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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Now the hunter has become the hunted: warnings that the end is near for sharks

Now the hunter has become the hunted: warnings that the end is near for sharks
SOUTH AFRICA: Illegal fin hunters blamed for extinction fears, by Fred Bridgland in Cape Town
Sunday Herald, 14 March

NEARLY TWO tonnes of dried shark fins - from at least 100 sharks caught at sea - found in the hold of a Taiwanese fishing vessel in Cape Town harbour have shed light on a trade that is driving the top hunter of the oceans towards extinction.

The South African permit for the Chien Jiu, whose 26 crew members are being held pending trial, was for the acquisition of just 100 kilos of shark fin. Under international regulations, the Chien Jiu's skipper was also required by maritime officials to produce the entire body of each shark from which fins were taken: he was unable to do so.

"Our oceans are being emptied of sharks, and the scale of the problem is global," said Julia Baum, a scientist at California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She added: "We are looking at a high risk of extinction of some shark species over the next few years. The loss of top predators such as sharks can damage whole marine ecosystems."

In a quasi-legal trade, linked to Chinese Triad gangs, the fins - selling at US$700 a kilo - are exported into various corners of Asian affluence where bowls of shark fin soup, reputed to offer medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities, are dished up at $200 a time.

Great white and hammerhead sharks have been reduced in numbers by 70% in the last 15 years, while others, such as the silky white tip, have disappeared from the Caribbean, according to the late Dr Ransom Myers, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Compagno said shark species can take up to 20 years to reach sexual maturity and give birth to only a few young at a time. As the top predators at the apex of reef systems, sharks keep the ecological balance, he said. "By eliminating sharks, you pull the plug on the reefs, resulting in overpopulation, overgrazing and overfeeding by other reef dwellers."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Whale Shark Festival Schedule Announced

Whale Shark Festival Schedule Announced; Environmental Leader Project Domino to Participate
Swimming With Whale Sharks and Other Ecotourism Adventures to Aid in the Survival of This Fragile Marine Environment
By: Marketwire . Mar. 23, 2009 11:07 AM

This summer, thousands of visitors to Isla Mujeres, Mexico will celebrate the beauty and culture of this fishing community while championing the need to preserve a fragile marine ecosystem at the Whale Shark Festival, a five-day extravaganza that showcases the achievements, the traditions and the environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres.

The Festival will be held July 1-5, 2009 in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Guests can swim with whale sharks, an endangered species and the largest fish in the ocean. They can join the worldwide effort to protect and preserve whale sharks by adding their photos to ECOCEAN's international Whale Shark Photo Identification Library Project, a visual database of the unique markings that allow scientists to identify -- and track -- individual whale sharks.

"The Festival is an opportunity for travelers to participate in ecotourism adventures and to immerse themselves in the culture of this vibrant island community," said John Vater, who co-founded Ceviche Tours with his wife, Adriana, and longtime friend and Isla Mujeres native Luis Refugio "Cuco" Sanchez and his family. "They can also become 'Citizen Scientists' by participating in conservation initiatives that truly impact the survival of the marine environment in Isla Mujeres."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Groups cite whale shark deaths

That so-called world's biggest oceanarium isn't even 0.001% of a whale shark's natural range! 3,500 people have already signed the whale shark petition in 6 days, please add your support now!
Groups cite whale shark deaths here
Protesters want to prevent resort from including those fish. Aquarium neutral on idea.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thursday, March 19, 2009

Animal welfare groups half a world away are using the 2007 deaths of two whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium in an effort to stop a Singapore resort from displaying the huge fish.

The groups, which include the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have launched a Web site ( and petition drive that highlights the Georgia Aquarium whale sharks deaths to argue that the big fish should not be kept in captivity at a new marine park in Singapore.

Ralph and Norton —- two adolescent whale sharks brought to Atlanta from Taiwan —- died two years ago after their tank was treated with a chemical used to rid fish of parasites.

Resorts World at Sentosa is building two casinos in Singapore, which will feature what the resort calls the “world’s biggest oceanarium” when it opens next year. The resort says the oceanarium will house 700,000 fish in 20 million gallons of water.

Whale sharks are ocean-going fish that can dive to depths of several thousand feet in the wild. They have been kept successfully for more than a decade at some Asian aquariums. However, critics argue the majority of whale sharks held in captivity die within a few years of their capture.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sharks gone missing

Sharks gone missing
Dindo to talk about their declining population in Gulf waters in the first of a series of coastal ecology lectures
Wednesday, March 18, 2009, Baldwin Country Now

FAIRHOPE, Ala. — “In the mid-’80s, you could fish off Fort Morgan and catch large numbers of sharks of all species,” said Dr. John Dindo, associate director at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, referring to the Civil War site at the mouth of Mobile Bay. “Those numbers are not there today. We don’t know all the reasons, but the research we’re doing is seeking to answer questions like that.”

Big sharks of several varieties were once abundant in this area, he said.“But that’s not the case anymore,” Dindo said. “The decline could be tied directly to long-line tuna fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Anything caught on a long-line is going to die in a typical fishing situation.” The sharks also have a slow recovery time, adding to that decline in numbers, he said.

Dindo said the general public still has misconceptions about sharks. There is still that ominous soundtrack from the movie, “Jaws,” playing in their heads when many people think about sharks.“That same music is not playing when someone thinks about getting bit by an ant or bee,” he said. “But the likelihood of dying from anaphylactic shock from a bee sting or ant bite is much more likely than ever being bit by a shark. Sharks occupy a vital role in the ecology and environment.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Animal rights group calls on Venetian to stop serving shark's fin

Animal rights group calls on Venetian to stop serving shark's fin
Tuesday, 17 March 2009, Macau Daily Times

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia-Pacific sent an urgent letter to the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel, urging the management to remove all items containing shark fin from its restaurants' menus immediately. According to the animal rights group, the petition was prompted by reports having received recently from its members in Macau that some of the Venetian's restaurants are serving shark fin dishes.

Overfishing by "sport" and commercial fishers seeking shark fins and cartilage has put shark populations in "peril."Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they mature slowly, have long gestation periods and produce few young at a time.

PETA also notes that shark fin has almost "no nutritional value" and can contain "high levels of toxic mercury."Despite shark fin’s traditional role in Chinese banquets, PETA says in the letter that public attitudes about shark fin are changing.

Chinese athlete and NBA basketball player Yao Ming declared that he would never eat shark fin again. Also in 2005, public pressure forced Hong Kong Disneyland and the University of Hong Kong to stop serving shark fin.

"No 'tradition' can justify cutting the fins off sharks and dumping their writhing bodies back into the sea to die in agony," PETA's Rebecca Chui said."We urge Mr McWhinnie to follow the lead of Disney and others around the world and remove all food items made with real shark fins from the menu immediately," she added.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quezon fishers rescue whale shark, turtles

Quezon fishers rescue whale shark, turtles
03/16/2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer

LUCENA CITY—A 30-foot whale shark or “butanding” and six marine turtles were rescued in two towns of Quezon province in the past week, an environmentalist protection group reported on Saturday.

Shiela de Leon, director of the Tanggol Kalikasan-Southern Tagalog, a public interest environmental law center, said residents of San Andres along the Ragay Gulf in the Bondoc Peninsula saw the whale shark near the pier.

“The butanding again made its appearance after long years of absence,” said De Leon, a native of San Andres.

She said that after an hour of “photo ops” and playful interaction with children, the town officials ordered the fishers to guide the whale shark back into deep waters.

Taiwan denies fishing trawler was smuggling shark fins

Why so double-standard! They ban the harvest and sale of whale sharks but they don't care about the other shark species? They are all equally important to the ocean ecosystem you know.
Taiwan denies fishing trawler was smuggling shark fins
2009-03-16 01:16 AM , Taiwan News

Authorities in Capetown impounded the Kaohsiung-registered Chien Jui 102 after they found it had unloaded 1.6 tons of shark fins, Taiwanese diplomat Tsai Chien-hua said. Regulations stipulate that shark fins on any one vessel should not exceed 5 percent of the amount of shark also present on board. Under those terms, the Chien Jui 102 should have been carrying a maximum of 32 tons of shark, but only 4 tons were found, reports said. Crew members reportedly explained that some of the shark meat had been processed into fish feed at sea.

The hunt for sharks and for shark fins has come under international criticism as the animal breed comes closer to extinction. Shark finning, which involves the killing of the animals and the dumping of their bodies back into the ocean after cutting off the fins, is mainly driven by the East Asian demand for shark fin soup.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sharks losing battle

The usual sad news about shark populations, but good measures coming from America. I hope they will be in time!
Sharks losing battle
March 15, 2009, FOR FLORIDA TODAY

The carnivorous fish that Rick Dean once feared now commands his respect -- and his concern for their welfare. "Many species of sharks are becoming extinct," he said. "It is an emergency situation."

During last week's annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it was announced that nine more species of sharks will be added to the list of the 126 already on the International Union for Conservation of Nature endangered list.

Miami's Pew Institute for Ocean Science estimates about 73 million sharks are killed each year to meet the increasing demand for the delicacy known as shark fin soup. Often, the fin is sliced off while the shark is still alive and then gets tossed back into the water to die a slow death. Add to that those who are fished for their meat and cartilage, and the numbers hit about 100 million.

"As sharks are vital to our ecosystem, Florida has passed laws that greatly protect the populations in Florida's waters," he said. "Those limits extend three miles out on the Atlantic side and nine nautical miles off the Gulf coast."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A woman missed her shark fin soup in Hong Kong

Funny spoof of the video of the woman who missed her flight in Hong Kong.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Animal welfare groups oppose import of whale sharks at Sentosa IR

Animal welfare groups oppose import of whale sharks at Sentosa IR
Posted: 12 March 2009 1232 hrs, ChannelNewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Seven local and international animal welfare groups have launched an online campaign opposing plans by a Singapore integrated resort developer to import whale sharks for its planned oceanarium.

The groups on Wednesday launched a website,, calling on the public to "voice their opinions" on the plans to import the whale sharks, described as the largest living fish species.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Overfishing of sharks hits entire marine food chain

Wow his paintings are really cool and sad. I did a Google images search.

Overfishing of sharks hits entire marine food chain
Thursday, March 12, 2009, Irish Times

SLIGO-BASED painter Diarmuid Delargy had his first encounter with a thresher shark as a young boy while out with his father on a small boat off the Antrim coast in the late 1960s. The experience left an indelible impression, and Delargy’s current exhibition simply entitled Shark is an ode to these astonishing creatures, the product of 450 million years of evolutionary perfection. Ode, perhaps, or requiem. My six-year-old wondered aloud as to why they looked so sad.

The artist’s own anger, etched in paint, is palpable. Mysterious, powerful and woefully misunderstood, sharks have long evoked a visceral reaction. This was skilfully exploited in 1970s blockbuster Jaws , which had a rogue great white terrorise (for no apparent reason) a coastal community. Peter Benchley, author of the eponymous book, in later years felt so bad at the pogrom his creation had helped stoke up against sharks that he became a prominent campaigner for their conservation.

Despite their terrifying appearance, you are in fact far more likely to be killed by a dog, pig, wasp or jellyfish, or for that matter be crushed by a vending machine, than you are to die in a shark attack. Worldwide, maybe 10 people a year are killed by sharks. The respect is not mutual; each year we kill around 100 million of them.

Globally, shark populations are crashing. “Humans are pushing shark species to extinction, with devastating impacts on the ocean ecosystem,” said marine wildlife specialist Elizabeth Griffin. “There is just no way for these species to withstand the direct pressure of man’s voracious fishing practices.”

Eliminating the top predator in any system creates what is called a trophic cascade. The species whose numbers sharks used to police, such as ray and skates, are now exploding in population. They in turn are wiping out scallops and other shellfish, and water quality is suffering as a result.

Reefs, too, are under assault as parrot fish, which are key to controlling algal growth on reefs, are being exterminated by the fish whose numbers are no longer being regulated by sharks. “We have literally chopped the top off the ocean food web,” according to Canadian marine scientist Julia Baum.

Some 90 per cent of all the large predatory fish in the world’s oceans have now been eliminated. It would be facile to imagine that such a profound reordering of marine life on earth would fail to produce far-reaching consequences.

OFFICIAL PETITION: Against Whale Sharks in Captivity

Hi everybody please sign the offical anti-whale sharks in captivity petition!!

International organizations Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have joined forces with local organisations The Green Volunteers,, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Cicada Tree Eco-Place to launch a public awareness campaign against the proposed import of whale sharks to Singapore’s Resorts World at Sentosa.

Resorts World at Sentosa wants to import whale sharks for the attraction and entertainment of visitors. Whale sharks are vulnerable to extinction and have never done well in captivity. They can grow as large as two city buses, migrate thousands of kilometers in the wild, and live up to a hundred years. It is just plain cruel to keep them in glass cages.Whale sharks have never fared well in captivity. Two whale sharks died within five months of each other at the Georgia Aquarium.

Write to the Minister of National Development, the Singapore Tourism Board and Resorts World at Sentosa before this tragedy happens on our shores.
Send your letter here

Monday, March 9, 2009

Smallest Whale Shark Discovered -- On a Leash

Aiyo so cute! Why was this guy trying to sell the whale shark! I'm glad the conservationists got it to before it got the horrible fate of dying in someone's fish tank or hotplate!
Smallest Whale Shark Discovered -- On a Leash
March 9, 2009, National Geographic News

Early on March 7 a project leader from the international conservation organization WWF and others in the town of Donsol heard that a live whale shark was being offered for sale at a nearby beach. Expecting a stranded giant, the rescuers found instead a 15-inch (38-centimeter) shark leashed to a stake in the mud like a neglected puppy.

By the end of the day, after photos and measurements had been taken, the young whale shark was free again, released into deeper waters.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Maldives ban shark hunting

Great news from the Maldives, but sad that it had to come to this!

Letter on shark hunting ban
4 March 2009, Minivan News

We appreciate it very much that finally the sharks of the Maldives will be protected. According to our diving experience, it is already five minutes to 12 for the grey reef sharks.

During November 2007 we did not see grey sharks anymore in the Ari atoll and both Male' Atolls. We complained to many people about their near-extinction.

Grey sharks are particularly important as they take care of dead matter in the sea, which is very important for the avoidance of disease.

Since we did not see a reaction to protect sharks, we finally decided to go somewhere else for diving. I have been diving since 1977, many times in the Maldives and I became very sorry to see your beautiful underwater world destroyed for short-term profit.

Manfred Rhode
Chairman of the Diving Club "Unterwasserclub
Langen e. V."

Maldives ban shark hunting
Published:Mar 05, 2009, The Times

COLOMBO — The Maldives banned reef shark hunting in a bid to protect the atoll nation’s fragile ecology and attract more divers.

The new law would stop shark hunting in shallow waters around the country’s 1,192 coral islands, the government said.

"The ban will restore the Maldives’ shark populations and, in doing so, help maintain our pristine marine environment," President Mohamed Nasheed said.

"The shark hunting ban will also help the tourism industry. More divers and snorkelers will now visit the Maldives to observe these beautiful sea creatures."

There is no domestic market in the Maldives for shark meat, which is mainly exported to East Asian nations.

Survey: Maldives’ shark population in danger of becoming extinct
DATE: 2009-03-03, Haveeru

Research conducted by experts show that the various shark species in Maldives were in danger of becoming extinct due to overfishing by shark hunters, the Fisheries Ministry has said.

An official from the Ministry said that sharks reproduced at a very slow rate and that also in very small litter sizes, which was why the small shark population was unable to cope with large scale fishing. The official further said that shark hunting was directly affecting two of the main industries of Maldives: fishing and tourism.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bruce Parry finds religion and shark fins in the Solomons

Interesting accidental coverage on the TV show Tribes.
Bruce Parry finds religion and shark fins in the Solomons
March 03, 2009 11:00pm,

THAT red stuff on the guy's face there is turmeric. Bruce Parry. Tonight he's in Anuta, it's one of the Solomon Islands, even though it's more than 1100km from Honiara. They paint turmeric on themselves all the time.

And they also sell shark fins to China. They go out and do this big dangerous fishing trip and catch all these sharks and don't even bother to eat them, just slice the fins off and wait for the boat from China to come and collect them. I'm not happy about it. People are funny about sharks aren't they. If this were almost any other animal – a dolphin, say – can you just hear the uproar? It's like we love animals until they hurt one of us then we want to slaughter them all out of existence.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Whale shark rescued by firefighters

Nice bit of animal welfare from Taiwan. Taiwan banned the harvest and sale of whale sharks in 2008.
Whale shark rescued by firefighters
23:28 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009, BBC News

An endangered whale shark which drifted into a canal in Taiwan has been returned to open waters by fishermen and rescue workers.

It is believed the whale shark, which is the world's largest fish, could have entered fresh water while chasing food.

More than ten fishermen, coastguards, and firefighters spent almost eight hours towing the whale shark back out to sea.

Captive Bull Shark Kills Long-time Tank Mate | Georgia Aquarium Adds Two Great Hammerhead Sharks To It's Ocean Voyager Tank

Two different stories from sharks in captivity. Why are we continuing to take animals out the wild when we know so little about them?
Captive Bull Shark Kills Long-time Tank Mate
2009-03-02 15:22:43

An aggressive bull shark exhibited at Shenzhen Xiaomeisha Aquarium claimed its latest victim, a lemon shark with whom it had shared a fish tank for ten years, on Sunday.

According to a Guangzhou Daily report, the 2.1 meter bull shark had a long history as a troublemaker. It began slaughtering other fish in the tank after being bought by the aquarium mistakenly as an ordinary shark in 1999. The killing spree continued for three years until it was finally recognized as a bull shark by a Hong Kong aquarium expert.

Georgia Aquarium Adds Two Great Hammerhead Sharks To It's Ocean Voyager Tank
Zoo and Aquarium Visitor

Atlanta, GA - The Georgia Aquarium released two new great hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna mokarran) into the Ocean Voyager gallery, built by The Home Depot. The Aquarium now houses three great hammerhead sharks, giving it the largest collection of the species on display in North America and one of only two aquariums in the country to feature it.

Listed as globally endangered by IUCN, the great hammerhead shark is often subject to over-fishing. While their meat is rarely consumed, their skin is processed into leather and their liver oil is used for vitamins. With the addition of the two new hammerhead sharks, the Georgia Aquarium continues its mission to promote awareness and protection of aquatic animals.

Surfing champ against culling

Surfing champ against culling
Fred Pawle, March 02, 2009, The Australian

DON'T cull the sharks, says two-times world surfing champion Tom Carroll. To do so would be a failure of our humanity. "I'd like to think we're beyond blaming sharks for anything," Carroll said yesterday.

"We're human. We've got our fears, and that's another way to act out on the fear, to blame all sharks. That's classic human behaviour, which gets us into more shit, and suddenly we've got no nature left. It makes sense to me to live with the sharks, and help them sustain life. We eat way more fish than they do."

"I've had sharks surrounding me. They seem like dogs - they're just curious. I get mesmerised. I love the look of them. I love the sharks - they only scare the living daylights out of me if they're massive and they're between me and the shore.

"But the fact I get to see it means I know I've got a chance. Fact is, you just don't get to see them if they're going to hit you, and that's what brings so much fear to our imaginative minds."

Carroll says we know too little about sharks to demonise them.

"All we really know is that they're ancient creatures, they're dinosaurs, and their instincts are to eat and conserve energy.