Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scarface Superstar!

Ever watch E! Channel?
I've always compared the Hollywood menagerie to our own eclectic collection of friendly rogues and when it comes to Stardom and outright Attitude, no-one compares to the biggest and BADdest of them all, our utility car-size tiger lady Scarface!
Mind you, she's just a poser and quite literally, all mouth and really nothing but a mellow pussy - but hey, size does matter down there and our clients love her to death!

Whenever we roll out the red carpet, there she comes to pose for the VIPs: be it Ron and Val, Howard and Michelle, Stan, the two Michaels, Doug, Mark, Klaus, Gary, Juerg and most recently, the incredibly lucky Lawrence and his bunch of Shark aficionados, Scarface never fails to amaze and entertain our illustrious guests.

It was only a question of time when those images would make the transition from YouTube and Flickr to the A-Class - but still, what a treat to find her looking at me, cavernous maw and all, from Wikipedia's Tiger Shark page!
My heartfelt thanks, and compliments, to crafty photographer pterantula whose Fiji Gallery is as good as it gets! And it has not been lost on me that always sassy Crook has made it up there as well!
Vinaka vakalevu Terry!

Our Rusi has always been Scarface's biggest fan and it had always been clear to us that those two had something special going.
One day, he decided that it was time to put the relationship to the ultimate test, fortunately for me just as I happened to hover only inches away with my trusted 110 degree Gates SWP25, camera running!
Was it a reckless piece of showmanship? Certainly, and never to be repeated again!
Was it awesome, tender and did it once and for all demonstrate Rusi's skills and love of Sharks? Without a doubt!

Anyway, here's two JPGs directly off that footage. I haven't changed or cropped anything, except for downsizing the files to avoid any undue temptation.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Highly recommended Reading!

Have you already done The Shark Dive with us?

If so, you might have noticed that we don't talk much about the global plight of Sharks and the desperate need to protect them.

We believe that actions speak louder than words and having successfully established the Shark Reef Marine Reserve and more recently, the Fiji Shark Corridor, we leave it to our clients to make up their own mind about the subject.
Many of our customers are quite apprehensive before taking the plunge, but once we see the total awe and exhilaration when they surface again, we just know that we've managed to create yet another batch of believers.
They've just experienced first hand that Bull Sharks are quite shy and Tigers, way cool, and that's what they'll go and tell their friends, along with showing them a trophy DVD documenting their braveness.

Out there, other people are desperately trying to counter the slaughter of Sharks by addressing the public via the media.

Sharks always seem to inflame strong emotions and the Shark conservation community at large seems to be no exception. Among them, you will find a large group of fabulous researchers with strong views and equally strong personalities, well meaning and well-funded but hopelessly idealistic NGOs, fake "research institutes" which are all about tourism dollars and zero about research, hoards of carpetbagging PhD students and of course the usual plethora of groupies, wannabees and self-declared experts.
All of that constitutes a highly explosive mix resulting in frequent vocal and public infighting, deplorable fragmentation of resources and squandering of energies.

Ever since airing the infamous "Anatomy of a Shark Bite" episode featuring a self-appointed Shark "guru" and charlatan, Discovery Channel's venerable Shark Weeks have found themselves smack in the middle of that controversy.
Discovery dishes out quite a bit of money to the Shark community and in view of the potential loss of income, most of the criticism so far has been limited to more or less surreptitious moaning and sniping.
Finally, a group of concerned and I believe, well-intentioned Shark people have mustered the courage to openly publish a letter addressing those grievances.

We applaud their initiative and hope that it will lead to open and fruitful dialogue, for the benefit of the Discovery Channel and Shark Conservation alike!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Coping with Global Warming

Australian researchers have shown how some reef-building corals might protect themselves against the double threat of Global Warming and ozone depletion.

Coral geneticists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science have found that many corals store several types of algae, which can improve their capacity to cope with warmer water.

"This work shatters the popular view that only a small percentage of corals have the potential to respond to warmer conditions by shuffling live-in algal partners," institute marine scientist Madeleine van Oppen said."Simply, when conditions warm the more heat-tolerant algae provide back-up, become more abundant. Some algal types impart greater resistance to environmental extremes."


Key species of coral can cross-breed, Australian research has found, fueling hope that coral reefs will be able to cope with climatic and environmental change.

The study of the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia, by a team led by geneticist Dr Madeleine van Oppen, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, has found evidence of cross-breeding in the major Acropora genus of coral.

Van Oppen said this week the new information indicates that coral species can develop a greater diversity of DNA that in turn should help them adapt to environmental changes that are threatening reefs worldwide.

The discovery also challenges the long-held belief that cross-breeding, or hybridisation, is mainly significant in the evolution of plants and not animals. Van Oppen said it has been difficult convincing the scientific community that corals do have the ability to cross-fertilise in nature.


Publishing in this week's issue of Nature, Dr Anya Salih and colleagues at the University of Sydney have found that certain varieties of corals use fluorescence to take the sting out of intense UV light, which otherwise acts together with warmer water temperatures to cause coral bleaching.
It had been observed for some time that corals fluoresced green when blue light was shone on them - but no one knew why.
"Our results show that in well-lit environments these fluorescent pigments act as 'sunscreens', protecting coral symbionts from photoinhibition by transforming excess light to wavelengths which are not absorbed by the algae and therefore will not damage them," say the researchers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Getting there...... but still a lot to do !!!

Want to learn holding your breath for minutes at a time?
Look no further than omniscient and dashing Stuart Gow of Resort Support !!!
All you need is a) Stuart b) a towel and c) a suitable venue (read: BAR) and you're in for the -chilling- experience of a lifetime!


Anyway, Stuart has just shot me an e-mail about Sea Shepherd's very latest sting and despite my reservations about Capt. Watson's assertive Conservation techniques, here's to an outstanding job in protecting the Sharks of the Eastern Pacific!

Closer to home, things are still in dire need of improvement.
According to the website of, of all places, the Environmental and Agricultural Information Center of the United Arab Emirates:
"Many of the Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Chinese and Korean vessels intrude into Fijian waters for shark fishing. These vessels bring in quite a lot of shark fins to Fiji island from where they are re-exported to Chinese and Hong Kong markets. The Fiji market is bustling with hectic business deals since a profit margin of about 80% is reported in some of these transactions."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Very Cool Stuff!

I'm always on the lookout for some new stuff about Sharks and just happened to stumble across the awesome website of the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research.
I must say, very impressive. Well done guys!
As you say, it's work in progress -and always will be- but what you've assembled so far is as good as it gets!
Being a closet Taxonomist, I'm particularly interested in this Checklist of Living Species (did you know that there's two Mako Sharks and three Sandtigers...?) and particularly, the page dealing with our group, the Whalers.
But the List of Topics is way longer than that and I'm sure that everybody will find something fascinating and above all, informative!