The man-eater label: Shark attack or a shark encounter?

Sharks have an image problem. It’s the way they look really….and what about all the attacks we seem to hear about during summer?

Or just maybe…this image problem is rooted in what we call sharks, you know, man-eater, or our lack of understanding of the important role that sharks play in the ocean ecosystem.

How about our method of labeling and categorizing human contact with sharks?  The media reporting what really was a shark encounter as an attack?

Image of Shortfin-Mako-Shark from NOAA Gallery (Isurus oxyrinchus)

A report by Christopher Neff (University of Sydney) and Robert Hueter (Center for Shark Research, Sarasota, Florida) proposes moving away from “shark attack” labels and a new way to categorize human-shark interactions. The proposed categories are:

  1. Shark sightings: Sightings of sharks in the water in proximity to people. No physical human–shark contact takes place.
  2. Shark encounters: Human-shark interactions in which physical contact occurs between a shark and a person, or an inanimate object holding that person, and no injury takes place. For example, shark bites on surfboards, kayaks, and boats would be classified under this label. In some cases, this might include close calls; a shark physically “bumping” a swimmer without biting would be labeled a shark encounter, not a shark attack…
  3. Shark bites: Incidents where sharks bite people resulting in minor to moderate injuries. Small or large sharks might be involved, but typically, a single, nonfatal bite occurs. If more than one bite occurs, injuries might be serious. Under this category, the term “shark attack” should never be used unless the motivation and intent of the animal—such as predation or defense—are clearly established by qualified experts. Since that is rarely the case, these incidents should be treated as cases of shark “bites” rather than shark “attacks.”
  4. Fatal shark bites: Human–shark conflicts in which serious injuries take place as a result of one or more bites on a person, causing a significant loss of blood and/or body tissue and a fatal outcome.  Read more here…

Until recently,  I would not have put much thought on shark encounter nomenclature.  But many shark species are in trouble and shark populations devastated due to modern fishing methods and an elevated demand for shark meat, fins and cartilage.

I am less fearful of sharks now, compared to 1 year ago.  During my post on the 4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990′s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, I learned the important role that sharks play in our ocean ecosystem.

Right now, 50 of the 307 shark species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.  Yet only the white, whale and basking sharks are protected.

Mano, Galapagos Shark image from NOAA website (Carcharhinus galapagensis)

A better understanding and image boost for sharks — starting with proper labeling of human-shark encounters — will help to protect these ancient creatures, and hopefully stop the alarming decline in their population, and the further imbalance of our ocean ecosystem.

The best thing to do about our fears — especially irrational fear — is to learn the facts.  After all, facts and our knowledge drives our actions!

Do you think this change in reporting human-shark encounters will help?

Related links:

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences: Science, policy, and the public discourse of shark “attack”: a proposal for reclassifying human–shark interactions

Lolako’s article: Fatalities from shark attacks vs. being struck by lightning:

Lolako’s article: 4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990′s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Oceana.org – Sharks Overview

Pelagic.org – The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation

Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey

The Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey — Whale Watching Capital of the World — continues today, starting with a 10:00AM Beach Clean Up with The Wahine Project.

Today, the Museum of Monterey (MoM) theater is the venue for lectures and documentaries from the 2012 BLUE Ocean Film Festival, beginning with a collection of shorts (Fish Tale: My Secret Life as a Plankton, Ocean Oases, Sea Jellies: A summer Swarm in Monterey, Oceans at the Tipping Point and Ocean Giants), and the film Planet Ocean at 2:30PM.

Looking over the lighthouse exhibit at Museum of Monterey

Yesterday, my grandsons and I watched the inspiring film Ocean Frontiers at the Museum of Monterey.

Learning and blogging about environmental issues often becomes DEPRESSING because there is so much going wrong and the problems seem overwhelming, and insurmountable.

The movie Ocean Frontiers focused on positive work that promotes better health for our oceans.  By working together, farmers from Iowa can directly impact the health of the Gulf waters by creating wetlands and reducing fertilizer use. Endangered whales are saved when a variety of organizations combine research and teamwork to re-route shipping traffic at a busy Boston Port.

A contingent of local environmental organizations and businesses lined the path from the Customs House Plaza to the Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  We visited a few booths yesterday.

The Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) booth, showing Jun and Gabriel shark teeth.

Exhibiting a shark fin at the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) booth.

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Booth

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth — great poster that shows different whale sizes… man at the bottom right by the elephant

What does whale baleen feel like?

Like a brush! Jun also compared it to his bristly polar bear Christmas ornament from Eco Carmel, made of buri palm.

Squid for Kids booth from the Hopkins Marine Station was a popular stop

Squid dissected – at the Squid for Kids booth, Hopkins Marine Station

For more on squid — see an earlier post, jumbo Humboldt squid washing up on central California beaches (and one trapped in the Monterey Aquarium’s tide pool).

Squid for Kids painting and stamping station — sometimes they use real squid ink!

Chalk Art during Whalefest at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf – Monterey

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Booth

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Booth – making ocean creatures

Among my grandsons favorite activity was the United States Coast Guard area, as they  were allowed to board their inflatable Search and Rescue Coast Guard motor life boat.

And of course, as much as this was learning all about the ocean and conservation, you cannot go home without first getting a specialty lollipop from the candy store at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

The boys had a blast and yes, we plan to go again today.

What countries are in Southeast Asia?

Until the 20th century, the area we now call Southeast Asia was referred to as the East Indies.

Most of us have heard the geographic term Southeast Asia…and have a general idea of where this area is.

A comment from Myra (who blogs at Itaga sa Bato) on my The Ethnic Food Aisle blog post sent me on this path to find out exactly what countries are included in the term Southeast Asia.

The orange-colored countries on the UN map below are countries considered to be in Southeast Asia.

UN Map via Wikipedia

And it turns out there are two parts to Southeast Asia — Mainland Southeast Asia and Maritime Southeast Asia.  Here is the wiki definition:

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia.

The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic and volcanic activity.

Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions: Mainland Southeast Asia, also known as Indochina, comprises Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, and Maritime Southeast Asia comprises Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines, Christmas Island, and Singapore.

asean-logoThese countries, with the exception of East Timor, are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Established in 1967,

ASEAN was founded by the countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.  In 1984, Brunei Darussalam joined, followed by Viet Nam on in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, making up the current ten Member States of ASEAN.

And to date, there are still Sovereignty issues over some islands in this area. See my earlier post related to China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam each claiming competing sovereignty over areas in the South China Sea – UNCLOS and the China-Philippine Standoff over Scarborough Shoal.

Weekly WordPress Challenge: Resolved — to capture the details

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Sara Rosso:

Resolved. This is that time of year, isn’t it? Full of resolutions and good intentions… …Why not share a photo which represents one of your New Year’s resolutions? If you don’t make them, what about sharing a photo which represents something you’d like to get better at in photography this year?  Share a picture which means RESOLVED to you!

My first post for 2013 and what I resolve to do to get better at photography this year is to capture more details.

I love taking photographs and have photographed landscapes and people — mostly my family members, whether they liked it or not — since I had my first 110 Instamatic Kodak camera as a young teen.

These days, with our smart phones, we all always have a camera no matter where we go — capturing the world around us. The photos below were from my HTC phone camera the week of Christmas, during a visit to gardens of the adobe-and-wood Larkin House, built in 1835 in Monterey, California.

I liked the design of the iron water well cover…

This normally would have been enough detail, but this time, I came in closer.

The close up shot resulted in seeing an interesting reflection of the well cover design from the water below.

To get an idea of the well size, here is a photo of my sister and brother-in-law sitting at the edge of the well.  In the past, this would have been my only photo of the well…so, a big improvement so far!

Details, and a lot more up close photographs are my goals for my 2013 photographs!

Larkin House Fence

 

photo from www.HistoricMonterey.org

The Larkin House was built byThomas Oliver Larkin — the only U.S. consul to California under Mexican rule.  The home became the American consulate from 1844 to 1846, and  also used as military headquarters by Kearny, Mason, and Sherman.

Both a National and a California Historical Landmark, the Larkin House is reportedly the first two story house in all of California, and combined Spanish Colonial building methods with New England architectural features.  It also originated the popular Monterey Colonial style of architecture, which features two stories, porches, a hip roof, and adobe walls.

For more information on the Larkin House, visit HistoricMonterey.org or the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Larkin House webpage here.