Friday, January 18, 2008

Sharks, the Wolf, and press lies....

What could have been an informative article about sharks turned into a rather sensationalistic piece of commercial journalism.

Read article

Unfortunately, I was somewhat naive believing that what I said in the interview would help the cause of educating people about sharks. I had no previous experience with the press but as Rudy Socha put it: "Wolf, look at the bright side, at 66 it was time for you to lose your virginity..."

Thus, I read for the first time in my life, mouth wide open, that I "survived 50 years of swimming with sharks", then I saw myself in a photograph surrounded by 30 "tiger sharks", and a minor, rather irrelevant accident (the bite of a shark I clearly provoked) became the centerpiece of the article.

OK, I understand newspapers need some hype to get their readers' attention. However, reporters should always stick to the truth, no matter what. There is a blatant lie in the article that I find intolerable: The "Daily Mail" states that I am 67 years old - that is simply not true; I am only 66 years and 10 months old.... :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bulls seen from a gull's perspective

Jim Abernethy has got to be one of the sharkiest shark operators on earth. He passionately loves sharks, and he runs the by now famous trips to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. When he is in Palm Beach in between trips, and not at home taking it easy, you can be sure to find this energetic and bubbly man high up in the air - watching sharks from above. He just can't get enough of them - no need to explain that to me.... :-)

Jim is a committed professional, and has loyal clients who would not switch operators. But he also has a new friend - me - who would not dive with him. Huh?? Say what?? Well, simple: Jim does not allow freedivers on his shark trips, and I do not have a license to scuba dive.

I tried to convince Jim to make an exception with me - he wouldn't; he tried to talk me into getting certified so I could join him - I most definitely won't dive with tanks, ever. Period. So we will not be diving together among sharks although we are both 110% shark fanatics. Too bad.... :-(

What we have done together, however, was observing schools of bull sharks in shallow water in Palm Beach. Jim very kindly invited me to a memorable flight in his ultra-light plane to do some shark watching from the lofty perspective of a gull.

To be able to identify large bull sharks against the sandy bottom from an altitude of maybe 500 - 700 ft was a truly elevating experience for a hard-core shark diver! It was most gratifying to see dozens, if not hundreds, of sharks, well and alive, knowing that they will in all likelihood live out their lives naturally, unharmed by humans.

Long live the tigers of Tiger Beach and the bulls of Palm Beach, and may the waters in both places be always as "shark infested" as I was privileged to see them, underwater and from above!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dances with Sharks

These are two photographs taken by Paul Spielvogel, Staff Photographer of Eli Martinez's Sharkdiver Magazine. Paul is an attorney, and photographing sharks is his hobby - or should I say his 'passion'? When Paul and I met on a fantastic Tiger Shark trip organized by Eli on Scottie Smith's Dolphin Dream II, we both immediately sensed that our 'chemistry' is made of the same elements... It is gratifying to meet congenial people.

I really like these pics: With them Paul captured the essence of my love for sharks. Whatever I had to say about digital photography (see the Nikonos V blog posted recently) does not apply here. I am glad Paul had a digital camera while I was playing with the sharks.

The lemon sharks of Tiger Beach are adorable, very much like a bunch of friendly dogs. They don't mind you being there, they might bump you gently but are not aggressive at all. The lemons of Tiger Beach are a real treat!

The tiger girl I am touching on her back is "Olga" - she is a cool 11 - 12 ft babe who established a special relationship with Folkart which I will keep discreetly as a secret.... :-)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Old but new to me

I was going through my blog feeds today and came across the photo above. First thought was "this is a fake" - but that was before I saw the copyright: Thomas Peschak. My dad had met and dove with him in South Africa. I emailed him the photo and he told me that it is in fact "untouched" - part of a whole series actually. Thomas wrote a post on his kayaking with white sharks experience and mentioned the amount of inquiries he received because of the photo.

On a side note, my boss kayaks - I sent her this photo and she was gun-ho to do it - MAN UP!

Next Generation of Killers

Is there any hope for the next generation, not when you have kids like Aidan Murray Medley. He caught (and indirectly) killed a 551 lbs bull shark off the coast of Florida. Is there not a "catch and release" (or tag for that matter) ethic when fishing? Sure Aidan's parents were proud of him - they should spend some time with little Aidan researching the current state of the shark population, in case they read this post:

Read full story here.

PS - Is still distributing shark fins?