Hi there to all you fellow forumites!
We are all nature lovers and nature conservation is and should be high on our agenda, actions and thoughts.
Part of general nature conservation is the conservation of our great oceans and the magnificent mammals, fish, etc that roam our oceans.
One aspect of the conservation of our oceans is shark conservation which is very dear to me.
Sharks are under threat either as a food source, as a result of sport fishing or due to anti-shark measures. Sharks are caught for their fins and this method results in the live animal being cruelly dumped back into the sea after its fins have been hacked off.
The United Nations estimates that internationally only about ten million sharks are harvested each year. Some conservationists, however, put the number at closer to a hundred million!! These are shocking statistics.
The shark-fin industry, concentrated in a few Asian trading centers, is secretive and wary of any attempts to regulate, or even investigate, its practices. To make matters murkier, most fisheries-management groups give little attention to sharks, because they are often considered by-catch…fish caught by accident given their low value per pound.
South African shark nets, put in place to protect mainly surfers and holiday-makers, capture between 800 and 2200 sharks per annum and catches are highest in those years when the sardines move close inshore during winter along the KwaZulu-Natal coast. More sharks are also caught in these nets during floods due to the fact that the dirty water may prevent sharks from detecting and avoiding the nets.
These nets are basically gill nets, indiscriminately catching harmless species, such as dolphins, skates, rays, whales and whale sharks. Shark nets cause irreparable damage to the eco system and need to be replaced by a more environmentally acceptable method. An electrical repellor (the Pod), may replace the gruesome nets. Due to the harsh nature of our coastline, the technology to supply this device with a reliable power source in the ocean is, unfortunately, still years away.
As far as I know the only shark species that is protected in South Africa is the Great White shark.
Ironically, 20 to 50 of this species are caught in South African shark nets each year, probably more than were killed by trophy fishermen before the ban.
People in general have a lot of misconceptions about sharks. The greatest culprit of them all was the film “JAWS”! Misconceptions such as “sharks are roaming the shore lines to catch humans” and “sharks are attracted by as little as a drop of human blood” are common. It is a highly debated question whether human blood attracts sharks at all. Sharks are attracted by fish blood and fish oil and to a great extend by vibrations and electrical impulses though.
Truth of the matter is that only 10 to 15 humans are killed internationally by sharks annually and about 200 are killed by hippos annually!
I had an awesome shark diving trip on The Protea Banks, KwaZulu -Natal, South Africa from 28 March to 4 April 2009. Herewith a few photos of these magnificent creatures roaming our “deep blue”! These photos were taken by Roland Mauz during dives. I don’t own an underwater camera (yet). Enjoy!Black-tip sharkHammerhead sharkTiger shark.Zambezi shark.
This is my favourite shark capable to survive in fresh water as well! These sharks are most of the time escorted by Remora fish also known as the pilot fish.
Some info on the Protea Banks: The reef is located 8 kilometers offshore on the KZN South Coast and is not a proclaimed nature conservation and thus is shared by anglers and scuba divers alike. This reef is well-known as a shark diving spot with regular sightings of Zambezi (Bull), Tiger, Hammerhead, Black-tip, Ragged-tooth (Sand-tigers) sharks and many more. Regrettably it is a well-known fact that game fish anglers catch sharks, removing their jaws for trophy purposes, and dumping the carcasses back into the sea! How tragic. I am of the opinion that we need to protect all shark species.