Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shark Lies, Shark Pornography, and Shark Love...

Scuba divers videographing / photographing tiger sharks at Tiger Beach (2008)
Photo by Wolfgang Leander
Click on image to enlarge

Here you have, in a nutshell, the fundamental difference between Shark Porn a la Discovery Channel:

and other media companies, and the way responsible and committed producers such as David Ulloa present sharks to their viewers:

Both clips were shot at the same location - Tiger Beach in the Bahamas; the 'acting' sharks were the same.

Discovery's Shark Week 2009 Teasers

Just came across an interesting blog - The Dorsal Fin - not sure who is behind this but they are posting some interesting stories. One of the posts is about Discovery's Shark Week teaser on Youtube. I think once you see this you will not have any doubt where the network stands and how they are representing sharks as pure porn.

Spot reminds me very much of Jaws...and has only one purpose: FEAR.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Freedivers and an Octopus

Had a day off work today - semi-day off. Decided to go for a shore dive out of Ft. Lauderdale with a couple of friends - Nico and Alex (both freedivers as well). I really was not expecting much - but I must say that it was actually a very good dive - the visibility was not great or depth (max. 25ft) - but there was a lot of marine life. Coral was somewhat dead, but the fish population was high.

Saw a lot of bait fish - was really hoping for a shark to come along - did not happen, I did see a massive tarpon though. But the highlight of the dive for me with diving with an was very small and hiding in the sand - however, when I put my hand close to him, he would reach out with his tentacles and explore my hand - the suckers produce a very strange sensation.

This reminded my of a story that my father told me when we were living in the Bahamas...outside our apartment was a reef and he would go there often - for about two weeks he made friends with a little octopus - apparently the relationship grew very close - my dad would give the little octopus his watch and he would play with it and give it back. Unfortunately after a hurricane the octopus was gone...

This story was going through my mind today and this little guy was feeling my hand with his tentacles...

Shark Attack Victim

As per the Fiji Shark Diving blog - great video of a fool that caught a shark and then tried to remove the hook - CNN headlined the video as "Shark Attack Victim" - are you serious? Guy fishing sharks, drags to beach, and because the sharks snaps at him when he is close to mouth they are considering this a shark attack???

I call this a DUMB attack - like most shark attacks...Ocean Smart anyone?

Monday, July 20, 2009

False Alarm

I have been going to the pool for the last few months - training - doing laps, both over and underwater, dynamic, and static. Usually the training is supervised and when I am alone I do not push myself.

Today was an unsupervised day...there were two kids in the pool and their I started my static session, I did one minute, then two minutes, and as I did three I started to hear screams just at about the two minute mark.

I could not make out what the person was shouting about or at who...and then it made sense - they were shouting at me. A lady on a balcony looking down at the pool thought that I had drowned and was hysterical. The mother came to me and asked if I was okay - I gave her a thumbs up with my face still underwater - the lady on balcony continued to shout...I started waving my arms, but she continued. So I had to cut my last repetition short, look at her, wave, and calm her down - I was on a clear path to hitting the 11 minute mark (not).

What a good Samaritan - not sure how she would have saved my life if I was really drowning...but it was a valiant attempt. I already told Carmen that she will need to come down with me from now on - just to avoid the paramedics showing up.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click on pic to enlarge

This image invokes in me an almost somber Wagnerian mood, Goetterdaemmerung, the twilight of the old Germanic gods.*)

And if I think of the Polynesians I can truly understand why they happen to revere sharks as godlike reincarnations of their ancestors.

*) I am not a Wagner fan; in fact, I reject him because he was a rabid antisemite.

DeeperBlue - First Article

Nico Danan of Oceanminds invited me to write for DeeperBlue - at the time I knew I wanted to write about freediving and sharks but did not know what the best approach was. So I decided to break it down into different segments...

The first is up and is called: "Freediving with a Sea Wolf: The Beginning of a Unique Journey".

More to come as I am preparing the second chapter...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No story - just a few words and an image...

Click on image to enlarge

As I was selecting a few photographs for an Ukranian photography magazine, I came across this image I had completely overlooked before. I thought I should digitalize the negative and share it as I believe the photograph conveys the indescribable grace of the mighty tiger sharks.

Very few people understand these awesome creatures; I would dare to say that only those few who had the privilege to dive and interact with them have a notion of their true nature. All others have almost worthless second hand knowledge about them. Even shark researchers who 'just' study tiger sharks but don't do proper field work (= dive with these majestic animals) simply don't know them.

Take George Burgess, a shark "expert" who has no clue about tiger sharks; however, he repeats what everybody else says: "Tiger sharks are the most dangerous sharks next to the great whites and the bull sharks - blah, blah, blah..." - yet, the Discovery Channel and the media consider Burgess an undisputed authority when it comes to shark attacks.

Tiger sharks are probably less understood than great white sharks. That is why the majority of people really don't mind seeing those redneck shark angler hooligans of the oceans killing and proudly displaying tiger sharks hung up by their tails. Invariably, to justify their murderous 'sport' these idiots sheepishly say that these sharks are "man eaters" that deserve to be 'neutralized'.

As one of those primitive shark hunters put it recently in an interview: "Only a dead shark is a good shark".

Isn't that what was being commonly said about Indians during the not so glorious conquest of the West in the nineteenth century?...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shark Encounter Survivors become Strong Advocates

This morning friends in Amsterdam sent me a link to another shark story on MSNBC - I was reluctant to open the page - to my surprise, the title of the article read: "
Survivors lend hand to sharks that bit them".

What a great story to tell - people who have been bitten by sharks fighting for sharks:

Apparently Maddow just covered the story on TV as I have been seeing various tweets making reference to sharks / senate / survivors.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spear-fisher encounter with Caribbean Reef Shark

Caribbean Reef Shark, Bahamas, Photo by: Wolf Leander

CNN had a fairly "normal" piece on a recent shark incident involving a spear-fisher; reason I say normal is because I did not feel it anyway sensationalized the situation.

Watch the video here.

Essentially a spear-fisherman / guide takes other spear-fishermen on fishing trips in the Bahamas - one of these tourists panicked as shark got to close and decided to shoot shark in head - instigated an already potentially dangerous situation even more. Unfortunate for the guide that he got the worst of the aggression.
Some thoughts:
  • Diver panicked and shot shark - if you are not comfortable around sharks get out of the water (and if spearing...)
  • Shark felt threatened and defended itself after diver attacked it
  • Careful who you take into the water - specially in spear-fishing circumstances, need more OceanSmart people
  • Neal Watson claims that Caribbean Reef sharks are "safe" while lemons are dangerous - WHAT? Caribbean Reef sharks can be like street dogs and in packs even bolder. I would rather be in the water with a Tiger Shark than a Reef (personal opinion - as are all other points above.
  • A lot more potentially dangerous things happening in the Bahamian waters than the Tiger Beach
Happy ending - both spear-fisher guide and shark will live. Discovery - some more Shark Porn material for Shark Week 2010

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another Shark-Free Marina

Update: After posting story, Patric Douglas contacted us with the following information - makes the whole Shark-Free Marina concept even more powerful:

THIS marina went SF due to the efforts of one local woman who wanted to do something for sharks and her name is Kate Metzler.

Kates story is even more wonderful when you come to discover she purchased two signs on her own and walked right into the marina with the website material and got them to make the change for sharks!

This is the vision behind the SFMI, empowering people in their own areas to help sharks.

Kudos to Kate and the hundreds of other Kates just like her out there.

It starts with "One".

Thanks for the post. "

Harwich Port Boat Yard has become a shark-free marina thanks to the efforts of Luke Tipple (Director of the Shark-Free Marina project) and Patric Douglas (CEO of Shark Divers).

Take a look at the growing number of marinas that are doing the right thing:

Read complete story here...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Interview with Discovery Channel Executive Paul Gasek

About two weeks ago David from Southern Fried Science asked for readers to submit questions as he was going to interview Paul Gasek from the Discovery Channel in reference to Shark Week. Many questions and good questions were submitted...thank you, David, for the initiative.

I was pretty disheartened after reading Paul's answers to be very honest. Particularly by: "At Discovery Channel, we pride ourselves on telling compelling and accurate stories. Shark Week is no different." - sure you may say this was taken out of context - not to me.

Gasek did not answer David's question in reference to the fish stuffing of a dummy snorkeller to incite a shark to "attack" the dummy.

I do not see the Discovery Channel changing the programming of Shark Week anytime soon...


Read the full interview here - curious as to what your thoughts are.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

One Year and I Still Miss Kevin

Painting by Shane Petersen of Kevin Haythe from a photo I took of him in London at the end of June, 2008

Today marks the one year passing of a very good friend of has been a long year, it has been a short year depending on the day and how I look at it...It has been long in that so much has happened since (traveled to several continents which I should have done with Kevin). It has been short in that it feels like yesterday when I got the call.

At the time, the first thing I did was go onto Google and find something about Kevin that I could hold on to...there was not much (now there is a lot more)...but what I found, I kept, and the few words embody who Kevin was.

This was in response to a wine blogger / podcaster who apparently had lost his job and was considering to quit his hobby:

"Dude. Cowboy up. If your podcast sucked I might be a little worried about you. But your site and your insights are a lot of fun to listen to. I’m a neophyte when it comes to wine, but I’ve learned a lot from you. I travel to Europe a lot and enjoy listening to your podcast in the morning on Thursday while I run on the treadmill. Can’t do without it, so even if it is about 2 Buck Chuck, keep it coming.

Someone who has so much passion in life (and for the right things) can only land on his feet. I’ll look forward to the day you look back on this and laugh. You got to admit, life is a pretty good thing anyway you slice it." - Kevin Haythe

Kevin was a mensch - a great person to be around and all about living...the last conversation him and I had he told me - "Live in the moment" - and that I try to do every day...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Freediving in 1981

I was looking through some files and came across this video (that we actually converted from SUPER 8 - have a lot of footage) of my father and myself freediving in Sharm el-Sheikh, Israel. In those days I was still not able or willing to use a snorkel and my movements were anything but relaxing, talking about being shark bait...nevertheless, I was already in love with the Sea...