Saturday, 21 November 2009

Is this the world's first ever Shark Officer?

BBC news today reports that scotland is to create the post of Sharks Project Officer. you can read the full report here. This could be the first creation of such a post anywhere by a government agency with the sole responsibility of developing shark conservation initiatives. Great move scotland!!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

ABC on the Farallon debate.

ABC news in the states is airing this newreel piece about the controversial tagging procedures in the Farallon Islands. I must say after seeing the clips that the proceedure looks exteremely stressful to the shark. A hammer to crack a nut indeed. However, you have to wonder where this guy gets his funding. That is one expensive ship! I'm also moderately disappointed in National Geographic who gave this airtime. Shouldn't one of the world's most respected wildlife publication organisations be promoting non invasive research?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Exitus acta probat?

There has been an amount of controversy brewing this week about a certain new tagging program happening in the Farallon Islands. The incoming researchers are using a type of invasive methodology with which to tag Great White sharks to try to find out where they go. You can read the write up on the resarch funded by Guy Harvey here, or the open criticism of the technique with subsequent links here.

The thing that I notice first and foremost here is a worrying occurence in the science community of research projects designed not for the benefit of the subject matter, but for the benefit of the scientist or funding body carrying out or funding the work. It is well known that there is already a long established tagging program in operation in the Farallon Islands, using a much less invasive method. There is a wealth of bad feeling from other scientists and shark world commentators over this new project, including the criticism that such research can seriously injure and kill sharks or their unborn offspring. Exitus acta probat (the outcome justifies the deed) might have been have been true back in medieval days when surgery was more akin to butchery. Even advancements in society did not equal advancement in medicine; the Victorians believed that anaesthetic turned women into harlots (source). However we would like to think that we had moved away from barbaric practices, particularly when endangered species are the subject matter. It would be an advancement indeed if scientists trusted the working practices of already established programs, and looked at developing research where any result would be truly ground breaking, and of benifit to the species, rather than copying a project that already exists for self gratification and self promotion, or tagging the very last speciemen of the very last species at the very last field camp at the end of the Earth, only to leave a note to forthcoming generations that it was the tagging process that killed the last remaining one.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Wild Wonders for Nuno Sa

I'm feeling proud today, I just heard that my friend Nuno Sa has posted his report about our Basking Shark expedition to the Inner Hebrides on the Wild Wonders of Europe site. You can see the link here

Wild Wonder of Europe is probably the biggest and most ambitious wildlife project ever to take place here and the exhibitions set to travel Europes cities will be quite something.

You may have read on my previous blogs about the expedition, and these beautiful images by Nuno are a true testament to the beauty of these animals, and of course to the ability of Nuno as a photographer and freediver.

I can't wait until next June!