epic tiger shark diving expeditions
Oceanic Whitetip Shark and Pilot Fish cat island bahamas

Bolt: Oceanic Whitetip Shark

Oceanic Whitetip Shark: Bolt

One of our favorite oceanic whitetip sharks was captured on film back in 2006 by a team from the BBC during the filming of this doumentary.  It’s amazing to still be able to spend the day shark diving with Bolt.

shark diving legislation

Bill in Congress to Ban Baited Shark Dives

You can read the full details in the bill in the red box below, but here are the main points related to shark diving:

    “it is unlawful for any person—

  • to engage in shark feeding; or
  • to operate a vessel for the purpose of carrying a passenger for hire to any site to engage in shark feeding or to observe shark feeding…

…The term ‘shark feeding’ means the introduction of food or any other substance into the water to feed or attract sharks for any purpose other than to harvest sharks.

This would make it illegal for any baiting of sharks unless you planned to kill the sharks. Frankly, that’s disgusting and ignorant. Thanks Marco Rubio!

S. 3099

114th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 3099

To preserve and enhance saltwater fishing opportunities for
recreational anglers, and for other purposes.

 

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 23, 2016

Mr. Nelson (for himself and Mr. Rubio) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

 

A BILL

To preserve and enhance saltwater fishing opportunities for recreational anglers, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016”.

SEC. 2. FISHERY MANAGEMENT MEASURES IN BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK.

(a) In General.–Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in section 103 of Public Law 96-287 (16 U.S.C. 410gg-2), the Secretary of the Interior may not implement or enforce any restrictions on recreational fishing, charter fishing, or commercial fishing in any portion of Biscayne National Park, developed as part of any general management plan, fishery management plan, or other measure adopted after December 31, 2014.
(b) Exception.–Notwithstanding the general prohibition under subsection (a), the Secretary of the Interior may implement and enforce restrictions on recreational fishing, charter fishing, or commercial fishing in any portion of Biscayne National Park as part of a park fishery management plan if the restrictions are–
(1) developed in formal coordination and consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of the State of Florida;
(2) based upon the best and most recent scientific information available regarding the fishery resources in Biscayne National Park, with priority given to scientific information relied upon by the State of Florida for fish conservation and management in State waters;
(3) the least restrictive measures necessary for effective fish conservation and management that will provide the best fishing opportunities in the affected areas of the park on a continuing basis, such as–
(A) size limits;
(B) possession limits;
(C) gear restrictions or requirements;
(D) seasonal closures; and
(E) access permits; and
(4) for the sole purpose of fishery conservation and
management.
(c) Rule of Construction.–Nothing in this section may be construed to apply to lands, waters, or interests donated by the State of Florida after June 28, 1980, to the administrative jurisdiction of the National Park Service for the purpose of the Biscayne National Park. Fishing on such lands and waters shall continue to be in conformance with State law.
(d) Definitions.–
(1) In general.–In this section, the terms “fish”, “fishery resource”, “fishing”, “charter fishing”, “commercial fishing”, “conservation and management”, and “recreational fishing” have the meanings given those terms in section 3 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1802).
(2) Definition of formal coordination and consultation.–In this section, the term “formal coordination and consultation” means a process memorialized in a memorandum of understanding between Biscayne National Park and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of the State of Florida.

SEC. 3. SHARK CONSERVATION ACT OF 2010.

(a) In General.–The Act entitled “An Act to amend the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to improve the conservation of sharks”, approved January 4, 2011 (Public Law 111-348; 124 Stat. 3668), is amended–
(1) by striking section 104 and inserting the following:

“SEC. 104. PROHIBITION ON SHARK FEEDING.

“(a) Prohibition.–Except as provided in section 317 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1866), it is unlawful for any person–
“(1) to engage in shark feeding; or
“(2) to operate a vessel for the purpose of carrying a passenger for hire to any site to engage in shark feeding or to observe shark feeding.
“(b) Additional Prohibited Acts.–It is unlawful for any person–
“(1) to violate this section or any regulation promulgated under this section;
“(2) to refuse to permit any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of this section to board a fishing vessel subject to such person’s control for purposes of conducting any search or inspection in connection with the enforcement of this section or any regulation promulgated under the section;
“(3) to forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with any such authorized officer in the conduct of any search or inspection described in paragraph (2);
“(4) to resist a lawful arrest for any act prohibited by this section; or
“(5) to interfere with, delay, or prevent, by any means, the apprehension or arrest of another person, knowing that such other person has committed any act prohibited by this section.
“(c) Limitation.–Any incidental feeding or attracting of a shark in the course of educational or scientific research conducted under a permit issued by the Secretary of Commerce or lawful fishing under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) shall not be considered a violation of this section.
“(d) Civil Penalty.–Any person who commits any act that is unlawful under subsection (a) or subsection (b) of this section shall be liable to the United States for a civil penalty under section 308 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C.
1858).
“(e) Criminal Penalty.–Any person who commits an act that is unlawful under paragraph (2), (3), (4), or (5) of subsection (b) of this section is deemed to be guilty of an offense punishable under section 309(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1859(b)).
“(f) Enforcement.–
“(1) In general.–The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall prevent any person from violating this section in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as though sections 308 through 311 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management
Act (16 U.S.C. 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861) were incorporated into and made a part of this Act.
“(2) Penalties and privileges.–Any person who violates this section is subject to the penalties and entitled to the privileges and immunities provided in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) in the same manner and by the same means as though sections 308 through 311 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861) were incorporated into and made a part of this Act.
“(g) Definitions.–In this section:
“(1) Passenger for hire.–The term `passenger for hire’ has the meaning given that term in section 2101(21a) of title 46, United States Code.
“(2) Shark feeding.–The term `shark feeding’ means the introduction of food or any other substance into the water to feed or attract sharks for any purpose other than to harvest
sharks.

“SEC. 105. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

“Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed as affecting, altering, or diminishing in any way the authority of the Secretary of Commerce to establish such conservation and management measures as the Secretary considers appropriate under
sections 302(a)(3) and 304(g) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1852(a)(3) and 1854(g)).”; and
(2) in section 1, by striking the item relating to section 104 and inserting the following:

“Sec. 104. Prohibition on shark feeding.
“Sec. 105. Rule of construction.”.
(b) Relation to Other Laws.–Nothing in this section or the amendments made by this Act supercedes more restrictive State laws or regulations regarding shark feeding in State waters.

SEC. 4. BILLFISH CONSERVATION ACT OF 2012.

(a) Exemptions for Traditional Fisheries and Markets.–Section 4(c)(1) of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 (16 U.S.C. 1827a(c)(1)) is amended by inserting “and retained” after “landed”.
(b) Deadline for Issuance of Final Regulations.–The Secretary of Commerce shall issue a final rule implementing the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 (16 U.S.C. 1827a), as amended by this Act, not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

shark diving legislation

shark attacks reunion island

Surrounded: Island of the Sharks

For decades residents of Reunion, a small French Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean, lived in relative harmony with the surrounding ocean and its inhabitants. However, since 2011, a rise in shark attacks has forced many to come to terms with the spike in fatal encounters with sharks and turn to science to address this unexplained phenomenon



shark attacks reunion island

Read about 2016 Shark Attack Rates

tiger shark attack

Tiger Shark: National Geographic Expedition

Make sure you take a look at the tiger shark article in the June 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.  We were excited to work with Brian Skerry and Glenn Hodges over 2 seasons as they worked to construct the article.

diver and tiger shark at tiger beach

We had some amazing Tiger Shark encounters at Tiger Beach as well as some interesting lemon and reef shark interactions.  Here’s a sample.  Find the full article here: He Went Face-to-Face With Tiger Sharks

This story appears in the June 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

We’re terrified of sharks, thanks to their reputation as vicious killers. Shark attacks are rare but appear to be rising: There were a record 98 unprovoked attacks worldwide in 2015, six  fatal. Less known are the crucial roles sharks play in ocean ecology. This summer, we’ll look at three species with notorious reputations: tiger sharks, great whites, and oceanic whitetips. We’ll meet scientists who are shedding new light on these enigmatic creatures that are vital to the seas, and not as scary as you might think.

deep look into the mouth of a tiger shark

Tiger Shark

photography tip 1

15 seriously useful cheat sheets for every photographer

Here’s a neat set of 15 photography cheat sheets we found from the folks over at brightside.me. Have a look and feel free to post your thoughts/comments below. Enjoy!

Everybody who picks up a camera should know this.

Source: 15 seriously useful cheat sheets for every photographer

tiger shark at tiger beach bahamas

Don’t bite the hand that feeds

The team and UM published an article in March 2012 called Don’t bite the hand that feeds: assessing ecological impacts of provisioning ecotourism on an apex marine predator.

The article represents a strong scientific look at the the potential impacts of “shark provisioning” for the shark diving tourism industry on the natural behavior and migration patterns of the sharks involved. Here’s the article’s summary:

    1. There has been considerable debate over the past decade with respect to wildlife provisioning, especially resultant behavioural changes that may impact the ecological function of an apex predator. The controversy is exemplified by the shark diving industry, where major criticisms based on inference, anecdote and opinion stem from concerns of potential behaviourally mediated ecosystem effects because of ecotourism provisioning (aka‘chumming’ or feeding).
    1. There is a general lack of empirical evidence to refute or support associated claims. The few studies that have investigated the behavioural impacts of shark provisioning ecotourism have generated conflicting conclusions, where the confidence in such results may suffer from a narrow spatial and temporal focus given the highly mobile nature of these predators. There is need for studies that examine the potential behavioural consequences of provisioning over ecologically relevant spatial and temporal scales.
    1. To advance this debate, we conducted the first satellite telemetry study and movement analysis to explicitly examine the long-range migrations and habitat utilization of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) originating in the Bahamas and Florida, two areas that differ significantly with regards to the presence/absence of provisioning ecotourism.
    1. Satellite telemetry data rejected the behaviourally mediated effects of provisioning ecotourism at large spatial and temporal scales. In contrast, to the restricted activity space and movement that were hypothesized, geolocation data evidenced previously unknown long-distance migrations and habitat use for both tiger shark populations closely associated with areas of high biological productivity in the Gulf Stream and subtropical western Atlantic Ocean. We speculate that these areas are likely critically important for G. cuvier feeding forays and parturition.
  1. We concluded that, in the light of potential conservation and public awareness benefits of ecotourism provisioning, this practice should not be dismissed out of hand by managers. Given the pressing need for improved understanding of the functional ecology of apex predators relative to human disturbance, empirical studies of different species sensitivities to disturbance should be used to guide best-practice ecotourism policies that maximize conservation goals.

Read the full research article here.

dead tiger shark

BNT Speaks out against the Needless Killing of Sharks

From The Bahamas National Trust:

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) has been made aware of the killing of a mature tiger shark in the Exuma Cays in early March. The BNT would like to remind the general public that the killing of sharks is currently illegal in The Bahamas. Although the BNT is sensitive to the needs to local people who may accidentally catch sharks and choose to consume it, the BNT does not condone the targeted culling and ruthless killing of such valuable, sentient beings. This shark was reportedly frequenting an area where stingrays were being fed. The targeted killing of this shark does not appear to be justified.

dead tiger shark
The Bahamas enjoys a great diversity and bounty of sharks, due to our relatively healthy marine environment, but these magnificent animals are considered threatened or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is due to the fact that sharks are heavily sought after for their fins for shark fin soup and similar products. In areas of the world where sharks were fished out, there have been complete shifts in the ecosystems that they had previously been the “Apex” predators of, and as a result, the decline of other fisheries meant that they too had to close. The role that these creatures play at the very top of their ecosystems, means that they are influencing the balance of everything beneath them in the food chain.

In The Bahamas, we actually economically benefit from having such healthy shark populations, as tourists travel here specifically to swim and dive with them every year. Shark tourism generates some $78M per year in The Bahamas, and is responsible for countless jobs across the entire country, including and especially dive shop employees. Many film and documentary makers also travel to The Bahamas in order to capture sharks on film, and when their movies reach others it is, in a sense, a form of marketing our sharks and our country. In simpler terms, a single, dead shark is worth only about $60 for its meat and organs, while a single, living shark is valued at $250,000 over its entire life time.

The BNT strongly condemns the the needless, intentional killing of sharks.

Lion fish envenomation

Lionfish Stings – Treating | iDive Blog

Here’s a great list of recommendations for dealing with a lionfish sting. As the invasive species continues to flourish in the Caribbean, diver’s are finding themselves running in to these guys a bunch. While we’re supposed to wipe them out (since they’re invasive), they are mesmerizing to look at and photograph. Typically, they’re well behaved and most cases of stings have completely understandable defensive reasoning by the lionfish. In other words, either people are being careless or hunting the lionfish. Either way, this quick read will give you some guidance to deal with it should you find yourself faced with the problem.

Lionfish Sting Guidelines

  • Remain calm. Notify your dive buddy and immediately terminate your dive.
  • Moment of lionfish sting, a diver can immediately start trying to squeeze or “milk”the venom out of stung area. This has helped other divers lessen the amount or distance of the venom spread. The diver can do this while signaling the other divers and while ascending.
  • Ascend slowly, observing all decompression stops, and surface as soon as possible.
  • Remove any foreign material such as lionfish spines. Add pressure to the wound to try and squeeze out the venom. Rinse the wound with clean water.
  • Soak wound (30 minutes) in heated, non-scalding, water as soon as possible. The lionfish venom is protein based and is neutralized by the hot water thus preventingthe protein from moving into the blood stream. The hot water is quite effective for controlling the pain.
  • Call 911 as soon as possible. The operators have all been instructed and are familiar with medical protocol for lionfish stings. They will immediately initiate preliminary assessment and treatment.
  • If not close to medical care, one could take BENADRYL (Antihistamine) and IBUPROFEN (Motrin or Advil). (Anti inflammatory). Medication will not only reduce the pain but more importantly reduce the swelling that can pressure the arteries, veins, and lymph ducts shut cutting off the bodies vital healing process to the area of the sting. The more swelling that occurs, the greater the wound and skin in the area suffers, turning grey as the swelling persists. The immediate care can dramatically reduce the damage to the affected area after a lionfish sting.
  • Monitor vitals, circulation, airway, and breathing. Lionfish victims commonly go into shock.
  • Your 911 operator will direct you to the appropriate medical facility. Get there as soon as possible.
  • No lion fish envenomation should ever be underestimated. Pain can be significant and secondarycomplications much more so. Get them treated to avoid any complications.
  • Additional information for your injury can be accessed by calling:DAN Emergency Hotline (+1-919-684-9111) orNon Emergency (+1-919-684-2948)

The injuries can be serious, and if there is hand involvement, special medical attention may be required.

lionfish sting

Learn more about lionfish envenomation and see more photos at:11 Recommendations for Treating a Lionfish Sting | Cayman Islands Diving | iDive Blog

Liked the information in this article?  Check out our blog on Jellyfish Stings.

preventing seasickness

Simple Tips for Preventing Seasickness (DAN)

Motion sickness is a sure-fire way to put a damper on an otherwise great day. Once it starts, it’s really difficult to break the cycle and you’re often left to endure the misery until you can get your feet back on solid ground. PADI’s website recently featured some great info from the Diver’s Alert Network.

If you know you have motion sickness or might be prone to it, consider this advice:
  • On a boat: Stay on deck and focus on the horizon. Avoid inhaling exhaust fumes.
  • In a car: Sit in the front seat. If you are the passenger, look at the scenery in the distance.
  • Do not read in moving vehicles. Reading makes motion sickness worse.
  • Avoid heavy meals prior to diving.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid alcohol the evening before you travel.
  • If possible, stand up. Sitting or lying down can make you feel worse.
  • Eat dry crackers to help settle a queasy stomach.
  • Avoid others who have become nauseous with motion sickness.

Treatment
Over-the-counter products: Antihistamines are commonly used both to prevent and treat motion sickness. A side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness, which is exaggerated when alcohol is consumed. Drowsiness may adversely affect diver safety.  Meclizine, the medication in Bonine or Dramamine II, is considered less drowsy.  It is actually a very effective medication and available by prescription under the name “Antivert” – given it’s use in treating vertigo.

Prescription products: The scopolamine skin patch (Transderm Scop) is a popular option. The patch is applied to the skin area behind the ear at least eight hours before exposure and can help prevent motion sickness for up to three days per patch. Scopolamine may cause dry mouth, blurry vision, drowsiness and dizziness. Patients with glaucoma, enlarged prostate and some other health problems should not use this drug. Be sure to tell your doctor of your existing health problems to help determine which drug is best suited for you.  As mentioned above, meclizine is also available as a prescription.

Alternative remedies: Various alternative remedies have been promoted as being helpful in relieving or preventing motion sickness. In most cases, the evidence of efficacy is missing. However, if you have mild symptoms, you may try ginger or peppermint products to ease your symptoms without risking side effects.

Source: Simple Tips for Preventing Seasickness (Divers Alert Network)

strong currents at tiger beach

Tiger Beach Bahamas: When Currents Rip

Occasionally, the currents at Tiger Beach Bahamas can get pretty strong.  We try to plan our dives when the current is mild, but conditions have been known to change in a matter of minutes. Because the scent trail is moving fast, it can lead to some pretty amazing dives, but there are a few extra special considerations.

strong currents at tiger beach

Tigers line up in the strong current. Notice he sargasm on the bottom and how quickly the divers bubbles are carried away from them!

Weights.

extra weight tiger beach bahamasWe suggest packing on the pounds while diving at Tiger Beach Bahamas. It may be a strange concept for some, but an average of 20 – 30 pounds of lead is typical. Most of our dives are static, meaning that divers are positioned on the bottom and need to stay in place for the dive. When currents pick up, underweighted divers turn into tumbleweeds and can find themselves in some pretty precarious situations. Because the dives are shallow and subject to surface surge and occasional strong currents, there’s really no downside to carrying some extra lead. We know that once divers are done discussing how little air they breathe and how long a tank lasts them, the next thing to brag about is how little weight they wear. Forget that concept for diving Tiger Beach! Nothing will drain you tank faster than fighting against the current to keep your position on the bottom.

Moving Around.

As already mentioned, the dives at Tiger Beach Bahamas are generally static and divers should stay put once in position on the bottom. When it’s necessary to move, there’s definitely a right and wrong way to go about it if the currents are moving fast. We suggest dives stand and walk backwards along the bottom. This keeps your eyes focused down current which is where most of the shark action will be. It’s also very difficult to swim against the current in full SCUBA gear, wearing all that extra weight and possibly carrying a camera. This is especially true at the end of the dive, when your tanks are already low. Take a calm, leisurely stroll back to the boat rather than a tiring swim.

Ascending.

There’s two ways to do this: The easy way, and the hard way. Typically, the currents are running from the bow to the stern of the boat, especially when it’s moving fast. We suggest divers walk backwards along the bottom to about the midpoint of the boat. Once in position, make sure the dive ladder is free and begin your ascent from this point. While going up slowly, the current will pull you to the stern and you should meet the ladder as you surface. Nice and smooth! Ascending directly below the ladder, or worse yet, just popping up and trying to swim to the ladder, is a recipe for disaster. By the time you reach the surface, you could be quite a distance away from the boat. If this happens, hopefully you didn’t drain your tank in the struggle and can drop back to the bottom and start over. The boat will be anchored with other divers below and cannot simply unhitch to go pick you up. We always put out drift lines as a backup in strong currents, but divers should be aware of the proper technique for returning back to the boat.  Here’s a quick video showing the technique:

Tiger Beach Bahamas