Preliminary results of the Great Fiji Shark Count, April 2012
In the month of April, 3,693 divers recorded their shark sightings during 855 dives.
In the month of April, 3,693 divers recorded their shark sightings during 855 dives.
AS some rushed around in the frolic of fun and others in the frantic of safety during the flash floods that hit a fortnight ago, there was a silent fight for survival in the muddy, murky waters of Nadi.
Under the brown rush that tore through the banks of the Nadi River flooding the jet-set town and nearby suburbs and sending thousands for the safety of high and dry ground ù came the little sharks.
They, like some of those unfortunate to have been caught and swept away at the height of the flood in Nadi after a torrent of 292mm of rainwater (24 hours from 9am January 24th to 9am January 25th), desperately fought the raging flood currents that have slowly eroded the riverbanks over the years.
So when one fought its way through the force of nature to the calmer floodwaters in the suburbs, and was found dead when it couldn’t get food in its new concrete and grassy environment, there was a lot of excitement and pain.More info here…
SHARK conservation around the country is gaining momentum with students adopting the once feared predator as their “friend”.
Sharkman Manoa Rasigatale, the veteran campaigner who has been visiting schools and villages in the three confederacies since April last year, said more people were becoming aware of the importance of sharks to our reef system and supported efforts to turn Fiji’s waters into a shark sanctuary.
“The children are the best listeners. They are our future and now understand better the value of sharks alive than dead,” he said.
“Everywhere I go, children of all ages share one thing ù that even though they may have feared them, they now regard sharks with more respect and friendship.
“That has been one of my greatest satisfaction, to plant the seed of conservation and help shape the thoughts of children to protect one of our greatest resources.
“Their response has been tremendous. They really want to participate in the conservation themselves.”More info here…
Calling all eco-conscious couples – how would you like a honeymoon in a certified eco-resort in stunning Fiji?
Winners must pay taxes and surcharges for flights. Availability for the grand prize flights and accommodation package will be subject to blackout dates to be confirmed in the winner’s Grand Diamond Prize confirmation letter.
Calling all sophisticated bridal couples! By making your wedding shark-free, you can show respect to both your guests and our oceans as well as earning the opportunity to win a fabulous prize! Enter the Happy Hearts Love Sharks – Hong Kong wedding contest now.…More info here…
Bula Friends and Colleagues !!
Representing the Coral Reef Alliance and the Pew Environment Foundation, Helen Sykes has kindly offered to talk this week about shark conservation in Fiji. Lecture participants will have the opportunity to watch the 30 min documentary film “Shark Hope”, which has just recently been launched in Fiji.
After the film there will be a chance to ask questions on the subject and pick up some Shark Sanctuary campaign materials.Helen will also share information about the Great Fiji Shark Count, a tourism-based initiative planned for April 2012 by a group of volunteer organizations.More info here…
The guitarfish/wedgefish (Rhynchobatus australiae), also called the white-spotted guitarfish or white-spotted wedgefish, is a species of fish in the Rhynchobatidae family. The guitarfish/wedgefish are known for an elongated body with a flattened head and trunk and small ray like wings.
The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow-moving filter feeding shark. It is the largest extantfish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) and a weight of more than 21.5 tonnes (47,000 lb), and there are unconfirmed reports of considerably larger whale sharks. This distinctively-marked fish is the only member of its genus Rhincodon and itsfamily, Rhincodontidae (called Rhinodontes before 1984), which belongs to the subclassElasmobranchii in the class Chondrichthyes. The species originated about 60 million years ago.
The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, as filter feeders they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, which are microscopic plants and animals. However, the BBC program Planet Earth filmed a whale shark feeding on a school of small fish. The same documentary showed footage of a whale shark timing its arrival to coincide with the mass spawning of fish shoals and feeding on the resultant clouds of eggs and sperm.
The blue shark (Prionace glauca) is a species of requiem shark, family Carcharhinidae, that inhabits deep waters in the world’s temperate and tropical oceans. Preferring cooler waters,[clarification needed] blue sharks migrate long distances, for example from New England toSouth America.
Although generally lethargic, they can move very quickly. Blue sharks areviviparous and are noted for large litters of 25 to over 100 pups. They feed primarily on small fishand squid, although they can take larger prey. Blue sharks often school segregated by sex and size, and this behavior has led to their nickname “wolves of the sea”.
The silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) is a species of requiem shark, family Carcharhinidae, named for the smooth texture of its skin. It is one of the most abundant sharks in the pelagic zone, and can be found around the world in tropical waters. Highly mobile and migratory, this shark is most often found over the edge of the continental shelf down to a depth of 50 m (164 ft).
The silky shark has a slender, streamlined body and typically grows to a length of 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in). It can be distinguished from other large requiem sharks by its relatively small first dorsal fin with a curving rear margin, its tiny second dorsal fin with a long free rear tip, and its long, sickle-shapedpectoral fins. It is a deep, metallic bronze-gray above and white below.More info here…
This aggressive but slow-moving fish dominates feeding frenzies, and is a danger to shipwreck or air crash survivors. Recent studies show steeply declining populations because its large fins are highly valued as the chief ingredient of shark fin soup and, as with other shark species, the whitetip faces mounting fishing pressure throughout its range.
The great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) is the largest species of hammerhead shark, family Sphyrnidae, attaining a maximum length of 6.1 m (20 ft). It is found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide, inhabiting coastal areas and the continental shelf.
The great hammerhead can be distinguished from other hammerheads by the shape of its “hammer” (called the “cephalofoil”), which is wide with an almost straight front margin, and by its tall, sickle-shaped first dorsal fin. A solitary, strong-swimming apex predator, the great hammerhead feeds on a wide variety of prey ranging from crustaceans and cephalopods, to bony fishes, to smaller sharks. Observations of this species in the wild suggest that the cephalofoil functions to immobilize stingrays, a favored prey. This species has a viviparous mode of reproduction, bearing litters of up to 55 pups every two years.
They are large sharks with blunt, broad snouts, narrow bent cusps on the upper teeth, and no interdorsal ridges. They are gray to bronze in color on the dorsal side, white on the ventral side.
The fins have similar coloring with the exception of the pelvic fins, which have dusky tips, and the pectoral fins, which have dusky to black tips.More info here…
By Cara Hodgson
Sharks are one of the increasingly rare organisms seen on coral reefs. They have been eliminated from many reefs due to demand for their fins to make shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy. In 2011, there were some big “wins” for sharks with shark finning and trading banned in several areas. Because shark sightings are now so rare just about everywhere, Reef Checkers are asked to record any sharks during their dives – even of those observed off of the transects.
One type of shark has always held a fascination as a kind of prehistoric-looking oddity that one might think was dreamed up by a Hollywood horror filmmaker – not a result of millions of years of evolution. This is the hammerhead shark. A related shark is the bonnethead – with a head shaped more like a shovel.
Looking at the wide separation between the hammerhead’s eyes, and the flat surface of the head, one wonders about the evolutionary advantage of this design?
Several hypotheses explaining the evolution of the hammerhead shark’s head – called a “cephalofoil” – have been proposed.More info here…
Zebra sharks get their name from their juvenile appearance: dark bodies with yellowish stipes. As they become adults their coloring changes to a light tan with small dark spots. This adult appearance leads to them often being mistakenly called Leopard sharks. The Zebra shark has a distinctive long tail that is almost as long as the body and prominent ridges that run the length of the body.More info here…
Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrna lewini) are probably the most commonly found species of hammerheads located in coastal regions, appearing in very shallow waters such as estuaries and inlets. Their distribution in the water reaches from the surface down to a depth of approx. 275 m. The young, however, remain mostly in shallow waters along the shore to avoid the danger of falling into the mouths of predators. At certain times of the year and places, and during certain phases of their lives, scalloped hammerheads form very large schools, sometimes counting hundreds of individuals, but they also swim the oceans alone. Some populations remain stationary, others clearly wander, migrating in the direction of the poles in summer. Some sexually-related migrations have also been observed, e.g. females who undertake migrations during particular periods of their sexual development.More info here…
Simple ID points:
Throughout the months of April and November every year, you have the opportunity to help celebrate and record Fiji’s amazing coral reef biodiversity, show you care about our world’s delicate coral reef systems, and have fun, by taking part in the FIJI-WIDE SHARK COUNT!
Easy to do, this is suitable for visitors and locals alike, whether you like to fish, snorkel, or SCUBA dive. We hope that tourists, school children, scientists and all people with an interest in the marine environment will take to the reefs with us to search for the Sharks of Fiji!
The Great Fiji Shark Count will be held across Fiji every April and November every year.
You can do a single count, or take part as many times as you like during that month, so that you cover different reefs. All data will be gratefully accepted!
So, see your resort, watersports operator or travel agent, get your Shark identification materials and dive into the beautiful blue waters of Fiji, to be a part of history!