I was surrounded by bull sharks!

Instagram 
I just got back from my 4th annual trip to Fiji, diving with the “BAD” (Beqa Adventure Divers’) bull sharks of the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. It is an unbelievable experience to be surrounded by lots of these awesome predators.

We saw a shark or two

What really fascinates me is not the sheer number of sharks though.  The really interesting part is that I’m starting to recognize some individual sharks, not only by distinctive marks on them, but by their behavior.

Doing a lap, showing everyone that she got a tuna head.


Anyone thinking that “a bull shark is a bull shark” should come to this place and see for themselves. These sharks have very different “personalities”, some very mellow and cautious, others not so much. Of course you need to do more than just one or 2 dives to notice these differences. The first few dives your are simply going to be blown away by the sheer number of sharks and and by how close they’ll get to you.

Up close and personal!

Common wisdom holds that when it comes to sharks, size matters. The big shark always wins over a smaller shark. What I found is that this is not always the case. Some sharks think they are a lot bigger than they really are and compete with the bigger sharks for the tuna heads on offer. “Top Sail” for example is not one of the bigger sharks, but is very adept at getting more than her fair share of tuna heads.

Top sail getting a tuna head.

Another thing that totally surprised me is how cautious these sharks are, even when food is offered to them. Some sharks will not approach the feeder who’s holding a tuna head and some sharks will only take a tuna head from a specific feeder. I would have thought that these bull sharks would pretty much go for any tuna head that is offered to them.

If all the bull sharks are not enough for you, just when you think the dive is over, there is the safety stop. Far from a boring hanging on to a line, waiting for the 3 minutes to pass, you are face to face wit a bunch of hungry white- and black-tip sharks, being fed by one of the divemasters.

I’m still very partial to “my” white sharks at Guadalupe, but I’m getting more and more taken by the bull sharks of the SRMR and can’t wait for next year.

Sam face to face with a hungry white tip shark.

Thanks to all the guys at “BAD”, (Beqa Adventure Divers) for your hospitality and another unforgettable trip. You are simply the best! Vinaka vakalevu!

Blacktip shark at the safety stop

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting a special offer for next year’s Fiji trip. My descriptions and pictures don’t do these sharks justice. You’ll have to come and experience them yourself.

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.

Update from Guadalupe Island

Instagram 
We just completed our 4th expedition to Guadalupe this year and the sharks have been amazing. Unlike in previous years, we are seeing more juvenile females than males this season. There have been over 10 new sharks already and every trip we encounter more new “friends”. On each expedition, we encountered over 18 different sharks, swimming along with seals, turtles and dolphins.

One of our new visitors

 As for the regulars, they have been slow to show their faces. So far we have seen “Joker” and “Chugey”, who looks amazing by the way. His injuries from a few years ago show fewer and fewer remaining scars.

“Chugey” on 8-11-2016

As a reminder, here is what he looked like 2 years ago.

On our last day of our most recent expedition, Bite Face, another long time regular at Guadalupe Island made an appearance for the first time, but most of the sharks we’ve seen so far have been more recent additions to our database. Amiria, Freya, Screaming Mimi, Andy, #198 and Micks are among those encountered so far.
One of our new sharks inspecting the cages

Tonight we are heading back to Guadalupe where I hope we’ll encounter more of our old friends. This is my 16th season diving with these sharks and I’m more excited to head down there than I was on my first expedition.

If you would like to join us on a future expedition or just want some information, contact us at 619.887.4275 or email staff@sharkdiver.com 

I hope to get to introduce you to the amazing great white sharks at Guadalupe Island soon!

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.

Update from Guadalupe Island

Instagram 
We just completed our 4th expedition to Guadalupe this year and the sharks have been amazing. Unlike in previous years, we are seeing more juvenile females than males this season. There have been over 10 new sharks already and every trip we encounter more new “friends”. On each expedition, we encountered over 18 different sharks, swimming along with seals, turtles and dolphins.

One of our new visitors

 As for the regulars, they have been slow to show their faces. So far we have seen “Joker” and “Chugey”, who looks amazing by the way. His injuries from a few years ago show fewer and fewer remaining scars.

“Chugey” on 8-11-2016

As a reminder, here is what he looked like 2 years ago.

On our last day of our most recent expedition, Bite Face, another long time regular at Guadalupe Island made an appearance for the first time, but most of the sharks we’ve seen so far have been more recent additions to our database. Amiria, Freya, Screaming Mimi, Andy, #198 and Micks are among those encountered so far.
One of our new sharks inspecting the cages

Tonight we are heading back to Guadalupe where I hope we’ll encounter more of our old friends. This is my 16th season diving with these sharks and I’m more excited to head down there than I was on my first expedition.

If you would like to join us on a future expedition or just want some information, contact us at 619.887.4275 or email staff@sharkdiver.com 

I hope to get to introduce you to the amazing great white sharks at Guadalupe Island soon!

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.

Shark feeding to be banned in US waters?

Instagram 

Senators Nelson and Rubio introduced a bill in the US Senate that would outlaw shark feeding in any portion of Biscayne National Park as part of a park fishery management plan.

Senate Bill S.3099 states:

“SEC. 104. Prohibition on shark feeding.

“(a) Prohibition.—Except as provided in section 317 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1866), it is unlawful for any person—
“(1) to engage in shark feeding; or

“(2) to operate a vessel for the purpose of carrying a passenger for hire to any site to engage in shark feeding or to observe shark feeding.
I’m not a lawyer and have tried to figure out if this restriction would apply to all US territorial waters, or just the Biscayne National Park. The bill is not very clear on this, as it refers to other laws that pertain to different areas of the US, namely Hawaii and US territories in the Pacific ocean.
It seems like the politicians are giving in to the people who think that shark feeding is endangering the public, by habituating sharks to think of humans as food. This is despite the evidence to the contrary, where there are no indications that shark feeding has led to any attacks on humans not directly involved in the feeding activities. After the shark feeding ban was implemented in Florida, there was no reduction in shark bites, which is further evidence that there is no correlation between shark attacks and shark feeding.
Dashark has some excellent insights and links to those studies here.
The funny thing is that this bill is specifically asking to not put any gear restrictions or chumming bans on people trying to catch sharks. There is evidence that fishing and specially fishing for sharks can endanger the public, like in 2014, when a swimmer was bitten by a great white shark that was hooked on a fishing line. It is legal to fish for sharks from shore, which is attracting sharks to areas populated by humans, whereas shark feeding does not typically happen close to shore and/or swimmers in the water.
If you want to let the sponsors of this legislation know how you feel about this bill, you can contact them  at these links. 
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida https://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill
Cheers,
Martin Graf

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.

Shark feeding to be banned in US waters?

Instagram 

Senators Nelson and Rubio introduced a bill in the US Senate that would outlaw shark feeding in any portion of Biscayne National Park as part of a park fishery management plan.

Senate Bill S.3099 states:

“SEC. 104. Prohibition on shark feeding.

“(a) Prohibition.—Except as provided in section 317 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1866), it is unlawful for any person—
“(1) to engage in shark feeding; or

“(2) to operate a vessel for the purpose of carrying a passenger for hire to any site to engage in shark feeding or to observe shark feeding.
I’m not a lawyer and have tried to figure out if this restriction would apply to all US territorial waters, or just the Biscayne National Park. The bill is not very clear on this, as it refers to other laws that pertain to different areas of the US, namely Hawaii and US territories in the Pacific ocean.
It seems like the politicians are giving in to the people who think that shark feeding is endangering the public, by habituating sharks to think of humans as food. This is despite the evidence to the contrary, where there are no indications that shark feeding has led to any attacks on humans not directly involved in the feeding activities. After the shark feeding ban was implemented in Florida, there was no reduction in shark bites, which is further evidence that there is no correlation between shark attacks and shark feeding.
Dashark has some excellent insights and links to those studies here.
The funny thing is that this bill is specifically asking to not put any gear restrictions or chumming bans on people trying to catch sharks. There is evidence that fishing and specially fishing for sharks can endanger the public, like in 2014, when a swimmer was bitten by a great white shark that was hooked on a fishing line. It is legal to fish for sharks from shore, which is attracting sharks to areas populated by humans, whereas shark feeding does not typically happen close to shore and/or swimmers in the water.
If you want to let the sponsors of this legislation know how you feel about this bill, you can contact them  at these links. 
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida https://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill
Cheers,
Martin Graf

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.

Another shark attack in Australia?

Instagram 
perth now reports that another diver has been attacked by a shark. Their headline reads

WA spear fisherman jumped by angry shark off Coral Bay coast

According to their article:  A WA spear fisherman has captured the terrifying moment he was jumped by an angry reef shark off the North West coast. 

Albany teenager Brad Vale, 19, was spearfishing for mackerel with friends 4km off the coast of Coral Bay on Wednesday when the shark, estimated to be about` 1.5 metres long, began to circle him.
“I dived down and just sort of sat down at the bottom and a shark came in on me,” he said.

“He got a bit close then did a big turn at me and charged so I gave him a poke. When I poked him he just turned back and without me noticing I looked down and he was already chewing on my gut.
“I got to the surface and was going to shoot it but I didn’t even have time to do that. He sort of latched on to my stomach and I tried to hit it with my gun in my hand but he let go pretty quick.”

Wow, what a terrifying experience. Getting attacked by a shark for no reason. Let’s look at the video Brad Vale shot of this incident.

 
Video source: youtube/brradz

Well, good thing he posted that video, because it clearly shows Brad descending and poking the shark, before it turned on him!

So when Brad says that the shark turned on him and then he “poked” it, he really meant to say “I hit it and then it turned on me”.

But hey, blame the shark, it makes for a much better headline. I would be angry too, if someone hit me with the pointy end of a speargun. Read the entire article here.

Anyway, I’m glad that Brad is OK and I hope he learned that it’s not a good idea to poke a shark.

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.

Another shark attack in Australia?

Instagram 
perth now reports that another diver has been attacked by a shark. Their headline reads

WA spear fisherman jumped by angry shark off Coral Bay coast

According to their article:  A WA spear fisherman has captured the terrifying moment he was jumped by an angry reef shark off the North West coast. 

Albany teenager Brad Vale, 19, was spearfishing for mackerel with friends 4km off the coast of Coral Bay on Wednesday when the shark, estimated to be about` 1.5 metres long, began to circle him.
“I dived down and just sort of sat down at the bottom and a shark came in on me,” he said.

“He got a bit close then did a big turn at me and charged so I gave him a poke. When I poked him he just turned back and without me noticing I looked down and he was already chewing on my gut.
“I got to the surface and was going to shoot it but I didn’t even have time to do that. He sort of latched on to my stomach and I tried to hit it with my gun in my hand but he let go pretty quick.”

Wow, what a terrifying experience. Getting attacked by a shark for no reason. Let’s look at the video Brad Vale shot of this incident.

 
Video source: youtube/brradz

Well, good thing he posted that video, because it clearly shows Brad descending and poking the shark, before it turned on him!

So when Brad says that the shark turned on him and then he “poked” it, he really meant to say “I hit it and then it turned on me”.

But hey, blame the shark, it makes for a much better headline. I would be angry too, if someone hit me with the pointy end of a speargun. Read the entire article here.

Anyway, I’m glad that Brad is OK and I hope he learned that it’s not a good idea to poke a shark.

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.

I was surrounded by bull sharks!

Instagram 
I just got back from my 4th annual trip to Fiji, diving with the “BAD” (Beqa Adventure Divers’) bull sharks of the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. It is an unbelievable experience to be surrounded by lots of these awesome predators.

We saw a shark or two

What really fascinates me is not the sheer number of sharks though.  The really interesting part is that I’m starting to recognize some individual sharks, not only by distinctive marks on them, but by their behavior.

Doing a lap, showing everyone that she got a tuna head.


Anyone thinking that “a bull shark is a bull shark” should come to this place and see for themselves. These sharks have very different “personalities”, some very mellow and cautious, others not so much. Of course you need to do more than just one or 2 dives to notice these differences. The first few dives your are simply going to be blown away by the sheer number of sharks and and by how close they’ll get to you.

Up close and personal!

Common wisdom holds that when it comes to sharks, size matters. The big shark always wins over a smaller shark. What I found is that this is not always the case. Some sharks think they are a lot bigger than they really are and compete with the bigger sharks for the tuna heads on offer. “Top Sail” for example is not one of the bigger sharks, but is very adept at getting more than her fair share of tuna heads.

Top sail getting a tuna head.

Another thing that totally surprised me is how cautious these sharks are, even when food is offered to them. Some sharks will not approach the feeder who’s holding a tuna head and some sharks will only take a tuna head from a specific feeder. I would have thought that these bull sharks would pretty much go for any tuna head that is offered to them.

If all the bull sharks are not enough for you, just when you think the dive is over, there is the safety stop. Far from a boring hanging on to a line, waiting for the 3 minutes to pass, you are face to face wit a bunch of hungry white- and black-tip sharks, being fed by one of the divemasters.

I’m still very partial to “my” white sharks at Guadalupe, but I’m getting more and more taken by the bull sharks of the SRMR and can’t wait for next year.

Sam face to face with a hungry white tip shark.

Thanks to all the guys at “BAD”, (Beqa Adventure Divers) for your hospitality and another unforgettable trip. You are simply the best! Vinaka vakalevu!

Blacktip shark at the safety stop

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting a special offer for next year’s Fiji trip. My descriptions and pictures don’t do these sharks justice. You’ll have to come and experience them yourself.

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.

I was surrounded by bull sharks!

Instagram 
I just got back from my 4th annual trip to Fiji, diving with the “BAD” (Beqa Adventure Divers’) bull sharks of the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. It is an unbelievable experience to be surrounded by lots of these awesome predators.

We saw a shark or two

What really fascinates me is not the sheer number of sharks though.  The really interesting part is that I’m starting to recognize some individual sharks, not only by distinctive marks on them, but by their behavior.

Doing a lap, showing everyone that she got a tuna head.


Anyone thinking that “a bull shark is a bull shark” should come to this place and see for themselves. These sharks have very different “personalities”, some very mellow and cautious, others not so much. Of course you need to do more than just one or 2 dives to notice these differences. The first few dives your are simply going to be blown away by the sheer number of sharks and and by how close they’ll get to you.

Up close and personal!

Common wisdom holds that when it comes to sharks, size matters. The big shark always wins over a smaller shark. What I found is that this is not always the case. Some sharks think they are a lot bigger than they really are and compete with the bigger sharks for the tuna heads on offer. “Top Sail” for example is not one of the bigger sharks, but is very adept at getting more than her fair share of tuna heads.

Top sail getting a tuna head.

Another thing that totally surprised me is how cautious these sharks are, even when food is offered to them. Some sharks will not approach the feeder who’s holding a tuna head and some sharks will only take a tuna head from a specific feeder. I would have thought that these bull sharks would pretty much go for any tuna head that is offered to them.

If all the bull sharks are not enough for you, just when you think the dive is over, there is the safety stop. Far from a boring hanging on to a line, waiting for the 3 minutes to pass, you are face to face wit a bunch of hungry white- and black-tip sharks, being fed by one of the divemasters.

I’m still very partial to “my” white sharks at Guadalupe, but I’m getting more and more taken by the bull sharks of the SRMR and can’t wait for next year.

Sam face to face with a hungry white tip shark.

Thanks to all the guys at “BAD”, (Beqa Adventure Divers) for your hospitality and another unforgettable trip. You are simply the best! Vinaka vakalevu!

Blacktip shark at the safety stop

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting a special offer for next year’s Fiji trip. My descriptions and pictures don’t do these sharks justice. You’ll have to come and experience them yourself.

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.

How do you choose the right shark diving operation?

Instagram 

Shark diving has gained in popularity over the last decade or so. With the increasing number of operations that offer interactions with sharks, we have also seen a growing trend for some operators to use irresponsible and in some cases down right stupid and dangerous diving practices. 

So how can a diver find an operation that is using responsible and sustainable practices? How does he/she know if an operation is participating in conservation efforts, education and research?


Now there is a way to do exactly that. Rick McPherson, a marine biologist and conservationist has created a website, www.sustainablesharkdiving.com that is rating shark diving operations on various criteria, helping divers in choosing who to go with. It is sort of like a trip advisor for the shark diving industry. 

We at Shark Diver are proud to provide our divers with a “Safe and Sane” shark diving experience and support research and conservation through our collaboration with the Marine Conservation Science Institute. We are excited about Rick’s new website and hope that anyone interested in shark diving will use it when choosing their next dive operation.

Here is the press release, announcing www.sustainablesharkdiving.com

San Francisco, CA
Sustainable Shark Dive Tourism Website Now Live: Best Practices and Trip Reviews
Sustainable Shark Diving (www.sustainablesharkdiving.com), a new website that provides tools and “Trip Advisor-like reviews of shark dive tourism operations around the world is now live. The website, previewed at the 2015 DEMA Show in Florida to overwhelming interest and support, has opened and now offers shark divers an opportunity to learn about best practices while helping to promote more sustainable environmental and safety within the industry. 

The popularity and growth of shark dive tourism over the past decade is undeniable. Divers increasingly want to see sharks and are willing to pay well to have close encounters with these charismatic species. For a critically threatened group such as sharks, this is good news. “Over 100 million sharks die each year due to interactions with fisheries, “ reports Rick MacPherson, marine biologist, conservationist, and founder of the new online tool Sustainable Shark Diving “I believe a living shark showcased for tourism over its lifetime is better than a dead shark used once for its fins and meat,” says MacPherson. “I created sustainablesharkdiving.com as a free, open access portal for tourists and dive operators to help underscore the value of healthy shark populations to tourism as well as highlight best practices and lessons learned from shark dive operations around the world.” Dr Austin Gallagher, Postdoctoral Researcher at Carleton University and principal author of a ground-breaking 2015 global study of the shark diving industry, agrees, “The value of shark diving tourism to local economies and cultures has emerged as one of the leading arguments for the conservation of sharks around the world.
The shark dive tourism industry has already taken note of the value of this new online tool. Jorge Loria, owner of Phantom Divers, a bull shark diving operation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, believes this tool will help create a higher standard for the growing shark diving industry, “Diving with a sustainable business that is safe and educational results in a benefit to both divers and sharks because the more we know about sharks the better we can protect them.” Mike Neumann, owner of Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji agrees: “This will be a game changer and a huge step towards propelling the shark diving industry towards a more long term sustainable model.” 

Sustainable Shark Diving fills an industry need by providing a free, one-stop source for best safety and environmental practices and guidelines that have been established around the world for the viewing of sharks (and their flat cousins the rays). “Sustainable Shark Diving offers visitors a compilation of shark diving best practices and guidelines,” explains MacPherson. “You can search by shark species or by region. Whether you want to dive with white sharks, whale sharks, oceanic whitetip, bull, nurse, or any species, you will find the most currently accepted sustainability guidelines for that type of experience.” 

Importantly, Sustainable Shark Diving features a Trip Advisor-like review section that allows divers to rate their experience with any shark dive operation against a set of sustainability criteria that includes safety, environmental performance, staff interactions, and overall educational/conservation value. “This tool has enormous potential to begin pushing the entire global industry closer to sustainability and accountability”, says Dr Gallagher. “By allowing the tourists themselves – the lifeblood of this and any tourism industry – to rank the performance, safety, and environmental ethics of operators around the world, the industry as a whole becomes more transparent and we can promote the good and hopefully phase out the bad.” 

ABOUT RICK MACPHERSON, FOUNDER
Rick MacPherson is a marine ecologist and conservationist with three decades of experience in solving environmental challenges. He has a particular focus and interest in the intersection of conservation and marine tourism. As a PADI certified diver for over 35 years, he has witnessed the decline of coral reefs and shark populations during his lifetime. In response, MacPherson has become a passionate advocate and thought leader on the role of sustainable tourism as a lever for ocean conservation. Achievements have included development of the world’s first standards for scuba diving, snorkeling, and boating; designer of the Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Marine Tours for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and founder of the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative–the longest-running sustainable tourism project in the Americas. With a belief and expertise in collaborative solutions, MacPherson has brokered partnerships across governments, corporations, NGOs, private sector, and local communities to arrive at pragmatic solutions to complex environmental problems. He is Founder and Principal of Pelagia Consulting, a San Francisco-based ocean science and conservation think tank, where he serves as senior advisor to international NGOs and charitable foundations. In 2013, MacPherson was awarded the Oris/Scuba Diving Magazine Sea Hero of the Year Award in recognition of his achievements in ocean conservation. 

CONTACT 

Rick MacPherson, Founder Sustainable Shark Diving rickmacpherson@me.com +1 (510) 295-5538

Let’s go (sustainable) 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.