Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A look back at 2014 for the White Shark Conservation Trust

January 2, 2015

2014 was our quietest year since we started in 2009 from all angles.

Our Facebook presence was largely dominated by the events in Western Australia which we have been following now for a number of years. This year marked the trail of a cull order by their premier, Collin Barnett. An order advised against by shark scientists in Australia and around the world.

perth cull

Photo credit:

By the time the trail had ceased well over 100 sharks had been taken on the set drum lines, but not one of the target species  (white sharks), had been caught.  The cull order was met with protest and disgust by Western Australians and through social media, the rest of the world.  (An anti cull rally was organised by Shark Aid International in the UK outside the Australian Embassy in London in protest).  The cull order was lifted in September and in October a surfer survived an incident which resulted in two pointers being caught and destroyed.  In November a dead whale was filmed off Perth with a number of sharks including at least one white shark swimming around it whilst a local was filmed climbing onto the floating carcass (not the brightest of moves we must say).


Photo credit: Perth Now

In December a pointer was seen close to beaches off southern WA, and again the WA Fisheries department deployed drum lines to attempt to kill the shark.  This particular shark had been tagged in 2013 by the WA Fisheries department and their actions sparked worldwide protest again.  Thankfully the shark left the area without incident and the drum lines were removed.  Finally, sadly at the end of December a young spear-fisherman was attacked and killed by what was reported to be a white shark at Cheynes Beach WA triggering another hunt for the shark by the WA Fisheries dept.


More relevantly, we have had a number of reported sightings around our coast throughout the year and one incident in February at Porpoise Bay, in the Catlins area of eastern Southland coast when a surfer was bitten on the leg by a juvenile pointer.  The 28-year-old UK immigrant apparently punched the shark on the nose and swam to shore.

In March, NIWA and Department of Conservation returned to Stewart Island for the last time to tag and track white sharks that aggregate there, marking the end of a 10 year research project.

Photo credit, Clinton Duffy 2014

Photo credit, Clinton Duffy 2014

Three juvenile white sharks were followed during 2014, Pip, a 3.3m female shark; Caro, a 3.7m female; and Nicholas Cage, a 3.5m male shark. Pip was tracked across to New South Wales near Sydney, and data showed she took 20 days to travel 2020km from the southern Snares Shelf. She continued  northwards to Queensland waters.  Caro remained around Stewart Island for several months before starting begin her northward migration.  Nicholas Cage was tracked north as far as New Caledonia before turning round to return to our west coast.

Image Credit: NIWA

Image Credit: NIWA

The 10 year study showed that the sharks travel in a remarkably straight line on their migrations, averaging about 5km/h or 100 km/day, but have done up to 150km a day.  Data indicated they tend to spend time at the surface but also make regular dives between 200 and 800m – the record depth is 1246m.  For further information click here.

 In August we were fortunate enough to be invited to attend a necropsy of a juvenile white shark that was accidentally caught in a commercial set net off New Plymouth.  10626542_966289726730626_8634576691192716040_nThe fishermen concerned found the shark dead and contacted Department of Conservation who donated the shark to the museum. The shark was a 2.6TL juvenile male weighing 140kg. Parasites were collected both externally and internally for examination. The shark’s head was removed and has been preserved in order to CT and MRI scan it for research.

September we were invited to present a seminar to the Auckland Zoological Society.  Our seminar was based on the changes in public perception toward the White Shark over the last 50 years and looked at how the white shark was initially portrayed by Blue Water, White Death (the first white shark documentary), and Jaws in the 1970’s and compared this to the documentaries and attitudes of today.

In December a small group of experts and cinematographers set off to attempt to tag and track white sharks migrating north from the Three Kings area.  Among the team was Clinton Duffey, Andy Brandy Casagrande and Kina Scollay (not in image).IMG_4122Unfortunately the expedition was hampered by bad weather and was unsuccessful.

Finally, just after Christmas a family out fishing for snapper in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour got a big surprise when their bait was taken by a white shark which breached not far from their boat and was estimated to be between 4 and 4.5 meters!  The shark continued further in to the harbour, reportedly passed Point Chevalier travelling towards the Rosebank peninsular (where our head office is located!!!).

Here is to a busy 2015!



Tagging in the Manukau with DoC

February 7, 2011

For the second year running DoC were invited to shadow a sport fishing competition in the Manukau and we were extremely grateful to be invited to join DoC and assist Clinton Duffy for the duration.

Last year, although we took samples from three juvenile hammerheads and several school sharks, no white sharks were caught by the tournament anglers or by us.   This year was far more successful we are pleased to say with a juvenile 2.4 meter female being hooked by one of the tournament boats and passed to us for tagging.

The shark was named Marina after Marina Dmitri, a Trust member whom joined us on the day.  She was tagged with both a PAT tag and a SPOT tag before being released.

Clinton Duffy fastens the SPOT Tag to Marina's Dorsal Fin

Marina Dmitri holds the dorsal fin to prevent the tag from being damaged against the side of the boat

The whole process took a little over 20 minutes.

The SPOT tag is activated whenever the wet dry sensor detects it is out of the water and the PAT tag is programmed to stay attached to the shark for a year (365 days post-release). The first signal was received from Marina’s SPOT tag on Monday 7th Feb. Although the quality of the position it gave was unreliable it was a clear indication she has survived capture and release. Several high quality locations from outside the Manukau Harbour followed later the same day.  

Marina joins Kate, the first white shark we were involved with tagging (Kate was Tagged with a PAT tag off the Gisborne coast on an expedition with DoC and Surfit Charters in 2009.  Unfortunately Kate’s tag failed and came off 14 days after it was deployed.  We hope Marina’s two tags are working well and will give data for the next 9-12 months as they are programmed to do!

We would like to express our thanks to Clinton and DoC for asking us along again to help, and to the Counties Sport Fishing Club for inviting DoC to shadow the tournament.

Positive Result in Educating About Shark Products in New Zealand

August 6, 2010

Not so long ago we launched a new page called “How You Can Help” to drew attention to companies in New Zealand that trade or use shark in restaurants , or or shark derived products on the market in health stores. We highlighted one particular company, Good Health that had two shark derived products on the market (Sharkilage and Squaline), the shark content apparently sourced from sharks caught in New Zealand.  Our Conservation Biologist, Alex (Diverkat) was quickly on the case and put her research and legal hats on to approach Good Health.  We published her initial letter in the last edition of SharkBites.

We are extremely pleased to follow this story up with some great news… Although Sharkilage is still present on Good Health’s website, they are selling it in order to exhaust their current stock, and will no longer source their chondroitin from sharks.   Alex reported the chondroitin they will use in their joint care formulas is derived from bovine sources, and as they are farmed animals this is certainly more sustainable.  Alex’s arguments about lauding the value of shark fin were also heeded and Good Health have changed the wording of the Sharkilage page so they are no longer indirectly showing support for an unsustainable practice.  You can read the full story on Alex’s Diverkat website.

We would like to congratulate Alex on this victory and thank Brian Blanchard at Good Health for his positive actions.  You will see Good Health has been removed from our list of businesses we encourage you to avoid.

Bill Wieger Supports the White Shark Conservation Trust

July 10, 2010

It gives us great pleasure to announce Bill Wieger, renowned artist, has chosen to support the White Shark Conservation Trust.

If you are interested any of the work displayed or have any enquiries about Bill’s other work, please contact us and we will be only too happy to help you.  Bill’s work is fantastically detailed and really captures the grace, beauty and power of the white shark.

Bill has also offered to produce for us a sculpture of our very own record diving male white shark,  ‘Shack’.

We will post photos of Shack as soon as Bill has completed him!

Coming in the next Newsletter!

May 9, 2010

Stewart Island – a scoop on the most recent tagging expedition in March 2010.

First White Shark experience in South Africa!

Last month we had great pleasure in attending the monthly club meet at Orakei Dive and we were invited to do a presentation about the Trust. Thank you to Neil, Joanne and members of the dive club for a fabulous evening.


Reminding you our entertainment books have arrived.  At just $65.00 each they are great value for money giving you discounts from restaurants, cafes, attractions and sports.

Did you know you only have to use ot Entertainment book a few times and it will have paid for itself… it’s great value for money.  Contact us today to get you copy!

April 19, 2010

Once again a shark has been featured in our news, this time, a Great Hammerhead caught and killed in Australia.  Great Hammerhead sharks were added to the endangered animals list in 2007 and are often dubbed ‘man-eaters’ – a classification which is not justified as there have been no confirmed incidents involving these sharks.

Fisherman Claude Williamson poses with the 1200kg hammerhead shark, caught off Evans Head. Photo / Northern Star

Hammerhead Shark diets include other sharks (as do white sharks), and the adult individual concerned was found feeding off a shark.  It posed no threat nor was it in the slightest bit interested with the humans that found it, however, it was caught and killed by a trophy hunter fisherman and the carcass sold to Mr V Hislop to be displayed at Mr Hislop’s museum.  Mr Hislop is a man who considers himself a shark expert, Aussie hero and legend, and stylises himself as some sort of ‘Quint’ (the Jaws movie Shark Hunter) type character.  This animal, at 5 meters, was fully mature and over 20 years old (the news paper quotes 40 years old), was killed for no reason other than a claim to fame for the fisherman and to turn it into a freak show exhibit.

Mr Hislop is well accounted on the internet with numerous sites and blogs written expressing disgust at his actions and dated 1970’s view of sharks.  It is interesting that Mr Hislop is so sure of his own popularity that his personal ‘Shark Hunter’ web site is not accessible without a password!

We are at a time that, thankfully, education and the real truth about shark’s is now being accepted and understood by the general public.  We sincerely hope this continues and grows in strength.

Words like ‘cute’ and ‘cuddly’ should never come into the equation when referring to sharks, or any other apex predator.  What MUST be understood though, is we the human, are NOT part of the natural menu.  We do not form part of their natural food chain as we do not live in their natural habitat.  We developed long after these apex predators had arrived.  We choose to put ourselves in these animal’s natural environment though, and being as alien as we are to them, they are curious as to what we are… hence we are investigated.

As a Trustee of the White Shark Conservation Trust, it saddens and angers me to see individuals so ready to exploit the sharks anyway they can in order to make money, or nurse a narcissistic ego.  This sort of exploitation is as bad as the trawler fisherman and long liners who decimate the world populations.