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What kind of shark is this?

Discussion in 'Shark Forum!' started by hammet, May 15, 2018.

  1. RockiesFan

    RockiesFan Regular of the Pub

    Human arrogance at its finest.
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    The old adage about the pot and the kettle comes to mind...

  3. RockiesFan

    RockiesFan Regular of the Pub

    Nevermind. Have a good day.
  4. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami
    Generally speaking, while you may encounter sharks on a normal dive, it's going to be the luck of the draw and dependent on population density. It's also dependent on the species - I know a few locations where I can jump in without bait and have good odds of seeing Caribbean reef or lemon sharks. Getting a tiger or a great hammerhead, let alone three of each at once? Not so much. I don't do feeding dives for the macho factor; I do them to up the odds of seeing what I'm after. If it was just a matter of getting closer to species I would see anyway I wouldn't bother.

    Having done feeding dives (two daytrips - no liveaboards yet) at Tiger Beach twice I can say it's incredible. The first time we didn't get any tigers, hammers, or bulls but we had maybe 12-20 lemon sharks once the scent of the bait got going, plus a few runty Caribbean reef sharks. The lemons were, for lack of a better term, incredibly chill - they would be swimming around behind the boat in that crystal-clear Bahamas water and dropping in with them was just like taking a dip in the pool. The second trip, we turned up in the same area where two liveaboards had been anchored for several days and got at least three tigers and a great hammerhead - I was told the count was six and two, but that was what I managed to get in the frame all at once - plus the lemon mob and some reefies. I think in Jupiter on a baited dive my best day was chalking off five or six species in one day. The only non-baited dives I've done with that kind of sharkapalooza were in North Carolina with sandtigers and a passing dusky shark.

    As an aside to that, it's pretty common knowledge that some of the charters here in South Florida raising the most ruckus about feeding being disruptive and hazardous are the ones lining up to dive the sites after the shark-feeding boats have left. Draw your own conclusions there.

    As far as conservation education, it's instructive to look through the responses to this thread and in some other ones, like recent discussions about aggressive, non-baited behavior (including a fatal attack) at Cocos Island. As Dr. Gruber lectured us in our field course 13 years ago, sharks have a reputation as "death fish from hell" among much of the public and there's a not-insignificant subset of divers who would refuse to be in the same chunk of water with a shark, particularly examples like tigers or bulls. Having a fair bit of experience in a semi-controlled setting with those species, I've learned a bit in the last five years. Five years ago, being in a pack of lemon sharks would have spooked me. Two years later I was popping lionfish around the baiting sites knowing so long as I watched my back I wasn't going to be bothered much. With tigers, something like the original post is what happens when you let them get too close without checking them; if they nudge into something they may attempt to mouth it. On my second Tiger Beach trip the DM was in the habit of leaving his tank and BC on the bottom for backup while freediving; the tigers tried to jack it at least three times, twice while he was using the reg. There were two points where one bumped into a GoPro on a pole and did pretty much the same thing as in the video - gaped its mouth and then moved off. Can it go horribly wrong? Yes, but it's not a case of "the death fish is out to eat you."

    The other factor of interest I've found is getting to know individual sharks over a period of several years. Once you learn to tell them apart and note they have their own quirks and stories, they become more than just another fish. The tigers in Jupiter have been the ones I've focused the most on. We had Sophia briefly turn up this year; we first saw her in 2014, then she came back in 2015 and 2016, and last year she was missing. Given the fact that she had what looked like bite scars on her back and a mangled dorsal fin I had to wonder if she spent 2017 on "maternity leave" somewhere else. Behavior-wise she was a good-natured glutton; she'd chow down until you ran out of fish and wasn't aggressive. Her frequent companion Alice was a rambunctious handful; I didn't get the impression she was out to hurt anyone but she sure poked her face uncomfortably close to everyone. Our long-runner for a while has been DJenny; she hasn't been back yet this year but she was a regular from 2014-2017 and was the one tiger I was pretty damned sure was at least practicing her stalking skills on us. As far as lemons go there's the famed Snooty with her permanently distended jaw and Garbage Guts, the out-of-town winter visitor we watched extrude a fish stringer through his abdominal wall over the course of three seasons; one of the dive charter operators with Calypso helped write a scientific paper on the latter individual.

    The assertion that shark feeding is "ecologically unsound" comes under the heading of "post proof or retract." I'd like some specifics that "vast majority," because most shark biologists I know use bait to bring sharks in for research or use shark-feeding dive operators to assist them with their work, and to date I have not gotten an opinion that it is "ecologically unsound." Running the risk of injury to the participants, yes, but not disruptive to the environment. With the exception of our year-round lemons, the other species we usually see are seasonal; most of the year they aren't in town. If anything tiger sightings are way down this year; it seems like only one of our regulars really set up camp in the usual area this spring and he was a month or so late (he's also the only male in the bunch). Two other regulars were sighted for a day or two in the winter and then moved on; in previous years they would have been fixtures during the spring months. Evidently they're not tied to the buffet line.

    For an example of the benefits, I'll point to the last Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting we had in April. Last year, after we had a spate of dead sharks wash up in the wake of a statewide catch-and-release beach fishing competiton, the shark-diving community pushed to get the get the issue before the commissioners. They made the point that some of these species - tigers, hammerheads, lemons - are prohibited to harvest in Florida state waters, with the legal definition of harvest being to land the animal by removing it from the water or delay its release. A few people I know put in a lot of effort collecting evidence of violations and reporting them to the FWC over the past year. At the April meeting it came time for the public comment session and a total of 21 speakers went before the commissioners. Of them, 19 were in support of tighter regulations on beach fishing. Some were city mayors and some were beachgoers, but the dive community was the muscle behind that push and it worked - the commissioners voted to direct FWC staff to begin a rulemaking and public comment process that the shark-diving community will continue to engage in.
    Virtus_Semper, Saniflush and drrich2 like this.

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