What an Ocearch tag does to a Great White

Dead Great White washed up in Durban, with Ocearch tag certainly not looking pretty. Was this the cause of its death, ie infection from botched experiment/installation?

The research/tracking they are doing is very valuable to the understanding of Great Whites, but is there not a more humane way to do it? And perhaps without the chum/alien abduction techniques?

And some more…

Greedy Muppets trying to start Cage Diving in Cape Cod, USA

By Doug Fraser
dfraser@capecodonline.com / http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120904/NEWS/209040316/-1/NEWSLETTER100
September 04, 2012

CHATHAM — Monday, when most people were relaxing, enjoying a Labor Day off from the daily grind, others were hard at work fulfilling their dreams — in this case, of sharks.

Garth Donovan, a house painter based in Needham, loves to make movies and has seven independent feature-length films and one short to his credit, many as director.

Bradley Louw, an offshore lobsterman, wants to have a successful business showcasing one of the Cape’s newest natural wonders, the great white shark.

Those two desires may seem an unlikely pairing, but Donovan is shooting a movie about a man confronting his fears and Louw wanted to try out his almost-new $10,000 shark cage.

For the sake of his film, Donovan has already searched for sharks off the Cape by dropping chum — a brew of fish parts — and then jumping in the water, paddleboarding at the mouth of Chatham Harbor and swimming from a research vessel to a seal haul-out to photograph a seal freshly killed by a great white attack.

He was willing to finance a day at sea filming great whites from Louw’s shark cage on the Chatham scalloper Three Graces.

“I think today went awesome. No one got hurt, we got the sharks, we got footage,” said Louw, 23, after spending five hours off Chatham. He said the team saw four great whites ranging from 14 to 17 feet long.

Cameras, of course, were everywhere, with a cameraman circling above in a plane, two filming from the deck of the scalloper and another on a chase boat. There also were several underwater cameras strapped to the cage.

Where are the sharks? Click to view details of recent great white shark sightings

Soon after the crew departed from the Chatham municipal fish pier in the early morning hours, the pilot of the spotter plane saw sharks before cameras or crew were even ready.

Louw said he was most scared when he jumped into the cage by himself to secure some buoys, knowing that a big shark was seen circling close to the cage by the spotter pilot. Although he’s originally from South Africa where shark cage tourism is a full-blown industry, Louw had never been in one before Monday morning.

He bought the cage — a big box of marine-grade aluminum bars that looks like portable jail cell — from a man in Montauk, N.Y., who also had a dream of diving on great whites.

“It was harder to do than he thought it would be,” Louw said.

It only seemed natural to Louw that, just like a local excursion industry grew up around the population of gray seals that’s exploded over the past 20 years, there would be plenty of people willing to pay to go nose-to-nose with the sharks.

He looked at Monday’s expedition as a chance to work out the bugs in the operation. There turned out to plenty. They learned the following: Don’t tow the cage to the sharks with divers inside (“I felt like a lobster in a trap being hauled to the surface”); wear scuba gear not snorkels; let the noon sun improve water visibility; and playing loud music underwater while banging on the cage to attract sharks basically does the opposite.

The latter tactic was used instead of chumming as is done in other countries.

State shark researcher Greg Skomal said chumming is highly controversial with some scientists worrying that the sharks could start associating humans with food. That’s an extremely dangerous association when public swimming beaches are just a few miles away.

The expedition was encouraged that the spotter plane was able to find sharks quickly and guide the boat there in time. All of the services for the day, such as the boat and the spotter plane, were donated.

But limited visibility from inside the cage proved a major drawback Monday, Louw said. Even though the sharks came within a few feet of the cage, neither Louw, fellow diver Shawn Vecchione, nor Donovan could see anything but murky shadows as visibility often shifted from a couple of feet to 15 or so. That seemed to improve as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Seeing sharks was not a problem for Justin Lynch, 29, who was filming from a small skiff and saw two big great whites circling underneath him, including one measuring 17 feet long and more than 3 feet wide.

Donovan is hoping people will relate to a human being feeling vulnerable.

“It’s a real documentary; there’s no safety net,” he said.

Louw is hoping that people will see his shark cage as safe and that some would be willing to pay him to enter the shark’s domain. Like Donovan, he is willing to risk his own capital, hoping to buy a boat this year capable of transporting and lowering the cage. He wants to return to South Africa over the winter to see how the professionals do it there.

“Here,” he said about the Cape, “we have this great opportunity.”

Ocean Lovers Against Chumming

In the wake of the Ocearch controversy, and David Lilienfeld’s tragic death, a new group has been formed on Facebook, Ocean lovers against chumming. The group was established during a very emotional time for Cape Town, and indeed further afield, in relation to the ongoing nightmare that is chumming for Great White Sharks in South Africa.

Ocean lovers against chumming has managed to capitalise on the massive outpourings of anger, rage, discontent and confusion that has subsequently gripped the Cape surf family, and by applying a very direct ‘name’ to the group, and with the obvious timing, he has been able to garner support in a way that is quite amazing (over 6000 members within the first 48 hours of launching the page). I have been trying to get this kind of response for several years of working through this website and the sticker campaign, writing articles to our major surf rags who begrudgingly got involved, countless meetings with interested individuals, marine lawyers and activists (Also due a mention in the process has been Rob Munro, a Boland activist who has put in a lot of time and energy into his Facebook group, Stop Shark Cage Diving in South Africa . Thanks Rob.) and I am totally stoked that finally the greater public is getting involved, talking about chumming, seeking out and sharing research, and burning up the social networks in heated debate.

By using the name Ocean Lovers Against Chumming it solves several issues that we have had with Surfers Against Shark Cage Diving.

1. That many people concerned about the impacts of chumming are not surfers, but everyones an ocean lover, and thus able to attract far wider support.

2. Pre-Ocearch the only people chumming the water were the Shark Cage Dive operators, and that is who we directed our fight against. But many people who wrote in to our website said they were not entirely anti shark cage diving (I wonder if they are still?), and so wouldnt join up. In light of this we did shift our name to Surfers For Responsible Shark Cage Diving, and have spent many hours trying to push for a legislative approach whereby the industry is properly regulated, but have not met any success in this regard as of yet.

So Ocean Lovers Against Chumming nicely sums up exactly what we all are, in a more direct, non-exclusive way. Justin Othersurfa whole-heartedly endorses what is happening, it is what we have been pushing for all along, and how it came about (ie through another group than our own) is not important, what is important is that as many concerned individuals lend their voices to ONE channel so that with great numbers we can effect CHANGE.

If you havent already, join the group, put your hand up and be counted, lets do something about this. Talk only gets so far, just look at the Arab Spring revolution, enough pissed off people can do some major things!

I will hereby be closing our Facebook groups for Surfers Against Shark Cage Diving, and messaging all our members to sign-up with Ocean Lovers Against Chumming. I will still put my efforts into www.surfersagainstsharkcagediving.com as this is what I personally feel, and will continue to represent the Surfer’s perspective, we are the most vulnerable after all.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the cause, Justin Othersurfa’s 271 friends, Rob, Pierre and the 6835 members of Ocean Lovers Against Chumming.

Lets do it together.

Open letter to the Cape Surf community

Well its now happened, another well-loved person doing what they love has lost their life to a shark, and the chumming continues.
Dave Lilienfeld was a very accomplished wave-slider and will be sadly missed by the Western Cape surfing family. Our deepest sympathies for his family and friends, and we hope he finds perfect wedges up in the clouds.

But its time to stop bullshitting people and start calling a fish a fish, chum-ps.

This madness of chumming Great Whites in our waters is causing serious harm. If its so safe, why does a film-crew from California, which has one of the worlds largest populations of Great White sharks, have to come here to South Africa to shoot these documentaries and do their research. Chris Fischer, Ryan Turner and the Ocearch team, Go chum your own fricken water, we don’t want you here.

To the disbelievers, lofty science voices, screaming for facts, here you go. Large amounts of chum are unseasonally dropped into False bay, an area used daily by thousands of local ocean-lovers .Many new Great Whites are attracted into the bay as a result. The crap you and your ‘scientists’ drop in the ocean smells like food, but the sharks get no meal or reward, other than an awoken appetite and a nice shiny new tag drilled into their fin. The notion that only the area within 2km of the chum drop is of concern, and obviously ignoring the chum-slick, is now totally blown out of the water, as is also illustrated the fact that it happened three days after the initial chumming, showing a higher than normal amount of large great whites had actually hung around in the area, probably in search of food, and therefore showing a very clear direct change in behaviour. (Up to 6 large (3-4.5m) Great Whites were seen around Koeel Bay just after the incident, this is not an usual occurence)

To the surf-riders sitting on the fence, denying whats going on infront of us, join ranks, voice your discontent. This.shit.has.GOT.to.stop.

I’m not saying I condone they guys who dropped a few matches on the cage dive boat after the negative review on Carte Blanche all those years ago, but I’m saying lets make it hard for them to operate, laws take years to get things done, public power and opinion can change things in minutes. Let our community come together, and by this I mean you, not some other people. We each have a responsibility to do something, come up with clever publicity stunts, write to newspapers, blog the hell out of it, then… organise protest marches in the towns of the main chum-ps, thousands of angry citizens saying enough is enough … in the townships people go bos when they’re not happy, lets go bos over unethical treatment of our animals, endangerment of ourselves and friends, and threatening our safety whilst we exercise our God-given right to slide through salt-water tunnels. The vibe will get a lot of media coverage, and if it hits the overseas news, its a done deal. Using chum to attract Great White sharks is not cool.

Surfers for Responsible Shark Cage Diving aims to be a collective movement that opposes the use of chum to attract sharks in South African waters. If you feel strongly about this you can submit your name to our membership list, befriend Justin Othersurfa on Facebook, and help form a powerful group that can create change.