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!

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

Surfer critically injured by shark off southern Australia; witness reports large great white

 FOX news has this headline today Surfer critically injured by shark off southern Australia; witness reports large great white”
The following is what they report:

I have to say, that I’m usually not a big fan of how the media reports any shark related incident. Take the “Jaws Attack” headline in the UK we talked about yesterday and you can see how sensationalistic the media tends to cover anything shark related.

I like not being described as a mindless killer!

Big kudos to FOX news for reporting an actual incident, where a surfer got seriously hurt by a shark and cover it without any sensationalism.  Maybe the 20 foot size is a bit exaggerated, but people tend to perceive sharks a larger than they actually are. They even pointed out the fact that sharks are common off Australia’s beaches and attacks are rare.

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

Giant Shark scare in the UK

In another stellar piece of journalism (sharkasm) intended, the Daily Star writes “Jaws attack: Terror after GIANT SHARKS spotted circling the coast of England”

Wow, someone got attacked by a giant shark! Did they survive? What kind of a shark was it?
The article states: “HOLIDAYMAKERS have been placed on alert as huge sharks hit British shores thanks to the recent hot weather.

Still, no mention of what happened. So what the heck is going on?

OK, we are getting somewhere. Here is what happened: “The basking sharks, which can grow up to 26ft long, have been spotted off beaches in many of the country’s holiday hotspots.
As if that wasn’t terrifying enough – thousands of jellyfish have also been spotted in the waves.”

The caption for the picture below read: HORROR: The terrifying sharks – which can grow up to 26ft – have started circling shallow water around the UK [AK Wildlife Cruises]”


Wait, did I miss something? Where is the attack? What is terrifying about a basking shark?
The article goes on to say: “Ross Wheeler of AK Wildlife Cruises in Falmouth, Cornwall, captured incredible footage of the first sighting of a shark in UK waters.”We had two basking sharks – our first for the season – thousands of barrel jellyfish, 11 common dolphin and five harbour porpoise” he said.”

Ah, I see. They are describing some people going on a wildlife cruise and encountering a completely harmless basking shark. The “reporter” mistakenly wrote the wrong headline. He really meant to say: “Tourists are excited about encountering gentle giant” or “Lucky tourists encounter gentle giant and friendly dolphins off the UK coast”. Easy mistake to make (sharkasm) intended.

Later on the article correctly mentions: “But the sighting isn’t likely to mean a repeat of horrific scenes from 1975 thriller Jaws – the basking sharks are harmless but have been lured to the Cornish coastline earlier than normal.
They swim around with their gaping jaws open to swallow tiny plankton, their main food source.”

So the reporter actually knew that there was no attack and the sharks are harmless plankton eaters, which of course didn’t stop him from making up a completely fictitious and sensationalistic headline. It’s not like the sharks don’t have it hard enough already, with overfishing and being killed for their fins. I really wish the media would stop making it worse by portraying even the most harmless sharks as terrifying monsters.

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

Revolution, a film by Rob Stewart

Rob Stewart’s film Revolution is premiering on the web today. Check out the trailer below.


Revolution is a feature documentary about opening your eyes, changing the world and fighting for something. A true life adventure following director Rob Stewart in the follow up to his hit Sharkwater, Revolution is an epic adventure into the evolution of life on earth and the revolution to save us.
Discovering that there’s more in jeopardy than sharks, Stewart uncovers a grave secret threatening our own survival as a species, and embarks on a life-threatening adventure through 4 years and 15 countries into the greatest battle ever waged.
Bringing you some of the most incredible wildlife spectacles ever recorded, audiences are brought face to face with sharks and cuddly lemurs, into the microscopic world of the pygmy seahorse, and on the hunt with the deadly flamboyant cuttlefish. From the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea to the rain forests in Madagascar, Stewart reveals that our fate is tied to even the smallest of creatures.
Through it all, Stewart’s journey reveals a massive opportunity, as activists and individuals all over the world are winning the battle to save the ecosystems we depend on for survival. Presenting the most important information on human survival and inspiring people all over the world to fight for life, Revolution is essential viewing for everyone. Startling, beautiful, and provocative, Revolution inspires audiences across the globe to join the biggest movement in history that’s rising to the challenge of saving our world.
Revolution premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has already gone on to win ten awards, including the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Atlantic Film Festival, Most Popular Environmental Film Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Victoria Film Festival and the Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

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

How every diver can help with shark conservation.

I have to share DaSharks latest blog. It is actually a guest blog by Ian Campbell that talks about protecting sharks and how you can help.

Shark research, management & conservation intelligentsia meeting in Townsville, see below

Introduction by DaSharks:
Are you intrigued? 🙂

Here goes.

Ian Campbell is currently working for WWF’s Global Shark and Ray Initiative running the sustainable management component. He is also a Shark diver and a member of the SRMR management team.

From NGOs to the public and private sector, Ian has over 20 years’ experience in fisheries policy, ecology and fishery management working extensively within both the UK and internationally. Previous employment has included overseeing the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy for the Pew Charitable Trusts, fisheries observer on blue-fin tuna vessels, inshore fisheries management and as a commercial diver in the offshore sector.

Ian holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Marine Biology from Heriot-Watt University and a Master degree in Environmental Science from the University of Strathclyde.

This is an important initiative.

Having just returned from a meeting with major stakeholders, see at top, I’ve asked him whether he wouldn’t mind submitting a guest post presenting it to the wider public.

Here is Ian’s post.
Shark divers – An underused resource?

Everyone who is even remotely interested in sharks (and rays, don’t forget these charismatic shark pancakes of wonder) is abundantly aware of the pressures they are facing.

Fishing pressure, habitat loss, unsustainable consumption, or even fanciful claims of being “evolved for extinction” everywhere you look they are under the cosh. The pressure that sharks are under have probably best been summed up by the 2014 paper (and here – notice the part about research and data collection?) led by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group which concludes that almost a quarter of all sharks and rays (over 1,000 species assessed) are faced with the very real threat of extinction. Remember, this is not the claims of an environmental NGO, but an independent assessment of the current state of shark and ray populations by 128 experts from 35 different countries. Here’s a simple chart highlighting the different levels of threat.

As you can see, despite what you may hear from some campaigns, not all sharks are threatened, and some are in worse shape than others, but, for WWF, one of the biggest areas of concern is the shaded grey area on the left side of that chart. From all the 1,042 species assessed, 487 are “data deficient”.

Basically, virtually nothing is known about almost half of all sharks and rays.

Effective management and designing plans to reduce mortality is virtually impossible when faced with this lack of basic understanding. Imagine trying to balance your budget without knowing how much money you have in your account to start with, or the amount of interest you are receiving or paying out.

There are a number of conservation initiatives out there which lay claims to conserving sharks, from finning bans to fin trade bans (there’s a difference), from sanctuaries to species protections and from policies to plans. Some of these are more useful than others, but if any of them are to be truly effectual then one thing is key to them all: DATA!

Without a basic understanding of shark and ray populations both around the coast and in offshore waters, then making decisions for the long-term survival of these species is little more than a best guess. Yet there are a multitude of areas rich in information, but not necessarily being channeled in the right direction.

Divers, fishermen, market traders, even shark and ray researchers produce data every day, yet it is surprising how little of it actually makes its way to ministerial departments or independent bodies to assist with informed decisions for conservation. WWF are seeking to bridge this gap. We are developing a project in collaboration with some of the world’s leading shark researchers to create standard methodologies to maximize the benefits from untapped resources.

In 1999, the Food and Agriculture Organisation produced guidelines for countries to undertake a step-by-step process to developing long-term, sustainable shark management plans (known as National Plans of Action, NPOA).

This process seems relatively simple. Firstly, collect data on sharks and rays in the form of a Shark Assessment Report. Then use this data to develop your NPOA. While this does sound simple, and has been done in places like Australia, the EU and NZ (to varying degrees of vigour), the Pacific Islands have had to get by using the limited resources at their disposal. There are some NPOAs currently in existence in the region, such as the Cook Islands and Samoa. Other countries have draft versions waiting government endorsement, such Fiji and Tonga, while some countries such as Palau want to declare shark sanctuaries. These efforts for conservation & long-term planning are great, although all of these measures have one oversight in common. They are built on a lack of data. None of the countries have produced Shark Assessment Reports, so cannot fully know the issues within their territorial waters. This is not the fault of the Pacific Islands, gathering data can be time consuming for departments with limited resources, and the analysis requires specific technical expertise. Organizations such as the FFA and SPC are providing a great service, although their remit extends way beyond just looking at sharks.

So here is where WWF are stepping in.

As mentioned, we are collaborating with shark expertise far and wide to develop our shark ‘Rapid Assessment Tool-kit’ (or shark RAT). The main function of this is to design ways to collect and analyze data on coastal and pelagic sharks that can then be used to produce a Shark Assessment Report. The very basic baseline data in this report can in turn used by governments to develop conservation strategies that are then based on some sort of understanding.

Where is this data going to come from?

Well, there are a lot of sources we will be exploring from genetic and socioeconomic surveys at landing sites to extensive underwater video surveys, but one untapped goldmine is the information collected by divers. In Fiji, there is the Great Fiji Shark Count which is starting to produce comparable info. At present, this isn’t incorporated into management plans, so it’s high time it is.

There are also other things dedicated shark divers can be doing.

Ever been on a surface interval that seems to go on for ages? Sat at the bar for the post-dive drinks to talk about what you saw? How about these hours are spent helping screen underwater video footage that shows what happens at your dive site when no-one is in the water? Pretty much every diver would be able to recognise whether a shark or ray was in shot, and a huge number would even be able to say what species it was. Collecting and screening this type of data would take a massive burden off an already overstretched ministry or fisheries/shark specialist.

Obviously, we are well aware of the multitude of challenges that lay ahead for the project to be fully successful, and some methodologies that may look good on the page may fail spectacularly when introduced to the real world. But we have to try. Improved management for sharks and rays is the only thing that is going to directly reduce mortality. Not shark fin soup campaigns, or putting all your eggs into “ending finning” and certainly not cavorting in swimwear near sharks.

Last week WWF held a 3 day workshop where 12 of the best minds in their respective fields (I’m not including myself, I just took notes and provided the tea and coffee) provided input and direction.

As well as academic researchers from the fields of genetics, citizen science and eco-tourism, we had input from FFA, SPC and SPREP. Everyone we have spoken to has been enthusiastic and willing to support us. The people in attendance will now provide advice and recommendations to the project. Professor Colin Simpfendorfer, the co-chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group also gave us a name, although how serious he was is up for debate. WWF now convenes the Pacific Rapid Assessment Tool-kit Scientific Advisory Committee, or PRAT-SAC. Maybe the first thing we need to work on is the name?

The project is embryonic and there is a lot of hard work ahead, but with a little direction, continued enthusiasm and, more importantly, collaboration, then slowly we’ll restore the balance for sharks and rays

DaShark: Here’s to that – thanks buddy, appreciate!

Thanks indeed! I hope all of you will join in this effort to conserve our shark populations. And here you were, thinking you’re just having fun, when you’re diving with sharks.

Let’s go shark diving!

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

Bull sharks in Fiji

We are going to Fiji in May, to dive with the bull sharks in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. DaShark has posted this video by Howard Hall, who has just been diving there last week. The Bulls of BAD from Howard Hall on Vimeo.Come join us and experience t…

Working with Fishermen to Save Sharks

The shark conservation and fishing communities are often at odds over protecting our sharks. Guy Harvey is making an effort to bring these two groups together. During the current Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament, he is teaming up with the participants to help tag oceanic white tip sharks.


Cayman 27 writes: “Dozens of fishermen are getting in on the conservation act by helping to tag sharks. Conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey is teaming up with participants of the Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament, embarking on one of the largest shark tagging and research projects ever undertaken in the Caribbean.
Dr. Harvey’s team will learn more about the oceanic white tip shark. “They are very valuable to the eco-system and to science,” he says.
By aligning with local fishing tournaments in 2013, as well as this year he believes fishermen are becoming more aware of the shark’s worth. “We used the fishing fleet to catch sharks for us and we pay them to hold the sharks until the chase boat [gets] there there to take the sharks from them because they’re giving up time for us,” explained Mr. Harvey.”

I know, a lot of conservationists don’t like fishing tournaments and even oppose actions like these by Guy Harvey. They think this is glorifying the killing of sharks and argue that there is post release mortality. I have to admit,  I’m not a big fan of catch and release shark fishing myself, but think about it this way. What is better? Going to a shark fishing tournament and protesting, maybe even hurling some insults at the fishermen, questioning their morals and character, like many people like to do, or do what Guy Harvey is doing? 

Just like the Shark Free Marina initiative that was created by Shark Diver, Harvey is working together with the fishermen in these tournaments. He raises their awareness of the conservation concerns and gets them interested and involved in protecting the sharks

“Cayman 27’s” article states:  “For every shark that you get and call in; that we successfully tag and release [fishermen] will receive CI$500 in cash,” said CIB Marketing Manager, Matthew Leslie. 

And the partnership is working says Dr. Harvey, by the fishermen getting to see the animals in their offshore habitat, he says anglers are practicing preservation.

We always have to ask ourselves this question. Do we care more about the principle that we should not catch or kill any sharks, or do we want to save sharks. By protesting and vilifying the fishermen, we will not save one shark! By working with them, promoting catch and release, (even with all the problems associated with that), getting them to help with tagging and making em aware, we actually save sharks.

Every journey starts with a first step. We are never going to accomplish our goal of saving the sharks, the oceans, if we are not willing to work together.

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

Shark sighting in Portugal

Congratulations to the algarvedailynews! You managed to cover a shark sighting near shore without sensationalism, with a simple “Mystery shark spotted near Tavira” headline.

In the article you go on to explaine exactly what happened.

As the build up to the swimming season starts with beaches being prepared and concession soon to open, a reminder that ‘we are not alone’ when bathing was evident in the waters near Tavira.

A shark at least two metres long was spotted by fishermen on the jetty close to the beaches at the entrance of the river Gilão.
Photo Michael Correia – Correio da Manhã

The shark clearly was in distress and was disorientated, swimming around in the shallow waters.

After an hour the shark headed back out to sea with its identity a mystery as, despite being observed by many fishermen, nobody could identify the species.

The Tavira shark was not a Hammerhead, a species which can come close to the shore but normally feeds at least a mile out mainly on sardines, tuna and mackerel and only when the water is warmer at 20 degrees or more.

In 2013 a three metre shark was spotted close in to the shore near the fortress at Sagres, again the species could not be acertained.

Along Portugal’s coast there are dozens of shark species, the majority of which stay offshore and deep down, venturing closer to the surface only when hunting for fish or looking for a mate.

There is an abundance of sharks in Portuguese waters, a sign of a healthy marine environment, but no recorded incident of anyone being attacked as sharks prefer eating fish of which there are plentiful supplies.
Kudos for reporting a shark sighting without sensationalism and resorting to the use of monster, beast or killer. You informed your readers, without scaring them. Your action shows that covering a shark sighting can be done in an informative manner and no scary headlines. I hope that other media outlets will take note. 
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