola don’t like having their photographs taken, And with about 200 people there, not getting someone in the shot was impossible, So I just took a pic of what was at my feet)

Large Tuna (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

Garbage on the Beach (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

That’s when i turned around and saw the one thing I’d hoped not to see, The head of a juvenile Mako Shark lying in the dirt, not 5 feet from where i was standing, I immediately went over and inspected it, my interest suddenly drawing a crowd, so some guy hoisted the butchered head out of the dirt, and put it on an up turned plastic dish, alongside what i can only assume to be the same sharks fins. I asked a few questions and here are the answers i got  (Answers in blue)

  • How often do you catch sharks? About 4 or 5 are caught each week.
  • Do you target them specifically, and if so what do you use for bait? No, they’re caught on our night lines we leave for Tuna.
  • What do you do with the meat? We Sell It.
  • Why do you cut off the fins? Who buys the fins? The Local Chinese people buy the fins, but don’t buy the meat, so we cut off the fins for them.

That’s when a Drunk local decided to butt in and start harassing myself and the people i was speaking to, so i moved on, As i continued my walk i found 2 more Mako Heads (No fins) and a Body that was being chopped up, but the guy doing the chopping refused that i take a photograph. At that point i was feeling a tad ill from the stench (and that’s saying something, because I rarely suffer from nausea) so i decided to conclude my wanderings, but stopped at the river which flows into the sea right next to the market for a quick snap of all the trash, not nearly as much as there was behind me, but the cops had their eyes on me the whole time, so that will have to do, next time i think i should use a spy cam or something, because these photographs don’t do it justice.

Mako Shark Head and Fins (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

Mako Shark Head (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

River running into the Ocean (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

Just to finish off, Angola is a typical 3rd world country, war ravaged for decades and now finally at peace, however the way of life is genuinely poor, and pride in their country’s natural beauty basically does not exist.

The one Positive (if you can call it that) that I took away from my trip to the Market, is that Sharks aren’t targeted for their fins or their meat, they are a by-catch which is then used,  and as for the rumours that Dogs are being used as live bait in Angola, well there was certainly no evidence of that today.

Wish I could have reported better news, but unfortunately, This Is Africa, and the good news is that it could be worse…

I had the opportunity to watch “Shark Attack Experiment” last night, and was very excited when i saw the names involved in the show, some reputable names in the Shark world to say the least.

So, what did I think about the Program? Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but overall it wasn’t a bad show. It had some good footage, and a handful of interesting moments too. What I did like about it, was the concept, (Certainly not a new concept, since i have seen something similar once before, but interesting none the less). I also liked the fact that they had a “Non Shark” person involved in the experiment.

The Show is basically about 5 “Experts” who test various theories, to see what causes sharks to attack. The sharks they dive with are the Black Tip Reef Shark, The Great White Shark, Bull Shark, 7 Gill Cow Shark, and Ragged-Tooth Shark. I must say I’m a little disappointed in the fact that they didn’t dive with Tiger Sharks, since they are regarded as one of the top 3 sharks to attack people. So why they chose to dive with 7 Gills rather than Tigers, I have no idea, Maybe they had a time limit on the shoot which did not coincide with Tiger season… But yeah, that is a slight anti Climax. So after diving with all five species of Shark they came up with 7 “Red Flags”, which basically means that those 7 things are possible triggers for an attack. However on their 2 final dives i could not help but notice that 5 of the 7 ‘triggers’ got no reaction from the sharks….

What would have been nice is if they had actually made the effort to test those 7 Triggers again, and either confirm, or dismiss them. All tests took place at sea, and not near the beach (where most attacks are believed to take place), which I found rather strange. Surely it would have been interesting to test the triggers near the beach to see if a shark behaves any differently in shallow waters…. Another test which would have been nice to see is how sharks behave with feeding, so as to hopefully put the myth, that hand feeding sharks leads to attacks, to bed.

I am also rather disappointed that Mark Addison wasn’t featured more in the program, he was basically on camera for no more than 10 minutes. I think that Mark has a lot of knowledge about sharks, and they absolutely failed by not getting him to share some of that knowledge. But I have no doubt that the Producers, and Directors are to blame for that. It was nice to have Ryan Johnston sharing some insight into shark behaviour though.

Another thing I found frustrating, to say the least, is that in the middle of a sequence there will be a “Handy fact” that pops up at the bottom of the screen, so you either miss the “Fact” or you miss what’s happening during the sequence….. So if you don’t have a way of pausing while you watch, it is rather pointless, and let’s be honest, pausing a show 30 times just to read what’s on the screen becomes tedious.

So my final thoughts are that if you haven’t seen the show, you really haven’t missed anything. It’s not a bad show, but certainly not a life changer. It does however send a good message, that sharks aren’t out to get us, which is quite a fresh change for Nat Geo Shark shows. Basically, if you know about sharks, you won’t learn anything new. And if you know nothing about sharks, you’ll learn the basics. Over-all I have seen MUCH worse, but have also seen MUCH better, which is sad considering the people involved. But once again, I blame the Producers, and Directors for that.

So watch it, and let us know what you think about it.

A Few months ago i was fortunate enough to win a Cage Dive with “White Shark Projects” in Kleinbaai, so i decided to go through to Cape Town for a spot of Scuba Diving as well. The weather proved to be rather opposed to the idea though, But I did manage to do a handful of dives, and to say it was Amazing would be an understatement.

Living in Johannesburg, i decided to make a road trip of it, I figured that for it to be a real road trip, I’d need to use one route there, and then a different route to get back home. Having never been down the West Coast of South Africa, that was the first choice. So into my car I leapt, diving gear loaded, energy drinks at the ready, my GPS set, and as Midnight struck off I went. According to the GPS it would be a 14 hr trip, but what the GPS did not know, was that 70% of the road was being upgraded, and that meant 23 “Stop, Start” Control point, and for those of you who don’t know what that is, you basically arrive at a control point, where all traffic going in one direction is stopped for anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes, as the cars coming from the opposite direction are given right of way, then vice versa. Needless to say, 19 hours later, when i stopped outside Ashanti Backpackers in Cape Town, I was buzzing from all the energy drinks i’d consumed. But the scenery i’d driven through was breath-taking to say the least, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

The Greater Karoo (Canon 60D)

Sunset Over the Cape Winelands (Canon 60D)

The next few days saw rough seas, (14ft swells) which basically meant no diving, Finally on the Friday i got the call I’d been waiting for “Hey, Paul, the sea’s are calmer, so let’s go get wet”. And wet is exactly what we got, the swells were still big, but not AS big as before. Our first dive was on “Pie Rock” Just off Millers Point, So i strapped on my brand new GoPro HD Hero 2, and rolled into the water. The Viz was incredible 15m+, and we were in for some amazing treats once we had descended, Lobsters, So many varieties of fish, i wouldn’t know where to start if i were to name them all, Several Cape Fur Seals playing around in our bubbles (One Female Seal even brought he Pup along for the game), and then we got to see the most amazing thing i had ever seen, Several Shy Sharks in the process of attaching their egg sacks to the soft coral on the rock… I was absolutely mesmerised, to such a degree that I completely lost track of time, and when I finally snapped out of it, and looked at my Air Pressure Gauge I was down to 20 Bar… A reality check to say the least.

We then went back to shore for a quick Bottle Change and pit stop before then heading to Pyramid Rock to dive with 7 Gill Cow Sharks. Once again the GoPro was strapped on, and down we went, this time the viz was not as hot, +/-8m, and it was bloody cold, 8 Degrees C. but all was forgotten the moment the first 7 Gill made its appearance, and that’s when all the fun started, we spotted 17 Sharks on that dive, and i even ended up in a rather awkward situation, with a Shark swimming along, it’s snout pushing against my butt in a rather concerning manner. an Hour later we were clambering aboard the dive boat, everyone filled with excitement, even those people who had dived Pyramid rock many times before. I could not wait to get back to Ashanti to go through all the Photographs and Video’s i’d captured on the GoPro. However, it turns out that the GoPro is not all it’s cracked up to be, the battery died within 35 minutes during the first dive, and due to the method of mounting, and the guess-work involved I caught absolutely nothing, the wide-angle lens also made everything appear so far away, that even if i had caught something, you wouldn’t be able to see it.

The next Morning saw an early start in Kleinbaai, with a meet and greet at the White Shark Projects office. Followed by a brilliant breakfast, and then off we went to board the Boat. A short boat ride later we found ourselves at the dive site, kited up and ready to enter the cage. This was my second Cage Dive, yet it still blew me away, the majesty of these creatures is truly memorizing, their confidence surrounds them, they are THE Apex Predator, and they know it too. Seeing them launch themselves out of the water in pursuit of the bait is awe-inspiring to say the least. I can honestly say that i could do that for a living and never get bored with it. There was one thing i noticed on the dive however which i found rather curious, Jelly Fish, tiny ones, but in their thousands, I asked a few of the locals back in Kleinbaai about them, and was told that this was the first year that they had seen jellyfish in those numbers, most years there are a handful at most, but nothing like I’d seen. Very strange indeed, and I just hope that it isn’t a sign of a negative change in the local eco system. I fortunately did manage to get a few photographs using the GoPro, but to say they are of pure quality would just be stating the obvious, check out the pics below

Great White Shark (GoPro HD Hero 2)

Great White Shark (GoPro HD Hero 2)

A Gull Escort (Canon 60D)

That night I had the honour of meeting a Photographer who spends 6 months each year in Kleinbaai, just photographing Sharks, and his Photographs truly are amazing. It also gave me the opportunity to hear some of the local gossip, like how a few days prior a seemingly healthy male Great WHite had washed Ashore on Dyer Island, with no signs of any wounds, How the Abalone Poachers are feared, and how ruthless they really are. As well as the views of the locals with regards to the recent “Research” conducted by Ocearch. It was interesting to say the least. And I honestly cannot wait to get a chance to go back again.

So if you’d like to do some epic Diving in Cape Town, contact Pisces Divers, and if you want to Cage Dive with a fantastic company, be sure to contact White Shark Projects

Sad news has surfaced about the proposed “Shark Sanctuary” in Fiji. Apparently the Government feel it isn’t important, since they are looking into the protection of sharks in the waters of Fiji.

I won’t go into all the details of what the Government said, since you can read all about it in a Blog by my friend David Diley, who just so happens to have been in Fiji last year filming a documentary about the sharks there (If you haven’t read his blogs yet, I can highly recommend that you do)

Here’s the link http://officetoocean.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/bad-news-from-fiji.html (Excuse me for posting the whole link, but I ,for the life of me, cannot work out how to shorten links here on WordPress)

What I will do however is mention a few of the possible causes that may have resulted in the Government doing a rather rapid turn around on this matter. Basically a few weeks back it seemed almost certain that the sanctuary will be given a big Thumbs up, and then suddenly it became a “maybe” and now it’s a definite no.

SO what went wrong? There are a few theories flying around, involving everything from pressure from the Tuna industry, Bribery by the Shark Finning Industry, a lack of Local support, and interference from visiting groups.

The Tuna Industry theory probably hold a fair amount of water, since it is one of the leading industries in Fiji, but at the end of the day, Tuna move about, and it wouldn’t be that much of a hassle for the tuna fishermen just to go beyond the boundary of the sanctuary and then catch themselves some fish…

The Finning industry Bribing certain officials is one argument that i do not buy into, the reason for this, even though it gives a sense of subterfuge, and skullduggery, the fact is that the Fijian government itself knows that revenue brought in by the Shark Tourism industry far exceeds anything that could be raised by Finning those same Sharks.

The theory of the Locals not supporting the Sanctuary is probably the least likely of the lot, since Sharks feature very prominently in Fijian culture, you can ask David, he has first hand experience in this.

And lastly the Idea of “Outside interference” being involved…. well this is an interesting one, with a few too many coincidences to ignore, A certain “Society” (whom I will not name, but I’m sure you know who they are) were told by the Fijian Government that their presence in Fiji was not welcome in regards to this entire project, and that if they were to ignore the statement, that they could in fact jeopardise the chances of the Sanctuary being approved. Approximately a month back this “Society” decide to get Tourist Visa’s and then head to Fiji…. They then proceed to harass various Government Officials to meet with them to discuss the Sanctuary, when this fails (Basically the Officials just ignored them, which I don’t blame them for) they proceed to sniff out a Local Long Liner and give him an open platform to voice his opinions, which basically resulted in a conclusion of “The Sanctuary won’t work”. Then they proceed to go and teach the school children about sharks….. (I’ll stop there, because I have a lot to say about that, but then I’ll end up going off topic.) It would be an understatement to say that the people who have been working on this Sanctuary for the past 3 years were very unhappy with the “Society’s” blatant disregard to the risk they posed in the Sanctuary’s approval. And I’m sure the Government themselves weren’t happy either. Here comes the main coincidence…. One month after their arrival, the Sanctuary gets the thumbs down…..

SO do i think that the “Society” is to blame? Well yes and no, I think their presence and negative publicity definitely had an effect on the outcome… But i think that a lot of things have taken place behind the scenes which we are not aware of. Basically the end result is there will be no Shark Sanctuary in Fiji within the next few years. This certainly does not mean the people involved in Fiji will be giving up though, at the end of the day, they are “Sloggers

What can we do now to help you may ask…. well firstly we can offer our support to them, and actually take the time to find out what we can do to help them, this means we should not go out on a personal rampage bombarding the Fijian Government with petitions.

Lastly i would like to tip my hat to those who were involved in attempting to get the Sanctuary approved, you are true hero’s in my eyes. Keep fighting the good fight and don’t let these set backs get you down.

So lately there has been a fair amount of discussion taking place concerning various conservation groups, the methods they use, as well as their true agenda’s.

Basically in my humble opinion, they fall into the following categories, The Show Boats, the Sloggers, the Volunteers, The Public Media Conservationists, and then the Piggy Backers.

Lets start with the Show Boats Shall we? They are the ones who are in the lime light, in front of the camera’s and always in the public eye, they are the ones who make conservation “Cool”. They are also the ones who’s names are on everyone’s lips.  I will divide this category into two groups, “Famous Conservationists” and then “Fame Hunting Conservationists” The “Famous Conservationists” are truly dedicated to the cause, they are the ones who have gained fame through their life long conservation efforts. A few names come to mind here, but i intend not to mention names in this Post so that you can make up your own minds. Now onto the “Fame Hunters” whom are more interested in the fame than the goal of making conservation a reality. They come up with clever marketing methods, catch phrases and self promotion. Yet when looking at their actual achievements, you will notice they have very little, if any success. There is an argument that the “Air Time” those interested in fame get is actually a positive thing since it does fall under the banner of “Conservation” and since they have a following, it brings the message to the masses. I don’t buy into that way of thinking though. If someone is seen as a role model, or rather a “Poster Child” for conservation, yet all they are interested in is lining their pockets, then all they manage to achieve is give Conservationists in general a very bad name.

The Sloggers are the ones who have dedicated their lives to conservation, yet do it below the media radar, they get very little if any camera time, and most of them get no funding. They are the ones who day in and day out wade their way through countless amounts of red tape, as well as passing through numerous government offices, for years on end, just to protect a certain species, or have a specific area legally protected. This usually involves sleepless nights, strain on their relationships, and serious financial pressure since it all comes out of their pockets.

The Volunteers are very similar to the “Sloggers“, however most of them link up with the “Show Boats” and work behind the scenes, without them the “Show Boats” would never be able to achieve what they do, they work under the banner of an Organisation or Foundation. And they do it all in their own time and on their own dime.

The “Public Media Conservationists” are the ones who scour the internet, keep their fingers on the conservation pulse, read endless news articles and send out countless petitions to keep us all up to date on the latest conservation news. They , just like the Sloggers and Volunteers, do it all on their own time and dime, also resulting in sleepless nights, and a lot of criticism.

Now we move onto the Piggy Backers. These are the people who wait for the “Sloggers” to do all the work, and then they swoop in at the last moment, and claim the fame for themselves, this has happened quite a few times already, and has caused a lot of friction in the world of conservation, the “Piggy Backers” usually have serious funding behind them, and have a huge public following. In their eyes, and the eyes of their faithful followers, they are the be all and end all of conservation. And if anyone dare speak out against them they are viewed as “Trouble makers”, the “Piggy Backers” can be likened to the “Fame Hunters” since all they care about is fame, and in my opinion they couldn’t care less about conservation if they tried. They are nothing more than parasites, sucking their hosts dry, before moving on to the next host.

Now i’m sure you are sitting there reading this wondering what the point of this blog is, well other than being a way for me to get this off my chest, i hope it will make you sit back and say “Ok…. Well what are we going to do about the fact that all the money is going to those who don’t deserve it, and none of the money is going to those who do….” Well, that is exactly the thing we need to figure out… And i would suggest that you look into various conservation projects in your area, and then figure out who you feel deserves the money the most, instead of just going onto some multi million dollar organisation’s website and clicking the “Donate Now” link…..

And lastly, to all of you Sloggers, Volunteers, and Public Media Conservationists out there, i tip my hat to you, and thank you all for your dedication and hard work, Conservation wouldn’t be possible without you. Keep fighting the good fight!

Views, comments, and opinions are more than welcome

Conservation Through Legislation

Posted: December 20, 2011 in Shark News

So I’ve been giving this a lot of thought before actually blogging about it, since it is a rather touchy subject. But I have now decided I can no longer keep quiet about it.

One of the things that make mankind what it is, is the freedom of thought, and choice. Some people choose to do things that will have a positive outcome, others choose to do things out of greed, regardless of the result. And others either don’t care or are unaware of what effect their choices might have.

Now when relating this to shark conservation you have those that want finning stopped, you have those who are profiting from finning, and then you have those that feel it doesn’t affect them whether finning continues or not. I know it’s impossible to generalize like that, since there is a lot of gray area In between, but for the basis of this blog I won’t go into that. This however has made me realize something else.

All over the world, people are calling for laws to be implemented where sharks are concerned. And that is very noble, there is just one thing that bothers me though. Will “Laws” really protect Sharks? Because regardless of how many laws there are, if the government can’t (or chooses not to) enforce those laws, then the laws are worth less than the paper they are written on. And even if they do enforce them, and you have a court that is not sympathetic to the cause, then all that will happen is they will get the minimum punishment, and go right back to what they were doing all over again. And let us say that you have a system that treats those convicted of the crimes against Sharks very harshly, that still won’t stop them. Just look at the laws we have today. And still people choose to Drive whilst drunk, they still choose to molest children, as well as sell drugs, rape, assault, and murder. In fact, show me one person that has never broken any law ever written. That includes jay walking, driving over the speed limit, not wearing your safety belt, littering etc. So what is one more law going to do, except make it illegal? Those that are benefiting from exploiting sharks will continue doing it until they get caught, and then when they do get caught, someone else will just step up and take their place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying laws are useless, because they are not. But laws are not the solution.

In my opinion (And this is just my opinion) what we need to do is to raise awareness, and to change the opinion of the vast majority of the people who don’t care. Because if people don’t buy shark products any longer then there just won’t be a market for it, and if there is no longer a market for it, then there is no longer any reason to exploit sharks. Now by raising awareness I don’t mean smothering people with a million e-mails, and spouting facts that no-one can prove. Because all that will do, is frustrate people to the point of insanity and beyond. I have spoken to many people about Sharks and their plight, and every single one of those people has taken up the fight for sharks.

This brings me onto another topic. Recently I have noticed that a lot of people are targeting certain individuals for their “involvement” in shark “exploitation”. Now excuse me for this, but I don’t think targeting individuals in the same way many non-ethical “Conservation” organizations have done in the past, will do our cause or our reputation as conservationists any good. There is a vast difference between sending a polite e-mail or comment to them requesting that they please take certain things into consideration which they may not have been aware of before and attacking or insulting them, which trust me, will not do anyone any good.

Remember, every single person has a reason for doing what they do, and not taking that into account is plain ignorance. A friendly request will go a lot further than an insult or a threat. We claim to be compassionate, well let’s not be hypocritical. I suggest we all stand for what we believe in, but not to lower ourselves to the level of becoming petty. I realize that I have probably upset a few people, but I hope that you will read this in the spirit that it was written.

All views and comments are welcome.

Russian Shark Attacks

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Shark News

I’ve been doing some reading on the Russian Shark attacks, and basically this is what I’ve come up with. 2 guys were attacked within 24 hour of each other, and the location of the attacks are approximately 30 miles apart. The Attacks took place in the area of Khasan, near the border with North Korea.

The first to be attacked was Denis Udovenko, a 25-year-old who out was swimming with his wife, Polina. They decided to swim to a small rock formation known locally as Yearning Heart Island.  On the way Denis apparently saw something in the water and shouted to his wife that there was a Shark and that she must swim faster, he then (and i quote) “stopped and grabbed the shark’s snout to protect his partner. He beat it on the nose, and it dragged him up and then down,” she said. “Then it threw him up on the surface.” (one report which uses almost exactly the same wording says “The man was injured as he tried to rescue his wife, who was first attacked by the shark.” However i can find no reports of her being injured). This man subsequently lost both arms (Some reports say hands) in the attack. He survived however, and as stated by a Health Service Spokesman “His Life is not in Danger”

There are far fewer details on the Second attack, All we know is that the person who was bitten is Valery Sidorovich, a 16-year-old, who was bitten on the legs, and apparently they removed tooth fragments from the wounds during surgery. He is recovering well according to reports. The Shark being suspected of both attacks is the Great White.

We now move onto the action that the Russian Government is taking, there were articles all over the net claiming that “open season on Sharks has begun” however in none of those reports is there any mention of boats actually being launched, or any sharks caught. They do mention however that the Russians will be asking the Japanese to get involved since they have more expertise and more specialised equipment for Shark catching (as if we didn’t know this already). The Russian Government has however decided to do further research before launching a full-scale attack on shark kind, which is slightly comforting, and have also decided that educating the public about the dangers of the ocean would be a good place to start. They have also closed the beaches in the area (One report says that the public have been requested to stay out of the water along Russia’s 1’300 km pacific coastline) Which is probably rather dramatic, but from a Shark conservation stand point not a bad decision, because the way t seems to me, all it needs is one more incident and the Shark hunt would begin, so fewer people in the water means less chance of an incident, and that means the Sharks are safer.

Now i would just like to put my 5 cents worth in when it comes to the first attack. The facts we have are they were swimming to an Island, He saw a Shark, Warned his wife, then “wrestled” with the Shark, and had his Hands/arms removed. Now I’m sorry, but if i were a Sharks, swimming along looking for food, i then hear a bunch of splashing, come up to the cause of the ruckus out of curiosity, and then before i can decide if i want to leave it alone of go in for a closer look, i get my snout grabbed and beaten, i am going to fight back a little. So that can’t really be classified as an “Attack” in my book, more a reaction, or self-defence, but certainly not an attack.

When it comes to the second Incident however, things are far to fuzzy to even guess what happened. I must however include the following, there was a rumor of a Third attack a day after the second, and roughly in the same area, but no confirmation has been given, or further mention been made, so it could have been a hoax, or just the media trying to fan the flames, especially since it is the first attack in that area in Recorded history…. And we all know the media loves to embellish a story…

Just to conclude. There have been 6 reported SHark Attacks in a month, 2 in Seychelles, 2 in Russia, 1 in South Africa, and 1 in Puerto Rico. This might seem high, and I’m sure on average it is, but just have a quick think, of those 6 attacks 3 were Fatal. How many people do you suppose have been in the ocean this last month? 10 Million? Maybe 100 Million? It’s not unlikely, so 3 people out of 10 Million people died due to Shark encounters, As sad as that is (and it is) that really isn’t a very High number, Especially since it has been suggested that 50% of people who enter the ocean are within close proximity to a Shark, and don’t even realise it. Now that is quite a dodgy statement to make, i do recall however a Documentary made by Chris Fallows which showed a very popular beach in South Africa, crowded with people, swimming and messing about in the waves, with at least 6 Great WHite Sharks no more that 10 meters away from them, and up until that scene was filmed, there hadn’t been an incident of Shark attack on that beach. (There has been one since then however). So as wild as that statement may seem, it is not impossible. SO that means 5 million people came into contact with sharks and never knew about it, maybe 100’000 came into contact with sharks willingly, SO out of 5.1 Million Shark encounters, 6 ended badly …. Can we seriously now go around calling it a “Trend” or as one Report was titled “The Revenge of Jaws” Or should we rather call it a freak accident….. Well, i don’t know about you, but I’m more inclined to nominate the latter.

Here’s hoping you all have a fantastic weekend, and an awesome week ahead

And remember, Sharks aren’t our Foe, mankind are theirs.

Sharks In Trouble

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Shark News

It would appear that my decision to start a blog about Sharks has coincided with some interesting and unsettling events, California start off by putting forward Bill AB 376 which would prohibit the sale and possession of shark fins in California. This Bill was supported by 75% of all Californians, however after some devious lobbying the whole thing then gets twisted into accusations of Racism against the Chinese. Which puts the woolies up the politicians and they decide to place the Bill in the “Suspended file” Not a good thing, since this will 9 times out of 10 cause the Bill to slowly fade into Oblivion.

Following this are the Shark “attacks” in both the Seychelles, and Russia. And both countries decide that instead of educating the public, and investigating further into the “attacks” as to what may have caused them, they go on a rampage, authorizing fishermen to hunt sharks so as to (and here i quote the minister of Tourism for the Seychelles) “Find the Beast that’s responsible.” Now let us take a step back and look at the facts. I recently watched a video which showed certain tour operators feeding the Sharks from the shore using chunks of Red Meat (which are obviously not in the Sharks natural diet). Granted, these sharks in the video were Black Tip Reef Sharks, but just bear with me. The problem with this in my personal opinion is that the Sharks could possibly associate people with food. Now think about it, Sharks see people, people toss meat in, which causes a splash, and the sharks then eat red meat….. Alter the scenario slightly, Shark sees a person swimming, then obviously the person gets a fright and splashes, Shark thinks “Food” takes a bite, and what do they get? Red Meat! And suddenly it’s a Shark “attack”. Thing is the authorities don’t see this, they don’t see a case of a Shark that has been trained to feed on demand just doing what it has been taught to do. They don’t see a case of mistaken identity, what they do see though is a savage beast that is lurking out there, hunting for Human Flesh! *Cue Jaws Theme Music Now* But This is just plain stupidity on their part, and to worsen the situation, they have given fishermen a mandate to kill any shark they find that could be responsible. Now last i read it had been suggested and mainly accepted that the Shark which is most likely responsible is the Bull Shark. But the Sharks being ripped from the water and slain aren’t just Bull Sharks, oh no, they are Tiger Sharks, Oceanic White-Tips, Reef Sharks, Sickle Fin Lemon Sharks,  Dog Fish, And even Guitar Fish!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! What are we doing here? Dog Fish and Guitar Fish are NOT considered to be a threat to Humans. But “hey it looks like a Shark so lets destroy it!” Is this really the Solution?

Now to make matters even worse, on th 19th of August 2011, it was confirmed that 2 new species of Shark were discovered in the Seychelles. This discovery was not due to the Shark hunt however, these Sharks were caught several years ago, and between then and now they were studying these Sharks and comparing them with Sharks the world over to decide whether these Sharks are new Species or not. NOW we have a fleet of blood thirsty fishermen out there catching anything they can for financial gain. (And i can assure you, they are not just catching Sharks either) and killing it, and no records are to be kept, So how many fragile “New Species” are going to get wiped out before they decide they have caught the culprit of the Attacks?

Should we as people really stand by and watch as thousands of Sharks get killed for the supposed “Justice” of one unfortunate honeymooners’ tragic death? The media have been hyping this story up to such an extent, that it is becoming tedious. Here are a few headlines I’ve seen over the last week. “Seychelles Shark Attack Leaves Briton Dead”, “Shark Kills British Honeymooner in Seychelles”, “Seychelles Shark Attack: Ian Redmond Mauled to Death” “Seychelles honeymoon shark attack: a once unimaginable death”, “Great White Shark ‘Carried out fatal Seychelles attack'” This report just makes me laugh, i mean they make it sound like the Shark had it all planned, and finally executed his devious intent… and finally, “Seychelles Shark Attack: Beast could strike again.”

 I have listened to a Broadcast of Ian Redmonds Widow, where she tells us that she had been told the Seychelles do not have Sharks, now if this is true, two things spring to mind, firstly, whoever told her that lied to her! The Seychelles are renowned for their Sharks, It’s the one reason i want to visit the Seychelles, not for the Beaches, or the Hotels, but for the Sharks. And secondly, I cannot bring myself to accept that they actually believed this, Sharks are found from the most Frigid waters in the northern Hemisphere, to the Tropical waters in the Southern, Sharks live in the Ocean, and feed on Marine animals, so where there is water and Marine life there will be Sharks. Please don’t get me wrong, i am not insulting them, i am just trying to point out that if there are people out the who would believe this then obviously they have not been properly educated about Sharks.
If you have any views on what i have written above, please feel free to leave a comment. I will go into more detail regarding the Russian Attacks in my next post.
Fins Up
Paul