30 October, 2008

09 October, 2008

A Provoking Comment

Stephanie recently posted a comment on the Diaries following the posting of "Sharks with an Image Problem".
Her comment read:
"That's all well and good but Lawrence Groth's company Shark Diving International was also behind U.K's Endemol production Killer Shark Live three years ago.I am not sure how his shark diving organization gets held up as one of those who are changing the perception of sharks. It starts by NOT allowing and enabling crews like that with show titles designed to perpetuate the myth of sharks as killing machines."
I thought this comment deserved more attention and shared it with Michael Aw, Director of Ocean Geographic, whom had actually been a guest aboard one of the boats of Shark Diving International while taking pictures aimed at changing the public opinion on Great Whites (GW).
Michael has kindly and promptly provided some comment which I post below:
"Dear Marco,

I am not aware of Endemol scam until the post of Stephanie; well done, we need more ‘watch dogs’ to keep us on toes. Absolutely appalled by the news media, reality programs like Survivor, Discover Channel which continue to portray sharks as senseless killers. In truth, sharks are really clever, capable of learning and they do learn quickly. I can only report my observation – unlike other operations I have observed elsewhere whereby GW are wrangled to surface for that gruesome jaws agape image to satisfy egoistic photographers which feel the constant need to wank, I did not see such operation with my trip with Lawrence on the Solmar V.

I know that many operators spend time teasing GWsenseless with some dead fishes and wrangled them to the surface for the blood thirsty shot to for their photographer and video client! It is not a natural behavior of sharks but rather a human induced one. It is silly for media to promote conservation of sharks and at the same time portrayed sharks as fearsome beasts of the ocean.
We need to break this hypnotic hold of the ill-informed mind perhaps, jarring awareness of the foolish and barbaric image of sharks created by an ill educated generation. Our campaign must appeal to the compassionate nature in the same human being who ignorantly believes the lies about shark. Absolutely agree with Stephanie that responsible shark dive operators must REFUSE the custom of photographers, media that comes on shoot that perpetuate the distorted image of sharks.

Many thanks to both Stephanie and Michael for their terrific input

Killing Whales for Scientific Research?

During a recent visit to Japan I came across a few restaurants and food shops specializing in the sale of Whale meat.

In Japan 14% of the Japanese are against whaling. Only 11% are for it. The remaining 75% has no opinion.

It is really hard to understand what kind of political pressures can allow a government like the one of Japan to allow the slaugther to continue. Perhaps the same kind which allow the US government to maintain a very open policy on guns control?

What I am trying to say is that instead of trying to stigmatize one particular government for lack of action in areas such as the preservation of human lives (US) and the preservation of whales (Japan), we, as individuals, should do more to shake up into participative action the sleepy majorities whom, while appearing not to have any particular opinion, are actually basking in total ignorance about the consequences their lack of opinion and involvement can mean for all.

05 October, 2008

Lost Divers

The following post is courtesy of DAN AP and provides us all with some useful tips and reminders about simple gear that, when carried along on a dive, can make a serious difference to the outcomes of a potential emergency situation:

We have all heard about divers Richard Neely and Allyson Dalton and their recent incident in Cairns, so I won’t rehash the facts.

John Lippmann (Divers Alert Network Asia Pacific - Executive Director) had several conversations with the couple, both DAN Members, following their experience during which they advised they had the following safety devices on them during their incident: o 1.2m Safety Sausage o Whistle.

Allyson and Richard normally dive with a flashlight but as they were travelling space and weight were limited and so they made a decision to leave the torch at home. This incident provides a timely opportunity to review the safety devices that DAN considers an essential part of every divers kit.

Safety Sausage/SMB

A safety sausage/SMB is recommended on all dives. They are light, fold down to a small size so don’t take up much space, are easy to deploy and effective in gaining attention. However, length is an obvious issue. In Richard and Allyson’s case the 1.2m Safety Sausage they deployed was not effective, so size is a definite issue! DAN recommends a length of at least 1.8m. In addition to standing up out of the water to attract the attention of boats, they can also be laid flat on the water to signal aircraft, adding to their overall value.

Dive Alert/Other Compressed Air Signalling Device

Dive Alert is an air driven sound alert that attaches to a divers inflator hose. It is loud and some can be used underwater as well as on the surface. However, these are useless if there is no air left to draw from.

Safety Whistle

Safety whistles can be useful in alerting your dive boat or companions if something untoward happens in the sea. Safety whistles can equally be useful if a scuba diver suddenly becomes injured or disabled and there is no way to get help. Safety whistles can work in and out of the water and some can be heard as far away as 1.6km. Whistles, however, will lose their effectiveness if the boat you are trying to gain the attention of is upwind and/or has the engine on. But given their small size and light weight they should be an essential part of your kit.


The small glow in the dark from a torch could prove to be a lifesaver. A strobe is a high-intensity white light that flashes at regular intervals from 50-70 times per minute. Both are very practical for a diver as they are available in a small size, are affordable, and make an incredible difference in terms of alerting your position and existence. Strobes flash upwards as well as around, which will ensure you are seen even in rough seas.


A mirror or CD will work to catch sunlight and attract attention to you. These are small and light to carry and can prove effective in drawing attention to your location, so they should accompany you on every dive. Of course to be effective you need to create a visible and ongoing reflection of light in the direction of your dive boat and/or potential rescuers.


A small wreck reel or explorer reel can be used for navigation, towing a flag & staying connected to your dive buddy if you end up in a stranded situation together, so should also be incorporated as part of your safety kit.

Dive Knife or EMT Shears

Effective if you need to cut through line or if you find yourself tangled in something. These above items will ensure you are prepared for whatever situation you may be faced with. As a bonus they are small in size, light in weight and therefore a logical addition to your safety kit.

Don’t get caught out. Make sure you have each of these elements in your safety kit. Finally, it is essential that you know how to use your safety equipment to maximum effect. And don’t be shy in using your devices. Deploy your safety devices immediately should you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. Don’t assume you have been seen or think that you may be overreacting to a situation. Wouldn’t you rather laugh at your overreaction from the safety of your dive boat or in the bar with your buddies once on shore?

DEEP Indonesia 2009

Promoted as the most spectacular marine show in Indonesia, DEEP Indonesia is
getting ready for its third edition. The 3rd Show is set to take place on the 27-29 March 2009. Jakarta, as the capital of the world's largest archipelago country will once again host what is the biggest international diving, adventure travel and water sports exhibition in the country.

Can You Help With Our Jellyfish Investigation?

The follwing post is in support of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) Asia Pacific reserach on the increase in the number of dangerous jellyfish and related accidents particularly in waters around Thailand and the Philippines:

There has been an increase in reported serious jellyfish stings in Thailand, and possibly elsewhere in Asia. We have received several great photos of jellyfish, some being very dangerous species found in Thailand and the Philippines. It is important to track where these creatures are. To this end, DAN AP encourages any underwater photographers in Asia, especially Thailand, to photograph any jellyfish they see on a dive and email a copy of the photo to us. This will help to increase our understanding and to better catalogue the potentially dangerous species present in parts of our region and so help to establish appropriate prevention and management strategies. The photos can be emailed directly to johnl@danasiapacific.org.

Many thanks for your help with this important project.

Hot Tuna.... The Sequel

A few days ago I was sleepless in Tokyo. Rather than staying in bed I decided to take a look for myself at the famous Tsukijii Central Fish Market on Tokyo Bay. Being very early in the morning I did manage to take a sneaky look into the tuna auction and could not help it but remember some of the extracts from "Hot Tuna" which was part 3 of the 5-part article "Hominids" published on the Diaries of a Frogman by Patrick Schwartz of Scuba Seraya last June.

For your information "hominids" features in this month Ocean Geographic issue with a new title "Wired for Extinction".

All pictures on this post were taken by Marco Gorin whom retains all copy rights.

A Plea to Help Save Sharks in Costa Rica

The following post is an alert received by Rob Stewart the director of the now very famous environmental movie Sharkwater:
Help us end illegal shark fishing in one of the last sanctuaries for sharks on earth. Cocos Island, featured in Sharkwater, is still under intense pressure from illegal fishing. The problem no longer lies in the lack of policy to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the problem is a lack of enforcement. Sharks are still being finned because the is little public pressure to force the government into action.

Friends of mine have created a project that will combat the issue by educating Costa Ricans, particularly children. They plan on creating a permanent Cocos Island exhibit in San Jose, the nation’s capital. This exhibit will educate Costa Ricans about the importance of sharks as apex predators, as well as the significance and beauty of their extremely remote national treasure. Cocos is a 36 hour boat ride from mainland, making it very difficult for anyone but the extremely wealthy to visit. People tend to only protect what they love and understand, and this exhibit can bring the beauty and value of Cocos to the people, creating public pressure.

This project is one of 25 being voted on by American Express cardholders. Only the most popular project will receive funding. Please join us in voting for this project. The contest is free, but we have only have a couple more days before the contest is over. For more information and to VOTE, go to this site:

Kindest thanks, Rob Stewart

02 October, 2008

How Far would You Go?

This is an extract from a recent newsletter by Sea Shepherd which was passed on to me by my friend Patrick of Scuba Seraya in Bali. Sea Shepherd is currently advocating and taking serious action against shark finning:

".....Shoppers on Regents Street in central London likely got more than they bargained for last week. On September 3rd in a dramatic illustration of how sharks are caught and killed for their fins, Alice Newstead, performance artist and former employee of LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, voluntarily had her skin pierced with actual de-barbed shark hooks and hung suspended from the ceiling in the window of one of LUSH's busiest shops for 15 minutes.

As a crowd gathered to watch in horror, Newstead said, "I am doing this because the demand for shark fin soup and other shark products is wiping out the shark population." Unlike the 100 million sharks who are brutally slaughtered each year for their fins, Newstead commented, "I will be left with scars, but the wounds will heal....."

Jacks of Balicasag - Philippines

This picture has been kindly contributed by Mauro Resnitzky a good friend of mine, a gifted artist, an avid diver and underwater photographer. He retains all copyrights to images appearing on this post. Thank you Mauro! We want to see some more!!

Sharks with an Image Problem...

I believe it is true that starting with the release of the movie JAWS back in the 1970's the image problem for sharks went from bad to worse. Just look around you: Honestly, have you ever seen any representation of sharks that looks remotely friendly? Normally it is wide open mouths and baring sharp triangular teeth! Well, at least it was until recently.
Something is definitely changing for the better and some of the leading activists and people involved in the movement to bring the truth about sharks to the surface and to the masses have started realizing that to gather momentum we need to get over that well rooted sense of fear of sharks.
What if pictures of a smiling Great White started appearing on the covers of magazines?
The following is an extract from an e-mail from Michael Aw, Director of Ocean Geographic:
"......I have just returned from an awesome Great White shark shoot at Guadalupe; without a doubt the location and operation is the best in the world – much much better than South Africa and South Australia. The operation was run by Lawrence Groth of Shark Diving International – it was his 98th trip and his success rate - 100%. For years I have been chasing for a picture of a smiling Great White; you know those gruesome bloody jaws agape pictures of Great White – very popular with magazines and TV are mostly induced and teased by sadistic shark wranglers… these pictures give sharks, especially the GW a very bad reputation. In real life, GWs are cool, cautious, caprice as leopards, cheetahs, lions and likewise very powerful formidable predator. See my pics at -www.michaelaw.com/masite2006/Great%20Whites/index.html; en route to Guadalupe we encountered half dozen Blue Whales resting on surface and on the way back hundreds of common dolphins. You know I will be going back. If you wish to join me, let me know ASAP......." The pictures on Michael's site are an absolute MUST SEE!!!
This is a tremendous effort in support of the shark cause. As responsible divers and caring people we should help stop perpetuating the myth of the man eating machine by boycotting anything that remotely portraits shark in that manner, by educating kids to the truths of sharks, by making our voices heard when the media tries to exploit that old blood-hungry sharp toothed image which actually haunted me until the day I actually found myself face to face with one of these wonderful creatures in their own habitat!