Sunday, January 31, 2010


There has been much brouhaha about the above picture.

Now the photographer, one Gerardo de Villar, has posted an explanation on his iDiveSharks page.
If I understand him correctly, this is apparently some kind of voluntary maneuver and not tonic immobility triggered by you-know-who. "Somebody" tells me that the Shark developed the aileron roll in order to avoid being grasped by the snout, a favorite gimmick of the above-mentioned Mister.

Whatever it is, it continues to irritate me.

The Contest!

Very Bruce! Stellar pic by Sasha - yes this is a link!

By now it should be obvious that if you're a Shark diver, you need to sign up to Mark's iDive Sharks.

Case in point: the iDive Sharks 2010 Shark Imaging Festival.
As announced in this week's roundup, Mark has miraculously managed to cajole a full week of diving with the BAD boys out of our Scottish keeper of the purse strings. This will normally include four two-tank dives on the Fiji Shark Dive, plus many more wreck and reef dives in famous Beqa Lagoon.
Pretty damn awesome huh - and I may add, never has it been more enticing to be the runner up!

So, what are you waiting for!
If u got some spectacular Shark imagery like the one above, sign up and join the contest!

Hawaii - at it again!

I just got the following from Stefanie in Hawaii.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, take the time to read this.
In a nutshell, some legislators are continuing to try and close Hawaii's Shark viewing tours.
Ironically, they represent the very people who are the biggest causal threat to the safety of Hawaii's beaches, the fishermen and spear fishermen.

Even more ironically, some indigenous Hawaiian buffoons who claim to have a special affinity to Sharks have jumped on the anti-industry, anti Shark bandwagon by coming up with some sanctimonious and quite frankly, ludicrous pseudo-cultural bullshit (lemme tell you, the Fijians are laughing their head off!) that has been obviously made up on the fly - and this against two operations that have a proven track record of trying to protect the very animals those guys profess to revere. How much more pro-'aumakua can one possibly be? And, when will those spineless Haoles finally man up and take a stand against this all-pervasive reverse racism?
Tragically, this is happening in the midst of Hawaii's biggest economic slump in human memory and threatens to wipe out millions in income from tourists!

But time is of the essence - so without further ado:

Lyla Berg and Gene Ward are at it again.

Since they couldn't kill us in City Council last year (thanks to all of you that wrote and came to the meeting in support), they have submitted bills to this years State Legislative session. That was predictable.

What we didn't see coming, because it seems ridiculous and outrageous, was that they would submit FIVE bills!
All of them basically the same,
just different versions. In response, our Senator from the North shore, Robert Bunda, submitted another bill that took one of theirs and added a clause that would allow us to keep operating to protect small business and the local economy. Rep. Magaoay submitted the same one on the House side. So now there are a total of SEVEN bills dealing with shark tours.

And I thought Hawaii had some big issues to tackle like the economy, jobs, public education....?!

Apparently Lyla Berg continues on this crusade, even angrier than before.
She is running for office this year, so she has taken on the
shark tours as one of her causes to get attention. I am spending a lot of time at the capitol these days. Trying to stay ahead of the curve. Haven't even had time to write this update until today. Things are happening so fast and changing every day that by the time you read this, the status of bills may have changed. We are working on having some of these bills weeded out so not all of the bills will be heard by the committees. The ones that do, will get a hearing date. Unfortunately the notices for hearings can be as short as 48 hours.

If you are willing to help:
Send a written statement of support to these offices:

(This has to happen as soon as possible, because hearings are being scheduled every day. You can use what you had written before for the City council or letters to the editor. Keep it short and sweet and tell them that you are strongly opposed to/appalled/disturbed/ shocked by :) any bills that will kill small businesses.)

- House Committee on Water, Land, Ocean Resources

- Representative Ken Ito (Fax: 586-8474 email:
Reference House bill: HB2459, HB2664, HB2705, HB2483, HB2900

- Senate Committee on Land and Water

- Senator Clayton Hee (Fax: 586-7334 email:
Reference Senate Bill: SB2330, SB2655 (save your letters so you can send them again for the next batch of committee hearings).

If you are willing to come to hearings with us, it would be helpful to start prepping any statements and testimonials you are willing to give. And you could talk to other people you may know who can help since the notice to act will most likely be very short.
If you can keep me on your radar by checking and reading my emails, I will try to announce all action with as much notice as possible.
If you are interested to read any of the bills, go to this page and type in the number of the bill The bills are SB2330 SB2655 HB2664 HB2459 HB2705 HB2483 HB2900

You can also call or fax the offices of our North shore representatives and tell them what you think about these bills

Both, Senator Bunda and Rep. Magaoay are very supportive of our businesses and are going to help us fight the bills. It will only strengthen their commitment to hear from other people that they support the shark tour. Even if you just tell them that you appreciate the fact that they are supporting us. They have been incredibly nice and open and have an open door for anyone that wants to get involved.

- Senator Robert Bunda: 586-6090 (ask for Laura) Fax 586-6091

- Representative Michael Magaoay 586-6380 (ask for Judy) Fax 586-6381

Thanks for your time,
call me anytime if you have questions 778-6740


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Good One!

I did like this feature.

Together with Sharks, Crocs are probably the most maligned of the big predators, and equally endangered.
Yes I did see the reference to one of nature's most lethal killing machines - but overall, this is very much aimed at sending out the message that Crocs and people can co-exist, even underwater - provided that we are careful to know our limits and not to stress the creature.
Indeed - always be respectful!

I say, well done!
For the message and for the stellar pictures!
Tho considering who took them, the latter was kind of a foregone conclusion!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dangerous Soup!

Last time I saw that expression, she was being bowled over by Bum!

Lookee lookee!

Must be the Viking way of spicing up one's dives!
May I venture the bold assumption that rummaging around in Oslo harbor could be safely described as utterly boring - especially after having spent one year among hordes of large predatory Sharks in Fiji?

But when not being aggressed in frigid waters, Lill continues to crank them out like there's no tomorrow.

This time, titled Dangerous Soup, it's an educational piece about the global plight of Sharks in the magazine of Norway's second largest national paper Aftenposten. You Vikings should go and read the story in the magazine itself - we common mortals are simply proud of having made a contribution to creating a very fine Shark photographer and avid Shark conservationist!

Bravo Lill!

What's Jaws is mine!

Bless Ozzie humor!
I'm just posting this because of the article's title.
Yes poor lil' Lemon - but hey, that's just Oz.


Check out these incompetent morons.

Nothing to add to what I said the last time.
Plus, there's the usual excellent coverage by Underwater Thrills and The Dorsal Fin.

Still anxiously awaiting news of the GW you tortured Mr. Domeier!

PS important news from Shark Diver here in the comments section: once again, well done for having walked the walk and achieved something tangible!
I hope!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Number One!

Henk (on the left) and deckhand Teao proudly announcing the release of three Blues from his Target One

Bless Henk and Sandra Gros!

They have graciously agreed to act as trailblazers and are now the Kingdom of Tonga's first Shark Free game fishing operators. This is far from being trivial as contrary to many Fijians, Tongans hunt and eat Sharks and will thus regard any attempt at sparing their life as a wasteful and incomprehensible act of utter Palangi foolishness.

In the big scheme of things, this will again turn out to be a wise business decision - like everything the Gros' have done so far.
They are among the original pioneers of tourism in Vava'u and have struck gold on practically every one of their ventures. On the accommodation front, they operate one of the first, and still the only clean and reliable backpacker hostel, Adventure Backpackers and are the developers of Mystic Sands, one of only two beachfront resorts on the main islands. Sandra and Kiwi Magic's Pat also operate the only reliable and highly successful agency for holiday homes in Vava'u, Vava'u Holiday Homes and provide access to reliable and trustworthy local help through their Vava'u Property Services.
Yes, I did indeed stress the term reliable, and for good reason! Whatever your provenience and intentions: nowhere does caveat emptor (and I'm not only talking in terms of legal transactions!) apply more than in the Friendly Kingdom- and I'll leave it at that!

Henk himself is the quintessential factotum and provided that he likes the project, you can avail yourself of his expertise for anything from building your next home (he did build mine) or installing a smoker for the most delicious home-smoked Wahoo, all the way to constructing and then successfully deploying a FAD in 1,000-odd fathoms of azure pelagic waters.

But his true love is game fishing and his Target One Sportfishing Charters is one of the most successful (and reliable!) such ventures in the whole of the Kingdom.
Vava'u prides itself on some of the most pristine fishing grounds in the whole of the South Pacific and anglers flock there from all over the globe to try their skills against good sized Sails, feisty (but generally, rather small) Blues, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and in season, great numbers of migratory Yellowfin. This is also the place where one can still experience important numbers of pelagic Sharks, be it Silkies, Bronzies and even elusive Oceanic Whitetips.

Until very recently and much to the joy of the locals and the chagrin of the environmentalists, all fish caught in Vava'u were being landed and consumed, this largely regardless of species, season and size.
But progress being inevitable, more and more enlightened customers have been asking that the Billfishes be tagged and released and even the most backward operators had to grudgingly abide, to the point where the last national tournament was held under that formula - and won by none other than Henk and his Target One!

This is hopefully yet another step in the right direction.
After Palau's epic declaration and Fiji's simply mind-blowing performance, Tonga is hopefully on its way to becoming yet another Pacific island nation that fully embraces the concept that Shark conservation is not only essential for the health of the marine ecosystem but constitutes great tourism marketing on top of that!

Fingers crossed that after Target One, many more game fishermen in Vava'u will see the light and embrace the Shark Free Marinas Initiative!
Bravo Henk and Sandra - and Malo 'aupito!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Timbo all dressed up in Fijian regalia on his 60th birthday celebration.

Timbo was born 60 years ago in Minnesota - and the rest is legend.

He's currently in Fiji working on a new project of ours (keep watching this space - this is really cool!) and for days before his birthday, I had been teasing him about Scarface, our BADdest Tiger Shark lady.
Thing is, she has an uncanny knack for always turning up for our most important guests and I kept threatening that we would soon discover whether he was the real deal or just one of those countless posers.

We're in the middle of our sharkiest season and the Bull Shark action is simply breathtaking - but at the same time, this is the time of the year where historically, chances for Tiger sightings have been lowest, as they are widely believed to be moving to the river mouths in order to profit from the frequent floods during the wet season. This being an El NiƱo year, rainfall has however been dismal so chances were not completely nil.

And guess what: against all odds, Timbo is now confirmed Shark Reef royalty!
She only turned up for a brief visit during the second dive, took a single tuna head and got the hell outta there - but what a sight and what a spectacular confirmation of Timbo's status!

This is a lo-res quick edit of one of Timbo's pics of Scarface.

As to why she's so uncharacteristically shy, opinions vary.
It may be the assertive presence of dozens of hungry Bull Sharks - but I fear that this may well be the direct result of the shenanigans by other people who continue to try and grab, ride and poke her, be it out of misguided love, bravado or outright fear.
A great shame - and at least to us, a clear confirmation of our policy that prohibits any such contacts, well meaning as they may be.

But I'm digressing as usual.
Happy birthday Timbo my friend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tusen Takk!

Yet another brilliant pic by Lill Haugen (yes this is a link)!

Snakker du Norsk?

Me neither, so I really have no clue about the content of Lill's latest article in Dykking, Norway's leading dive magazine - and it sure didn't help that the author felt it fit to send me the following synopsis, and this is textual: Well - it is easy: .....bla bla bla, gla Mike. Bla bla bla something something, bla bla....Shark Reef, bla gla gla.
Must be Viking humor - or the lean diet!

But what a spread - she sure is an impressive photographer!
So, without further ado: Enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thank you BBC!

World champion Tanya Streeter with Caribbean Reefs.

Same location, completely different vibe and message!

Yes once again this is Tiger Beach, the scene of unspeakable stupidities performed by martial artists and wannabee Shark wranglers. But this time, it's not some cheap and self serving media stunt, this time it's a piece by the good people from the BBC - who do not use the Dolphin Dream but, I believe, Jimmy's Shear Water.

This is as pro-Shark as it gets. Kudos to everybody involved!

And how about this! Notice the soundtrack?
Just beautiful!

PS Shark Week: watch & learn!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


From yesterday's dive! Not Mark's 4k but still, not bad for straight from the footage!

I just love the cyberspace!

The little New York Times piece was quickly picked up by several Shark blogs out there. Quite frankly, I did somewhat expect Underwater Thrills to show their usual friendly bias and was not disappointed. Thank you - as always, you are much too kind!

What however caught me completely by surprise was to get an honorable mention on Richard Theiss' iconic RTSea Blog.
Richard has developed into somewhat of an elder statesman in conservation blogging, this mainly due to his always impeccable style and lucid reasoning. Where I tend to rant, he always dissects, analyzes and puts things into context and perspective. Like in the present case: Kudos for having once again understood and told it as it is! Really!

Regular readers of this blog know that I can be safely subsumed under the category of old ornery fart.
As such, my relationship with the modern media is tortured at best, this blog and YouTube being my very last evolutionary adaptations to the ongoing sociotechnological arms race - meaning that I shall not, ever, become a member of any of those pathological networking sites, let alone chatrooms, social or otherwise! And that's a promise!

But life of course being what happens to you whilst you're busy making plans, BAD had to continue evolving.
Enter always radiant Lexi, real estate tycoon, web designer, bloggeresse and cyberspace socialite extraordinaire! It is largely thanks to her initiative and unbridled creative energy that we've completely re-vamped our website and resolved to venture into all that novel socio-stuff, as in Facebook and Twitter. And I must confess, I just love seeing so many Fijians in our still puny Facebook fan community, a fact that gels wonderfully with our original Fiji Shark Project where educating the public is a key objective!

Which brings me straight to our newest venture, signing up to iDiveSharks where Lexi is now happily posting stellar pics by our countless clients and friends.

Well, what can I say, that was kind of inevitable as that's what we do!
Still, we would not have done so were it not for Patric (thanks buddy!) and for the fact that this has quickly developed into the place to be, very much to the credit of its founder and developer, none other than renown award-winning underwater cinematographer and entrepreneur Mark Thorpe.
This is what he does and yes, these are compressed 4k files, as in RED ONE!

Well, to say the least, I am impressed- and of course, jealous as hell!
I met Mark in 2002 in Yap on a short stopover during Pelagian's epic voyage of discovery and boy, has the man progressed since! Kudos!

But I'm digressing as usual.
I just wanted to welcome everybody to a new decade of Shark action and unlimited bandwidth!
Vinaka and Moce mada - cya somewhere out there!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is this effective? And is it efficient?

Check this out.

"Even KILLER Sharks"???

Who, exactly, is this targeting anyway?
And to what purpose? To convince the Shark fishermen to desist from finning the Sharks they catch? To precipitate anti-finning legislation? Will it motivate people not to eat Shark fin soup? Or, to ask that the soup they consume is from fins that have not been finned (now, here's a thought!)?
Plus, how many redundant anti-finning initiatives and PSAs does the "cause" really need?

Being the usual party pooper and like in the case of the Beijing billboards, I cannot but wonder.
If it is true that Shark fisheries are supply limited, we need to talk sustainability and not prohibition. If we want to achieve tangible results, we will have to compromise and not demonize - then, once we sit at the negotiating table, we will have a shot at influencing how many animals get killed, where, when and how. And when spending money for conservation and science, we should do so in the most effective and efficient way possible.

Mind you, just my 2¢.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Love it!

We've made it into countless dive-related media - but who would have ever thought that we would be featured in the venerable New York Times!

Greg Winter dove with us quite a while ago and if I remember correctly, was merely having a vacation and not on assignment. Great to see that he enjoyed the experience and also, great to see that he chose a completely different angle and choice of words to describe the Fiji Shark Dive.

The pics are by lucky man Marty and once again a testimony to what talented people manage to achieve within the shortest period of time at Shark Reef. Don't miss to scroll through his pictures in the slide show! Awesome!

Marty will be back in July and I look forward to great diving, great conversation and more stellar images!

Thank you Alex for the heads-up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Very soon now!

Remember this?

Very sadly, Patric had to delay the unveiling of Oceania.
But I see that he's thankfully back on air and expect him to make the announcement very soon indeed.

And for the record, I still stick by my prediction: it is right "there" and as per the above picture, the site features Great Whites, Kelp - and obviously, plenty of Kekeno!

Monday, January 11, 2010


It's that time of the year again!

The Bulls are running and we're swamped in clients, in the midst of several film productions and have started with this year's series of research projects. Talking of which, after the slideshow, you can finally find Victor's fantastic term paper about our research in the rivers right here!

Oh, and I'm also busy laboring through the 132-odd pages of the user manual of my EX1 and so far, quite unhappy with the first tests! Extremely frustrating, lemme tell you!

Anyway, the Ocean is boiling with Bull Sharks!
There is big, mellow and now ravenous Bum, pictured above (click on it: fantastic!!!) when pregnant in November, who has already come back from giving birth in one of the rivers. She joins the early arrivals Hook, Marlen, Brenda, Topsail, Lee, Chica, Naughtylus, Elvira, Maite, Sickle, Topsail and about two dozen brand new Bulls, seven of which, Mi, Bling, Twostripes, Miss Jagger, Thrasher, Trophy and Snip feature unequivocal identification marks and will thus be added to the ever-expanding Shark List. Yes, I'm talking 30+ Bulls, and this in mid January!
Expect 100 named Bulls by mid-year!

Anyway, I just wanted to say that we're happily busy and just don't have the time, nor the inclination to comment on the traditional seasonal stupidities from Antarctica and Oz.
As Patric said in a great post: more action, less idle chitchat!

Which, I guess, is a good thing!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Viking Fun!

Look at her frolicking in the snow!

I'm posting this mainly for our staff and for all of the Pasifika friends Lill and Helge have made over the past year - the more as most of them could not possibly know what Winter in Norway may look like!

Keep in mind that the weather is normally NOT like that but foggy, wet and windy instead, that it's freezing cold (yes, precisely: like in the freezer!) and that the sun may only be out for 3-4 hours - meaning that nights last for approx. 20 hours!

That's why the Vikings had no choice but to become the toughest people in the whole of Europe! And I may add: as tough as Lill who insisted on diving in a semi-dry suit even during the hot Fijian summer!
Go wonder!!

So, now you know!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

¡Me gusta mucho!

Well done Andoni!

He has posted a really pretty and well narrated travelogue of this year's trip to Fiji by the Basque (I think) dive club URTABI.
Despite having been skunked by the horrible weather, the divers seem to have had a great time and the images are truly remarkable - and a testimony to the fact that provided that one has the required talent, one doesn't necessarily need to be sitting in the pit to come up with excellent results!

I even notice some sequences of Maite (e.g on 08:22), the big and mellow female that was named on that occasion. Maite is now a regular and Andoni will be pleased to hear that as the yearly Running of the Bulls is picking up momentum, she has turned up on today's first Shark dive of 2010.


Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 - Fabulous!

Well, the International Year of the Shark has ended.

It has been a huge success and you can read about all the initiatives it has spawned in this nice wrap-up on the CNN iReport site.
Kudos to Ila, one of the initiators together with our friend The Sharkman, for having posted it there. Congratulations and Thank You! to both of them for having come up with this brilliant grassroots initiative!

For us, the IYoS has sparked a flurry of activities, foremost of which coordinating Fiji's very own contribution, the Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project.
We were able to unite the who's who of Fiji's conservationists and eco-friendly operators behind one terrific common cause for which Valerie Taylor graciously agreed to act as the patron and which thanks to the endorsement by the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, became the centerpiece of the hugely successful 2009 FIHTA Dive Fiji EXPO.

Under its auspices, many supporters held Shark Awareness Presentations, there were lectures, a poster, a line of apparel and a DVD and many more local and individual initiatives, like the establishment of a Shark conservation group by our friend Tafa.

There were also many pro-Shark articles in the local press, among which this piece by Maggie Boyle in Wansolwara and this terrific feature by Jone Kalouniviti in Fiji's premier lifestyle magazine MaiLife.

Our co-operation with Jone and Fiji's award-winning media star Stanley Simpson also led to the airing of two terrific pro-Shark documentaries on MaiTV, first this first-hand testimony focusing on the necessity of protecting Fiji's Sharks,

you can watch the following 3 clips right here and on the following page

and then, this report about our work on the Shark nurseries in Fiji's rivers, featuring an impassioned and touching plea by Rusi for their protection.

Part 2 here.

Finally, we also produced Fiji's first-ever pro-Shark PSA featuring Fiji's very own Shark Man, our unique and unequaled Rusi.
Once again, our gratitude goes to the Shark Foundation and to PADI Project AWARE for their generous sponsorship, and to Imraz Iqbal of Niuwavemedia for his brilliant editing. I sincerely hope that they're as proud of the end result as we are!

English version here.

Niuwave also set up our brand new website.
It obviously will always be work in progress as we never cease to expand our research and conservation, to refine our procedures and to log an ever increasing number of Sharks - but we will do our utmost to always keep it updated and we invite everybody to familiarize themselves with its contents before booking a dive with us.

The other Fiji-wide initiative we were intimately involved in, was the Fiji contribution to the Shark Free Marinas Initiative where we took on the task of rolling it out throughout all of the Beqa region.
Spawned by the good people over at Shark Diver, it was taken up and coordinated locally by Stuart Gow of Matava. The Fiji contingent now numbers 21 participating marinas and game fishing operators and is very much on track to its ultimate goal, to have Fiji become “the first country to be proud to announce itself as a ‘Shark-Free Marinas’ Country”.
Kudos to Patric, Luke and Stuart for this epic achievement!

Talking of putting Fiji on the map, we were featured in countless international reviews and worked on some stunning film projects, one of which, BBC's South Pacific, aired to rave reviews.
We also very publicly refused to participate in a particularly nasty production for Discovery but were alas not successful in preventing its airing during this year's Shark Week. What amounts to a personal failure however seems to have triggered some positive consequences as we have been literally swamped with requests for A-listed pro-Shark programs, many of which are set to be aired to world-wide audiences in 2010.
The Blog continued to be popular, opinionated and controversial and we are now also on Facebook and a new member of Mark's brilliant iDive Sharks.

The research projects continued unabated.
The latest fish count yielded more than 420 species and when it comes to Juerg's Bull Shark Tagging Programme, the principal focus slowly shifted away from Shark Reef and towards our work in the rivers. And like always, Juerg just kept on cranking out papers, this time about Ecotourism and about one of the techniques we deploy when tagging the Sharks. And I know that there's several more which are currently being peer-reviewed, so keep watching this space!

And what about Beqa Adventure Divers?
As anticipated by Patric, after five years of BADness, 2009 was our best year ever.
Over 4,000 intrepid sharkaholics, reef divers and students braved the adverse circumstances and found their way to our humble abode in Pacific Harbour, allowing us to expand our staff to fifteen and to disburse over FJD 30,000 to our partners in the various villages in line with our Fiji Shark Project. And not only that: most of our dive gear has been replaced and both Hunter and Predator now run the low-emission Yamaha 150s. And yes, after many announcements, as of February, we shall be finally offering Nitrox!

Yes, that's a whole lot of links!
Dear friends, co-activists, readers, business partners and valued customers: Vinaka Vakalevu!
We all look forward to an equally fabulous and inspiring 2010!