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25/9/14: 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 year.

 

 

DEEPSHARKONE 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 below:

 

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

 

 

Second deep drop to 800ft/270m

 

 

SOUTH AFRICA

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 scuba divers.

 

 

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 shortly.

 

 

BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS FUNDS DEEPSHARKONE

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.

  • Custom built anodized aluminum housing with acrylic ports rated to 1000ft/300m.

  • Two LED video lights rated to 1000ft/300m.

  • Two Aquatica video light mounting bracket assemblies.

  • Stainless steel and marine grade polymer frame.

  • 20ft braided stainless tether engineered to withstand exploratory bites from large sharks.

  • Five industrial floats rated to maintain buoyancy at depths not exceeding 2000ft/600m.

  • 1150ft/350m of braided nylon line with a breaking strain of 1700lb.

  • Custom built 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 houndshark (M.albipinnis).

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 deepwater trawls.

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 INITIATIVES

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.

Consequently, the 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

 

 

 ARTIST NOAH G POP DEDICATES 20% OF IMAGE SALES TO THE PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT

If you would like to own a limited edition print by celebrated artist Noah G Pop, this is your chance to purchase some amazing art and support PIP in the process. Noah has agreed to donate 20% of image sales from his latest limited edition white shark print to the Predators in Peril Project. Please follow this link for more info. IMPORTANT! Remember to enter the code 'PIP' to help Predators in Peril! http://www.noahgpop.com/order/index.html

 

 

 

 PREDATORS IN PERIL FOUNDER ANDY MURCH WINS FIRST PRIZE IN OCEANS IN FOCUS CONTEST!

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: http://www.marinephotobank.org/resources/OIFcontestwinners2012_essays_Murch.php

 

 

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".

More at MarinePhotoBank.org: 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 Ecuadorian mainland.

Despite sporadic 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 5/2/13

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.

Aqualung 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.

Upon test 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.

 

 

 

BYCATCH: A film about the expedition to document the unacceptable number of sharks and rays being caught in Mexican gill nets.

9/19/12

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 fishery.

 

 

 PIP BAJA EXPEDITION RETURNS WITH UNIQUE FOOTAGE AND IMAGES OF SHARKS IN GILL NETS

 

9/1/12

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 alive.

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 sea.

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.