Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Baiting/feeding sharks: the controversy


  • Please log in to reply
39 replies to this topic

#1 Cybergoldfish

Cybergoldfish

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1954 posts
  • Location:UK */Seychelles/Singapore
  • Interests:Don't include plankton

Posted 28 February 2003 - 03:00 PM

TOPIC SPLIT OFF FROM SHARK DIVER MAGAZINE THREAD (NOT STARTED BY CYBERGOLDFISH).

Interesting links (added by echeng):
http://www.scuba-for...hark/shark.html
http://www.cdnn.info...rktimeline.html
http://www.cdnn.info.../sharkbyte.html
http://www.welovesharks.com

----------------------------

Guess we are lucky in Seychelles having not needed to feed sharks so that divers can see them. Thousands of divers are now coming to Seychelles to watch natural interaction between sharks of the same or different species.

Arguably the practice of feeding sharks encourages diving tourism, but what about the negative side - the angling fraternities and their soft trophies? In spots around the world fishermen often jump into the spot left by the dive boat that has just encouraged the sharks with bad bait (Bad Bait is worthless food scraps like fleshless fish bodies). After this just half a Barracuda will attract everything blindly onto a battery of hooks.

According to Scientific reports this feeding has other adverse effects on the character of sharks - Some of it bad for tourism, with sharks turning on the 'feeders' or watcher's' because scraps are not enough to pacify their artificial arrousal (Maldives, Australia & Red Sea on several occasions), another that the sharks no longer need to carry on the role of predator and carrion removers. I think these are just some of the reasons the practice is getting banned all around the world.

One thing I cannot personally get over is seeing Hammerhead sharks conned upto the surface to take bad bait just so a bunch of photographers can grab a holiday snap, or a pro get an easy shot... Maybe a necessary step?

If you want to see hammheads on natural feeding cycles go to the Red Sea, Maldives, Cocos etc. A photograph from these locations is far more valid & memorable.

The tourism angle in the protection arguement is a very valid, but if it is at the expense of affecting the shark in other ways then banning feeding after protection is warrented.

#2 wetpixel

wetpixel

    Wetpixel

  • Admin
  • 2943 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 01 March 2003 - 01:00 AM

If you want to see hammheads on natural feeding cycles go to the Red Sea, Maldives, Cocos etc. A photograph from these locations is far more valid & memorable.

Neither "valid" nor "memorable" are absolute terms that have been qualified by some higher power.
Eric Cheng - Administrator, Wetpixel -

#3 Cybergoldfish

Cybergoldfish

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1954 posts
  • Location:UK */Seychelles/Singapore
  • Interests:Don't include plankton

Posted 01 March 2003 - 04:05 AM

Unlike natural evolution

#4 jimabernethy

jimabernethy

    Clownfish

  • Industry
  • Pip
  • 20 posts
  • Location:West Palm Beach, Florida

Posted 02 March 2003 - 09:23 PM

Arguably the practice of feeding sharks encourages diving tourism, but what about the negative side - the angling fraternities and their soft trophies? In spots around the world fishermen often jump into the spot left by the dive boat that has just encouraged the sharks with bad bait (Bad Bait is worthless food scraps like fleshless fish bodies). After this just half a Barracuda will attract everything blindly onto a battery of hooks.

According to Scientific reports this feeding has other adverse effects on the character of sharks - Some of it bad for tourism, with sharks turning on the 'feeders' or watcher's' because scraps are not enough to pacify their artificial arrousal (Maldives, Australia & Red Sea on several occasions), another that the sharks no longer need to carry on the role of predator and carrion removers. I think these are just some of the reasons the practice is getting banned all around the world.

One thing I cannot personally get over is seeing Hammerhead sharks conned upto the surface to take bad bait just so a bunch of photographers can grab a holiday snap, or a pro get an easy shot... Maybe a necessary step?

If you want to see hammheads on natural feeding cycles go to the Red Sea, Maldives, Cocos etc. A photograph from these locations is far more valid & memorable.

The tourism angle in the protection arguement is a very valid, but if it is at the expense of affecting the shark in other ways then banning feeding after protection is warrented.

I was just reading your post and I thought you might have left off quite a bit of the positive side of organized shark dives that use bait as an attraction. Just a few facts to think about. In the Bahamas, the divers that attended these shark dives were directly responsible for eliminating long-line fishing from their waters as well as establishing "Shark Parks" where these sharks could no longer be killed legally. They did this through letter writing campaigns to the Bahamian government showing them the monetary value of sharks in tourism dollars. Roughly one year ago, the council fighting for shark feeds in Florida counted 340 organized shark dives in roughly 40 countries worldwide. Imagine what would happen if these countries realized the economic value of sharks and followed the Bahamian government in trying to protect them. It is well documented that putting divers close to sharks turns ordinary people into so called "shark huggers". If we could only get the rest of the world to look at sharks as we due, are chances for saving them would be much better. In Florida, where I live there were 3 shark feeding operations feeding sharks roughly 2-3 times a week sometimes as much as 10 lbs of fish each time. Fisherman feed sharks all the time. Sometimes they catch them, sometimes they don't, but the shark cannot tell the difference between a dive boat or a fishing boat. Fishing is so popular in Florida that bait is sold everywhere, the gas station, some restaurants, even my local publics grocery store carries no less than seven different types of bait, including chum. Of the seventy fishing piers in Florida, roughly 50 are located directly in the middle of a public beach. These fishing piers are dumping hundreds of pounds of bait (the same type I use) into the water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I like to refer to the as the "unannounced 24 hour shark feeds". Their is no documented evidence anywhere that sharks are turning on divers at these shark dives as you have mentioned. If you indeed know of some scientific evidence as you mentioned, please produce it so we all can see it. I am not saying that sharks have not bitten people at these dives, as I know of 7 incidences in the Bahamas where people usually the divers feeding them by hand, have been bitten. But no one would actually say that the sharks have changed their diet to include people, after 400 million years of evolution. It was very simply an accident that the shark miss judged where the fish was. Even with these accidents if you looked at the statistics of accidents at shark dives in the Bahamas, it would put shark diving as a little safer than bowling! A whole lot safer than organized sports such as baseball, football and basketball where we have accepted deaths even at the high school level. In 30 plus years of shark diving world wide, their still has not been a single fatality! Just a little more information for you to ponder!

I almost forgot to mention that I do not feed sharks at my shark dives. Although my reasons are not because I think it changes their behavior in a negative way. They have been eating fish for 400 million years. That is all they want, not us, even after the food is removed from the water at the end of the day. I use bait to attract them, not feed them. My goal as a shark dive operator is to get divers like you, as close to sharks as possible for as long as I possibly can. I have found that if I feed them, they leave as soon as they are full. By not feeding them, but using the bait as only an attraction I have been able to keep the same sharks their for days.

I could go on and on about this, but I type at a snails pace, so I think I should end this with one final thought!

If you truly love sharks as I do, wouldn't it be wiser to spend your time trying to save them from being needlessly slaughtered, by educating people who don't know the truth about sharks! Why not use these "holiday snaps" you all take, along with your personal experiences, to help spread the facts about sharks so we can stop this JAWS mentality that some people still believe. Sharks are wonderful, magnificent animals that are essential to keeping are oceans in balance. Without them are ocean ecosystems will certainly fail. I have put allot of work on this subject on a web page at welovesharks.com if you would care to read and see more!

Thanks,
Jim Abernethy
Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures - Diving Palm Beach and the Bahamas

#5 Cybergoldfish

Cybergoldfish

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1954 posts
  • Location:UK */Seychelles/Singapore
  • Interests:Don't include plankton

Posted 03 March 2003 - 04:48 AM

First of all I am quite angry that I have been made a scape goat for attacks made on this forum against shark feeding operations - I did not begin this debate as it now looks, so that I can be personally held responsible and open to question by legitimate operators like your good self, I mearly add things to promote debate and in this instance why feeding was banned in the US, Egypt, Maldives etc.

I will answer this attack fully when i have the time later this evening

#6 yahsemtough

yahsemtough

    Great Canadian Mokarran

  • Senior Moderator
  • 3495 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Canada

Posted 03 March 2003 - 06:11 AM

I feel this would be a very useful forum to promote the protection of sharks by debating the various issues surrounding them.

I too would prefer this be a useful debate as opposed to persons having to defend themselves.(as is always emphasized in all the other forum topics) I say this as I personally know that both Jimmy and Bob have the same passionate desire at the end of the day....save sharks and educate the general public about sharks.

I would really like to see this debate on the various avenues available to achieve this end result as I think it would help to educate the general masses out there that would like to learn more on this very important issue.

Just my two cents, and to hopefully avoid anyone personally attacking either of these two friends of mine or any others for trying to enlighten/discuss this valuable issue. IMHO
Todd Mintz
tmintz.com
all photographs posted © Todd C Mintz

#7 james

james

    The Engineer

  • Super Mod
  • 9968 posts
  • Location:Houston TX

Posted 03 March 2003 - 06:13 AM

Bob,

I'm glad you are taking the time to post a well-thought-out response - hopefully you won't let your emotions get the best of you.

That's because no where in this thread were you attacked Bob.

You posted one side of this debate and Mr. Abernathy posted the other. That's called good healthy debate, not an attack!

Cheers
James
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#8 Lqskdiver

Lqskdiver

    Damselfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 16 posts
  • Location:Deep in the heart of Texas

Posted 03 March 2003 - 06:52 AM

Well said, Jim.

#9 Cybergoldfish

Cybergoldfish

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1954 posts
  • Location:UK */Seychelles/Singapore
  • Interests:Don't include plankton

Posted 03 March 2003 - 07:17 AM

We'll agree to disagree as only my post was brought across into this thread...

#10 wetpixel

wetpixel

    Wetpixel

  • Admin
  • 2943 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 03 March 2003 - 10:09 AM

We'll agree to disagree as only my post was brought across into this thread...

Bob -

Your post was the first post about the supposed adverse effects of shark baiting. All of the posts after yours were moved as well, but there were only two of them. :) Markh's previous post in the old thread was mostly about Shark Diver Magazine, even though he did talk a bit about shark baiting as well.

There was no attack here. If you still have a problem with it, I will start a new thread with my userid as the topic starter and move all of the posts there. Let me know.
Eric Cheng - Administrator, Wetpixel -

#11 jimabernethy

jimabernethy

    Clownfish

  • Industry
  • Pip
  • 20 posts
  • Location:West Palm Beach, Florida

Posted 03 March 2003 - 01:56 PM

Bob,

I am sorry you felt, as if you were attacked. Please accept my deepest apology for what you are calling an attack. I never intended to attack anyone. I was only trying to show the other side of the controversy of feeding fish. Everyone is entitled to make and express their opinion, which is why I have expressed mine, the same as you have expressed yours.

I am quite interested in reading the scientific report you spoke of, on how shark behavior has been altered negatively due to shark feeding. I hope this will be included in your next post.

Last night, I forgot to address your mentioning of "bad bait", that was being used at these shark feeds. I have a great deal of information regarding different types of fish bait, for completely different reasons. If you want to know my reasons let me know and I will put them up in another post. But first I will cover your reasons. As a member of the Global Interactive Marine Experiences Council, which drew up guidelines for these types of dives with sharks, we interviewed many shark diving organizations from around the world. Most of my information comes from these interviews not only with the dive operators but also with divers who charter them. To date, I do not know of any operation world wide that uses as you say "bad bait". In fact all of the operations questioned used fish of some type. I use fresh, tuna, snapper and grouper, as any of my divers will testify. My opposition here in Florida said that I use cheese wiz in a can! I thought that was quite humorous! All of the shark diving operations that I have been to, express and exhibit a deep caring nature for their animals! In fact one of these operators was responsible for learning how to immobilize (catatonic immobility) sharks in the water, so they could quickly and safely remove fishing hooks from their jaws. since then many of the other operation have started this process of helping sharks as well! If any of you on this forum know of anything bad happening to sharks from shark dives from any operation, please let me know, so I can look into it.

On your subject of getting "far more valid and memorable photographs", I thought I should mention that so far we have had dive operators and divers from the Maldives and Cocos already on our boat trying to get "valid and memorable photographs" from my operation where we feed them. Many of them have already been published, some pushing for more conservation efforts with sharks.

If you would like to know why the state of Florida has banned fish feeding, I would be happy to share my views with you, but it has nothing to do with sharks or changing shark behavior (my opinion once again). I believe I am quite qualified to explain this, since I have been involved with this controversy, since the very beginning and presently I am involved in two law suits against the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. By the way, the first one we have already won! I honestly believe that we will have this fish feeding law overturned after the next hearing.

Once again, NO ATTACK was intended!
Jim
Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures - Diving Palm Beach and the Bahamas

#12 markh

markh

    Tiger Shark

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Leics, UK

Posted 03 March 2003 - 02:10 PM

Jim,

You make many useful & valid points. I would be interested to know, from your experience, since shark feeding trips started operating in the bahamas (what year?)whether locally the shark population has decreased or not. It is interesting to read a recent article from Science magazine that shark populations worldwide have reduced drastically in the last 15 years. Hammerheads are down by a staggering 90%, great whites & thresher down by 80% and tiger sharks down by 65%. although blame is targeted at intense fishing of the food chain i.e. tuna & swordfish I wonder whether other activities may be contributing without being substantiated.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Mark
Dirk Pitt taught me everything!!!!
E10/Titan housing/1 x Sea & Sea 90 Duo

#13 jimabernethy

jimabernethy

    Clownfish

  • Industry
  • Pip
  • 20 posts
  • Location:West Palm Beach, Florida

Posted 03 March 2003 - 03:04 PM

I would be interested to know, from your experience, since shark feeding trips started operating in the bahamas (what year?)whether locally the shark population has decreased or not. It is interesting to read a recent article from Science magazine that shark populations worldwide have reduced drastically in the last 15 years. Hammerheads are down by a staggering 90%, great whites & thresher down by 80% and tiger sharks down by 65%. although blame is targeted at intense fishing of the food chain i.e. tuna & swordfish I wonder whether other activities may be contributing without being substantiated.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Mark


Hi Mark,
First, I want to mention that you stole my first choice for a name on this forum (Great Hammerhead). I guess the early bird gets the worm and the second mouse gets the cheese! (Canadian Hammerhead)! I am envious!

I believe shark diving started in the Bahamas at Long Island, by a diver named Jorg Friese in the dive resort Stella Maris. I believe they are still feeding them today at a spot called "Shark Reef" Skin Diver magazine did many stories on them back then when they were very popular.

I was saddened by the report you read as well. I hope it is not true, although I fear it is. I have not noticed any decline in the number of reef sharks at any place in the Bahamas, but long line fishing ban and shark parks are in for force their. That country has unfortunately depleted the supply of grouper and snapper populations drastically. In addition a strange new algae is covering many of the reefs, essentially choking the life out of the existing life their. I have not yet noticed a decline in Great Hammerheads or tigers at my shark expeditions.

On the same subject of shark depletions worldwide, the main culprit is the high price for shark fin soup. A simple fact that I wish more people new is that sharks along with many other fish carry high levels of mercury (poison). Although some cultures consider this dish as a means of impressing their guests, they are essentially serving them poison. Mercury levels once ingested stay with you for life! It causes brain damage and deformity's in new born. I would think that this knowledge alone would plummet prices of shark fins making fisherman seek out other species for income. Please spread the word. To read more on this try this link.

http://www.sfms.org/sfm/sfm301d.htm

Best Regards,
Jim
Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures - Diving Palm Beach and the Bahamas

#14 yahsemtough

yahsemtough

    Great Canadian Mokarran

  • Senior Moderator
  • 3495 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Canada

Posted 03 March 2003 - 05:44 PM

Sorry Jimmy you have to wrestle polar bear to get the "Great Canadian Hammerhead" from me.

ps I still have my polar bears in the house as it is too cold to leave them out in the back yard all day.LOL

Mokarran is still open though.
Todd Mintz
tmintz.com
all photographs posted © Todd C Mintz

#15 jimabernethy

jimabernethy

    Clownfish

  • Industry
  • Pip
  • 20 posts
  • Location:West Palm Beach, Florida

Posted 05 March 2003 - 04:34 AM

Good Morning,
I thought you might be interested in hearing a few quotes by some reputable people (conservationist and shark scientist) on the subject of shark feeding.

Jean Michel-Cousteau
Oceanographer, Environmentalist
Ocean Futures Society, President
www.oceanfutures.com

"Sharks, worldwide, are being threatened…we as humans do not appreciate their value… I have observed that people who have a personal experience with sharks come away from the interaction with a different attitude toward them. I have also observed that when they go home they share experiences with friends. It is my belief that many divers who have had controlled encounters with sharks become ambassadors and educators who speak out on behalf on sharks…. when I weigh the possible disruption of shark's normal lives by feeding them, against the benefits of creating a constituency who respect and speak out for them; I choose feeding sharks under certain conditions."

Dr. Samuel H. Gruber
Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences University of Miami, Bimini Biological Field Station

"Today, sites all over the world conduct controlled shark dives safely offered by professionals to thousands of tourists without injury. More people have been killed by coke machines falling on them than by sharks. No tourist has been killed or even seriously injured while participating in a well-established shark dive. Elephants kill ten times more people than sharks, crocodiles a hundred times more, and dogs injure hundreds of thousands each year. The image of sharks as killing machines is OBSOLETE!!"

Doug Perrine
Marine Biologist, Shark Researcher, author, marine photographer &
professional spear fisherman
"There is no scientific evidence to suggest any danger to divers, surfers, or swimmers in feeding areas. The very few public complaints that have surfaced from around the world have been remarkably rare. In fact, feeding dives have been conducted for more than 20 years at hundreds of sites around the world without a single report of any fatalities to divers, surfers, or swimmers. Furthermore, shark feeding does not attract sharks from very far away. Any sharks that are attracted to a feeding operation close to shore are already close to shore."


Dr. Eric Ritter
Ph.D., Hofstra University, Senior Scientist, Green Marine,
Scientific Board of Shark Foundation, Investigator for Global Shark Attack File
"There are over 300 organized shark, stingray, and fish feeding operations in 40 countries around the globe. The vast majority of these managed shark and fish feedings operate with extremely low risk to humans and little or no risk to the animals. There has been no scientific evidence presented that proves otherwise. Comments to the contrary are only opinion and blind speculation. Conditioning of sharks with regards to organized feeding has never been shown or proven by the scientific community. Responsible feeding programs have been in existence around the world for over 30 years with an impeccable safety record."

This morning I am off to Shark Canyon, Florida's best shark dive. Like many areas that are not allowed to feed, the sharks are still their. I am sure we will get good images of them, but not nearly as many or as great as they could be if we were to bring bait. Directly inshore from the sight is a 24/7 shark feed (fishing pier) in the middle of a public beach. However their is a sign that says "No Shark Feeding". A fisherman on camera pointed out to me " I usually catch 3 sharks a day! The sign was put up to calm the fears of bathers at the beach. Everyone know sharks can't read sign, at least not where it sits up on the road!"

Going diving with my camera,
Jim Abernethy
Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures - Diving Palm Beach and the Bahamas

#16 wetpixel

wetpixel

    Wetpixel

  • Admin
  • 2943 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 05 March 2003 - 08:17 AM

Dr. Eric Ritter
Ph.D., Hofstra University, Senior Scientist, Green Marine,
Scientific Board of Shark Foundation, Investigator for Global Shark Attack File

"...Responsible feeding programs have been in existence around the world for over 30 years with an impeccable safety record."

Oh, the irony...

:) :) :)
Eric Cheng - Administrator, Wetpixel -

#17 Mokarran

Mokarran

    Hermit Crab

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 05 March 2003 - 10:00 AM

Can anyone take part?

I fear for the long time effect this takes on the poor shark. If some crazy scientist says its ok then the world is put to right; I reckon he gets a cut of the takings. I think you might find that it has more to do with the thousands of dollars a day going through companies turning sharks and other marine creatures into circus animals. This is not natural. It might save a few sharks cos the fishermen get a cut also, but long term they will still go... All this talk about global - I presume this is USA like Mr Universe - Any other place has had it condemned and stopped. And yes people have died feeding sharks, a good friend here in Durban three years ago, and various places in the IO islands. Throughout the 90's some german idiot fed silvertips and grey sharks in the Red Sea until he was prosicuted when people were getting bit.

The gentleman above who said he does not feed sharks. Strange I have seen hundreds of pictures on various websites of you doing just that, it even has your name by the pictures. Whatever way you are doing it mate you are causing un natural behaviours in the animals. You are preying on the fact that people want to get close to sharks and I think you are loving the money more than you are the animals that feed you.

Just my couple.

#18 wetpixel

wetpixel

    Wetpixel

  • Admin
  • 2943 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 05 March 2003 - 10:26 AM

Mokarran: where's the evidence? It seems that people against shark baiting use arguments like, "I presume that..." and "I believe that..." and "it seems that..."

Numbers and evidence are more interesting, in my opinion.

Jimmy has fed sharks before, but normally does not, on charter trips. I'll let him answer that one. :)
Eric Cheng - Administrator, Wetpixel -

#19 scottyb

scottyb

    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 357 posts

Posted 05 March 2003 - 10:29 AM

There may be some people that make a living introdicing people to sharks but I don't think they are getting wealthy. The key is to educate the local people as to the value of not foolishly harvesting and showing that they are more of a commodity alive than dead. It's the same argument used to convince people that coral reefs are resource and not to blast them into extinction. Of course, there are those that profit from that as well and some may contend that they are being exploited as well.

Just remember, in the big picture, humanity is only a pimple on the earths butt. We may see how much we can take out before we go, but we will go. It's not a matter of "if" but "when".

#20 jimabernethy

jimabernethy

    Clownfish

  • Industry
  • Pip
  • 20 posts
  • Location:West Palm Beach, Florida

Posted 05 March 2003 - 02:22 PM

If some crazy scientist says its ok then the world is put to right; I reckon he gets a cut of the takings. I think you might find that it has more to do with the thousands of dollars a day going through companies turning sharks and other marine creatures into circus animals. This is not natural. It might save a few sharks cos the fishermen get a cut also, but long term they will still go... All this talk about global - I presume this is USA like Mr Universe - Any other place has had it condemned and stopped. And yes people have died feeding sharks, a good friend here in Durban three years ago, and various places in the IO islands. Throughout the 90's some german idiot fed silvertips and grey sharks in the Red Sea until he was prosicuted when people were getting bit.

The gentleman above who said he does not feed sharks. Strange I have seen hundreds of pictures on various websites of you doing just that, it even has your name by the pictures. Whatever way you are doing it mate you are causing un natural behaviours in the animals. You are preying on the fact that people want to get close to sharks and I think you are loving the money more than you are the animals that feed you.

Just my couple.

Mokarran,
Thanks very much for your opinion. Do you have any evidence at all, that these scientist from around the world are all on the take or is this just something you think? Who is paying them? I can't believe that scientist spend all that time and money on there education so they can do years of research to find answers to unanswered questions,only to be told what they need to say at the end of this, as if they were nothing more than a puppet with a degree. Are you implying that the fisherman are on the payroll of the dive operators as well? If not,who is paying the fisherman?

The term "Global" refers to exactly that - the whole world. The board of the Global Interactive Marine Experiences Council was assembled to help fight issues for divers worldwide and was represented by individuals from many different countries, not just the US. I don't actually know how many countries had representatives at the meeting, but if you are interested I will look into it for you. It was assembled to fight for divers rights. Shark feeding was just the cause that brought them together.

If what you are saying is actually true about someone getting killed at an organized shark dive, please tell me the name of the victim (your friend), the name of the dive operation that ran the organized shark dive and the year it happened, so I can look into it. This is the first I have heard of anything like this and I will be happy to share my results (good or bad) with everyone, after you give me this information and I look into it. I agree with you that people have died feeding sharks, in fact the global shark attack files is on record saying that "90% of all shark attacks are directly or indirectly attributed to fishing which is one form of feeding." According to this organization (GSAF), directly means they were holding the fishing pole or spear gun themselves when they were bit and indirectly means their friend got bit, while they were hold the fishing equipment. In fact, all of the fatality's in the US were indirectly attributed to fishing. Presently according to both the Global Shark Attack File and the International Shark Attack File, their has NEVER been a fatality at any organized shark dive worldwide.

Let me shed a little light on the topic of what I meant by saying that I do not feed sharks because that is incorrect. I apologize for not being more precise. I have fed sharks for many years, until I realized that it is much better not to feed them if you want them to stay around. This happened roughly 3 years ago. I do not let the sharks feed during shark expeditions or shark dives in order to keep them around as long as possible, sometimes for three or four days. Occasionally they will steal some of the bait, if my crew is caught by surprise. I do release the fish to them, when we leave the area. If I am planning to leave this site to go to another site, usually because the big sharks are not their, I usually feed them at that point as well! I have fed sharks by hand on many occasions for fun, although usually we don't feed them, in order to keep them around longer. I also feed sharks and many other fish as well while I fish, as I am not very good at fishing. Let me restate that - I am an excellent fisherman - it is catching that I seem to be very poor at.

As to the subject of loving the money more than the animals I feed. You obviously don't no me very well, as I love all animals. I didn't get into the scuba business to make money, no one does with any brains! I got into this business because I love animal encounters of all types, especially in the ocean. Anyone who has spent anytime with me will tell you what I live for.
As far as loving money more than animals is concerned, you should know that I support many conservation efforts: I support Sea Shepard Conservation Society financially every year and have since I learned about this organization many years ago. In my opinion they are the most aggressive conservation society on the planet and our animals need this. If you haven't heard about them previously, please check them out. They make a big difference with many types of animals, including sharks. ( www.seashepherd.org ) I also support with both time, work and money (as a volunteer) the Marine Life Center of Juno Beach ( www.marinelife.org ) and the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary ( http://www.jupiterpa.../buschws1.shtml )in Jupiter, Florida. I have been a volunteer at the Marine Life Center for roughly 20 years. I have a turtle permit for the state of Florida, to allow me to help in the care for these animals for roughly fifteen years. This past year I donated money, time and work to the National Marine Fisheries Service under their Goliath Grouper division ( http://www.nmfs.noaa...th_grouper.html ) in order to help with the continued protection of the Goliath Grouper. I have already volunteered my services to them again for this year. I also support financially the Save the Manatee Club ( www.savethemanatee.org ) to help out with these poor animals. I have worked as a volunteer, donating money and my time collecting water and algae samples for the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution ( www.hboi.edu ) for the past two years. I did this two see if our scientists can help figure out why a new strand of algae are choking the reefs in the Bahamas at an alarming rate. I feel very fortunate to be able to help animals that need our help so desperately! Sorry to get so defensive, but you were way off base with this one! I will not hold it against you, because I know you don't know me. Please don't consider this any type of attack either, just debate and defense!

Best Regards,
Jim Abernethy
Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures - Diving Palm Beach and the Bahamas