Monday, October 25, 2010

I've definitely done worse than this.

Tiger Beach - simply magic!
Photo: Wolfgang Leander (2009)
Click to enlarge

This is one of those images I had not thought to be worth digitalizing when I went through my films last year. Yesterday, a quiet Sunday in quiet Cochabamba, was the perfect day to review my old negatives once again to see whether I had not overlooked a decent shot.

I am glad I 'discovered' the photograph as I believe it captures the essence of that uniquely minimalistic dive site that is Tiger Beach: No pretty corals or rocks on the bottom, incredibly clear water, a vast, flat sandy area, an underwater beach, indeed, and - well, a few scuba divers which in this case served as a welcome compositional element.

In about two weeks I will be back at Tiger Beach with two or three of my good old Nikonos V cameras. While there is now an almost over-flowing abundance of good tiger shark photographs, I am hoping to get THE shot of my life which I know won't happen. Being quite hard on myself when it comes to delivering quality I will never be completely satisfied with my work.

What can I do? - that is what being a damned perfectionist is all about. This obsession isn't all that bad, though - it keeps me going which is perhaps the best post-operative cancer therapy there is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lionfish Smash Video

A while back I wrote about going to Bimini for the 2nd Annual Lionfish Smash - well, I finally came around to work on a little video...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tiger Shark baiting in South Africa - Part lll

Tiger shark: Full of marks, grace, and character
Photo by Wolfgang Leander (Bahamas 2009)
Click to enlarge

Just to keep those posted who are interested in the subject.

Below is a mail I received from one of the twelve Aliwal Shoal shark operators. While the writer is not a "celebrity", he is the type of guy who does his job responsibly and with an unassuming, professional attitude. He seems to be deeply convinced that animals deserve to be treated humanely.

I am not sure whether this gentleman is a shark "conservationist" - probably not, at least he would not describe himself as being one; however, it is what he
does that makes him a shark friend: He protects his creatures from being harmed simply because he thinks it is the right thing to do.

".......... I agree with you greatly that the sharks must not be damaged. We have for years now adopted a different view in terms of the baited diving. Our policy is there is no reward at all for tiger sharks whatsoever. We do not hang carcases on the drums. We are using only sardine and anchovy oil with the drums.

We have been using a very thick cable with a thick rubber coating almost like a thick hose pipe. We don’t use chains. The results for us have been great.


We will still look at other methods with open minds but for us the reward part by hanging carcasses on the cable and drums is a big NO. It is also on our permit exemptions that the tiger sharks must not receive reward or be fed.

While I do not think that 'rewarding' tigers with some smelly goodies will harm them in any way, or negatively alter their behavior with regard to divers, I fully respect this operator's strict adherence to a protocol which he believes is correct.

I understand other operators are already working on developing shark friendly baiting methods. Well, that is great news, indeed!

What unfortunately turned into some sort of a deplorable controversy within shark circles in South Africa, with friends feeling uncomfortable if not outright angry at me when I brought up this issue, and made it known publicly, is now being resolved quietly and effectively. Which is all I wanted to happen in the first place.

Those friends I made in South Africa who now became unfriendly toward me cancelled each other out. Thus, I didn't win but didn't lose either. Everything is still in perfect balance.

Friday, October 15, 2010

(Ir)relevant comments on a photograph. To start with: Congrats, Allen!

Click to enlarge

Allen Walker of Scottburgh took this spectacular photograph at Aliwal Shoal. It's not a "pretty" picture - but it is highly dramatic, uncomfortably dark, and mysteriously moody.

The shot is, to me, a photojournalistic image at its very best. Allen squeezed the shutter at the decisive moment. He did so either mechanically or intuitively. He certainly didn't compose the photo; the photo composed itself. I know that sounds quite awkward - but how would you describe it? Difficult. If an image says more than a thousand words, how could one comment on it aptly with less than a thousand words?

Both divers, incidentally tough members of the Australian national rugby team, have never snorkelled with sharks (I guess I can tell by their body "language"), of which the one who was closer to the photographer has been unintentionally cropped, make for a fantastic background.

The menacing shark emerges almost metaphorically from the murky depth that could be the bottom of our archaic collective soul - we all still have this old fear of a monster's gaping mouth that could mean the business end of our precarious existence...

Whatever, blah, blah. blah.... To sum it up, Allen's shot is one of the best underwater photographs I have ever seen.

This is meant to be a straight compliment, and under "normal" circumstances I should not feel the necessity to explain it.

However, in the shark world circumstances are not always "normal", so I need to elaborate a bit.

Some people don't understand me, and attack me for being: ego-driven, petty-minded, destructive, unreasonable, incapable of seeing the 'larger' issues such as effective shark conservation, hurting the 'cause' - or they accuse me of "bad-mouthing" others, especially those who are the "real" shark lovers out there, the "sharkiest people in the world" (some adjective, huh?), those who selflessly "dedicate their lives" to sharks (often making a very comfy living in the process, as I should add...).

This is who I am: When I don't like things, I say so - if necessary politically very incorrect - and "make" enemies; by the same token I can praise, and do so with much pleasure, when I like things others do or say.

Allen and I had some serious "issues" lately - about the tiger shark baiting "issue". We discussed some of our disagreements without mincing our words, and were close to calling each other names, and not very delicate ones at that...

Thus, I would think that Allen will be quite surprised to read what I am saying about his master photograph.

At the end of the day, a basic common understanding prevailed - Allen can be a young raging bull with a soft heart, and I can be a pretty aggressive old bull with a soft heart. Our 'heart condition' is our bond, as it were.

Whatever, blah, blah, blah... Enjoy the pic as much as I do.

End of story.

Shark Free Marinas going BIG

Shark Free Marinas will be sending out brochures featuring Guy Harvey's artwork to 1,500 marinas throughout the United States - what a great initiative.  If you are not familiar with the concept, please visit:

Keep up the excellent work!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Bahamas: Eden for Sharks?

The Bahamian sharks need to be protected from reckless fishermen and Chinese "gourmets"!

A tiger and a wolf in perfect harmony as captured by Manuel Lazcano (Bahamas, 2009).

Click on image

Back in March 2007 there was no need to add a question mark to how the National Geographic Magazine described the Bahamian archipelago in its main feature.

At that time nobody would have even dreamt that this Eden for sharks could ever become a hunting ground for a reckless Bahamian seafood company to satisfy its Chinese clients' demand for shark fins.

After reading the National Geographic Magazine article you will understand why so many shark conservationists - organizations and concerned individuals - are totally OUTRAGED about the nightmarish thought of exterminating the Bahamian sharks so that wealthy Chinese can eat shark fin soup.

Shark fin soup is a very costly dish the Chinese consider not just a mere delicacy but a social privilege not to be challenged by "foreigners" who have no respect for ancient "cultural" traditions...

Here is the National Geographic Magazine article.
Justify Full

Monday, October 04, 2010

We need the Bahamian sharks - badly!!

Some 40 years ago I was a press and PR officer of the second largest German investment fund company. The first lessons I learned there were: 1) PR begins at home, and 2) you don't wait for the media to contact you - you go out to get them interested in what you have to say.

Which is precisely what I did one week ago, when I approached Mike Alexiou, a good old Bahamian friend of mine, asking him to put me in touch with the editorial board of the most prestigious and oldest Bahamian newspaper, The Nassau Guardian (est. 1844).

Luckily, the Guardian's Managing Director, Erica Wells, was very interested to publish an article about the mortal danger the Bahamian sharks are facing these days, a subject that alarmed local and international conservationist associations as well as recreational divers from all over the world.

Dr. Samuel Gruber, Professor Emeritus of t
he University of Miami, the famous "Doc", and Jill M. Hepp, Manager of Global Shark Conservation at the PEW Charitable Trusts, supplied me with most valuable and current information on the subject of shark conservation in the Bahamas.

If this PR action will help enhancing awarene
ss of the plight of the sharks in the Bahamas, it will be due to "Doc's" and Jill's input, and, of course, to Erica Well's mastership of the journalistic craft.

Here is what Erica wrote on October 4, 2010:

To be able to read the article, click on images - once enlarged, click on them again.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tiger Shark baiting in South Africa - Part II

Most definitely not a picnic for the tiger shark!!
Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click to enlarge

The discussion on the subject continues. That is very good news, indeed!

Here is what one of the Aliwal Shoal shark dive operators wrote to Walter Bernardis of African Watersports who is coordinating the initiative to introduce more effective baiting techniques:

Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 7:30 PM
Subject: Re: ASCBOA list of members for CIPRO

Hi Walter

I have started using the polycop piping in conjunction with cable and though cumbersome, it definitely makes a difference.

Polycop piping is definitely the only way to go as whether it has rope or cable through it, it seems impossible, to me, that coiling can take place.

As you mentioned, polycop piping, nothing else will produce the same results, in my opinion (example hosepipe etc).

I am also busy sourcing 500-600mm hard plastic longline buoys, which I plan on turning into drums and testing to see whether viable or not, in place of the washing machine drums.

Justify Full
My thoughts on this is that similar to a dog with a soccer ball, as Wolfgang mentions, "radius" will determine whether it works or not, but a round object has no purchase points for any shark to bite into.

I don't know, it's my 5c worth, I am going to try this and will let you know how it turns out.

What do you think as I agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed?



Kudos to both Walter and XXXXX!!!