Severely injured great white shark found, are scientists responsible?

[Editor’s Notice – Comments have been suspended on this post. Please visit “Full video of injured shark shows numerous natural injuries” for an update on this controversy]

Last summer, I reviewed National Geographic’s “Expedition Great White” and interviewed the lead scientist. Several researchers and conservationists were concerned about the methods that Dr. Michael Domeier uses to study great white sharks, particularly after one shark was “foul hooked” through the gills. These methods (removing captured great white sharks from the water to study them using a forklift-like structure) make for excellent television, but may be harmful to the sharks.  As I reported last year:

“While I regularly take sharks out of the water for my research, I don’t ever mess with anything larger than 5 or 6 feet. In addition to the human safety factor, animals larger than that may be too heavy for their cartilaginous skeletons to support their weight without water’s buoyancy. The white sharks Dr. Domeier removed from the water were 14-18 feet long”

This debate recently resurfaced when a severely injured great white shark was discovered. Some conservationists wondered if this shark was “Junior”, the shark that was foul hooked by Dr. Domeier’s research team.

 

Is this injured shark "Junior", the shark that was foul-hooked by Dr. Domeier's team? Image taken from FijiSharkDiving.Blogspot.com

Dr. Domeier’s team at the Marine Conservation Science Institute declined to comment for this post, but directed me to a statement they made last week on their website:

“The images clearly show a rather nasty wound on the corner of Junior’s mouth, but what is not explained is that when the entire video is viewed it can be determined that this injury was clearly inflicted by another white shark; it is not a result of the capture and release during tagging.  White sharks annually aggregate at both Guadalupe Island and central California, and during these aggregations the sharks are very aggressive towards each other.  When they attack one another they typically bite the region from the pectoral fins to the head, often damaging the gill area and head. We have many photos of sharks from Guadalupe Island with similar aggression related injuries; this is natural shark behavior.” (emphasis mine)

A great white shark with a clear bite mark over the gills. Is this what happened to Junior? Photo from MarineCSI.org ED - This is an example of an injury caused by a shark bite, it is not Junior.

Marine CSI’s claims are possible. Little is known about great white social behavior, but many social interactions between sharks (particularly mating behavior) involve biting. It may be nothing more than a coincidence that the exact shark that was injured near the gills two years ago had an injury near the gills a year later. The above photo, which shows an injury near where Junior’s injury was seen, supports that claim. However, Patric Douglas isn’t buying this explanation:

“Why did Marine CSI researchers who have been sitting on these images since 2010 only come forward now to ultimately defend their work and put forward an ad hoc series of unlikely reasons for Juniors current mangled condition?”

Patric and Mike paint a picture of a researcher whose methods  accidentally resulted in serious injury to a  shark  and is now trying to cover up a mistake. Dr. Domeier’s statement suggests that his team did nothing wrong, the shark’s 2010 state is unrelated to a 2009 incident, and that they are the victims of a smear campaign led by rival researchers. Personally, I’m waiting for more information before I make up my mind.

I stand by what I originally said about Dr. Domeier’s research. There is no way to gather certain types of information about great white sharks without removing them from the water, and that information is extremely important for the conservation and management of these animals. Many other sharks were captured and tagged by Dr. Domeier’s team without incident, and the information this project is generating will be used to help protect this species. I support science and scientists, but there are so few great white sharks left that we need to stand up for the animals first. If this research project seriously injured a great white shark and then attempted to cover it up (as Mike and Patric claim), that is unacceptable.

I have contacted the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary staff to request the full video that Dr. Domeier claims exonerates his team. If we are permitted to post the video, it may clear up what happened.

A representative from the other great white shark research team declined to comment for this post.

I will keep looking into this incident, and I’ll keep everyone posted as developments arise.

[Editor’s Notice – Comments have been suspended on this post. Please visit “Full video of injured shark shows numerous natural injuries” for an update on this controversy]

  1. The insinuation that I attempted to cover up the condition of this shark is completely out of line. First, I was never allowed to have a copy of any of the imagery and therefore have no way to share it with anyone. (Isn’t it odd that I couldn’t have a copy and yet Patric Douglas has one to post on the internet?) Second, I have cooperated openly and fully with the agency (GFNMS)that holds me accountable for the research project, as well as with researchers from NMFS.

    Michael L. Domeier, Ph.D.

  2. Interesting post here Dave. I have read this post and the others you have linked, and while the image of the injured white is somewhat ghastly, I have a hard time believing the injury is a result of the “foul hooking” or that it is even the same shark.

    First, if you read the descriptions of the incident where the shark was foul hooked and compare it to the injury picture above, you can see that the lesion is not on the gills at all. It is located in the corner of the jaw. If anything it seems like such an injury would more likely be caused by a hook that was left in the mouth or that had broken off. Support for this can be seen in the relatively common footage of Caribbean reef sharks at various feeding sites, as many of these sharks have hooks lodged in their mouth. I can personally attest to having caught sharks in my own research with other hooks in their mouth and those hooks have caused small lesions.

    Second, I understand that the researchers doing the photo ID work with the white sharks are very good at what they do. However, I find a hard time believing that the two sharks in the first picture are the same one. Given the lower quality of the 2nd image, the glare of the water on the animal, and the injury, it is difficult to see the all the markings from the shark above it. But, I am no expert on photo IDs.

    While it is unfortuante that this shark has sustained this injury and may or may not survive, I don’t feel as though accusations can be made on who’s fault it is. From watching the show it seemed as though the tagged animals all survived and transmitted signals long after capture and release (you posted such in your original blog). Do questions need to be answered? Yes. Is the technique used completely fail-safe? I’m not sure. Is the research important? Of course.

    • Thanks for commenting, Mike.

      With respect to the identification of Junior, it is my understanding that it was based on the presence of a tag (not visible in the above image but visible in the rest of the video).

    • I’ve been wondering that myself. You really would think the damage would be around the gills as opposed to near where the hook actually should have been. Were there other sharks that had to be released with hooks still in their mouths?
      Though that injury looks pretty grim, I’ve personally seen horrifically damaged sharks that were somehow still able to either recover or adapt to the injury. While sampling I found a handful of dogfish with lower jaws that had been split, probably by fish hooks, making them pretty much unable to bite. Other than the jaw injuries they were in good condition and had stomachs full of squid. Maybe dogfish are tougher than average, but sharks are adaptable and can recover from serious injury. Hopefully Junior, or whichever shark this is, can pull through.

  3. I wonder what studies have been done to understand the effects of tagging. I’m thinking of a recent penguin study that showed tagging raised mortality.

    Back in Honduras, I briefly linked up with a group doing photo identification of whale sharks. Many were of the opinion that the old tags were no good, that they would rust and hurt the animal. I’m not the guy to really evaluate that, but I did think the photo ID was very cool.

  4. The photograph of “Junior” at the top and the injured shark in the third photo seem to be the same animal; the white upward intrusion behind the mouth looks identical in both photos. Also, the lower photograph looks like a shark bite to me.

  5. The picture kind of makes it hard to tell what really happened to junior but it doesnt look like a bite it looks more like a bunch of bubbled over rash type thing. The picture of the actually shark bite looks nothing like juniors injury which makes me doubt the scientist were gentle to the sharks.

  6. Let’s clear the air, because there is a ghost of a white shark at stake here and the future of other sharks who may end up in the same condition if we do not come to terms with what has happened at the Farallones.

    Patric Douglas vs Mike Domeier

    I want to put this to bed first. There’s no secret society that is feeding me images or agendas to “take down” Mike. Anyone who knows me knows that I operate completely independently. They also know that I have been consistently vocal for the past decade when white sharks are harmed, wounded, or threatened. Mike knows this, so let’s get rid of any notion that this is about anything but a seriously diminished white shark.

    Junior – Is this the shark?

    It is, we have confirmation, and now we can begin the process of finding out what happened to this once robust animal. The Farallones would not provide confirmation, and no one at NOAA would either, so thanks to Mike for that.

    Wounds, Bites, and Tumors

    This argument line is erroneous. Marine CSI is putting forward the probably correct assumption that another shark bit Junior hence the dramatic weight loss and tumor seen in images from 2010 are the result of that bite, not 2.3 pounds of rusting steel lodged in the sharks esophagus.

    The wound on the face may have originated from a lightening bolt, it does not matter. What matters is this sharks complete inability to heal itself. Mike knows full well that white shark possess an almost magical ability to heal. We have seen it at Guadalupe with animals that suffer amazing wounds and come back the next year, bigger, healthier, and with almost imperceptible scars where once ragged wounds dominated the animal.

    Junior has clearly lost that ability, and has what looks like a tumor to boot. In all my years looking at white sharks and wounds, I have never seen a wound with a tumor and this kind of dramatic weight loss. So this is completely unique. Demanding video to see if this wound originated with Mike and his team is a false lead, I can tell you now the video will not show a wound on the side of the face.

    The focus of this discussion should be on rusting steel in the sharks esophagus and what that might do to an animal over the long term. We’re talking a simply titanic hook over 7000 miles of migration.

    I will submit to you the caloric equation that it takes for a Farallones white shark to migrate “over 7000 miles of travel since tagging” was compromised by that rusting hook and this is in fact the reason for Juniors current decrepit state.

    Film Crews and Science

    I understand the argument that film crews can support science, and fundamentally agree with this in some cases, but the Farallones disaster highlights a lot of problems with this. Even Mike admitted “It’s the type of accident that we had worked hard to avoid, but there was too much confusion regarding new methods devised to comply with all of our permit requirements.” Time was also a factor, as was the amount of money invested in the project, they had to deliver.

    Secrecy and Cover Your Ass

    The entire Farallones project has been one of back room deals, huge mistakes, media gaffes, and cover your ass. In 2010 the Farallones sent out a long called for “Independent Review”. To read it with a critical eye and to understand who was asked to put their names on the review with 1-2 degrees of separation from Mike and his team, what you have is a joke of an Independent Review:

    http://farallones.noaa.gov/eco/sharks/pdf/independent_review_sept_2010.pdf

    Additionally Sanctuary staff became aware of Juniors follow up condition in October of 2010 one month after the review was published, and failed to update the review leaving the public to believe that this animal was still alive and healthy. By that time it was anything but healthy.

    I will take Mikes word that he had not seen the images, even when Sanctuary staff had but find it hard to believe.

    From the start and the first whispers that something had gone seriously wrong in 2009, all parties circled the wagons and declared that “everything was fine”. That is still the case today and it is frustrating as it is a disservice to Junior the animal that has been seriously diminished. The lack of response from the Sanctuary and those tasked with protecting white sharks is appalling.

    Disconnect at the Farallones?

    In 2009 NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries enacted a series of white shark viewing and interaction protocols at the Farallone islands that, by any account, were the most restrictive on the planet.

    New regulations prohibited “all activities that would attract white sharks anywhere in the Farallones sanctuary. “Attracting” the sharks means any activity that lures or may lure a shark by using food, bait, chum, dyes, decoys (e.g., surfboards or body boards used as decoys), acoustics or any other means.”

    Additionally it became illegal to “approach a white shark within 50 meters or 164 feet within two miles of the sanctuary (15 CFR Part 922).”

    While sanctuary managers were congratulating themselves on these new rules, they were also green lighting a unbelievable hybrid film and television/shark research project that would allow film crew members (not researchers) to actually bait, hook, and land white sharks within sanctuary waters where a team would then drill into the sharks dorsal fin attaching tracking devices.

    One of the team members for this project was in fact a Hollywood actor.

    White sharks have enjoyed protected species status in California waters since Jan. 1, 1994. Title 14, California Code of Regulations, Fish and Game Code Section 28.06 on page 25 of the California Sportfishing Regulations states that “white sharks may not be taken under a sport fishing license. Commercial fishing operations may not target white sharks, either.”

    The management team at the Farallones made the decision to allow invasive research within the sanctuary in 2008/09. At the same time they were shepherding in additional rules and protocols for viewing and interacting with white sharks that would keep the general public 164 feet away from these same animals.

    Sanctuary Superintendent Maria Brown’s staff were also on the film vessel as observers when the first shark was badly hooked in the throat. To release the animal film crew members (not researchers) had to push a pair of industrial bolt cutters through the sharks gills cutting only 10% of the massive hook, the rest was left inside the animal.

    Let’s find out how this happened so we can avoid another disaster like this from ever happening again.

    Research on sharks is important, but the stakes were too high on this project, and the project was warned repeatedly not to do this and did so at their own peril knowing that if something went wrong there would be serious and unrelenting focus on them.

    It has come to pass, so let’s get on with discovery, accounting, and new protocols for a protected species that, by recent estimates, are at just 300+ animals in the entire region.

  7. I agree with Patric. This is very intrusive procedure. Great White Sharks are highly tuned creatures. Everyone knows they really screwed up that day. They left the massive hook inside him. No one is willing to accept the consequences. To allow them back out there will cause a public outcry — and should.

    Here is a description of what they did from another report:

    “He used a massive, baited hook to catch a great white shark, drag it for miles to tire it out, lift it onto a platform and spend 20 minutes drawing blood and semen samples and attach a satellite tag to the dorsal fin.

    But at the Farallones last November, one of two sharks Domeier caught swallowed the hook. His crew reached into the gills with bolt cutters but they had to leave half of the hook inside the shark.”

    These researchers use the excuse that this is going to help us learn more about sharks and conserve them. Let’s hear more about that statement. Other less intrusive tagging teams have determined where sharks go to mate and how far they travel. And how are us humans doing on conserving these patches of the ocean?

    I think anyone who has seen these “taggers” in action at the Farallones and seen the photos gets a sense that they are doing it for the media action. Would they do it if they couldn’t be photographed and put on National Geographic?

    I agree that this work should not happen in the sanctuary. Even one lost Great White Shark is a tragedy.

  8. I’m sure what I am about to say will come under some heavy fire, however I feel it must be stated.

    I have been obsessed and fascinated by great white sharks all my life, and I truly believe that more needs to be done in terms of protecting and understanding these magnificent creatures. Having said that, I think this article has the potential to hurt shark conservancy! Based on the pictures provided as evidence, it is obvious to me that the images are of two different sharks with two different grotesque injuries!
    As a shark conservationist I believe the author of this post should have done more research and studied the facts more carefully. Perhaps he could have attempted to contact someone who has seen this shark recently, or the person who captured these photos before pointing the finger at a fellow scientist and conservationist simply because he disagrees with his methods of catching and releasing. I am not defending nor condoning the methods of Michael Domeier, however, blaming a conservationist for such horrific injuries when there is no proof makes the author look amateur. If you want to attack this man for his methods, then you should do it in a more serious, professional matter. As a scientist you should now how to gather the proper evidence.
    Posting this outrageous story just to grab a headline and further your slander campaign against one individual is sickening to me. I don’t believe this article was posted to garner support for sharks and their conservation. Most uneducated people will read this and automatically believe every scientist is capable of harming rather than protecting sharks, causing a bad reputation for all shark conservancy organizations, which in turn will lead to less donations.
    Perhaps I am giving the author too much credit, however if it is your real goal to help great whites than I think you would have thought twice about posting a bogus story to obtain your own personal agenda. Maybe the guy is a bad scientist and he is hurting sharks, but as I said, I think there’s a more professional way you could go about it.

    • Did you actually read the post that I wrote before criticizing my professionalism?

      Reporting that there is a controversy is not the same thing as endorsing one side or the other. The piece is intentionally balanced, presenting both sides. I specifically said that I hadn’t made up my mind about it and was waiting for more evidence.

      Additionally, I reported in the post that representatives from both research teams declined to comment. In other words, I did get in touch with them.

      What agenda do you think I have?

  9. Based on the pictures provided as evidence, it is obvious to me that the images are of two different sharks with two different grotesque injuries!

    Yes, as stated in the text, the picture of Junior before and after injury is not the same as the third picture, which is an example of a shark injured by another shark. The third shark picture is not Junior, nor was it ever stated that it is Junior.

  10. my above comment was posted before I read Patric Douglas’ comment and for that I apologize. Perhaps Patric’s post should have been the original story line. I am glad that my above statements are wrong,and that the facts here are presented clearly. Now that I feel like an idiot for my above comments, I hope that this isn’t the end of the investigation into this project, and if any scientist was responsible for this horrific injury that they are held accountable.

  11. this is horrible. the poor shark. when are people going to realize that they are torturing poor animals for research and other sick reasons. we’re busy killing the earth. what’s the point of research if there isn’t going to be any generations to follow if we keep on hurting and inflicting pain on the planet.

  12. It seems people may be missing the big picture. Is the research worth the risk to individual sharks? If it is unacceptable to harm even a single shark, why hasn’t anyone tried to stop all shark research or cage diving? There’s a picture of a horrific wound on a white shark, inflicted when it interacted with a shark cage, and apparently another white shark was killed? It doesn’t seem like a level playing field here.

  13. It is clear to me that in the first photo that shows Jr “Then and Now” that the injury is some sort of fleshy tumor. The second photo clearly shows a photo of a shark with a bite from another shark.

    At first this was not clear and I thought the SECOND photo was Junior’s claimed ‘tumor’. I think other people are making this mistake too. You need to make the photo fo the alleged tumor much more clear and explain the second photo is an example of a shark bite.

    Having NOW understood what you mean, it is definitely clear to me that Junior’s ‘wound’ seems to be a violent reaction to something causing this fleshy mass and his emaciated body – it is clearly NOT a shark bite.

  14. Hi Claudia

    I am in full agreement with you. Those twin events with the first being verified and the second not verified happened in Mexico at their Bio-Sphere. Mexican staff were made aware of these events many times did nothing about it, shame on Mexico.

    We also know Mexico is broken, so you cannot expect much from those tasked with protecting these animals.

    The Farallones are a different matter altogether. It maintains one of the highest standards for white shark protections and regulations with serious enforcement and serious research.

    Put simply, this should never have happened here, now it has how do we get the credibility of the sanctuary back?

    Mike was very crafty to drag commercial cage diving interests into this, but this is not about a level playing field, or comparing one with the other. In fact based on the nature of both you cannot.

    In fact it was pretty ugly for Mike to post that. Like getting involved in a DUI and them blaming your accident on a street sign with some beers on it.

    This is about one shark, his/her name is Junior, and right now that animal is in dire condition.

  15. it’s hard to tell if this is junior. the injury, does, however; look to be more than just another shark bite.but this is just another example of man hurting/killing in the name of scientific research.keep it up mankind, you will be judged on how you treated the animals you were given dominion over.

  16. I think the research is important, but, with all the attention the sharks are receiving now, good/bad, researchers are becoming , maybe, overly zealous in their work and in some cases careless.
    I know during a feeding frenzy, other sharks do get bitten, I only know from what I see on Discovery channel or other documentaries. From what I’ve seen, a great white hunts alone, I don’t know if they hunt in packs, so it is possible they can be accidentally attack by their own. Instead of pointing the fingers at each other, why not all of you get together and find a safer way to conduct your research, which is very educational and very appreciated 🙂

  17. Patric, you agree with me and yet contradict yourself. Clearly you are advocating that all activities that cause harm to individual sharks should be banned, so how can you condemn research but not cage diving? Although I noticed Dr. Domeier pointed out the injuries cage diving have caused, he actually seemed to be defending the industry, or at least he listed some good things about it. Is the fact that you run a cage diving industry making you blind to the big picture?

  18. Hi Claudia,

    Not at all. Bottom line if you injure a shark you should be accountable, that was not the case at Isla Guadalupe, ultimately because Mexico made a decision not to persue those who had damaged the shark.

    I am condemning damaged sharks, by commercial entities or by researchers, it makes little difference to me.

    Banned no, individuals held to account so the same problems do not resurface again, yes.

    Mike was not defending anything with his statements, he was redirecting a conversation about his damaged shark away from the Farallones and to Isla Guadalupe, I want to keep this on track.

    The conversation equating commercial to research is erroneous as both are completely different entities with different agendas, and goals.

    So, let’s get back to this issue if we can, it’s about Junior, and 2.3 lbs of rusting hook in it’s throat.

    I understand you want to defend Mike and keep the spotlight on Isla Guadalupe but it does not serve this particular animal at this time.

    If you would like to start a separate thread about cage damaged sharks at Isla Guadalupe you’ll find a willing participant with me.

  19. After reading everyone’s comments I have a few questions/concerns about the issue. First, I’ve seen the show before and would have never thought any scientist would ever do anything to purposefully harm the shark. So, my question is this: regardless of who/what is responsible for the injury to “Junior” is it something that could kill the animal? Second, I’ve always thought that sharks were caught using hooks through the mouths, not the gills, so isn’t that really dangerous for the shark?

  20. Wow. Without really knowing much about this the whole thing sounds to me like a huge cluster “you-know-what” all around. Without being able to sort out all this ins and outs of this debacle I will say this. There is a nagging worry creeping into the back of mind when I hear things like “this poor shark” and “torturing” and “this particular animal” and even the fact that this shark has a name contributes a little to this concern. As a museum scientist studying vertebrate animals I get this nagging worry a lot. It seems there are many out there who say harm to a wild animal, especially their favorite wild animal, is never outweighed by scientific knowledge.

    Two things. First, virtually any study has an effect on individual animals. The act of observing itself will have some effect and the more we want to know the more individual organisms will feel that effect. Reduce the chance of harming an individual organism to zero and you concomitantly reduce your knowledge of that organism to zero.

    Second, conservation is about conserving populations NOT individuals. Every individual organism will die and thus we can not conserve an individual but instead seek to conserve populations. The study of a population can have isolated effects on individuals without any appreciable effects on the population.

    I know. I know. White sharks are sensitive populations where each individual matters more to the sustainability of the population than does say an individual fruit fly or even songbird, but, I would venture a guess that even the most careful methodologies will have deleterious effects on the survival of some individual sharks and to learn anything about these animals and thus make informed decisions about their populations we have to be prepared to accept that risk. The problem comes when a picture of that one individual negatively affected by your research makes it onto the internet where maybe some don’t quite get the nuances of field research or population biology.

    Did the researchers methods damage this particular shark? I don’t know enough about the situation, and maybe it seems no one knows that for certain. Should we have very cautious protocols, particularly for slow reproducing species like white sharks? Yes. For sure. But restrictions should not be so prohibitive that they limit needed research and we must accept the fact that there will be some individual animals that will be negatively affected by the research as long as that number is not great enough to affect the sustainability of the population. Any research on an animal as difficult to study as a big pelagic shark will invariably carry with it some negative effects on some individual animals. The absolute safest option would be to wall off the populations and content ourselves with knowing virtually nothing about them. I for one wouldn’t want that.

    Outrage over scientists hurting sharks while there are fleets of fishing vessels lobbing the fins from sharks and leaving them to sink to the bottom of the sea reminds me a little of the outrage towards museum ornithologists like myself collecting bird specimens for research while at the same time one chats away on their cell phone as the cell towers kill orders of magnitude more birds than in all the museums of the world combined.

    Whew. Done. Everyone else is ranting so I figure I could too!

    • Second, conservation is about conserving populations NOT individuals. Every individual organism will die and thus we can not conserve an individual but instead seek to conserve populations. The study of a population can have isolated effects on individuals without any appreciable effects on the population.

      Word.

    • It’s easy to forget that a lot of the sampling methods for any animal are stressful. Fish need to be netted, hooked, stuck with tags, and generally be subject to at least a certain amount of discomfort. The same is true for even critically endangered land animals, which are hit with tranquilizer darts, have tags clamped to their ears, have cameras and tracking devices attached, etc. Gathering data on any animal requires us as scientists to at least temporarily restrain the animal in some way, and occasionally requires lethal sampling. Even with non-lethal sampling, accidents happen. Studying wild animals is not a tickling contest.
      This isn’t an excuse for being cavalier with the lives of those animals you’re sampling, and this is why organizations like IACUC exist, to ensure that even in the event that lethal methods are required, the animal at least doesn’t have to suffer. Despite the opinions of certain animal-rights groups, the vast majority of scientists are not callous, sadistic killing machines, and actually take the well-being of their study animals very seriously. I’m sure Dr. Domeier intended for his methods to do as little harm as possible to the sharks during his tagging trips, but again, it’s nature, and you can’t always control how the trip goes. There are certainly some accountability issues in this situation, but I don’t think this should be an indictment on scientific research in general.

  21. Ok so they’re trying to say that this is just natural?! Because of what other sharks do.. I’m a 15 yr old girl who has spent 5 yrs researching sharks and their behaviors yet I’ve never seen something like this from another shark… It’s definitely fishy. I think dr. Domeier is hiding something.

  22. Coming back to this post after all the responses has me just as concerned as Herm and Southern Fried Scientist. I understand that with Photo ID work it is often simpler to “name” an animal instead of just giving it a number, yet it still humanizes. I can’t help but think of a recent post on this blog by WhySharksMatter where he discussed a journal article that focused on the rising number of young researchers that won’t do lethal sampling in shark research.

    Now, back to the shark and the image and the shark at hand. It seems as though the the image of the wound is drawing the attention but the emphasis is being placed on the emaciated condition of the animal. That seems like a stretch. The wound on the jaw would NOT have been caused by being hooked in the gills…no way…my experience does not support that. As Patric even stated, the video footage alone shows that the shark was released with no injury in that area!!! As far as the emaciated condition of the animal is concerned, while it is possible that the damage/stress from being caught initially may have caused this, there is little REAL PROOF! It is possible, but it can’t be proven (unless of course you want to catch the shark, sacrifice it, and do a necropsy…but I doubt that will go over too well).

    I am not saying that there was not serious damage done to the shark, or that leaving part of the hook in the shark could have a significant impact on the health of the animal…it very well could have. I am willing to bet that if the gahstly injury on the jaw was not there or was less “severe” that any hype or concern would be garnished.

  23. I think this a strong case of “the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one” or Occam’s razor.

    What do we know?

    1. In 2008 and early 2009 this was a healthy breeding aged animal. It had no obvious wounds, or deformities, and was fat and happy.

    2. In late 2009 this animal was hooked with a 3lb steel hook in the throat. It was fought until exhausted, landed, and a pair of industrial bolt cutters were put through the gills of his animal to cut the eye portion of the hook off leaving 98% of the hook still embedded in the throat and esophagus.

    3. In 2010 the same animal returned after a 7000 mile normal migration, emaciated, with a deformed dorsal and huge wound and tumor on the side of the face.

    That’s all we know and you are right, unless a necropsy is done we will never know if that steel hook was the cause for the condition.

    We also know that all the other animals hooked and released with hooks not left in the body cavity are doing fine, no weight loss, no tumors.

    So, Occam’s razor, the most obvious reason for this condition would point to the hook left in the body.

    Regardless, I maintain this entire set up was one set for failure. The hybrid nature of the crew, the demands of television production, and sheer amount of money and prestige involved made for great television, but not for safe science.

    You don’t get to break a few white shark eggs to make some televised omelettes in this day and age. Or do you?

    This is ultimately where I would like to see drastic changes at the Sanctuary, unless there’s a 100% life guarantee, let’s not do this work.

    We’ll all get a seriously massaged version of events on Nat Geo Television next month as twin episodes featuring Junior and the Farallones disaster will air.

    This whole event reminds me a bit of Steven Kings Pet Cemetery. Sure you want your animal to come back, but sometimes what comes back can prove embarrassing.

  24. What concerns me is not whether shark was hurt, because accidents can happen, but people in research need to be clear and honest. Accusations have been made but hopping on to the bandwagon of fingerpointing are a lot of people with no proof and no right to attempt to destroy the reputation of someone whose work proabbly far exceeds a small percentage of anything they have ever done. Talk about a lot of rednecks!

    For goodness sake have the decency to let the peers of this man deal with the matter.

  25. Patrick,

    Occams Razor or not and you know this yourself, unfortunately there is just no way of knowing what happened to the animal or why. Probably never will be unfortunately. Seems we have 2 possible explanations now. Gonna be tons of speculation and accusations with little to support it or direct it. What I do know is that this is going to impact those of us that work out there even more than ever, it’s going to affect our outreach and education programs for the public as well as our efforts to raise awareness for the animals and help protect them. In a phrase it sucks all the way around. The thing that potentially really has me ticked right now, other than the possible loss of another shark we can’t afford to lose, is that for years some of the very researchers and functionaries in control of the resource have been trying to exclude the eco tour operators from the area by saying operations of this type were detrimental to the animals. A misapplied and unsupported opinion. Can we now say Irony?And while I can give an opinion of my own on the politics of the area and the value of the naturalist program I run, the irony here is that if this animal is lost due directly or indirectly to an action of one of the researchers allowed to operate at the island whether they were or were low impact researchers or otherwise not involved in the local power plays to hog the sandbox for themselves, the eco-naturalists and tour operators that work there will bear the brunt of the damage by having even more restrictions put in place. Keep in mind, and you know this too, there are only 2 permited operations out at SE Farallon. This developement can’t be good for anyone or anything.
    I’m looking forward to hearing from some of the authorities that I talk to from time to time to see what they say and to seeing the data that can be produced on this. When and where were these images collected? And by whom? If you can share that info please? How do I get a look at the information?
    The area and animals just can’t seem to get a break from S**tstorms it seems, there’s a new one every other year.

  26. Thank you David for posting this and precipitating this interesting debate.

    Things are getting a bit confusing here.

    – The post I wrote and which you reference asked the question whether this was Domeier’s Shark and also quoted verbatim from an e-mail message I received. Domeier has confirmed that this is indeed Junior, so let’s take that at face value.

    – Domeier equally asserts that if one watches the full video, “it can be determined that this injury was clearly inflicted by another white shark”. That is a testable hypothesis, for which somebody needs to examine the video.

    – In a subsequent post, I have asked the people that wrote that e-mail and submitted those images to produce the video for verification. Anonymous posting to YouTube would suffice. To be clear, I’m talking about the video from which “somebody” grabbed the above stills and which MD purports to clearly show a shark bite. If Patric’s “the video” shows no wound, then it is obviously the wrong video.

    – to me, this is about cause and effect, i.e. whether the wound has been caused by Michael Domeier. My call: no it has not, at least not immediately, as the location of the injury does not coincide with where I understand the hook was left in Junior’s esophagus; conversely and judging from this video grab alone, the injury does not at all look like a shark bite.
    To me, but I am speculating, Junior has been hooked in the corner of the mouth and the injury has gotten infected – yes that is rare but it can happen, as evidenced by several wounds on the Sharks I routinely dive with.

    – other possible causes for the injury and the general bad condition of the Shark that have been advanced are speculative and unsubstantiated. Yes some are plausible but they cannot be tested and should thus be treated with circumspection. We don’t know how and when the wound originated, we don’t know whether and when MD’s hook may have fallen out like he asserts, we don’t even know how Junior is faring now except for the fact that according to MD, he seems to be migrating “normally”.

    – I remain highly concerned about the lack of response by the GFNMS. I remain equally concerned by the lack of response by the people who have started this debate by sending the original e-mail and pictures. Laying low and hoping that this matter will go away will not work – for both parties!

    • FYI for everyone- “DaShark” is the “Mike” that I referenced in the post above. Not Dr. Michael Domeier, and not the other commenter named “Mike”.

  27. The marks that Junior has certainly do NOT look like another shark bite, as compared with the other photo, as far as I am concerned a shark of that size should not be lifted from the water.

  28. It is rewarding to see the ongoing balanced debate on this website. I don’t typically get involved on blogs, as I told David, because there is no accountability and everyone (even a 15 year old girl with 5 years of field experience) is an expert. Believe me, all of the issues raised here are being addressed by the experts and agencies to which I am accountable. But since this site seems to be visited by a reasonable cross section of the public, let me add some clarity to the points raised.

    Research programs, like my own, are seeking answers at a population level, not at an individual level. That is why sample size is so important. The loss of an individual, although regrettable, does not invalidate an entire study. Safeguards and protocols are in place to regulate the study of particularly sensitive species, and these were effective in regulating my project. When things went awry the project was suspended until the incident could be reviewed and methods could be modified to minimize the probability of a reoccurence. The second shark was tagged without any complications. I learned just today that similar protocols are in place for the study of endangered sea otters, and yes, some mortalities have occurred but the programs ultimately proceed.

    If I could post the video I would, but I don’t have a copy. When/if it become public everyone will see two huge shark bites dorsal of the gill region. Furthermore, the corner of the mouth has been peeled back like the lid of a can; the “tumor” is a bulge of tissue that has been peeled off the corner of the mouth. The portion of the hook we left in the fish was posterior to the gills…literally feet aft of the new wound. The wound is probably only 1-2 weeks old. The shark is also noticeably thinner than when we tagged it. The shark could not have lost that much weight as a result of a recent wound to the mouth, so it remains a possibility that the weight loss is due to trauma that resulted from the tagging incident. At the same time, to be fair, it can’t be proven to be a result of the hook. I have seen other very thin sharks that I have actively tried to avoid catching because I did not want to tag an ailing shark. I also have pictures of another shark that was released with the entire hook lodged in the corner of the mouth, that show no evidence of the hook or wound 1 year later.

    “Junior” continues to regularly give us postitions from the offshore habitat these sharks reside at this time of year. By now the wound in question should be fully healed. Hopefully his condition is improving and he will return to the Farallones, fat and happy, this summer. If he perishes I will be as upset as anyone, but at the same time I know such a loss will have no significant impact on the overall population. Ask any population biologist for confirmation of that statement. The reality is that the data acquired through this method is answering long standing questions regarding the life history of this species. In fact, we may have documented a vulnerable period for adults, punctuated by the apparent mortality of one of our mature females. These data are critical for the long term management of this species. Recent papers, from the Farallon population, that suggest adult females have a 1-year migration cycle are wrong (based upon my work at Guadalupe)…we need to know where these females are going and where parturition occurs.

    In the next few weeks the entire world will be able to view the tagging of Junior as it occurred. The people working on the shark were not simply TV-types reluctantly pressed into service. They were all trained and supervised by myself…some were very experienced anglers and all were passionate and considerate of the sharks that put their lives in our hands. Although the TV title of “Expedition Leader” for Chris Fischer may suggest othewise(a title he chose for himself despite my protest), trust me, the research was supervised by an experienced, established professional. At the same time, Chris Fischer shaved years of equipment development and fundraising from my project, and Brett McBride brought a lifetime of experience handling fish; I am indebted to them for that. No, they wouldn’t have done this without cameras, that was made clear to me…but the decision to move forward with the project was mine and I can live with that.

    I don’t like to engage the public in this fashion; I prefer to let my work speak for itself. The coincidental timing of this controversy, the decision making process on my permit renewal, and the release of the television episodes have placed unprecedented PR pressure on my lab. My publication record speaks for itself, as will the publications that result from this work. I cannot release the papers prior to publication, but all will be intrigued by the peer-reviewed chapters that will appear in a book by the end of this year. Furthermore, we have 3 mature females that should be showing us where they give birth this spring/summer…stay tuned.

    Michael L. Domeier, Ph.D.
    President
    Marine Conservation Science Institute

  29. If scientists injured some lions in the wild while studying them, the whole world would be up in arms. Why do we refuse to acknowledge that sea creatures have a first right to their environment?

  30. It does not matter how the injury got there,rather than why the Scientists did nothing to help the shark by stitching the wound up? Salt water is supposed to be a sanitizer but being bitten by another shark who has dirty teeth and Bactria on his teeth etc, or having had a dirty hook in the mouth is a different story. The shark could have done with some human help. What is it with Scientist? When do they ever help the animal when it needs it? My only explanation is that they are used as guinea pigs.. That`s my opinion anyway.

    • “why the Scientists did nothing to help the shark by stitching the wound up?”

      What are you talking about? Dr. Domeier claims that the injury occurred almost a year after it had been captured by his team. Are you suggesting that the SCUBA divers who took this picture should have attempted to wrestle the free-swimming shark into submission so that they could apply first aid?

  31. Thanks for the post Mike. This must be trying for you but what did you expect? To complain about “a 15 year old girl with 5 years of field experience,” is a bit much when your show is seen by millions and is currently being promoted on every major cable outlet in the country?

    YOU chose the limelight and now are complaining that people have opinions about your work and the condition of a protected white shark under your care. This is what you get with a high profile public television show. You’ll note the other research teams at the Farallones rarely appear in the media and they absolutely let their work speak for themselves.

    Mike this whole whitewash about a trained crew, no one in the research community is buying it. Your crew had no previous experience with white sharks until Guadalupe. None. Yes they had landed a few tuna, the odd mako shark, but none of them had any experience with 17 foot white sharks. You were experimenting with a green crew and after some success at Guadalupe wiped out at the Farallones.

    You and I also know that some of your so called experienced crew were swapped out for Farallones, so who was on the line that day when Junior was hooked in the throat?

    Wasn’t you was it?

    I understand why you do not like to engage on blogs with people you do not consider peers as they tend to ask uncomfortable questions and want clear answers about animals that have been damaged under your care.

    Sadly that does not fit with your public view “The loss of an individual, although regrettable, does not invalidate an entire study.”

    When you turn what should be a pure research study into a film and television spectacle and have Hollywood actors handling a protected species you open yourself, your work, and your career, to those who see white sharks as more than just data points and more than “regrettable”.

  32. We need to remember that this is an endagered species were dealing with. Further, I am still surprised that this was permitted in a sanctuary where restrictions are supposed to be ultratight on white sharks. Was this activity allowed in exchange for something? Do you buy these types of permits? To me thats the fishy part, especially if the sanctuary doesen’t want to cough up any footage or comment on the matter. It will likely all go under the rug soon, as people get on with their busy lives, so I guess it doesen’t really matter, whats done is done.

    I just hope the other sharks that were tagged don’t look like the one in the post, as this one looks like its seen better days. With such a small population, it would really be a shame if a TV/research crew took a significant portion of the population down with their research activities, regardless of the outcome of the study.

    On the other side, I agree that research does need to happen, we just need to have more oversight and forethought when it comes to ctitical species like the white shark. (I think that this is the theme I’m reading)

    good thread! whoever started it

  33. I am not a scientist nor am I an expert, however I am passionate about great white shark conservation. I have 2 children that have learned, through TV programs such as National Geographic, about great whites and the importance of their conservation. I would never wish harm upon any great whites, or those studying them, but I understand not everything goes to plan. If public awareness is not raised through these outlets then how will our next generation know and learn to help?

  34. Obviously, I have not witnessed nearly as many white sharks (or injuries) as the researchers who study them have, but I do distinctly remember each and every one that I have been fortunate enough to dive with. So yes, I find it appalling that the researcher in charge of catching these protected predators has the audacity to incinuate that the loss of an individual ‘will have no significant impact on the overall population’.

    Would the same hold true if they were hooking sea turtles or killer whales?

    All I know is that is one less shark that us divers are going to ever observe in their environment. Not to mention, I don’t want the only sharks that I might see on my next dive trip to Guadalupe Island to be all beat up and covered in hardware. I just hope that the Mexican officials in charge of handing out these types of permits have more sense than those at the Farallones. With all of the new regulations that I have been told are being enforced at Guadalupe and at the Farallones, I find it hard to believe that such invassive procedures would be allowed in the first place on a protected species within a sanctuary.

    Again, I am no expert, but I have never seen one of these top predators in such poor condition. It looks to me like the shark in the photos cannot even close its jaw because of the trauma that it has been through. I’d say that the shark is having difficulties feeding, which would explain why it is so skinny. I find it very hard to believe Michael Domeir’s claims that the ugly wounds in question should be fully healed by now.

    Bottom line, No research is worth risking the health or survival of these amazing predators.

    • Volker – “Bottom line, No research is worth risking the health or survival of these amazing predators.”

      If that is true then we will know nothing about them.

  35. For me, the bottom line is that this technique seems way to controversial and dangerous for the sharks. I have read here and other places that there are other ways to gather movement information without compromising the lives of these 10 to 20 year old sharks.
    I am a fan of most Nat Geo shows, but this one, with its ultra macho fisherman and entitled scientist could go away and the world wouldn’t lose anything. It might evn save a few white sharks.

    I see many similarities of this show and those macho big-fish shows, with a little nascar in it as well. Now that I know that they are injuring these animals it makes it even less appealing.

    From Seth’s comment above, it now makes sense that the “research” team is a bunch of actors not researchers.

  36. Hello

    I am writing from South Africa and I was just sent the link to this debate. I watched the Nat Geo program with these guys hooking and taking sharks out of the water off Mexico, where I worked as team leader for a History Channel shoot so I have seen the sharks there.

    Looking at that program, my impression was of a bunch of amateur ten minute white shark experts. I wrote to Nat Geo and received no reply. What they were doing to those sharks in the name of so called science was absolutely not acceptable. It was for the cameras and the scientists, Nat Geo and the production company should be ashamed.

    What really blew me away was when one of the scientists had the stressed out white shark on the boat and was then attempting to extract blood from all the wrong places. Eventually he gave up which is evidence that he is an amateur around white sharks and as such should not be near them. I would not even have a guy like that as one of my crew. Taking blood from a white shark is easy. Back in 1996, we were the first people to extract blood from free swimming white sharks. I took the first vial of blood myself and we did not hook, injure and traumatize the animals.

    BTW, what were they hoping to gain by analysing blood from a completely stressed animal? The reason we took blood from free swimming whites was because we did not want blood from a stressed specimen.

    I have worked on around 60 white shark docos in my life and I have seen many. Most of them are mediocre at best but except for a very few old docos where there was no sympathy for the sharks, I have yet to see a so called scientist treat any shark as poorly as in the series Shark Men.

    Craig Ferreira

  37. Hello

    I am writing from South Africa and I was just sent the link to this debate. I watched the Nat Geo program with these guys hooking and taking sharks out of the water off Mexico, where I worked as team leader for a History Channel shoot so I have seen the sharks there.

    Looking at that program, my impression was of a bunch of amateur ten minute white shark experts. I wrote to Nat Geo and received no reply. What they were doing to those sharks in the name of so called science was absolutely not acceptable. It was for the cameras and the scientists, Nat Geo and the production company should be ashamed.

    What really blew me away was when one of the scientists had the stressed out white shark on the boat and was then attempting to extract blood from all the wrong places. Eventually he gave up which is evidence that he is an amateur around white sharks and as such should not be near them. I would not even have a guy like that as one of my crew. Taking blood from a white shark is easy. Back in 1996, we were the first people to extract blood from free swimming white sharks. I took the first vial of blood myself and we did not hook, injure and traumatize the animals.

    BTW, what were they hoping to gain by analysing blood from a completely stressed animal? The reason we took blood from free swimming whites was because we did not want blood from a stressed specimen.

    I have worked on around 60 white shark docos in my life and I have seen many. Most of them are mediocre at best but except for a very few old docos where there was no sympathy for the sharks, I have yet to see a so called scientist treat any shark as poorly as in the series Shark Men.

    Craig Ferreira

  38. Hi, just reading the hoo ha about junior. Whites are one of the most beautifullest and graceful predators, who amaze us every day. But it does consern me that there r a lot of johnny bravos out there who want to be seen doing anything with the white and their methods are quite questionable, inevitabbly this was bound to happen but regardless i doubt it was deliberate, even though the damage is done,but if it was dr Michael domier then just own up dood, stop shouting about a conspiracy, u screwed up admit it and learn from it.National Geo should take more precautions and install strict protocol when being part of these documentaries,this isnt hollywood this is natures best, and its not a toy..so anyone who shows a gung ho action jackson attitude should be removed from set and from the sharks environment..makes you think who is the lethal killer man or whitey..

  39. @Herm

    Herm your posts are correct but let’s not forget there are two teams at the Farallones already tagging whites. They have been at this for the past 15 years and they do not use Michaels methods as they decided very early on not to use this technique.

    The data Michael is coming back with is not ground breaking as he would assert, it is an additional contribution to an already vast database culled by these teams on white sharks.

    A lot of the ire directed at Michael and the sanctuary managers is coming from these teams and rightfully so.

    Politically Michael and his film crew sandbagged a well known research site seeking quick answers at a potentially high cost to the animals. He is also seeking permission to come back and do it all over again this year even after knowing the fate of Junior.

    • @Seth

      Yep, understood. Like I said in my first post I’m not claiming to know the ins-and-outs of shark research and can’t evaluate whether these guys are doing a good job or a bad job. My response was more to the general tone of some respondents that seems to say there should be nothing short of zero risk to the animals in any scientific research and any lethal protocol is always unacceptable. As someone who is a museum scientist, this is a worrisome, albeit increasingly common, thing.

      But you are right. There absolutely should be standards to follow where harm is minimized in the study of live animals or if lethal collecting is part of the research program it is done responsibly and humanely. If these guys are not following the standards then they should be called out, but just remember, everyone needs to be careful the standards are not made so strict that any harm to an individual animal becomes grounds to end a productive research program.

  40. My name is Dylan Irion and I like to consider my self an emerging shark expert. I work with a team of scientists out of Mossel Bay, South Africa that studies a range of marine species, including the great white shark. I am currently studying out of the University of Cape Town.

    I work with 2 accomplished experts in white sark biology, Ryan Johnson, and Enrico Gennari, who both serve as directors at an institution called Oceans Research.

    Some years ago they participated in a study that utilized similar ‘forklift’ methods, and resulted in the discovery of the first trans-oceanic migration of the white shark. The article was published in Science and the shark was famously named ‘Nicole.’ The team soon realised the potential for injury to the shark that was introduced by this method of tagging, and halted further study. It is important to note however, that the data collected from this tag served as key information in the relisting of the white shark with CITES.

    It is an unfortunate fact of science that accidents do happen. An incident involving a dolphin comes to mind where in a freak accident, a dolphin was unintentionally and mysteriously killed by a crossbow dart meant to extract tissue samples. The scientist halted the practice and published an account of the incident in a peer reviewed journal.

    I write all of this in defense of the team of scientists at work in the Farralones. While it is my personal opinion that the science performed in this example is a bit ‘hollywood,’ they do not deserve the response we are giving them. They do great work resulting in incredible discoveres that ultimately save the lives of many sharks and humans alike.

    What happens from here, hopefully, is that similar to the crossbow story, this serves as a warning to colleagues of the potential danger in a specific practice and that scientists around the world then reevaluate the ethics of their data collection methods, ensuring that they are contributing positively to the conservation of their study species.

  41. I would like to add that my comments are with specific regard to those attacking Michael for his techniques and methodology. I am not aware of the history of the sanctuary and his relationship with other scientists and conservationists in the area.
    Dylan

  42. Re white shark research/conservation efforts in California and Eastern Pacific.

    The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation (PSRF) is opposed to the over-all method and technique employed by Domeier.

    We are not focused on the question of what specifically caused the tumorous trauma that has developed on the shark in question.

    …We consider the method to be injurious (XL sharks) and generates largely redundant data to that already being gathered via superior, less invasive methods.

    The shark is clearly worse for wear, and the injury appears to be tumorous and unlike any other wound I have seen in a white shark in over 20 years of research in the wild. Clearly no one will assert that the shark has in anyway been protected or conserved or better understood since having been vanquished by Domeier’s experts and attendant Admins.

    We consider the method needlessly injurious while producing largely redundant data.

    In addition we (PSRF) take issue with the review process and associated enforcement efforts to protect these sharks while they are within the so called sanctuary.

    As long term resident researchers and advocates we do not ourselves appreciate being sanctioned or otherwise coerced for speaking truth to power and corporate academic business ventures while these kinds of contingencies are being permitted to occur.

    It seems the officials will go to great lengths in their efforts demonstrate ill founded concerns about the use of research lures (non-invasive) by resident long term independent researchers; while at the very same time permitting the use of huge barbed hooks and clearly injurious methods.

    As a researcher who narrowly avoided a $21,000.oo (fine was dropped) for daring to utilize a lure (now standard issue) and appearing in award winning documentaries (AIR JAWS, Jaws of Pacific series) I dont appreciate being hassled over minutia and cheap shot technicalities while others are allowed to use commercial long lining gear and the tow truck method.

    I dont appreciate the favoritisms being demonstrated here regarding white shark research, conservation and public education and mind share.

    While hooking, fighting and subduing large great white sharks may make for spectacular TV and high viewership, it does nothing to conserve sharks

    Moreover, As an original sponsor of white shark protected status in California I shouldnt have to reiterate that the white shark is a already protected species in California.
    The National marine sanctuaries in California are supposed to afford a unique setting whereby these astonishing, highly migratory macro apex predators can be safe from human pressures, including invasive researchers and film crews.

    What is the value of Domeier project and associated ‘method’ if white sharks are already protected in California and his data is largely redundant to that already being generated and published by resident long term researchers?

    Domeier’s project turns white shark protected status on it’s head; whereas resident long term researchers do it the hard way and go to great lengths to minimize impact and employ non-invasive methods while working with the sharks, Domeier reverses that dynamic and places the full force of burdon on the shark… injuring it in the process, chasing it from the sanctuary and thus interrupting both the animals natural history but the already extent local research efforts at the same time.

    In a TV interview Dr Domeier opined that hooking and hauling in these sharks was no different that hauling in striped bass… — How is it that the white shark suddenly becomes no different than a striped bass? Is that a conservationist point of view or the opinion of a rich guy (corporate) who insists he be allowed to fish for protected species and interrupt ongoing research regardless of damage done the animal. Domeier seems to confuse trophy fishing with conservation research.

    Domeier Interview with KGO:
    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=7122385

    The striped bass is an invasive species of sportfish, well under 100lbs; the white shark is a protected species of Lamnid shark that can weigh over 2 tons.

    Sharks and fishes over 1000lbs should not be lifted from the water, it causes injury.

    Lifting sharks the size of junior out of the water guarantees injury (great stress) in addition the injuries assured by the huge barbed hook and the lengthy effort to ‘defeat’ and subdue the protected species.

    Plan A. mind you, is to snag these oversized (lamnathermic/endothermic) sharks and then completely exhaust them… and then lift them up out of the water, bolt on equipment that further injures the shark’s fin and becomes debri.

    All that to generate data that is not much at all different or superior to that which can be gathered with the much less invasive PAT tags which can last over a year.

    The less invasive PAT tags (archival satellite) and ultra sonic acoustic tags (as deployed in California) minimal affect on the animal and the devices are improving on a yearly basis at Microwave telemetry labs and Vemco etc.

    It may take slightly longer to attach the PAT tags and acoustic tags but the data is robust and reliable and more than sufficient to track these animals and document their range and seasonality.

    The sharks mostly return on a yearly basis anyway and patience is a virtue and a skill set.

    If the data collection takes just a bit longer in gathering we think that is preferable to gambling with the animals well being and behaviors in hopes of some sort of ostensible ‘academic-corporate’ coup.

    This reckless method and largely redundant project’s data set isnt accomplishing anything for shark conservation and the entire process was established on the abruptly introduced school of thought that holds the white sharks as no different than a striped bass.

    Domeier’s lashing out at the local resident long term researchers at Farallones is ruthless; his invasive, injurious and suspiciously permitted/reviewed project at the very least inured two sharks which fled the site entirely, thereby impacting the long term study already in progress at the site.

    It is fortunate that one of the adult females wasnt also hooked and murphed up with Domeier’s ‘frankenstein rigs’.

    Also — FYI, the PSRF uses transmitter darts far less dramatic than what Domeier describes/alleges and the other researchers at Farallones are the same in their approach; minimal, low impact.

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2005-nov-9/index.html

    Our transmitters detach and the shark is left with a light-weight permanent ID tag, similar to ear tag on mammal or leg tag on bird, does NOT affect the animals’ locomotion.
    The lure method is now standard in California despite the previous static; and after all that it’s suddenly permissible to fish for the sharks with huge barbed hooks and barrel drag… ? Seriously?

    In closing I would suggest that Domeier’s SPOT tags (as rigged) are injurious to the fins they are bolted onto. The devices diminish the sharks efficiency for locomotion.

    While the SPOT transmitters are allegedly able to transmit for longer duration the debri left on the shark for ever. White sharks are a protected species in California and are not suited to sport catch and release fishing interests. While it may be gratifying for some to subdue the white shark and it may make for spectacular TV viewing it has negative long term affects that not in keeping with the supposed concerns expressed in their attempts to justify the damage being done. White sharks are already protected and being tracked in California.

    I for one am not convinced with Domeier’s intentions regarding white shark conservation and have concerns about the establishment taking advantage of the resident, long term researchers and their ongoing efforts to study the
    sharks.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Sean.

      You’re leveling some very serious charges against Dr. Domeier and his team. I’d like for you to back them up with a little more evidence. They may well be correct, but I’m not convinced from what you’ve said here.

      Specifically, you say that his project “generates largely redundant data to that already being gathered via superior, less invasive methods.”

      I’m a little skeptical of this claim. We hear all the time about how little is known about the biology and behavior of great white sharks. The TV show claimed that last year was the first time that blood was drawn from a great white for hormone analysis. Additionally, I doubt very much that Dr. Domeier and Marine CSI could have gotten permission from their own Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or from the Sanctuary to do this kind of research if it wouldn’t result in significant new understanding of these animals. Those protocols specifically ask a researcher to demonstrate that we don’t already know what the proposed project would teach us, and they specifically ask if there are any less invasive methods for getting that information. Permission isn’t granted if a researcher can’t demonstrate that both of these conditions are true.

      What exactly are you claiming that we already knew about great white shark biology and behavior that Dr. Domeier’s research “discovered” again?

    • Additionally, you ask “What is the value of Domeier project and associated ‘method’ if white sharks are already protected in California?”

      I’m afraid that I don’t see your point here. While these animals spend significant amounts of time in California (making it an ideal study site), they are true global migrants. As you know, they regularly swim thousands of miles. They are protected in California, but not everywhere else that they go. Research concerning their migration patterns, which, as I understand it, is part of Dr. Domeier’s project, can still be extremely important for the conservation of these animals elsewhere in the world.

    • Finally, as a long-term researcher on these animals, you and PSRF have expertise a unique perspective. I’m glad to have you as part of this discussion and I don’t mean to indicate otherwise – tone can often be difficult to interpret in online forums.

      Along those lines, some of your comments concern me. It seems like you and Dr. Domeier’s team have a long history of negative personal interactions.

      We welcome dissenting opinions on this blog (and in this case, I haven’t made up my mind in the first place). However, I wrote about this story to help determine the unbiased truth about what happened to Junior. I did not write it so that it could be used as a forum for personal attacks unrelated to the welfare of the shark.

      I’m not trying to accuse you of anything (again, it’s hard to interpret tone online), but I just wanted to get that out there.

      If you and other PSRF experts have facts and evidence about the effects of Dr. Domeier’s research on sharks to present, I’d love to see them. However, stories of being bullied and coerced and being held to a perceived different standard by the authorities are a personal matter unrelated to the welfare of Junior.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, and I hope that you stay in the discussion. You and PSRF have much to add to it.

  43. I can’t believe it and I have pain for him. Do you think really that another shark (like a carcharon carcharias) could be this injury? Or the human???

  44. Blogger ‘WhySharksMatter’ wrote:
    ‘Specifically, you say that his project “generates largely redundant data to that already being gathered via superior, less invasive methods.’

    The SPOT tag data is largely redundant to the much less invasive lance attached transmitters.

    The latest reakthrough discoveries were detailed in the 2010 publication in Royal Society of Biology that detailed among other things that white sharks enter San Francisco bay as well as the coastal and open oceans.

    The SPOT tag a different rig and transmitter but it can only track the sharks to same place the lighter lance applied tags can track them to. That the tags may possibly last longer isnt that interesting to me since duration is improving for most sat tags anyway.

    Light weight and stream lined, lance attached sat tags are getting both smaller and longer lasting.

    The white sharks at California’s coastal islands have been being tracked to open ocean every year now since year 2000.

    The latest publication was in 2010 with a preliminary census being published just this year (2011) by Farallones researchers, tracking is ongoing.

    We placed our 38th transmitter Ano Nuevo Island since 2005 and our 57th transmitter since 1996 using the highly effective lance method.

    sample tracks:
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/pics/ARC1.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/research/pics/ARC2.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/research/pics/ARC4.jpg

    This combined with acoustic telemetry and listening station are best, acoustic tags can last for several years.

    All that and DNA tissue samples have been collected and provided to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensics lab as well as UC, NSE University and Stanford labs. The DNA work done by Stanford (collected from lance mounted small biopsy needles, removes tiny strand)has identified the population as peculiar to the Eastern Central Pacific with some of the animals ranging between the islands of Hawaii, California and offshore Mexico.

    The mysterious questions surrounding white shark offshore ranging, bounce diving and other deep sea behaviors are not going to be solved or verified with telemetry alone in any case.

    Blogger ‘WhySharksMatter’ wrote:
    ‘What exactly are you claiming that we already knew about great white shark biology and behavior that Dr. Domeier’s research “discovered” again?’

    Answer: Adult white sharks were proven to be offshore, open ocean, deep sea sharks that periodically visit the coast in 2001.

    The resident long term researchers working independently at SE Farallones and Año Nuevo Island in California who have been tagging sharks with sat tags and/or acoustic transmitters every season since year 2000.

    The avalanche of data is still coming in and being gone over– and the sharks are still (as i write this) being tagged and tracked in good order; and not one of them had to be hooked or landed.

    The steady and progressive flow of increasingly high resolution data is being generated using a completely non-invasive and non-injurious way and the sharks continue to behave normally throughout the exchange.

    Meanwhile, there exists all the data that should should be needed in order to protect them throughout their known range. Additional catching of the sharks help gain them protection,,, from being caught. the obstacles to protecting them throughout their central eastern pacific ocean have nothing to do with whether these sharks get hooked and bolted with transmitters.

    That is just the opinion of someone involved with white shark conservation and research efforts since 1990.

    In my opinion (as a stake holder) the SPOT tags may last longer and periodically provide live signal do not justify the risk and apparent injury to the study subject; in this case a protected species of shark.

    The use of a barbed hook just seems to be the height of folly, absolutely unforgivable.

    Please let me know if there is any part of that you do not understand.

    Cordially,
    Sean
    PSRF
    Since 1990

  45. Craig, I appreciated your comment and am also surprised that National Geographic would seek to air such obviously detrimental research on large animals. What happened to the days of Joan Goodall quietly observing chimps? I think that a letter to Nat Geo would be in order, since my comments to the sanctuary last year apparently went unheard. I am very opposed to the proposed tagging project as it was poorly executed in the past and will likely only harm or kill more sharks if allowed to proceed.

    Volker

  46. From all I’ve seen and read, I don’t see the advantage of such an intrusive and stressful research operation, when similar data can be obtained from other methods (as evidenced by many other scientists’ testimony). I can only surmise that Discovery Channel lined Dr. Domeier’s pockets nicely for this show. As we all know TV has to get more and more extreme in order to capture the attention of Generation X’ers. Next thing you know, Bear Grylls will be strapping himself to the belly of a White Shark like a Space Shuttle to a booster rocket, all in the name of science.

    In my opinion, Dr. Domeier sacrificed the safety and well-being of a protected animal in order to collect a fat check and make “good TV”. I’m not saying no important data will result, but I do not believe that lifting a 2K pound fish out of the water for any period of time (especially as long as they did?) can be good on the animal. His comments seem to convey the attitude, “well, if an individual dies, so be it.. shit happens during research.” But considering how imperiled the species is, with the fact that the tagging and samples could have been performed with much less intrusive methods, seems almost a scientific dereliction of duty. It’s one thing if an individual dies while a scientist is taking the utmost precautions to ensure it’s well-being and survival. But this hook-and-hoist method was only done to get some shocking TV footage, and as such is extremely irresponsible. It’s incredible to think that it was even allowed at the sanctuary.

    True, sharks are facing much worse dilemma with ignorant cultural traditions, but this is something that needs to be fully investigated, and I believe this method should be disallowed in the future.

  47. On a side note… when was the above photo taken of the other shark (not Junior; the one taken by MarineCSI.org)?

    Here is a photo I took of that same individual in Sept 2010:
    http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/7182/img8828.jpg

    As you can see, a few of the smaller incisions are starting to close up, but the injury is nowhere near fully healed. So it would be interesting to know when the other photo was taken, to gauge the speed such an injury might heal. Dr. Domeier is suggesting Junior’s injury (assuming it’s not a tumor) “should be fully healed by now.”

  48. I think this is an important topic. I have worked professionally with white sharks since 1990 in all forms. Research, conservation and filming. Before that, as a kid, I joined my father in hunting 28 white sharks in False Bay between 1980 and 1982.

    I am passionate about all sharks and I was an integral part of the team that got the white shark protected in 1991, thus, this is close to home for me. I do not wish to turn this species into the holy grail but over the years I have seen gung-ho and self absorbed scientists come and go. They have far more interest in themselves than the animals and usually make a mess of things before taking off again and leaving us to deal with the problems. I could write a book on these so called shark scientists. This is one of the reasons the Nat Geo program is so offensive to me. It’s what we term Hollywood science and its rubbish.

    Here are a few facts. Out of the 28 white sharks I saw being caught on hook, four died as a direct result of injuries. That is a high percentage and even if one died, it would not be acceptable. Can these guys on Nat Geo guarantee that the method they use will never mortally wound a white shark? If not, then as far as I am concerned they should not employ their antiquated methods.

    Another fact. Back in the 90s, there was an operation on our SE coast where people were paying to hook, tag and release white sharks. This was stopped after video footage showed a big female next to the boat with blood pumping from her gills and anus. The hook used was small compared to the hooks used on the Nat Geo program.

    Let me ask this to the proponents of this brutal hook method. If it is such a non invasive method, then why not allow people to do it in South Africa and other areas where these sharks are protected. Why not allow companies to take out paying clients to hook, tag and release white sharks? This would be a popular activity and would make a load of money.

    Another fact is that if you need to capture a white shark for any reason, it can be done easily without hook. We have live captured white sharks and if you know what you are doing, its a piece of cake and the shark is not injured. I am more than happy to share this knowledge with anyone who would like to learn how to capture large sharks without a hook.

    I know I am tramping on peoples feet here but after watching that program, I can only be frank in my opinions. The method of hook and release employed by this team is shocking and no person has the right to subject any animal to that level of trauma and injury in the name of science. Would anyone accept a dolphin, lion, elephant being treated with such brutality. C’mon, these are intelligent animals and people like ourselves, who work professionally with these creatures should be setting the example.

    At some point, we need to move forward and find better ways to treat the world around us.

    Craig

  49. Well stated Craig! It is nice to hear an independent perspective on this issue from a researcher like yourself who obviously understands these animals. I think you logically pointed out that there is no reason to regress towards the way that people have treated white sharks in the past, during the Jaws era over 30 years ago.

    I’d actually prefer to watch these improved ways to study sharks on tv. I just hope that all of this hype before the show airs next week will simply increase ratings and probably drive the demand for this type of reality science, like when Brittany Spears goes into rehab and sells more records. Maybe this is something like ‘the rat’ that Da Shark is refering to above?

    I just hope that the public is able to see through the fast editing work that would be necessary to hide the trauma caused to Junior with a 2′ hook lodged in its gut.

    I’ll be tuning in,

    Volker

  50. unusual , normal investigators of white sharks or any shark are carefull .. better is to leave them in theire own habitad, as normal investigators or scientific investigators on sealife they medlle with those creators , and as a diver i saw allot of sealife .. its a shame that after people know how those creators react and if humanity can use the skils of those creators, most of the times they misuse them skills and another creator bites the dust .. as so manny now ..if it is a transmitter or a becon they put on those creators to follow them other will do also , (japanese chinese .. and other sharkfinsoup lovers )leave them be and protect them is my slogan and i think all that fuzz about blame or who did or not its all in the books , we are the destroyers of the animal or creators sealife, i cal, them creators because i think sealife stand above us and to recuperat species of the sea is imposible, its more the money making and abusing thats what interest, science now, if we could understand sharkbehavier or whale , dolphin etc. then i think personaly the unusless killings would stop direct , and mankind would stop putting these creators in cans frying pans and fishing nets , above all its mankind destroying not the shark , we invated theyre world and what we do is abuse , its a shame nobody understands or not willing to understand those beuatifull creators , its wenn u dont know or dont see how creators react , u will always open a can of tuna and have a nice salmon meal.. its the beauty that mankind have to learn to see.. not that poor shark hookd if we dont act like the 3 monkeys like everyone does then soon it all will be over and we can watch sharks seals dolphins bleufin tuna and the rest only in books if we survive, also our kids will never see that beauty again and that worries me ..so let them be inocent and dont investigate because we with our killing nature never will live together with them .. ron sscs spain evarondive .. ..

  51. I just read a different post that speaks to this same group of shark researchers, but specifically focuses on the prized tags that these researchers used. I normally sit back and read, but this has me peeved!

    Does anyone know if the shark crew used a corrosible link (zink or Magnesium or other?) to bolt the tag on, so that the tag actually corrodes off after it stops working?

    Or will more than 10% of the mature white sharks in this region be wearing permanant jewlery for the rest of their lives (10-20 years)?

    I’m no expert, but I’ll bet you that stainless and plastic live longer than these white sharks do, especially this one depicted above (shark bite or not).

    They (TV stunt scientists) likely didn’t think that far ahead, as that would require some long term thinking with something other than their testicles. Gotta love our society, praising the macho “shark men”!

    You’d have to tie me up and tape my eyes open to watch that show.

    Denise Robinson

    I think this is the same group, or at least same topic

    http://www.bohemian.com/bohemian/03.30.11/news-1113.html

  52. I think that Denise has the matter ranged and zeroed in pretty well.

    I would like to add that for some it is a question of whether or not the tumorous wound is the result of being hooked in the throat; the answer is that the ‘weakened condition’ of the animal is the result of the shark being injured during the throat hook, swallow the ball float, fight to exhaustion and then get haul aboard, drilled, bolted with transmitters that cause damage to the fins and become debri. I dont know which shark it is, but it carries one of Domeier’s transmitters and is clearly not doing well. Does anyone in the house care to explain how the shark is in fact better off since Domeier’s crew fished for and caught the shark in the sanctuary and hauled it aboard? I dont mean fussy, but really…

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

    Mahalo,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    Santa Cruz California Since 1990

    4:26 PM

  53. From a different perspective… I am an educated 26 year old from California with absolutely no expertise in the field of white sharks. I’ve always admired and loved them from afar, and when the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted a juvenile gws I made a special trip to witness such a beautiful animal. I’m less of a nerd than I sound.

    As a home viewer, YES the national geographic special was an absolute MUST SEE. If their intention was to draw in viewers, considered me hooked. No pun intended. Who wouldn’t want to see such a magnificent animal in a closer environment? As someone who will never have the privilege of experiencing them first hand, it was an eye-opening couple of hours.

    However, it did seem especially rough and hard on the animals. Being out of water looked so uncomfortable and difficult for them… Again, I want to clarify that I don’t claim to be an expert or a scientist or a researcher AT ALL- only an at home viewer with a passion for sharks.

    They say there is no such thing as bad publicity… is the awareness raised worth the life of one shark? Is the research worth it? I do not know.

  54. I’m no expert in this field but after seeing the first few show of Op GW that the practice Michael Domeier uses should be banned. I always wondered why Sean at PSRF and Peter Pyle at PRBO were protective of there research now I know why. As Sean has stated there are much more effective and less dangerous methods to tag these wonderful animals.

    Ive done my fair share of Marlin fishing here in Maryland and ive seen first mates treat a hooked marlin with much more respect then Dr Domeier and his crew do in the name of science.

    Op GW or Shark Men is a insult to these creatures and to the people who are really trying to study them and not seeking a TV show!

  55. The pics of Jr are disturbing and as much as im against methods of the “shark men” has anyone condidered this. I know Mako’s have been caught with disfigured jaws similar but not as extreme as Jr’s jaw and it was always said that happend because Mako’s feed on Swordfish and sometimes get injured when trying to feed. Is it possible that a Black or Blue Marlin defended itself against a predatory attack?

  56. Matt, Domeier asserts in this very thread that the injury is due to a shark bite.
    That is a testable hypothesis.

    What I know is this: there is a video
    Somebody shot the video, somebody has it, somebody downloaded those video grabs, somebody edited them into before&after, somebody leaked them.

    I’m wondering why that video is not being produced, see http://fijisharkdiving.blogspot.com/2011/04/junior-follow-up.html – and no, I’m not being disingenuous!

  57. To Michael L. Domeier, Ph.D.:

    I would like you to point to how you have helped sharks with your research. Sure, you’ve made a lot of promotion for yourself — what have you done for sharks? Please tell us about any policy that has helped these sharks who you are exploiting? Please tell us how you and your science have directly helped sharks. Why are taxpayers allowing this type of exploitative research to continue?

    Also, where are the photos that were taken by the Sanctuary representatives that day on the boat when your “research” team left the hook in the shark? Shouldn’t those photos be available to public viewing? We pay all the sanctuary employees’ salaries through our taxpayer money — why can’t we see those photos that were funded by our taxpayer dollars? Perhaps we need to file a Freedom of Information Act petition to see them? This is outright wrong.

  58. Firstly, NO evidence exist that proves this was the result of a research program. It could be from a propeller, shark bite, (intraspecific biting is common in sharks), illegal fishing etc.
    Second, MILLIONS of sharks are being fished each year commercially & there is very little outcry from the public in general… so what is it with scientists we take the blame for all evil??
    Third, research is necessary if we want to preserve the species, just like medical research if we intend to find a cure for a disease. Injury will occur, mistakes are made. We try to keep this to a minimum a follow established procedures. People die on the operating table in the very best hospitals in the hands of the very best surgeons… are you suggesting we stop operating???
    Let´s focus on the real enemy here, commercial fishing and over exploitation that is leading to massive destruction and extinction of entire populations…

  59. I’ve been following this thread very closely over the last few days and have reached a few conclusions. Foremost is that many people do not have a clear idea of what conservation is or how it’s practiced. As stated above by several people, including Dr. Domeier, conservation is not, and cannot be, about protecting individuals. If that were truly the case, then the solution to all the world’s problems would be to seal every living thing away in tanks where they cannot encounter any negative stress. Or perhaps we could freeze the world’s biota in cryogenic tubes, preserving them forever.

    I will go one step further than Dr. Domeier, and argue that conservation is not even about protecting populations or species; over the long-term these things are powerfully mutable. Populations X and Y are not necessarily what they were 50, 100, or 1000 years ago. Populations boom and bust, species evolve, adapt, go extinct, and new species move into their niche, or find new niches to exploit. These processes do happen over millions of years, but they’re also happening right now. Deciding that the way things are now is they way they should always be is making the same error that is made by those who think that conservation doesn’t matter.

    Conservation is about understanding and preserving systems. It’s about figuring out how all the ecologic pieces fit into a very large and complex puzzle, how small changes in composition, behavior, and abundance affect these systems. It’s about deciding what systems we value as a society, understanding why and how our actions are affecting those systems, and making choices, based on the best available knowledge, about how to preserve, protect, and manage those systems. Saving one shark is pointless if the ecosystem that sustains it fails.

    There seems to be a lot of inter-personal conflicts in this debate. Perhaps there’s a turf-war going on, maybe some researchers feels slighted or excluded, whatever. Scientists are people. They compete, hold grudges, get in fights, sing karaoke, and occasionally beat the shit out of each other in a bar outside Gulfport. Competition is good if it means that two or more research teams are striving to produce better and better science. Competition is bad is all it does is drag everyone involved through the mud, leaving reputations in shambles and accomplishing nothing but the stoking of a few egos.

    As for the actual shark, an image was leaked from a video that shows a previously foul-hooked shark with a horrific injury. Those who have seen the whole video say the one image is misleading. In the original incident, the shark was hooked near the gills, in the picture the shark has an injury directly behind his jaws. I’ve seen no convincing evidence that this is the result of the foul-hooking. Convincing is the key word, because, while it certainly suggests that foul-hooking may have adversely affected this animal, it’s premature to drag a researcher’s reputation through the sediment on inherently weak evidence. The fact that one image was leaked from a whole video suggests that the remaining video does not support the leaker’s goal. Context is king and this image is essentially optical quote-mining.

    Tagging itself is invasive. We’ve seen cases, such as with Magellanic and Adelie penguins, where flipper tags negatively affected their survival. Its stressful to the animal and in some cases can cause permanent damage. No tag is perfect, not even the minimally invasive PIT tag or lance tag, but the data is valuable. SPOT tags have some advantages over lance tags, especially with highly migratory endangered species, because we need to know where they are going (not just where they are) and we need to make management decisions about how to protect them on a reduced timetable. SPOT tags give real-time updates and are not dependent on finding the individual animal again.

    But SPOT tags are more invasive, which is why every researcher has the obligation to continuously assess and re-assess the effectiveness and the negative impacts of their methods, and ensure that they are using the least invasive technique that answers the research questions they are asking. I see no indication that Dr. Domiere is ignoring this aspect of sound research.

    I will disagree with Dr. Domiere on one point. As I’m sure he is discovering over what must be a trying week, scientist do not get to choose the medium in which their research is discussed. People are shocked by some of the things that occur online, the “lack of accountability” (that does not really exist), and the candor with which these ideas are discussed and dismantled. Just google #arseniclife to see how vast and deep the rabbit hole is. But, I can assure you, this is no different from the discussions that occur in thousands of journal clubs and lab meetings around the world. If the best antiseptic is the light of day, I’d rather see those conversations happen here, in the open, than behind closed doors.

    For those who think that having a film crew producing a documentary show is somehow unacceptable, please recognize the extent to which that mentality is bullshit. Science is not done in a vacuum, science is society and a scientist has every right to talk about their research in whatever medium they see fit. Hundreds of thousands of people saw the incident, and were exposed to the sometimes harsh realities of working in the field. If the only conclusion that emerges from this debacle is that humans are more dangerous to great whites than great whites are to humans, then the effects of that will resonate more broadly through the ocean ecosystem than the impact of any single shark.

  60. White sharks are a protected species in California and should not be targeted with hooks.

    The Gulf of the Farallones is National Marine Sanctuary, the one place where the white shark (as a protected species) is supposed to be safe and have right of way.

    The white sharks within the Gulf of Farallones National Marine National Marine Sanctuary are already being studied and are the subject of long term monitoring programs at pinniped colonies there.

    There presently exists enough data to protect Eastern Central Pacific white sharks throughout their ranges already; population dynamics, genetics range and seasonality have all been documented already with numerous publications over the past two decades the most recent of which were printed in 2010 and 2011.

    Behavioral documentation of mating, pupping, predation and prey selection arent going to be documented via telemetry data alone anyway and the resident long term monitoring projects are already well on their way to mapping these routes by using non-invasive lure and lance methods which do not affect the study subject.

    Filming ongoing research for documentary television programing is a good idea, what’s odd is that the Admin with the Sanctuaries(NOAA constrictor) wont allow the long term researchers to host documentary film crews….

    Meanwhile, they invite Domeier’s fishing expedition to come and be filmed and payed while fishing for white sharks in the sanctuaries, in order to gather data that already exists, to protect sharks that are already protected and to injure the sharks for a reality TV show.

    I totally disagree with the notion that some of these sharks need to be injured in order to protect them,,, they are already protected in California and are supposed to be protected in the sanctuaries and there exists enough data already to protect the white sharks throughout its range.

    It is a matter of organizing the data already gathered,.

    Long term monitoring studies are far better than these one off made for TV ‘projects’.

    I dont appreciate having our justifiable concerns distorted into ulterior or unjustified motives; if you have any questions or assertions feel free to issue them directly. As it is it seems that supporters of Domeier’s fishing expedition are getting/seeking only one side of the discussion.

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2008/06/27/rusk.giant.squid.KGO

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

    Mahalo,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    Santa Cruz California Since 1990

  61. To sean: You seem quite content to make personal attacks against Mike Dolmire, but dont appreciate people questioning your comments? Comments against the research are fine, but how do you know what his motives are? How do you know he is just doing it for TV? I dont know Dolmire but he publishes (as first author) the majority of his research so you have little evidence to back up your comments. As you well know SPOT’s and PAT’s measure different things, you are never going to get high resolution spatial data from a PAT. I agree with your comment that telemetry alone is not going to determine the location of breeding or feeding sites, but you clearly make the arguments personal so should expect some backlash for it. There are legitimate concerns over this research and I, like David, am not sure which side I take. However, clearly it has become personal on both sides of the debate.

  62. Anonymous wrote:
    ‘To sean: You seem quite content to make personal attacks against Mike Dolmire, but dont appreciate people questioning your comments?’

    Actually, if you read what I wrote i said:
    ‘if you have any questions or assertions feel free to issue them directly.’

    Likewise I am keen to engage anyone in open, free Socratic debate; I am seeking debate, not ducking it. You misunderstood me. Feel free to engage any question or charge you may have.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    Santa Cruz California Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

  63. Anonymous wrote:
    ‘I agree with your comment that telemetry alone is not going to determine the location of breeding or feeding sites, but you clearly make the arguments personal so should expect some backlash for it. There are legitimate concerns over this research and I, like David, am not sure which side I take. However, clearly it has become personal on both sides of the debate.’

    It is a fact that I am personally invested in both shark research and conservation (since 1990) and that many of the animals we are studying at Año Nuevo Island are well known to us personally. If I contradict false or flawed information that I personally know the better of then I am guilty of being involved and nothing more. Who else is going to tell you the truth? And who better to ask honest questions and discuss the matter than the ‘resident long term researchers’ who are both on scene and with decades of experience on the subject?

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    Santa Cruz California Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

  64. Anonymous wrote:
    ‘As you well know SPOT’s and PAT’s measure different things, you are never going to get high resolution spatial data from a PAT.’

    One can get absolutely beautiful high resolution spatial and temporal data with PAT tags, moreover SPOT tags have a high failure rate, the rigs looks ridiculous on the animal and has been demonstrated to be harmful when not deployed as a mechanical bolt on instrument that regards the sharks as nothing more than some giant robotic ‘striped bass’…

    Details such as leaving debri on the sharks does indeed irritate the resident naturalists who have taken great care in developing highly successful yet non-invasive methods to study and track the sharks.

    In closing I would add the Microwave telemetry labs has developed the most light-weight, stream-lined high resolution archival satellite transmitters yet that can easily deliver the quantity and quality of data that the bolt on SPOT tags ‘may’ be able to deliver.

    Happy to answer any all questions, allegations or lint of discussion.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    Santa Cruz California Since 1990
    ~Now on facebook~
    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

    • I appreciate your comments and agree that reasonable debate is the way forward. However, being a long term resident researcher doesnt give you insight into what Mike Dolmiers motives are and that he doesnt care about conservation. Those are the personal comments I am refering to. I also disgaree that PAT’s give the same high quality spatial resolution as SPOT’s. Predicting gelocation based on light levels is never going to have the accuracy of “direct to satellite” location estimates obtained from SPOT’s. I agree that some of the up and coming towed tags will have the same accuracy and can bypass the attachment issues associated with SPOT’s.

  65. Anonymous wrote:
    ‘However, being a long term resident researcher doesnt give you insight into what Mike Dolmiers motives are and that he doesnt care about conservation.’

    I didnt claim to have any insights into Dr Domeier’s mind, I questioned his methods and the merit of the study in view of the obvious risks to animal welfare.

    I also stand by my comments regarding the better tracking devices being available and the fact that there already exists sufficient data to protect the sharks throughout their Central Eastern Pacific range.

    In light of the fact that enough data already exists to protect white sharks throughout their range, I do not see the need for Domeier’s project and it’s cumbersome and injurious methods.

    Moreover, Domeier’s project interferes with the ongoing long term studies by chasing the injured sharks away.

    I would like to stay specific, focused and direct and not be admonished/distracted for daring state the obvious.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    Santa Cruz California Since 1990

    ~Now on facebook~

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

  66. This has been a very interesting thread. There appears to be a lot of anthropomorphism creeping into shark research, at least in some circles. Even if its the same shark, (and it seems we are relying on someones word on this and no definitive data has been presented to confirm this one way or another),7000 miles is a long way to swim, and it is ludicrous to suggest that anyone on this thread knows what happened in the meantime. Sharks do have a propensity to hang on propellers from time to time, maybe this shark did exactly that, and it would explain the wound perfectly. Also, plenty appear to already know the pathology of the wound, though as an aquatic animal pathologist myself, I would need to have a good look at the histopathology of a biopsy at least before determining what might be happening there. Some are right though, conservation is about populations and ecosystems, not individuals. All individuals are transient, it is recruitment that sees the persistence of populations. And if the answers to this thread are put into that context, its easy to see where the anthropomorphism is coming from. And there is no room for anthropomorphism in science, especially when it comes to study of lower animals such as fish, elasmobranchs and invertebrates, but we are seeing it creep in more and more, and if students today are reluctant to do lethal sampling, you have to ask them what they think of natural mortality and food chains, and even what they eat themselves. Its unfortunate that the shark got hooked in a less than ideal location, but plenty of people here simply have to grow up.

  67. Jonathan,

    I don’t support commercial fisheries with shark bycatch, but at least these fisheries provide some form of local economy. The only economic benefit of harming a protected species in a sanctuary is to line the pockets of some production company through increased ratings. Do you honestly think that this shark hunter mugshot was intended to promote research to protect white sharks?
    http://www.episode-alert.com/series/shark_men#

    As stated before by others, it is illegal for commercial fishermen to catch white sharks in the U.S. It seems unlikely to me that the entire Pacific is going to be closed to fishing just because the sharks go out there. That is where I lost you on how this media-based science will preserve the species. The sharks will have to fend for themselves while they are offshore, but the least we can do is protect these endangered sharks while they reside inside of a sanctuary.

    Thats my take anyway,

    Volker

  68. Sean,

    As I pretty much agree with a good portion of your statements through this thread I’m not going to add to those since it’s been covered pretty well. I’ve got a couple other questions for you though. First, I would like to know your opinion on the method of the release of these images. Is this, in your opinion as the Executive Director of The Pelagic Shark Research Center, a responsible method of showing them? Doesn’t peer review need to be done first? And shouldn’t there be some background and thorough analysis using scientific method? If it is a responsible method of disbursing data, why? And conversely, if it is not responsible, why?
    My next question needs to be prefaced a little, I know you do not support the method used to land the animal, then or now, as neither did I then or now. Both for different reasons or some of the same, I will at the very least, concede that the premise and methodology had as much validity as many other scientific practices, and here comes the question in a second after another statement. Domeier applied for and got a permit to study in the Sanctuary, the only way possible to be able to interact and work with these animals in this location. Permit requirements are stringent, as thy should be. I have to apply for and be granted an education permit to be able to sit passively at anchor and put a cage in the water and use a decoy similar to the ones used by the researchers out there. Domeier got the same type of permit as is granted to all the other White Shark Researchers and other researchers in the Park because it is a sanctuary and a permit to operate is required. His permit stated the methodology to be used, the equipment, the vessels and the timing. It was not a surprise in othe words and as I understand it, the permit was granted without being rejected and without having to be appealed to be recieved. In that light, and please you should try to be unbiased in your answer, is all the rhetoric against this man completely justified and fair? Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way sayig that I support the methodology so don’t get mad at me for being a devil’s advocate. What about the bureaucrats that sanctioned the methodology in NOAA and GFNMS? Should they too, ultimately bear some of the blame for whatever the outcome proves to be? Also, are they also responsible for the release of these images and the result fubar this is turning into? What do you think? You’ve been quite vocal on the injury issue and this particular operation in the sanctuary, so I am wanting to hear your opinion on this as well if you would. I believe it is a valid topic of discussion and look forward to hearing about it.

    Greg Barron
    Incredible Adventures

  69. Greg Barron wrote:
    ‘What about the bureaucrats that sanctioned the methodology in NOAA and GFNMS? Should they too, ultimately bear some of the blame for whatever the outcome proves to be?’

    Greg,
    I have no interest in blame so much as I do in having the sharks protected from such methods.

    White sharks are a protected species in California and should not have such needlessly invasive methods inflicted upon them when there are alternate methods. While actually fighting and subduing the huge sharks may be gratifying and self indulgent for the producers and their associates and make for ‘sensational TV viewing/ratings’ it does nothing for shark conservation in California and there already exists enough data to protect the sharks within their open ocean range without now having to fish for them in the sanctuaries and protected regions as well.

    It’s also very suspicious when one considers that the resident long term researchers are under increasing pressure from the Admins who some years early had attempted to fine one of the teams $21,000 for daring to experiment with lures and have prevented the local researchers allowing documentary film-makers from documenting the ongoing long term monitoring study of the sharks at these sites; this has of course impacted funding opportunities and expenses as well as the individual researcher’s ability to interface with the public on a number of important matters including this hook and line expedition.

    The entire process has been very manipulative and controlled, that the project was again renewed despite the previous throat hooking injury and the return of the sickly and injured sharks.

    Greg Barron wrote:
    ‘Also, are they also responsible for the release of these images and the result fubar this is turning into? What do you think?

    Well, as one who has studied white sharks in Monterey Bay and north coast for 20 years Ive had many experiences, good and bad with the NOAA governed national marine sanctuaries. I supported the establishment of the sanctuaries and am also an original sponsor of white shark protected status in California established on Jan. 1 and subsequently within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary following a law-suit filed by the Santa Cruz Chapter of Surfrider Foundation which forced the Admins to establish protective regulations for white shark in 1995 and eventually the Farallones marine sanctuary as well.

    Presently I feel the Admins are being manipulative and unfair to resident researchers whom they both negatively sanction and prevent from documenting their ongoing studies for education television documentaries.

    Meanwhile I have serious concerns for the way the academic corporate matrix conducts itself and how some individuals within the establishment are condescending and clever.

    Others have had similar confusions resulting from Admin cleverness:
    http://www.divebuddy.com/blog.aspx?BlogID=8939&MemID=6161&SearchFor=&Category=

    http://ahabsjournal.typepad.com/ahabs_journal/2010/12/oceana-sues-noaa-calls-foia-fees-prohibitively-high-industry-says-same-ig-gave-warning-in-09.html

    Greg Barron wrote:
    ‘I believe it is a valid topic of discussion and look forward to hearing about it.
    Greg Barron
    Incredible Adventures’

    And so it goes, good luck out there Greg, take good care of the sharks.

    In summary:

    The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation (PSRF) is opposed to the over-all method and technique being employed by Dr Domeier.

    We are not focused on the question of what specifically caused the tumorous trauma that has developed on the shark in question, rather we are focused upon the obvious poor condition of the animal in general, including the the anomalous looking infection.

    We consider the method to be overly aggressive and injurious to sharks of that size and the telemetry generates largely redundant data to that already being gathered (to within 10kilometers!) via superior, less invasive methods that dont cause injury or behavioral anomaly.

    Regardless of the cause of the infected injury to the sharks mouth the shark is greatly reduced in weight and diminished in condition, the shark is clearly worse for wear; that the injurious method was permitted and supported by ‘sanctuary’ Admins is gross injustice and folly. The injury appears to be tumorous and unlike any other wound I have seen in a white shark during over 20 years of research in the wild. Clearly no one will assert that the shark has in anyway been favored, protected or conserved; nor have we gained a better understooding that isnt already available or otherwise attainable.

    We consider the method needlessly injurious while producing largely redundant data.

    White sharks are already a protected species in California and its ostensible National Marine Sanctuaries and more recently established MPAs; there already exists enough data regarding the white shark’s central eastern pacific range to establish protected status throughout that range; the need for additional data is not what is holding up the show in that regard.

    Likewise the ‘Okinawa link’ and western pacific’s apparent and anomalous presence of large adult, late term gravid female white sharks is already established and being explored via photo ID and DNA analysis. On site, long term monitoring, careful seamless telemetry study and behavior observations together with genetic analysis is the way to go at this. Almost all the late term gravid specimens of white sharks ever documented in Pacific have come from west pacific, we see the juveniles off California/Mexico but the big pregnant females have thus far all come from otherside of Pacific. As conservation researchers and environmental activists we are not at liberty to disclose all that we know.

    Large adult female white sharks documented off of Okinawa 2010 by Taketomo Shiratori:
    http://youtu.be/FpuhjBYrtsQ

    With this ‘new method’ we have a Safari Joe being favored over Jane Goodall and the Farallones is suddenly King Kong Island for reality TV producers instead of a National Marine Sanctuary, where the wildlife is safe and have the right of way.

    In addition we (PSRF) take issue with the review process and associated enforcement efforts to protect these sharks while they are within the so called sanctuary.

    As long term resident researchers and advocates we do not ourselves appreciate being sanctioned or otherwise coerced for speaking truth to power and corporate academic business ventures while these kinds of contingencies are being permitted to occur.

    It seems the officials will go to great lengths in their efforts demonstrate ill founded concerns about the use of research lures (non-invasive) by resident long term independent researchers; while at the very same time permitting the use of huge barbed hooks and clearly injurious methods.

    As a researcher who narrowly avoided a $21,000.oo (fine was dropped) for daring to utilize a lure (now standard issue) and penalized for appearing in award winning documentaries, I dont appreciate being hassled over minutia and cheap shot technicalities while others are allowed to use commercial long lining gear and the tow truck method while making bank and being marketed on TV as a conservationist..

    The Domeier’s permit turns white shark protected status on it’s head. Whereas resident long term researchers do it the hard way and go to great lengths to minimize impact on the wildlife while employ non-invasive methods while working with the sharks, Domeier reverses that dynamic and places the full force of burdon on the shark… injuring it in the process, chasing it from the sanctuary and thus interrupting both the animals natural history but the already extent local research efforts at the same time. This while the resident researchers like myself are prevented from hosting film crews from Discovery Channel, National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet and other independent film-makers. This removes a standard funding strategy otherwise available to the other research teams. It cannot be avoided that these sanctions and manipulations are designed as much to control and direct the resident long term researchers and associated public mind share and intellectual property.

    In a TV interview Dr Domeier opined that hooking and hauling in these sharks was no different that hauling in striped bass… — How is it that the white shark suddenly becomes no different than a striped bass? Is that a conservationist point of view or the opinion of a rich guy (corporate) who insists he be allowed to fish for protected species and interrupt ongoing research regardless of damage done the animal. Domeier seems to confuse trophy fishing with conservation research.

    Domeier Interview with KGO:
    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=7122385

    The striped bass is an invasive species of sportfish, well under 100lbs; the white shark is a protected species of Lamnid (lamnathermic/endothermic) shark that can weigh over 2 tons.

    Sharks and fishes over 1000lbs should not be lifted from the water, it causes injury.

    The less invasive PAT tags (archival satellite) and ultra sonic acoustic tags (as deployed in California) have minimal affect on the animal and the devices are improving on a yearly basis at Microwave telemetry labs and Vemco etc.

    It may take slightly longer to attach the PAT tags and acoustic tags but the data is robust and reliable and more than sufficient to track these animals and document their range and seasonality.

    The sharks mostly return on a yearly basis anyway and patience is a virtue and a skill set.

    If the data collection takes just a bit longer in gathering we think that is preferable to gambling with the animals well being and behaviors in hopes of some sort of ostensible ‘academic-corporate’ coup.

    This reckless method and largely redundant project’s data set isnt accomplishing anything for shark conservation and the entire process was established on the abruptly introduced school of thought that holds the white sharks as no different than a striped bass.

    Domeier’s lashing out at the local resident long term researchers at Farallones is ruthless, he’s angry because we know better.

    In closing I would suggest that Domeier’s SPOT tags (as rigged) are injurious to the fins they are bolted onto. The devices diminish the sharks efficiency for locomotion.

    I would also like to challenge the Domeier method as being unwise; if one absolutely had to temporarily capture a large white shark then a purse siene would be a far smart option in that it bags the shark in a large fine mesh net which can both quickly and easily pulled up around the shark and lifting it to the surface and holding it there in shallow water, supported by the huge net as if in a Amazonian hammock; while the shark does then go berzerk, displacing much water while fatiguing itself via unruly thrashing about it is at all times cushioned and supported by the ambiant water ‘safety net’. This completely remedies the problems associated with the hooking and fighting the shark from small boats and subsequent stresses of being racked out on the boat lift being used by Domeier et al. The purse siene method is not a theory it is a method used by Japanese fisheries biologists and their aquarist clients to capture gigantic whale sharks without injury. The hook method seems stupid to me on many levels, that a barbed hook was used is ridiculous to any experienced salmon angler or game warden.

    The whale shark matter is another issue altogether, the problem being capturing the whale sharks is relatively easy and non-injurious, however many of the over-sized sharks die during transportation to the Aquariums and there is a high failure rate there that is hard to justify; even when the whale sharks are successfully transported to the aquariums they tend to die within just a few years (fraction of natural life span) and or during release effort when captive whale shark being displayed inevitably begins to falter while in captivity.

    These are robust and detailed topics, I appreciate your taking time to read my remarks on this matter and suggest that you all look forward to my forthcoming book series on this and related matters; titled ‘Pelagic Park’ an odyssey.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

  70. Sean,

    I don’t how you can go from this reasonable expression of opinion balanced with reason to your other diatribe-like post at newssantacruz.com where you equate me to a Japanese Whaler that uses board room BS. It’s rather disturbing and bipolar actually. You don’t know who I am, what I do or have done in the field so to hear you just jump to that conclusion was quite irritating.

    http://news.santacruz.com/2011/04/05/bungled_shark_tagging_leads_to_infighting

    As to this thread here though.

    You state. “I have no interest in blame so much as I do in having the sharks protected from such methods.”
    Then ultimately isn’t it more effective to go after the people that allowed someone else to do this? Otherwise it’s more like shooting the messenger isn’t it? try going after the people that issued the permit. Uh, logic?

    You state. “Presently I feel the Admins are being manipulative and unfair to resident researchers whom they both negatively sanction and prevent from documenting their ongoing studies for education television documentaries.

    Meanwhile I have serious concerns for the way the academic corporate matrix conducts itself and how some individuals within the establishment are condescending and clever.”

    I agree, what are YOU doing about it to level the field?

    You state.

    “Regardless of the cause of the infected injury to the sharks mouth the shark is greatly reduced in weight and diminished in condition, the shark is clearly worse for wear; that the injurious method was permitted and supported by ‘sanctuary’ Admins is gross injustice and folly. The injury appears to be tumorous and unlike any other wound I have seen in a white shark during over 20 years of research in the wild. Clearly no one will assert that the shark has in anyway been favored, protected or conserved; nor have we gained a better understooding that isnt already available or otherwise attainable.”

    Well, aparently the GFNMS, NOAA and some researchers feel that it was worthwhile and attainable. Again, what are you doing about it?

    You state.

    “In addition we (PSRF) take issue with the review process and associated enforcement efforts to protect these sharks while they are within the so called sanctuary.

    As long term resident researchers and advocates we do not ourselves appreciate being sanctioned or otherwise coerced for speaking truth to power and corporate academic business ventures while these kinds of contingencies are being permitted to occur.

    It seems the officials will go to great lengths in their efforts demonstrate ill founded concerns about the use of research lures (non-invasive) by resident long term independent researchers; while at the very same time permitting the use of huge barbed hooks and clearly injurious methods.

    As a researcher who narrowly avoided a $21,000.oo (fine was dropped) for daring to utilize a lure (now standard issue) and penalized for appearing in award winning documentaries, I dont appreciate being hassled over minutia and cheap shot technicalities while others are allowed to use commercial long lining gear and the tow truck method while making bank and being marketed on TV as a conservationist..

    And again, what are you doing about it? And wait a sec. Are you saying that because you were one of the last guys to tow or use unusal decoys at SE Farallon that you are the one responsible for the no towing decoy rules we work by now? Cause it was wild west out there with no holds barred up till the late 90’s and early 2000’s with lots of researchers and private boats and divers and fishing boats doing pretty much whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses up to and including hitting animals with boats.
    I personally got involved since I wanted to change the way things were done in the commercial dive operations operating there and I think I’ve been pretty successful in doing that. I and 2 other friends of mine started the first outreach and education programs ever seen out there for the sharks. We did that with naturalists, guest lecturers, specialists in various fields concerned with the islands and people that have background in these animals all brought together to teach the the people that had the fortitude to travel to a most desolate and inhospitable place something about these animals and make it something other than an amusement park ride. My job is not to let people dive with sharks but rather to help change the incorrect perceptions that many people have about the animals. I may not always succeed in changing the public perception but I try every trip.

    Now, the topic that you continue to hammer again and again, that “Domeiers’ method is wrong”, and it may well be and I will state again here so you do not try and insinuate again otherwise as you did in the other post at the Santa Cruz blog, that I do not and did not agree with the method. Again though, I will ask you. What are you doing about it? Domeier got permission, whether or not you agree with his method it’s time to move on to something that is productive to the issue. He did it, it’s done, get over it and if you don’t like it then try and get involved to get it stopped from happening again. How about that?

    Greg Barron
    Incredible Adventures

  71. Greg, Im not sure what your point is aside from being offended with my delivery; slow down and we’ll trade volleys broadside.

    Greg wrote:
    ‘I agree, what are YOU doing about it to level the field?’

    Well, I am an original sponsor of white shark protected status in California and it’s associated marine sanctuaries. Between 1998 and 2003 I attended 13 of 19 NOAA organized working groups whereby Farallon Islands white shark regulations were promulgated and thereafter ratified and brought to fruition.

    The PSRF began experimenting with lures as a tool for research (detection, photo ID, tagging and behavior documentation) in 1992 and the lure now standardized at Farallons was first used to tag sharks at Ano Nuevo Island and we’ve been permitted to utilize and develop these lures since 1996.

    There was some confusion about our permits, lures and documentary film making following one of our award winning (still highest rated) appearances on discovery channel filmed in 2001. The success was not well received by the dominant local academic clique which includes individuals working for the ‘sanctuary’ and we narrowly avoided being tagged with a $21,000 fine for alleged permit violations. After the matter was resolved our study was included in the TOPP program and in 2005 we put out a record number of tags. Since 2005 we have deployed 38 transmitters at Año Nuevo Island which falls under purview of both the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries.

    We were very gratified when the regulations for Farallon Islands were established and operators at Farallones were no longer inundating the area with assorted hazards and entanglements, trying to feed the sharks etc.

    More recently have been trying for the past two years to schedule a presentation with the Sanctuary Advisory Councils of both the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. For two seasons I have been continually sandbagged by the establishment. My efforts to communicate with the public through the MBNMS and GFNMS SAC forums are ongoing. I am gratified that there are some new staff at GFNMS and I am encouraged by that.

    In 2009 when we were informed by eye witnesses that the first shark had been throat hooked with an oversized ‘TV prop’ fishing hook with a barb in the point I was at once alarmed and saddened.

    Now one of the two sharks hooked by Domeier’s project is clearly not doing well, the fin is being deformed by the device which has algea hanging from it. I dont even know for sure which of the two sharks it is because everyone is some completely uncooperative and secretive. What we need to see is ID photos of both the sharks, pronto.

    In addition to working hard on this white shark conservation issue I am working on the basking shark issue (commercially extinct) and other shark conservation issues including overfishing, habitat disruption, poaching, finning, industrial mechanized drift gill-netting, destructive and wasteful sportfishing tournaments and converting big game trophy anglers into catch and release anglers; the mako shark sport fishery in particular.

    Forgive me if ive left out a few issues, we’re busy these days.

    Greg wrote:
    ‘And again, what are you doing about it? And wait a sec. Are you saying that because you were one of the last guys to tow or use unusal decoys at SE Farallon that you are the one responsible for the no towing decoy rules we work by now?’

    Read above, pleased to meet you; and yes –that is exactly what I am saying. However I dont work at Farallon Islands; I established the study at Año Nuevo Island (1992) which is south of Farallones and is positioned at the northern margin of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It is alternately and at once rules by both sanctuary. Since 2005 its been mostly the GFNMS that ive been directed. I have both California Dept of Fish and Game permits, amendments and letters of authorizations as well as over-lapping NOAA permits which also require letters of authorization for utilizing small portions of marine mammal for bait (Never presented or fed to sharks). It is a wilderness of paper work and a gauntlet of bureaucratic idiosyncrasies and associated menace.

    Greg wrote:
    ‘Cause it was wild west out there with no holds barred up till the late 90′s and early 2000′s with lots of researchers and private boats and divers and fishing boats doing pretty much whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses up to and including hitting animals with boats.’

    I dont know about you Greg but I was there, I saw it.
    You said ‘lots of researchers’– but can you name any of them?
    The resident researchers run a very good study and always have, we are the same at Año Nuevo Island.

    Ive never worked (research) at Farallones, Scot Anderson works there and has worked there for better part of two decades; we see many of the same sharks at the two different sites as it is not unusual for them to travel between sites within 24-48hr periods. While I dont do the research at Farallones I have helped campaign for protective regs there and we succeeded in that.

    I fished the waters around Farallones as a kid, while Ive never conducted research (i have consulted for films there) at the Farallones, I am familiar with the research conducted there by resident research team.

    I do not however remember any researchers out at Farallones aside from the excellent resident researchers there at the time Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle.

    The ones causing problems were almost without exception sport divers, many of whom resisted regulations until such time that they were clearly imminent.

    The researchers were often harassed by sport divers and rubber-neckers and many of the ‘sport diver’ stake holder feuded with the researchers for their efforts to establish the regulations that now exist at Farallones.

    With all the distractions it’s a wonder we’ve been able to get anything done at all, let alone protect a perfect safety and operations record for almost 20 years running.

    One must remember that as in Monterey Bay, the regs were not established because of the wisdon of the sanctuary staff so much as a law suit filed by the Santa Cruz Chapter of Surfrider Foundation (1994); this happened after sport divers began to feed the sharks and feed them wetsuits stuffed with pork etc; they also interrupting research efforts at Año Nuevo Island.

    From Monterey Bay the regulations eventually spread into the Gulf of the Farallones; we only narrowly avoided the circus that was occurring with the help of the Surfrider Foundation lawsuit in the mid 1990s. I continue to work diligently on these matters and have intentions of delivering presentations to both MBNMS and GFNMS Sanctuary Advisory Councils as well as my other lectures I have scheduled for 2011.

    Greg wrote:
    ‘Again though, I will ask you. What are you doing about it?
    Domeier got permission, whether or not you agree with his method it’s time to move on to something that is productive to the issue.’

    Debating this issue and sharing information is productive; you sound frustrated.

    Greg wrote:
    ‘He did it, it’s done, get over it and if you don’t like it then try and get involved to get it stopped from happening again. How about that?’
    -Greg Barron
    Incredible Adventures’

    You are a master of the obvious Greg, I am involved- and I am seeking to have injurious methods prevented from injuring sharks. — and you?

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

  72. Sean,

    Damn straight I was offended by your delivery. You likened me to a Japanese Whaler that used board room BS rhetoric and that without any rational explanation or example and out of context. I believe you deliberately used my words out of context to make me look bad and achieve your ends what ever those were. Pretty typical behavior of several researchers, academics and bureaucrats that work in the area that I have met over the years. Self serving, obstructionist, small minded and destructive. Now I’m pretty sure I can add you to those ranks apparently of people not to trust though half the time you do talk some reasonable ideas. Why you do the carrot and stick bit is beyond me.

    Since you want to transfer the forum to this one, here below is the statement you made regarding my answer to someone that asked why the research was done in the sanctuary.

    “Greg Barron seems to use the same rationalization as was used by the Japanese Whalers who were targeting whales while conducting ‘research’ in order to ‘Save the Whales’:
    “Greg Barron wrote:”
    ‘Since the animals are in the Sanctuary and that is the best place to study them, then that’s why it’s allowed in the sanctuary.’

    Sean, you then further went on to say this next bit.

    “The above comment is board room BS rhetoric and has not honest bearing on white shark conservation or research so far as I can discern.”

    Here is the full text of what I answered to a legitimate question. Just a simple question from a person that wanted to know with a simple answer. Starting with the question.

    “Great piece showing both sides of the argument, I agree, lets see some video. Still wondering why this was allowed in a sanctuary!”

    My answer to that question.

    “According to the Marine Life Protectin Act, The State and Federal Government, anyone can apply to the proper authorities for a research permit to be issued. Science is done where the science is. Since the animals are in the Sanctuary and that is the best place to study them, then that’s why it’s allowed in the sanctuary.”

    Perhaps that answer is a bit simplistic in it’s delivery but I don’t think I really needed to write book on why it’s the best place to look for these particular Northeastern Pacific White Sharks and study them. Researchers don’t go to Bodega or PT. Reyes or Bolinas and drag their baits because the surfers get pissed much as you mention about Monterey and Santa Cruz. They do monitor there with accustic trackers though. They don’t go off the shelf because there are no sharks there. Others are working down in Ano Neuvo and Monterey and territory is fought over as you yourself mention. Up until this last two years when someone somehow got the diaspora to work together they didn’t and wouldn’t very often. Currently the researchers out at SE farallon get in 14-20 days or less a season of study, as a result it is logical they would go where the sharks are. Not where they aren’t and not where the researchers aren’t wanted either. Not to mention the intercine rivalry that exists between researchers trying to protect their data, publish, and not be scooped by a rival. Researchers are as territorial as White Sharks in a feeding hierarchy.

    After your unreasonable and unprovoked abuse I could have justifiably fired back at you with some derogatory remarks about you but that wouldn’t have been productive. Instead I have continued to stick to the point and now have to defend myself from you when we should be finding a way to stop the troubles.

    As to your assertation that debating this issue and sharing information is productive, that is correct as long as it can stay civil and constructive but what I’ve witnessed of your opinion and methods of expressing yourself so far, you do not do that without insulting people, brow beating those whose opinion differs from yours and making people that should being cooperating with each other snipe at each other instead. It’s similar to what I see of the bureaucrats and academics in the region regularly that think their opinion is the only ones that matter and it’s one of the reasons I am finally getting vocal.

    You ask if I can name names, I certainly can but to what end and purpose? That these researchers have been able to produce great data and studies, I in fact think one or two should get a nobel or something, that does not mean that some haven’t been agressive and improper to those they saw as intruders to their domain. I may or may not think highly of some of them and some of them may or may not think highly of me but I see no reason to try and involve or debase them or squabble with you over it or them. It doesn’t contribute here and now. You yourself state “As long term resident researchers and advocates we do not ourselves appreciate being sanctioned or otherwise coerced for speaking truth to power and corporate academic business ventures while these kinds of contingencies are being permitted to occur.”
    I was here and there too, you ask if I can name names? If I have to, I can name pretty much all of the principle researchers at officials that have worked out there in the last 20 years since I read their papers to try and understand the animals better and followed their exploits iin the papers. I can name names and give example in news articles, TV reports and history of the operations out at SE Farallon of potential misconduct of officials and academics if it’s germane to the issue at hand. It is not, so I feel no compulsion to air any grievance or grant any support to any of them at this time. The issue here is what is being done to get to the bottom of the suspicious information release. What have I done? I have requests into the GFNMS that have yet to be responded to, I have discussed things with some of the involved parties to get their sides and I am trying to get some official acknowledgment and action to the data that has been leaked to find out who did it and why it was done. That’s what I have done and am continuing to do. Once I get answers then I can make some informed statements and take further action. You should be doing the same thing and I can’t believe I am wasting time going through this with you.

    You have some chops, and you’ve some great accomplishments I’ll conceed that quite easily enough but you are also a master of the obvious as well and you generalize and that’s not good for someone that is supposed to draw accurate pictures from data recovered. You are not just debating this one issue, you are debating several when you should be focusing on one. So yes, I am frustrated. To use your phrase, I am trying to avoid fall out from this circus as I am sure, as a veteran of the water wars here that there will be fall out that will adversely touch everyone even if they had nothing to do with this.

    Now, unless you have a proposal that generates something positive, I don’t really think I’ve got much more to say to you on this. I have better things to do (like eat dinner)than defend myself from someone that doesn’t have anything to do with me.

    Have a pleasant evening.

    Regards,
    Greg Barron
    IA

  73. I’m watching the foul hooking of JR as I type this. I know this is a forum for scinence but what im seeing is Croc Hunter meets American Chopper!

    Shame on them and whoever gave them permits to do this! Ive never seen a more inept group of so called scientist in my life!

  74. I agree with you Matt,
    The project is sportfishing disguised as research, it reminds me of the ‘research whaling’. There is an ulterior motive (big game trophy fishing) to the ‘study’ which itself is replicative to previously conducted research.

    The juvenile white sharks have been being studied and tracked by at least two organizations (one is very well known aquaria) since the early 2000’s and the eastern pacific range is well established; there exists enough data to protect that region of their range already it is matter of galvanizing and supporting the existing study of sharks in the wild. Hooking and landing these protected species of sharks as if they were a striped bass (invasive species of sportfish) is completely sundry (self indulgent) to that effort.

    Meanwhile the tagging of adult white sharks via hook and long lining gear within a sanctuary is truly unbelievable, especially in light of the previous debacle whereby one of the sharks was hooked in the throat (hook left in animals throat). The later deteriorated condition of the shark triggered secondary controversies as the ‘sanctuary’ official have approved of the effort.

    As with the juvenile white sharks in Southern California, the adult sharks at Farallones are already being studied with astounding successes. The long term monitoring study at Farallones is being under-mined not only by the approval of the cumbersome and duplicate effort, the hook and line project not only injures the study subject but chases them from the sanctuary thereby affecting the entire study. The carrying capacity of the site should be taken into account. I will be attending the next GFNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting and taking this issue to task.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning industry/fisheries in CA)!

  75. Greg Barron,
    I asked you a specific question regarding your assertion below and you did not answer it. Instead you made an insinuation and then ducked the question.

    Greg wrote:
    ‘Cause it was wild west out there with no holds barred up till the late 90′s and early 2000′s with lots of researchers and private boats and divers and fishing boats doing pretty much whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses up to and including hitting animals with boats.’

    The above statement by Greg is misleading and inaccurate, white sharks have been a protected species since mid 1990s. Since then ALL researchers operating at Farallones have been required to have research permits including letters of authorizations to work with white sharks which are a protected species. Because the long term resident research teams (i speak only for PSRF but facts are facts) at Año Nuevo Island and Farallones use small portions of marine mammal as bait in conjunction with their lures method for tagging sharks, researchers also require additional authorizations for that.

    When white sharks became fully protected in California and the Sanctuaries at Año Nuevo Island and Farallones Islands the two teams working those two site worked in ordered serenity until dive boats began to inundate and compete with resident team working there. The assertion that there were ‘lots of researchers’ up there doing ‘whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses’ is not at all accurate and I can accuse you (depending on your reply/response) of distorting issue and trying to maximize ‘murky waters’ on the matter. Fact is I can count the researchers operating at Farallones at that time on one hand, they were ALL permitted and under maximal scrutiny and pressure during that time. That was 10 years ago and I was nearly fined $21,000.oo for daring to use lures I had already been developing for a decade at that time.

    The only ones operating with no control or permits was the sport divers and cage diving boats which resisted the regulations at Farallones in the 2000s just as they resisted the regulations that were established in Monterey Bay sanctuary in the 1990s. Eventually the regs came through, the original sponsors (researchers) were both punished (intimidated) and absorbed by the establishment and now cage diving and sport-diver boats like yours work within a limited entry and regulated basis. Research pretty much flourished throughout the 2005 thru 2010 period; and then in 2009 all of a sudden its okay to fish for white sharks in the sanctuaries… if the protected species gets injured its okay… if the sharks disappear or return in a emaciated and deceased condition… it’s coincidental… and good data!!! ( some may say the sharks have lost weigh and look slim…)..

    So, my point is that the researchers at the Año Nuevo Island and Farallones Islands are both (coincidentally) original sponsors of white shark protected status in California and its sanctuaries and have always worked under permit and under great scrutiny, pressures and its many consequences.

    I dont know what to make of your allegation about hitting animals with boats… that is a new one.

    Meanwhile, we now have sportfishing for ‘vulnerable’ white shark pups in Southern California and long lining for adult white sharks in the sanctuaries.

    ‘Shark Men’ scout out shark nursery FYI:

    My team (PSRF) was the first to scout out that particular site back in 2004. We tagged/tracked two juvenile white
    sharks our fist effort right outside Lifeguard Tower #7 off of Will Rogers State Beach; we used helicopters to locate the sharks and then i used lures to tag the sharks, didnt have to hook them or anything. The pups need to be left alone as much as possible.

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-may/modified1.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-may/modified2.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-may/modified3.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-may/modified4.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/dcp_2540.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/kabc_3.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/dcp_2601.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/kabc_1.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/kabc_4.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/white_shark_02.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/white_shark_03.jpg

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/2004-june/dcp_2566.jpg

    None of the information generated in this latest program “Sharkmen” is new, rather it reminds me of a celebrity sportfishing excursion whereby they happen to be
    targeting protected species. These little sharks can be easily tagged (as we demonstrated) without hooking them, or even capturing them for that matter.

    That was the whole point of our demonstration was that these juvenile white sharks need not be hooked or ‘accidentally’ netted by hired commercial fishing boats etc..

    Our effort and data was largely snob/snubbed over and it’s funny to now see another big money interest come through and finagle an angle to sportfish for them in order to study them.

    I just thought Id mention that.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  76. Sean, thank you for shedding some much needed sane light onto this situation. I am not a trained scientist, but have been studying white sharks in scientific literature for over 20 years now, and my first thought when I saw season 1 last year was, “There is really nothing new here about what these guys are finding, and this sure seems like an invasive study for such largely redundant information.”

    And I also agree with Matt. I watched the new season premiere last night as well, and the program did make these guys seem like a bunch of bumbling idiots, that’s for sure.

    A crew of 30 who had done this 15 times already failed to grab the correct hook and line when the pressure was on, directly contributing to Junior’s foul-hooking.

    Again, out of a crew of 30, not a single person remembered that the gate wasn’t latched on until it was too late, which contributes to additional unneeded stress on Junior.

    Even Dr. Domeier seemed ill-prepared. As the rest of the crew is bringing Junior in, Dr. Domeier is seen nervously scrambling at the last minute to make sure he has all the correct equipment ready to go in his knap-sack. Shouldn’t this have been prepared, then double, triple and quadruple checked way beforehand? I would have prepared at least 3 or 4 of these pouches earlier, triple checked them and had them ready and easily accessible for a “grab and go”, fully confident that I had done all of the needed preparation work beforehand.

    I mean, come on, did these guys spend the night before too busy mugging it up for the camera to be sufficiently prepared for their duties? It sure looked like it.

    All I know is, if I showed up for work and made as many obvious mistakes as these guys made, I wouldn’t have a job to go to the next morning.

    It’s a shame the sharks have paid and will continue to pay the price for a bunch of ill-prepared experts seemingly more interested in fame, image and being seen as “pioneers” than in the genuine welfare of the individual sharks and the species as a whole.

    And as for members of the research team, and Dr. Domeier, in particular, being reluctant to own up to and respond to public criticism of their work due to some misguided idea that they are only accountable to their peers:

    NEWSFLASH GUYS — No one held you down and forced you to make a nationally and internationally distributed television show. You don’t get to enjoy the perks of that (fame, money), all the while hiding from criticism behind some fictitious shield of peer review. You voluntarily elected to put yourselves and your work out their for mass public consumption. By doing so, you also voluntarily open yourselves up for any criticism that comes along with it. If you weren’t prepared to handle it, you should’ve never stepped up to the plate to begin with.

  77. Thanks Lane, that is a very good assessment.

    Meanwhile, resident long term researchers are both pressured about their non-invasive methods but have been threatened in the past with $21,000 fines and have been prevented from accommodating conservationist minded documentary producers for the past several years!!! The actual researchersconservationists have NOT ALLOWED to be on TV since 2005.

    What exactly is going on? Aside from manipulations and coercion by the establishment? These sharks should not be having sport fisherman targeting them and the resident researchers should be allowed to accommodate documentary film teams as was the care up until 2005.

    This is not about competition so much as it is about TRUTH and honesty as well as conservation.

    I want answers,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  78. “Greg Barron,
    I asked you a specific question regarding your assertion below and you did not answer it. Instead you made an insinuation and then ducked the question.”

    I was trying to keep you on topic. I really didn’t think it was worth the effort. Verbal sparring with you is like getting food poisoning, you eat one thing and it comes out a whole different thing from all the wrong places and in all the wrong forms.
    But to make you happy, here it is below. Your 2 questions and my answers and observations to them.

    “Greg wrote:
    ‘Cause it was wild west out there with no holds barred up till the late 90′s and early 2000′s with lots of researchers and private boats and divers and fishing boats doing pretty much whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses up to and including hitting animals with boats.’”

    “The above statement by Greg is misleading and inaccurate, white sharks have been a protected species since mid 1990s. Since then ALL researchers operating at Farallones have been required to have research permits including letters of authorizations to work with white sharks which are a protected species. Because the long term resident research teams (i speak only for PSRF but facts are facts) at Año Nuevo Island and Farallones use small portions of marine mammal as bait in conjunction with their lures method for tagging sharks, researchers also require additional authorizations for that.”

    No insinuation. You are twisting the truth to suit your story or multiple stories as the cases may be. You keep moving the story around and do not stay on topic for more than one or two paragraphs. My statement is neither misleading or inaccurate. In fact it is an accurate description of events at the location and anyone that wants to spend a few hours doing research, you do know about research don’t you? It’s your proffession after all. Anyone doing some rudimentary research can confirm these things. But here’s some back ground that is indisputable. Not that many recreational boats went to th islands back then. Even now, the number of boats that visit the island is limited. The place is 28 miles from shore, difficult to get to and a poor anchorage at best. Not an easy destination sometimes even with the right vessel and a good captain. The reality is that people don’t run their bay boats out there unless they really knew what they are doing, didn’t in the 80’s and 90’s, don’t now. What’s more, at that time, GPS was not standard, getting lost going or coming was a real concern, Fog is a bitch. Commercial boats went to get fish because at that time there was a thriving fishing fleet in SF, not the case any longer. So, the fact is that not many people went there back then, let alone now.

    Your complaint now is the same old tired chestnut that was cast out unsupported then, and in fact then as it is now, is still incorrect and unsupported. There was no inundation of cage boats then as there is no inundation now. The contention is laughable and rediculous. There has never been more than 2 functional cage operations running consistantly at the islands at any one time. If there were more then please name them. Even if you get 3, they were then, and they are now, outnumbered by the researchers and their vessels on most any given day. PRBO uses the Bayliss and skiff, NOAA has the Fulmar and the other big new cat. Monterey/Stanford uses the Bayliss and it’s skiff as well and two other vessels that I saw this season and last not to mention the myriad numbr of support craft I have observed in operations over the last 6 years working there. You can have a look at my logs if you want confirmation, I usually name them, cite their arrivals and departures, note the type vessel and tend to watch. I offer those self same logs to every other researcher I meet but to date none of them want to look, I don’t expect you to be any different. The Island has it’s inflatable and various hired fishing vessels used as transport to and from the island as well as work boats to service the moorings and buoys such as White Holly and various other work boats. Pyle and Klimley had their own modes of transport back then. (Klimley, you forgot to mention the god father of WS research. He was there). Domeier had Ocean and it’s two tenders. All of the research vessels are mostly underway the majority of the time at the island whereas the the cage boats tend to sit on a hook and watch. One of those now is mobile enough to pull hook and motor, the other sits and stays in place. Which causes more disturbance? An anchored vessel or an underway vessel? Underway vessels. Even you can’t argue that question.

    Yes, Facts are facts. Here are more facts. The operational cage boats at SE Farallon were 2 companies back then. The Oceanic boat operated by Mick and the GGE boat operated by Lawrence and latter run by Mick for him. There may or may not have been a 3rd but I can’t find reference to it. In fact, since you want facts, the letter http://www.prbo.org/cms/173#petition sent by 2 of the PRBO researchers in July of 2001, Scot and Peter (whom you have mentioned) that referred to the 1999 and 2000 season have only 2 boats by name in those entire 2 seasons. Not an inundation. I assert that any other boats out there were private vessels or commercial fishing boats or commercial whale watch boats, and unstoppable by anyone and could do whatever they wanted regardless of whether you or anyone else liked it. Commercial fishing vessels, commercial abalone or urchin vessels and other private vessels. Nothing more than the usual assortment of vessels normally found out there at any point in the fishing and working seasons that come and go. If you think there were more boats then you prove it. Break out Scot’s observations. Either way, as long as those boats operated under the guidelines set by DFG or Feds for fishing or discharge or marine mammals they could do as they pleased… So, Wild West. Yippie Ki Yay.
    Another fact, by your own proud admission you yourself did something with a decoy that was unsanctioned by your research peers and got you in hot water. The reason your fine was dropped? Probably because there was no enforcable rule governing the Farallones for ANYONE, researchers included and you could have dragged a submarine behind your boat and said you were fishing for kracken. I speculate but you can expound and fill us in with what exactly you did and why it went away. And if there were rules, DFG was not there to enforce Them. Ever. No funding, too few wardens. Up until 2009 and the MLPA there were no LAWS governing how activities at the Island were conducted other than the Marine Mammal Act and the listing of the White Shark as endangered. Which didn’t limit private people from doing what they wanted for the most part. And which is why you researchers needed permits, so you could harvest blubber from pinnipeds and whales and dangle it in front of white sharks and play with endangered species to try and learn things about them.
    Yes, Whites have been protected since the mid 90’s but that is irrelevant to this discussion. Why is it irrelevant? Because up until 2009 ONLY researchers needed to have permits to operate at the islands (see above), where the sharks are, including Ano Nuevo. Anyone else and I do mean anyone could do pretty much whatever they wanted. And did. Hence, again WILD WEST. There, are you happy, I responded to your Wild West quibble and wasted the better part of an hour doing it. That you lobbied to have controls established for cage diving at the Farallones is laudable but how’s this, If I, or anyone go out with a boat load of divers and no cage, I don’t need a permit to anchor and dive the open areas of the sanctuary. Anyone can still do that.
    More accurate fact for you. There were NO protocals in place for White Shark cage operations by LAW or anything else and YOU KNOW THAT. That makes your complaints about the inundation of cage boats irrelevant. In fact, the protocals later used by the cage boats were the ones delevoped and used for whale watching by whale eco tour boats by the Oceanic Society and were finally voluntarily adopted by the cage operators starting around 2003-2005 probably due to the fact that Mick worked the Oceanic boats. Mich by the way was the only boat working out there for the beginning of the early 2000’s. But going back, the key word there is, VOLUNTARY. They were not required to do so but due to changing times and new input, did. Where as researchers had to have permits. Same as now with the only difference now? Cage boats also now need to have a permit.

    You asked who the resarchers were? Again, I don’t need to discuss the indiviuals, some of whom I admire no small amount, some of whom have an impressive list of acomplishments and some of which I don’t much care for but will conceed, like you, have an impressive list of stuff under their belts. For me, who did what (other that release the Junior images) and who did or didn’t get political and work deals or act against policy or make gains by granting access to the island or was pissed on by their peers or was excluded or did whatever is not the point here and I say it again. No insinuation about how things were. They were. I shouldn’t have to tell you who these people are or their actions since you seem to have a pretty good grasp of those particulars. Unless of course you want for me to out the shennanigans of the last 20 years because you’re afraid to for fear of retailiation. Which I might add is a real fear. You keep screaming that researchers are “intimidated”, are coerced, “almost got fined”, are unfairly required to get permits and are theatened with sanctions if they don’t toe the line, have to play by unfair rules, have to navigate the rough waters of corporate contribution, don’t play fair, have huge egos, “sandbagged by the establishment”, some get to do something others don’t (Domeier hooking)and tend to be self promoting. Not the issue at hand, my issue was and is the suspicious release of the Junior images. That I have to keep correcting your incorrect statements with facts is troubling since you should know fact as fact and not manipulate or take out of context. You’re a scientist dude! Own up.

    On with more of your last missive.

    “When white sharks became fully protected in California and the Sanctuaries at Año Nuevo Island and Farallones Islands the two teams working those two site worked in ordered serenity until dive boats began to inundate”

    Inundate? Really? You said Inundate. 2 boats. Inundate. Really. Websters defines inundate as “1 To cover with water: overflow. 2 To overwhelm with or as if with a flood: swamp.
    So, inundate? We’ll get back to that…

    “and compete with resident team working there. The assertion that there were ‘lots of researchers’ up there doing ‘whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses’ is not at all accurate and I can accuse you (depending on your reply/response) of distorting issue and trying to maximize ‘murky waters’ on the matter.”

    Uh huh, again you take stuff out of context and use a sentence fragment selectively cropped to your purpose. Tricky Sean, but anyone can see through that if they read the full sentence. Here’s the full sentence, “‘Cause it was wild west out there with no holds barred up till the late 90′s and early 2000′s with lots of researchers and private boats and divers and fishing boats doing pretty much whatever they wanted to do with no consequenses up to and including hitting animals with boats.’”
    The full sentence included EVERYONE out there doing pretty much what ever they wanted including you, the guy that got spanked for dragging a decoy…

    Maximize murky waters? PUH-Lease. I certainly don’t need to murk up any water, you guys did that all by your selves. I’m here to try and put a stop to that kind of behavior. The history is the history, you can’t rewrite it though you seem to be trying quite hard to do so. Accuse all you want. If it was 5 to 10 people and yes there were that many, pick up the published books on White Sharks and see how many people get cited as contributing out there. More than one hand count there?

    “Fact is I can count the researchers operating at Farallones at that time on one hand, they were ALL permitted”

    Good for them, I hope they were permitted since they were REQUIRED to be.

    “and under maximal scrutiny and pressure during that time.

    Did you read Devil’s Teeth? Susan Casey’s book about how things were out there? Seemed maybe some folks weren’t under that much scrutiny.

    “That was 10 years ago and I was nearly fined $21,000.oo for daring to use lures I had already been developing for a decade at that time.”

    Oops, you were a bad man, doing something that you weren’t supposed to do… Your peers didn’t like that. I see a parallel in Domeier and you there Sean. He’s done it, you don’t like it. Wah.

    “The only ones operating with no control or permits was the sport divers”

    Uh, sport divers didn’t use cages Sean and certainly didn’t need a permit, they swan with scuba or hookah and were recreational divers hunting or fishing and had nothing to do with cage diving or White Sharks and were in fact bitten by White Sharks on more than one occasion. Check with Ralph on that one.

    “and cage diving boats”
    Uh, plural? How many boats please? They have permits now. I helped with that part. You can’t argue with me there. I was involved.

    “which resisted the regulations at Farallones in the 2000s” just as they resisted the regulations that were established in”

    Define they please as I was operating one of the ONLY TWO boats sailing in the 2000’s and I certainly didn’t resist and in fact helped establish said regulations and am quite proud of that FACT.

    “Monterey Bay sanctuary in the 1990s.”

    The Farallones have nothing to do with the Monterey Bay.

    And now you get back to railing against Domeier which is quite counter productive at this point, it’s done.

    “Eventually the regs came through, the original sponsors (researchers) were both punished (intimidated) and absorbed by the establishment and now cage diving and sport-diver boats like yours work within a limited entry and regulated basis. Research pretty much flourished throughout the 2005 thru 2010 period; and then in 2009 all of a sudden its okay to fish for white sharks in the sanctuaries…

    Seems it’s still flourishing to me. All the competing camps are working together under one umbrlla. Unprecedented. Dude, if you want to postulate on the fate of Junior without any cooroborating evidence or data that Domeier caused this then that’s all you. Doesn’t seem like responsible science to me though. But I’m no scientist so what do I know right? All those facts and possiblities just get in the way of you science folks I guess. whatever. As for me, I know that there are other possiblities which is what this whole issue is about. The release of data in a suspicious manner. Not about whether Domeier should or should not be doing what he’s doing. But rather about the foul play even you say exists in yout vaunted academic halls of learning. Feet of clay. It goes back to your rants on the unfairness of it all in your little community. You’re right. It ain’t fair.

    “if the protected species gets injured its okay…”

    Talk to Maria Brown Sean. Talk to NOAA Sean. But don’t scientists usually kill their specimens when they collect them? Usually? Granted this is an unusual case.

    “if the sharks disappear or return in a emaciated and deceased condition… it’s coincidental… and good data!!! ( some may say the sharks have lost weigh and look slim…)..”

    I can do sarcasm Sean, you ain’t so good at it apparently. Don’t they come to the Farallones to eat? Isn’t that the point? Hasn’t it been documented that sharks lose weight regularly? Uh, it has because I’ve seen the presentations at GFNMS. They come to feed and fatten up for their migration right? Not that they don’t feed elsewhere too but this place is special right?
    Wait! Did you just say they return in an emaciated and DECEASED condition? So they come back dead? Wow, I dig zombies! Check it out! Island of the Living Dead White Sharks! Like I said, try and avoid sarcasm. You ain’t real good at it.

    More from you Sean!

    “So, my point is that the researchers at the Año Nuevo Island and Farallones Islands are both (coincidentally) original sponsors of white shark protected status in California and its sanctuaries and have always worked under permit and under great scrutiny, pressures and its many consequences.”

    Good for you and for them. And you get permission to do your studies. Just like Domeier did. Now since your point changed yet again, cause it seems to me that it started with you wanting me to talk about the wild west conditions that prevailed at SE Farallon in the 90’s and early 2000’s and my insinuation that apparently I was deliberately tying to make murkey water. I’ll end with this little tid bit that you don’t know about because you were working at Ano Nuevo and Monterey rather than SE Farallon and don’t know it all as you profess cause other than fishing there as a kid you didn’t go or work there. Or am I misquoting your comment from way up the thread? It’s possible, but I wouldn’t do that, not on purpose anyway. Like you seem to do.

    “I dont know what to make of your allegation about hitting animals with boats… that is a new one.”

    Ask Scot. Ask GWA / Lawrence or Patrick Douglas. Let them fill you in. I really don’t wanna get in between them.

    Greg Barron
    IA

  79. Greg,
    I cant decide whether you have panicked and lost your wits, or if you are attempting to kill the conversation via filibuster; — you’ll not carry this debate on word count alone.

    You spirt words and insinuations like a squid squirts ink.

    Your accusations that researchers were out at Farallones is confused at best and dishonest at worst.

    There is has only ever been one boat conducting tagging at Farallones and its been with the same resident long term researcher for the past 2 decades; all of the many successful scientists and coauthors assigned to the avalanche of data have worked under the ‘guidance’ of one or two veteran researchers. The base boat and small tagging skiff is the only shark research presence out at Farallones and that is in keeping with the carrying capacity of the site and associated long term monitoring programs.

    In the late 1990’s boats began to inundate the Farallones, dive boats, at least two commercial cage boats, various sundry ‘sport boats’ and others. It became a major problem as the resident researchers and wildlife and whale watching boats were being crowded and even competed with by newly arrived interests and user groups. It was the catalyst to 19 public working groups held throughout the central and northern California region. Here is a newspaper article attempting to detail the mayhem that was abruptly besieging the once quiet and remote research and wildlife tourism destination.

    http://www.pelagic.org/overview/sfchron_050701.html

    I would like to thanks SFS readership for taking time to educating themselves on this robust topic and allowing me to dismantle the many distortions deployed by various user and interests and stake holders (re white shark conservation and environmental protection).

    It seems that Greg Barron wants to question the hook and line method and injurious transmitter while at the same time accuse and shame the resident long term researchers at Farallones for daring to capture the image (evidence) in 2010 that documents the results of the 2009 hook and line debacle.

    The resident researchers who documented the injured and diminished condition of the shark are not the ones who released the image to the public. It must have leaked out through Stanford or California Dept of Fish and Game, possibly even NOAA staffers who are no longer convinced with the script/casting (speculative on my part).

    The resident long term researchers (original sponsors of white shark protected status in California and its sanctuaries) need to be left alone so they can do their jobs; moreover, other visiting researchers should not undertake research that chases, injures or otherwise cause the sharks to flee the site; this is an impact on both wildlife and ongoing studies.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  80. Are you on drugs? Have you lost your senses? Are you in therapy or a straightjacket? Listen up bubba. My assertions are not only fact, they are backed up by references and data. No confusion and no dishonesty. You asked for names, I gave you names. You asked for dates, I gave you dates. You asked for vessels, I gave you vessels. Check Klimley and Collier among others, both cite names of researchers at the islands then and now. Including you at Ano Nuevo.

    as to you complaining about my high word count. You wanted proofs. Unfortunately that meant I had to use words. So, high word count. I gave you supported documentation and what’s more I am an eyewitness. I have been on station at SE Farallon every shark season there for the last 6 years whereas by your own admission you have not been. You don’t know what you are talking about or are deliberately stirring this issue up for your own ends.

    Next, nice Chron article you linked in. It pretty clearly supports my story so far up to and including an eyewitness stating he saw Scot hit a shark at the island with his boat. So, the researchers sometimes make mistakes too.

    It also names the feuding parties, still feuding today I might add, quite clearly.

    Further. Why you keep saying I support the Domeier catch method is nutty. So, I’ll say it loud for you since you seem deaf or can’t read. I DO NOT SUPPORT THE METHODS EMPLOYEED IN TAGGING THE ANIMALS. NEVER DID AND DO NOT NOW. Got it Dumbass?

    What’s more, why you keep supporting some folks that used you and threw you away makes me wonder.

    http://www.pelagic.org/overview/nuz-0406.html

    If you’ve noticed, the SFS folks haven’t chimed in lately. Most likely because this thread isn’t productive any longer and you are consistantly abusive and do not add new developements and keep stating how you don’t support the method either. Get your researcher buddies to add something new as they are strangley quiet on the topic. Anyone that wants to add an opinion at this point one way or another would be good including the moderators please.

    Greg Barron
    IA

    • The moderators are happy when people use the “reply” button, thus creating easy to follow threaded conversations. Otherwise, I have nothing to add beyond my last comment, but to remind those involved to adhere to the spirit of Wayne Booth…

      “Intellectual understanding is one of the best versions of the Golden Rule: Listen to others as you would have others listen to you. Precise demonstration of truth is important but not as important communal pursuit of it. Put in terms of Kant’s categorical imperative, When addressing someone else’s ideas, your obligation is to treat them as you believe all human being ought to treat on another’s ideas.”

      …and take a gander at the comments policy.

  81. Greg Barron wrote:
    ‘Further. Why you keep saying I support the Domeier catch method is nutty. So, I’ll say it loud for you since you seem deaf or can’t read. I DO NOT SUPPORT THE METHODS EMPLOYEED IN TAGGING THE ANIMALS. NEVER DID AND DO NOT NOW. Got it Dumbass?’

    Greg,
    I never said you were in support of Domeier’s hook and line method, -I said that you seemed to try and play both ends of the debate by questioning Domeier’s hook and line method and injurious tags while at the same time trying to blame the resident long term researchers ( the actual and original sponsors of white shark protected status in California) for documenting and photo ID’ing the shark in 2010 that was so badly handled by Domeier’s methods.

    My actual comments are included below for readership convenience.

    Sean wrote: ‘It seems that Greg Barron wants to question the hook and line method and injurious transmitter while at the same time accuse and shame the resident long term researchers at Farallones for daring to capture the image (evidence) in 2010 that documents the results of the 2009 hook and line debacle.’

    I had earlier commented that the logic used to support, justify and/or endorse the hook and line method for white shark conservation research was similar weak sauce justifications offered by Japanese ‘Research Whaling’ interests… Mr Greg Barron moved for a feable ankle lock with the distortion that I was accusing him of endorsing whaling, or being Japanese or being a whaler, I cant remember I dont pay a lot of attention to Greg Barron, he’s only been around for about 5 years, maybe six according to what he says. Anyway, I affably wanted to point out that what Mr Greg Barron asserts isnt always in keeping with the facts and reiterate that his lack of advocacy skill are just killing this conversation.

    The desperate allegation that any researchers have ever run over a shark or any other wildlife is just completely fabricated; this in effort to get back at the hard working conservation researchers who are simply trying to conduct wildlife research.

    There has never been more than one taggig boat (plus the support boat which is anchored) working at Farallones with the sharks, the list of scientists have been impressive; up until the invasive Domeier study there has never been two teams working on the same sharks at the same time. Not that it couldnt or shouldnt happen, new projects shouldnt be super-imposed over another pre-existing and extent project; nor should a visiting project/team conduct their research in a way that chases the sharks from the site or have them return all murphed up and looking half dead.

    I am glad that the regulations we worked so hard for regarding shark sport diving at Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary were successfully established despite all the resistance. I dont think that should distract us from the topic at hand which is regarding the use of hook and line method within a supposed wildlife sanctuary that targets a protected species, and the fact that the shark that reappeared is looking really bad.

    Thanks again fpr the SFS readerships patience in reading through these most recent exchanges between myself and Mr Greg Barron.

    I see no reason or angle from which to reproach, accuse or blame the resident long term research team working at SE Farallones. They are innocent and just doing their research.

    Affably,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  82. By the way this happens to be the SAME SVS who was fined $21,000 by NOAA for dragging “exact duplicates” of Namibian Cape Fur Seals through a protected marine sanctuary to entice white sharks to attack the decoys.

    Problem is on the west coast of the USA there are no Cape Fur Seals so this televised experiment was deemed to be junk science.

    Sean is a television production fraud who is complaining about another production fraud…oh, the pathos, the irony.

    For your review and entertainment.

    http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/news/Shark.final.pdf

  83. anonymous author wrote:
    ‘By the way this happens to be the SAME SVS who was fined $21,000 by NOAA for dragging “exact duplicates” of Namibian Cape Fur Seals through a protected marine sanctuary to entice white sharks to attack the decoys.’

    Actually the $21,000.oo fine was dropped, we went back to work and the program went on to be an award winning Discovery Channel documentary which is still highly regarded as excellent educational film.

    One of the lures was a realistic research lure in the form of a generic pinniped decoy complete with class eyes and whiskers and underwater camera unit. The California designed and constructed lure is towed at low speed in order to replicate the movement and speed of live seal or sealion. The lure was used in California and Africa and then the team traveled to Australia and successfully documented white shark behaviors. The lure type is now standard issue in the NOAA controlled sanctuaries.

    http://www.pelagic.org/archive/DSLIDE3/slide60.jpg

    The lures are used to for tagging and photo ID work.

    http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/36665-jaws-of-the-pacific-ano-nuevo-shark-study-video.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mcPveOt4Jk

    http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/6807-shark-week-shark-tagging-explained-video.htm

    http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/great-white-shark-uncaged-saving-the-sharks.html

    http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/36670-jaws-of-the-pacific-satellites-for-sharks-video.htm

    I can be contact at [email protected] if anyone would like to have more information about the matter described in the outdated press release provided by the anonymous writer. It’s clear they now want to damage my reputation with false allegations about paying $21,000 fines etc. It remarkable however that I was targeted for simply using an innovative lure whereas Domeier uses huge barbed hooks and somehow that was okay, even something to be defended; and funded. Really a shame that such mis-managements have been allowed to occur.

    Mahalo,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  84. Yes Sean it was dropped on a technicality, everyone knows how you dodged that bullet, not on the merits of the lengthy investigation by NOAA, but a small clerical issue which you exploited to save your skin.

    You have the dubious distinction of being the ONLY person in the USA to be fined for $21,000 for misuse and abuse of white shark permits while filming sharks for a television show.

    So like Dr.D you have a long history of Pelgaic Shark Research Foundation film productions masquerading as bogus science. It’s well documented.

    For others who have not read the NOAA $21,000 citation from 2003 here it is.

    http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/news/Shark.final.pdf

  85. The ignoramus who wrote the above assertion while directing the readership to an outdated, pre-settlement press release that is loaded with propaganda written by particular individuals within the NOAA matrix (who do great dishonor to NOAA, paper shredding crooks and spooks) who were later corrected; the $21,000.oo fine was dropped. The above assertions are clearly insulting lies. We prevailed in that case and in regards to another case whereby data was stolen from PSRF and misrepresented in Nature Journal, the failed attempt to fine is $21,000 was in retaliation for our success in that case. What is interesting to see and read is how certain member of the establishment went to great lengths to pretend to be concerned about the already approved use of a lure in 2001 that is now standard issue at all sanctuaries, thank you; I pioneered that lure and tagging method. AND I was NEVER FINED $21,000 so we maintain a perfect safety and operations record; the “technicality” we used was– the truth.

    Meanwhile it’s permissible to fish for them.

    If that is my opponents best shot he needs to swap out his spotter and wipe down his lenses, couldnt hit the inside of a barn if they were locked inside!!!

    The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation is for real:
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2008/06/27/rusk.giant.squid.KGO

    I caught your ‘fraud’ right here… I catch em everytime:

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  86. Holy cow, I have just scanned through the past posts and as usual, it seems to tumble down to the level of ego and personal attacks.

    Unfortunately, I have not seen the new white shark assault season but if its the same as the last episodes of hooking, traumatizing, injuring, mishandling and disrespecting the animals, then my opinions remain the same.

    This is Hollywood science and anyone who has a history in the white shark arena, will know exactly what I am talking about. I have seen only one episode which upset me and from that one episode, let me make several points again.

    1. Hooking large sharks is antiquated as it is easy to live capture them. There will be stress but absolutely no injury and where a hooking can take hours to subdue an animal, live capture takes minutes.

    2. We extracted blood from free swimming and unstressed white sharks in order to examine possible leptin levels, blood gasses, enzyme levels and possible hormone levels. We extracted from free swimming animals in order not to have ‘stressed blood’. If you know what you are doing, its not that hard.

    3. What right do these guys have to go out there and beat the hell out of these sharks? These are beautiful animals with dignity and all this is robbed away when these guys subject them to the brutality of their antiquated methods. These sharks do not belong to this outfit. They are our sharks so who gives them the right to place these animals at such high risk.

    4. For years we and others have been trying to develop sympathy for the devil and to do this, we show these animals as animals, as incredible creatures doing their best to survive. These guys simply show them as things to hook and injure. The fact is that they have done nothing new. Monster shark fishermen have been hooking and killing sharks for decades and now, in many parts of the world, this practice is frowned upon. Suddenly, ‘scientists’ are doing monster shark fishing and because its under the guise of science, its OK. Please educate me.

    5. I have three boys. 11, 13, 15 and they have grown up around sharks. They have been taught how to professionally handle sharks with respect. They have been taught to respect the environment and the entities which make up this environment. They were horrified to see what these guys on shark men were doing to the sharks.

    6. I exaggerate not, when I say that 50 individuals and more who know nothing about sharks, have come to me and expressed their concern and disapproval of the shark men methods.

    7. It was fashionable to burn beautiful woman at the stake at one time in history but that no longer occurs. It was fashionable to hook and kill sharks in the past but that no longer exists.

    Hooking those sharks is simply wrong and to attempt to justify it, is a clear indication of ignorance. To justify this practice is to show that you are not with the latest methods and to show that you are not a shark conservationist. In fact, I feel that if you try to justify hooking these sharks, you have no right to be near them.

    Craig.

  87. Avast thar Craig! How the devil are you mate?

    I concur with fully most of Craigs comments.

    I would like to under-score the fact that there already exists sufficient data to adequately plot the white sharks annual movements and seasonal range within the Eastern Central Pacific; it is but a matter of processing those existing data sets and registering the white shark as an pan oceanic protected, no-take species. White sharks are already protected in California and this is one of the principle reasons that white sharks should not be targeted for harmful hook and line tagging methods.

    There is a negative difference between hook and line tagging of smaller sharks/fishes and trying the same method with multi-ton, lamnathermic (hot blooded) macro apex predatory sharks.

    That such and expedition was permitted within a wildlife sanctuary where there was already an ongoing and extent (and highly successful) study in place is likewise both alarming and pernicious.

    The hook and line method is harmful and the SPOT transmitters are damaging the sharks fins in the long-term.

    Cordially,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  88. Hi Sean

    I’m all good thanks. I have no problem at all with science and of course, I champion it but this Nat Geo program blurs the lines between science, Hollywood and cruelty. If it was critical to obtain knowledge and there was simply no other way to obtain this ‘do or die’ knowledge, then I would reluctantly agree to the methods employed.

    The fact is that it is absolutely not necessary to hook these sharks. There are far better and more efficient ways to do the same work. Also, I have been around shark docos long enough to read between the lines and the shark men thing is more about entertainment than science.

    There is just no way in hell anyone is going to convince me otherwise. If these guys are genuine about the integrity of those animals and the importance of the science, then why have they not dropped me a line to find out how they can do the same work without hooking and injuring those sharks? We have done it and its not rocket science. Its simply experience.

    Cheers

    Craig

  89. Hey Snot!

    The paper you referenced is is regarding excellent data gathered by pop up (tags the detach) attached with a lance.

    The SPOT tagging effort as being employed on the large white sharks in California are being attached via hooking the sharks and hauling them out of the water; was well the transmitters are being bolted onto the sharks dorsal fins where they eventually turn into debri, as well even while working the bolted on SPOT tags injure the fins of the sharks. All things considered it roughs up sharks while gathering largely redundant data. While of marginally higher resolution (to within 10 kilometers of each other) and periodic real time ‘ping’ it doesnt answer significantly change our understanding of where the sharks are going, moreover methods with which the tags are being attached are clearly affecting both the sharks behavior and their well being. Do no harm.

    ——————————————————-

    Craig Man! I agree with you that the Domeier team should have consulted more widely and most importantly should have worked under the guidance of the local naturalist and resident long term researcher there named Scot Anderson; he leads the effort out at SE Farallones and is one of the founders of that site and an original sponsor of white shark protected status in California and survivor of the last stand effort by Farallones researchers to get regulations established for the extreme sports enthusiasts cage divers and adventure pilgrims that were inundated Farallones during the late 1990s and resisting efforts to protect the sharks at Farallones just as they had fought tooth and nail against the regulations established in Monterey Bay (Iwo Nuevo Island) which were finally established in late 1990’s via Surfrider Foundation (Santa Cruz Chapter) law-suit.

    First off these large reproductive ‘heavy class’ white sharks should not be hooked, especially in he the sanctuaries; the devices are also harmful. With smaller sharks and fishes there is as much as 30% mortality rate associated with hook and line tagging; not good, not needed.

    Furthermore (dig this) the hook and line effort is also stupid when one considers that purse seine or bag nets are used to capture whale sharks for captive display without injury, the sharks then die in captivity and so that isnt something I support but in terms of simply capturing the larger species of sharks large nets which can bag and hold the shark at the surface at shallow depth works. The Japanese say its like scooping up gigantic coy goldfish; no blood, the shark struggles mightily at the surface, displacing much water but eventually slow up and lay there still enough for crew to secure it and lift it on soft hammock for transport to aquariums in Okinawa and even Georgia. The sharks tend to die within years of being captured but that is another issue for which I am unpopular for bring up at gatherings of the ‘minds’… hope you mind..

    Meanwhile, we have protected sharks being fished for in California in order to reenact what is already under-way.

    The other thing is that people are claiming to be tracking the sharks and then discerning behavior like feeding, mating, pupping etc… BS!!! unless you go there and document the ‘behavior’ all we get is position and movement, ambient water temperature, depth etc. We still have no idea what the deep diving oscillating movements mean. Up until 10 years ago allllll the eggheads thought that these sharks were coastal! I say sometimes slower, is faster.

    Good commentary and exchange Craig, fire and maneuver; keep up the good work and stay on the right side of all the smoke:
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=397_1302862255

    Look alive,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

    Support California Assembly Bill 376 –(shut down finning
    industry/fisheries in CA)!

  90. Hi Scot

    I have personally tagged several hundred white sharks and attached cameras to them and taken blood without capturing the animals. We call this free tagging and its very easy to do.

    The big issue for me is hooking, fighting, injuring and traumatizing the sharks when it is not necessary. White sharks can be live captured without hook and injury. The shark can then be held captive while the human work is taking place. The shark can then be released without any injury.

    I saw my first white shark when I was eleven and at age twelve, I hooked and boated my first and only white shark. From 1990 to 1997, I spent ten months per year at sea working at close range and from small boats with these sharks. This was seven days a week, month in and month out. Between 1998 and 2006, I spent about 50% of my time working with the sharks. We tagged them, tracked them, attached cameras, extracted tissue and blood over the years and we worked on about 50 doco.

    As such, I believe I have enough experience to judge whether a crew working with white sharks is proficient or not. From the program, shark men, I can honestly say that my impression of the crew is inexperience. I say this with all sincerely. That crew does not come across as an outfit which is experienced in working with white sharks properly. They may have all the right intentions but these is a correct manner and an incorrect manner to do things.

    The hook they use is way to large and lethal. It has the potential to mortally wound the animals and that’s besides the unnecessary injuries inflicted.

    A hooked white shark becomes a potential target for other large sharks in the vicinity.

    The hook method is laborious and subjects a shark to a lengthy capture process which is cruel, inefficient and potentially lethal to the animals.

    There is a system to capture the shark without a hook and without a possibility of injury. A large shark can be brought under control within minutes without any hooking. This alleviates all the potential threats to the animal. This is what they should rather be employing.

    As far as I am concerned, there is no justification in exposing these animals to the brutality of the systems employed by the shark men team. I believe we should have respect for our environment, which includes sharks and by hooking them and injuring them in this manner, is simply wrong.

    There is no reason to subject the sharks to the methods being used. When we work with these sharks, we even lay our boats side on to the sea so that the sharks do not sustain injury from the engine legs. We wrap or round the corners of our shark cages to avoid injury being inflicted on the sharks.

    Craig

  91. I must say, I am amazed at how long this thread has persisted. Before I go on, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed thus far.

    However, the forces of entropy which often plague online discussions are taking their toll, and the shear volume of content has taxed your loyal moderators. Therefore, from this point forward I will begin judiciously and indiscriminately applying rules 3 and 6 of the comments policy.

    Parroting on an online forum does nothing to further discussion. Comments that contain largely redundant content (or verbatim as the case may be) will be removed.

    Likewise, all comments will be cut off at 500 words, unless they are of exceptional quality (and the commenter hasn’t already made the same, or nearly the same, point already).

    I would remind everyone that resorting to insults and derogatory personal attacks, though not explicitly forbidden, make you look less like professionals and more like spoiled school children, and makes me wonder whether you are truly concerned about shark conservation and the wellbeing of the shark in question, or are just pissed off that someone else is playing in your sandbox.

  92. Interesting discussion for sure,
    I work at a different site entirely, my comments should not be likened to ‘sandbox’ territoriality or exercise; my comments are those of an experienced field researcher and an original sponsor of white shark protected status in California.

    Ive been jotting in while conducting phone business (on hold etc) and agree that the debate has legs. Sorry if at times my writing gets scattered, im multi-tasking.

    My participation and perspectives expressed on this thread are in no way representative of the researchers working at Farallones who documented the sharks injured condition in 2010. That the information about the sharks being hooked in throat and injured is likewise something that should not reflect upon the Farallon Island white shark researchers or the TOPP program; they have been warned to remain quiet and are just trying to conduct their research.

    The anonymous poster going by the name of ‘Scot’ is NOT one of the Farallone researchers and my commentary is independent of TOPP teams.

    Thanks again for your indulging us in this very interesting topic.

    Ciao,
    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

  93. Am I wrong, but didn’t they mention that the hook dissolves after a period of time?

  94. Hi Maggee,
    The oversized aggressively barbed hook does not dissolve quickly and is very harmful to the sharks.
    http://abcotv.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452295869e2012875ab04f7970c-pi

    If your are talking about a period of years or even decades then perhaps, meanwhile the hook above is not appropriate and lodged deep in the sharks throat in 2009.

    Cordially,
    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

  95. Sean R. Van Sommeran – I was more commenting on what was said during the Shark Men episode with Junior. They mentioned that the hook would eventually dissolve, and I guess I misunderstood it to mean quicker rather than not.

    • Hi Maggie,
      Much of what the program doesnt make sense.
      My comments were also regarding what was said on the ‘Shark Men’ episode with Junior. The hook was not well designed.

      http://www.bohemian.com/bohemian/03.30.11/news-1113.html

      The next Farallones (GFNMS–sanctuary) SAC meeting will be held on May 12 at Point Reyes. At 10:45am the contractor preparing the White Shark EA will give an update. The EA is for a new permit for 5 years of white shark research in Gulf of Farallones. There will be public comment following the presentation from 11:45 to 12:15. Please attend and voice your opposition to the harmful hook and line method and fin injuring devices.

      Thank you,
      Sean

      S.R. Van Sommeran
      Executive Director
      Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
      http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
      ~Now of facebook~
      Since 1990

  96. The story about hooks just ‘dissolving’ and falling out is just that, a story. Years back when we were looking into the effects of leaving hooks in sharks, we did testing on easily kept species such as spotted gulley and smooth hound sharks.

    We inserted hooks into their mouths in different places and what we found was this. Hooks in the lower jaw, and especially when the point extruded right through, did not seem to pose much of a problem so long as the hook did not impede the animals ability to feed.

    On the other hand, hooks into the upper jaw caused serious problems for the animals. The hooks would cause infection and severe swelling. The sharks would get to a point where they would become lethargic and simply lay on the tank floor. At this point we would remove the hook, lance the area is required and within a couple of days the sharks would recover. We never allowed any of the animals to expire but I am convinced that had we not removed the hooks from the infected animals, they would have perished.

    The exposed shank of a large hook will take a very long time to rust off but whatever section is embedded in the animal, will remain there indefinitely. It is always better to remove the hook if possible and always use a barb-less hook if you have to use a hook at all for tag and release.

    Craig

  97. The lance and lure method is the best method for attaching archival satellite transmitters and ultrasonic acoustic transmitters, I dont think the hook and line method is appropriate for protected species such as white sharks and the SPOT transmitters are not ready yet in terms of designing attachment AND jettison once the device no longer works. The devices damage the fins they way they are presently being bolted on as if attaching something to machinery instead of a living creature.

    Ciao,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

  98. Taken from Dr Domeier’s web site..
    http://www.marinecsi.org/

    “JUNIOR’S LATEST JOURNEY

    18 April 2011

    The movement pattern of the first male adult white shark tagged during our Farallon Island’s tagging expedition (as featured in the season 2 premier of Shark Men) has recently taken an unusual turn. This shark, named Junior, underwent a normal migration to offshore foraging ground during the winter of 2009-2010, after which he returned to the Farallon Islands in the summer/fall of 2010. This winter Junior again made his offshore migration, but in recent days he has done something we have never seen before, he began travelling east and has now gotten within 80 nautical miles of the California coast. This would not be unusual had it happened in the summer, but such a return to the coast in the winter has not been observed before. Whether this is a newly discovered white shark behavior or a consequence of a serious injury that was documented by TOPP researchers is not known. We will keep watching Junior’s migration pattern, looking for clues to this new situation.”

    Is it possible that the injury to Junior has left him unable to follow his normal migration pattern and being unable able to compete for food, he has done what many injured or sick animals do and go looking for food in places that they might not normmally show up?

  99. Domeier abandons tagging practice seen on “Shark Men” – Reports ‘the Dorsal Fin’.

    http://www.thedorsalfin.com/shark-news-stories/domeier-no-longer-using-tagging-practice-seen-on-shark-men/

    According to a report from MSNBC, Dr. Michael Domeier’s position in the debate over his (SPOT) tags is no longer tenable. The method as seen in National Geographic’s “Shark Men reality TV show has been demonstrated to be injuring the sharks fins.

    Not to mention the hook related injury, Chris Fischer called my mobile the other seeking leads on salmon sharks, he communicated to me that he and Dr Domeier are no longer working together and that Domeier is withholding data from Chris Fischer who invested huge sums of money to sponsor Domeier’s efforts.

    And so it goes,
    Sean

    S.R. Van Sommeran
    Executive Director
    Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
    http://www.pelagic.org/research/index.html
    ~Now of facebook~
    Since 1990

  100. My thought is, do we really need to do this to learn about sharks? Isn’t there another, less obtrusive way? And how much do we have to do it? Enough for an entire show about it? I’m all for studying sharks but sheesh. Seems more detrimental at times than helpful… this show doesn’t appeal to me AT ALL. It’s basically all sensationalized. All I hear is “OMG we have a shark! Look how dangerous this is ahhhhh! I’m so cool.” all the focus on the research is lost and its annoying.