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Thoughts on Shark Tagging… by Jeff Goodman

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shark tagging

I recall from my first filming trip abroad over 45 years ago, people telling me that weather conditions were very unseasonal and how unusual it was that animal behaviour was becoming more uncharacteristic each season, as well as that species numbers were on the decline.

For the first few years of my travels I must confess not to taking much notice, but then as the years unfolded I began to realise this was a global trend that was not getting better. 

Over the following years I met many scientists and biologists who were dedicated to their particular field of wildlife and environmental research but I was saddened to learn just how focussed they had to be on their own particular niche rather than having time to think of the bigger picture and the overall global problems and influences. This was because in order to secure future funding, they had to be able to produce a constant stream of worthwhile results. They had to justify their work and sadly there was no one I encountered who was responsible for coordinating all this individual information to try and assess global trends and issues. 

Throughout my wildlife filming career I have seen copious quantities of information accumulated about individual species, all in order to better understand what is happening to our world by processing reams of carefully gathered data.

So what has this to do with shark tagging? Well, much of the research I have watched over the years has had to do with shark behaviour, feeding patterns, distribution, reproduction and, of course, mortality after being caught and released. The stress of fighting for life isn’t so prevalent with other species. A bird caught in a mist net or an elephant tranquilized, although distressing, doesn’t seem to compare with a long drawn out battle on the end of a fishing line, where the animal is fighting with all its strength and resolve until it has nothing more to give.

There is a plethora of opinion and data about shark mortality post catch and release which makes it difficult to discern reality from emotion. 

Sharks have been pushed to the edge of extinction by over fishing, both commercial and sport. 

In recent years, biologists have come to discover that catch and release is harmful to sharks. They have documented cases where sharks will swim away and die within a matter of minutes after fishermen release them. The life-and-death struggle to survive a battle with an angler far too often turns out lethal for the shark.

Sharks are crucial for the health of the ocean. As an apex predator, their continuing eradication threatens the health of the entire marine ecosystem. Although the figures may be small compared with long lining and other commercial fisheries, they are still significant. See www.leisurepro.com/blog/ocean-news/catch-release-harmful-sharks/ 

This post release mortality does vary between shark species with some being more resilient than others. Having been underwater, filming sharks on the hook fighting with every last ounce of their strength, I am personally amazed how any survive at all, especially when after this epic struggle they are hauled up onto a boat deck to have their photo taken. 

I used to fish myself and seafood was always a good part of my diet, but as the years passed I began to witness stress and the frantic fight for life played out at the end of a fishing line. It is well accepted now that fish do feel pain.  See www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/fish-feel-pain-180967764/. It is simply that we cannot hear any screams that make us impervious to their plight.  See www.goodreads.com/book/show/7266864-do-fish-feel-pain 

I have recently been passed a link to a Shark fishing competition to be held locally in Cornwall with the emphasis on tag and release. It led to me writing this article. Have we not gathered enough data now to be able to say ‘yes’, these animals are at the very edge of extiction and should be fully protected from all manner of sport and commercial fishery? Shall we continue to catalogue and study our wildlife right up to the point of its disappearance when we can say without any contradiction that our science knows exactly why this has happened. 

I often stand on the cliff tops and look out at an empty ocean where only forty or so years ago I saw life in abundance. My children and grandchildren of course have no idea what I am talking about…

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.

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WIN a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!

This torch delivers 1200 lumens of light powered by an ion rechargeable battery. There are 4 levels of brightness with burn times between 2-20 hours. Battery charge level is indicated via coloured lights around the on/off button. The beam angle is 10°. The anodised aluminium alloy housing sealed by double ‘O’ rings with a max operating depth of 100m. SRP £125.00 which includes torch, charging cradle and battery.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported via the Marine Conservation Society that the UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act is the first legislation of its kind in nearly how many years?

Is it:

  • A) 60
  • B) 50
  • C) 40

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Liquid Sports Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch November 2020

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  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Liquid Sports and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 06/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

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Gear News

Northern Diver Christmas Sale starts TODAY!

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This year Northern Diver’s Christmas offers are starting on Black Friday and running until midnight on New Year’s Eve! 

There are some great deals to be had across the site – www.ndiver.com – from discounted Drysuits and Coltri compressors to 15% off their entire Lighting Section!

And if you can’t find the perfect present for the diver in your life, they have a choice of Gift Cards on offer. They are even giving you £25 extra when you purchase a £100 voucher!

The offers don’t stop there – there is FREE shipping on all orders over £100 and even a FREE gift with every online purchase.

Every purchase will get you entered into a great prize draw to win one of their new Electracore 3.0mm Rechargeable Heated Vests!

And should you find that you need to return any of your purchases, Northern Diver understand that Christmas may be a little different for everyone this year and you may not get to see every one over Christmas, so they have extended their Returns Period to the end of January 2021. (Valid for purchases made from Black Friday to end of December 2020).

Some unmissable offers to look out for are the Varilux Zoom, part of the Varilux Black & Gold Range, with its variable beam width; and Northern Diver’s 4mm compressed Neoprene Drysuit, the Voyager, which is on offer for an incredible £475!

For more information visit the Northern Diver website by clicking here.

Photo credit: Joe Duffy

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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