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Marine Life & Conservation

Review: Shark with Steve Backshall

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It is always exciting to hear about a new series dedicated to sharks and this offering from Sky Nature was no exception. The three part series, presented by shark expert Steve Backshall, was released on the 7th November and we recently binged watch all three episodes.

What Sky say about it: Steve Backshall, a naturalist and shark expert, gets us closer to sharks, to encounter a diverse and incredible family of over 400 different types. This global journey will take us to the remotest parts of our planet, from the sun-drenched tropics to the mysterious depths of our oceans. Teaming up with world-leading scientists, Steve will make stunning discoveries, revealing glow in the dark sharks, sharks that walk on land and ancient sharks over 400 years old. Now more than ever this incredible family needs our help. Every hour we lose over 11,000 sharks to overfishing, shark finning and habitat destruction. Steve will confront the uncomfortable truths and join shark advocates across the globe to help turn the tide for sharks. Coming eye to eye with this feared yet misunderstood predator, Steve will reveal sharks in a brand new light.

You can watch the trailer here:

Each episode covered a different ocean: Atlantic, Indian and Pacific and sought to bring the viewer information about the sharks that live there, the conservation efforts going into protecting them and amazing facts about the species included, all illustrated with incredible footage of the sharks themselves.

It was so refreshing to watch a series that talked about how important sharks are to the marine ecosystem and Steve is as enthusiastic and passionate as ever. The series celebrates shark diversity and looks at some of the more unusual shark species such as the Tassled Wobbegong, Greenland and Epaulette Sharks, in addition to the well-known iconic sharks.

Steve stresses that the biggest threat to sharks is fishing and that many species are on the verge of excitation unless immediate action is taken. He talks about habitat loss. In each episode he meets, dives with and discusses the work of shark scientists around the world.

We really enjoyed this three part series. It was informative and had stunning shark footage. As divers who love being in the water with sharks, it was great to see destinations and dives featured in the series that we know and love. But the best thing about it was that is portrayed sharks in the same way that other species are portrayed in nature series, with no hyperbole or sensationalism. Just as it should be.

We are excited to learn that there will be an additional episode, dedicated to UK sharks, aired sometime after Christmas.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Guardian investigation finds endangered sharks for sale in Taiwan

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A field investigation into Taiwan’s shark fin industry was conducted by Shark Guardian between December 2020 and March 2021. The investigation obtained documentary evidence of fins from endangered shark species being openly offered for sale by over half of all shark fin traders surveyed in Taiwan’s southern fishing port of Kaohsiung.

Of the 13 shark fin processing and trading companies visited, more than half were found to be trading CITES- listed fins, and seven had shark fins from CITES Appendix II-listed species as part of their product range. One company saidthere was no difference in selling protected or unprotected species. Protected sharks’ products usually create a problem for international shipping only.”

The new report details how seven out of thirteen traders surveyed in Taiwan were found to be selling shark fins from silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, mako sharks, thresher sharks and great white sharks in broad daylight – in contravention of Taiwanese and international law.

Over a three-month period, Shark Guardian investigators witnessed multiple shipments of shark fins from endangered species being unloaded at Donggang fish market which is in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung.

Alex Hofford, Marine Wildlife Campaigner with Shark Guardian, said “To save sharks and the marine environment, Taiwanese authorities should implement an immediate crackdown on its cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade, and should tighten up local laws to ban the domestic sale of shark fin as well as better enforce its international obligations under CITES. It is also high time that the Taiwanese government should rein in its out-of-control distant water tuna fishing fleet, who are a major supplier shark fin to Chinese markets. Whilst Taiwan is a beacon of democratic and progressive values in Asia, it is allowing its unsustainable and often crime-ridden fisheries sector to rape and pillage our ocean with impunity. This must stop. Taiwan needs to show leadership in environmental protection and must quickly clean up its act as regards its sleazy shark fisheries and trade sectors.”

During our investigation, Shark Guardian also found evidence of Taiwan-based online retailers selling fins of endangered species of shark in contravention of local and international law.

According to WWF, a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, yet fishing and trading in unsustainable shark fin remains a highly profitable, but environmentally destructive, enterprise for Taiwanese companies operating out of Kaohsiung.

Brendon Sing, Co-Director of Shark Guardian said “Clearly more must be done to protect sharks globally. There are over 500 known shark species with only a handful of them listed under CITES. Even then, CITES listed sharks are still traded illegally where monitoring and enforcement lack any power and expose loopholes in the system. As long as this continues, there is no real protection for any shark species regardless of CITES listing or not. Taiwan must be responsible and take positive action in response to this report.”

Shark Guardian believes that excessively large profit margins are the main reason why Taiwan has never acted to rein in its shark fisheries and trade.

Shark Guardian hopes that Taiwan can apply its progressive values towards preserving the marine environment by imposing a comprehensive ban on the physical and online selling all species of shark fin in Taiwan. Such a ban would go above and beyond what is required under international law, and Taiwan’s domestic laws can be changed with public support.

For more information about Shark Guardian visit their website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

PADI and National Geographic Pristine Seas join forces to protect at least 30% of the Ocean

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In 2020, Enric Sala, founder of Pristine Seas and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, approached PADI with the idea to join forces to protect the ocean, combining his vision and proven track record of successfully creating MPAs with the global footprint and extensive reach of the PADI community around the globe. PADI Dive Centres and Resorts are critical stakeholders in their local economies and their leadership, together with the influence and expertise of Sala and his team at National Geographic Pristine Seas, can be a catalyst for lasting change for a return to a healthy ocean and balanced marine ecosystem.

“Ocean conservation benefits everyone, especially the diving sector. We are excited to partner with PADI and all their dive centres worldwide to foster the protection of popular dive sites all around the world,” said Enric Sala.

Initiating this partnership is a global Dive Industry Economic Evaluation Survey to measure the economic benefits of the dive industry on local communities, using data from PADI Dive Centres and Resorts in 186 countries. In cooperation with researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Simon Fraser University, this analysis will be used to inform governments how the creation of MPAs can create jobs and produce important economic outputs locally.

PADI will engage its Mission Hubs, the 6,600 Dive Centres and Resorts who are the heart of the organisation’s save the ocean mission, in a survey to provide the data necessary to complete this study. The information gathered through PADI Mission Hub participation in the survey will be an integral component of the study that will be used to influence local and national governments to establish marine protected areas and protect marine environments for divers and other stakeholders.

“PADI Mission Hubs play a critical role in our Blueprint for Ocean Action and are key stakeholders in the push for increased protection measures for the underwater world,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “Each PADI operator brings unique insights, local expertise, community leadership and passion for our ocean. By coming together as a unified force, the PADI community in partnership with National Geographic Pristine Seas will provide an unprecedented global voice to influence long-term ocean protections.”

Over the last 12 years, Pristine Seas has completed 32 expeditions around the world and helped inspire the creation of 24 marine reserves, protecting over 6.5 million square kilometers of ocean — an area more than twice the size of India. They work with local communities and governments to survey their environments, identify their goals and protect vital ocean areas.

The Dive Industry Economic Evaluation Survey will be available to PADI Dive Centres and Resorts through the remainder of the year.

To learn more about PADI’s Blueprint for Ocean Action and other ways you can join the community of PADI Torchbearers in protecting the ocean, visit padi.com/conservation.

For more information about Pristine Seas visit the website by clicking here.

All images: Courtesy of Pristine Seas, National Geographic Society

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

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