GUATEMALAN SHARKS AND
RAYS AWARENESS PROJECT
Predators in Peril
Photographer Andy Murch partnered with staff members from the
Guatemalan conservation group Fundacion Mundo Azul (FMA) to observe
and document in images artisanal Guatemalan shark fishermen working
in the Gulf of Guatemala. This resulted in a better understanding of
the catch composition and the addition of a new shark species
previously not recorded in Guatemalan waters.
The shark images were
then used by FMA to produce posters and educate fishermen about the
species of most concern within their range. Read more here:
Shark Photography Expedition
Catshark - Scyliorhinus hesperius. First record of this species from
NEW IMAGES FROM MIRISSA
HARBOUR, SRI LANKA
We have just
uploaded new images of sharks being unloaded and displayed for sale
in Mirissa Harbour in southern Sri Lanka. While in this area looking
for blue whales, we were able to record sharks being brought in each
morning. Everyday, hundreds of sharks arrived on the dock where
eager traders waited to cart them away. Most of the species that
could be identified were shortfin makos, blacktip sharks, whitecheek
sharks and oceanic whitetips. Other than the makos, most of the
sharks were less than one meter in length.
To see more
image from Sri Lanka, please follow this link:
Shark Fishing Exposé.
NEW IMAGES FROM DEIRA
FISH MARKET IN DUBAI
the UAE to photograph endemic shark species, we visited Deira Fish
Market in Dubai. Deira is an important trading centre for shark
fishing boats throughout the Arabian Gulf and western Indian Ocean.
images of hundreds of shark carcasses are now available for use by
conservation organizations that wish to draw attention to the plight
of sharks in that area. The image shown below has already been
shared more than 5000 times on Facebook so these images will clearly
make an impact. To see a selection of the images that can be
downloaded and shared (with permission) please follow this link:
Market shark carcasses and shark fins.
ENDANGERED SHARKS AND RAYS
OF JAPAN PROJECT
We have just
returned from a field trip to Honshu, Japan where we worked with
local guides and Japanese fishermen to document ten new species of
sharks and rays that will soon be showcased on Elasmodiver.com. Many
of these species are considered near threatened or vulnerable by the
will now be held available when environmental groups require them to
illustrate future conservation initiatives.
The Japanese sleeper ray; one of many
vulnerable species from Japan.
ANGELSHARK IMAGES CAPTURED IN ARGENTINA
Success on our
endangered shark expedition to Argentina. Read about the expedition
WORK COMPLETED ON
After the unfortunate loss of our first
Deep Cam in South Africa in June 2014, we have completed work on a
second deep cam for recording sharks and other ocean creatures at
depths that it is not practical to reach on scuba. Many deepwater
sharks mature very slowly and have low reproductive rates because of
the hostile conditions in which they live. In the last few decades,
fishing pressure on deepwater sharks has risen dramatically fueled
by a rising demand for squaline; a type of oil produced inside the
shark's liver to correct the animal's negative buoyancy. Squaline is
used in the production of cosmetics and many other products.
Monitoring of deepwater shark
populations is extremely difficult. As a group, their low fecundity
makes them extremely vulnerable to overexploitation. Images and
footage of deepwater species are extremely rare outside of the
academic community. Because of this, any images we can share of
deepwater species in their natural habitat will help us spread the
word about their plight.
CAMERA: GoPro3+ black edition
HOUSING: Custom built to operate at
LIGHTS: Four submersible lights rated
for the same depth and a
PREDATORS IN PERIL EXPEDITION TO ARGENTINA SCHEDULED FOR 2014
In our continuing effort to document the
fishing and shark abundance in Central and South America, Predators
in Peril is heading to Argentine in November/December 2014 to track
down Argentina's fragile shark population.
Due to poor visibility, large seas,
unpredictable weather conditions and a lack of diving
infrastructure, the expedition will be quite difficult. However, we
have been offered assistance from a variety of dive shops in the
region and we are hoping to be able to find cooperative fishermen
once we are on the ground.
Of special interest is the endangered
Argentine Angelshark and a number of endemic smoothhound species. We
will load images and report on the success of the project in the new
CAPTURES FOOTAGE OF MULTIPLE
DEEPWATER SHARK SPECIES
Over the last year, DeepSharkOne has
captured footage of multiple shark species including two species
from South Africa that have not been filmed before.
After some initial deepwater trials in
Baja, we were able to install the deep cam on reefs in the Bahamas
and in South Africa. The footage from those locations is included
SOUTH BIMINI ISLAND
On both our deep drops around South
Bimini Island we had Tiger Sharks show up to take the bait. The
Bimini Shark Lab conducts long-lining deep surveys in order to
assess the composition and abundance of sharks in deepwater surround
the island. By sharing this footage with them, we hope to
demonstrate a less invasive and less destructive method of
monitoring depths far beyond scuba limits.
First deep drop to 600ft/200m
drop to 800ft/270m
In South Africa we were able to capture
footage of two rarely seen sharks. As far as we know, this is the
first video footage of these animals:
In relatively shallow water in False
Bay, we were able to attract a number of Tiger Catsharks. Although
relatively common in the area, they are virtually never seen by
In East London in 300ft of water, the
deep cam was visited by a pair of shortnose dogfish sharks. Although
never seen because of its prefernce for deepwater, this species is
relatively abundant in South Africa but it comes under similar
fishing pressure to the critically endangered Spiny Dogfish that is
present in Europe.
Unfortunately, after many drops in the
Bahamas, Mexico, South Africa and Sri Lanka, DeepSharkOne was lost
at sea. After returning to the last coordinates where it had been
deployed we were unable to locate the camera's surface marker buoy.
Likely it was recovered by a fisherman in our absence but it is
possible that the line was cut by a boat or possibly a shark.
Construction on DeepSharkTwo will begin
BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS FUNDS
In an effort to make
future Predators in Peril expeditions as productive as possible,
PIP's primary sponsor has donated a baited drop camera
system designed to capture footage and still images of deepwater
sharks in their natural habitat. Once weighted, DS1 can be lowered
onto the substrate and left to record sharks and other marine life
that are attracted to the bait station (positioned in front of the
camera). Once activated, the system is capable of recording two
hours of HD footage.
The drop camera
system consists of the following components:
Go Pro Hero Black
Edition 3+ HD video camera capable of capturing 4K video and 12
megapixel still images.
anodized aluminum housing with acrylic ports rated to
Two LED video
lights rated to 1000ft/300m.
video light mounting bracket assemblies.
and marine grade polymer frame.
stainless tether engineered to withstand exploratory bites from
floats rated to maintain buoyancy at depths not exceeding
braided nylon line with a breaking strain of 1700lb.
stainless and polymer hand reel.
This primitive but
robust design is the first in a series of deepwater camera
systems that the PIP team hope to employ over the next few years.
When funding becomes available, work will commence on DEEPSHARKTWO;
a sophisticated thruster driven ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) that
can be deployed from the deck of any ocean going ship to search for
endangered sharks and rays at depths up to 3000ft/900m.
PREDATORS IN PERIL EXPEDITION TO NORTHERN BAJA ANNOUNCED FOR 2014
In May 2014, the
Predators in Peril team will mount an expedition to the northern Sea
of Cortez to document the work of artisanal shark fishermen in that
region. There are a number of endemic species of sharks that have
not yet been photographed from that region including the sicklefin
smoothhound shark (Mustelus lunulatus) and the whitemargin
The team will make two stops in California
while on route to Baja:
The first stop will be in Monterey to
attempt to photograph the prickly sharks (Echinorhinus cookei)
that inhabit Monterey Canyon. Although not directly targeted, the
prickly shark (considered 'near threatened' by the IUCN) is a rare
deepwater species that is taken as bycatch by line fisheries and
The second stop will be in San Diego to
work with sport fishermen that target thresher sharks. Common
threshers head inshore to feed in the early summer off the coast of
Southern California. By working with catch and release shark taggers,
the team hopes to document this iconic species that is listed as
'vulnerable' throughout its circum-temperate and tropical range.
Follow this link for more info:
2014 Northern Baja Artisanal
Shark Fishery Expedition
FREE SHARK PICTURES FOR CONSERVATION
The main focus of the
Predators in Peril Project is to provide images for other
conservation initiatives. Successful conservation projects require
direction, funding, support and images. PIP was specifically created
to provide the images that other conservation groups need in order
to illustrate their causes.
following images of dead sharks, sharks in distress, shark finning
and pictures of other dead or distressed predators that need
protecting are available COMPLETELY FREE for NGOs, Non profits and
anyone else that can put them to good use. Find out more:
FREE SHARK PICTURES
IN PERIL FOUNDER ANDY MURCH WINS FIRST PRIZE IN OCEANS IN FOCUS
Marine Photo Bank Grand
Prize Winner Andy Murch wins a trip to the Galapagos for his
compelling essay on the wasteful practice of Gillnet Fishing:
PREDATORS IN PERIL IMAGE SELECTED FOR
OCEANS IN FOCUS CONTEST FINAL ROUND
This provocative image of a
California Bat Ray ensnared in a gillnet off the coast of Baja,
Mexico, has been selected for the final round of judging in the SeaWeb Oceans In Focus Fifth Annual Conservation Photography
Contest. "Images contributed from around the world tell stories
of peril, passion and perseverance. The finalists are invited to
share the stories behind the images they have captured to bring us
all behind the lens and, in some cases, under the surface of the
sea. The six finalists will now compete in the grand prize photo
essay competition, which will determine the lucky winner of a trip
for two aboard the National Geographic Endeavour for a 10-day
expedition to the Galápagos Islands courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions".
OCEANS IN FOCUS CONTEST WINNERS
If the winning image (taken
by Predators in Peril Photographer Andy Murch) is selected as the
grand prize winner, as well as having the opportunity to document
the wonders of the Galapagos, Andy will have a great opportunity to
explore the fishing camps around Manta and other areas along the
policing of the Galapagos Archipelago, Ecuadorian fishermen continue
to fish for many depleted sharks (both inshore species and pelagic
species). Images and video from the fishing camps would be
valuable tools in exposing the truth about the fishing taking place
in this region.
AQUALUNG SPONSORS PREDATORS IN PERIL
In a generous gesture towards shark conservation, Aqualung has
agreed to become the primary scuba equipment sponsor of Predators in Peril's founder Andy Murch.
has equipped Andy
with a comprehensive range of light weight equipment
specifically designed to minimize baggage overages on international
expeditions without compromising performance.
PIP is extremely grateful of Aqualung's
commitment to conservation.
diving Aqualung's new range of ultra lightweight equipment which includes
Aqualungs Zuma BCD, Hotshot fins, Teknika mask, Aquaflex wetsuit and Apeks Flight Regulator, Andy was extremely
impressed with the quality, functionality and portability of each
component. Aqualung's technology will make a big difference to the
success of future Predators in Peril Expeditions.
This welcome sponsorship follows in the footsteps of Aqualung's partner
company Whites Manufacturing which has been sponsoring Andy's
mission for almost a decade.
A film about the expedition to document the
unacceptable number of sharks and rays being caught in Mexican gill
PIP Releases 'BYCATCH' A
short film about the Expedition to Baja led by PIP Founder Andy
Murch to document the shark and ray bycatch in the Mexican gillnet
EXPEDITION RETURNS WITH UNIQUE FOOTAGE AND IMAGES OF SHARKS IN GILL
PIP Expedition to
Pacific Baja has returned with images and footage of many shark and
ray species drowning in gill nets.
PIP Photographer Andy Murch
traveled out to sea with gill-netters and shark long-liners and
returned with provocative images of soupfin, brown smoothhound,
swell sharks and countless bat rays and banded guitarfishes that
were killed after becoming irreparably entangled in nets intended
for California Halibut. More than fifty tangled rays were recorded
struggling in one net alone.
After negotiating a price with
the fishermen, Andy was able to release many of the most viable rays
that would have been brought ashore. None of the sharks were landed
The sharks and rays are
unintentional bycatch that fetch such little value in local markets
that they are not lucrative enough to pay for gasoline for the gill
fishermen's small boats. One day at sea with the gill netters
revealed that there is an extremely disproportionate amount of
sharks and rays being caught as bycatch compared to targeted
species. Only one California halibut was landed during one day at
The most common shark landed
was the soupfin shark Galeorhinus galeus. Soupfins are listed
as globally vulnerable by the IUCN after intense fishing pressure
drove this once abundant shark into a depleted state.
Andy also accompanied
long-liners targeting pelagic sharks. Two blue sharks were recovered
during an entire day of long-lining. One of the sharks was killed by
the fishermen but Andy was able to purchase the other (a 1.2m male)
for the paltry sum of $4.00. Shark meat only fetches around $0.50
per kg in local markets so the business of catching sharks hinges on
the lucrative exportation of shark fins. Removing the demand for
fins and imposing restrictions on the international trade in fins
will be instrumental in shutting down the shark fishing industry in
the eastern Pacific.
Andy is in the process of editing a compelling
documentary about the Baja expedition.