Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Shark Summer 2012

Now that summer has officially come to New Jersey, thousands of people will be flocking to the beaches and entering the Ocean. Whenever a shark is seen in New Jersey it sets off a panic. Shark sightings are so rare, but at the same time, sharks are always around New Jersey during the summertime. In fact you can find some of the most famous sharks in the world just off the coast of New Jersey. Let's take a quick run through of these sharks...


                                                                        Sand Tiger Shark

Sandbar Shark

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Shortfin Mako Shark

Whale Shark

Okay so these are just a few of the sharks that you can find off the coast of New Jersey during the summer months. With the exception of the dogfish, every one of these sharks is threatened with extinction. Some of these sharks are more common in our waters than others. The sand tiger shark is the most common large species of shark in New Jersey, more so off the coast of Atlantic City than other areas. Whale sharks are very rare, but they do venture into New Jersey waters from time to time. Sandbar sharks tend to stick to more shallow waters and are often the species of shark that are seen very close to shore.Shortfin mako sharks, the fastest shark in the world, usually stays in deeper waters, but is a very popular game fish despite their plummeting populations. We also get the famous scalloped hammerhead here in New Jersey. These sharks do come close to shore, but for the most part they swim in deeper waters. Along with these sharks we get a wide variety of other sharks including bull sharks, tiger sharks, nurse sharks, blue sharks, porbeagles, basking sharks, and perhaps the most popular shark of all time...

Great White Shark

Yes, we get the mighty great white shark every year here in New Jersey. These animals generally stay offshore and are rarely seen, but they are here none the less. They pass right by New Jersey on their migration route North from Florida. There are currently 3 confirmed attacks in New Jersey by a great white. Out of those 2 of them were fatal, the latest being in 1916. Of course, when people hear the name great white shark, the first thing that comes to mind is one word... Jaws. These animals are not some monster from a movie that is out to eat anyone who enters the water. It's disgusting how the media has turned these creatures into monsters. The scary thing is that all of the media attention to these sharks have led to so many sharks being killed that great white sharks are now considered to be more endangered than tigers. Great white sharks have ruled the Oceans for many, many years, but now man is quickly driving them to extinction. If you ever get the opportunity to see one of these amazing creatures, do not fear it. It is a living, breathing animal that is capable of thought, just like us. Sure they may not be able to think to the extent that we do or do the things that we do, but everything they do, just like us requires thought and in many cases strategy. 

In total... New Jersey has seen a grand total of 18 shark attacks in the state of New Jersey since 1670. The latest fatality was in 1960. Despite all of these big named sharks that come to New Jersey, attacks are incredibly rare. Many times these sharks will swim right by you and you would never even know it. As mentioned before... Just about every species of shark that I typed up are seriously threatened with extinction. There are many more sharks that come to New Jersey that are also threatened with extinction that I did not mention.  Every year, over 20,000,000 sharks are killed for their fins and other reasons. Shark populations are quickly decreasing. The majority of people in the world have never seen a shark in real life. Those who have know of their beauty and mystery. It is up to us to save each and every one of these species of shark to ensure that future generations will be able to experience the same feeling we who have seen a shark will feel. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Southern Ocean Runs Red With.... Money?

Every year Japan sends a whaling fleet down to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The chosen catch of the whalers include Minkie whales, Humpback whales, and Fin whales. Every year the whaling fleet goes down there and well... Words cannot describe exactly what happens. The best way for people to really get a grasp as to what goes on down there is to watch. I must warn you though, if you go to this link you will see the Japanese whaling fleet harpooning a minkie whale and kill it over the course of 25 minutes. Anyway. If you choose to watch go to this link.

Pretty terrible stuff huh? Believe it or not, this goes on every year. It's not just 1 whale they kill. They set out to kill hundreds of whales every year. Luckily for the whales, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been able to greatly cut down on the number of whales being killed. To find out exactly what Sea Shepherd does to prevent the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary visit

So why does this brutal slaughter take place every year? Lets go back in time to a much simpler time. The time before large metal ships existed. The time before explosive tipped harpoons existed. Throughout the world during this time whaling was a huge thing. Whale oil had several uses that helped average people live their lives in the best way they could for that time period. Since whales came close to shore, fisherman would go out and kill a whale to feed their families for sometimes months. Being an isolated island nation, whaling in Japan was a tradition that was handed down through generations. As time passed technology improved. Suddenly fisherman were no longer able to just supply whale for their families. They could supply it for the entire country! For a long time whale was a very popular food, but thanks to Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, and other conservation groups, less and less Japanese are eating whale. The majority of Japanese people now understand not only the environmental impacts on killing so many whales, but the impact whale has on their own bodies. Still though, a small group of Japanese are so enthralled in the old tradition of whaling that no matter what is said, they just don't seem to listen.

In Japan there is a small number of people who still eat whale, but it's the Japanese Government that is really driving the continuation of whaling in Japan.  In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in an effort to save whale populations. There is a loophole in the law that allows whales to be killed for scientific research. The remains of the whales can then be sold so it does not go to waste. The Southern Ocean is designated as a whale sanctuary which means that no whales should be killed down there to begin with. Japan goes down every year to kill their whales in the name of research. Japan has not discovered a single thing over the last few years from their scientific whaling. Many nations feel that Japan is simply covering their illegal commercial whaling operations under the name of research. In several attempts to have the rule reversed, Japan has been caught bribing poorer nations and even threatening others if they do not vote with Japan.

The Japanese government have tried and tried to get whaling back into the big picture of Japanese culture. In reality it is a dead tradition that is being kept on life support by the government and a small group of fisherman. Thanks to the efforts by Sea Shepherd, this year the Japanese whalers caught under 25% of their quota. So far, over 75% of that catch has not sold at all and there is still whale meat in warehouses from last year. Over the past two years the Japanese Whaling Fleet has cost Japan millions of dollars. This includes money from the tsunami relief fund that went directly into nothing more than increasing security.Clearly whaling in the Southern Ocean is costing Japan and her citizens an incredible amount of money.In reality there is no need for this dying tradition to exist let alone its existence in a whale sanctuary. The people of Japan hardly eat it and in reality, consuming whale is not in the least bit healthy.

Similar to sharks and dolphins, whales are generally at the top of the food chain. What that means is that just like other marine animals that eat other marine animals, there is a dangerously high level of Mercury inside of a whale. This has led many people to stop eating whale as it is highly reccomended that people do not eat whale. The drop in demand in Japan has led to the near bankruptcy of the whaling industry. The Japanese whaling fleet has largely fallen apart, falling from 7 ships strong to just a couple harpoon ships and a factory ship. Still though, the Samurai spirit of the Japanese government has not yet surrendered to the fact that this tradition has been put to bed by the people of Japan.

The "Crime" Ridden Fight To Save Sharks

Shark finning is a major issue in the world today and it is one that is largely unregulated. Several countries have enacted laws that prohibit shark finning, but the countries are so poor that they simply cannot enforce the laws because they cannot afford to have boats monitoring shark fishing. As a result, the poaching of sharks continues to spread like wildfire. You might ask yourself why this is a huge deal, after all, there are other animals in the world that are being poached, so why is this such a big deal? The answer can be found in the statistics. For example, scientists now believe that there are fewer great white sharks in the Oceans than tigers on land. Tiger are incredibly endangered. What does that say for the great white? The list goes on and on with the names of sharks threatened with extinction, but that blog is for another day. It's needless to say that sharks are in an incredible amount of danger and need people to protect them.

There are many conservation groups out there that fight to save sharks. Most of them do it through political means and gaining popular opinion. One group, the ever controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Yes, the same ones from Whale Wars), goes out and physically patrols areas where shark poaching runs rampant. For example, Sea Shepherd plays an active role in the protection of sharks around the Galapagos Islands and is able to prevent illegal activities from occurring with permission from the Galapagos officials. Sadly though, protecting these animals runs both a high risk and a high price...

Back in 2002, Sea Shepherd interuppted an illegal shark finning campaign off the coast of Guatemala, with the permission of the Guatamalan Government. No body was injured and the entire operation of shutting the illegal activities down was documented on video. The poachers went on to complain to the Costa Rican government claiming that the Sea Shepherds had threatened their lives. Sea Shepherd was chased out of Costa Rican waters ending the relationship between the organization and the country of Costa Rica. It is clearly documented that the Sea Shepherds did not intervene against the poachers until permission was granted by the government of Guatemala. Fast forward ten years and a major event occurs. The Sea Shepherd founder and captain Paul Watson is arrested in Germany due to a warrent that was put out from Costa Rica ten years earlier.The captain now waits for word that will either lead to his release or ultimately his death. For more information on this story PLEASE VISIT

In New Jersey and other states, fisherman have argued that it would be a crime to ban the possession of shark fins. They claim that none of the bills in state houses have any credit to them and should not be considered. Economically, there would be no backlash at all from banning the possession of shark fins. Yes that would mean buisnesses would have to remove shark fin soup from their menus, but the laws in California, Hawaii, Washington and Illinois have not by any means injured the economy. The fisherman have no real ground to stand on, but their intentions are clear. They wish to continue the slaughter of "man eaters".

Other countries have banned shark finning as well. Four days ago, the country of Venezuela banned the practice of shark finning and created an area deemed a shark sanctuary where any shark caught must be landed with its fins naturally attached. Remember though, just because a law is in place, does not mean that everyone will follow it. Shark poachers are sure to show up in Venezuela, but the question is whether or not the country will be able to do anything about it. 

The fight to save sharks rages on. Both sides claim that crimes are being committed by the opposite side. That rights are being trampled. That lively hoods are being taken away. The question is. What's more impossible? A career change or coming back to life. Extinction is forever and that is the direction that sharks are heading in if we don't realize that shark finning MUST be stopped worldwide NOW.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Medicinal Myths of Sharks

It is one of the greatest medical myths of our time. The myth that sharks do not get cancer. For many years people believed that sharks for some strange reason were immune to getting cancer. Scientists would find years later that shark do indeed get cancer just as humans do, but the cases of sharks having cancer are few and far between. Still though, these sharks effectively debunked the belief that sharks were unable to get this disease. Scientists believed that something involving the shark's cartilage was responsible for preventing cancer, thus a tidal wave of misinformation began to build. It wouldn't take long before people began to sell shark cartilage in pill form as both a cure and a preventative of cancer. It wouldn't take long for people to realize that taking these pills did nothing to prevent or outright cure cancer. Still though, scientists and people around the world remained baffled at just how few sharks had been popping up with the disease. The shark's cartridge remained the target of much study. 

Finally scientists came to a conclusion. When taken orally (in pill form), shark cartilage does nothing to prevent the spreading of cancer nor does it prevent the disease from forming in the first place. The only thing scientists were able to uncover was that when injected directly into a cancerous tumor, shark cartilage would cause the tumor to shrink. It would not kill the tumor, but it would shrink it. Aside from that finding, shark cartilage appears to have no direct effect on cancer.

Despite the myth being debunked, many people still believe that sharks do not get cancer and that these animals hold the key to curing the disease and continue to ingest shark cartilage pills to prevent cancer.

You can find these pills at many pharmacies. However, nobody seems to truly know exactly what their purpose is. I asked a few people who work at a few different GNC stores and got several different stories. One teller assured me that the pills were to prevent cancer. Another told me that the pills are designed to improve the human circulatory system. Yet another told me that it was to help prevent Arthritis and Carpel Tunnel. None of these people were able to tell me what the true function of shark cartilage pills are. In fact, nobody truly knows. If you go to your local GNC store and look at a bottle of these pills, you will notice something is missing. The uses... In China it is believed that taking these pills lead to a better respitory system, better vision, and a better sex life. Of course there are no scientific backings to any of these claims, but there is scientific backing to this. Much like other predatory fish, sharks are dangerous for humans to eat due to the high levels of Mercury that exists in their bodies. In fact, the F.D.A. warns that women and children avoid eating shark at all costs while it is also strongly recommended that men not eat shark as well. This includes consuming shark cartilage pills. 

Many sharks continue to be killed just to be ground up into these pills that literally do nothing for the human body other than add deadly mercury into the body. These pills are another unsustainable shark product that is doing nothing to help mankind and everything to destroy sharks. Helping with this problem is so easy. Write to your local GNC or other nutrition center that sells these pills, and ask them to please remove the product from their shelves. You can alert others that the pills really do nothing for them. You can send letters and emails to the corporate headquarters of these stores as well. The biggest weapon though is word of mouth. The more people know about these myths, the less demand there will be for these products. If the demand drops enough, it's very possible these companies will pull these products from their shelves!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Captivity or a Chance for Survival?

A lot of people have asked me this question. Since I am so into Ocean Conservation and animal rights, what are my views on animals in captivity. Here is my answer.

In the case of sharks... Sharks are some of the most misunderstood animals in the world. They are also some of the most endangered. Ever since the release of Jaws, sharks have been feared for no legitimate reason. Television has done nothing but really add to the thought that sharks are nothing more than mindless eating machines and man eaters. Sharks in captivity have helped us to discover so much about these animals and prove to many people that these animals are far from the mindless eating machines most have grown to fear. Do I think sharks should be kept as pets? Absolutely not. The fact that lemon sharks, blacktip reef sharks, nurse sharks, and others are part of the pet trade is disgusting to me. No one can hold these animals for very long and in many cases these sharks are simply put down. In aquariums, sharks are so well cared for it's incredible. I feel that sharks in captivity have become ambassadors for their species. Speaking from personal experience, it's amazing how how people are so quick to change their minds once they see something. Once they see scuba divers swimming alongside sand tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, and others with no problems, it can easily change an opinion. Even the gentle whale shark is such a mystery to most people that seeing them in captivity can really turn some heads. I feel that if there were no sharks in captivity, the situation with shark finning would be that much worse because there would be that many more people not caring about what was going on. At this point though, I feel that any shark that successfully breeds in captivity should not be collected from the wild and any mature shark should not be collected either.

In the case of dolphins... Simply put. If Flipper never came out.... Who would care about dolphins? What would the big appeal have been? Similar to sharks I believe that dolphins in captivity are ambassadors of their species. If aquariums didn't have dolphins... Who would care what happens every year in Taiji? Who would care how intelligent these animals are? Sure you would still have the hardcore activists going out and doing what they need to do to try and save these animals, but the fight would be so much weaker than it is now. Even in Japan people LOVE dolphins. I don't mean that in they love to eat dolphins. I mean they are just as interested in dolphins as many Americans are and are just as infatuated with them. Most Japanese citizens are unaware of the methods that take place before they see dolphin meat in a store. Without dolphins in captivity, I truly believe dolphins would be in a lot more trouble then they are right now. I do feel though that there are enough dolphins in captivity and no more are needed to be taken from the wild.

In the case of manta rays... Not much is known about manta rays. They are one of the most mysterious animals on Earth. That being said... I do feel like mantas are currently needed in captivity. So many just hear the word ray and the first thing that comes to mind is some monster animal out to just stab people left and right with their barbs. While that is not the case with any ray, mantas are special. They have no barb and are filter feeders. There are very few of these animals in captivity right now. The ones that are in captivity right now are acting as ambassadors for their species and helping to raise awareness. Unlike many other species of ray... Nobody truly knows how many of these animals exist. It is real important that people wait until the populations of the these animals are truly known. Should we be taking a few of them out of the wild right now to help spread awareness of these animals... I would like to think yes. Unlike sharks and dolphins, there have been no major movies involving mantas. It's easy to see that people are nowhere near as aware of mantas as they are dolphins, so that makes their presence in aquariums that much more important to the survival of the species.

So you can see that I am generally in favor of having animals in captivity as long as it is not devastating the populations in the wild and we are not overpopulating the captive population by removing individuals from the wild populations. Animals in captivity help to raise so much awareness. We all have voices, none of these animals do, whether they are in a zoo, aquarium, or in the wild, they still have no voice in the world and are essentially at the mercy of man. If we continue the course we are on, we will eventually obliterate each and every one of the wild populations. If zoos and aquariums along with the ambassadors living within can continue to influence people, then there is still hope of saving all of these creatures.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Welcome to my new blog. This blog will be dedicated to nothing but my efforts at conserving Ocean wildlife.  For those of you who do not know, I try and spread the word about the plight of several different animals. For the most part I work with shark conservation and trying to do my part in ensuring their survival. It's a race against time, that is going to be incredibly close. Another animal that I try and spread the word about is the plight of dolphins, mostly in Japan, but in other parts of the world as well. I also try to spread the word on the plight of whales in the Southern Ocean. Of course the main culprit in that plight would once again be Japan. To a lesser extent I talk about seals and bluefin tuna. My newest thing though has been the plight of Manta and Mobula rays.

Of course, my views are my own and all I ask is for respect. If you don't like my views, simply click that little x in a box on the upper right hand of your screen. If you would like to debate my views, by all mean comment below a post and we can have an intelligent debate. I'm not one for mudslinging on the internet, but I will be more than willing to discuss things if you want to.

So with that stuff being said... Welcome to my new blog and welcome to my summer conservation campaign Operation Bleeding Seas. This campaign will focus largely on manta rays, mobula rays, and sharks, but will also contain posts on the other animals I fight for as well.