Sunday, May 31, 2009

Guy Harvey Tags Tiger Sharks

Tiger Shark (Tiger Beach / Bahamas)
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

Today there was an interesting article in the Miami Herald written by Susan Cocking about Guy Harvey and a group of researchers tagging Tiger Sharks in the Bahamas. The report is well written and in no way sensationalizing the interaction with sharks.

It seems like the long term goal of studying the Tiger Sharks in the Bahamas is to protect them from fishermen - what a beautiful thing that would be...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Great Anti-Whaling Campaign Element

Sperm Whale

A colleague just sent me a link to a life size blue whale - one that I can look at and scroll the whole body...fascinating how big they are. As I wanted to close the browser, I got the following message:

"Think before you close this window. This might be the last life size whale you will ever see" - with a link to This is part of a campaign from Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society to stop whaling...thought it was a great element and definitely captured my attention.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts from an Oceanmind

Nico and I have have become pretty good friends over the last month - more like the brother I never had - we share many passions, among them freediving, the ocean, social media, short hair - only difference is that I do not get seasick. And we were actually born on the same day. Last week Nico joined us to Ft. Myers, while new to the Shark World (I almost regret introducing him to this), he is not new the to non-profit world.

He just posted an interesting article on his blog:

"The Plethora of Non Profits: An Ego Battle" -

This could be easily applied to any industry - the shark / shark diving one without a is pretty sad that these are the first impressions that people have...a lesson for all:

"Part of me wanting to create the social network Ocean Minds was to offer a platform for people and organizations to communicate and promote a sustainable and healthy lifestyle around the worlds oceans: our playground. I also had in mind for it to be a place where non profits can coordinate on joint efforts.

This past week end, I joined shark minded Brendal Davis of Sharksavers and Felix Leander of Oceanic Dreams to participate in what was supposed to be a protest against the “Are You Man Enough” Shark fishing tournament to be held in Fort Myers,Florida June 6 &7th.

Thanks to several individuals and organizations including the Shark foundation, Shark safe, and Sharksavers the protest ended up to be a nice meeting. They succeeded by uniting their efforts to get public attention on the matter and have the tournament become a catch and release only before the day of the protest. For a more in depth summary of the day, check out Felix Leander blog entry."

Read the complete entry on Nico's blog at:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Instead of a protest we celebrated

Originally the trip to Ft. Myers Beach was to protest the "Are you man enough shark tournament" - however, as we got into the car this morning the tournament had already become a catch and release event - so we were just going up to celebrate and meet some of the people that made all of this happen.

With me were Brendal Davis from Sharksavers and Nico Danan from Oceanminds (who was with us half of the time / the other half passed out in the back of the car - let's just say that it was a long night). As we arrived, Lawrence Groth was filming and interviewing some of the people involved in getting this tournament to become a bit more shark friendly - there was Neil Hammerschlag, Lupo Dion, Mary O'Malley, Gary and Brenda Adkison, Carl Conley (Ft. Myer Beach Island Sand Paper), Ray Judah (County Commissioner - Lee County) and a few others.

After the formalities and interviews, we headed over to the marina where the tournament will be held next week and all had lunch (thanks to Lawrence - he picked up the bill).

For me it was not only great to see how a group of people were able to come together and make something happen - but to actually meet a lot of them. Some I had know via email or through my dad - many there knew him - and then connect me to him...what can I say - it was a good day.

Here are some pictures.

Tomorrow I am off to the pool for some static and dynamic sessions with Nico.

Shark Free Marina going after Mark the Shark

CBS 4 just did a report on the Shark Free Marina initiative and how this group is trying to convince the marina where Mark the Shark showcases his trophies to become shark free - they are considering it.

This is definitely some good press for the initiative and hope it will get the program more exposure and give Mark a headache.

As for Mark the Shark - time to look for a new park spot - or better yet - change your business plan.

At the end of the segment the report make reference to Shark Free Marina being responsible for the Ft. Myers tournament become a catch and release event.

The team of Shark Free Marina have contacted us already to mention that CBS was erroneous in their reporting and have
given credit where it is due on their site.

By them coming forth - I am hoping no one in the shark tribe becomes upset - after all that would just confirm the ego problems we have in this little community...this should solely be about the sharks anyway.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stuart Cove gets the media thing right

And some people that have been in the business for only a few years - rookies - get it wrong not once, not twice, not three times, but a total of FOUR TIMES - you know who you are. Below is a short segment from ABC featuring Stuart's Cove - it has the right messaging and portrays the sharks how they should be - not like "killer lemon sharks".

My dad emailed me this:

"Sure this was a nice publicity gag for Stuart Cove and his operation. But at least sharks were not prortayed in a negative light.

That is the way to go: If you get interviewed, or involved in any way with a TV producer, you control the interview and make sure the feature won't be distorted by the editors.

If you do not have that guarantee - you simply stay out. I know, It takes character to tell a TV producer: 'I won't be part of this'. But that is what being ethical and principled is all about.

Who do I mean? You know EXACTLY who I mean....


Sharkdiver recent wrote about the segment but I missed the video - in case you did too, click here to watch it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Only a dead tiger shark is a good tiger shark .....

..... is what ignorants believe.

I would have thought that
Mark Quartiano who calls himself "The Shark" would at least be knowledgeable about sharks. He has been hunting sharks for the last 40 years, and probably considers himself a shark "expert".

Well, let me tell you, Mark is certainly a proficient shark hunter but he knows next to nothing about his prey.

I wrote him recently to find out whether he would consider diving with sharks with me one day, hoping that such an experience would turn the killer into a conservationist.

This is part of his reply to me:

"Thanks for your offer...but I never get in the water with sharks....and the last time I checked Tiger sharks accounted for most all shark fatalities in the world..."

I just don't understand guys like him. Mark has been into sharks for decades - and he would never get in the water with sharks? He is probably not the only one. I am sure Australian born Vic Hislop, definitely the most infamous shark angler, is also terrified of 'man-eating' sharks, and would never snorkel or dive with them.

Poor guys - they must have too much testosterone to even imagine what they are missing....

Mark's business is to feed on people's fear of sharks; mine - if I can call it a 'business' - is to show that sharks are not dangerous, not even the big ones.

Mark will never convince me that what he does is right; he, in turn, would simply refuse to even try to look at sharks the way I do. Too bad...

Here are two images that reduce the irreconcilability of
our positions to a graphic impact:

Playful tiger shark - alive and bad?
Photo: Amanda Cotton

Crucified tiger shark - dead and good?

"Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge" changed to a total Catch and Release tournament

As you can see from the letter below - a lot of people came together for a common purpose, a common goal...and while as individuals we whisper, as a group we are heard. This is a great accomplishment - a big thank you to all those involved!

Gary and Brenda Adkison:

"Dear Friends,
It was just announced a few moments ago that the Ft. Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and its City Commissioners all voted unanimously to immediately change the upcoming "Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge" to a total Catch and Release tournament with chase boats and live streaming video beamed back to television monitors at the tournament headquarters!

There will be no "shark kill" tournament!

This came just days before a large organized shark conservation and education protest was scheduled this weekend in front of the tournament headquarters. It has been confirmed that the sponsoring business owners were virtually unanimous in their support as well and actually had decided to make the tournament "catch and release" just hours prior to the commission vote.

Margret Meade once said, "Never doubt that a group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.......indeed it is the only thing that ever has!"
There are many heroes in this effort and hundreds of individuals behind the scenes who helped make this environmental victory possible. Those hundreds of you who took the time to write an e mail and voice your concern to the tournament organizers fueled the fire!

Penny Miller who networked and boldly wrote Governor Crist's office and the Ft Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce in Florida strongly voicing her anger at this throwback to an African Big Game Hunting mentality!

Mary O'Malley and Lupo who were relentless in their pursuit of information on the "toxic" shark meat that was ostensibly being given to the homeless in an effort to "spin" killing sharks into a "positive justification" by the tournament organizers. They uncovered the falsehood that the Salvation Army had not even been contacted at all this year by the tournament organizers as advertised on their web page and they did not even want the meat in the first place....toxic or not!

Lawrence Groth who is a tenacious truth seeker that never gave up and pursued sponsors, tournament organizers, wrote blogs and even went "undercover" to film the "secret" shark kill tournament in Sarasota last week and planned the protest event on the Ft Myers side.

Neil Hammerschlag whose academic candor roused the environmental spirit of young supporters and helped turn the Commissioners around and to ultimately get the vote in favor of the sharks passed in commission chambers!

The scientific intervention by Dr. Sonny Gruber of the Bimini Field Station/University of Miami fame and Dr. Bob Heuter, Director of Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota lent credibility and sound insight to this project's goal and gave the tournament organizers a viable alternative to still making a success of a Catch and Release tournament.

And of all the bloggers around the world, Mike Neumann, Patric Douglas, Wolfgang Leander, Heidi Coluzzi and dozens of others on all continents, who raised their voices in protest and demanded environmental reason to prevail.....

Thank you one and all! The sharks won this one today....thanks to a unified effort by everyone. Now with this momentum let us not allow it to fade. Let us all continue to pick the battles and take every opportunity to make a difference for the shark globally. Our children are counting on it....and our planet can not survive without our collective conscience.

The former president of the Nature Conservancy, John Sawhill once said..."in the end, our society will be defined....not only for what we created....but for what we refused to destroy....!


Gary and Brenda Adkison
Directors Shark Foundation,
USA 954 554 8918"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

14-Foot Tiger Shark Reeled In Off Key Biscayne

So the good news does not last long at all...Mark "The Shark" Quartiano has done it again. This time he killed a 14-ft Tiger shark right off Key Biscayne. Don't really have much to say - it is becoming exhausting writing about the same bullshit over and over again...I tried to contact Mark last year to meet and talk about year of the shark, etc. - while he did respond it did not lead to anything...interested in any ideas on how to change this guys perception and attitude toward sharks.

"South Florida boat captain Mark "The Shark" Quartiano, a captain who has fished off Miami Beach for more than 30 years, has reeled in a whopper of a shark.

On board his charter boat, Striker-1, Quartiano caught a 1,200 pound, 14-foot long Tiger Shark Tuesday morning. The shark was caught in about 30-feet of water just off Key Biscayne.

He says it's the biggest Tiger Shark he has seen in all of his years of fishing off the South Florida coast."

Here is a video:

I believe this is at
The Biscayne Bay Marriott Marina - maybe they should become a shark free marina?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shark Free Marinas

Timing could probably not be any better. After all the negative stories that have been coming out of the shark diving industry (negative stories in the press thanks to a few egocentric individuals - who happen to have de-friended me on Facebook), the landing and killing of a beautiful large female hammerhead shark, and ongoing tournaments encouraging sport fishermen to kill sharks for fun...there are some positive things happening.

The people over at
Shark Divers have formalized a concept of shark free marinas and given the program some legs.

Please visit to see what I am talking about and help spread the word.

"The Shark-Marina has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. Today the not-for-profit company launches its strategy which intends to prevent the deaths of millions of vulnerable and endangered species of shark. The initiative aims to win over the fishing community by working with game fishing societies, tackle manufacturers, competition sponsors and marinas to form community conscious policy." - to read the complete story click here:

Underwater Thrills:Swimming With Sharks: Shark Free Marinas - Official Website

The platform is there, the resources are there, the materials are there, now it is up to us help get the concept implemented where ever sharks are being hunted and displayed for pure fun and macho purposes.

Would love to see the Bahamian shark diving operators such as Stuart's Cove and Unexso drive this in my home country - maybe even Neil Watson will help implement this throughout

I miss 'them' sorely ....

.... that is all I can say while going through a rigid 3 months chemo and radiation protocol. Once I am done with it, I will be back at Tiger Beach.

Here are two photographs of a pro interacting with a "Ella", a stunningly responsive and most gentle 4 m tiger shark lady of Aliwal Shoal. The diver is Pierre Frolla, four times freediving world champion.

I believe these images transmit what I call harmonious and respectful shark-diver interaction.

I have taken the pics in April 2008. I am not sure whether "Ella" is still around - I am afraid she might have been a victim of the infamous Natal Sharks Board shark nets....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Underwater Channel needs 10,000 signatures

The Underwater Channel are hoping to get 10,000 signatures for a petition to the UN before world oceans day on June 8th. Please help and sign the petition below - it is supported by some great organizations such as Wild Aid, Save Our Seas Foundation, Shark Trust, and others.

Much appreciated!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Are You Man Enough Shark Challenge

I am not kidding - this is the name of a shark fishing tournament that is taking place this June 6 - 7, 2009 in Ft. Myers, Florida. The people over at Shark Safe Project are organizing a demonstration after several attempts to have the format of the tournament changed to catch & release without any luck.

The Protest Demonstration will be held May 23 and 24 2009 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida,
Participants will meet at View Map Lynn Hall Park at 11:00 AM. Please bring a sign or banner to get your message out.

Please come and support the cause...

For more information regarding Shark Safe Project go to

Friday, May 08, 2009

A dying industry

Post directed to the US Shark Diving operators by Patric Douglas:

"Alright folks it's time for "The Chat".

I know that all of the US based commercial shark diving operators read this blog. We know it, you know it - so this post is directed to you and you only.

You're killing the industry and your dive sites with media based Hara-Kiri. We have talked about this for the past year, operational video and images coming from 90% of our industry featuring stark "stupidity with sharks".

Read complete post here

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Shark Diving Industry needs good people

I am fortunate enough to not be part of the shark diving industry and the more I see what goes on in this little space the happier I am to be an outsider with no strings attached. This is not different from any other industry - people in it are looking for fame, ego massages, media exposure and money - I have nothing against this and there are sustainable businesses in this market as well that should serve as models to the rest.

My problem is that most of the time this is not the case and comes at the expense of the sharks from people that claim to be shark divers, shark advocates, shark experts, shark lovers, shark photographers / videographers, etc. etc. etc. Yet the agendas of these people are very different. Anyone that claims to be a shark anything (minus hunter) will put the shark and its well being ahead of anything else - after all YOUR BUSINESS DEPENDS ON THIS!

There are a few good people out there - you know who you are - we need more of you and less of the others. The bad also know who they are...

Take a look at the video below - how is the shark represented? How dangerous is it really to dive in Tiger Beach? The only danger are stupid people in the water with this magnificent animals...and it is not just about the operators and videographers, it is about everyone in this industry - even the tourists.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Just plain stupid

A friend of mine at work asked me this morning if I had seen the report on the guy that was kissing a shark and got bit in the mouth - seriously?!?!?

Well - below is the video to prove it...not much to say, but what a fool. And a note to all divers - Nurse Sharks can inflict some pain and be aggressive...have seen it myself.

Remove the Nets

Free tiger shark - Photo: Wolf Leander

Just saw over at Shark Diver's blog the post about Thomas Peschak photos and story about the killing of sharks in South Africa together with Save Our Seas Foundation. What really caught my eye was the launch of a new campaign (and website) Remove The Nets.

Several organizations are involved to bring an end to the shark nets in South Africa, great initiative and I hope it creates some awareness to the problem to facilitate the negotiations with the government (phase three of the campaign?) - that is where the change will happen in the end - if any.

Take some time and get acquainted with the site - and sign the petition.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Freediving with new friends

Nico ascending - Photo by: Felix Leander

Recently I wrote about the new Ocean community called Oceanminds - since then I have met one of the co-founders, Nico Danan and have had the pleasure to dive with him. I have just returned from a marathon of a trip (business related) and really needed some downtime - literally.

Three weeks ago, Nico and I had dinner and decided to start pool training on a regular basis and of course diving in the ocean as well. So - sticking to our words, Saturday we had a great pool session (I realized how out of shape I am) and Sunday we went to Key Largo. While the ocean was rough (Nico decided to chum the water a bit), the visibility was amazing - must have been at least 100ft. Scott Hannon also joined us on the trip - coincidentally I also "met" Scott on Facebook.

Like Nico, Scott is also a great freediver and definitely shares the love for the ocean. At the very least we could still hit 65ft without any problems (considering that all of us have been inactive for at least 5 months). Besides the diving, we had some great conversations - I was intrigued by Scott's motorcycle track stories (those guys are nuts) - while Scott thought that I was nuts to be diving with Tigers - I guess it is all relevant.

Anyway - happy to have made some new friends that are "oceanminded"...check out some photos.

Brief Health Update

While I feel relatively OK in general, the trauma of my operation has taken its toll. I have lost weight, and with it much of my strength. It might take a good while before I will have fully recovered.

The next step will be a combined chemo / radiation therapy. Although the chemo can be delivered in Bolivia, I will have to return to Sao Paulo for the radiation therapy.

Bolivia lacks state of the art nuclear equipment, and qualified professionals to manage this type of sophisticated therapy. That means that I will have to spend another five weeks in Brazil. Not ideal, but at least I know that I will receive the best medical care available in Latin America which is rather comforting under the circumstances.

I should be OK by the end of September so that I see nothing stopping me from being back at Tiger Beach in November.

Click on image to enlarge

Being back in the water with my striped friends, and looking deeply into their eyes, will definitely prove to be the best post-surgical therapy!