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Marine Life & Conservation

Where are all the big fish?



I recently came back from my latest filming trip to the island of Lombok in Indonesia. I’m working on a short film / documentary that should be finished, for the filming phase, by August of this year and as such I’ve had to return seasonally to a small village that plays host to one of the most barbaric of fish markets within the whole of Indonesia.

Tanjung Luar (highlighted in a previous journal entry, which you can read here) is a haunting place to be if you have a) a deep affinity with the enigmatic species of our Oceans such as sharks, manta rays and dolphins, and b) a weak disposition. And so I went armed with a stiff upper lip prepared for the worst. I was over prepared.

Zipping through the incredible and deserted country road that crisscross South East Lombok and with the haunting sounds of the early morning calls to prayer emanating from the numerous mosques in this predominantly Muslim Island, I tackled the one hour commute between Kuta Beach and Tanjung Luar. Being awake as night turns to day, witnessing the fight between the tones of Orange of an emerging sun and the cobalt of a receding night is in many ways intoxicating irrespective of the location. The early morning songbirds, the brisk air, the clarity of Mt. Rinjani, the highest peak on the island that is omnipresent from all vantage points.

Arriving at the Fish Market I was welcomed, at even 1Km distance, with the all too familiar stench of fish. Discarded corpses which had failed to attract a buyer from the previous day are simply trodden underfoot and baked each day under the intense Indonesian sun. I always wondered how many inches of fish I was walking on when strolling through the market. Who could ever fathom that one out?

Traditionally I would go to what I call the ‘Hen House’, the region of the market where all the women would gather and haggle over the sardines and Tuna that had been landed that night. This corner of the market is always good for a giggle as banter with the ladies was a given. Whether it was to marvel at the size of my western snout, which would incidentally put a Black Rhino to shame, or simply to extend a hand and utter the only English word they know, “Money”. A smile and pleading ignorance would be enough to leave them chuckling at the ‘Bule Gila’ (crazy tourist) in their midst.

And there were none. No larger animals. Normally by 7am the shark fishing boats would be disgorging their fare. Sharks and Mantas mainly but seeing as Manta’s had in February of 2014 received Indonesia-wide protection I was hoping I wouldn’t have to witness another death of such magnificence on the cold slabs of the butchers shed in this daunting place. On that day and for the remaining six days of my trip I didn’t see any big sharks. No Tigers, Great Hammerheads or Bull Sharks. A few Wobbegongs, dogfish and one Blacktip. I almost made it to the end of the trip without being too disheartened.

The last day kinda broke this run. Six Giant Manta Rays and two Thresher Sharks. With fishermen getting $200 for (all) the Mantas and $20(!) for the Thresher Shark it is the source of the biggest question I ask myself to which I have yet to find the answer to. Both of these species are supposed to be protected throughout Indonesia. It’s obvious that the fishermen don’t know or, and is more likely, they simply don’t care. There is no suggestion of a fisheries management plan in a land where most people survive on literally a few dollars a month. It could never be controlled and would almost certainly be exploited once a protected species showed any signs of population recovery.

I guess the starker warning of this lesson is simply why are there no sharks being landed, given the wide array of fishing practices in the region, some of them illegal. Why are no sharks being landed? Whilst it’s a good thing on one hand to think the sharks are getting wise to the fishermen, it’s also daunting to think that this could be a very real indicator of dwindling resources and local shark population collapse. The fishermen now seem to have to travel further and further afield, so much so that it’s becoming increasingly common to talk with fishermen in the village who have served time in Australian prisons for illegal fishing forays into foreign waters. But that, as they say, is another story.

Documenting this kind of activity certainly has a drain on the moral. As much as I am passionate about the conservation of the Oceans and the species I find so dear I’ve decided that this will be my last documentary of this nature for the foreseeable future. I will be looking to continue in imagining but more for positive and marketing / promotional goals in the future. If this is something that sounds intriguing to any operators out there my full offering is outlined here.

Mark Thorpe is a renowned Underwater Cameraman, Photographer and Ocean Conservationist. He has won the Prix du Public at the Antibes World Festival of Underwater Film and Images, and most notably he received an EMMY in 2011 for cinematographic contributions to the National Geographic series ‘Great Migrations’. His most recent project, “The Sharks of the Forgotten Islands”, is a documentary centered around the inhabitants of the small, outer-rim islands of Yap in the Pacific and their unique relationship with the ocean, its top predator, and the very real danger the islands are facing due to rising sea levels.

Marine Life & Conservation

PADI partners with global skincare brand Medik8



PADI®’s global non-profit the AWARE Foundation™ is teaming up with leading sustainability-focused skincare brand Medik8 to save our most critical ecosystem on the planet – the ocean.

As the new corporate sponsor of the PADI AWARE Foundation’s 2023 Community Grant Programme, Medik8 will be supporting four grassroots conservation projects that range from protecting megafauna like turtles and whales from entanglement to fuelling hands-on citizen science initiatives like seagrass restoration.

The PADI AWARE Community Grant Programme is designed to award ocean protection initiatives that are in direct support of the United Nations Decade of Science for Sustainable Development in five distinct categories: coral restoration, developing marine protected areas, eliminating marine debris, reducing the effects of climate change, and protecting species threatened with extinction like sharks and turtles. In 2022 PADI AWARE™ dedicated nearly one-quarter of its public funds to empower local communities to take action for our shared blue planet.

“Last year we launched the Grant Programme to directly support PADI Members and NGOs driving meaningful conservation projects, often who have little or no funding support,” says Danna Moore, PADI AWARE Foundation’s Global Director. “This year, due to the collaboration with Medik8, we can provide more resources directly to local communities that need them most.  Medik8 is a like-minded organisation that shares our science-based, sustainability-driven, and community-oriented values – and will be a strong partner committed to helping us create positive ocean change.”

Medik8’s support of the PADI AWARE Community Grants programme is in line with their ethos of making a positive impact through driving sustainability strategies with everything they do – from reducing carbon impact and waste to investing in being an ethical business with direct social investments. Their connection and deep love for the ocean is rooted in Medik8’s founder Elliot Isaacs, who is a PADI Master Scuba Diver™.

“As a brand, we strongly believe that increased social investment will allow us to make a more significant mark on wider society,” says Alexandra Florea, Head of Sustainability at Medik8. “Working with grassroots organisations who understand exactly what is needed on the ground will mean we can generate the greatest impact. We chose PADI as our long-term charitable partner because, like us, they put science at the heart of everything they do to bring about positive results.”

The PADI AWARE Grantee projects Medik8 is sponsoring fuel the impact of local citizen science initiatives driving global change like Kosamare Seagrass Restoration in Greece, a grant recipient from 2022 and now 2023. The other three grantee projects have also been selected and range from marine debris removal to climate change mitigation – and are set to be announced in the coming months.

The PADI AWARE Community Grant programme is open to all PADI Dive Centres around the world, along with locally-based NGOs and charities working on marine conservation issues that operate on a budget below $1 Million USD.

“With incredible partners like Medik8 who are equally committed to creating positive ocean change, a swell of hope for our shared blue planet is becoming stronger with every project we support – further proving that the ripples from local action really do have a global impact for us all,” says Moore.

The next round of proposal submissions is on 4 April 2023, with more information at

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Marine Life & Conservation

Win ‘Gold Rush’ Mako Shark Sculpture worth £7,000



One lucky person is set to win a stunning, life-sized mako shark sculpture worth more than £7,000 for just £5 thanks to a lottery initiative developed by the internationally acclaimed marine wildlife sculptor Scott Glee to support Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation.

Tickets to win ‘Gold Rush’, an electric blue 7-ft mako shark sculpture with a 24-carat gold leaf dorsal fin have just gone on sale at, with all proceeds supporting the UK charity’s campaigns to make Britain shark fin free.

The high impact artwork has been created to raise awareness of the global and unsustainable marine ‘gold rush’ to hunt sharks for their valuable fins alone and to help fund Bite-Back’s campaigns to end the UK’s trade in shark products.

Individual lottery tickets to win the sculpture are being sold exclusively through the Bite-Back website for £5 each plus money saving ticket deals in groups of 5, 10, 15 and 25 units.

Crafted from fibreglass, the dramatic, one-off sculpture has been sealed in a weatherproof clear coat providing the winner with the option of displaying Gold Rush indoors and out.

Artist Scott Gleed said: “I can’t think of a better way to announce yourself as a shark fan than a 7-ft shark in your garden, house or workplace. Sharks have been in my blood for decades and this is an opportunity for me to express my love of sharks and my anger at their exploitation in one piece of art. On top of that it’s a huge pleasure to support the hardest working shark charity in the UK. I hope this unique piece goes to a great home and raises thousands of pounds for Bite-Back’s campaigns.”

Tickets will be on sale for just 10 weeks before the winning ticket is picked by the artist himself after the 12 May 2023 deadline.

Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “This is a breath-taking piece of art with an important story to tell. Fins are the most valuable part of a shark and, around the world, fishing fleets are in a race to hunt sharks and separate the fins from the body with no thought to the global catastrophe that could follow. We expect this artwork to help draw attention to the issue and contribute important funds for our campaigns to end the UK’s role in the shark fin trade.  We’re full of gratitude to Scott for his vision, generosity, and contribution to our vital work.”

Visit to buy your tickets now and visit to learn more about Scott’s sculptures and the chance to commission your own marine masterpiece.

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