Highly sought for their fins, meat, oil, teeth and cartilage, sharks have a high price on their heads. Demand for shark fins, lacking fishery management and virtually non-existing regulations for almost all shark trade are pushing many shark species to the brink of extinction.
The heat is on to give decimated shark populations the protections they deserve. And Project AWARE is targeting the power of one of the world’s largest, most effective wildlife conservation agreements to do it – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
While CITES has helped to save a myriad of terrestrial species like the African elephant, the effort to add sharks and marine fish to CITES is still relatively new territory, resulting in difficult battles.
Help by Signing the Petition! You can join tens of thousands of AWARE divers and shark advocates who are serious about shark protection. Sign the petition and urge your friends and colleagues to do the same. Sign the Petition here
Help by Joining us for Shark Shout Out 2012 Activities in Bunaken and Lembeh – we are running a number of things at our resorts that allow you to be involved.
Get educated! We show a Special Shark documentary or Shark Quiz in the evenings. We also have a weekly Shark Guardian presentation, below is a trailer/introduction to this presentation.
Take a course! Two Fish Divers have already donated USD500 to PADI to certify all our instructors so that they can offer the new PADI Shark Conservation Course, this donation has been handed over to the Project AWARE – Sharks in Peril project.
(Note – we were the first PADI center in Asia Pacific to make 100% of their instructors able to teach Shark Conservation Speciality courses! Check out the event on Facebook here)
The PADI Shark Conservation Course costs €20 for 2 dives & manual PLUS €30 for the PADI certificate. All proceeds from the certification will also be donated to the Project Aware – Sharks in Peril Project.
On our Instrcutor Course (IDC), we are also including the PADI Shark Conservation instructor speciality course for FREE. This means that all our new instructors can teach PADI Shark Conservation Courses themselves wherever they end up working, thereby helping to “spread the message”.
Make a donation! Brendon (our Course Director) and Liz (our resort manager in Bunaken) are running an organisation called Shark Guardian, this is dedicated to the conservation of sharks by reaching out and giving presentations at schools. Be the first to become a Shark Guardian Member by donating EUR20-50, you will:
We hope that you will join us in Bunaken or Lembeh and get involved in Shout for Sharks!
The mandarin fish is one of the most beautiful fish in the ocean and their special mating display can be seen right here in both Bunaken and Lembeh waters!
• Scientific Name: Synchiropus Splendidus
• Found: Indo-Pacific Ocean (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia)
• Size: 1 -2 Inches
• Diet: Carnivore – feed on small worms, protozoans and small crustaceans
• Habitat: Broken coral rubble beds or under dead coral
• Depth: 1 – 18 metres
We are seeing alot of Robust ghost pipefish in Lembeh at the moment so we thought that we would tell you what they are.
Ghost pipefish belong to the family Solenostomidae. They are closely related to Seahorses and Pipefish, are from the same order and share the long tube like snout. They live in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate waters from Indian to Western Pacific oceans.
Spending most of its time in a head down position, they tend to make their homes in shallow areas or close to coastal reefs that are current swept and therefore have a steady stream of food. In many regions Ghostpipefish are only seasonal visitors, settling on the reef for only a few months each year to breed.
If you ask any Rescue Diver they will tell you that its the most challenging course they have done. The training provided by rescue certification is not so much about actually rescuing people but more about increasing your own comfort level in the water, it therefore teaches divers how to be better divers.
To feel comfortable helping others is to really feel comfortable with yourself in the water. You could achieve this comfort level over time with hundreds of dives, but taking a good rescue diver course will get you there much sooner.
Took too long but now only 2 days
Despite these obvious advantages, why are most divers not Rescue Divers? We have been running dive operations in Indonesia (Bunaken & Lembeh Straits) for over 12 years. I have often questioned guests about why they are not yet a rescue diver and the most common reason is that it takes too long.
True, traditionally it would take 4-5 days to do the rescue course: there is a book to read, a video to watch and an exam. There are also water skills to teach and assessments to be done in the open water, and the theory and water skills are integrated so you can’t run the water skills until you have done certain theory topics.
However, now you can do all the theory with PADI Rescue Course Online via eLearning from the comfort of your own home before you leave for your holiday, and the water skills and assessments will take just 1-2 days. So now there is no reason to avoid this course!
We run this course in both Bunaken and Lembeh, and can add a few specialities for your Master Scuba Diver certification.
Structure of the Course
Students will complete 12 Open Water Training Exercises which emphasize a divers ability to be flexible and adapt to personal and environmental conditions. In the end, all 12 exercises will be practiced in real-life scenarios.
Course topics include:
By the end of the course you will have expanded your knowledge of diving, increased your level of diving skill and be more aware of what is happening in the diving environment. Most importantly, rescue training can help you to save lives and increase safety by preparing you to properly respond to diving emergencies.
As a prerequisite, you must be CPR / First Aid certified. You can do a fist aid course through PADI called Emergency First Responder (EFR) that covers the same material, but you can get any first aid course (eg Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance) as long as it covers artificial ventilation and chest compression.
I came across this great interview recently with HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL where he displays a common sense approach to recreational diving and how, if we think that a dive is boring, its probably because we aren’t looking close enough.
Hugh is a “Celebrity Chef” from the UK and is author and star of the River Cottage TV series, and he is a passionate campaigner for sustainability, both above and below the water. His recent “fish fight” campaign challenged the assumption that imposing catch quotas on British fishermen may not be the best solution to over-fishing, resulting as it does in a terrible waste of fish thrown overboard as “discard”.
Unsurprisingly, Hugh is a passionate diver, and one the episodes featured him diving in the Maldives, where he had gone to show the benefits of catching tuna by pole and line.
When and where did you learn to dive?
I originally learned when I was working at the River Café in London in about 1989. One of the waitresses was a member of the BSAC-run Cormorant Dive Club, and I diligently attended what seemed like interminable pool sessions in Swiss Cottage.
Are you saying you didn’t enjoy the experience?
No, not at all, it was just that it took months before I did a proper dive. Eventually we did a club trip to Hurghada. I couldn’t believe the colours under water, and the brilliant psychedelic appearance of the fish and corals. It was literally mind-blowing.
But what astounded me most was that some of the other divers moaned about their dive and said it was “rubbish”, because they hadn’t seen any sharks or something huge!
Was that because they were much more experienced?
Obviously I was inexperienced, but I remember seeing a Napoleon wrasse, and all this fantastic colour. I made a promise to myself that day – that no matter what kind of a dive I ever had, I would never, ever complain about it. It always seems to me to be supremely ungrateful that any human being should think that they somehow have some sort of divine right to see something “special” on a dive.
Have you kept that promise?
I think so. Someone once told me that if I’m bored on a dive, I should just swim up to a rock or a piece of coral and stare at what’s a few inches in front of me. And sure enough, there’s always something happening, something moving or growing there that I might not have noticed if I hadn’t pressed my face close to it.
Did you ever get beyond your BSAC Novice qualification?
Well, I have a confession to make; I never quite got my certificate signed off. And for about 10 years, every time I went on a diving holiday I had a battle to convince the dive centres that I was certified.
I always took my BSAC temporary card and my log-book, and usually it worked, though a couple of times they made me do a resort course, which was a real pain.
Then, about 10 years ago in Seychelles, I decided I needed to sort it out properly, so I took a PADI Advanced course at the Underwater Centre on Mahé. That golden PADI card shines like a beacon in my wallet, something that I’m much more proud of than my driving licence!
Do you know how many dives you’ve done?
Certainly two, maybe three hundred. I’ve dived every year for over 20 years. I’ve been lucky enough to dive in places like Seychelles, Mexico, the Red Sea, Madeira, Maldives, the Bahamas and South Africa.
Ever been scared under water?
Yes, in Stoney Cove, when I lost my regulator and couldn’t find it. I panicked and shot to the surface, blindly forgetting all my training. Luckily I wasn’t very deep, but I had to force myself to go back into the water, or else I might have been put off for good.
And once, somewhere near Durdle Door [Dorset], I got separated from my buddy. It was around Easter and the water wasn’t warm or clear and I felt really frightened for a while until I spotted his bubbles.
Oh, and in Kenya I had to share air with my divemaster when he took me off on a long swim at the end of a dive.
Are you interested in diving kit?
Do you own any?
I own everything, but I couldn’t tell you who made it without looking at it. My computer
is at least 10 years old, a Uwatec. I love it. I have two prescription masks, ‘cos I’m quite short-sighted. I bought a spare, and I acquired some contact lenses so that I could use a full-face mask for the filming we did in the Maldives.
Part of that programme was about the way we mistreat the marine environment. Is that something you worry about when you dive?
Yes, and it comes back to what I said about what we think we have “a right” to see when we dive.
If we don’t see the fish we want, or we come across something ugly under water, then maybe it’s because of what human beings have done.
Man-made problems may just be what you see when you dive. And that’s why I don’t think we have any special right to “demand” that we see a shark, or whatever it is we expect to find.
Do you have a diving wish-list – or something you’ve always wanted to see under water?
It used to be a manta ray, and that’s what I got to see in the Maldives at Lankan. And my first-ever encounter with mantas was caught on camera, which was great, and why I probably sounded ridiculous on-screen, but I was beside myself with excitement.
I went back into the water later without the cameras and had well over an hour with the mantas. There’s only one way to describe what it felt like; just such a pure privilege. As for a fantasy underwater sighting, it would have to be a giant squid fighting with a sperm whale. Not very likely.
Is there a marine creature that you might find frightening?
I’d love to see a really big shark, and I might find it frightening.
Stephen Fry once described you as having “the silliest hair in Europe”. Has it ever been a nuisance under water?
Wearing a two piece semi-dry, it did tend to get pushed forward and get trapped under the mask seal, but I’ve recently had it cut!