Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shark Slaughter Planned for Reunion Island and Shark Summer Stuff

Good evening everyone. I hope everything is going well with you all. Again, I apologize for the lack of blogs. My personal life has been taking a very big turn so my mind and physical existence has just not been at the computer much. Anyway... I would like to start off by directing you all to this story that has come out from Reunion Island.

The response to these attacks are nothing more than complete insanity. First of all, any human who enters the Ocean is stepping into the world of sharks, seals, dolphins, whales, etc, etc. The Ocean is NOT the world of humans. Humans frequently visit that world as seals visit our world to rest on the beach. We as humans have no right to say whether or not sharks should be allowed to live in certain areas. The bottom line is simple. Sharks have lived off of Reunion Island for much, much longer than humans have lived on the island. The island is home to two aggressive species of shark. The bull shark and the tiger shark, which as the article stated are being targeted for extermination. These two species of shark can also be found along the East Coast of the United States. They are aggressive, large sharks that are known to not prey on humans, but to accidentally bite surfers by mistaking them for seals, turtles, and other animals. Reunion Island needs to seriously take a look at the situation that they have on their hands and strongly consider the consequences of killing these animals.

For one, the shark populations off of Reunion Island probably not as well known as they are in other parts of the world. For all we know, it could be several small populations and that's it. Eliminating even a small number of those apex predators can have devastating consequences to the local ecosystems. The ecosystem around Reunion Island is apparently growing and it should be allowed to continue to grow. The sharks are there for a reason. Kill them and the ecosystem will fall out of balance and eventually implode. Reunion Island's response is going to do nothing for them either. They'll kill the sharks and what will happen? Chances are another surfer will at some point get bit. Then what? They'll kill more? There has to be an alternative to what they are doing.

From what I can see, it shouldn't be too difficult to establish a system where surfers, and swimmers in general for that matter off of whatever beaches these attacks are taking place to have a swim at your own risk sign. Have the shark warning signs, but make it abundantly clear to surfers that if they enter the world of sharks, they enter it with each other and that's it. The surfers are generally aware of that and many understand the risk that they are taking by paddling out. In fact some of the biggest conservationists in the world have been bitten by a shark and now dedicate their lives to saving that which bit them. So I really fail to believe that surfers would reject the idea of still being able to surf at Reunion Island even if it is a surf at your own risk area. People aren't going to stay away from the Reunion Island beaches. The thought of that is frankly stupid. Look anywhere else in the world... Florida, Australia, and South Africa come to mind where sharks are abundant. Do people stay away from those beaches? Sure a few people here or there might, but the vast majority still make it a point to get to those locations if possible. So the idea that the sharks may cause some kind of economic collapse is literally nothing more than an idea, and a poorly theorized idea at that.

Reunion Island needs to call off this senseless slaughter of the sharks. The justification is that there will be scientific research done. I have strong doubts that will actually be the case. There are plenty of slaughters that take place in the name of science, yet no scientific results ever come out, yes I'm looking at you Japan... Again, Reunion Island needs to back off of this archaic idea of killing sharks to make the Ocean safer and look into alternative ways to making their beaches safer or allow those who want to risk a swim to take that risk into their own hands.

So this summer is really shaping up to be an interesting summer when it comes to sharks here in New Jersey. Our neighbor to the North, New York has passed a law that will come into effect on July 1st, 2014 that will ban the sale, possession, and trade of shark fins. This law is very similar to the laws that have been passed by several other states, including Delaware, New Jersey's neighbor to the south. Needless to say what I am getting at here. New Jersey needs to join her neighbors and become a fin free state. In fact, you can check out Shark Angels and learn all about what you can do to help going about making New Jersey fin free!

Next we have that Sci-Fi movie train wreck known as Sharknado. I personally have not seen the movie yet, but I hear that is is absolutely terribly good. One of those movies that are so bad, they're good kind of deal. I mean the movie poster really says it all...

I mean literally, it's a tornado of sharks.... Anyone who takes this movie seriously and becomes afraid of sharks as a result needs to take a step back and realize just what you are watching. From the looks of it, I'd say this is a combination of these two movies...


Seriously, this movie should not be taken for anything more than the Sci-Fi train wreck that it actually is. Sharknado II is supposed to be coming out eventually and is going to take place on the East Coast, possibly New York. Again, people I beg of you do not let these terrible films dictate your feelings towards these animals. No shark is going to be tossed from a tornado and proceed to eat you. It's just not going to happen...

So the final topic of the evening now that that train wreck is out of the way... New Jersey has seen several great white sharks come by. Two of which were actually filmed on camera. Both were seen off of Atlantic City. Neither shark attacked a person. One shark was seen um...... "Attacking" a dead dolphin...... Which I'll come back too.... The other gently bumped the boat the people were on and then left. Now I want to clarify something that the media is trying to blow up by using the word "attack"... I know this may be hard to believe, but sharks eat dolphins. Sharks are scavengers as well as predators meaning sharks will eat dead dolphins. In New Jersey, we are currently having a huge problem in which dolphins are being killed by commercial fisherman, literally, one was found with a gash from it's throat to it's stomach. To a great white, that's a nice meal.

Correct me if I am wrong. When we say an animal is attacking another animal, normally we mean that there is some form of intent from one animal to injure or consume the other. When the animal is dead we normally say, the animal proceeded to eat the other animal. So all over the news today i see... Shark attacking dead dolphin... I'm sorry, but what now? Try shark filmed eating a dead dolphin. The shark isn't trying to injure or kill a dead animal. That word "attack" when it comes to sharks is so misused, it's almost sickening. The only thing that sharks truly attack are living large fish, small fish, shell fish, marine mammals, marine birds, etc. See where I'm going with this. Scavenging and attacking are far far apart, but low and behold the media uses that word attack and instills fear of sharks yet again.

Thank you all for reading once again. Sorry again for the delay and lack of blogs, but I am trying and more will be up soon. So until then... Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Operation Forgotten Update

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing well. This blog is a little update as to what is going on with Operation Forgotten. It's been about 10 days since my last blog and here is why it's been a while. My life has gotten a little hectic as of late. Between work and other issues, I have simply not had the time to type. After this weekend, hopefully things will settle down a bit and I'll be able to get this thing going full force again. I apologize again for the lack of blogs, but trust me, I will get things going again very soon.

Expect to see new blogs on sharks, manta rays, and bluefin tuna in the very near future!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Without Sharks What Are We?

Humans are clearly the dominant animal on the planet. We have so much technology, so many thoughts, and frankly, there is a lot of us crammed on this small rock. Regardless as to what your personal beliefs are, there is one thing that is true. It is probably going to be hard to believe for some of you at first, but hopefully by the end of this blog it will be clear. That fact is that without sharks on this planet, mankind will die. All the technology in the world will not be able to save us once the apex predators of the sea are wiped out. The ocean is dying. Sharks are being killed at an incredibly alarming rate and the consequences of these actions are starting to be felt.

At the core of how to animals in the ocean keep the ocean alive and well has a lot to do with the food chain. Here's a rough idea of the oceanic food chain for those of you who may be unfamiliar.

Level 1: Algae

Level 2: Herbivores (Sea urchins, clams, and other algae eaters)

Level 3: Tiny Carnivores (Crabs, sea stars, lobsters, etc.)

Level 4: Small Carnivores ( mackerel, small fish, squid)

Level 5: Large/Medium Carnivores (Tuna, flounder, bass, tarpon, small sharks etc.)

Level 6: Apex Predators (Large Sharks)

So at the highest level of the ocean food chain are sharks and orcas. Sharks inhabit all oceans in the world.  Large carnivores make up the second highest level of the food chain. These include tunas and large fish that would often times be preyed upon by large sharks. These animals have a very high reproductive rate to aid in keeping their populations up. The third level down the chain is the small carnivores. These include squids and small fish such as mackerel. All of these animals typically have a very high reproductive rate as they need to be able to keep their populations up against larger fish who also reproduce at a high rate. See the developing trend? The fourth level down is the tiny predators. These animals include crustaceans, and baby fish. Fifth down the ladder is the herbivores. These would be clams, muscles, sea urchins, and other algae eaters and filter feeders that eat algae. Again, there is a high reproductive rate with these animals. At the bottom of the food chain is the algae itself.

So that is how the oceanic food chain usually works. Now lets take the top of the chain out and see what happens. So lets remove this...

So now that we remove the top predators, these fish become the top of the food chain.

Keep in mind that these fish have a high reproductive rate, something that the sharks did not have, so there are now far more apex predators in the oceans than ever before. Many of these fish target the smaller carnivores. Eventually, the populations of the new apex predators would exceed the smaller predators since nothing is eating them and they are eating the smaller predators. As a result the small carnivore population decreases which causes the tiny predator populations to increase. Eventually, the small carnivore population would be wiped out. So now the food chain looks like this from the top this time...

Level 1: Large Predators

Level 2: Tiny Predators

Level 3: Herbivores

Level 4: Algae

So now we have an incredibly high population of apex predators. Many of these predators do not eat tiny carnivores so they're populations have also increased, but not to the point of the apex predators as some of those top predators (the medium carnivores) do eat the tiny predators. So where does that leave the herbivores and algae? The herbivore population has at this point decreased a great deal due to the tiny predator population increasing. Eventually what will happen is the large carnivores would die out as they no longer have the small carnivores to eat and the medium carnivores would take over. This, as you might guess by now causes the tiny predator and herbivore populations to decline rapidly. By the time all is said and done, here is what the food chain will look like from top down...

Level 1: Medium Carnivores

Level 2: Algae

All that's left is the medium carnivores and algae. With no food to eat, the medium carnivores would rapidly die out. The algae would have by then taken over the oceans and made them look kind of like this...

That is not blood in the water, that is red algae. Some algae is good, other algae is bad. The algae that is most likely to take over the seas is hazardous to human health. It is also dangerous to the seas themselves. Eventually this algae will cause the oceans to become essentially a massive toxic dump. No life will be able to survive in the ocean and as you may be contemplating. This means that life on land will not be able to exist. The ocean is our greatest resource and if things don't change it will be the death of us all. Sharks are what is keeping the balance of the ocean in check. Remove them and as you can see things will fall apart at a rapid pace. There is proof already in the world.

Example 1: The Chesapeake Bay
Due to local shark species becoming rarer and rarer, cownose ray populations have exploded. With nothing to prey on them, the ray populations are taking over the bay and as a result, the shellfish populations have crashed in the bay and people are now trying to reduce the ray population and increase the shellfish population. This could work on a small scale, but would never work on a global scale.

Example 2: Tasmania's Spiny Lobster Fishery
Local shark species off of Tasmania were decimated and as a result octopus populations exploded. Much like in the Chesapeake, the shellfish populations suffered as a result. In this case, the spiny lobster populations were virtually wiped out. This led to a crash in Tasmania's spiny lobster fishery.

Now both of those examples are on a small scale, but there is a similarity with both examples. Sharks were removed from the area and the medium carnivores took over and at an alarming rate, the shellfish were killed off. These animals are keeping the medium carnivore populations in check and as evidenced, without them, Tasmania's spiny lobsters, and the shellfish of the Chesapeake are just the start. 100,000,000 sharks are being slaughtered each year. We are the only ones who can stop that from happening and help restore the oceans to a proper balance and a healthy food chain!