Shark feeding frenzy in North Carolina


This video says about itself:

Rare Shark Feeding Frenzy in North Carolina

On Thursday, October 9 [2014] at around noon, while at a retreat at Cape Lookout National Seashore off the coast of North Carolina, the leaders of One Harbor Church witnessed a shark feeding frenzy. The men were out fishing for the evening’s dinner when they stumbled across more than 100 sharks attacking a school of bluefish. As seagulls and pelicans joined in on the meal, the men began to cast into the surf, catching fish without the use of bait. For more than five minutes, the sharks were observed swimming in and out of the surf, some of which became beached in the fury.

eNature Blog in the USA writes about this:

Amazing Video Shows Shark Feeding Frenzy In The Surf Off North Carolina Beach

Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by eNature

Several species of shark, including the popular blacktip that frequents the coastal waters of Virginia and the Carolinas during the summer, can be clearly seen literally on the beach in a feeding frenzy video posted to YouTube last week.

The video, posted by user Brian Recker, shows sharks feasting on a school of smaller fish, most likely bluefish, in shallow water at North Carolina’s Cape Lookout National Seashore.

While it’s not uncommon on East Coast beaches to find schools of small fish in the surf when they are chased up on the beach by predators, most observers encounter bluefish chasing smaller fish such as herring or mullet. It IS uncommon to see bluefish as the prey being chased—and sharks so exposed on the beach.

Here is another video on this.

Sharks have individual personalities, new study


This video is called Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Shark Biology.

From the BBC:

2 October 2014 Last updated at 03:17 GMT

Sharks can be ‘social or solitary’

By Jonathan Webb Science reporter, BBC News

The most feared predators in the sea have individual personalities that affect how readily they socialise, according to a study by UK scientists.

Individual sharks, studied in groups of ten, showed consistent social habits – either forming groups with other sharks or finding camouflage on their own.

When a group was shifted into a new environment, individual sharks showed the same patterns of behaviour.

This is the first study to show that sharks have their own personalities.

The research was done in large tanks at the Marine Biological Association of the UK, in Plymouth, in collaboration with the University of Exeter. The findings appear in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.

Strategies for safety

Ten different groups, each containing ten small spotted catsharks, were each studied in three different situations. Some were complex environments with lots of rocks and other features, and some were simple tanks with gravel on the bottom.

Even though the overall number and size of sub-groups among the ten sharks often changed between environments, the individual sharks that tended to form big groups continued to do so, no matter what the situation.

Similarly, the more antisocial specimens remained on their own, or in much smaller groups.

“The results were driven by different social preferences, that appeared to reflect different strategies for staying safe,” said lead author Dr David Jacoby, a behavioural ecologist now working at the Institute of Zoology in London.

“Well-connected individuals formed conspicuous groups, while less social individuals tended to camouflage alone, matching their skin colour with the colour of the gravel in the bottom of the tank,” Dr Jacoby said.

Prof William Hughes, an animal behaviour expert at the University of Sussex, said he was impressed by the level of detail in the results.

“They recorded which shark was hanging around with which other sharks, on a number of occasions across two days – so they got a very, very detailed picture of the social relationships,” he told BBC News.

Prof Hughes said the experiments could be compared to watching a group of people: “Imagine if we took ten work colleagues and plonked them in a bar, and observed which individuals sat with which other individuals over the course of an evening.”

Then imagine repeating the experiments in a nightclub, rather than a bar. And then perhaps back at work – and then, repeating the whole exercise with nine other groups of ten colleagues.

Individual people would tend to form bigger or smaller groups no matter what the situation, much like the sharks.

“It’s a very nice piece of work. It provides some pretty reasonable evidence that sharks show a form of social personality,” Prof Hughes said.

Comparing notes

The result is not altogether surprising, he added. Over the last decade or more, a minor revolution in animal behaviour research has amassed similar evidence for consistent, individual behaviour differences within a large number of species.

“Probably all animals show it, to some extent,” Prof Hughes explained.

Jean-Sebastien Finger is a PhD student at the Humboldt University in Germany, investigating the existence of personalities in another species, the lemon shark. His work is based at the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas.

Mr Finger agrees that the result was not unexpected. “Personality has been seen everywhere – in almost every taxon of animals,” he told the BBC.

“Sharks haven’t really been tested before.”

Mr Finger said his own research had found “strong preliminary evidence” for consistent differences in lemon sharks.

“I think it will be quite good to compare the two species,” he said.

Dr Jacoby is also looking forward to comparing notes. “I’d expect there to be similar sorts of traits in other species,” he said, adding that the Bahamas project looks at sharks in the wild, which is important.

“Ours was captive study – but it gave us an opportunity to manipulate and control these experiments, which is unusual in shark studies.”

Baby nursehound shark born


Baby nursehound shark

This is a photo of a baby nursehound shark; hatched recently from an egg in the aquarium of Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands (with a stickleback in the background of the photo).

Carboniferous fossil discoveries in England


This video is called The Carboniferous Period.

From Wildlife Extra:

Yorkshire‘s hidden fossil haven reveals an exotic past

A derelict mining tip in Doncaster has given up its 310-million-year-old secrets after a host of new fossils – including some fossilised plants and creatures that may even be new to science – were found. One of the most exciting finds was that of a fossilised shark egg case, hinting at Yorkshire’s more exotic history.

Also among the fossils were some horseshoe crabs and previously unrecorded seed pods, all of which were found in preserved rocks that formed within the coal and shale deposits in what is one of the few fossil locations of its kind left in the UK.

The tip, located in Edlington, southwest of Doncaster, has been identified as being the only tip in the borough where fossils could still potentially be collected. All others in the area have been landscaped, or turned into parks, leaving any fossils that may be lying beneath inaccessible.

Palaeontologist Dean Lomax, a visiting scientist at the University of Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, described what the fossils indicate Yorkshire might have been like hundreds of millions of years ago: “The fossils unlock a window into a long distant past, buried deep beneath residents’ feet. They are proof that parts of Yorkshire were once a tropical water-logged forest, teeming with life that may have looked something similar to today’s Amazon delta, a mix of dense forest, lakes, swamps and lagoons.

“The shark egg case is particularly rare and significant, because it’s soft bodied and an unusual object to find fossilised. We hope that future organised collecting of the site may reveal further rare discoveries, such as dragonflies, beetles, spiders and further evidence of vertebrates. And who knows, maybe we will even find the actual shark.”

It is hoped that further fossil specimens unearthed at the site will continue to be found. Speaking from Doncaster Heritage Services, Peter Robinson said: “We hope this important discovery will encourage ex-miners from the borough to bring forward and donate fossil specimens from the now defunct collieries, which were collected whilst extracting coal from the pit face. We have heard many stories of some of the wonderful fossils that have been found.”

The fossils are being safely stored at Doncaster Museum and have been integrated into the museum’s fossil collection.

Good shark and ray conservation news


This video is called Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Shark Biology.

From Wildlife Extra:

Five new species of shark and two manta ray species now protected under CITES

Protection begins this week for five more shark species and two manta ray species designated under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that was agreed at a conference of 178 governments in Bangkok in March 2013.

There were a number of technical issues associated with the listing, such as enforcement agencies learning how to identify products in trade, especially the fins that are usually traded in dried form, and so the Parties were given an 18- month period to prepare for the introduction of CITES requirements.

Any trade in oceanic white tip shark, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark, and manta ray products is now to be restricted via national regulations to “avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.”

Their commercial trade must be strictly regulated and the species can only be exported or taken from national and international waters when the exporting / fishing country certifies they were legally sourced and that the overall level of exports does not threaten the species.

Many shark and both manta ray species have suffered drastic population declines in recent years due to commercial fishing, mainly to feed demand in China.

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup.

Some shark populations have declined by up to 98 per cent in the past 15 years, and nearly one-third of pelagic (those that inhabit the open sea) shark species are considered threatened by the IUCN’s Red List.

Secretary-General of CITES, John E Scanlon said: “Regulating international trade in these shark species is critical to their survival.

“Implementation will involve some challenges to ensure that this trade is legal, sustainable and traceable, and this will include practical issues such as identifying the fins and meat that are in trade.

“But by working together we can and will do it.”

Work is also being done in China to reduce the demand for these endangered marine animals, spearheaded by conservation charity WildAid in conjunction with Shark Savers, the Manta Trust and SOS – Save Our Species.

The manta effort kicks off this month with 100 billboards throughout Guangzhou, with the message “eating Peng Yu Sai [the Chinese name for manta products] leads to species extinction”. It will soon also include a new video to be broadcast on Chinese television.

Guangdong TV, a Cantonese language network, has produced a five-part segment for the news about the conservation issues facing manta and mobula, as well as the risks to public health as the gills from manta and mobula are being falsely marketed as a health tonic.

It takes eight to 10 years for a manta to mature sexually and a female manta may give birth to only one pup every two to five years. Due to this slow reproduction they cannot sustain even modest fishing levels.

WildAid argues that mantas are worth far more alive to local communities than dead. In 2013, the total sale of manta and devil ray gills in Guangzhou was estimated at $30 million, with most of the financial benefit going to the distribution channel rather than fishermen.

In contrast, coastal communities can benefit greatly from sustainable ecotourism around manta ray watching, which attracts more than an estimated US $140 million per year, globally.