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Record-Breaking Hammerhead Landings Deadly And Possibly Illegal, Says Marine Biologist

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Last month a 21-year-old man in Florida made international headlines for snagging a 13-foot hammerhead while fishing off the pier at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. After his friend’s line bent hard and the huge fish was pulled in closer, Ryan Bolash dragged the shark onto a beach full of stunned onlookers.

“It was flailing around, everything like that,” one witness later said. “It was really cool.”

The famous snag was only the latest in a spate of recent high-profile hammerhead catches. But according to one marine biologist, the sharks’ lives were in danger and the fishermen were probably breaking the law.

In March a group of Florida Atlantic University students made headlines when they caught a 14-foot, estimated 700-pound hammerhead (and posted a YouTube video of the ordeal, now viewed more than a million times), and in February a man was featured on local television after winning a South Florida fishing tournament with his hammerhead catch.

All the fishermen expressed concern for the animals’ well-being and released the sharks. “They’re an amazing creature,” Bolash said. “I don’t know why anyone would want to hurt them.”

But the fishers also struggled for an hour or more with the animals to reel them in — hammerheads are renowned fighters — and took photos and measurements before releasing the sharks. Keeping the animals on land even for a few minutes can prove fatal, says a University of Miami marine biologist. And thanks to a 2012 law aimed at protecting the species — which is endangered — it’s also illegal.

“Think about if we were holding your head underwater for several minutes while scuba divers were taking a picture,” says David Shiffman, the biologist. “You’re not adapted to survive in that world.”

Of shark species, Shiffman says, hammerheads have among the highest stress responses to being caught. They fight instantly and vigorously, which makes the shark popular with fishermen looking for an adrenaline rush. But it also means hammerheads are more likely to die from the stress and fatigue of a protracted battle with a fishing line, even if they’re released promptly once they’re finally reeled in.

Shiffman is particularly miffed at those who brag of hours-long “epic fights” to bring in the hammerheads. “The ‘fight’ is the animal literally trying not to die,” he says. “[It’s] putting every bit of energy it has into not being killed.”

There’s no reliable hammerhead count available, Shiffman says, but he estimates the shark’s population has declined by as much as 90 percent since the 1970s. In 2012 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed a regulation prohibiting the killing of three varieties, including the great hammerhead, the largest. But the law also prohibits “landing” of the sharks, meaning it’s illegal to bring them ashore unless they are “immediately returned to the water free, alive, and unharmed.”

Keeping the hammerheads on the beach to measure them or pose for a picture, Shiffman contends, means the animals aren’t being immediately released, and the stressful fight to reel them in means they’re not left unharmed.

The biologist estimates that in recent years hundreds of hammerheads have been pulled ashore, often during the night or in unpopulated areas where the practice can go unnoticed.

“‘Oh yeah, of course we released it. We don’t want to hurt the animals,'” he said, mimicking the fishermen’s typical response. “But they’re using illegal actions that hurt the animals. Their heart’s in the right place, but their actions need to match it.”

 

Source: blogs.miaminewtimes.com

Gear News

New from Fourth Element: the RF2 free diving wetsuit

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The team at fourth element have introduced their latest freediving wetsuit, the RF2. Streamlined and high-performance, this two piece 6/5/4/mm suit has been developed for freedivers who want to enjoy maximum freedom and ultimate warmth.

Lined outer panels around the core, arms and legs provide durability, a Glideskin across the shoulders and the hood maximises hydrodynamics. This hybrid freediving wetsuit offers cool and cold water freedivers the freedom to explore their limits in comfort.

Director of fourth element, Paul Strike said, “We’ve designed this suit with the consultation of professional freedivers, instructors and with the knowledge of freedive suit specialists. The RF2 brings together fourth element’s knowledge of thermal protection with freediving expertise at the top of the sport to create a high performance recreational suit.”

The suit is both comfortable and practical, being more durable than traditional smoothskin suits whilst retaining excellent stretch and form fitting design. The inner of the suit has a smooth cell Metalite coating; this provides extra warmth retention and is more robust than traditional open cell.

Daan Verhoeven, Freediving Cameraman said, “The RF2 is possibly the best off-the peg suit I’ve ever tried. As soon as I got in the water, I instantly forgot the suit. I was just comfortable and could move without anything pinching or water coming in.”

Features

  • Streamline cut optimising glide
  • 5mm comfort, flexibility and warmth
  • Open cell interior, lined exterior
  • Smoothskin outer hood and shoulders for extra hydrodynamics
  • Beavertail closure
  • Supratex seat panel for extra durability

RF2 Hooded Jacket and Leggings are available in sizes S – XL.

RF2 Hooded Jacket 6/5/4mm RRP: £229.95 GBP / €275.00 EUR

RF2 Leggings 5/4mm RRP: £149.95 / €179.00 EUR

Find out more at www.fourthelement.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Parineeti Chopra teams up with PADI to create Ocean Change

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PADI® is thrilled to announce an exceptional PADI AmbassaDiver™: Indian actress, singer and PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Parineeti Chopra.

“A PADI AmbassaDiver is someone who is passionate about using their force for good to encourage others to protect our blue planet,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer. “We could not have found a more respected and authentic partner as Ms. Chopra, a long time ocean lover, to advance our shared mission of saving the ocean. She is unmatched as a shining example of how to protect what you love – and inspire others to do the same.”

Chopra, who has always loved the ocean, experienced the magic beneath the surface in 2013 when she took her first breath underwater in Bali. As soon as she surfaced from that dive, she was hooked – and protecting the ocean became very personal for her, receiving her PADI Open Water Diver certification later that year in Palau. Since then, she has inspired others around the world, from her family and friends to fans in India– to try scuba diving so they can join her in seeking adventure and saving the ocean.

“The first time I came up to the surface after diving, I was crying because it was such a life-changing experience,” says Ms. Chopra. “It is now something I can’t live without. I make sure I do a diving trip every three months despite my work schedule because it is my form of meditation. And it is the place I am immensely passionate about protecting.”

“We are all equal underwater and all speak the same language. Over the years I have seen the changes that have taken place beneath the surface. During my time as a brand ambassador for Tourism Australia, I witnessed the bleaching and damage that has occurred to the Great Barrier Reef.  I was so sad to see this and am now committed to being a diver with a purpose. I have also seen first-hand how marine reserves, like the ones in Sipadan, Malaysia and Palau, prove how valuable marine protected areas are. As a PADI Diver, I want to make sure that our entire blue planet gets the protection it deserves.” continues Ms. Chopra.

With over 67 million social media followers and having recently starred in the Netflix movie The Girl on the Train, Chopra joins an elite group of celebrity influencers determined to take personal action and create real change for healthier oceans. Spending nearly all her free time diving around the world, Chopra shares her love for the ocean with her fans, as diving is an important part of her life that allows her to return to nature and reset. She will work with PADI to encourage others to experience the beautiful world underwater as PADI Divers and join her in helping to achieve balance between humanity and the ocean.

“PADI created the AmbassaDiver programmeme to support extraordinary divers who dedicate their lives to illuminating the path that leads from curiosity, exploration, and discovery to understanding, stewardship and action. Ms. Chopra is playing a very important role in ocean conservation, lighting the way for others to become divers themselves and mobilising communities worldwide to seek adventure and save the ocean with her,” continues Valette Wirth.

Ms. Chopra has big plans for 2022 – including becoming a real-life PADI Mermaid and taking part in citizen science projects during her dive trips around the world. Follow Chopra’s dive adventures, projects and hands-on conservation efforts with PADI on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Chopra and the rest of the PADI AmbassaDiver team visit www.padi.com/ambassadivers.

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Competitions

A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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