|Great White Shark Under Siege|
Dear Shark Divers,
Over the past few years Absolute Adventures-Shark Diver has advocated very strongly and successfully for self regulated eco use at the Gulf of the Farallons National Marine Sanctuary. Specifically eco-tourism regarding protected Great White Sharks. The thought at the time was that only local shark boat operators would know best how to interact with this protected species on a seasonal basis.
We sadly report to you today that this sensitive population of Great Whites is now "under siege" by multiple pleasure boats, and eco-tour operators during the months of September through November. Local pleasure boats have learned that deploying surfboards at the SEFI (South East Farallon Islands) elicit spectacular strike/attack responses from huge resident Great Whites.
They are also aware that chumming with fish parts and oil are not currently illegal. Most of this unregulated seasonal activity is directed at the small and sensitive populations of Great Whites located between Mirounga Bay and Fisherman's Cove at the SEFI. Currently there are no eco laws nor regulations directing the practice of attracting Great Whites in any manner. Imagine if you will not one, but nine to 14 boats all trying this activity each day for the critical three months a year when these magnificent Great Whites come to feed on Elephant Seals (Mirounga Angustirostris) as they have done for the past 10,000 years.
This feeding activity is vital to the Great Whites continued success at these islands. The concern is pressure being exerted on them at this critical time is in fact more than this population can bear.
We were also surprised to note in 2002 the Discovery Channel's Shark Week"Air Jaws Two" show, wherein 20 million viewers in California and the USA were shown how to make and deploy shark decoys for the express purpose of seeing protected Great White Sharks "fly" off the coast of California. This video and a host of shark watching flyers posted by pleasure boat owners in 2001-2002 are partially responsible in our opinion for the sudden and dramatic increase in non-regulated, non-permitted, pleasure boats and eco-tour operators at the sensitive Farallons shark site.
What we have at this point located within a protected
National Marine Sanctuary is a powder keg waiting to go off, and the clear
loser in this case is in fact the Great White Shark. Action Our company
is now calling for a two-year moratorium on all commercial and non-commercial
shark watching, shark bating/attraction, and cage diving operations effective
this year in the form of a 2003-2004 Emergency Closure. We are not advocating
a ban on boating, sport fishing and scuba diving, just any activity related
to the specific attraction and harassment of Great Whites by multiple
unregulated shark boat operators and pleasure boats. We are also requesting
that an Environmental Impact Study is conducted with the cost of this
study being burdened by all local operators seeking to be permitted after
the study is complete in two years. Results from published and unpublished
long-term studies on White Sharks from PRBO Conservation Science and its
partner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which are well-respected and
objective research organizations, will be made available during the moratorium
and will be used for evaluation of management options developed under
the EIS. Elsewhere in the world and in the USA it is common for interested
parties involved in wildlife use/access issues to pay for the costs of
We have a slim chance now to hold everything in place,
two years is not a long time for eco-tour companies to wait until rules,
regulations and permits come forward. Meanwhile our dive site in Isla
Guadalupe, Mexico, which remains one of the world's best Great White Shark
dive sites, is under no such environmental pressure, and as such we are
booking expeditions for 2003-2004 right now and look forward to introducing
you to "Los Propietarios" or "The Landlords" this
year. We will also keep our divers updated to the ongoing status of this
site. Please help us save protected Great White Sharks at the Farallons
for future generations by sending us an email of support; email@example.com
we will forward these emails to NOAA, the GFNMS, and all other interested
parties. One email can make a lot of difference to a protected species!
Thank you for your support. Cheers, The Staff Absolute Adventures-Shark