Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Sharkwater" website

Leopard shark (photo courtesy Tony Isaacson)
Check out the "Sharkwater" website at There is a video trailer of the movie itself there. Lots of other links too. You can also pledge to save sharks at

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tony's 'about face'

It would seem that Tony Isaacson has done 'an about face'. Those who know Tony well would know of his position re wild animal feeding, but it would appear that he has now done an about face. Given the desperate status of sharks at the global level, Tony made a decision to have direct influence on the best shark feeding dive that he knows, at Beqa Lagoon in Fiji. That is where he will be training this year to become one of the shark wranglers. "I know that it will be an honour and privilege to work with these free-ranging survivors of the Pacific. We know that the tigers visit the Great Barrier Reef and at least one of the bull sharks has made it to Darwin. Many of them have scars or hooks to remind divers just how lucky they are to be witness to their continued return to Beqa Lagoon. This, & other of Tony's photos can be viewed at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shark cage diving with Calypso Star Charters

Calypso Star Charters offer one day shark cage diving tours at Pt Lincoln for $495 pp. A new spectator fare is $395 pp, incl. lunch. Divers generally get 45 mins in the cage. Spectators get to see all of the action from the decks of the boat. Visit for more details.

More sharks getting caught in Qld nets

Qld Fisheries Minister, Tim Mulherin, says that recent rain & warm weather in Queensland resulted in an increase in shark movement. This resulted in more sharks getting caught in nets & other equipment. As many as 46 sharks are being caught in nets off of the Qld coast per month. A total of 505 sharks had been caught up to 20th Nov in 2009, incl. a 4.1m long tiger shark. It had become snared on a drumline off of Townsville. I presume that all 505 sharks died when they became trapped.

Divers can report what sharks they've seen

David "Why sharks matter" Shiffman says that there are 2 easy ways that SCUBA divers can help sharks. They can fill out a scientific survey about what sharks they've seen at their dive locations. This information is tremendously helpful to shark scientists around the world. For more information and a link to the survey, please click here: . And if you are looking for the perfect gift for a shark lover, visit the American Elasmobranch Society student store at All proceeds from sales benefit student travel to scientific conferences.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shark nets pushing sea lions to the brink of extinction

The Advertiser on 3rd December had a little piece about shark nets pushing sea lions to the brink of extinction. The short article read “Nets intended for sharks trap & kill about 300 sea lions in SA every year and the species appears headed for extinction. Just 14,000 Australian sea lions remain & 85% live in SA. On the West Coast, breeding has started at 3 colonies, but the pups face a series of threats. Fishing nets, lines & lobster pots top the list in a recent report by SARDI to the federal Government. The Wilderness Society is campaigning against nets used to trap sharks by their gills. Marine campaigner Shen Dycer said sea lion feeding grounds & areas fished by gillnets “almost completely overlap in SA”.”


A study commissioned by the Federal Government shows that grey nurse sharks are still in severe danger of becoming extinct. The study found just over 1,000 of the sharks along the east coast of Australia. 5,000 are needed to sustain the population. Accidental hooking is one of the main threats to the survival of the species. Nicky Hammond, the marine program manager for the National Parks Association of NSW, says that we need to get sanctuaries in place before the shark goes extinct.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Many sharks are facing extinction

According to the web page found at, scientists say that the flapper skate, Dipturus intermedia, could become the first marine fish driven to extinction by commercial fishing. According to the web page found at, many sharks are facing extinction. According to an assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many species of open ocean shark are under serious threat. The Red list gives the status of 64 types of shark and ray, over 30% of which are threatened with extinction. IUCN's Shark Specialist Group says that overfishing is a main cause.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photos of brown-banded bamboo sharks

3 photos of brown-banded bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium punctatum) by Brian Mayes can be seen via flickr at

Sharks caught by UK vessels must now be landed with the fin attached.

According to the web page found at, "Sharks caught by UK vessels must now be landed with the fin attached. Shark finning regulations will be strengthened by new permit controls, announced UK Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies.
Special fishing permits allowing the removal of shark fins at sea for English, Welsh and Northern Irish registered fishing vessels will no longer be given. Scotland also plans to stop issuing these permits to its boats. Mr Irranca-Davies believes the initiative will set an example for the globe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shark displays at SA Whale Centre

As reported previously, some of Rodney Fox's shark museum displays are now located within the SA Whale Centre at Victor Harbor. Here is a photo of myself studying a white pointer from the safety of a cage.

Why Sharks Matter

To learn more about sharks, please add David WhySharksMatter Shiffman as your facebook friend. You can also follow David Shiffman on Twitter @WhySharksMatter.

Help protect Florida's lemon sharks!

Florida's lemon sharks needs your help! These animals aggregate off of the coast of Jupiter, Florida each year to mate. Since they are slow growing and take a long time to reproduce, lemon sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing- they need protection now! Please take a minute to sign this petition to protect them:

Florida's lemon sharks needs your help!

Lemon sharks aggregate off the East Coast of Florida every winter. They are an enormously popular attraction for scuba divers, giving a welcome boost to Florida's struggling recreational diving industry. But commercial fishermen are gearing up to target lemon sharks now. The primary purpose for this harvest is for their fins, which is a cruel and wasteful use for this animal. We need your support to stop the slaughter!Research with satellite tags shows that the lemon sharks' winter aggregation is composed of individuals from up and down the Eastern Seaboard and the Bahamas. These large gatherings occur in a relatively small area off Palm Beach, close to shore and within a highly predictable time frame. This makes them easy targets, and scientists studying Florida's Lemon Shark Aggregation fear that commercial fishers can wipe out the lemon sharks in just one or two seasons.Till now the commercial lemon shark fishery has been tiny -- less then 15,000 lbs annually nationwide. The Sandbar Shark, which is now protected, has had a commercial annual quota of 2 million pounds. Because of the new protections for Sandbar Sharks and other fish, commercial fishers have clearly stated their intention to re-direct fishing effort to lemon and other large sharks.Large coastal sharks, including lemon sharks, hammerheads, bull sharks and tiger sharks, have already suffered massive declines of over 90% in the past 30 years, and are badly in need of protection.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seriously considering adding Lemon Sharks to the Prohibited Species List and your support is absolutely critical!!If you value sharks and want to help save these beautiful and ecologically important animals, please sign this petition (at

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Megalodon's teeth

Megalodon's teeth were up to 17cm long. Like most sharks, Megalodon's teeth were probably located in rows which rotated into use as they were needed. Most sharks have about 5 rows of teeth at any time. The front set does most of the work. The first two rows are used for obtaining prey, the other rows rotate into place as they are needed. As teeth are lost, broken, or worn down, they are replaced by new teeth. Megalodon may have had hundreds of teeth at one time. They did not chew their food like we do, but gulped it down whole in very large chunks.
The jaws were big enough for the Megalodon shark to be able to swallow a whole Rhinoceros! (Source: "W H AL E E C H O E S - From South African Shores", Official Newsletter of the Whale Mark Organisation, September 2009)

Megalodon shark

Megalodon was an ancient shark that may have been 12 m or more long. Some scientists estimate (from many fossilized teeth and a few fossilized vertebrae that have been found) that it could have been 15.5 to 31 m long! This is at least 2-3 times longer than the Great White Shark. The giant fossilized teeth are the size of a person's hand! Since Megalodon's teeth are very similar to those of the Great White Shark (but bigger and thicker), it is thought that Megalodon may have looked like a huge, streamlined version of the Great White Shark. 'Megalodon' is Greek for 'big teeth'.
(Source: "W H A L E E C H O E S - From South African Shores", Official Newsletter of the Whale Mark Organisation, September 2009)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


According to the web page found at , “Palau creates shark haven, by Simon RogersonThe Pacific nation of Palau is to create the world's first shark sanctuary, banning all fishing of sharks and stingrays in its territorial waters. Shark conservationists are hoping the move will create a domino effect, leading other nations to create similar sanctuaries. The country's leader, President Johnson Toribiong, announced Palau's environmental plans when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York today, bringing the shark-finning issue to the attention of the political elite.


Carlie Heaven, an honours student at Flinders University, is doing a project on Port Jackson shark embryo osmoregulation and is seeking locations of Port Jackson shark eggs. If anyone could help Carlie out with good places where there are abundant PJ shark eggs, it would be much appreciated. Contact Carlie at

Monday, September 14, 2009


According to the July 24 2009 (issue 38) of “The Overflow Newsletter”, a 26-foot, 1-tonne basking shark recently washed up on a beach in New York State, startling beachgoers. Unfortunately, the huge shark died. There were plans to send samples of the animal around the world. Here are the details taken from “The Overflow Newsletter”: -“26 Foot Shark Washed Ashore - Eager to scrutinize a species with few samples available for study, researchers Tuesday sliced up the carcass of an enormous basking shark that washed up on Gilgo Beach in Babylon, New York State, with plans to send samples of the animal around the world. The barely alive 26-foot shark startled beachgoers when it appeared on shore Tuesday. "It came in alive, wasn't in good shape and died," said Demian Chapman, 34, assistant professor at Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. It's unclear why the shark died, but researchers believe it was ill or had been injured. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation will determine the cause of death, state parks spokesman George Gorman said. Tracy Marcus of Cornell Cooperative Extension told The Associated Press the dead shark weighed about a ton. She said it is unusual for ailing basking sharks to come ashore. No one is allowed to kill basking sharks, an important species that researchers are eager to study.” Some photos of the shark being attended to by beachgoers can be viewed at

Shark displays at SA Whale Centre

Some of Rodney Fox's shark museum displays are now located within the SA Whale Centre at Victor Harbor.

Shark Watch

Shark Watch aims to help prevent the extinction of these magnificent, ancient creatures by increasing the protection they receive, including reducing the impacts on them, and by contributing to our very limited knowledge of them. This will be achieved through:
• encouraging and supporting users of the marine environment to report sightings of sharks and rays. This will involve establishing a sightings register, developing identification sheets and promoting the program through local and regional networks and media;

• increasing community awareness and understanding of sharks and rays, the threats they face and the actions needed to reduce those threats.
Activities will include establishing a website providing information sheets and links to other relevant sites, a newsletter, workshops and media articles;
• supporting community involvement in actions to provide protection for threatened shark and ray species, including listing under Commonwealth and State legislation and providing input to relevant government planning and policy development and review processes; and
• encouraging and supporting increased co-operation and coordination between conservation,
research, industry and government organisations involved in conserving and managing sharks and rays.
You can help Shark Watch achieve its aims by reporting sightings of the sharks and rays listed above, taking on the role of a local contact person for sightings reports in your area and/or volunteering as a project assistant doing research, preparing community education materials or undertaking general office tasks. For more information, or to get involved in Shark Watch, please contact Chris Ball at or at the Conservation Council of SA on 8223

Friday, September 11, 2009

David Hasselhoff's Sharkwatch Series

The Underwater Channel released David Hasselhoff's Sharkwatch Series (3 Webisodes) on 9th September. Details can be found at Part 1 is titled "Shark Infested Waters". Hasselhoff seeks out a tiger shark and attempts to feed it! Part 2 is titled "Dare I Feed a Shark?" Hasselhoff continues his attempt to hand feed a tiger shark. Part 3 is titled "Indiscriminate Killers?" Hasselhoff reflects upon his ‘journey of a lifetime’. Who exactly is it that most deserves the title ‘indiscriminate killers’. The truth becomes devastatingly apparent. A complete blog about the topic can be found at

Friday, August 28, 2009

Far too many sharks are trapped in anti-shark nets and die needlessly.

Far too many sharks are trapped in anti-shark nets and die needlessly.

Photo: Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank. A bull shark caught in an anti-shark net near a recreational beach in South Africa.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Military and NSW government adopting high-tech new methods to prevent a repeat of last summer's spate of shark attacks

According to the web page found at, "The military and NSW government are adopting high-tech new methods to prevent a repeat of last summer's spate of shark attacks. The NSW Department of Primary Industries will this week introduce a new DNA database designed to further research into shark population, size and movements. It will also begin monitoring shark nets, due to be reinstalled at 51 NSW beaches on September 1, by GPS to help prevent harm to other marine life. A new shark and turtle tagging program is also being started and shark nets will be checked every 3 days rather than every 4. The measures are in direct response to last summer's series of shark attacks in NSW which caused serious injuries to several people." The DPI's measures are contained in a new report outlining attempts to lessen the impact of shark nets on marine life. "Following the shark attack on Paul de Gelder, Navy developed a shark presence planning tool to assess the risk of shark attack and also acquired shark repellent devices," a Defence Department spokesman said. "A review of Navy's diving practices has resulted in the development of a dangerous marine animal risk profile, revised dive planning processes, upgraded medical kits and trauma incident training." Repellents used by the Navy have been tested by Australian divers involved in the recovery of bodies from the recent ferry disaster near Tonga. There were a series of shark attacks in NSW last summer although statistics show the overall number of attacks is falling and experts maintain the risk of attack is tiny. The Australian Shark Attack File, maintained by Taronga Zoo, shows there is an average of 1 fatality from shark attacks per year. Far more people die from drowning every year while swimming or diving."