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

How do you make a viral video?

This is a fun little video I took at Tiger beach, diving with Shark Diver. Little did I know that it would be a hit on Facebook. Within an hour of posting it, people watched it over 2000 times. Come join us and take your own pictures and videos and maybe yours will goes viral as well!

Lemon Sharks at Tiger Beach. Diving with Great White Shark Diving
Posted by Martin Graf on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Of course, we don’t just encounter Lemon Sharks, we see plenty of Tiger Sharks as well.  This is truly a trip of a lifetime! Since we only take 6 divers at a time, you’ll be sure to get up close and personal with these amazing animals.

This is our schedule for Tiger Beach trips in 2015.
April 12-18, 19-25
May 3-9, 10-16, 24-30 and 31-June 6
September 14-20
October 4-10, 11-17
November 15-21

For more info on the trips and a complete itinerary, check here, or you can call us at 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275 We are always happy to talk “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

Are white sharks parenting their offspring?

When it comes to how the media covers any sightings of a great white shark, it never ceases to amaze me how their articles are devoid of any real facts and full of disinformation. Take this latest coverage by the Inquisitr of a sighting in lake Macquarie. You really have to wonder who these experts are, that they refer to in this article.

They are saying  “A 9-foot-long great white shark has been spotted in Australia’s Lake Macquarie, close to the scene of another recent sighting, along with a smaller, unidentified fish that some researchers believe could be the shark’s offspring”.

Now I have to say that even though I’m not a scientist, but simply a guy who’s been diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe for 14 years, I do know that a 9 ft great white shark is not sexually mature and thus cannot have an offspring.

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

Former Shark Diver CEO saving the Oceans?

Since I took over Shark Diver from Patric Douglas on January 1 2012, he’s been a very busy fellow. I’ll let him tell you personally what he’s been up to. Never one to follow the herd, he has used the same vision that has turned Shark Diver into the pre…

Shark attack filmed at Guadalupe Island

In November of 2013, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took “our” vessel “Horizon” to Guadalupe Island to do some research on Great White Sharks.This is a video of the expedition. REMUS SharkCam: The hunter and the hunted from Woods Hole Oceanog…

Who is going to be at Guadalupe?

Our Great White Shark season is starting in a couple of weeks. This is going to be my 14th year, visiting Guadalupe Island and believe it or not, I’m getting more excited to go back each year. I just can’t wait to see who’s back. Is “Shredder” going to…

Illegal shark fishing causes injury to swimmer.

A swimmer in Manhattan Beach, CA was bitten this morning by a juvenile great white shark! Predictably, the headlines are screaming “Shark Attack Injures Swimmer!” and “Swimmer Attacked by Shark!”

Here is what actually happened. A man, fishing from the pier, caught a juvenile great white shark and was fighting it for 40 minutes. Trying to get away, the shark started biting at the line and in doing so, bit a swimmer. It is illegal to fish for great white sharks in California. Here is an excerpt from the California Fish and Game regulations.

“As defined in state law, “take” means “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill.” Anyone who takes a white shark without a permit may be cited for violations of CESA and subject to criminal prosecution”

As usual, when something happens with a white shark, the shark gets the blame, not the fisherman who was endangering the public, by fighting a great white shark in waters crowded with swimmers on a holiday weekend! The headlines should read something like this “Illegal shark fishing causing serious harm to swimmer!”

Luckily the swimmer has non life-threatening injuries and we hope he’ll have a speedy recovery. 

Martin Graf
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

Where do “our” great white sharks give birth to their young?

Back in 2000, when we started diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe, we knew very little about where the sharks were going, when they are not at the Island. I remember the days, when the scientists thought that they went to Shark cafe/Sofa t…