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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark charity Bite-Back gets financial boost

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Entrepreneurs from across Europe have contributed U$25,000 (£18,500) to support Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation, following an exclusive shark diving trip to the Galapagos Islands organised by businessmen and shark-conservation fans, Swen Lorenz and Marcel Maschmeyer.

The eight day trip involved encounters with scalloped hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, Galapagos bullhead sharks, blacktip, and whitetip reef-sharks, plus spotted eagle rays, sea lions, mola molas, turtles and dolphins in the protected waters around the famous archipelago.

The funds, collected from all participants of the trip through a visitor philanthropy scheme of adding a donation to each package, will significantly boost the organisation’s typical annual budget of around £50,000. The charity says the funds will be crucial in its campaign to make Britain the first major country in the world to ban the trade in shark products.

Swen Lorenz said: “As a former conservation charity CEO, I know of the importance of backing well-run charities by giving their management unrestricted funds. Bite-Back has an unparalleled track-record in the UK for achieving significant impact in shark conservation on a lean, well-managed budget. We back its founder and want to help him to build on his existing success.

Marcel Maschmeyer said: “As an avid diver and vegan since 2015, I have focused my efforts towards those species that cannot help themselves, but are crucial to the survival of our planet’s most vulnerable ecosystems. I try to lead by example, always happy to support those with a passion for their cause and the right ideas to have a lasting impact. Graham at Bite-Back has done exactly that. We hope our contributions help to leverage his existing track-record and allow him to aim for even bigger targets.”

Because of Bite-Back’s campaigns there are already 80% fewer restaurants in the UK serving shark fin soup. The charity also prompted ASDA, Iceland Foods and MAKRO to remove shark steaks from stores nationwide and inspired Holland & Barrett to end the sale of shark cartilage capsules.

Graham Buckingham, founder of Bite-Back, said: “This generous donation will invigorate our campaigns to rid the UK of all shark products by 2022. We can now look forward to launching new initiatives to end the current 20kg personal importation of shark fins to the UK and eliminate the sale of shark meat, fins, teeth, jaws and supplements.

Unregulated overfishing and increased demand for shark fin soup coupled with a global apathy for shark conservation means that the ocean’s ‘big cats’ could be wiped out, throwing the marine environment into chaos and, ultimately, threatening life on earth.

Now Bite-Back can scale up its efforts to deliver a series of intelligent campaigns that address these issues and highlight the urgency for shark conservation. Shark fans and those concerned about the survival of the species can follow Bite-Back’s progress at www.bite-back.com or on Facebook and twitter.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Ahmed Fadel and Elke Bojanowski from Scuba Scene Liveaboard in the Red Sea (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ahmed Fadel and Elke Bojanowski from Scuba Scene Liveaboard in the Red Sea, Egypt.

Ahmed started working as safari guide in 2000 giving him unique experiences exploring the southern Egyptian Red Sea. It gave him a great opportunity to learn and gain a lot of experience in the nature of the Red Sea, and also qualified him to become the author of the book Southern Red Sea Dive Guide.

He is also an experienced dive instructor since 1997 and an experienced Tech instructor up to the level of Advanced Trimix.

Working for a number of reputable companies has given Ahmed an in-depth understanding of the nature of boats and the way they have developed over the years, as well as great connections to the local crews and staff.

Elke moved to Egypt in April 2004 after completing her Ph.D. in biology (focusing on the behaviour and communication of bottlenose dolphins), to combine her interests in marine biology and diving.

Using Egyptian liveaboards as a platform, she started collecting data on shark populations, while working as a guide in the Red Sea since October 2004.

In 2012 she founded – and is still running – the Red Sea Sharks Trust, an officially registered charity in the UK. This is the umbrella organisation for a variety of projects on sharks, including the biggest database for Oceanic Whitetip Sharks in the world.

The general goals of this charity are to collect as much information on sharks as possible to be made available for shark conservation, and to increase the awareness among divers about the problems and conservation issues that sharks are facing worldwide

Besides collecting scientific data, Elke is giving educational presentations and seminars for the guests on board her Marine Park trips, covering shark topics such as: species identification, biology and behaviour, and conservation and research.

Since January 2019, all diveguides working on liveaboards in the Egyptian Red Sea have had to attend a mandatory seminar on guidelines and safe diving practices for interactions with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks. The seminar written and presented by Elke has been attended by more than 1400 guides and other dive professionals to date.

Find out more at https://scubasceneliveaboard.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

New study values Madagascar Whale Shark Tourism at $1.5 Million amid calls for stronger protections

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  • The three-month whale shark tourism season in Nosy Be (NW Madagascar) has been valued at $1.5 million USD 

  • Tourists who visit specifically to swim with whale sharks spend 55% more ($901,274) than ‘casual’ whale shark tourists ($581,239)

  • Calls for sustainable tourism measures to protect whale sharks are overwhelmingly supported by operators and tourists 

  • 67.4% of tourists are more likely to choose a destination if whale sharks are protected

Credit: Dr. Simon J. Pierce

Credit: Dr. Simon J. Pierce

A new study published in the journal Tourism in Marine Environments has valued the whale shark tourism industry in Madagascar’s Nosy Be for the first time, with the three-month season worth $1.5 million USD to the local economy.* The study has revealed the economic benefit that whale sharks provide as the region prepares for the return of tourists following COVID-19.

Stella Diamant, the project’s leader and research associate with the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), as well as the founder of the Madagascar Whale Shark Project, said, “this study has confirmed the importance of sustainable whale shark tourism to Madagascar’s economy, particularly during its pandemic recovery. Considering the region’s international reputation as a whale shark hotspot, and the presence of an international airport, it’s likely that its shark tourism industry will grow considerably once international travel resumes.”

Credit: Madagascar Whale Shark Project

Credit: Madagascar Whale Shark Project

The study found that ‘dedicated’ whale shark divers – travelers who visited specifically to swim with whale sharks – spent six times as much as ‘casual’ whale shark tourists ($547 vs. $92 respectively). Despite making up just a fifth of respondents (20.5%), the expenditure of this group was worth 55% more overall ($901,274) than causal whale shark divers ($581,239).

Both tourists (93.4%) and operators (91.7%) overwhelmingly support formal protections for whale sharks in Madagascar.**

The majority (67.4%) of tourists stated they were more likely to choose a tourism destination if whale sharks were protected.

Despite being globally endangered, whale sharks are not formally protected in Malagasy waters and are threatened by fishery bycatch, collisions with vessels, and pollution. Tour operators overwhelmingly supported legal protection for whale sharks in Madagascar and highlighted the potential to introduce regulations to avoid overcrowding, as interest in swimming with the sharks grows internationally. Operators suggested levying fines or sanctions for anyone behaving irresponsibly around the sharks.

Credit: Dr. Simon J. Pierce

Credit: Dr. Simon J. Pierce

Dr. Jackie Ziegler from the University of Victoria in Canada and lead author of the study said, “it’s far more difficult to scale back activities compared to managing tourism sustainably from the start. Our work has shown clear support from both tourism operators, and the tourists themselves, to ensure that swimming with whale sharks in Madagascar is a world-class ecotourism experience.”

MMF Principal Scientist Dr. Simon Pierce added, “Madagascar is best-known now for its amazing land animals, such as lemurs and chameleons, but the marine wildlife is equally spectacular. It’s fantastic to see that Nosy Be tourism operators are committed to protecting these gentle giants as well as high-quality ecotourism.”

This study was led by the Madagascar Whale Shark Project in collaboration with the Marine Megafauna Foundation, University of Victoria, Marine Wildlife Conservation Society, and Florida International University. It was supported by MADA Megafauna, Aqua-Firma, Ocean Giants Trust, and the Vocatio Foundation.

For more information about the Marine Megafauna Foundation visit their website by clicking here.

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Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 04 – 11 November 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

Price NOW from just £1275 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

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

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