epic tiger shark diving expeditions
silky shark diving bahamas

Pew Commends Broad Global Support for Proposed Shark and Ray Protections

According to PEW’s website, silky sharks, bigeye thresher sharks, common thresher sharks, and pelagic thresher sharks are particularly vulnerable throughout their habitat. Whether it’s from targeted shark fisheries, by-catch, or the extreme levels of unregulated/illegal fishing, these species have suffered dramatic population declines, around 70%.

CITES is recognized globally as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements. It provides protection to more than 30,000 species around the world and has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of many plants and animals.  Votes on the proposed listings for thresher and silky sharks and mobula rays will take place at the CITES meeting in Johannesburg in September.

Source: Pew Commends Broad Global Support for Proposed Shark and Ray Protections

great white shark killed

Viral photos of decapitated shark prompt state investigation

Authorities are seeking any information that can help lead them to the people who committed this crime. Although this was initially reported to have occurred at Newport Beach pier, investigators cannot be certain this image was even from California.

Viral photographs of a decapitated shark that appeared on social media this week have sparked an investigation by authorities in Newport Beach, though wildlife officers said Wednesday it was unclear where and when the fish was mutilated.

Source: Viral photos of decapitated shark prompt state investigation

hammerhead sharks

New Galápagos Sanctuary Has World’s Highest Abundance of Sharks

Exciting news out of Ecuador! The Galapagos Islands will now have some protection against fishing.

galapagos sanctuary

Upon creation of the sanctuary, Correa said, “The Galápagos Islands have extraordinary ecological value, and also economic value. The government of Ecuador supports the creation of a marine sanctuary to leave an inheritance to our children and our children’s children; a wonderful world where as many species as possible are preserved for the enjoyment and knowledge of future generations.”

Read the full story from National Geographic here: New Galápagos Sanctuary Has World’s Highest Abundance of Sharks

toxic mako shark fishing

Scientific Paper: Toxic Sharks

toxic mako shark fishing

Back in June 2013, fisherman caught an enormous female shortfin mako shark off Huntington Beach, California.  The small group of fisherman were filming for Outdoor Channel reality television show, ‘Jim Shockey’s The Professionals’.  Many had wondered why the shark wasn’t simply released.  After the film and photos were over, the animal was donated to a scientific research group, and their findings were just published in the July issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.

ABSTRACT

In June 2013, a record-breaking female Isurus oxyrinchus (total length 373 cm, mass 600 kg) was captured by rod and reel off Huntington Beach, California, where it was subsequently donated to research and provided a rare opportunity to collect the first data for a female I. oxyrinchus of this size. Counts of vertebral band pairs estimate the shark to have been c. 22 years old, depending upon assumptions of band-pair deposition rates, and the distended uteri and spent ovaries indicated that this shark had recently given birth. The stomach contained a c.4 year-old female California sea lion Zalophus californianus that confirmed the high trophic position of this large I. oxyrinchus, which was corroborated with the high levels of measured contaminants and tissue isotope analyses.

mako shark fishing toxicThe study determined that there were very high levels of a number of contaminants in the shark. After analyzing the liver, DDT levels were found to be 100 times the legal limit of consumption allowed by the EPA.  PCBs were over 250 times the legal limit.  Mercury, 45 times the legal limit for women and children to eat it.  Both PCBs (a substance used in the manufacturing of electronics) and DDT (a pesticide) were outlawed back in the 1970s because of their known toxicity.  Unfortunately, so much of those chemicals made it into the water that they have accumulated in the seabed.

Larger predators, such as sharks, end up having higher levels of these toxins due to bioaccumulation. While the smaller fish end up having some of the chemicals present, the larger animals that continually eat these smaller fish end up having much higher levels as a result.  In addition, some of the toxins are passed to their offspring, perpetuating the problem.

We often hear these trophy hunts disguised as providing large quantities of food for families, communities, even indigent populations.  Hopefully, studies like this will help to educate the public and lead to more animals being released alive back into the wild. There’s simply no good reason to kill and land an impressive shark like this.

shark hunters show cancelled on nbc

NBC Shark Hunters Cancelled! 

shark hunters show cancelled

At the end of the day we would never have got NBC to shut down production without the help and signature of each and every one of you. You are the reason the advertisers pulled out (thank you TripAdvisor, Clorox/Kingsford Charcoal, Allstate, Citrix), that NBC had to go on the defense and why we made season 3 a non-starter for commercial reasons.

Thank you to many groups who rallied behind this petition including, The Dodo (Melissa) (https://www.thedodo.com/), Blue Planet Society (John) (http://blueplanetsociety.blogspot.co.uk/), Fin Free (http://fin-free.com/) and finally, thank you to www.Change.org for providing this platform and for actively supporting this petition.

Source: Petition Update · NBC Shark Hunters Cancelled! · Change.org

smuggling loophole for shark fin

EU loophole allows precious shark fins to be smuggled into the UK

shark fin smuggling loophole

It’s pretty scary to know that this is a major way that restaurants are obtaining shark fins for the menus.

    • Under EU rules, travellers are able to bring back 20kg of dried shark fin in their luggage under the same personal allowance rule that covers tobacco and alcohol.
    • An investigation by the charity, Bite-Back, suggests shark fins arriving in the UK through this personal allowance loophole allows travellers to sell their customs allowance for as much £3,500 to restaurants.
    • The 20kg allowance is enough to make 705 bowls of soup.

There is simply no other foodstuff on the list of personal imports that compares to the sharkfin loophole in terms of quantity and value.  It is estimated that 20kg of shark fin is worth well of $5,000 USD on the black market.  Clearly, 20kg could never be assumed for personal use only.  This loophole allows for a virtually unregulated shark fin trade.

SIGN THE PETITION

Bite-Back Shark and Marine Conservation has prepared an online petition accumulating signatures to help shut down this loophole.  Please take 30 seconds to add your signature to the list!  You can find the petition on Care 2’s website.

shark fins for soup

Source: EU loophole allows precious shark fins to be smuggled into the UK | Nature | News | Daily Express

shark fishing tournament

A Huge Shark Fishing Tournament

The South Jersey Shark Fishing Tournament marked its 35 year anniversary this year.  Out of Cape May, NJ, the tournament spans three days each June.  This year exactly 400 sharks were caught. Fortunately, 90% of the animals were released and 40 were killed and brought back to shore. One hundred and one boats paid the $575 entrance fee vying for their share of the $345,128 in cash prizes.  With numbers like that, it seems this tournament won’t be going anywhere.  Per them: “Our shark tournament is structured to provide participants with the best possible fishing hours, lucrative cash prizes and an equal chance for boats of all sizes to compete – all while setting an example of sportsmanship and sound conservation practices.”

As much as we hate to hear about 400 sharks being caught, even if “only” 40 are killed, it’s still work taking a look at the data:

south jersey shark tournament 2015 data

It’s worth noting a few of the differences between 2014 and 2015.  First, last year had 97 boats enter the tournament, just 4 less than 2015, with a total purse of$323,273.  With that in mind, over twice the number of mako sharks were caught this year.  There were fewer blue sharks and thresher sharks caught.  In 2014, no tiger sharks or hammerhead sharks were hooked while this year saw 7 and 6 respectively.

Here’s a look at the totals from the last 5 years, 2010 – 2015:

south jersey shark tournament data

The tournament has a minimum weight rule of 200 lbs.  This rule has come under some scrutiny with regards to thresher sharks, and critics are calling for an increased weight limit for this species.  As the above table shows, thresher sharks are the only species that are more frequently kept than released.  With virtually no chance of making the leader board, it would be nice to see the smaller threshers released back to the wild.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and other shark fishing tournaments.  Post your comments below.

 

great hammerhead shark

Great Hammerhead Sharks: Killing for Sport

A large and very pregnant, great hammerhead shark was recently killed by a group of fisherman in Destin Florida, aboard the boat Phoenix.  The catch occurred greater than 3 miles offshore so current legislation to protect against this was irrelevant.  This shows how ineffective the current protections can be.

Here’s a video of the shark being cut open at the dock and 33 pups removed from her womb.  The sharks fins and jaw have already been removed in the video.

Warning: Graphic Content

Great  Hammerhead sharks are listed as endangered on the IUCN (International Union on the Conservation of Nature) and currently protected in Florida waters.

Many in the shark community are already aware that these sharks are extremely vulnerable to stress and often die as a result of fighting on a fishing line.  This is especially true of pregnant females.  Because of this, current research on great hammerheads has changed practice and no longer relies on hook and line to study the animals.  The researchers in Bimini are swimming alongside the great hammerheads and using a pole spear in insert tracking tags.

There has been quite a backlash against the fishing boat after they described their trophy on social media pages.  The charter boat said that they would have released the shark, but it died in the long battle.  This, to me, was an unnecessary death of 34 great hammerhead sharks, currently endangered.  If a charter boat is going to go out and fish animals for sport, they should know the impact they are having.  They should have known that this hammerhead was extremely unlikely to survive and the line should have been cut immediately.

It’s unfortunate to see an event like this and know that this is a sport, all for a trophy or photo.  While commercial fishing efforts have the biggest impact on the current decline of shark populations worldwide, this trophy hunting behavior/sport is even more upsetting.

killing great hammerhead sharks

If you’d like to dive with great hammerhead sharks, sign up with a reputable operator and see the animals swimming healthy and free in the natural environment.

shark fin ban

Shark Fin Ban likely in Texas

shark fin ban

Texas shows support to ban shark fins

Great news on the political front in Texas.  The shark fin bill, #HB1579 flew through the Senate with a 27 – 4 vote, according to a Texas newspaper.  The bill was sponsored by Texas Democrat Eddie Lucio III and strongly supported by Senator Eddie Lucio, his father.  This new legislation makes anything relating to the sale and purchase of shark fins or any products that come from shark fins a criminal offense.

Representative Lucio told The Humane Society of the United States that “sharks are the top predators in our water and serve a vital purpose within that ecosystem.  Shark finning is an inhumane act banned on the Federal level, but we have to make sure Texas is not encouraging that illegal act by restricting what can be done with those fins.”  The conservation organization, Oceana, estimates that half of the shark fin trade passing through the United States goes through Texas.

The final step in passing this legislation is the signature of the bill by Texas Governor Greg Abbot.  If signed, Texas will join California, Oregon, Hawaii, Delaware, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, where the trade of shark fins is already outlawed.

Most shark fins are destined for Asia, where they are the highly valued main ingredient in shark fin soup.  Here, they also have a variety of other uses, such as in traditional medicines.  To meet the high demand for shark fins, the cruel practice of shark finning has evolved where sharks are pulled from the ocean on baited hooks, stripped of the fins while still alive, and thrown back into the ocean where, unable to swim, they will drown.  This allows the shark finning boats to reserve their cargo space for only the valuable fins. 

To read the full bill, #HB1579, visit the Texas Legislature Online.

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