BTW we are big fans of Dr Clarke:
"Data on shark harvests have always been poor. What the new trends suggest, Clarke says, is that "if we're going to have any hope of managing shark populations, we're going to need far better data." In particular, she says, there is a growing need for observers on fishing boats and for more comprehensive trade figures on sharks. The observers, she says, are needed to begin collecting reliable, international data on where sharks are being caught, their size, their maturity, and their species."
Oh but wait! There are reliable sources on the Internet right now to ascertain not only shark species, but regional fishing pressures, volume of trade, end user volumes, and even misidentified and mislabeled fins.
And where would this magical database be you ask?
Online shark fin trading. You know, where a seller seeks a buyer and makes a transaction? Never heard of it? Are you even aware that many thousands of pounds of shark fin are sold globally online each and every day?
We said it before and even suggested, much to the ire and moronic disposition of few tiny brained sharktavists back in 2010, that the entire online trade of shark fin might in fact be - compromised.
The data coming from a "discreet ownership" in these few trade platforms online would be invaluable. We would know for instance where new and emerging markets were seeking shark fin, where dumps of species might indicate harvesting of breeding areas. If set aside marine areas were in fact failing or working. Age, sex, deep water vs in shore species.
The list goes on and on.
The fact is, and we have said this before, shark and ocean conservation efforts are for the most part small in scope. When real time shark fin data is as reliable as the metric tonnage of fin that is sold and traded each and every day, but not used by those seeking solutions to the shark fin problem, one has lick ones palm and slap it loudly on the nearest forehead.
Preferably your own.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are actual real time solutions to this stuff. You just have to have the vision and bandwidth to seek them out. Or stay in the dark.
The choice is yours.
Australian research into shark antibodies that holds out the potential for new drugs and diagnostic agents is a step closer to realising its goal following an agreement with international diagnostic and pharmaceutical giant, Roche.
The pioneering work, which has attracted world-wide interest, is based on research led by Associate Professor Michael Foley at the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS).
It builds on discoveries over the last decade that shark antibodies could offer a lot of advantages over existing therapies in the fight against cancers and autoimmune diseases.
The research agreement between Roche and the Melbourne-based biotechnology company AdAlta aims to identify and evaluate the way in which these small antibodies isolated from shark blood are able to bind to a diagnostic target.
Dr Foley is founding scientist and Chief Scientific Officer of AdAlta. He and his co-researchers have built the world’s first test tube ‘library’ of disease-targeting antibodies based on modified shark antibodies.
He says his company is pioneering a range of new technology that uses modified shark antibodies for both treatment and diagnosis, offering prospects for new and more effective approaches to a wide range of diseases.
Shark antibodies are very small and extremely stable protein molecules, says Dr Foley, and are particularly good at seeking out and binding to target cells.
‘Furthermore, because they are extremely stable, they may overcome some of the problems encountered with traditional human antibodies when stored and used at high temperatures.
‘Because of their small size and stability, such new therapies can be manufactured in bacterial systems rather than in animal cells, as is presently the case for therapeutic antibodies, and it raises the possibility that they may be taken orally instead of injected.
‘So the next generation of pharmaceuticals might make good use of these small proteins, and sharks have them naturally in their blood.’
For the global pharmaceutical industry antibody treatments represent a multibillion-dollar market.
Dr Foley says as part of the collaboration with Roche, AdAlta will screen his shark antibody library and provide relevant shark antibody ‘binders’ to Roche for further evaluation.
He explains his research involves taking genes from sharks and modifying them in the laboratory by inserting random sequences – mimicking the way the human immune system works – to develop antibodies capable of a defensive response.
In other parts of the world, Dr Foley say, shark antibody research is done by injecting captive sharks, usually held in tanks or pools, and drawing their blood.
But the system invented by Dr Stewart Nuttall within the Cooperative Research for Diagnostics and now developed by AdAlta, enables this work to be done in test tubes at a bench – a far quicker, not to mention safer, method.
Dr Foley’s discoveries on shark antibodies follow his earlier work on malaria. He says one of the key features of shark antibodies is they have a finger-like loop that can ‘bind’ into a cavity on a target protein, something he first came across in his malaria studies where it was ‘irreverently tagged as “giving malaria the finger”’.
‘Then, when we saw pictures of the shark antibody binding to a hole in the protein, we immediately thought of a situation like the flu,’ Dr Foley says. ‘That’s because this sub-cellular sabotage was similar to that involved in the development of the anti-influenza pharmaceutical Relenza.
‘It’s like covering up part of a keyhole. You don’t have to cover the whole keyhole; if you cover up part of it, you can’t get the key in.’
Source: La Trobe University, Victoria / Australia
Shark Diver has been involved with top rated productions for the past seven years at this unique dive site and we have listed just a few reasons to consider your next shark productions here.
1. Ease of Production
Tiger Beach sits just off the shores of Grand Bahama Island. With top rated hotels for talent and crews like the Old Bahama Bay Resort and Marina as your base of operations and medium sized dive vessels for productions, from concept to shoot day this site has everything you will need. Additionally the Bahamas Film Commission is perhaps one of the most production friendly government agencies in the Bahamas and has gone to great lengths for every production they service to make things happen.
2. Multi-Species Encounters
Few dive sites on the planet can offer guaranteed big animal encounters with Tigers, and even fewer offer multi-species encounters all within a short distance of each other. From Reef sharks to Tigers and even clouds of Lemon sharks, Tiger Beach and the surrounding reefs offer shark filled productions in short order.
3. Dive Site Magic
At a maximum depth of 20 feet Tiger Beach offers an encounter space tailored for novice to serious talent. Visibility at Tiger Beach is 80% blue water, additionally the vast majority of Tiger Beach is white sand bottom allowing for additional objects and production development for larger commercials and product placement. Consider Tiger Beach a blank canvass for commercial productions that seek live sharks in the environmentally friendly environment they develop.
4. Cost Benefit
Most shark productions originate out of the USA. From commercials to documentaries flights, accommodations, and time are of the essence once you decide to do a shark production. With ease of travel to Freeport, Grand Bahama from multiple major airports in Florida the Bahamas makes the most production sense. We like to call this site a one-stop-shop for unique productions.
In 2010 Shark Diver was the driving force behind an award winning Gillette commercial at Tiger Beach, developing the site, building cage systems, talent choices and dive safety crews. In tandem with a top Los Angeles based commercial agency the following Gillette commercial set the bar for live action shark filmmaking and won a prestigious award at the Cannes Film Festival.
So, where are you going to shoot your next shark production?
We have always said the easiest way to find a white shark is to follow the fishermen. It was how Isla Guadalupe was "discovered" many years ago and if you happen to be in Arno Bay, Australia this time of year, finding a white shark is as easy as snapper going fishing.
"A 4 metre great white shark circles the boat waiting for an easy feed as we have a double hook up of big snapper at Arno Bay"
Fall, 62, walks along the beach in this fishing village in the north of Senegal, his blue-grey boubou flapping in the dry, dusty wind, a bright red flowered umbrella shielding him from the scorching sun.
“This is the great shark cemetery,” he says waving his hand dramatically across the beach where dried hunks of shark meat are piled up, filling the air with a musty, acrid odor as suffocating as the heat.
Colorful painted pirogues line the beach where children play and sheep wander around. A giant pelican is curiously tethered to one of the crumbling houses. Saint Louis is one of the biggest shark landing sites in Senegal and one of scores along the west African coast where the predator is quickly disappearing.
Fall’s sons have been gone for two weeks deep into Mauritanian waters for a voyage which, including food, water, fuel and salt to pack the fish, can cost more than 500,000 CFA (750 euros/$1,000).
Spurring these fishermen on is the insatiable Asian appetite for shark fins, which make their way onto ostentatious dinner tables in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. “The fins don’t stay here, they are worth a lot of money,” says Fall. He explains that when a boat lands, amidst the chaos of bartering and buying shark meat to be dried, smoked and sold in the region, the fins are swept away by intermediaries to Dakar, and treated very carefully.
“The fins are gold, sometimes we keep them in our own living room – with the air conditioning on,” he laughs. Often the intermediaries will meet with Asian businessmen in a Dakar hotel to hand over the booty. “You bring the bags, go into the hotel, hand over the bag, they hand over the money.” Mika Diop, a biologist and coordinator of the Sharks sub-regional Action Plan (SRPOA-Sharks) says that depending on the size and species of the fin involved, they sell for up to 100,000 CFA (150 euros) per kilogram (2.2 pounds).
But it is the men further up the chain who benefit the most, as many fishermen don’t realise exactly how valuable their product is. Some restaurants charge more than $100 for a bowl of sharp fin soup. “We catch them, but I couldn’t afford a small bowl of soup,” says Fall. ‘Mercenary mindset’- many fins are also exported fraudulently through normal channels classified as dried fish, says Diop.
In West Africa, shark fishing began in the 1970’s, booming in the nineties due to rising demand from Asia for shark fins, according to a report entitled “30 Years of Shark Fishing in West Africa” co-authored by Diop in 2011. Since 2003, shark catches have plummeted. This is not good news but a sign that there are less to catch. These days fishermen can spend up to 20 days at sea, heading as far west as Cape Verde or south to Sierra Leone in search of their gold, with what Diop bemoans as an often “mercenary mindset”. Diop explains that sharks are particularly vulnerable because it can take more than 10 years for them to reach sexual maturity and their fertility rate is very low, making recovery from overfishing all year round near impossible.
“On average the weight of the fin represents only two percent of the total weight of the animal, so you can see the massacre needed to keep up with the demand for shark fins,” he tells AFP.
In Saint Louis, Fall finally gets a phone call from his pirogue. Days of bad weather have hampered fishing and even the good days have yielded no sharks. The boat is now expected the following day. A fisherman for more than 30 years, he has seen first hand the worrying drop in shark numbers. “We are obliged to catch small sharks. We know its not good but if one person doesn’t, the next will… “It brings in a lot of money, so we don’t see the importance of the shark.
We earn and we will keep on earning until the sharks disappear,” he says sadly. The shark fishing report talks of days when hammerhead sharks up to six metres long (20 feet) and one-tonne sawfish were caught in these waters. The sawfish-printed on the back of Senegalese bank notes-hasn’t been seen since the early 1990s in coastal waters from Mauritania to Sierra Leone, except for Guinea-Bissau.
According to the report, the value of sharks landed annually in 2008 in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde is estimated at 8.5 million euros ($11 million).
Diop’s shark project has published an identification guide for fishermen and has helped west African nations put legislation in place, most importantly to ban “finning”. In Senegal this legislation is still in the pipeline. Finning is the practice of cutting of the shark fin while at sea, and tossing the rest of the shark back into the ocean to face a cruel death by suffocation or blood loss. Despite the laws, it still continues.
If shark-hunting, in Senegal and the world over, is not brought under control, Diop and other experts predict dire results for a marine ecosystem regulated by the predator for some 400 million years. A report by the Pew Environment Group in June 2011 estimates some 73 million sharks are caught annually and 30 percent of species are threatened with extinction.
The fisherman Sada Fall becomes anxious and harder to get hold of. The “big shark guy around here”-his distributor-has left back to Dakar after hearing the fishing trip has not gone well. Three days after the boat was supposed to land it reaches shore just after midnight. With no sharks caught, it quickly refuels and heads out again for several more gruelling, and expensive, days in search of fisherman’s gold.
From PRI by Fran Blandy.