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Shark bite on Shear Water, Bahamas

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First, I'm very sorry to hear. My condolances to family of the deceased.

 

And allthough I have not been on Jim Abernethys boat yet, hope to be in the near future, I can sympathise with his situation.

 

Voices will rise from all kind of directions, wanting to ban shark diving. For different reasons.

 

 

THE SAFETY ARGUMENT

 

I think it's very important to agree that there is a calculated risk entering the water with bait and big sharks, just as there are risks with a lot of activities. Statistics however show that the calculated risk of being bitten by a shark while shark diving, is very, very slim. If we are to ban this activity in the name of safety, then we have to prohibit a lot of other activities as well. Diving on scuba, perhaps.

 

 

THE ALTERING THEIR BEHAVIOUR ARGUMENT

 

Sometimes some, generally the fishing lobby, claim that baiting will alter/interfer with sharks behaviour, making them associate humans with food. It has it's base in the Pavlov experiment, where Pavlov made dogs associate a bell with food. It might be possible with sharks as well, considered that we regularly feed the same individuals over a period of time. But in baiting/attracting, there are no feeding going on, hence no reward! It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding.

 

 

THE CONSERVATIONIST ARGUMENT

 

Some think that we should not do this, for the sake/respect of the sharks, and that they are much more beatiful when you see them by chance. Well, I think most of us can agree with this, on a philosophical level. But we live in the real world, and sharks are in deep shit. Anything that can help sharks is good inmo, including Disney-land-like shows. Shark diving is a significant factor in increasing interest and gaining support for sharks among the broad public, they have quite an upphill. Perhaps we should send a reporter from the leading tabloid/s in every country on a shark dive?

 

 

Just some thoughts

 

Christian

Edited by Christian K

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Posted it on the front page, and I'll repost here -- CNN's "This American Morning" show is about to run a feature on "why divers would jump in the water with dangerous sharks". Just in case anyone has a chance to check it out or find it afterward online. I have to run to a conference session an will most likely miss it . . .

 

EDIT: Here is a link to the video:

 

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2008/0...ewart.shark.cnn

Edited by MikeO

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"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

 

What? That "thought transition" doesn't need to occur, it's instinctive. That smell tells sharks there's food to be had. That's why they come.

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"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

 

What? That "thought transition" doesn't need to occur, it's instinctive. That smell tells sharks there's food to be had. That's why they come.

 

Yes, it's instinct. But if there's no food to be had, no 'reward', I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food. For that they would need to draw some conclusions. Sharks are probably smarter than they have been credited for in the past, but I don't think baiting makes them associate people with food. Just my opinion.

 

cheers

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"I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food."

 

That's a far different statement that the one you made previously. Here's that quote again:

 

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

 

The natural thing is for sharks to associate the blood in the water with food. Whether they associate humans with the blood in the water I don't know, but I'm not going to assume it as you have just done. Furthermore, you have assumed that sharks learn that the smell in the water is NOT associated with food due to lack of "reward" yet exactly the opposite will get reinforced when humans are not around. For sharks to do what you assume they've already done means that they associate that smell plus the presence of humans to mean no food due to lack of reward. To me, that assumes that sharks are far more capable than you claim "very unlikely" in your original point. I'm not even convinced that sharks think of humans as anything other than odd looking predators like them. If sharks learn to know that no food is around then they will stop coming around themselves. That doesn't happen.

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About 20 years ago I agitated for the use of Bear Canisters while backpacking in the California Sierra. At that time, most people were either hanging the food (which was ineffectual) or sleeping with the food in their tents. I mounted quite a stir about this practice, even to the extent of refusing to go to the thruhiker gathering that I founded (ADZPCTKO) because I felt that eventually the bears would associate a human in a tent with food and start crashing the tent to get it.

 

Guess what. Today the incidents of Bears crashing tents for the food has increased dramatically. Guess what else. The arguments posted here are virtually identical to the arguments then.

 

When will the sharks learn? I said then as others are saying now...."It's not if, it's when"

 

Fortunately, I can dive where nobody feeds the sharks.

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Its really hard to come up with anything fresh on this subject. Its frustrating to see what I consider a random act generate so much controversy.

I'm tired of being "protected" by big brother. Jimmy provides a true life changing experience. And its the huge risk associated with it that makes it so cool. My prayers go out to Mr. Groh's family.

 

Rand

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"I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food."

 

That's a far different statement that the one you made previously. Here's that quote again:

 

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

 

I don't think you're giving sharks enough credit. The crew of the Shearwater have noticed that the reef sharks will show up whether they chum or not. They, the crew, think that the sharks have been trained to associate the sound of the Shearwater's motor with food. On my trip we saw many sharks on the one dive where we did not chum. Of course I don't have a baseline for the number that usually show up at that reef. Someone should go and dive there off a sail boat and see if there are differences.

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"I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food."

 

That's a far different statement that the one you made previously. Here's that quote again:

 

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

 

The natural thing is for sharks to associate the blood in the water with food. Whether they associate humans with the blood in the water I don't know, but I'm not going to assume it as you have just done. Furthermore, you have assumed that sharks learn that the smell in the water is NOT associated with food due to lack of "reward" yet exactly the opposite will get reinforced when humans are not around. For sharks to do what you assume they've already done means that they associate that smell plus the presence of humans to mean no food due to lack of reward. To me, that assumes that sharks are far more capable than you claim "very unlikely" in your original point. I'm not even convinced that sharks think of humans as anything other than odd looking predators like them. If sharks learn to know that no food is around then they will stop coming around themselves. That doesn't happen.

 

By judging your response, I suspect that you misinterpreted my post big time. It may very well have been badly written. English is not my native language, but I do try my best.

 

First, I do not assume that sharks will associate humans with the smell/blood in the water as you claim. On the contrary, my whole point was to debate the opinion that baiting alters sharks behaviour and makes them associate humans with food. I don't think it does and I didn't write that.

 

Nor have I assumed that sharks learn that the smell is not (?) associated with food due to the lack of reward (where did you read that in!?). THAT would really take some thinking. I don't think they learn anything. Just instinct, as you stated yourself. What I tried to say was that there might be a point in differentiating baiting from feeding in the debate, due to arguments often raised against baiting. If there's no reward, there isn't even a theoretical chance for the shark to "learn" that humans give them food, even if they are capable of it or not. I don't know if they are and I do not make that assumption.

 

Christian

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We went on Jim Abernethy's Shearwater boat Jan. 2-9 2008 and loved it.

Jim and his crew Gray, Don, and Wade made us feel very comfortable, safe and full ( of food).

Jim gave a great photo workshop and saved me many headaches with his camera setting pointers.

The boat was better set up than we thought and between the other guests and the crew, this trip was unforgettable. And we have done the great whites twice and Fiji bull sharks once, all with Lawrence Groth at www.seesharks.com

After this very unfortunate accident with Markus Groh, our hearts sank thinking about what our friends on the boat went through and how they must feel. I have worked on boats and have had a diver die in my arms.We don't decide the end. It is emotionally tough. Of course we feel terrible for Markus, his family and his friends that were also on the boat. We have prayed for everyone involved. This accident has rocked the shark divers world. One in part due to the lies and grand standing by the media and shark diving competitors.

We hope that Markus' family and friends have the support they need during their difficult time. If he came all that way with his friends, I'm sure he was a good diver and I know he was in good hands with the Shearwater crew.

 

We do what we do because we love animals and nature. We work to promote saving and better understanding these animals. We know the risks.

If a miner dies in a mine collapse we don't criticize them and tell them they were wrong to go/work in the mine.

I don't see/hear anybody criticizing spear fishers , shark fishers, snorkelers or surfers when they get bit. Shark divers are the people who try to save sharks. This bad press,misinformation and grand standing regarding this unfortunate accident undermines the attempts to save these necessary creatures.

 

My best buddy is my wife Mary, who at 115 pounds makes me nervous when we are around some giants whether sharks, whales or strong currents, but she does what she loves, does it safely and lets God do what he does.

 

Anyways,

The same day we read about the accident we rebooked with Jim for next Jan. on the Shearwater. We are also waiting for our friends to fill up the rest of the boat. THAT, should tell you everything about how we feel about Jim,Gray, Don, Wade and the rest of the crew on at Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures.

 

Robert Lupo Dion and Mary O'Malley

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And its the huge risk associated with it that makes it so cool.

 

I've seen this point made quite a few times, and I just want to chime in - the risk factor is NOT the appeal for many of us. I'm pretty risk-averse in general, but I would absolutely love to go on this sort of dive. The few chances I've had to be in the water with big sharks have been amazing experiences.

 

I would dive despite the risk, not because of it, and I know a lot of people feel the same.

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My thoughts and prayers go out to Markus Groh and his family. I would also like to give my support and prayers to Jim Abernethy and the staff at JASA. I have been on the Shear Water on two trips and Jim and staff have a very well run and safe operation.

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I don't think you're giving sharks enough credit.

No, Herb, I do. I'm well aware of all that you mentioned not just with sharks but with groupers and other predators. I've witnessed it first hand. It wasn't me that made the "very unlikely" comment at all. I think they are remarkably adaptable.

 

Christian, there's a lot confusing when you combine what you've just said with what you've said before. It doesn't matter though, all that matters is what you are trying to say.

 

I think it's clear that sharks learn but in every case they will do what's in their best interest and that's primarily eating and not being killed. Boats that chum the water but don't bait I suspect are a rare or nonexistent breed. Every time I've experienced chumming, although very few times, there has always been bait as well. Furthermore, I don't think sharks will ever lose the connection between blood and food since it will be constantly reinforced regardless of what we do as divers. We are lucky that sharks rarely target humans as food.

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Did anyone see Anderson Cooper tonight? I hear it was a big turnaround in the media.

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I am very troubled by the accusations of blame I'm coming across in the press. It seems to be one of the more reprehensible qualities of human thinking to lay blame whenever possible. This was an accident. Nothing could have foretold it.

 

As you all know, there are many dangers when one dives. The main one is drowning, as well as the changes in the body due to pressure changes that can be fatal or cause fatal accidents.

 

When I was learning to dive, three divers just disappeared, and no one knew what happened to them. It was thought that they drifted too deep and couldn't make it back to the light of the surface. Since then I have heard from time to time of other similar disappearances, of people apparently fascinated by the deep and failing to return. It would be interesting to compare the statistics on divers lost to drowning, and other dive related accidents, and those lost to sharks.

 

The other thing is that each shark is an individual, and each that I have known here, (reef sharks), has shown not only a different pattern of spending time, but different ways of treating me. Only two out of about 600 that I met closely enough to properly identify, were worryingly aggressive; one showed up in my area repeatedly, (for four months each year) and I really had to watch her. She had an influence on the others, too. I had to adjust my actions at times according to whether this one shark was present--she would charge repeatedly, ignore the gentle-hand-on-the-head approach, zoom past my ear from behind, and orbit my head at lightspeed for minutes at a time. Nearly all those susceptible to her influence were females in their first year of reproduction. So hormones were influencing their behaviour on top of each shark's natural "personality."

 

Maybe Markus Groh had the misfortune to meet that one most aggressive bull in the area. At any rate, sharks do not all act the same. Its interesting that the shark bit his extremity, as in a sort of warning slash, rather than going for the body core.

 

My deep sympathies go out to Jim...

 

Ila

French Polynesia

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There is a unity and joy that is shared between divers that compares to that of a loving family or the best of friends. It is difficult to describe it in words but our bond is united by our love affair with the ocean. We are passionate to levels beyond the understanding of those who have never experienced the underwater world and so we are compelled to become ambassadors of our blue planet until our final breath.

 

And thus nothing brings a more somber feeling to our hearts than to lose a fellow diver. Whether we knew him or not, we know we have lost a friend -- a member of our diving family. It is with great sorrow to hear of the passing of our friend, Markus Groh. While we may not experience the pain and sorrow of his family we share in that pain. For there is no doubt that Markus’ spirit and passion is our own.

 

It is difficult at times to explain why we choose to put our very life at risk when we dive. But there is no question in our minds that when we dive and experience the magical splendor of the underwater world that is when we feel the most alive. We know subconsciously that our next breath could be our last but we accept it and would even be thankful to have parted this Earth doing what we love.

 

May your spirit roam as free as the sea, Markus.

 

Your friend,

Laz

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..... This was an accident. Nothing could have foretold it. .....
:);) chum for sharks. sharks arrive. sharks bite a diver.

 

actually, I think it's happened before. I could have foretold it. I may not have been able to say which day, location and victim but I'm not a fortune teller. Just a guy with a little common sense and a healthy respect for nature.

 

BTW, I'm not a "Jaws fearing" diver. I swim towards sharks when I see them but, sadly, those occasions are getting less frequent. With stories like this coming out, I also fear the frequency of sightings will be further reduced.

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As Peter Benchley once told me, the shark is the perfect monster for most people because they know little about them, can attribute any behaviour they like to them, and yet they will not follow them upstairs to bed at night! Ignorance is man's greatest passion so it is inevitable that we shall now witness an outpouring of ignorance. Has anyone yet said that the only good shark is a dead shark? It's predictable. Stand by!

 

Oh, it was an embolism? Stand by for the call to ban scuba diving!

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:);) chum for sharks. sharks arrive. sharks bite a diver.

 

actually, I think it's happened before. I could have foretold it. I may not have been able to say which day, location and victim but I'm not a fortune teller. Just a guy with a little common sense and a healthy respect for nature.

 

BTW, I'm not a "Jaws fearing" diver. I swim towards sharks when I see them but, sadly, those occasions are getting less frequent. With stories like this coming out, I also fear the frequency of sightings will be further reduced.

The fact that this incident occurred in the presence of chum, does not make it any less an accident, just as accidents happen with mountain climbing or other 'risky' activities. Jim Abernathy has incredible respect for nature and common sense. In any activity such as this the responsibility of those involved is to manage the risk to every degree possible, as Jim Abernathy does. There are those who would consider even scuba diving to be risky behavior (including my life insurance provider).

Edited by loftus

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Did anyone see Anderson Cooper tonight? I hear it was a big turnaround in the media.

I would like to see this, if there is any way you know of to see a rerun? I have a lot of respect for him.

Edited by loftus

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As Peter Benchley once told me, the shark is the perfect monster for most people because they know little about them, can attribute any behaviour they like to them, and yet they will not follow them upstairs to bed at night! Ignorance is man's greatest passion so it is inevitable that we shall now witness an outpouring of ignorance. Has anyone yet said that the only good shark is a dead shark? It's predictable. Stand by!

 

 

 

 

Well put John.

 

Paul C

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Oh, it was an embolism? Stand by for the call to ban scuba diving!

John, apparently it was loss of blood from his wounds that killed him... at least according to Meredith Verieina of the Today Show who quoted the Miami-Dade Country Medical Examiner. There was no embolism.

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The fact that this incident occurred in the presence of chum, does not make it any less an accident, just as accidents happen with mountain climbing or other 'risky' activities.

 

Being an accident doesn't mean that nothing could have foretold it either. If you die attempting Mt. Everest it may well be an accident, it may well be tragic, but it certainly wouldn't be that surprising. I don't think zippsy's comment was a criticism of diving or even risky diving but with the hyperbole.

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John, apparently it was loss of blood from his wounds that killed him... at least according to Meredith Verieina of the Today Show who quoted the Miami-Dade Country Medical Examiner. There was no embolism.

 

Does that mean we can still go diving? (...but not in shark-infested waters!)

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Being an accident doesn't mean that nothing could have foretold it either. If you die attempting Mt. Everest it may well be an accident, it may well be tragic, but it certainly wouldn't be that surprising. I don't think zippsy's comment was a criticism of diving or even risky diving but with the hyperbole.

In an earlier post I stated that accidents are inevitable, and the chances of course increase the riskier the behavior, I agree. I think it is important to emphasize though that the approach taken by Jim, including chum in the water, is never reckless in any way, and that these activities are pursued by people who choose to do them, and whose common sense and respect for nature is not necessarily compromised.

Edited by loftus

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