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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.


Invitation from The Ocean Cleanup for San Francisco port call



the ocean cleanup

6 years ago, The Ocean Cleanup set sail for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with one goal: to develop the technology to be able to relegate the patch to the history books. On 6 September 2024, The Ocean Cleanup fleet returns to San Francisco bringing with it System 03 to announce the next phase of the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and to offer you a chance to view our cleanup system up-close and personal.
We look forward to seeing you there.

To confirm your presence, please RSVP to


Join The Ocean Cleanup as our two iconic ships and the extraction System 03 return to San Francisco, 6 years and over 100 extractions after we set sail, to create and validate the technology needed to rid the oceans of plastic.
Our founder and CEO, Boyan Slat, will announce the next steps for the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Giving you a chance to view our cleanup system and the plastic extracted.
Hear important news on what’s next in the mission of The Ocean Cleanup as it seeks to make its mission of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic an achievable and realistic goal.
Interviews and vessel tours are available on request.


Date: September 6, 2024
Press conference: 12 pm (noon)
Location: The Exploratorium (Google Maps)
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, CA
Parking: Visit The Exploratorium’s website for details.
Video & photo material from several viewing spots around the bay

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Ocean Cleanup is an international non-profit that develops and scales technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. They aim to achieve this goal through a dual strategy: intercepting in rivers to stop the flow and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean. For the latter, The Ocean Cleanup develops and deploys large-scale systems to efficiently concentrate the plastic for periodic removal. This plastic is tracked and traced to certify claims of origin when recycling it into new products. To curb the tide via rivers, The Ocean Cleanup has developed Interceptor™ Solutions to halt and extract riverine plastic before it reaches the ocean. As of June 2024, the non-profit has collected over 12 million kilograms (26.4 million pounds) of plastic from aquatic ecosystems around the world. Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs a broadly multi-disciplined team of approximately 140. The foundation is headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and opened its first regional office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2023.

Find out more about The Ocean Cleanup at

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Marine Life & Conservation




A shark has been spotted approaching Royal William Yard in Plymouth, much to the surprise of swimmers, paddleboarders and onlookers.

With its distinctive dorsal fin cutting through the water, the sizeable shark swam along the coastline, before turning to head inland towards Firestone Arch at Royal William Yard. The appearance drew a crowd, who were captivated for more than an hour by the unusual sight – and it was all caught on video.

The shark is one of many expected sightings at Royal William Yard over the coming weeks… because today marks the start of Shark Month!

In reality, the ‘shark’ spotted along the Plymouth shoreline was actually a custom-made model, created by the team at Royal William Yard and sailed underwater by Caroline Robertson‑Brown​​​​ from the Shark Trust, who donned scuba diving gear for the occasion.

The stunt took place to launch Shark Month in style and draw attention to the work of the leading international conservation charity, which is based in Britain’s Ocean City. Spectators were reassured that the water was safe and many entered into the spirit of the performance, swimming or sailing alongside the shark.

Shark Month will take place across Royal William Yard throughout July and will feature an extravaganza of art, entertainment and advocacy for everyone to enjoy. The packed programme of events starts with an art exhibition and ends with a trip on paddleboards with shark experts – with everything from a shark quiz to a Jaws screening in between.

Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust, said: “There are often assumptions and misconceptions when it comes to sharks. This was certainly the case with the shark spotted at Royal William Yard! While the British coastline is home to many species of shark, this was not one of them. However, we’re thrilled it caught people’s attention, because seeing a shark is a special and memorable moment. That is precisely why we want to celebrate these incredible creatures, highlight the need for conservation, and ask for help to safeguard their future.”

For more information about Shark Month at Royal William Yard, visit the Shark Trust Website.

Images and video: Jay Stone

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