Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

I would urge anyone who reads the following Press Release to go to the web link below and sign some petitions to save sharks. Cheers!


Over 50 percent of oceanic shark species threatened with extinction!

Press Release
May 22,2008

Experts highlight actions to stem declines and ensure sustainable fishing

22nd May 2008 – The first study to determine the global threat status of 21 species of wide-ranging oceanic pelagic sharks and rays reveals serious overfishing and recommends key steps that governments can take to safeguard populations. These findings and recommendations for action are published in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

This international study, organised by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG), was conducted by 15 scientists from 13 different research institutes around the world, with additional contributions from scores of other SSG members.

The experts determined that 16 out of the 21 oceanic shark and ray species that are caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat as well as indirect take in other fisheries. In most cases, these catches are unregulated and unsustainable. The increasing demand for the delicacy ‘shark fin soup’, driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, means that often the valuable shark fins are retained and the carcasses discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded.

Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their tendency to take many years to become sexually mature and have relatively few offspring.

“Fishery managers and regional, national and international officials have the opportunity and the obligation to halt and reverse the rate of loss of biodiversity and ensure sharks and rays are exploited sustainably.” says lead author Nicholas Dulvy from the Centre for Environment, Fishers and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft Laboratory in Lowestoft, UK.

“The current rate of biodiversity loss is ten to a hundred times greater than historic extinction rates, and as humans make increasing use of ocean resources it is possible that many more aquatic species, particularly sharks, are coming under threat,” says Dulvy, now based at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. “This does not have to be an inevitability. With sufficient public support and resulting political will, we can turn the tide."

The group’s specific recommendations for governments address the need to:

  • Establish and enforce science-based catch limits for sharks and rays
  • Ensure an end to shark finning (removing fins and discarding bodies at sea)
  • Improve the monitoring of fisheries taking sharks and rays
  • Invest in shark and ray research and population assessment
  • Minimize incidental catch (‘bycatch’) of sharks and rays
  • Cooperate with other countries to conserve shared populations.

“The traditional view of oceanic sharks and rays as fast and powerful too often leads to a misperception that they are resilient to fishing pressure,” said Sonja Fordham, co-author of the paper and Deputy Chair, IUCN Shark Specialist Group and Policy Director, Shark Alliance. “Despite mounting evidence of decline and increasing threats to these species, there are no international catch limits for oceanic sharks. Our research shows that action is urgently needed on a global level if these fisheries are to be sustainable.”

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Memories of Sea Hunt


Like many divers born during the Baby Boomer years, I was lured to scuba diving by watching the television series SEA HUNT. Starring Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson, an ex-Navy UDT Frogman turned freelance undersea investigator, the show followed Mike's adventures as he investigated crime, performed rescues, salvaged sunken objects, conducted scientific experiments, disarmed underwater mines, fought bad guys underwater with knives and spear guns and running afoul of sharks and other denizens of the deep. Whenever danger or excitement lurked below the surface, Mike Nelson was ready to go.

Over the show’s opening credits there was that haunting, ominous theme song. This weekly TV series was one of the most popular shows in syndication during the Sixties (episodes were filmed from 1957-1961). I can vividly recall watching an episode that featured a life or death struggle with a giant octopus. Yup, I was hooked and knew that I would scuba dive when I grew up.

It was this show that inspired me at age five to don a surplus World War II gas mask and plunge the top half of my body into a huge iron cauldron that was stocked with goldfish in our backyard. It was amazing…for a brief moment not only could I see the fish clearly, but also I noticed the light flakes of rust on the bottom of the cauldron. As water started to seep into the gas mask…no worries, I thought, because the gas mask had a hose and canister attached to it. Surely, I could breathe underwater with that? Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that a gas mask will not work underwater and I had to quickly abandon my first ever dive when water filled the mask. After that, I can’t tell you how many neighborhood garden hoses I cut up for pieces of hose and tried taping them to a large Coke bottle to construct a tank and breathing hose. Such was my desire to breath underwater.

One unusual aspect of the series was that each SEA HUNT episode closed out with a short monologue by Bridges where while often standing at the wheel of his boat, Argonaut, he said something about protecting the ocean and then invited viewers to come back for the following week’s show. A sample list of closing monologues follows:

"Hello there. I'm Lloyd Bridges. Skin diving is fun and adventure for young and old, but it can be dangerous, so know the sport well and don't take any chances. Be with you next week for another exciting Sea Hunt."

"Hi, there. I'm Lloyd Bridges. Skin diving is certainly a lot of fun, and it's full of adventure. See some more of it again next week, huh, when there'll be another excursion into that fabulous underwater world of Sea Hunt."

"I'm Lloyd Bridges, inviting you to join us for another action-packed story of underwater adventure one week from today" [Descends steps into water wearing a wearing scuba tanks]

"I'll be back next week at this same time with another Sea Hunt story. Plan to be with us again, huh?
"You know, three-fifths of the world is covered by the sea, and how little most of us know about that underwater world. Go below with us again next week, huh, for another thrilling adventure in Sea Hunt."

It has been estimated that over one million fans that took up recreational Scuba diving from becoming interested in the sport while watching SEA HUNT. As some might say…they sure don’t make shows like this anymore…