Thursday, June 26, 2014

Operation Bleeding Seas II Update

Greetings everyone. So there have been some new developments lately that have had a direct impact on Operation Bleeding Seas II. On the shark and manta ray fronts everything is going to be continuing on as it has thus far. Hopefully I'll have some more shark stuff coming out in the very near future. I should also have another one of those playlist blogs that I did a while back coming out soon as well. I apologize that things have been kind of hit and miss as of late. Complications at work have cut down on my computer time. On the topics of the Faroe Islands, dolphins, and bluefin tuna... To this point I have not done a bluefin tuna blog and I promise I will be getting to it soon. These fish are in a whole lot of trouble and as soon as I can I will be posting about their plight. They are a part of this operation and will continue to be so despite not being a major part. Now for the more complicated part of things.

The issues of the Faroe Islands and Taiji's dolphin slaughter are both huge things that I want to tackle with this blog. During my last campaign I followed and did a lot of spreading of awareness for Anonymous's Operation KillingBay. Earlier in this campaign I made a post about that operation returning in the form of Operation KillingBay2. That operation was to see the Faroe Islands become more of a Twitter/Facebook part of Operation Bleeding Seas II as opposed to one that I would be blogging about often. Well recent developments that I will not be going into here have changed those plans. As of now it seems that Operation KillingBay2 will not be getting off the ground. Again I am not going to go into anything about it and honestly I probably don't know much as to why. With that being said. Dolphins will now be mostly a Twitter/Facebook thing that I cover during this campaign as opposed to one that will be blogged about (of course unless something big happens). Once Taiji begins their annual horrorfest of a slaughter I will again add them to this blog during the fall campaign and at the tail end of this one.

The Faroe Islands will now, as originally planned, be a part of this blog once again. Along with following Sea Shepherd's Operation Grindstop I will be following closely and helping spread awareness for a new Anonymous operation entitled Operation Faroes Killing Bay. It is right around this time of year that the Faroe Islands begin their killings of innocent pilot whales and between Sea Shepherd and Anonymous, it should be really interesting to see what the Faroese people choose to do. Sea Shepherd is on the ground and Anonymous is literally everywhere. Historically the Faroese have never killed whales when Sea Shepherd has been present. Anonymous will not longer stand for the killing of these innocent animals and will do whatever is needed to get these people to realize what they are doing is beyond wrong and stop. I'll be doing my part and be spreading as much awareness about the operation and exposing the Faroe Island pilot whale massacre for what it is.

So that is the current plan for Operation Bleeding Seas II. Needless to say things are looking to get pretty busy across the board here. The probable loss of OpKillingBay is a bit of a let down, but OpFaroesKillingBay is extremely exciting as it is once again time to expose these people just as OperationKillingBay did to Taiji last winter. Stay tuned!!!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Ocean is not "Shark Infested"

Greetings again everyone. This blog was not written by me. I have once again asked Chelsey to type up a blog and she decided to do one on the term "shark infested". So by now I would think you guys and gals know who she is as she's done a few blogs here now so here it is!

The Ocean is Not “Shark-Infested”

Hi guys! It’s me, Chelsey, again. I wrote the blog “Why I Hate Pandas” a little while ago, and just wanted to say thanks to everyone who read it! This blog is a short PSA about the use of the phrase “shark-infested”. Stop saying it. Why? It promotes false information, and man, does that annoy me.

With summer here, and people heading to the beach, we’re going to start hearing things like “this beach is shark-infested!” all over the place. To answer the question, “Why should we stop saying the ocean is shark-infested?”, I will use the help of clipart I found on Google:

The ocean is THEIR home! They live there. Get over it.  In fact, sharks are an important part of the ecosystem. They should not be referred to as pests, as implied by the word “infestation”. Sharks are a sign of a healthy ocean.

So what do I suggest? Get your facts straight. Sharks don’t infest the ocean, they already live there. The poor things don’t need any more negative press than they already have. They are victims of overfishing, finning, and other horrific practices. Give them a break. Can we just say “shark-inhabited waters” instead?

Let me throw some statistics at you. Sharks kill fewer than 4 people on average per year, worldwide. Humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks annually ( So let’s take it day-by-day. Every single day, worldwide:  
People kill 200,000 sharks
People kill 1,300 people
Sharks kill 0.011 people

We are the real monsters here.  Next time you go into the ocean, remind yourself that you should be more afraid of the other swimmers and surfers around you than the sharks. And watch out for falling coconuts, because they kill more people annually than sharks do, too.

You’ve been a wonderful audience- give yourselves a round of applause! Thank you so much for reading.

Well folks there you have a little blog as to why we all really should stop using the term "shark infested". You could probably guess that I agree with that statement 110%. So here's some big news! Chelsey has actually set up her own blog. Hopefully she will still be able to one a few here and there on this blog as they are quite a bit different than my own, but still deliver some strong messages. Her blog covers all different kinds of animals including but not limited to wolves, sharks, giraffes, and even bats. I strongly encourage each of you to check her blog out as she is going to have a lot of really good stuff on there in the future! Right now it is still brand new, but it has endless potential! So I will leave the link for her blog here. Again, I seriously hope that you will all check it out especially if you are into land animals! So head on over and check out

Plastering the Faroe Islands Into Your Mind

Greetings everyone and welcome once again. Today's first blog is going to be a bit different from normal. Even the title of the blog is kind of strange, but today I will be introducing those of you who are not aware of a place known as the Faroe Islands. For those of you who have heard of it, you probably can take a wild guess as to what this blog is going to be about. This will probably be my only blog on the Faroe Islands from this point on in this operation as #OpKillingBay2 will be starting to ramp up in the near future and the summer is usually chock full of shark and manta ray stuff to talk about as well. So, if you would like to keep updated on the Faroe Islands after this blog, you can follow me on Twitter @Voiceforsharks or visit for more information.

The Faroe Islands as seen below is an island chain controlled by Denmark. These beautiful islands hold a terrible tradition that the vast majority of the world would view as simply barbaric if they knew of it. Yes, much like Taiji, Japan, the Faroe Islands are home to a dark, dark, secret that the world is slowly becoming aware and enraged by.

Every year, the Faroese people commit atrocities that rival those taking place every year in Taiji. The murder of hundreds of dolphins and pilot whales. The people of these little islands take part in drive hunts very similar to those in Taiji, but there are a couple key differences. One. There are zero prisoners and zero survivors. Two. This is a family affair. While the horrors of Taiji are committed by a small group of fishermen and members of various dolphin parks around the world, this slaughter is deemed a tradition for the whole family. Yes that does include women and children as well.

This slaughter takes place as a part of Faroese "tradition" that apparently dates back many many years. The Faroese claim that they are killing the whales to feed the people of the islands. While that may be partly true as people in the islands to eat the whales, the whale meat is also used for other things such as animal feed and fertilizer. Last time I checked dogs, cats, and other domestic animals do not eat dolphins or small whales so I really see no need for the whales to be used in any of those products... Again, I say that the claim that they are trying to feed the islands is partly true as there is a large number of pilot whale carcasses that have been simply discarded in dumpsters throughout the islands and mass underwater graveyards of rotting corpses of dead pilot whales have been discovered. That does not sound like a island chain trying to feed it's people. To top it off, back in 2008 Faroese health officials, yes Faroese health officials had deemed the exact same whale meat that is supposed to be feeding the islands as unfit for human consumption due to mercury content. So the claim that the people of these islands need to kill these animals to ensure their own survival is complete trash. The claims that the killings occur to feed the islands is partly true as there are Faroese people who still consume the meat against the better judgement of their own health officials. Take that with a grain of salt as it does not sound like the majority of people in the islands actually are eating what they are killing.

Before I fill up your computer screen with absolutely horrific images of what the Faroe Island massacres are all about I'd like to quickly touch on tradition. I did a blog a while back targeting the Japanese Whaling Fleet. In that blog I mentioned how going to Antarctica to hunt whales in massive metal ships with radar, engines, exploding tip harpoons, etc etc was not really a tradition of any kind. The same thing applies here. Since Denmark has such a massive influence over these islands, the islands enjoy some of the best technologies in the world. We are not talking about Vikings going out in row boats as signaling each other with fire or smoke signals or anything like that. No, we are talking about a people who have access to the same technologies as say Taiji. They have motor boats, radar, cell phones, and even helicopters that help them in their "traditional" hunt. Ladies and gentlemen I am sorry, but those pieces of equipment do not equal traditional to me. No this has become a modern day massacre that is being advertised as traditional and to feed the islands when in reality it is purely for as many Faroese people have come out and publicly said "family fun".  Don't believe me? Here is what was said by a couple Faroese people as seen by a member of the Anonymous Collective.

Again, this is not a tradition anymore. If they got rid of all the technology and resorted to row boats, smoke signals, and no real way to bring entire pods to shore, then I could potentially see where the tradition in this exists. As of now though, I simply cannot. I cannot for the life of me grasp how a family of four (two adults and 2 children) can go down to the shores with knives, hooks, and spears in hand and as a family stab a small whale to death and then celebrate what they have done as tradition after technologically updated motorboats with radar have herded the animals right to them. That is not how people lived hundreds of years ago. Hundreds of years ago a whale being killed would have been celebrated not as a family affair, but as a celebration that that one family had something to eat. Nowadays the Faroe Islands enjoy the same foods that many other European nations and they have it delivered to them. Again, this is no longer about feeding families. This has just become a sick, sick game. The Faroese people are blinded by these claims of tradition and they even know what they are doing is wrong. If they didn't why would every time Sea Shepherd patrols their waters would they stop killing? They know what they are doing is wrong and now that Sea Shepherd has returned to the Faroe Islands the question is will these people again try to hide the "tradition" that they are so proud of?

Those are questions that we will have to wait and see. If you have read enough and have somewhat of a grasp on the situation now, then I suggest you do not scroll beyond this point. If you have yet to grasp the magnitude of what the Faroe Island whale slaughters are all about then proceed with caution. VERY graphic images lie ahead.... Thank you for reading. The next blog will be written by Chelsey about the words "Shark Infested". It's kind of a PSA about the term so stay tuned for that coming up later today. For now though tak a deep breath and prepare yourself for what you are about to see...

*********** FINAL WARNING**********************

Every year the people of the Faroe Islands engage in horrible slaughters of pilot whales known as "Grinds"

The whales are killed by having their throats slit, heads cut, and intestines spilled.

Denmark's beautiful Faroe Islands see their bays fill with the blood of nearly 1,000 whales every summer.

After the killings, families stroll through the carcasses of those who were just killed.

Children get in on the action as well as the slaughter occurs all around them.

Faroese young and old work together in the name of family fun.

No whale is spared. Unborn babies are spilled onto the ground.

Smile with friends and family in water soaked with the blood of slaughtered whales. This is not how it was hundreds of years ago.

The kids even get to have "fun" with the whales.

Forget pictures with Santa or the Easter Bunny. In the Faroe Islands pictures with dead whales are the way to go....

Literally hundreds of people will engage in the mass slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.

Children watching their proud parents continue to slaughter pilot whales... While standing on one like it was a piece of cement.

This sums up everything about the Faroe Island massacre. Here we have a young child smiling while holding a pilot whale fetus that never had a chance at life.... and smiling about it.

We are the only ones who can stop this. Spam these pictures far and wide. Google more of them. Throw them on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Show the world what these little islands are doing. Sea Shepherd has returned to the Faroe Islands. The time to fight these people has never been better. It is not a tradition. It is not trying to change something that has been around for hundreds of years. It is an attempt at ending a modern day slaughter made possible largely by non traditional technologies that never existed during the traditional hunts. This is not tradition. This is mass slaughter for sheer entertainment. Operation Bleeding Seas II continues..........


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mantas Gain Protection, but Demand Continues to Grow for Gill Rakers

Greetings everyone. Once again, I hope all is well. Today's blog has some good news and some well, frankly grim news. First the good news! The Maldives have declared that 18 species of ray will now be protected in their waters! Included in those species of ray are the manta and mobula rays! Under the new law it will be illegal to catch, harm, keep, or posses any species of ray. In addition to Maldives enacting this rule, Indonesia has also come out for the manta rays.

A locator map of Maldives
Maldives on a map

The country of Indonesia has established the largest manta ray sanctuary in the entire world! The size of the sanctuary includes all of Indonesia's 6 million kilometer exclusive economic zone. This is one of the rare cases where money seems to have played a part in actually protecting a species versus leading to their demise. Apparently, the government of Indonesia likes the idea of one manta ray being worth roughly 1 million dollars USD alive versus merely a couple hundred dead. This information was found by a study conducted by WildAid, Shark Savers, and the Manta Trust. Economically and conservation wise, Indonesia made an incredibly smart choice and it is one that I highly applaud. Not only will this no doubt continue to bring in massive sums of money to the country, but it will also help to ensure that the manta rays of Indonesia are around for a long time to come. Manta rays will now be joining whale sharks and sawfish as animals that are completely protected in the waters of Indonesia. The country is now looking into possibly protecting hammerheads and oceanic whitetip sharks as well. Two more species of shark that are threatened with extinction. Without a doubt this is great news for manta rays. Given the location of Indonesia, I have little doubts that there were fishermen regularly going out and killing mantas for their gill rakers. With these new protections I would like to think that many of those people will back off and if not that the officials of Indonesia will act accordingly. Indonesia has chosen that live mantas are far better to have around than dead mantas. This choice is one the entire world should look at and strongly consider. I understand that many people in this world do not care at all for the animals of the seas if they can make money off of them. Well, this is a case where caring about these animals can actually make a country MORE money than seeing them dead. Congrats to the country of Indonesia for this choice and may your manta tourism industry flourish as these animals swim safely in your waters.

So that is the good news in the world of mantas. Again, Indonesia, congrats and congrats to Maldives as well for their new rules as well! So before going any further with this blog I feel now is a good time to explain why mantas have been a part of my spring/summer campaigns since I started this blog. Shortly before I decided to start this blog someone from work had handed me a report that WildAid had put out about the status of manta rays globally. I thought the title of the report seemed a bit odd as I had  no idea mantas were in any kind of trouble. I opened the report and my jaw literally dropped at what I would learn. The gill raker trade is seriously some kind of messed up, nightmarish trade that has zero purpose in the world other than to make some really greedy people some quick cash. No, this is not one of those things where people can say, well they are trying to feed their families. I'm sorry, but to me that is not an excuse for this. There are billions of other ways to feed a family. For those of you who do not know what I am going off about here be prepared to be highly disturbed and probably alarmed as manta rays are in far more trouble than you probably would have ever thought to have been.

The manta ray is an incredibly majestic animal. It is 100% harmless and has never been cited in any kind of human injuries. They are filter feeders, eating only the tiniest of living creatures and have a tail that is incapable of stinging like some other rays. It's massive size makes it look quite intimidating, but it has no real defense. Naturally, the manta ray has very, very few predators and it is thought that they only really have to deal with large sharks from time to time. Since they lack much in the way of predators, their reproductive rate is incredibly slow. Some mantas will give birth to one pup throughout the course of her life. Sounds like another species of animal we all know very well right?

Manta rays have been known to be very curious of humans. Sometimes they are even known to approach and interact with humans who may be swimming nearby as seen in the photo above. Others may shy away from humans, but either way, these animals have zero issues with humans and may seemingly even welcome them to wherever it is they may be swimming. They are also one of the most mysterious animals on our planet. We know less about manta rays and their true populations than we do about many other animals living on our planet. Seeing one is enough to change a persons life forever. I would know. Seeing one in real life completely changed my outlook on these animals that until then I knew virtually nothing about. Yes the manta ray is truly an incredible animal who can have quite an interesting relationship with humans as seen above. Sadly these animals are currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List and their populations are heading south. No, it is not due to a slow reproductive rate or an inability to find mates. The answer here is the very animals that can cause the curiosity of a manta to spike, man.

What man does to these animals ranks right up there, for me anyway, with the horror of shark finning. The only redeeming factor is that at least the mantas are not left to suffer after people do what they do to them, unlike the sharks. From this point on, I warn you that there may be graphic images ahead involving animal cruelty towards manta rays...

When I read that report back in 2011 there was a pretty harrowing statistic. There is an existing manta ray gill raker trade in China. The gill rakers are what the animal uses to filter feed. The trade exists as the gill rakers are supposed to (with zero scientific backing mind you) lead to a healthier life, cure diseases, and even give you a better sex life. Again, these claims come with no scientific backing at all. Also, the gill rakers are said to be a part of traditional Chinese medicine, upon investigations of those claims however, it was not found to actually be a part of traditional Chinese medicine. To get an idea as to what the market for these gill rakers looked like in 2010 check out these stats...

61,000kg of gill rakers
Value of 11 million dollars USD
Aprox 49,000 rays

Staggering numbers to say the least right? That was WildAid's results from their 2010 report. In the new 2013/2014 report, the numbers are even more telling...

138,000kg of gill rakers (a 127% increase)
Value of 30 million dollars USD (168% increase)
Aprox 147,000 rays (198% increase)

I can sum it up in two words. MASSIVE INCREASE. The demand for gill rakers is skyrocketing and something needs to be done about it not later, but now before mantas find themselves in serious, serious trouble. Remember, one manta alive is worth 1 million dollars USD in tourism money. Kind of puts into perspective why Indonesia and Maldives are acting to protect these animals considering 138,000kg of rakers is roughly 30 million USD. The point is, this gill raker trade is going to do an awful lot of harm to other countries that rely on manta tourism and obviously to the rays themselves. It is a dangerous game that I can see politics getting into in the not too distant future... Then who knows what will happen. Personally when it comes to the politics, I don't care who needs the mantas around. The bottom line is they have every right in the world to exist and not have their gill rakers taken for phony medicine that contains roughly 20 times the amount of arsenic that is safe for human consumption.

It is a horrible thing that is going on in our world and it is GROWING. You read the stats above. You know I am not being crazy when I say that this trade has exploded over the course of four years. We need to reverse this course now. China needs to step up and protect these animals. They are not a part of traditional Chinese medicine and realistically the people who are selling them are literally poisoning their consumers. The general public is not made aware of the health risks and odds are the general public have no idea what is done to obtain those gill rakers. It wouldn't surprise me if most did not even know what a gill raker is. It's scary to think about, but we could really be starting to face the end of the manta ray. Indonesia and the Maldives have taken a step in the right direction, but the world is an awful lot bigger than those two countries and the few others that openly protect these animals. Everyone needs to become aware of this senseless killing and be made aware of the falsehoods that is the growing gill raker trade.

We need to protect these animals now before they are lost forever. The world needs to wake up before it is too late.

Don't let this...

be the fate of the manta rays. Extinction is forever and as long as this continues it becomes more and more of a reality for these animals.

As always, thanks for reading! I'm not sure what the topic of my next blog will be quite yet so stay tuned!

To view the whole 2013-2014 WildAid manta ray report visit

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Killing for a Cause....Known as Money...and Fame...

Greetings everyone. I hope all is well with you all. Today I come with some sad news out of New Jersey. Actually, I'm going to be doing a good amount of blasting of certain people/organizations in this blog so if I offend anyone, sorry, but I stand by each of the statements here.

Okay lets see... Where to begin. I guess I'll start by referencing back to the last blog I did about sharks of New Jersey. I made mention of two species that I want to focus in on for a minute. One being the smooth dogfish and the other being the sand tiger shark. Both of these species as I mentioned are common in the waters off of New Jersey during the summer. The sand tiger is listed as "Vulnerable" and the smooth dogfish is listed as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN's Red List. The sand tiger shark is federally protected. If you catch this species of shark you can find yourself in some hot water with the law. If you post a photo of yourself holding one of these sharks on a beach, you land yourself in hot water with the law (in theory) and with people on the internet like myself. That brings me to the first picture I'm going to put up.

Photo: Unreal!!! This guy Shawn Casey caught a 4 1/2 ft female great white shark off of seaside beach !!!! Makes u think twice about wading out in the surf...
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, meet Shawn Casey. In Shawn's hand is a juvenile sand tiger shark. Yes, the same sand tiger shark that is protected. Shawn decided that it was a good idea to post a picture on Facebook (where nothing is really private right?) of himself holding this baby with a big grin on his face. He claims that he released the shark alive. From what I can tell, this shark is not alive in this picture. I have never known a sand tiger that would mind being out of water like that, let along sit still for a photo. This shark was either dead in this picture or hurting very badly. If it was alive in this picture I have a heavy feeling that it is dead now. Either way, this picture itself is illegal. It is illegal to LAND a sand tiger shark. You cannot catch them. This guy caught one and posted a picture of it on the internet. I also know that the proper authorities have been notified. I would however be extremely surprised if anything were to happen to this guy. He'll plead that he had no idea what species it was or that he found it or that he released it immediately. I'm sure very little will come of it, but I'd love to see this guy made an example of.

The second individual is a bit younger and frankly 10000000% uneducated in what a real dangerous shark is. Since he is under 18 years of age, I am unsure about throwing his face all over the internet, so for now I will not be doing that. Instead I will use him as an example of just how uneducated people are about sharks in New Jersey. In the photos I have he is holding up a smooth dogfish with it's throat slit like it was some kind of monster shark. He also has a picture of himself biting the animal as if he were biting it before it bit him. This is a dogfish we are talking about people. Yes the kid is under 18 and just being a stupid kid. I know and I understand that 100%. I also know and have seen adults in the area doing the same thing. It's again that mentality that sharks are something they are not, monsters. I would not be at all surprised in a couple of years to see this kid posing with makos, threshers, etc. due to him being so proud of killing sharks. Even those sharks are not all that dangerous (unless you are trying to drag them onto a boat of course). It still frightens me that people are so clueless about sharks despite having an ocean in their backyards.

The final thing I'm going to do in this blog is rant about two shark kill tournaments that are going to be taking place in New Jersey over the next couple of weeks. The first of the two will be out of River Rock Restaurant and Marina Bar as a "charity" event for veterans. This event is supposed to be to help those veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Certainly a noble cause. I have zero issues with raising funds for that. My issue is this. First of all. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of ways to raise money for veterans with PTSD. Out of all of those ways, why in the world would hunting down and killing two species of animal that are well on their way to becoming endangered species be the best way to raise money for these veterans. My friend alerted me to this interesting fact... Many cases of PTSD are brought on by the hardships of war. Guns, killing, bloodshed, etc. This tournament is the exact same thing. guns, killing, and bloodshed. The exact things that can cause PTSD are going to be used to raise money for those with PTSD? That makes zero sense to me at all. The people who organized this tournament are doing a good thing. They are raising money for the vets. Kudos to them for that. However they are going about it in one of the worst ways possible. Both thresher and makos are eaten in this area, but often times in these tournaments people are not catching the sharks to eat. No. They catch them and then sell the bodies. Some even choose to dispose of the bodies and sell the ever valuable fins. That's an issue with the fishermen themselves though and not the tournament so I'll get refocused here...

What is an alternative then to raise money? One is so easy, it's probably literally slapping the tournament officials in the face. Tag and release. There is not one reason in the world that this tournament could not have been catch, tag, and release. I'm sure people will say it would have been too expensive or everyone wants to catch the sharks to eat them or some kind of other lame excuse, but the fact is, this could have easily been done and given what the tournament is raising money for, I'm sure some group would have gladly donated their time to work with the tournament. Perhaps next year the organizers of this tournament will think about the animals they are targeting and the situations they are in rather than constantly advertising a huge prize purse and a guest in the form of some random celebrity. Next year perhaps they'll take a massive step for shark tournaments in New Jersey and actually stop the bloodshed and killing.

Speaking of huge steps. Another tournament has once again decided not to take a huge step forward. This year marks the 29th Mako Mania. Last year I was able to attend the weigh-ins of the tournament and blasted the whole thing in a blog. Clark's Landing, the host of the tournament was not too pleased with me and granted I have not looked in a while, I was blocked off of their Facebook page for telling the truth about makos and in general proving everything they had to say as to why it's perfectly okay to have a bride and groom pose with a dead baby mako on their wedding day. I cant say I am in the least bit surprised that Mako Mania has not changed at all and is advertising a larger than ever winners purse as the number one way to get people involved. Again, it's all about the money. To top the whole thing off, the people running this tournament actually believe that mako populations in the area are increasing. I'm sorry, but just because a bunch of young makos were killed doesn't mean their numbers are increasing. If that was the case, there would be sharks over 400lbs being caught and there would surely be far more sharks being caught in general than the ones that are brought in. Did I forget to mention that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place sharks were all under 300lbs with the 5th place shark not even hitting 220lbs? I think I did, well there ya go then. There are reasons you are only allowed to keep one and I do not think it is because of an increasing population. I lean more towards the fact that makos reproduce so incredibly slowly that even taking a couple dozen out of the area will effect that population. In reality I expect nothing less than a lack of education on the animals that the organizers of this tournament target. No, I am certainly no authority and I do not claim to be, but I do have some common sense and common sense tells me that a tournament run by people who think the mako situation is improving in a world where 100,000,000 sharks are being killed every year really have no business being involved in any kind of tournament. Period.

So I'm sure someone will be bugging me and saying that these people are not in it for money, but for food. Just a few days ago a new study came out showing that in sandbar, great white, and dusky sharks had mercury levels 10 times the safe level that humans should consume. That is enough to kill a person. Obviously it is cumulative and eating one piece of meat will not kill you, but the fact is that it can kill you. There is only so much of it our bodies can take and we can only thank ourselves for the mercury being there in such high levels in the first place. Who knows what the levels are in mako and threshers. I have a serious gut feeling that the numbers are very similar given the fact that both of these sharks in question are large and eat similar things to the dusky, sandbar, and even great white. It wouldn't shock me at all to read soon that makos and threshers contain 10 times the safe level of mercury. In my opinion, it's all the more reason to stop eating these animals, but again, I do not buy that providing food is the reason so many people are into these tournaments. I still firmly believe that it is all about the money and the fame of winning a tournament and killing that "monster" shark.

Now for the disclaimers cause I'm sure I'll need them on this one... NO. I do not hate veterans. If you somehow got that idea from this blog then I really do not know what to tell you. YES. I do want Shawn to be punished even if he released the shark. Deal with it. NO. I do not hate fishermen who fish for shark. I simply want them to be aware of the fact that what they are fishing for is not simply another fish, but a health hazard if consumed and an animal threatened with extinction. YES. If either of these tournaments, or both switched to catch and release I would feel a lot better and leave everyone alone. Ideally these tournaments would go away, but I doubt that will happen until the mako/thresher populations get to the point where they need federal protection. Hopefully that covers everything. Thanks for reading my rant! The next blog will be a manta ray blog! Good news for those animals coming out of Maldives!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The 3rd Annual New Jersey Shark Blog! Now With More Sharks!

Greetings everyone! I am back from my vacation and ready for a summer chock full of all kinds of things. I hope all of you had a great holiday weekend and overall a good week while I was away as well. It is that time of year again ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. It's time to take a break from talking about the things in our world that are threatening sharks and it is time for us to take a closer look at what kind of sharks visit the New Jersey coastline during the next few months. I know that the audience of this blog has grown an incredible amount over the past year, but since I am located in New Jersey, I feel the need to still do this blog so enjoy and hopefully you'll learn something that you did not know about sharks in New Jersey!

Summers down at the jersey shore are, as anyone who has been there knows, nothing short of crazy. This craziness involves people from all over the place heading into the ocean to swim, boat, dive, snorkel, etc. What can you find when you head into the water? Many people believe that there are no sharks in New Jersey. Well, I am here to tell you all that New Jersey is actually a shark haven during the summer months, but you would never know that these animals even visit New Jersey if you were to enter the ocean on any given day. So without further delay, let us once again meet some of the sharks that can be seen in New Jersey. Note that not all of these sharks are common to our waters, but have been known to make an appearance.

Sandbar Shark
Carcharhinus plumbeus georgia.jpg
One of the more common species of shark to visit New Jersey during the late spring/summer months. Despite growing to be over 5 feet in length and weighing on average 150lbs, the sandbar shark is a very skittish species of shark. They are very strong swimmers and as their name suggests, tend to been seen in shallow waters. Their primary diet consists of small fish and squids. They are currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List due to finning and overfishing.

Smooth Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish

Both the smooth and spiny dogfish inhabit the waters off of New Jersey. Both of these sharks are small in size, reaching an average length of 3-4 feet. Larger dogfish have been seen though as long as 5 feet. Both of these species of shark have very small teeth and mainly eat small fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Younger dogfish may also eat worms. The way to distinguish these two sharks is simple. The smooth dogfish has no spots and lacks spines on their dorsal fins while the spiny dogfish has white spots and spines on their dorsal fins. These animals are often viewed as pests by fishermen and many are killed for simply stealing a piece of bait intended for another fish. As a result of overfishing, both of these sharks are threatened with extinction. The smooth dogfish is currently listed as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN's Red List while the spiny dogfish is listed as "Vulnerable".

Basking Shark

Cetorhinus maximus by greg skomal.JPG

One look at this shark and people start to panic. Afterall, what you are looking at is the second largest shark in the entire world. This shark can grow to be roughly 26 feet in length and can take in 1,800 tons of water per hour. Why would it do that you ask? Well this big guy is a filter feeder! You read that right! This species of shark simply eats plankton, small fish, krill, etc. They simply swim with their mouths open and filter the water out! Unlike the other sharks I've mentioned so far, the basking shark tends to stay more offshore, but on occasion they do move in closer if food is around. They are also mainly surface feeders so if you are out on a boat keep an eye out for one or a whole school! Be warned though, they are not too common in our area so if you do see one be sure to enjoy every moment of it! The basking shark is currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List. The primary threats these animals face is finning, overfishing, and boat strikes due to surface feeding and careless boat operators.

Blue Shark

Prionace glauca 1.jpg

The blue shark is a speedy shark that is normally found off shore of New Jersey. This species of shark is highly migratory and have been known to cross the Atlantic many times throughout the course of their lives. Unlike most species of shark, the blue shark can give birth to more than 20 pups! They average out at about 6 to 9 feet in length and mostly eat squids, but have also been seen eating birds and even small dolphins and other mammals. Occasionally these sharks do come very close to shore as one was seen in the surf in New Jersey just a few ago surfing through the waves. As with all the other sharks listed thus far, the blue shark has never bitten anyone in the waters off New Jersey. Despite a higher reproductive rate, the blue shark is still being threatened with extinction and is currently listed as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN's Red List. This listing again is a result of overfishing and finning.

Nurse Shark

Nurse shark.jpg

The nurse shark is a very docile species of large shark that occasionally visits New Jersey. Just a few years ago, a large nurse shark was seen resting inside the Manasquan Inlet. These sharks are huge shellfish and crustacean eaters and have flat teeth to aid in the crushing of those tough shells. Nurse sharks can grow to be a whopping 14 feet in length! Not much else to really say about this shark. They are a very peaceful species of shark and spend a lot of their time simply resting on the bottom of the ocean either sleeping or waiting for an unsuspecting crab to walk too close. The nurse shark is currently listed as "Data Deficient" on the IUCN's Red List. They are not regularly hunted, but due to the fact that they are so docile and are slow swimmers, it makes them easy targets for local fisheries that use their skin in the production of leather products.

Atlantic Angel Shark

Atlantic angel shark

This is a new one to me. Until recently I had no idea these sharks actually could be found off of New Jersey. This species of shark can be found offshore and tends to mostly stay on the bottom. They can grow to be 5 feet in length and are known to prey on fish, crustaceans, and small rays. They rarely come in contact with people and as a result are currently listed as "Data Deficient" on the IUCN's Red List. There is currently no commercial demand for this shark either, but it's meat is apparently edible (and high in mercury).


No that is not a great white you see in the above picture! That is it's "little" cousin, the porbeagle! This large species of shark can grow to be 8 feet in length. The porbeagle typically inhabits the waters offshore of New Jersey, but as with other sharks, it has been known to occasionally venture close to shore. The primary diet of this shark includes bony fishes and squid. Much like it's bigger cousin, the porbeagle is warm blooded and does quite well in cooler waters. As with the other large sharks on the list, this species of shark has never bitten anyone off the coast of New Jersey. This species has however experienced extreme commercial pressures and as a result is listed globally as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List. It is also listed as "Endangered" in the western north Atlantic and as "Critically Endangered" in the eastern north Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. In March of 2013, this species of shark was listed on CITES Appendix II which allows for more regulations in the international trade of this shark.

Okay so we are 8 sharks in already. I'm sure some of the names you have seen so far may be familiar to you... or not... Either way, there are still several more to go so you may want to grab a snack or a drink cause from here on in we will be looking at some of the more famous sharks that visit New Jersey!

Tiger Shark

tiger shark

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you would most certainly have seen me talking about tiger sharks. Yes, the same species of shark that was mercilessly hunted down in West Australia also inhabits the waters off of New Jersey during the summer months. This species of shark is large and many people consider it to be one of the more dangerous species of shark in the world. The average length of this shark is somewhere between 9 and 13 feet in length. Larger sharks can be over 15 feet! The primary diet of this shark is very extensive and includes both small and large fish, turtles, birds, dolphins, smaller sharks, and even dogs and horses (those last two are mostly reported in Hawaii so I guess you could say that it is not really a primary food source). I have heard a few occasions where scuba divers claim to have seen this shark just outside of the Manasquan Inlet. Despite being a fierce predator, tiger sharks have not bitten anyone off the beaches of New Jersey. The tiger shark is currently listed as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN's Red List.

Sand Tiger Shark

Probably the most common species of large shark that can be found off the coast of New Jersey. The sand tiger shark is a very common shark to see at aquariums around the world and anyone who has seen one can never forget the look of those dagger like teeth hanging from their mouths. Well let's just say those teeth are largely just for show. The sand tiger shark can grow to be 9 feet in length, but the average is more in the range of 7-8 feet. The primary diet of these sharks consists of bony fish of varying sizes as well as rays, skates, and small sharks. They are very slow swimmers, but can produce massive bursts of speed when they feel threatened. They are also capable of a very quick horizontal bite. Divers often come in contact with these sharks and the sharks generally mind their own business unless being harassed. In New Jersey, the sand tiger shark has never bitten a human and divers typically respect the shark and get the same respect back in return. The sand tiger shark is currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List. This species of shark is Illegal to catch off the coast of New Jersey. If caught, it must be released!

Scalloped Hammerhead

Scalloped hammerhead cocos.jpg

Smooth Hammerhead

One look at the head of these sharks and people are usually filled with amazement. No wonder why... The head of these sharks are literally shaped like a hammer. All hammer jokes aside, these species of shark are an uncommon, yet amazing visitor to New Jersey during the summer months. Scalloped hammerheads grow to be anywhere between 6 and 8 feet in length while the smooth hammerhead can grow to be a massive 16 feet in length. The primary diet of these sharks include bony fish and occasionally squid and octopus. Larger sharks may also prey on smaller sharks such as the dogfish noted above. The smooth hammerhead has been seen in the Indian River, Fla. (a freshwater river) as well as Nova Scotia. The scalloped hammerhead has been seen in massive schools while migrating or hunting. Despite their sizes, the scalloped and smooth hammerheads tend to shy away from humans unless provoked and have never bitten anyone in New Jersey waters. Both of these sharks however are prime catches for the shark fin trade and as a result the scalloped hammerhead has been listed as "Endangered" on the IUCN's Red List and the smooth hammerhead has been listed as "Vulnerable".

Great White Shark


Well here he is. The shark that I believe most people did not expect or want to see on this list. Yes ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the great white shark does visit New Jersey each and every year. Though around here it does tend to stay offshore (as seen in a video shot last year off the coast) they do venture in close to shore as well. This shark (the big cousin of the porbeagle) can grow to be roughly 21 feet in length. The primary diet of this shark is quite wide and consists of marine mammals, fish, other sharks, and birds. The behavior of this shark does vary from place to place as in Australia and South Africa they can be seen ambushing prey from beneath. Off the east coast of the United States they are known to chase prey as opposed to ambush them, sometimes going over shallow sandbars in an attempt to slow down seals and other marine mammals. While great whites biting people is a well known thing, in New Jersey there is debate about whether or not the great white is responsible in the 1916 shark attacks which saw 4 people killed and 1 badly injured in a span of 12 days along the coast and in the Matawan creek. Other than those potential incidents, the great white shark has not bitten anyone off of New Jersey. This shark also was the famous evil in the movie Jaws which turned many, many people against this shark. Since then great whites have been regularly hunted and killed for nothing more than fear of them being "man eaters" when in reality the vast majority of the times white sharks have bitten someone, the person has survived. Many scientists now believe that this species of shark often mistakenly identifies humans as a food source as they seem to reject the human after an exploratory bite. Due to overfishing and finning, this species populations have plummeted and this shark is now listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List. It is also listed on CITES Appendix II. Some scientists now believe there are more tigers than great white sharks left on Earth.

Thresher Shark

The thresher shark is another large species of shark that visits New Jersey during the summer months. This species of shark can grow to be 20 feet in length, but nearly half of that length will be it's tail. The primary diet of the thresher shark consists of bony fishes that it will first strike at, not with it's mouth, but it's tail. There have been many stories about thresher sharks and many are unconfirmed such as the following... One story tells of a thresher smacking a bird out of mid air and then eating it. Another story, which is actually very believable includes a thresher smacking a fish out of the water and catching it with it's mouth. The most disputed story though is that of a fisherman who had snagged a thresher on a long line. When he went to see what was on the line, the tail of the shark cut the man's head off and the head was never recovered. Most do not buy into that story as the thresher's tail, while strong, is nowhere near rigid enough to do that kind of damage. In general these sharks are harmless towards people and there is only one incident of a thresher acting aggressive towards a human (not counting those trying to resist being caught). In New Jersey there has been 0 incidents of threshers showing aggression. In general these sharks stay offshore, but do occasionally come inshore as well. Due to both recreational and commercial pressures, the thresher shark is currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List.

Shortfin Mako Shark

Isurus oxyrinchus by mark conlin2.JPG

The fastest shark in the sea! The shortfin mako is a common large species of shark in the offshore waters of New Jersey. They rarely venture close to shore and are usually seen chasing down their prey at speeds of around 60mph! This species of shark can grow to be 10 feet in length and are known to leap over 10 feet into the air! The primary diet of this shark includes bony fishes, squid and occasionally birds, turtles, other sharks, and small marine mammals. In New Jersey, this shark is highly sought after by recreational fishermen and as a result their populations have dropped by an estimated 50% in the area. Still shark kill tournaments continue for both this shark and the thresher out of New Jersey. In New Jersey, this shark is responsible for 0 bites on humans (again not counting fishermen who are trying to catch them). As with it's cousin, the great white, this shark is currently listed on the IUCN's Red List as "Vulnerable". This listed comes as a result of both finning operations as well as a commercial demand for it's meat (which is very high in mercury and the FDA warns that men, women, and children should all avoid eating).

Whale Shark

I'd wager that not many people expected to see this face in this blog. Yes, the whale shark, the largest fish in the entire ocean visits New Jersey! However, it is very rare that it does as New Jersey is located at the northern tip of their range. Still, just 2 years ago one was seen and nearly ran into by a boat off the coast of Atlantic City. Much like the basking shark, the whale shark is a filter feeder meaning they are not going to be eating any kind of marine mammal or large bony fish. Instead they feed largely on plankton and krill that they happen to filter through their 4 foot wide mouth. Whale sharks can grow to be over 40 feet in length and are known to commonly feed at the surface. The whale shark has never shown any aggression towards humans, but have been known to bump into boats and try to steal small fish out of nets from time to time. They are mostly found offshore, but do occasionally come in close to shore in search of food. Again, they are very rare to see in New Jersey, but if you are out on a boat, keep your eyes peeled for a spotted fin lazily gliding across the water. There's a good chance you could be stumbling upon the largest fish in the world! The whale shark is currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN's Red List due to overfishing and finning.

Bull Shark

Another shark that a lot of people probably did not want to see on this list. The bull shark is a large, aggressive species of shark that can be found mostly in shallow waters. They are a unique shark in that they are capable of surviving in both salt and fresh water. In fact a bull shark had once been spotted near Saint Lois, literally hundreds of miles inland from the ocean. The average length of this shark is roughly 8 feet, but bull sharks larger than 11 feet have been recorded. The primary diet of this shark includes bony fish, other sharks (including other bull sharks), turtles, terrestrial animals, birds, dolphins, rays, echinoderms, and crustaceans. This shark is often thought of as the shark responsible for the 1916 New Jersey shark attacks that claimed the lives of 4 people in the span of 12 days. There is a lot of debate however as to whether or not this shark or the great white was responsible for those incidents. The bull shark is not a common shark to see in New Jersey, and outside of the 1916 incidents (which is to this day in debate and a mystery), the bull shark has not been recorded in biting anyone in the waters off or within New Jersey. The bull shark is listed as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN's Red List.

So here we are at the end of this blog. I hope you all learned a little something you may not have known about the sharks that visit New Jersey. Before you enter the water, just be aware of whose territory you are entering. The ocean is not man's domain, it is the domain of the shark and they are the rulers of that domain as much as humans try to see to it otherwise. Should you come in contact with them, respect them and you will receive the same respect in return. Not a single one of these sharks are out to get you. If they were, sharks would be one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. As it stands they are not. In fact, the little dogs and cats that we as humans love so much are far more dangerous. The hippos and cows that we love to look at and think are so cute are far more dangerous. Even elephants are responsible for more deaths every year than sharks. So please, do not fear these animals. Know who they are and what they do and you will easily be able to avoid being bitten and if you'd rather, avoid them completely. I've been swimming in the waters off New Jersey for over 20 years and not once have I come in contact with these animals while in the water. I've seen sandbar sharks feeding from land. I've seen videos of a great white off of New Jersey investigating a boat with no intent on harming anything. I've even spoken to divers who've seen a large tiger shark, which did nothing to any of them. They are out there, but they just do not care that we are in their waters. They know you are not on their menu and as long as you do not provoke or harass them, they will leave you alone.

Also I want you to take a look back at the list really quickly. Each and every one of these sharks (with the exception of the nurse and Atlantic angel shark) are threatened or are near becoming threatened with extinction. The IUCN lists these animals based on their population trends and other factors. Near Threatened is for animals that are dangerously close to becoming threatened with extinction. Vulnerable is given to animals that will most likely become endangered in the near future. We all should know what a listing of Endangered and Critically Endangered should mean. So needless to say, the time to save these animals is now. Shark finning and overfishing are very, very real problems that our world is having to deal with right now. Even local shark tournaments featuring the killing of sharks are posing a problem for local populations of shark as made evident by the mako populations off of New Jersey. Just remember to keep all of this stuff in mind as you visit the New Jersey shore this summer! Enjoy the oceans and remember, you are entering into their world. They are not entering yours!