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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Compensation Instead of Confrontation

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Scubaverse’s Editor at Large, Jeff Goodman, talks to Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson about their recent controversial announcement offering the Faroe Islands £1,000,000 to stop killing whales.

What Jeff had to say: I first met and worked with Paul in 1988 while making a film for the BBC about the annual slaughter of Pilot Whales and Dolphins in the Faeroe Islands. I joined Paul and the crew of Sea Shepherd in Plymouth and sailed to the islands to try and stop, or at least publicise, the wholesale killing of these cetaceans.

In my sheer naivety I truly believed that if we could show the horrors of this hunt to the world then public opinion and pressure would be brought to bear to end the mass killing. How wrong I was. The resulting film angered a few people and distressed others, but in the end nothing changed. The killing went on and goes on to this day.

However, this does not mean that we should give up trying to end this senseless slaughter, for if we did then we may as well close our minds to all the horrors man inflicts on the world and live our lives in comfortable psychological isolation.

Recently I saw this headline:

Sea Shepherd Offers the Faroe Islands One Million Euros to Stop Killing Whales’.

At first I was shocked and then it became clear to me just how committed Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd are to saving our planet’s marine life. It was all at once wonderful and tragic. One of those windows on humanity, paying a rich country not to kill whales in an outdated and unnecessary blood bath.

Combined with all the other immense environmental pressures cetaceans are facing, what is one million Euros compared to the pain, suffering and possible extinction put upon these priceless animals? It seems the supporting membership of Sea Shepherd and the wider public would be willing to donate this amount to give pilot whales and dolphins safe passage past the wealthy Faroe Islands.

I asked Paul to tell me more.

Sea Shepherd

What Paul Watson had to say: After years of confrontations with people who kill seals, dolphins, whales and other wildlife species I have seen that in many cases, the revenues received from donations to oppose exploitation often exceed the revenues realized by those doing the exploitation.

In Mexico for example, Sea Shepherd recently hired fishermen to convert the lead weights we confiscate from the nets of poachers into dive weights. Offering employment is one way to compensate for the loss of fishing revenues due to regulations protecting the endangered Vaquita and Totoaba.

In the Faroe Islands the Grindadrap or slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins is a tradition but the argument from the islanders is that it is free meat and they need the meat despite the high toxicity of that flesh and blubber in the form of methyl-mercury, PCB.s and other heavy metals. We have long argued that there is no economic need to kill whales considering that the Faroe Islands have one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe.

However, some in the Faroes insist it is an economic necessity. If it is money they need, surely the conservation and the animal rights movement can supply the funds. There are far more people supporting the opposition to the killing of whales than people wanting to kill whales. The supporting membership of Sea Shepherd is three to four times the number of the entire population of the Faroe Islands. We could easily raise the required funds for compensation.

For this reason, Sea Shepherd has made an offer to the Faroes of one million Euros payable in yearly instalments of one hundred thousand pounds for each year that no pilot whales or dolphins are killed. The offer comes with a suggestion that the Faroese use the money to build a whale watching industry and/or to promote tourism to the Faroe Islands.

We have not had a reply to our offer but the offer stands should the Faroese decide that there is a greater economic benefit to protecting whales than from destroying them.

For more information about Sea Shepherd visit their website by clicking here.

 

 

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks the Ocean’s Greatest Mystery – Part 2

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Sharks are an incredibly significant animal in human culture of both the past and present, they are an animal that have been embodied in our culture for millennia. They are represented in formats such as books and clothing, but most notably in our TV and films, which is where a large portion of their negative reputation stems from. A popular TV representation of sharks comes from Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, and I believe sharks are possibly the only animal on our planet to have an entire week dedicated to them every year. However, despite this, we still know more collectively about the surface of the Moon and Mars, about Galaxies outside of our own, and even about animals that have been extinct for millions of years, than we do about sharks.

Sharks are our Ocean’s top predator, and they represent just how little we know about our blue planet. We have put more money into exploring outer space than we have exploring our seas and whilst many people call space the final frontier, I believe the final frontier is our Oceans. There are people that have lived in space for over a year, yet we aren’t able to stay underwater for more than a few short hours, and with each dive, scientists are discovering something new in the deep sea, giving us a better understanding of our oceans and the top predator that lives within them.

What we do not know

It is easier to talk about what we do not know and the implications of not knowing it, we still don’t know where most shark species mate or give birth, knowing this would accelerate conservation efforts for sharks in a huge way as these areas could then have realistic protections placed on them, allowing us to preserve key stages of the Sharks life cycle.

Marine Biologists have stated that the discovery of a White Shark breeding ground would be the holy grail of Ocean Science, but the only reports of White Sharks mating come from a handful of sightings from Fisherman and Sailors, so these cannot be used as an official record.

We know that Sharks mature late in the same way as us humans, it is estimated that some species are estimated to not be sexually mature until their late 30’s and 40’s, which means that these species are at extreme risk of disappearing due to fishing, as they aren’t able to replenish their numbers fast enough when put under extreme fishing pressure. There is a lot of debate over whether Sharks mature at a certain age or a certain size, for example it was estimated that White Sharks mature at four metres in length, however, in South Africa in 2017 a female White Shark was killed by Orcas, and it was determined that she was either immature or hadn’t mated, as there was the presence of a Hymen.

We are also still unsure about the impacts of human activities on Sharks and how losing Sharks, or their habitat, would affect the habitats and environments on land, environments in which we depend on for our survival.

What we do know

New Shark discoveries are made every year, and scientists are predicting that in the next 15-20 years we will be entering the golden age of ocean and shark discoveries. We already know that sharks are the oceans top predator and we have determined that they affect the very mechanics and functions of the Ocean, if we were to remove them, we would be putting the worlds ecosystems at risk of collapsing. Sharks are an integral part of the balance of the oceans, they help by controlling populations of other species, if we were to lose sharks, species such as turtles would have an increase in population, therefore leading to more seagrass being eaten, which is a prime food source for many animals. Thus, other smaller animals would not be able to feed, and their population would decrease, also the decrease of sea grass would affect us humans on earth as the oceans plant life helps to absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and actually up to 75% of the oxygen we breathe is created from the oceans.

We know that some Shark species have complex social relationships that aid in their survival, although this has only been observed in a handful of species. Lemon Sharks form bonds as pups and hunt together in the shallow mangrove swamps of the Bimini Atoll, and will learn and hunt together and learn vital skills needed in their future survival. Hammerheads are possibly the most famous for social interactions as they form huge schools off places such as the Galapagos Islands and it has been observed that the more dominant females swim in the centre of the school and display for the males.

Some shark species, such as the Zebra Shark, have been known to mimic other animals. Zebra sharks are born with stripes (which fade as they get older) and they have the second longest tail (after the Thresher Shark), this helps them to mimic the highly venomous, White-Banded Sea Snake in order to trick predators into avoiding them, they have even been reported to mimic taking a breath at the surface like a sea snake would do.

It has recently been discovered that Greenland Sharks are now the longest lived Vertebrate on our Planet, they are believed to be able to exceed the age of 500, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old. This was discovered by examining special proteins in their eyes that do not degrade with age. Determining age and sexual maturity are crucial for understanding and managing shark populations as knowing what age a Shark can breed will allow us to gauge what protections a species needs.

It has recently been discovered that female Whale Sharks are able to store sperm to use over a period of time, this is in order to ensure their chance of reproducing, even without recently mating. This is a huge advantage for conserving the species, as Whale Sharks are classed as an endangered species and so, with the number of whale sharks declining, this ensures the species can continue. Along with this, Whale Sharks have also been found to be pregnant with up to 300 pups, and these pups can be at different stages of development due to the staggered use of stored sperm.

Of all things we know there is one thing that is certain, a Shark, no matter the species, is unique and worth more to our world alive than dead. In the next blog we will explore the threats that Sharks face and how we can help Sharks through the tough times ahead.


Follow Donovan on Instagram at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series – Cottage City Oysters: A Labor of Love

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A series of conservation educational podcasts from Future Frogmen, introduced by Jeff Goodman.

Cottage City Oysters: A Labor of Love

Brothers Dan and Greg Martino are on a mission to grow the best oysters in the most eco-friendly, sustainable way.  Come hear their story and why their work growing Cottage City Oysters is a labor of love.


Richard E Hyman Bio

Richard is the Chairman and President of Future Frogmen.

Born from mentoring and love of the ocean, Richard is developing an impactful non-profit organization. His memoir, FROGMEN, details expeditions aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s famed ship Calypso.

Future Frogmen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and public charity that works to improve ocean health by deepening the connection between people and nature. They foster ocean ambassadors and future leaders to protect the ocean by accomplishing five objectives.


You can find more episodes and information at www.futurefrogmen.org and on most social platforms @futurefrogmen.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

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This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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