Great white shark research in Mexico, video


This video says about itself:

7 August 2014

In 2013, a team from the Oceanographic Systems Lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took a specially equipped REMUS “SharkCam” underwater vehicle to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to film great white sharks in the wild. The[y] captured more than they bargained for.

Sharks, forty years after the film Jaws


This video says about itself:

Map of Shark Protection Through Time

7 August 2014

Sharks face many threats from people, including extreme overfishing driven by high prices for their fins, and being caught by mistake in nets and on longlines. While there is still much work to be done to conserve sharks, take a moment to recognize the work already being done in communities around the world to protect these fascinating and beautiful animals.

Video by the Smithsonian Ocean Portal: Amanda Feuerstein, Emily Frost, Nancy Knowlton and Hannah Waters. Special thanks to Sonja Fordham, Kerry Lynn Miller, Jen Sewada, and David Shiffman.

This map is a work in progress. If you know of regulations we’re missing or otherwise want to contribute, email ocean@si.edu

From Smithsonian.com in the USA today:

The State of Sharks, 40 Years After Jaws

We could be at a tipping point for conserving the infamous predators, if we can keep up shark-friendly practices

By Nancy Knowlton, Wendy Benchley

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Jaws the book, and next year will be the 40th anniversary of Jaws the movie. It was Peter Benchley’s first novel, and the film, directed by then 27-year-old Steven Spielberg, was the first summer blockbuster.

In the public’s mind, the fear of sharks that Jaws initially inspired was soon replaced by fascination, which continues to this day.  Sadly, that fascination has been joined with despair over the last several decades, as evidence has accumulated that shark populations are plummeting, driven by overfishing.  Peter Benchley often stated in later years that he could never again write a book like Jaws, and he devoted much of his post-Jaws career to ocean conservation.

How did sharks get into such trouble in the first place? Sharks and their relatives have been around for more than 400 million years and survived four mass extinctions. Yet they are surprisingly vulnerable to human fishing because, like many long-lived organisms, they reproduce slowly. Great white sharks, for example, may live to be 70 years old or more. Spotty data suggest that females produce on average five baby great whites at a time but give birth perhaps only every other year, starting at about 15 years of age.

So it is no surprise that shark populations have not been able to keep up with losses caused by a worldwide hunting frenzy. Demand for shark fins, often served in Asia as shark fin soup for wedding banquets, New Year’s festivities and government functions, skyrocketed for decades, leading to estimates of 100 million sharks being killed every year.  This translated to a loss of about 6 to 8 percent of all sharks annually, a rate that cannot be sustained by populations that typically only increase by about 5 percent a year.

Yet lately, after years of shark doom and gloom, some good news has started to appear.  How did the situation start to turn around? You can chalk it up to better fishery management, falling demand for shark fins and rising appreciation for live sharks.

Rules and policies designed to protect sharks include shark sanctuaries, banning of shark finning (the taking of just the valuable fins and discarding the often still-living shark), prohibitions on selling and shipping of shark products and changes in fishing gear that reduce the likelihood of sharks being caught by mistake. Thanks to growing public disgust with the practice of finning and awareness of catastrophic drops in shark numbers, demand for shark fin soup is declining in Asia (as are shark fin prices). The Chinese government recently banned the serving of shark fin soup at official functions, a number of large hotels have taken shark fin soup off the menu and a growing list of airlines are refusing to transport shark fins.

In places where tourism is critical to the local economy, the realization that sharks are much more valuable alive than dead has also prompted legal protection. More than 30 percent of the Maldives’ economy is based on shark eco-tourism, and in Palau it was estimated that a shark that brings in $108 dead is worth $1.9 million alive over its lifetime. As a recent headline in the New York Times noted in a story about shark tourism on Cape Cod (not far from where most of Jaws was filmed): “They’re Going to Need a Bigger Gift Shop.”

Most importantly, bit-by-bit, scientists have been finding evidence that shark numbers in some areas are slowly rebounding.  A report this year suggested that numbers of great white sharks seem to be increasing along the east coast of the United States, and similar trends have been reported from California, South Africa and Australia.  Notably, these are all places where harvest of these sharks has been prohibited since the 1990s. Such developments inspire cautious optimism: we could be at a shark conservation tipping point.

Of course, there is still plenty of cause for concern and much work to be done. Some scientists dispute the more optimistic numbers, not all laws are well enforced and no one is arguing for a relaxation of global efforts to conserve sharks. Of the 476 species of sharks analyzed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for extinction risk, good data are only available for 276, and of these 123 are considered at risk for extinction.

Still, it is important to celebrate the successes we do have. Around the world, shark-friendly measures are spreading rapidly (see the map above [in the video]), and there is enormous power in the realization that one’s concerns and efforts are part of a larger and growing effort.

Or as Peter Benchley once put it: “I see the sea today from a new perspective, not as an antagonist but as an ally, rife less with menace than with mystery and wonder. And I know I am not alone. Scientists, swimmers, scuba divers, snorkelers, and sailors all are learning that the sea is worthy more of respect and protection than of fear and exploitation.”

Google using super-strong material to protect underwater internet cables against mystery shark attacks: here.

Great white shark in London


This video from London, England is called Shark Week: Finsbury Shark.

From Wildlife Extra:

Great white shark spotted in north London boating lake

Joggers, dog-walkers and early morning commuters in Finsbury Park in North London this week were treated to the unexpected sight of what appeared to be a great white shark fin slicing through the water among a group of rowers on the boating lake.

Luckily for all concerned, the ‘shark’ was a stunt set up to publicise a series of shark-related programmes on the Discovery Channel next week.

The shark’s fin was made by BAFTA award-winning art director and special effects designer Jamie Campbell, renowned for his work on Sea Monsters and the original Walking with Dinosaurs.

Campbell used a hand-carved polystyrene fin mounted onto a 3m tubular frame, with internal ballast and flotation devices to guide the shark. An underwater pulley system, connected between two points on the shoreline by an underwater steel cable, allowed the shark fin to travel at pace across the water.

Cameras were set up around the lake to capture the reactions of the unsuspecting boating enthusiasts. One person in every boat was aware of the prank.

A spokesman for Discovery Channel commented: “When you go for a genteel early morning row around the shallow Finsbury Park Boating Lake, the last thing you would expect to encounter is one of nature’s most renowned predators. All of the boaters saw the funny side and we can assure everyone that it is perfectly safe to go back in the water!”

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which also features on Animal Planet, begins on Sunday 10 August and features documentaries such as Airjaws Finding Colossus, in which shark experts Chris Fallows and Jeff Kurr visit legendary Seal island in South Africa in search of great whites and Mythbuster Jawsome, which counts down the 25th biggest shark myths of all time.

Young shark Jennifer studied off Australia


This video says about itself:

The Fastest Shark in the Ocean

The shortfin mako shark swims at speeds up to 60 mph.

From the South Australian Research and Development Institute, with maps there, yesterday:

Jennifer is a juvenile female shortfin mako. She was satellite tagged from FV Home Strait off Lakes Entrance, eastern Victoria in mid July 2013. She was 180 cm in length. We used a very small and light SIRTRACK K2F161A satellite tag. Her tag is duty cycled at 2 days to conserve battery power.

Shark Eyes Designed to Catch Photons in Twilight Zone: here.

Great cormorant, underwater video


This is an underwater video of a great cormorant, swimming near a fish ladder.

Rare seahorses discovery in the Philippines


This video is called The Tiniest Pygmy Seahorses.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare seahorses spotted for first time in Philippine waters

For the first time, two rare species of seahorse have been photographed in the Philippines.

The seahorses, a weedy pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) and Severn’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus severnsi), were photographed near to the island of Romblon, which lies in the West Philippine Sea, by a citizen scientist.

They were then submitted to the iSeahorse app, which collates sightings from the public, before being verified by the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Project Seahorse.

The discovery brings the number of seahorse species known to inhabit Philippine waters to 11.

Chai Apale, iSeahorse Philippines coordinator for Project Seahorse, said: “The exciting discovery of these seahorses in new waters demonstrates the important role citizen scientists can play in conservation.

“Seahorses are found across the globe from Hastings to the Seychelles. Now that the holiday season is in full swing, we’re encouraging the public to don their flippers and use the iSeahorse app to record their seahorse sightings.”

The Severn’s pygmy seahorse is a tiny 1.3cm tall – smaller than a sugar cube, while the weedy pygmy seahorse, which was previously only known to inhabit Indonesian waters, is just .1cm taller at 1.4cm.

There is not currently enough data to assess the conservation status of these two species, but it is hoped this news will help conservationists piece together the missing information.