Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua, June/July 2012

whale sharks cenderawasih bay bittenbysharks professional imaging photography expeditions

  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 leonandclaudia

leonandclaudia

    Lionfish

  • Industry
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Posted 21 September 2012 - 06:56 AM

A mini movie of the Bittenbysharks team's most recent imaging expedition to the amazing whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua.The travel to Manokwari and ultimately, to the southern end of Cenderawasih Bay, was long and arduous, but well worth it! At the end of it all we found fantastic weather, glass calm seas, guaranteed whale shark sightings, we spent hours in the water with them each day.


Edited by leonandclaudia, 21 September 2012 - 07:12 AM.


#2 AllisonFinch

AllisonFinch

    Manta Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 404 posts
  • Location:Chapel Hill, NC
  • Interests:Caves, photos and long distance travel to dive.

Posted 21 September 2012 - 03:07 PM

Do you have footage of just the whale sharks?

#3 johnjvv

johnjvv

    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 254 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Frankston, Australia

Posted 21 September 2012 - 04:12 PM

Looks like a jolly group of people you were diving with!!! I have never dived with whale sharks but this does give a better insight as to how it is done. Do the whale sharks know that they get fed in the area and stick around? Quite funny seeing the big one bumping the little one away!

#4 leonandclaudia

leonandclaudia

    Lionfish

  • Industry
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Posted 22 September 2012 - 02:06 AM

Hi John, a very jolly group indeed! but then our trips are typically loads of fun, so nothing unusual. In West Papua, whale shark behaviour is rather uncommon compared to other parts of the world; in this particular bay, the bagan fishermen through the years have 'befriended' the gentle giants as they come up from the depths to investigate their fishing platforms when the nets are being lifted. The nets are very large and bulge with small baitfish,and when they are pulled up, as a matter of course, lots of little fish escape their fate - and it is this 'overflow' to which the whale sharks are attracted. Whale sharks are usually filter feeders, true, and so this is certainly 'different'. The advantage as a visiting snorkeler or diver wanting an 'up close and personal experience' with whale sharks, is that the gentle giants tend to stick around, sometimes for hours on end (literally!), in the general vicinity, whether there are baitfish floating in the water or not. They have also learned to suck on the nets which bulge with baitfish, a strange sight to behold! And so, snorkelers and divers can really spend quality time observing the whale sharks as they slowly swim around and around the platform, unlike other places where sightings can tend to be hit and miss. We have done the 'microlight spotting, there's one!, jump in quick, don't make a splash though, swim for your life and snap a quick shot' whale shark experiences before, and this Papuan experience was altogether different, relaxed , with sightings guaranteed. Bear in mind that there is not much actual 'feeding' really, the presence of the whale sharks is merely the result of the fishermen lifting up their nets three times a day, and the whale sharks consequently lured in to the 'overflow' falling out of the nets, which they seem to find a tasty treat. The feeding itself is not entirely necessary to keep them there, merely to lure them back to the general platform area, once they have left. Once the whale sharks have visited a bagan for the early morning net lifting, they disappear into the depths, and can strangely enough be 'called' back (if you will) by a spot of 'dunking' of a small net in and out the water and a sprinkling of baitfish. Just this small action in itself, can bring single animals, more often two's and up to seven or more, up to the platform area, where they will tend to stay for hours on end: snorkelers and divers at this point in their element, of course. And this is a daily occurrence, (whether the divers are there or not) as long as the bagan fishermen are active, lifting their nets at regular intervals, this behaviour is par for the course. The fishermen are of course rather amused at the seemingly ridiculous foreigners who like to jump in and swim with their the 'hiu bodoh' as they call them locally (the foolish shark (!)).
Anyhow, hope you can join us some day John!

#5 leonandclaudia

leonandclaudia

    Lionfish

  • Industry
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Posted 22 September 2012 - 02:14 AM

Do you have footage of just the whale sharks?


Many angles and behaviours, yes. This particular movie documents this particular group trip.

#6 leonandclaudia

leonandclaudia

    Lionfish

  • Industry
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Posted 22 September 2012 - 03:40 AM

We did two whale shark trips departing Manokwari, and managed to squeeze in a leatherback turtle trip in-between. Here is a short movie of that incredible experience.


Edited by leonandclaudia, 22 September 2012 - 03:42 AM.


#7 MortenHansen

MortenHansen

    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 209 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Posted 22 September 2012 - 05:34 PM

Hi Leon & Claudia!

Congrats on the nice footage, incredible how easily animals change their behavior when humans start interfering, hopefully the sharks will be able to change back if the fishermen ever decide to move to another location.

The Leatherback turtle is very high on my must see list- gotta be an amazing experience!

I was only wondering, are there any regulations when tourists film/photograph the turtles while laying eegs?
The leatherbacks are rated "critically endangered" by the IUCN.
I am in no way an expert on this, so correct me if you think I'm wrong, but what I remember from previous experiences working with turtle conservation programs in Lombok and Malaysian borneo is this:

1: Avoid using flash on turtles while being on land as it can confuse and scare the turtle to a point that she will give up laying her eegs. Also it is not recommended to use high intensity torches, especially one should take care not to shine the torch/flash the camera in the "face" of the turtle.

2: Make sure that you do not light up the beach with any artificial light (headlights of cars, hotel/restaurant lights, bonfires etc).

3: Stay at the tree-line, do not walk on the beach as you will never know if you're walking on top of a turtles nest and crushing the eggs.

4: Finally, don't touch the turtles unless absolutely necessary (if the turtle cannot find its way back into the sea because of artificial lights etc)

As we can see in the video there seams to be taken data of the turtles, and to my eye it even looks like they are doing tagging- which is something I wouldn't expect here in Indonesia, big thumbs up for that, would just wish that the tourists would be a little more careful.

Anyways, it looks really cool whats going on out there in the east, whale-shark galore, leatherbacks, gotta get some time off and finally come out for a visit! Is the leatherback population large enough that there is a good chance to see them while diving/snorkeling?

Happy bubbles, M.

#8 gee13

gee13

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 133 posts

Posted 25 September 2012 - 12:23 AM

Much nicer trying finding them and capturing photos of tje sharks filter feeding in the wild..and not in some sort of tourist attraction semi aquarium type setup.. where what you see is rather artificial and predictable..just my two pence

#9 leonandclaudia

leonandclaudia

    Lionfish

  • Industry
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:21 AM

Much nicer trying finding them and capturing photos of tje sharks filter feeding in the wild..and not in some sort of tourist attraction semi aquarium type setup.. where what you see is rather artificial and predictable..just my two pence


A 'tourist attraction semi aquarium type setup' would be rather impossible to orchestrate. Cenderawasih Bay is immense. And very deep. Hundreds of fishing platforms scattered randomly in a 25 000 sq mile, 2000 ft deep bay, is hardly what we would call an 'artificial and predictable'. With or without tourists, and whether or not they choose to make the long trip to jump into the water surrounding the platform, the fishermen and their platforms are always there; have been there for decades and as long as they have permits to fish, they will continue to foster their 'relationship' with these gentle giants.
Recently, with a field station that happened to be in the nearby surrounds, scientists during their surveys curiously asked the fishermen why they had not been alerted to the presence of these whalesharks, they replied simply - ' ....well, you did not ask....'
As much as you may think this a aquarium type set-up, it could not be further from the truth. The only predictability in this case, is the spectacular destination and the whalesharks - guaranteed.

#10 gee13

gee13

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 133 posts

Posted 29 September 2012 - 05:52 PM

You cannot simply claim that whaleshark feeding practices are not artificial and predictable. However I can see how one could be easily biased if there is a vested interest in such practice. It would not be unlike Seaworld claiming that their performing seals and killerwhales are all natural and good for their wellbeing.

Seeing the whalesharks twist and turn for food from the platforms is difficult to comprehend having seen them filter feeding naturally in the wild. The result of such practice is a re-sensitization of their natural and innate migratory feeding patterns.They are also being fed on dead ikan pari (stingrays) by the fishermen, not fresh krill and plankton their natural food sources. How all this is meant to be good for whalesharks Im not sure.

Futhermore it is where tourism dollars truly upsets the balance just like at Oslob where whaleshark feeding attracts numbers in the thousands and the result has been only harm, injury and harrasment to the sharks. Cenderawasih is fortunate for the moment its less accesible than Cebu. But word has already got out and number of tourists, divers and boats have increased - it would be only a matter of time before this could become even more inevitable as more flights open up to Nabire and Biak.

And oh by the way ..the local fishermen tend to tell the foreigner scientists what they wanted to hear of course...

Edited by gee13, 29 September 2012 - 09:51 PM.


#11 SPP

SPP

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 105 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:01 AM

Whale shark meat to some fishing villages in Indonesia were food and is food ..... if and when necessary.
It is better to see the whales becoming attraction then to become whale meat sold cheap or its fins becoming a Chinese delicacy.

What Cendrawasi bay management need is like Oslob-Cebu management : ( I was at Oslob a few months ago )
- No strobes or lights whatsoever
- No touching or riding of whales,Oslob-Cebu has patrol guys on the surface to watch tourist interaction with the whales.

- No pointer or any rod or any sharp object allowed.
- Snorkler limited to 30 minutes per day per person
- Divers limited to 1 hour x 2 dives per day. I can't remember the limits per day for snokelers and divers.

- Pay to dive ? ...........depends.
The ones in blue are most important.

Some whale sharks love humans. Long time ago I as doing deco stop and a WS came. I have no camera on me.
I played with it, tag along its dorsal fin.....yep.
We were only on 300 psi, stayed as long as possible.
When we were up on the boat, it came to the boat rubbing it and seems wishing we will stay in the water. It gave us that "crying child look" and with that mouth open/close next to the boat like begging for more fun time. It stayed with us next to the boat and refused to go.

These Cendrawasi Bay whales came to the fishermen because of waste/fish dropping from the net. The same as some commercial fishing boats dumping left overs and fishes knew this and started to hang out when such vessels are dumping. Wild or not, free food is what animal love. They recognized free meals.

Anyone coming from 1st world countries may think what's going on in Oslob-Cebu and Cendrawasi Bay as a big NO-NO, but the overall picture is much better than these :

http://www.lightmedi...whale_shark.pdf
http://www.asiadives...indo-030608.php

Some areas in Indonesia, a dog meat is a delicacy........YES, Manado has small restaurants selling them. Is that wrong ? You tell me.

If the whale sharks decided to stay or come often for free meal, that is their decision. We divers only need to make sure they do not become whale meat, since we care about them.
.

Edited by SPP, 30 October 2012 - 10:03 AM.


#12 wagsy

wagsy

    Blue Whale

  • Senior Moderator
  • 3845 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cairns, Queensland.
  • Interests:Sewing and Knitting......no diving of course :-)

Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:06 AM

I just got back from a trip over there on the True North. The floppy whale sharks are amazing, blows old Ningaloo away big time lol.
Buying the catch to feed the sharks and having the money go to the people for looking after the sharks is far better than having them harm them for money.
Long time I think its going to be a good thing as this special place takes off.
Posted Image
Amphibico Phenom & EVO PRO & Navigator 900
Share Your Underwater Videos www.hdvunderwater.com | www.flykam.com.au | www.reeftorainforest.com.au

#13 diggy

diggy

    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 384 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mumbai, India
  • Interests:U/W Photography

Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:46 AM

I was there last July and this was my first attempt at Shooting Video with the 7 D . I do have extensive footage but have managed to showcase a 3.5 min video. Hope you guys like it.



Cheers,

Diggy

SERENE I FOLD MY HANDS AND WAIT,    FOR WHAT IS MINE WILL KNOW MY FACE

Diggy          http://www.scubadiggy.com/

Canon7D, Nauticam housing, mini and large dome, canon 100mm, canon 60mm, 10-17 tokina, macro ports, extensions, two inon Z240, Nauticam SMC converter, +3, +5 diopters. Two Sola 2000, One Sola 1200, Go Pro hero 3 Black 


#14 leonandclaudia

leonandclaudia

    Lionfish

  • Industry
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Posted 02 November 2012 - 01:39 PM

I agree with SPP