Monday, December 3, 2018

Captivity or a Chance for Survival Revisited

    Welcome or welcome back everyone. To re-kick things off here I am going to actually take a look back at my very first blog that I posted back in 2012. It's a question that has become a massive debate since then and one that I had largely kept away from outside of some thoughts on Blackfish. It's been six years since I posted that blog and thoughts and feelings change, so before getting into all the stuff I'd like to get into here, I'd like to take a few minutes and share some thoughts.

Aquariums

    Aquariums, when done right can really be an incredible tool in raising awareness and helping conservation efforts of marine life. Yes, there are aquariums with dirty secrets, play dirty, and are a direct link to several species being exploited. That said, it is not all of them. The majority of Aquariums that you will find (in the United States anyway) have the primary goal of educating the public about the animals that they house. Honestly many of these are not animals that people will just sit at home and look up for themselves. These aren't elephants and lions that have been in the media for years and years. These are smaller animals like horseshoe crabs, sea stars, and menhaden that many people don't even know exist. They don't know they exist and they certainly don't know any issues they may be facing. Sure a lot of people have seen Jaws, but most have never even seen a real shark and are petrified of them from a movie. That's where the aquarium comes in as a massive tool for learning. Overall, the good that aquariums are doing largely outweigh the bad. Again, there are certain facilities that value entertainment and show over education. It's up to you to decide for yourself which is a good versus a bad one though. My feelings and my experience tells me that the majority of these facilities are by no means as awful as the media has stated in the years since Blackfish.

Dolphins

    Dolphins and captivity has been a debate that has raged on for a while now. It is one that I have so many mixed feelings about, but I feel like I can summarize it as this. Years ago, before Flipper or Free Willy came out, people were nowhere near as into dolphins as they are today. Back then dolphins were in a similar spot as so many other marine animals. Very little was known (we've only really started to understand them now) and people just didn't care that much. Since then the popularity of dolphins and our knowledge of what they are capable of has exploded. Dolphins, much like pandas, lions, and other notable mammals have the attention of the world. Is there a need for them in captivity though? I have mixed emotions on it. The thing is, it sounds like these animals are very much aware of their situation in captivity. They are incredibly social and wickedly smart. Should an animal like that be contained? I lean towards no honestly. I see the educational benefits. They are there and they are extremely valid. My feeling though is that these animals are popular enough that they do not need to be in captivity for people to take an interest in them. I sit on the beach here and anytime a pod of dolphins comes by it captivates the beach. Not for the silly behaviors and tricks that they can do, but for what they are. With all of that being said I do believe there is a special place in aquariums for dolphins that are no longer fit for the wild and require extra help to survive. Those that have been hit by boats, abandoned, sickly, and otherwise injured are prime examples of this situation.

Whales

    This is an easy one for me. I don't think whales have a real place in captivity. Many of the same reasons I feel this way can are the same as the dolphin category. Again, I understand the educational aspect of it, but again we are dealing with animals of great intelligence that know full well of the situation that they are in. At this point there really are only a few species of whale that are in captivity to begin with, but I do believe that enough people care about these animals that we don't need to be taking more of them out of the wild at this point. That could always change, but that's my feelings on it at the moment.

Rays

    Rays come in all shapes and sizes. When people hear the term "ray" the first thing that normally comes to mind is a sting ray. The disc shaped bottom dwelling sting ray. I feel like that's a problem. There are all kinds of rays out there. Some massive like the manta ray, others not. Whatever the case, people do not know anywhere near enough about these animals. Many people would be hard pressed to even recognize that different species of rays exist as opposed to just "sting rays". Walk into an aquarium and chances are you will see many species of ray, sometimes within the same tank. Each one vastly different from the other, but you would never have known it. We know so little about these animals and their presence in aquariums is nothing but a good thing for many of the species in existence. Side note: Keeping large species of ray in tanks that are too small is not acceptable at all...

Sharks

    Saved the best for last. Sharks in captivity are pivotal to their survival. The other species that I have typed about so far all have their fair share of issues, but sharks are a very special in regards to this blog. Unless you've lived in an area with no technology (how are you reading this?) over the past well thirty plus years, chances are you have probably heard something about the animal known as the shark. Chances are also probably pretty high that you haven't heard many good things about sharks. Sadly sharks in the media very rarely get any form of positive statements. It's usually reports of sharks biting people or Shark Week shows full of bloody waters and what not. I digress. Sharks are needed in captivity today to make sure that these animals are around in the future. Millions upon millions of sharks are being killed every year for a variety of reasons (though none really legitimate) and largely, nobody knows. Will there be a white shark years from now? How about a thresher shark? It's entirely possible there wont be unless people act, continue to act, and continue to work to save them. The first step in doing that is educating people that these animals are not the blood thirsty creatures that we see on the big screen. I know many people who won't step foot in the Ocean because they think a shark will kill them instantly. It's not good.

    Aquariums are leading the charge in education when it comes to sharks. The truth is out there, but many people will only believe what they see on T.V. until they see it for themselves. At an aquarium you'll see sharks coexisting with other animals and not constantly tearing them apart. You'll see that there is intelligence there outside of mindless eating machines. You'll learn just how incredible their senses are and just how sensitive these animals can be. No, they're not as cute and cuddly as the panda at the zoo, but that doesn't matter and the role they play in the world far surpasses many others on land or in the sea.

    To wrap this whole thing up, Aquariums still have a place in the world. It's been a debate. Some people want every animal freed, some want none freed, some want marine mammals freed, and some want specific species freed or at least placed in sea pens or something. I fall into the last category overall. Sharks, rays, and countless other marine life need some form of representation. Whale and dolphin watching is a huge thing now. They don't need to be in a tank. What about those not near a coast that wants to see them? It's a part of life. Not everyone is near everything. If you live in the Midwestern United States and want to see some crazy animal not found in any nearby zoo, you have to travel. Some animals just don't do well in captivity and history shows us that cetaceans aren't really the best in captivity. Not saying there wasn't a time for them, but I think that time has largely passed. As far as other marine life. Aquariums remain a hope for the survival of the species.   

Monday, November 26, 2018

2018 Reboot

    It has been nearly two years since I have posted on here. I'm not ready to disclose the details of what has been going on in my life for that past couple years, but one thing I have to admit I stepped away from. I stepped away from the fight to save sharks and other marine life. It wasn't a choice that I made easily, and it was certainly not one that I took lightly or one that I fully wanted to make. It was a choice I made to dedicate my time on a different, unrelated cause. That cause came to an end a little bit ago and now I have made the choice to rejoin a fight that, if you look at the history here, I was at one point pretty involved in. So what is ahead here?

    My plan is to begin blogging on a regular basis again soon. The question I am still trying to figure out in my head though is just what I will be blogging about. As was always the case, sharks are going to be the main focus here. I will probably restart doing educational blogs on different shark species as well as shark related news. I've been out of the loop for a bit with all of this, so please bear with me as I get myself caught up while trying to get you caught up as well. Another big focus on this blog was whaling. As I got news from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as to what was going on in the Southern Ocean between themselves and Japan I would blog about it. Nowadays anti whaling is mostly taking place in the courts and information is pretty scarce. I'm thinking I'll post about whaling still from time to time to keep the awareness up that this is still happening in 2019/2019.

    As far as my involvement with Sea Shepherd goes, I currently am not involved with them, but I'll say never say never about being in touch with them again down the line. Another thing I used to blog heavily on was dolphins. For a while this blog really became a dolphin first blog as I got heavily involved in Anonymous's Operation Killingbay and Operation Killbay 2. Both of those were all about spreading the crimes in Taiji, Japan, as far as we could while other members went after various targets via hacking. Now I have no involvement with them either. Again, not saying I never will again, but right now I think I'm going to take the same approach as I am with whales. Keep the awareness up, but not focus so much on anything really educational about the various species and what not. At least not yet.

    Lastly, this blog used to have a focus on overfishing and manta rays. This focus was mainly back in 2015 as I tracked Sea Shepherd's epic battle against illegal toothfish poachers. For now I don't really know how much of these topics I am going to cover. Certainly overfishing is a massive problem, but it is one that I will be able to incorporate in a large number of shark blogs. As far as mantas go... They are rays after all, so I will continue to blog about them as they fall into the same bracket for me as sharks.

I'll end this reboot blog there then. Welcome to or welcome back to A Voice for the Voiceless. This blog is dedicated to increasing the awareness of marine life conservation issues including dolphins, whales, rays, and sharks. Along with conservation issues this blog will help to give people more knowledge on some of the most misunderstood creatures on the planet, sharks and rays. Thank you for reading and stay tuned because there is much, much more to come.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sea Shepherd Locates the Japanese Whaling Fleet

    Hello everyone and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and whatever other holiday you choose to celebrate! Just a few minutes ago on Sea Shepherd Global's Facebook page it was announced that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has located the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. According to the Facebook post, the two Sea Shepherd vessels located one of the harpoon vessels in thick fog hiding out behind an iceberg. The harpoon ship apparently emerged from behind the iceberg and took a collision course with the two other ships, though no collision was reported.

    This marks the first meeting between the activists and the whaling fleet in a few years. Last year, Sea Shepherd continued to battle the Japanese whaling fleet in court as it illegally returned to the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary while it also operated an operation against illegal fishing in the area. At the time, the Sea Shepherds did not have a ship that was not already involved in another campaign capable of outspeeding the whaling fleet. The year before that, the whaling fleet took a year off after their whaling program was deemed to be commercial and not scientific.

    So what does the discovery of a harpoon ship mean? Well it means that the factory ship is close by. If the factory ship is located, the Sea Shepherds can do what they have done in the past and block the slipway of the factory ship. That action prevents the whaling fleet from transferring whales from the harpoon ships onto the factory ship. In years past Sea Shepherd has had varying success in keeping near the factory ship. Some years were more successful than others, but all seasons have done big time damage to the profits of the whaling fleet as they have had to continue to dedicate resources to try and shake Sea Shepherd. Every day that they are dealing with Sea Shepherd is a day they are not whaling. The biggest advantage the whaling fleet had in years past was speed. The whaling fleet had even upgraded it's aging factory vessel to give it more speed and with some help, it would be able to get away. Another advantage of the whaling fleet is the numbers game. The whaling fleet at one point had three harpoon ships, the factory ship, a security ship, all down in the Southern Ocean opposing what was three Sea Shepherd ships. This year though the game has changed a bit. The numbers game remains in favor of the whaling fleet, but this year, Sea Shepherd has the speed advantage with their new ship.

    In years past, when the Sea Shepherds located a harpoon ship, the whaling fleet would begin to move around and the harpoon ship would tail the Sea Shepherds and keep the rest of the fleet alerted to where they were. Now though the harpoon ship will be able to follow the one, slower Sea Shepherd vessel, but the new one will out-speed and eventually vanish off the harpoon ship's radar. At that point the ship will potentially have a clear shot to the factory ship. Sea Shepherd is hopeful that they will have located the factory ship before Christmas. Whether or not that will happen, we all wait and see, but one thing is for sure. The Sea Shepherds have located the whaling fleet and have now began cutting into their profits as they occupy one of the harpoon vessels.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Whale Wars Set To Reignite?

    Greetings everyone. It has been quite a while once again. Since my last blog, life once again decided that it had some other plans for me and I have not been able to actually type up a blog. That's quite unfortunate because there is a lot of stuff that I would have liked to had covered as it happened, but I'll just have to touch on it as I go now. Long story short... Honeymoon planning, work, wedding thank you cards, and various other things all stacked onto one another and really prevented me from blogging. Also, I did not want to post anything during election season considering the issues surrounding both candidates and the varying views on environmental stuff, I did not want the blog to go in a direction I never intended it to go in. With the election over and life finally slowing down a little bit I am happy to be sitting at the keyboard again blogging about things that are going on in our Oceans. Awareness and education remain the key of this blog and that continues with this blog entry.

   Japan's whaling fleet has left it's home country and is once again heading to the Southern Ocean to hunt whales for what the country deems as scientific research. Back in 2014 the International Court ruled that Japan's whaling program was not scientific, but commercial whaling which there is currently a moratorium on. So Japan was forced to scrap it's program and the whaling fleet stayed in port for the 2014-2015 season. The following season however, Japan defied the International Court and returned to the Southern Ocean and hunted down roughly 300 minke whales. This number was significantly lower than past hunts which also saw humpback and endangered fin whales hunted as well. The Japanese whaling fleet's quota for this season is 333 minke whales, which is the same as it was a year ago.

    While the whaling fleet steams south, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society continues to prepare itself to once again head south and oppose the whaling fleet. Last year, Sea Shepherd sent one ship down to the Southern Ocean to oppose illegal activities such as toothfish poaching and whaling. They never set eyes on the whaling fleet, but the group did cause all kinds of problems for illegal fishermen in the area. One of the main reasons that Sea Shepherd did not see the whaling fleet last year was that the whaling fleet had a significant speed advantage. Anytime the whaling fleet would have even sniffed Sea Shepherd in the area, they'd be gone. This year though could prove to be a different story as Sea Shepherd has claimed it will once again be going to the Southern Ocean to oppose Japan's whaling program directly. The group is hoping to catch the whaling fleet with their brand new ship "Ocean Warrior".

Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
    
    This ship could once again turn the tide in the battle of the Southern Ocean as it is faster than any ship in the whaling fleet. It also has a helipad so in addition to whatever radar systems the ship has, it will have the added benefit of a helicopter in the sky as well. Perhaps to combat this new ship, or just to increase their area, the Japanese whaling fleet has doubled the area in which it's ships will be hunting. Currently the Japanese whaling fleet is heading south and will remain there until sometime in March, 2017. The "Ocean Warrior" is currently docked in Australia awaiting it's time to head south and try to intercept the whaling fleet.  It is interesting to note that Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson and the rest of Sea Shepherd USA remain unable to assist Sea Shepherd Australia due to a court ruling against them by the United States Government. Only time will tell if the Whale Wars that climaxed a few years ago in a heated season that saw several collisions including one with a refueling ship.

    As I have done in the past I will try to keep everyone updated here on what is going on in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. However, for any breaking news I advise following Sea Shepherd Australia on Facebook and Twitter if they have one and keep watch at www.seashepherd.org . Stay tuned as I will have more blogs coming in the near future. One of my next blogs will probably be an update on the Cove in Taiji, Japan as that slaughter is well underway.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Two More Species of Shark Officially Endangered

    Hello again everyone. Today's blog will be much shorter than my last, but has extremely important news in it. Earlier this month one species of shark was upgraded (or downgraded depending how you look at it) from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN's Red List. Another species of shark jumped from Near Threatened to Endangered as well. In addition, the Bornean Orangutan was upgraded to Critically Endangered... Just one small step from extinction. Today I'll be focusing on the two shark species, moreso one than the other. For more information on the orangutan you'll have to head to google or yahoo or whatever search engine of your choice.

    The first shark I'll admit I know little about as it is not a local species of shark to me and have only been learning about it over the past few days. This species of shark was listed on the IUCN's Red List as Near Threatened back in 2003. Earlier this month it was relisted as Endangered. This species is commonly known as the winghead shark or the slender hammerhead shark. This species of shark can be found in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans along the continental shelf. As is the case with many species throughout this shark's range, this species is dealing with intense exploitation. As with other hammerheads, the winghead shark is highly sought after for it's fins. It is also sought after as one of the few species of shark sold for it's meat (for fishmeal). Extremely high catch rates throughout it's range (with the exception of Australia where populations seem to be a bit more stable) have caused a steady decline in this slowly maturing species of shark. Unlike several other species of shark, the winghead shark currently has no protections other than Australia's fisheries laws.

    The second shark is one that I have blogged about multiple times on this blog and it is quite heartbreaking for me to have to type this out. The second shark on this list was been upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered. That species of shark is the largest fish in the oceans, the whale shark. As I've mentioned time and times again in the past, this species of shark can grow to be over forty feet and weigh several tons. Despite it's size the whale shark is one of the most gentle fish in the seas. It's throat is about the size of a quarter and it's mouth can open to be four feet wide. Truly and incredible animal, but sadly, an animal that is now endangered. The whale shark inhabits all but the Southern Ocean in areas where warm water occurs. In the Atlantic they have been seen as far north as New Jersey and as far south as South Africa. In the Pacific Ocean they can found from China to Australia. They can also be found throughout the Indian Ocean as well. It is in the Indo-Pacific that these animals are currently facing the most pressure. Population declines are now estimated to be over fifty percent which is a terrible situation. In southern China there is a very large whale shark fishing operation that continues to grow. It is this fishery that is now the largest threat to the whale sharks of the Indo-Pacific. Unlike the winghead, the whale shark does have several protections including being listed of Appendix II of CITES, Annex 1 (highly migratory) of UNCLOS, among others along with various nations have their own laws in regards to catching this shark as well. The whale shark is in big demand for it's fins, liver oil, and meat (used for various products). One whale shark fin can sell for over fifty thousand dollars. These animals now more than ever need our help and now time is clearly their enemy.

Stay tuned for more whale shark related blogs in the near future! Remember. Extinction is forever. If we lose these animals now. We will never have a chance at bringing them back.


Friday, August 12, 2016

The Twelve Days of Terror 100 Years Later

    Hello again everyone! I hope everything has been going well with all of you. Today's topic is one that I've been debating on blogging about for nearly a month. I've referenced it a lot recently, so I feel that it'd be good to cover the topic as I can't seem to find a single blog about it on here. That topic would be the events that took place along the Jersey Shore from July 1st through July 12th, 1916. It was during this time that a series of fatal shark attacks sent the nation into a shark panic. The events would later go on to inspire both Peter Benchley's book entitled "Jaws" and the movie by the same name. Since this is a shark conservation blog I want to make a quick statement. This blog is going to 100% true. There are no opinions on these matters as they are historical and did take place. After I've gone through the events I will offer my thoughts on the matter and also go into some of the lasting effects from the events that happened one hundred years ago this past July. Fair warning to those reading, the events that took place in 1916 may not be suitable for all audiences, so if you are easily disturbed you may want to avoid reading.

    What has become known as the twelve days of terror began on July 1st, 1916. Charles Vansant, a 25 year old man from Philadelphia was on vacation in Beach Haven, a small town that is part of Long Beach Island. Before dinner, Vansant decided to go for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Shortly after entering the water, the dog exited the water and Vansant began shouting. Originally bathers and other beachgoers thought that Vansant was simply calling out to the dog. In reality though, he was being bitten by a shark. Once they realized the peril Vansant was in, the lifeguard, Alexander Ott, as well as another beachgoer, Sheridan Taylor rushed to his aid. The two men quickly loaded Vansant into the lifeguard boat. It was there they noticed the severity of the injuries. Taylor claimed that the shark followed the lifeguard boat all the way to shore. Vansant was carried to the Engleside Hotel where he died from blood loss at 6:45pm.

    News of Vansant's death made it to the newspapers, but there was no real urgency. Scientists remained reluctant to admit that Vansant was actually bitten by a shark. Some would only say that he was bitten by a large fish. Beaches along the Jersey Shore remained open. In the days following ships docking in New York and New Jersey had claimed to have seen large sharks swimming in the waters near shore. Vansant's death faded into the back of many people's minds and for a few days things were quiet. Then on July 6th, 1916 the next incident occurred. One of the bell captains at the Essex and Sussex Hotel in Spring Lake, New Jersey named Charles Bruder, 27, was swimming just over one hundred yards from shore. It was there that a shark bit him in the abdomen. The bite was large enough so sever both of Bruder's legs. Some women on the beach heard Bruder's screams and informed a lifeguard that it looked like a red canoe had capsized. In reality the red the women were seeing was actually the blood in the water coming from Bruder's mid section. The two lifeguards, Chris Anderson and George White paddled out in their lifeboat to Bruder where they realized that he had been bitten by a shark.  The two lifeguards pulled Bruder into the boat, but Bruder would bleed to death in the lifeboat.

    The news of Bruder's death was picked up by far more outlets than Vansant's was. The backlash of the attack had a big impact on tourism as losses following the attack were estimated at $250,000 dollars, which was a lot more money then than it is today. Bathing in some areas plummeted by roughly 75% and the fear of sharks in the United States was really born. In the following days multiple reports of close calls and shark sightings were reported. One of the lifeguards at an Asbury Park beach claimed to have beaten off a large shark with his oar while out on his lifeboat. Armed fishermen also claimed to have chased off a large shark as well at Spring Creek. Scientists advised that that a third encounter with a shark was unlikely, but also advised swimmers to swim in netted off areas that were installed following the first attack. Despite these reports of near attacks, there had been no attacks confirmed, but the shark panic had already set in to many New Jersey beach towns.

    The tense situation would continue until July 12th, where one of the more mysterious and startling things in the history of the state of New Jersey happened. Thomas Cottrell was on his boat in the Matawan Creek and claimed to have spotted an eight foot long shark in the creek. Upon seeing the shark, he rushed into town to warn everyone to stay out of the water. Matawan is a town in New Jersey that is set inland. In addition the Matawan Creek is largely fresh water which is the exact opposite of the salt water of the ocean. The people of Matawan dismissed Cottrell who returned to his boat to warn anyone who may be swimming in the creek to get out of the water. Further up the creek a few boys were swimming. At around 2:00pm a you boy named Lester Stillwell, 11, was one of the boys swimming in the area of the Matawan Creek known as Wyckoff Dock. Stillwell and the other boys attempted to get out of the water when they saw a fin and large dark shape moving towards them in the water. The other boys made it out of the water, but Stillwell was grabbed by the shark and vanished into the murky water.

    The other boys ran back to town to get help. Several men, including Stanley Fisher, 24, rushed to the dock and into the water to try and rescue Stillwell whom the townsfolk believed had a seizure in the water. Fisher located Stillwell's body, but was also attacked by a shark while trying to return to shore. Fisher's left thigh was severely damaged and he bled to death at Monmouth Memorial Hospital. Stillwell's body would be recovered on July 14th. About a half hour after Fisher was attacked Joseph Dunn, 14, was swimming in the creek about a half mile away from where Stillwell and Fisher were attacked. Dunn was also attacked by a shark in the freshwater creek, but was rescued by his brother and taken to Saint Peter's University Hospital where he recovered and was released on September 15, 1916. This marked the end of the 1916 shark attacks, but not the end of the chaos that ensured.

    The people of Matawan took to the creek with guns, nets, and even dynamite in an attempt to kill the shark that had attacked the three young men.


Newspapers featured the attacks with pictures of both Stillwell and Fisher who had lost their lives in the attacks.


    The mayor of Matawan also put out a bounty on the shark of one hundred dollars (worth a lot back then than it is now). While the people of Matawan tried to kill the shark in the creek, elsewhere anti shark measures were ramping up. Armed boats patrolled many beaches and all kinds of theories began appearing as to just what had transpired over the last twelve days. In the days following July 12th, multiple confirmed shark catches were reported. One angler caught a blue shark near Long Branch which is not far from Matawan. Cottrell reported that he caught a sandbar shark near the mouth of the creek on July 16th. The most interesting and seemingly the one with the most impact was the catching of a young great white shark by Michael Schleisser in the Raritan Bay which is very close to the Matawan Creek. The shark was caught on July 14th and was deemed to have human remains in it's stomach by scientists. The shark was put on display in Manhattan, but at some point was lost and the only remains of that shark is this famous picture. 


    Despite the capture of multiple sharks, the theories continued to come in. One captain suggested that the shark was actually a Spanish shark driven to the east coast during the Spanish-American War. Others believed it to be the work of German U-Boats that were in the area. The popular theory that a single "rogue" shark was responsible for all the attacks also came to life shortly after the attacks ended. To this day nobody knows for sure just what shark was responsible for the events that took place in 1916, but knowing what we now know about sharks today, we can see that nearly all of these attacks can be looked at in different ways. Before looking at those different views it is important to remember the time. Science by no means was what it is today back in 1916. The amount that we knew about sharks then versus now is incredible and in the end we still don't know all that much.

    Looking at these attacks in a different view it can be theorized that all of the people who were attacked had put themselves at a higher risk of being attacked. Vansant was swimming alone with a dog. We now know that the awkward swimming of a dog gives off strange electromagnetic pulses that sharks can detect. The shark probably arrived while hunting the dog that had gotten out of the water, still noticed Vansant and took a bite. The big thing here is that the shark did not eat Vansant. Bruder also decided to swim alone and in deeper waters and at a time of day where sharks are now known to be more active. Stillwell, Fisher, and Dunn were all victims of a really freak incident. Seeing sharks in fresh water is rare, even bull sharks are not frequently found in fresh water despite being able to survive in it. The biggest thing the three boys had going against them was the murky waters where even a shark's vision would be reduced which would cause the animal to rely even more on it's ability to detect electromagnetic pulses. In looking at these attacks in this way one could make a determination that all of these attacks really were the result of unfortunate circumstances. As is the case with basically all theories about these attacks. It's a theory and nothing more.

    Since the attacks of 1916, there has been one fatal shark attack in the state of New Jersey. In one hundred years, there has been just one fatal attack. Despite that, a fear of sharks is still a very real thing and from 1916 onward, that fear has evolved and grown into one of the most irrational and over-broadcasted fears in the nation. For example, when a shark is seen swimming in the ocean, the media will often pick up on it and of course put a bit of an urgent spin on it. Just because a shark is seen in shallow water does not mean the water is "shark infested". Movies are still constantly in the works with shark going around killing people left and right. Even video games are putting people up against monstrous sharks. It's all over the place that sharks and people just do not mix and that is far from the truth. We dominate the land, they are supposed to be the ones dominating the seas.The fact that we as a species are so afraid of sharks is confusing to me. On one hand, yes, some species certainly have the ability to do tremendous damage to a human and that should be respected. On the other hand what we do to them should really turn our heads and help us realize how important these animals are.

    In regards to the 1916 shark attacks and my personal feelings about them I can only say this. The 1916 shark attacks were a series of really freak and unfortunate incidents. What species of shark was responsible for the attacks may never be one hundred percent known, but I'm in the ballpark of believing that a bull shark was at least responsible for the Matawan Creek attacks. I think people today are more aware of shark than they were in 1916 and beach patrols, life guards, etc are far more vigilant in getting people out of the water as soon as a fin is spotted. When I read all kinds of articles and blogs about these attacks I find that a major thing is missing that I feel is extremely important and really puts everything into perspective as to how rare of an incident these attacks were.

    To keep everything is perspective. While sharks kill under ten people per year on average, people are still killing over seventy five million sharks every year. That is a massive and I mean massive difference in the who's killing who game. Sharks kill people on accident. People kill sharks maliciously and in some of the most disturbing ways available. One example is finning in which a shark's fins are cut off and the shark is tossed back to sea. That's basically the same as a person have their arms and legs cut off and thrown on a beach. Shark fin soup continues to be a driving factor in why sharks are being hunted down, but sharks are still being killed for various other reasons including trophies, money, and fear. The 1916 shark attacks is a very important event to know about in understanding the relationship between many people and sharks. One of the biggest reasons for this is again that these attacks inspired the movie Jaws which really sent the nation into a shark fear frenzy. Remember that these animals are at the top of the food chain. They vanish, the oceans they live in will change in a big negative way forever.  









 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Shark Mania NJ!

Hello everyone and welcome as always. Today's blog is going to be a quick one as I quickly take a look at some events that have been going on over the past few days as there has been quite a few shark related things going on.

First off, a video has surfaced of a 13 year old catching a sand tiger shark from the beach in Long Beach Island. The shark was estimated to be around 7 feet in length and the kid and his father were trying to catch stingrays when the shark grabbed a hold of the bait. I've gotta say that a 13 year old getting a big sand tiger onto the beach is no easy feat so that impressed me personally. Once on the beach the dad and kid took a couple quick photos of the shark then quickly released it back into the water. Sand tiger sharks are a protected species so releasing it was absolutely the correct thing to do. In addition, the father/son duo didn't go all crazy with their catch. There was no passing the shark around and from the looks of it, I'd say the shark never left the ground throughout the brief time it was out of the water.So there's a sand tiger shark literally being caught in the surf. The video of the catch was all over the news yesterday so a quick google search should find it for you. For the privacy of the names of the kid and father and what not, I'm not going to post it here.

Next there's a bit of a mystery as to just what was swimming off the beach in Belmar a few days ago. Beachgoers were shocked to see two fins hanging around in the surf. The controversy lies in just what those fins belonged to. The town Mayor claims that the fins belonged to bullnose rays that were playing in the surf. Meanwhile Erich Ritter, a research associate from the University of West Florida claims the fins could have been from one of many species of shark. To me, the video shows a few young sharks going after something, probably some bunker that has been nearly endless in the area lately. Similar reports of seeing smaller fins circling and splashing was also reported in nearby Spring Lake just days before. Chances are these are young sharks investigating their surroundings, but they're so small I'm not going to guess the species, I'll leave that up to the experts.

Last week a couple fishermen were shocked off the coast of Atlantic City when a great white shark appeared at their boat while they were fishing for other shark species. The great white made a few passes by the boat, occasionally rolling onto it's side to check out the boat and fishermen. It apparently took a small investigative bite on the back of the boat and eventually left.

The point here is just as I said a couple blogs ago. Sharks are in the Ocean and they come to New Jersey every year. The small sharks off Belmar were chasing food around, if the kid on Long Beach Island was going for stingrays, then wouldn't you know it, a shark was around because sharks eat stingrays, and a great white appeared by a boat that was trying to catch other sharks, thus luring the great white to food. It's all about the food chain here and where they prey will go, the predators will follow. That's the way the seas have worked forever, so again, the sharks are not there because you are there, they are there because they have to be to eat and really try and keep the lesser fish populations in check. I'm hopeful more of these amazing animals are seen because they are really signifying a healthier ocean. I can personally attest to that as the last time I was on a boat from Point Pleasant to Belmar, there were literally millions and millions of bunker. Five years ago you'd be lucky if you saw any while cruising around. Where the food is the sharks will follow, but the key is. The bunker is the food, not the humans!

Stay tuned for more shark stuff coming soon!