National Geographic - Bahamas Sharks
Posted 05 March 2007 - 09:43 PM
Many fortunate Wetpixel members have had the opportunity to dive with Jim Abernethy at famous sites such as Tiger Beach. If you have been, the images will bring back some great memories from those experiences.
Do we think that the story presents too much optimism? How does the ongoing sport fishing of big sharks such as great hammers and tigers impact the future for the sharks of the Bahamas? How about Bimini resort development and the destruction of mangroves? What is the true outlook for sharks in the Bahamas?
I for one am concerned...even though I so much want to be optimistic.
Posted 06 March 2007 - 04:11 AM
Hammerheads are probably more at risk than the tigers due to their life history patterns.
Posted 06 March 2007 - 04:41 AM
Posted 06 March 2007 - 08:48 AM
Edited by loftus, 06 March 2007 - 08:49 AM.
Posted 06 March 2007 - 11:36 AM
Photographically, this article is a perfect example of an editor choosing images that not as great as the other images Brian has in his library from the Bahamas. He gave a presentation at the Boston Sea Rovers last weekend where he showed other images that, in my opinion, were better than the ones chosen for publication!
It was indeed a bit misleading, as the mangroves around Bimini are disappearing quickly due to development of the island.
Brian has a 38-page article on global fisheries that will be out in next month's Geographic. From the photos I've seen, it will be much less... optimistic than this article was.
Posted 06 March 2007 - 03:08 PM
Thanks for the comments regarding my recent story. The best estimate of the number of sharks killed annually worldwide is nearly 100 million. The majority of this is achieved through commercial long lining. The Bahamas has outlawed long lining and therefore, shark populations seem to be healtheir there than in many other locations around the planet. The story's title, "An Eden For Sharks," is somewhat subjective, however the combination of unique natural geography (great shark habitats) and the absence of long lining, make the Bahamas better than many other locations for these animals. They are certainly less threatened in the Bahamas than in most places in the sea. And the caption on the opening spread does state, "Persecuted around the globe, sharks enjoy safe haven in the Bahamas - at least for now."
Still, the text details many serious concerns for sharks here. In regards to Bimini, Dr. Samuel Gruber is quoted to say about the sharks, "They'll all be wiped out if the developers have their way." The text then goes on to explain how a series of MPAs on Bimini were cancelled and a resort is being built instead.
The article also discusses shark finning, shark fin soup as well as several species in serious decline. The closing paragraph states that "as developers make their way around the archipelago, shark habitat will continue to be whittled away. These big fish are magnificent in their own right and vital to the natural workings of this place." I don't believe this is an overly optimistic evaluation for sharks of the Bahamas.
I think these issues make it clear to readers that sharks are in serious trouble around the globe. By examining a location in which they might be doing somewhat better (the Bahamas), we attempt to raise awareness to problems worldwide on a broader scale.
Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:49 PM
Posted 06 March 2007 - 07:59 PM
Thanks for your input on the article. I for one think you guys did an excellent job. As you point out, there was a lot of information in the article about the desperate situation of sharks. I also think that we have so little in the way of hope being communicated about sharks, that it is easy for folks to just throw up their hands and give up.
My multiple trips on the Shear Water have inspired hope in me. I am not blind to the fact that sharks are also under assualt in the bahamas. But the shear volume of large predatory sharks (tigers, great hammes, bulls, etc) in the Bahamas is like now other place i have seen. I can't help but feel that this place still has a chance. In so many places in the world, it is all but too late for shark populations...at least in my lifetime.
For me, this kind of hope can lead to greater action to protect the Bahamas. With greater protection, it can stand as an example to the world of how sharks can be worth more alive than dead. The Bahamas have the chance to prove "it can be done" to protect sharks profitiably.
Regardless, I really enjoyed the article and the photos. I look forward to seeing more in National Geographic on marine preservation issues.