Saturday, November 24, 2007


Ever heard about TOPP?
Me neither, until Karen from our Tongan friends and partners at Dive Vava'u (please ask about our special, two-country adventure packages during the Tongan Humpback season) pointed me to their awesome Website.

TOPP stands for Tagging Of Pacific Predators and aims at determining the Pacific Ocean's hot spots where apex predators congregate to feed and mate, as well as the prevailing oceanic migratory routes they follow.
It began in 2000 as one of 17 projects of the Census of Marine Life, an ambitious 10-year, 80-nation endeavor to assess and explain the diversity and abundance of life in the oceans, and where that life has lived, is living, and will live.

Several dozen TOPP researchers from eight countries began venturing into offshore waters, remote islands, and along rugged coastlines to attach satellite tags to 22 different species of top predators that roam the Pacific Ocean. As of 2007, they have tagged more than 2,000 animals, including Elephant Seals, Great White Sharks, Leatherback Turtles, Blue Whales, Squid, Albatross and Sooty Shearwaters.
As these animals began sending back data via Argos, a polar-orbiting satellite, they opened the door to a world we'd never seen before: a picture of their migration routes and their ecosystem.

Take as an example the map pictured here which shows the interweaving tracks of several tagged pelagic species , including Laysan Albatross (blue dotted line in the western Pacific Ocean), Leatherback Turtles, (white tracks), Salmon Sharks (in red), and Elephant Seals (in green).

And what about the tagging we do at Shark Reef?
In due course, I don't know when, I don't know how, we'll be part of it all - and that's a Promise!

In the meantime, the site offers a cornucopia of Data, Publications and News which is second to none and that will entertain and amaze you for weeks and months to come.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Awesome new Pictures!

Meet Klaus Jost, gentleman and photographer extraordinaire!

Never mind having to schlepp along half a dozen cameras and a score of strobes, never mind being limited to 36 exposures allowing for only moderate, and above all, tedious post-production: Klaus is truly what the Germans call "alte Schule" and wouldn't dream about relinquishing his venerable Nikonos RS with its unique underwater optics in favor of that modern digital "Firlefanz" cluttering the camera market.
And why should he: so far, the quality and detail of his wideangle shots remains unmatched!

As is his generosity: despite being a full professional, Klaus will always donate his pictures for the cause of Education and Conservation, as documented by countless websites and publications worldwide. Bravo und Danke mein Lieber!

Having gained international recognition with his pictures and reports about breaching Great Whites, Klaus has shifted his focus to the South Pacific. He has been with us three times now and his shark portfolio is a vivid testimony to both his excellent skills and the fact that Shark Reef never fails to produce. This is a long-term endeavor as Klaus has embarked on the monumental task of trying to document not only every Shark, but also all of the other Fish life within the Reserve.

With a new fish count imminent in January, that task is likely to become even more daunting!

You can savor Klaus' latest Fijian crop on his website, especially in the sections about Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ultimate Shark Toy!

Xmas is just around the corner and here comes Mattel with a wonderful new toy combining great entertainment and stellar epistemological value and quite possibly, an invaluable tool for fostering cross-cultural awareness and respect!

Ingeniously named the "Mattel Matchbox Mega Rig Mega Set 2 in 1 Adventure with Shark Ship and Squid Sub " and featuring exquisitely suggestive, premium quality artwork, it not only contains one, but two Monster chomping Sharks and even a Killer Squid! Talk about value for money!

The mission is as delightfully straightforward as it is unendingly exciting:
"You're a marine biologist scouting the deepest depths of ancient seas to find undiscovered creatures. As your man in the diving cage is attacked by a 50-foot Shark-Saurus, you know you have to act fast to save him and capture the great grey beast."
Indispensible accessories include CAPTURE GEAR! a FIRING HARPOON! a SHARK GRABBER! + SHARK MISSILE!

Thankfully, parents have been quick to recognize the awesome pedagogical virtues of this monumental innovation, as documented by this proud testimony:
"My sons current favorite toy (and here follow 5 stars out of 5)
Bought this for my 6 year old boy and it was the clear winner from all of his BD gifts. He couldn't wait to start playing with it. It has a lot of variations to toy around with and he particularly enjoys having the shark eat the captain, which is foundly (sic) named Captain "Crunch". "
Whow! How adorably witty!

My only modest suggestion for improvement would be to add a) a small sharp knife, b) two toothpicks and c) a tiny porcelain bowl.
That way, when kiddo should ever get tired of hunting, shooting, killing and grabbing the Monster Shark, the parents could even introduce him to the arcane mysteries of Asian Culture!

By chopping off the fins for a delicious soup, thus making a valuable contribution to cultural Tolerance and Respect and ultimately, World Peace!
Plus, wouldn't that dovetail -just oh so beautifully!- with Mattel's much-applauded and exemplary cultural ties to China?

Chomp chomp!

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Miracle, Culture Shock, Sex, Mayo, Midwest, Sailing and DEMA. And Jam!

First the Good News:
Manasa is making a miraculous comeback after a near-fatal Heart Seizure!

Expect Papa to be back on board shortly, where he will continue to entertain, frighten, amuse and intrigue you. As for being allowed to go back to his beloved Sharks, fingers crossed! Because that's where he belongs!

Our heartfelt thanks go to the Suva Private Hospital, Dr. Pawar and especially, Dr. Ian Linton who flew over from Oz to zap him back to life. And to all of you who were kind enough to send him your support and best wishes.
Vinaka Vakalevu, from the bottom of our hearts!

With Andrew over in Orlando for DEMA (Booth 2049 - and don't miss our brand-new spectacular edit at Gary Adkison's presentation!), the Staff are bravely manning the fort. The current Indians hail from frigid Moskow - talk about culture shock, both ways!

When I rushed over at the beginning of October, I couldn't resist hopping in to check out who was still around.
The bulls were still plentiful but kind of standoffish and immagine my surprise to discover the first tell-tale cuts on Crook (click on image) and Granma who both turned up with male escorts!
According to our database, that would be at least one month early. After last year's mild El Nino, Fiji is experiencing a mild La Nina phenomenon and the water was warmer than expected. Are we maybe witnessing an early mating season? Does that mean that they'll be back early, too?
A Xmas running of the bulls?

In any event, we're ready.
Juerg is coming for a full three months in December to conduct an array of experiments and lectures; John Earle will do a new fish count; Gary and Brenda will host several film productions and generally be their usual combination of Wisdom, Chaos, Love, Testosterone and Midwestern Heritage - as in toasted Peanut Butter- Bacon- Lettuce- Mayo- Camembert sandwich with plenty of Ketchup! And Jam!

All-in-all, plenty of opportunities for everyone to learn heaps whilst having loads of fun! And for you image hunters out there: January and February are hot, I mean HOT, with heaps of action, warm water, often calm seas, sunshine and good viz. This is when the pros flock in to get the killer shots (and inevitably succeed).
Need I say more? Drop us a line and book your dive!

And last but not least: there's a feisty newcomer!
She hasn't hand fed yet but judging from the way she's been courting Rusi, it's only a matter of time until she joins the ranks of the regulars. We've named her Topsail, for obvious reasons.

Welcome to the Club young Lady!