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Jan. 29 , 2013 - A 3,500-Pound Great White Shark Is Swimming Up And Down The East Coast

If you are ever searching for a great white shark, look no further than the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker, which provides the location of all the tagged great white sharks in the world. The sharks have been tagged with a tracker that communicates with research satellites, telling scientists the shark's location.
Great white sharks live throughout the oceans of the world, anywhere the water is between 54 and 75 degrees. They aren't uncommon off the coast of the U.S.
The researchers have posted all the GPS data from the sharks they track online, where you can see the latest blip from the trackers on a map, and dive into any individual shark's previous blips, which indicate where they have been in the past.
From this, we can see there's a great white shark named Mary Lee that's been swimming up and down the East Coast since September. She is currently off the coast of New Jersey. Mary Lee is a 16-foot-long female Great White shark weighing almost 3500 pounds. She was first tagged in Cape Cod on 17 September, and the researchers have been tracking her ever since. Here's where she's been since then:

Great White Shark Tracking Information




Jan. 28 , 2013 - UniSA's shark patrol working to spot sharks off Adelaide's beaches this summer

Private Pilot Stephanie Saniotis, instructor Adrian Cass, and commercial
Pilot Kyron Burgess on shark patrol. Picture: Dylan Coker

A State Government website shows there have been more recorded sightings of sharks off the beach, south of Adelaide, than anywhere else in the state.

Since the start of December, there have been seven known shark sightings at Moana Beach, with one spotted just 20m from the shore.

Four sharks were sighted at both Maslin Beach and Aldinga Beach.

The sightings, compiled by the Department of Primary Industries, are reported from a range of different sources including Surf Life Saving SA, SAPOL and shark sighting planes.
Surf Life Saving SA general manager Shane Daw said Moana Beach was a favourite spot for sharks because of its reef, which was teeming with fish.

"Moana has a reef section - there is a lot of fish in that area - so we do get one or two bronzies that hang around that area for a while (in summer)," he said.

Mr Daw said sharks often stayed in certain areas for up to three weeks before they moved on.

"We know there is roughly a two-metre bronze whaler that has been hanging around Moana going from the Southport to Aldinga region over the last couple of weeks," he said.
South Australia's shark planes are currently managed and operated by UniSA as part of its Bachelor of Aviation degree.

In a coup for the university, the institution recently signed a seven-day commercial contract with the Government, upped from a Monday-to-Friday operation. It now patrols Adelaide's metropolitan and rural beaches four times a day, from the start of summer until March.

The planes patrol beaches including Largs Bay and Henley Beach and fly as far as Rapid Bay, Normanville and Victor Harbor during the busy school holiday period.

Head of Aviation Neil Hyland said the shark patrols allowed students to gain commercial responsibilities and practical experience flying.
Before the students can fly the planes, they must complete their commercial flying course and an SES program, where they are taught protocol on how to spot sharks, alert authorities and warn swimmers in the water.

"When we see a shark we identify where it is, the location, the time and its size," Mr Hyland said.

"Then we look to see what's in the vicinity ... if there is people in the water or on the beach we'll circle the shark and activate the siren."

Three people sit in the shark plane - a pilot, communications officer, who reports the sharks, and an observer.
Emergency Services Minister Michael O'Brien said shark patrols had increased this summer as a result of the new contract with UniSA.

"Public safety has been enhanced for beachgoers through a new contract to increase shark patrols from 734 hours last summer to 907 this season," he said.

Bachelor of Aviation third-year student Stephanie Saniotis, 19, said she loved the opportunity to work in a commercial operation with the government.

She said sharks are generally easy to spot in the sea.

"There is no second guess - if it's big, it's really obvious," she said. "Dolphins look small and they usually travel in a group ... sharks move slow, their movement is different and they're a lot bigger."

7: Moana.
4: Aldinga, Maslin.
3: Sellicks, Tennyson.
2: Glenelg, Port Noarlunga, Wallaroo, Christies, Coffin Bay.
1: West Beach, O'Sullivan, Port Lincoln, Arno Bay, Henley Beach, Semaphore, St Kilda, Black Rocks, Encounter Lakes, Coobowie, Seaford Reef, Emu Bay.




Jan. 27 , 2013 -  Sheng Siong frees injured shark

A SHARK kept in a small tank at the Sheng Siong supermarket in Clementi was released back into the wild, a day after animal activists began campaigning for its freedom.

A photo of the approximately 2m-long Zebra shark - held in a tank barely bigger than itself - circulated on social media on Thursday, and was shared nearly 500 times by last night.

Activists from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) and Shark Savers were even willing to buy the shark's freedom from the supermarket. But a Sheng Siong spokesman said yesterday it was not for sale or consumption.

In fact, the supermarket's intention was to "nurse it back to health" and release it back into the sea, and it did so yesterday morning.

The group's managing director, Mr Lim Hock Leng, said that Sheng Siong's "seafood team" had spotted the shark at Jurong Fishery Port on Tuesday, along with the rest of the day's catch from Indonesia.

"When we saw the shark, it was not doing very well, possibly due to some injury sustained," he said. "So, we bought the shark with the intent of protecting it from harm and nursing it back to health."

Sheng Siong's Clementi Avenue 1 branch was chosen for the shark's rehabilitation, as it had a temperature-controlled glass tank, and the outlet was near the fishery port.

Plans to move the shark to a bigger pool at the port were foiled when the pool was found to be in use.

The supermarket then decided to release the shark.

Mr Louis Ng, Acres' executive director, said this was not the first time that the supermarket chain has incurred the wrath of animal rights groups.
Other sharks had been on display in the past, he claimed, and the supermarket used to have a practice of leaving live fish out on ice to die slowly.

These cases were reported to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), which had in turn informed the supermarket chain to be more humane in its practices.

Mr Ng added: "I hope they sought a veterinarian's advice to make sure the shark was fit for releasing. Otherwise, I'd question if it was safe to release it after putting it through a lot of stress and then releasing it with the same injury it was found with."

An AVA spokesman said leopard sharks are not protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Imports are allowed for local sale as long as they are handled by AVA-licensed seafood importers.




Jan. 25 , 2013 - Stunning Whale Shark Photos Aim to Help At-Risk Species

Whale Shark with Model Woman

At first glance, Kristian Schmidt and Shawn Heinrichs’ photos of models swimming with whale sharks off the coast of the Philippines appear heavily Photoshopped. But while the levels and colors have been manipulated and the backgrounds tweaked, the most striking part – the models’ proximity to sharks – is real.

While a bit whimsical, the photos have recently gone viral and lead to a new awareness of the whale shark, which was Schmidt and Heinrichs’ plan all along.

“I’ve been doing underwater filming and photography work since the late 90s and one of the things I’ve come to realize is that there are niche communities of people who are interested in the ocean,” says Heinrichs. “It’s a very small subset of the global population. The whole concept of this shoot was to really break out of that box.”

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, whale sharks are listed as a vulnerable species, which means they are “considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.” They’ve been over-fished and are often killed for their fins.
Heinrichs says the populations that congregate where he and Schmidt did their shoot, near the village of Oslob, were poached regularly until fisherman discovered they make an enticing, and approachable, tourist attraction.

Whale sharks—the world’s largest fish—are known to be friendly and whale shark ecotourism programs have sprung up around the world. The difference between many of those programs and the one in Oslob, however, was that the fisherman were hand feeding the sharks, which means they were regularly coming into contact with humans and had become accustomed to interacting. Other programs often try to keep the tourists a certain distance from the fish.

This familiarity allowed the models in the photos to get extremely close. Shooting conditions underwater were anything but ideal—strong currents dragged the models out of position, cloudy days only allowed for a couple minutes of sun at a time—so docile sharks were a bonus.

The problem with sharks freely interacting with humans is that they start to depend on humans for at least a portion of their food and lose their fear, which might lead them more freely into poacher’s hands.

“I’m not sure any kind of interaction based on hand feeding should be encouraged,” says Dr. Alistair Dove, the director of research and conservation at the Georgia Aquarium and a whale shark expert. “But we need to balance that against the great awareness that has come about because of these photos.”
Instead of re-creating the type of National Geographic shots we’re used to seeing, Schmidt and Heinrichs’ photos have enough shock value that viewers stop to take them in. Their success on the internet speaks for itself and the photographers plan to use the photos to raise money for a shark conservation program run by WildAid.

The tourism created in Oslob by the whale sharks has been a boon to the community, Heinrichs says, and Dove doesn’t want people to be discouraged from tying to connect with nature.

“Having a face to face encounter with a whale shark is a life changing experience,” says Dove.
Long term, however, there is not enough data about what human/whale shark interaction might mean for the species. Dove says one study of a population in Australia pointed to some adverse effects but more extensive studies are needed.
“I don’t think we can afford a ‘no news is good news’ approach to this issue; the scientific and conservation community really needs to get out there and gather some hard data to help answer these questions and help the regulatory authorities to make better decisions about how to manage these industries,” is how Dove summarized his analysis in an article for Deep Sea News.

Heinrichs says he’s keenly aware of the gray areas around whale shark ecotourism but still believes what’s happening today in Oslob is a better solution than letting the sharks get killed-off illegally.

“In a perfect world where humans had not greatly depleted the species, whale sharks would do what they do and we would do what we do,” he says. “But it’s not a perfect world and tourism is one of the greatest drivers for species preservation today.”

Stunning Whale Shark Photo




Jan. 15 , 2013 - Mary Lee, Great White Shark, Spotted At Jacksonville Beach By Ocearch Shark Tracker
Mary Lee, a massive great white shark known for her wanderlust, reached a destination last week that made observers uneasy to say the least.
The Ocearch team that had tagged the 16-foot, 3,500-pound shark in September received a ping signal that Mary Lee was within 200 yards of Florida's Jacksonville Beach.
Mary Lee had come way too close for comfort, penetrating the surf break, CNN reports. However, Ocearch chairman Chris Fischer called local police to clear the water until Mary Lee -- named after Fischer's mother -- set up shop further at sea.
While Mary Lee swam away without incident, her migration pattern has intrigued scientists from Ocearch. The organization outfitted her -- along with another great white named Genie -- with a GPS device during an expedition off Cape Cod in September. Just months later, both sharks were found swimming off the Jacksonville coast.
"That is a scary thought," tourist Jennifer Earnest told WOFL after hearing of the shark. "I would be running from that."
Last Thursday, the Florida Times-Union reported that Mary Lee was spotted 18 miles off Fernandina Beach and headed northeast.
"We're trying to solve the basic life history puzzle of where and when do [great whites] feed, where and when do they breed, and where and when do they give birth," Fischer said to CNN. "We want to protect those areas where they're vulnerable."
In the video above, watch Ocearch at work in making perhaps the catch of the century before letting Mary Lee -- in her terrifying magnificence -- once again roam the ocean.
Great white sharks are the largest known predatory fish, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The animals, which can weigh nearly 5,000 pounds, have often been hunted by man in the past. They are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.




Jan. 14 , 2013 - World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary Protects Cook Islander’s ‘Guardians’
The Cook Islands established the world’s largest continuous shark sanctuary last month, enforcing heavy fines on violators who are found with any part of a shark on board their vessel in the 1.997 million sq. km (771,000 sq. miles) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The sanctuary protects all sharks from targeted fishing and aims to prevent possession, sale, and trade of shark products. The animals are often killed to satisfy the high demand of shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy that sells upwards of $100 a bowl. Sharks targeted for this purpose are often thrown back into the ocean after their fins have been cut off, making it impossible for them to survive.
As many as one-third of all open ocean shark species face the threat of extinction, and the reduction in their numbers severely affect the ecosystem around them – especially since it often takes years for a shark to mature and since they have very few young.

In June 2012, there were reports that three tons of shark fins were found aboard an Asian fishing vessel in the Cook Islands, which led to a parliamentary debate over the extent of the problem. There is no data on the number of sharks killed in the Cook Islands each year, which makes it difficult to estimate the severity of shark fishing.

The Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative (PICI) spent more than 18 months gathering support for a much-needed sanctuary, after which the Cook Islands declared the entire 1.997 million sq. km EEZ, an area the size of Mexico, a sanctuary protecting sharks, rays, and elasmobranchs. Violators of the sanctuary’s regulations will be fined between $100,000 NZD ($84,000 USD) and $250,000 NZD ($210,550 USD).

Jess Cramp, program manager at PICI, said her group’s campaign was difficult at first and struggled to garner support from Cook Island legislators. The group was met with heavy opposition until it began to get the island community involved.

“We were met with strong opposition from the head of fisheries at first. So much that it made us question why he was so defensive about banning shark fishing,” Cramp said. “So what we did then is we went out into the community and we gave community presentations, we sent letters to the community we couldn’t reach – because it was expensive to get to the outer islands – and we began to acquire what we called ‘shark ambassadors.’”

Cramp and PICI Founder Stephen Lyon spent 18 months meeting with fisheries, collecting scientific data, and gathering community support to make their case to the Ministry of Marine Resources. Once the international media picked up on the campaign, PICI received funding from groups including the Pew Environment Group. When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Cook Islands in August, Cramp stopped her at the Pacific Leaders Forum and told her about the campaign for a shark sanctuary.

Clinton appeared to be excited about the project, especially since she had just discussed wildlife protection with one of her staffers, Cramp said.
In the Cook Islands, sharks are revered as ‘guardians’, and emphasizing that part of the island’s culture was immensely effective in prompting others to support the cause.

“This is something that the locals really grasped onto,” Cramp said, proceeding to explain the arguments that incited Cook Islanders to believe in their cause. “‘We’re not eating the sharks, we’re not making any money off of these foreign vessels coming into our waters eating our sharks. They’re important for the ecosystem, they can’t keep up with the fishing pressures and oh by the way, these are important to our culture. So we can make both an environmental and political statement by standing up and protecting these creatures.’”

On Dec. 12, 2012, Minister of Marine Resources Teina Bishop announced the Cabinet’s approval of the shark sanctuary, just days after French Polynesia included the mako shark as part of an 8-year moratorium on shark fishing. Although the Cook Islands have only identified 18 species of sharks in its water, the neighbouring Polynesian islands have identified 40 species and the Cooks are thought to have the same number. The critically endangered oceanic whitetip sharks, blue sharks, hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks have all been found aboard fishing vessels and will now be safeguarded.

“The Cooks in particular are quite savvy,” Cramp said. “They don’t just roll over and let things happen.”

With the new regulations in place, Cook Islanders can rest assured that their ‘guardians’ will themselves be protected in the open ocean while sanctuary violators will be heavily prosecuted.

Save or Sharks Posters by kids





Jan. 8 , 2013 - Police waive ticket for shark bitten diver

A diver bitten twice on the leg by a hammerhead shark has been spared further pain by police, who pulled his car over as he sped on his way to a West Australian hospital for treatment.

The 26-year-old man from Karratha, in the state's north, was free diving near Legendre Island, around 40 kilometres north of Dampier, when he was bitten twice on the calf by the shark on Saturday morning.

After making his way back to land on his boat, the injured man was being driven to nearby Nickol Bay hospital in Karratha by friends when the car was pulled over on the Dampier Highway by local officers.

Preparing to issue a ticket, the officers were persuaded to let the car carry on its speedy journey when they learned of the his plight.
A WA police spokesman said the man's injuries were not believed to be life threatening, but he is due to be flown by Royal Flying Doctor Service to Perth for further treatment.

As well as a number of non-fatal shark attacks in Western Australia, five people have been killed by sharks in the state since September 2011.





Jan. 7 , 2013 - Today, animal activist and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson posted this shocking discovery of 18,000 shark fins drying out on a Hong Kong rooftop.

This shark fin trading operation was only recently discovered and is causing quite the stir among animal activists, like Branson.

It’s hard to understand why shark fins are so valuable, but fins are a “highly sought-after expensive delicacy in Asia and are prized for their health benefits.” Hong Kong also has one of the largest fin markets.

In the past, shark fins used to dry out on the streets, but there was an “outcry,” which is probably why the operation is being hidden, Gary Stokes, a Sea Shepherd spokesman, says.

“The most barbaric elements of the shark fin is obviously the finning. Not all sharks are finned; a lot of regulations are coming in where they have to land the entire shark. By taking out an Apex predator like the sharks, then obviously the snowball effect down the ecosystems will be unprecedented,” Stokes says.

The Sea Shepherd marine conservation group notes that about 100 million sharks are killed each year for fin trading.

Branson encourages all to sign this petition to stop such horrific actions and says, “2013 could be the year of the ocean – the year we help stop the devastation of our most important natural resource. This is one small step. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the OceanElders and other groups trying to protect the ocean as the year goes on.”






Jan. 6 , 2013 - Mako Sharks 13K Plus Journey

Mako Shark Carol

New Zealand scientists are baffled by the 13,300km migration of a mako shark tagged in a landmark study.

The shark, a 1.8-metre mako named Carol, has been tracked by Niwa scientists using a satellite tagging device. The tag was attached to Carol in the Bay of Islands six months ago.

The tag has provided the scientists with previously unknown details of the timing and long-distance migratory movements of the species.

"Conventional plastic identification tags tell us little about the timing of mako shark movements, the route that they take or distance travelled," said Dr Malcolm Francis, who is leading the Niwa research.

So far, Carol has travelled over 13,300km, averaging 60km per day and exceeding 100km per day during some parts of her migration. She has swum to Fiji and back and has worked her way past the Bay of Plenty and Hawke Bay heading south.

She was last heard from heading down the east coast of the South Island past the Kaikoura Peninsula.

The tag has revealed that Carol is spending a lot of time at the ocean's surface, reporting her location to the satellite several times daily.

Dr Francis said the researchers were surprised by the findings.

"We have never tracked one in real time before so anything we are getting is really detailed and it's all new information," he said.

"What really surprised us was Carol took off to Fiji once, got about halfway there and turned around and came straight back to New Zealand, and then hung around the 90 Mile Beach area for about six weeks and then she did go to Fiji.

"We knew from game fish tagging - game fishermen putting little plastic tags on sharks - that New Zealand sharks do end up in the Fiji/New Caledonia area. We thought she'll be up there for the winter, getting away from our cold water, but she pretty well turned around and came straight back to New Zealand."

Dr Francis said the researchers had no idea why the shark had spent so little time in the warmer waters.

"One thing about studies like this is we find out all this new information and we know what they're doing, but why they're doing it we just can't get at."

He said mako sharks feed on schooling fish, such as skipjack tuna and mackerel, and suggested Carol could not find enough food to eat so returned to New Zealand to feed.

The study was funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries and was undertaken in collaboration with Dr Mahmood Shivji at the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, who are funding the electronic tags and Argos satellite time.

The study is to be expanded with many more makos to be tagged off east Northland in February.

"We are really keen to get a few more tags out this year and figure out what other sharks are doing - whether they are doing something similar or whether they are all randomly running around the ocean doing strange things."

Dr Francis said the study is important to help identify the geographical distribution and stock levels of the species.

The mako shark - There are two species of Mako shark, the long fin and the short fin, but only the shortfin is found in New Zealand.

- The shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, is the world's fastest shark. It has been recorded swimming at speeds of about 100km/h.

- Mako, the Maori name for the shark, has been adopted worldwide, although it is sometimes called mackerel shark and blue pointer.

- Mako has short pectoral fins, a tiny second dorsal and anal fin, a crescent-shaped caudal fin, and indigo-blue dorsal surfaces and white undersides. It can weigh up to half a tonne.

- At full maturity, male mako sharks are about 200cm long and females 300-310cm. Males mature at eight years and females at 20 years.

- Mako are oceanic rather than coastal, swimming as deep as 650 metres deep. However they occasionally enter coastal waters but rarely attack humans.

- The species is listed as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature list of threatened species.

- Most of the commercial catch of mako sharks is taken by tuna longliners and most of the catch is processed. New Zealand mako shark fisheries are managed under a quota system which limits the amount of sharks caught. Current catches are well below the quota.

as Reports by Paul Harper of The New Zealand Herald




Jan. 2 , 2013 - Toronto gives Notice to Appeal shark fin Ruling

The City of Toronto has given notice that it intends to appeal a court ruling that struck down a bylaw that banned the sale, possession or consumption of shark fins and related food products in the municipality.
Ontario Superior Court Justice James Spence declared the bylaw invalid because it did not have a legitimate “municipal purpose” and as a result was outside the powers of the city, in a ruling issued Nov. 30.

A Notice of Appeal of that ruling was served on Dec. 31 to the lawyers representing four members of the Chinese business community who successfully challenged the bylaw. The formal documents outlining the grounds of appeal are expected to be filed in Ontario Divisional Court early next week, a spokesman for the city said Wednesday.
The actions taken by the city’s legal department over the holidays preserves its right to appeal the Superior Court ruling, which would have expired on Jan. 1. It will be up to city council to decide whether to proceed with the appeal, which is expected to be decided later this month or in February.

Glenn De Baeremaeker, one of the councillors who led the move to pass the shark fin bylaw in October, 2011, said Wednesday he is confident that his colleagues will vote to go ahead with the appeal. “We have political support from all sides,” he said.
The bylaw that Justice Spence found invalid was passed by a vote of 38-4 at council, with the only votes against the ban cast at that time by Mayor Rob Ford and councillors Doug Holyday, Giorgio Mammoliti and David Shiner.

If the city goes ahead with the appeal and is unsuccessful, it could ultimately be required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs to the other side.

Bylaws and other decisions made by the city are routinely challenged in court, noted Mr. De Baeremaeker, and this should not dissuade council from going ahead with the appeal. “The potential legal costs are not enormous. It is not more or less than we would do with any other bylaw. We think we have strong legal arguments,” he said. “We have legal opinions from very prominent lawyers, saying that we do have these powers.”

The councillor explained that he would also be open to amending the bylaw so that its intent is clear, which is to prohibit commercial sales of shark-fin products. “We aren’t going to be invading people’s homes to see if you are having a bowl of shark-fin soup. It is not in the interest of the City of Toronto to have shark-fin police,” he said.
The lawyers representing the four individuals who challenged the shark-fin prohibition said Wednesday they had no comment at this time. At the Superior Court hearing last fall, lawyers Andrew Roman and Andy Chan argued that the ban unfairly targeted the Chinese community and that there are no city prohibitions on food or clothing products enjoyed by any other ethnic group.

Justice Spence agreed that shark finning – cutting off the animal’s fins and tossing the torso overboard – is inhumane. But the court heard that 95 per cent of shark fins are consumed in China. “The ban will not by itself have any identifiable benefit for Toronto with respect to the environmental well-being of the city,” wrote Justice Spence in finding the bylaw invalid.

A half dozen other municipalities in Ontario have enacted shark-fin bans, although the Toronto case was the first court challenge to this type of municipal restriction.



( As of December 2012 )


MARCH 2013





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