Chris Fischer and OCEARCH’s feelings are hurt!

Chris Fischer responded to my blog “Celebrities at Guadalupe Island” on our facebook page. Apparently his feelings are hurt, that a blog about celebrities at Guadalupe Island was not about him.

He writes: Chris Fischer Thrilled you are a fan of OCEARCH work. My wife and I personally funded the expedition that tagged Bruce. Amusing how you fail to mention the crew and capacity that created the data you feel is so important. Domeier simply stepped down tagged the shark then got out of the way. The crew did everything else to safely tag and release Bruce! Additionally, you know the sharks are returning now after shedding the tags with their fins healed up doing well yet you continue to let the others bash… We have spoken to the researchers using the 1 bolt method.. they are uncertain how well it’s going to work long term as well the increase in bio-fouling from all the different cracks and crevices created by the mount. We have requested Wildlife Computers to try to design a modified mounting system… But as you already know, this is not required as they shed the tags after 5yrs or so and heal up nicely. You should watch Mary Lee on the Global Shark Tracker. She is getting ready to repeat the success we had at Guadalupe Island by documenting the 1st full female mature white shark migration in the N Atlantic. Soon we will know where they are mating/birthing etc… just like out where you profit from cage diving at GI. I figure our work is the best chance you got at being able to own a multi-generational business. Acting like we don’t exist is amateurish and rude. We are currently on Expedition off West Australia where we have tagged 20 Tiger Sharks to solve the same puzzle as we did in GI to create a future for sharks here.

Please forgive me Chris, I had no idea that I would hurt your feelings by writing about a celebrity without mentioning you. How rude of me. So since your feelings are hurt by me not mentioning you, let me respond to what you are saying.

1. I don’t quite get why you think I’m a fan of OCEARCH

2. Your wife and you financed the expedition that tagged Bruce. I never wrote anything about who financed that expedition, or why that is even relevant, but since you claim you did, let me also state what Dr. Domeier said about that.

From http://fijisharkdiving.blogspot.com/2013/04/fischer-reality-check-comments-by-dr.html

Yes, he paid for 2 trips to Guadalupe, but then struck a TV deal that allowed him to recoup those costs as he was getting $400K/episode. 

We were able to make multiple episodes from a single trip. Furthermore, I tapped two other private foundations to help pay for the tags and research; financial support that he never acknowledges. Fischer was fairly paid for all of the work we did together… this was not a huge philanthropic venture. On the contrary, he made it clear: “no cameras no trips.” The huge $$ figure he throws around must be for the entire operating cost of his ship and production company for each year he was making these television shows. But that’s not a fair way to account for the actual cost of the research (a fraction of the yearly operating budgets were due to the handful of research trips)… and he never discusses the INCOME. Any real accountant would tally just the costs of the specific trips… or think like this: what would it cost to charter a vessel for each research trip, and then subtract the income! Perhaps he took a loss, I don’t know; my organization took a financial loss… but no way did either of us wrack up losses in the millions.

Read more of Dr. Domeier’s comments here

3. Domeier simply stepped down, tagged the shark and then got away?

OK, and the research paper appeared out of thin air? My advise to you would be this. Make it about the sharks instead of about you. You and I are not important, saving the sharks is. Your need to be seen as a shark expert is not important. You provide a platform for the researchers, they are the experts. Why do you feel the need to belittle what they do? Catching and tagging the sharks is a means to an end. The end is the research and that is what the researchers do. For example, I collect photos at Guadalupe Island for Nicole Nasby-Lucas. She is doing the research for the photo ID’s. I have nothing to do with that. If someone mentions her research, there is no need for them to say anything about me, or anyone else who gave her the pictures.

4. You write that I know that Bruce has been returning safely to Guadalupe every year. Ah, why do you think I don’t know that? I have always stated that the second generation tags, that Bruce and Bite Face were fitted with, have fallen off and there is little damage to their fins. I even put a picture of Bruce into the blog, that shows him after he lost the transmitter.

5. I let others bash you? Well, for one, how can I control what others do? Actually, I’m trying to tell others to keep an open mind. I wrote the following in my blog

All the tagging done in a year, may cause harm to a few hundred sharks. Again, that’s a few hundred, vs. 30-100 MILLION sharks killed annually.

If the protests succeed and there is no more tagging, at best we could save a few sharks every year and make life easier (no tags, no deformed dorsal fin etc.) for a few more. On the other hand, we could also loose valuable data, that may help save sharks. You decide, if it is worthwhile to focus on this. Personally I think we need to weigh the importance of the data collected against the potential harm to the sharks.”

My beef with you has always been about lifting the sharks out of the water and not improving your methods. It’s no longer necessary to lift them out, as Dr. Domeier has shown. I have defended your early work by saying that the Wright brothers didn’t invent an A380 either. Pictures like this should only come from the past by now.

Do you have any idea how many people bash me, for not outright condemning anything you do? I hurt your feelings by not defending everything you do and mentioning your name every time I write about something that was connected to you. The blog you are referring to in your comment was about the real celebrities at Guadalupe Island, the sharks, not you. 

5. I am acting like you don’t exist? How can you say I act like you don’t exist and on the other hand criticize what I say about you?

If you start to improve your methods of catching sharks and attaching the transmitters, I will give you credit for that.  If you start giving some credit to the researchers who are doing the actual studies, instead of promoting yourself as the shark expert, I promise to write an entire blog, promoting the new and improved Chris Fischer.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Forget Jaws! Sharks can SAVE lives!

We are used to the media using sensationalistic headlines when covering anything to do with sharks. “Jaws” “Monster” “Beast” “Mankiller” etc. are no unusual terms in those headlines.

This is the second time this year that we have to give kudos to a news outlet. The Daily Mail has a headline that says: Forget Jaws! Sharks can SAVE lives! You read that right, no scare tactic, no monsters, …. actually OK, they did mention monsters, but not the way we are used to either. The second part of their headline reads: We think of them as monsters, but a new documentary reveals they could help us fight cancer and Alzheimer’s

Hey, they even use a cool picture of one of “our” great white sharks. This is “Johnny”!

source

They are acknowledging how sharks are normally portrayed. Der-dum… der-dum… der, der, der, der, der, der… Mention sharks and, thanks to Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster Jaws, those suspenseful notes of impending attack are, for most, what springs immediately to mind. 

The movie masterpiece, which is 40 years old this summer, led to many a phobia, but according to a new three-part BBC1 documentary Shark, its toothy star isn’t that terrifying in real-life.
 
The article is talking about a documentary series “Sharks”, the BBC has produced and it covers a lot of different sides of sharks. They write about the scientific discoveries we made that could mean sharks can help with various human diseases, like Alzheimer’s. It is also covering a bunch of different shark species and is giving some very good information on sharks.

 
Of course we also want to give kudos to the BBC, which seems to be one of the few television outlets that are still producing quality shark documentaries, a far cry from the crap that ABC4 and Jeff Kurr, are producing for the discovery channel. Check out BBC’s “Shark” website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02n7s0d

Let’s go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Celebrities at Guadalupe Island

The world is full of celebrities, but how often do you actually get to meet them and spend some quality time with them? Over the past 14 years, I’ve been privileged to do just that. I’ve met many stars of film and TV at Guadalupe Island. Stars like the incomparable “Shredder” “Bruce” “Jaques” “Lucy” “Scarboard” etc. All of those sharks have been featured in countless shark week episodes and their pictures are all over the internet. They truly are the rock-stars of Guadalupe Island.

I have talked about “Shredder” here and “Chugey’s” amazing recovery from a huge bite here and here.

Today I want to introduce you to “Bruce”, another regular at Guadalupe Island. Bruce has been around since we started shark diving at Guadalupe. When we first encountered him, he was just a “little” teenager, probably not much longer than 11-12′. Of course we had no idea that we would see him year after year and that he would grow into one of the larger males at the Island. He is now on the north side of 16′ and one of the dominant shark at the site.

Bruce saying hello to Whitney, one of our divers!

Bruce is also the shark who got me interested in shark research. I have to admit, that reading scientific papers held about as much excitement to me as watching grass grow. It simply wasn’t my thing. When Dr. Domeier tagged Bruce with a satellite transmitter and used some of the data it produced for his paper on white shark migration, Nicole Nasby-Lucas, who works with Dr. Domeier and is responsible for the Guadalupe photo ID database, gave me a copy of the research paper. I started reading it, and realized that this paper was not just a research paper, but more like Bruce’s travel journal. It was exciting to find out where he was going, when not at Guadalupe and what he was doing. Who knew that he was vacationing near Hawaii?! I mean, who wouldn’t want to vacation there?

Even though he is one of the more mellow sharks around, being a great white shark and male, Bruce was not averse to a little fighting here and there. I remember one particular morning. I was just getting into the cages to sort out all the regulators, when I noticed some movement behind me. I turned and saw Bruce who looked me straight into the eyes. He sported a huge bite injury, just in front of his gills, with a hole that let me look straight through it and out his mouth. The amazing thing was, it didn’t seem to bother him. He just kept swimming around and stayed active, like nothing had happened.

Bruce about a week after the bite.

Just like Chugey, when he came back the following year, his wound was closed and there was barely a scar to indicate that he was ever injured.

Bruce with his closed bite injury.

So that is Bruce.

Since we started shark diving at Guadalupe Island, we have met over 160 different individual sharks. Who is going to be back this year? Who is going to make their first appearance? Come join us and find out! This is your chance to meet these celebrities up close and personal. They do pose for pictures with you! Next time you watch shark week, you can say, “Hey, I know that guy!”

We run our trips from August through November and have a few spaces left for this coming season. We even have a couple of spaces open on our research trip on November 11. On that trip you’ll get to meet the researcher who knows all about those sharks, Nicole Nasby-Lucas, along with all the rock-star white sharks of Guadalupe Island. Call us at 619.887.4275 or email staff@sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let’s go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Sharks need your help in Florida!

DaShark, through his blog, just made me aware of something that is happening in Florida right now. Apparently shore fishermen are (legally) fishing for pregnant bull sharks. A lot of those sharks, even if released will die, along with their pups. This is nothing new, it’s been going on for years.

source

I know a lot of you who are reading this, are living in Florida. If you want to do something to help those sharks, this is your chance. Talk to your legislators, educate those fishermen, find out what groups are already working there and how you can help.

According to the Keys Info Net, Everglades National Park managers have the ability to declare an emergency rule to restrict access when protected species are found breeding in an area,”
So call or write the Everglades National Park manager. Read Key Info Net’s entire article  http://www.keysnet.com/2015/04/29/502450_dying-sharks-off-lower-matecumbe.html?rh=1
 
Pupping season is right now! The sharks need your help, do what you can! If you can, go to that beach at night and talk to the fishermen, let them know, why it is not a good idea to target those sharks. Remember, you will have a better chance of convincing them, if you are polite.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Amazing!

I’ve been diving with the great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe for 13 years now. Over time, I’ve come to marvel at the healing ability of the sharks, the mysteries of their migration, their distinctly different personalities and most of all, and this is what blows my mind, the fact that I can go to Guadalupe and know that I will see, not just any great white shark, but a particular individual great white shark.

Great white sharks are not resident to any given location, like say a clown fish, where you know that if you go to that particular spot, you’re going to see that individual fish. The great white sharks that we see at Guadalupe are a highly migratory species that travel thousands of miles and typically return to the island each year. (every other year for adult females)

So here’s the way I look at it. Say you live in a town or city, but I don’t have your address. If I just come into your town at random and hang out, I may never run into you at all. With these sharks, I look at the great wide ocean and know that I can find “Bite Face,” “Jaques” or “Bruce” and have been able to do so, consistently, for 13 years. Others, like our friend on the left, “Quetzalcoatl,”(OK I didn’t name him) take a prolonged vacation of 8 years and return. “Where have you been, buddy?”

The fact that these world travelers (I mean, who doesn’t want to vacation in Hawaii) return to Guadalupe Island, each season makes this Island a very important place, not just for us shark divers, but for the species itself. I’m happy to say that Mexico has declared the Island a biosphere; roughly the equivalent of a national park in  the U.S.  I want to applaud Mexico for taking that step in protecting the Island and the great white sharks that visit there annually.

The Island itself is a marvel of its own. There are many native species of plants that only exist on Guadalupe Island and it is a nesting ground for many migratory birds like the Albatross.

Guadalupe is over 4000 feet high at it’s highest spot and creates its own weather pattern. The island blocks the clouds and we usually have bright sunny skies above us, even if it’s cloudy all around us.

The clouds cascading over the mountains create an amazing backdrop for our shark divers and make for some memorable pictures.

You can join us on one of our expeditions and meet these shark yourself. We have a few openings left for this year and are already booking for 2016. For more information visit http://www.sharkdiver.com/dive-packages/great-white-shark-diving/ or call us at 619.887.4275. Email staff@sharkdiver.com

Let’s go shark diving!

Cheers,

Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkoperations@gmail.com

Shark “Documentary” causing problems in New Zealand

Shark diving in New Zealand has been in trouble for a while. The local Paua divers at Stewart Island are claiming that the shark diving activity is causing white sharks to change their behavior and are trying to get it banned.

The Inquisitor writes. Aggressive Great White Shark! Behavioral Changes’ Spur Proposed Diving Ban In New Zealand  

The behavior of great white sharks around New Zealand’s Stewart Island has notably changed, according to local Paua divers, prompting authorities to call for a ban on local shark diving in light of the increasingly aggressive predators.”

According to them “NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell noted the frequency with which great whites were being observed by local fishermen, asserting that the sharks are seen every day. He alleged that this amounted to a change in the sharks’ behavior, raising fears among the local Paua divers who make their living in the shark-infested waters.

“They are very, very concerned about their safety. It’s not a matter of if there’s an incident, but when and how often,” he noted. “Those close encounters are happening more frequently, to the point where on a daily basis when people are going out there and dropping a fishing line into the ocean, sharks are coming up. That’s behavioral change.”

Entire article here:

 
I’m always amazed that fishermen blame shark diving, which uses some attractant (chum) and small hang-baits (tuna heads) are for “feeding” the sharks and thus making them associate boats with food. They themselves are feeding the sharks (unintentionally) with entire fish. A struggling fish, hooked on a line attracts predators and since they are on a line and not able to swim away, an easy meal for the sharks. Wouldn’t it make sense that the fishermen themselves are at least as much to blame for that association?
 
We know that when it comes to sharks, reason usually goes out the window and people argue mostly emotionally. As shark conservationists, we have to take that into consideration and need to be careful not to fuel their fear. And therein lies the problem. The need for some individuals, who claim to be conservationist, to make themselves look like superheros by doing all kinds of stupid stuff with those sharks and making it public, plays right into the hands of those who blame us for their behavior changes.
Today, the New Zealand Herald is reporting that a local group of Paua divers is using footage from a shark week “documentary” to claim that shark diving is to blame for sharks associating boats and humans with food.  They write: “Footage has emerged of the terrifying moment a 6m great white shark lunged at a dinghy carrying an international film crew off Stewart Island.

Two people were on the inflatable craft filming for documentary Lair of the Megashark, which screened on Discovery Channel last year, when they had the frightening encounter.” source


In this video that was put online, you can see the filmmakers put a hang-bait right by the boat to attract the shark. When the shark goes after it, they make it seem like it was going after the boat itself. Stuff like that doesn’t help to spread the message that great white sharks are not mindless killers.

 This “documentary” is of course by none other than renowned “shark porn” producers ABC4 and Jeff Kurr. 
 
Jeff Kurr is making statements like this: I’ve been wondering about why the sharks in New Zealand are so much more aggressive. and I can’t think of many things more eerie than descending into this inky blackness and being surrounded by three, four, six, eight massive great white sharks. That’s pretty scary stuff. source

So he’s making a statement of fact, white sharks in New Zealand are more aggressive than in other places. What an “expert”! (sharkasm intended) Him saying that it’s pretty scary stuff to be surrounded by sharks isn’t exactly easing the fears of those Paua divers. Of course the titles of their “documentaries” “Lair of the megashark” and “Fins of Fury” doesn’t help either.

There are many studies that dispute that shark diving will cause the sharks to attack boats, but like anything having to do with sharks, hysteria and opinions seem to trump facts. When these “experts” and self proclaimed “shark whisperers” fuel that hysteria just to get ratings for their shows, or further their superhero image, they hurt the cause severely.

The bottom line is this, if we as an industry don’t speak out against these kinds of shows and actively participate by allowing them to film this stuff off our vessels, we hurt not only conservation, but our own businesses. The operators in New Zealand have been finding that out the hard way.

I have stated this before. You may have mixed feelings about shark diving, but one thing is clear. At Guadalupe Island we have been chasing off poachers in the past. If for some reason the cage diving there gets shut down, there will be nobody looking out for the sharks and the poachers will have free reign.

So let’s go shark diving! But let’s do it legally, responsibly, safely and in a way that portrays the sharks as what they really are, awesome predators, to be respected but not to be feared!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver 

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

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