Walk the walk of animal advocacy and join us on this amazing trip to Isla Guadalupe, viewing great white sharks in warm, blue, Mexican waters!
Hosted by shark diving veteran and photographer Mike Bolton and conservation filmmaker Skyler Thomas.
Full details at whitesharkvideo.com/sharktrip
Photos by Maarten Jozef Billen and Skyler Thomas
#plantbased #whitesharks #sharkecotourism #vegan4sharks #noplastic #guadalupe #cagediving #sharktrip #ecotourism #liveaboard #vegan #dairyisscary
Analyses of great white shark footage shot by Skyler Thomas shows us there are many fine details in communication that we might be overlooking.
What would your guess be as to what this shark is saying? Once again slowing down footage reveals there is even more taking place with the shark's body language than at first glance. One of the good things about observing white sharks in deeper water is the opportunity to see body language that you might not see up near the surface. As he approaches from a distance we can see that this shark is holding his mouth agape, not just a little bit to breathe, but really wide open. Next we can see that the upper teeth are exposed and remaining in that position as the shark swims by, which is not how the white shark typically looks while it is swimming.
Consider the majority of shark footage; even though their teeth are on our minds, the mouth is usually only slightly open and the teeth can't be seen very well, in fact the upper teeth can't usually be seen at all unless the shark is in the act of biting. With white sharks the upper jaw actually unhinges and rotates forward during the biting process so to see the upper teeth and jaw exposed in a non-biting scenario indicates a very specific effort to display those teeth. Next we see a display featuring the gills, referred by some as gill fluffing. Regardless of what you call it, the gills are definitely being used in a display of some sort (twice in this case). I've been referring to this shark as a he, which was not easy to discern at first because the claspers are relatively small and held tight against the body; it was only during the gill fluffing that the claspers lowered enough to be seen. OK, so back to the question. If you had to guess, what message do YOU think that shark is trying to convey?
All footage shot by Skyler Thomas.
Watch more at whitesharkvideo.com
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#sharkbodylanguage #whiteshark #display #threatdisplay #gillfluffing #jawpopping #sharkcommunication #whiteshark #greatwhite #whitesharkvideo #skylerthomas #wsv
Facing this dark future, how should we behave? The answer is simple - we should be doing what we already should have been doing - the right thing.
I can't go onto Facebook without plummeting into total despair at each and every headline that manages to outdo the previous one I already thought was as unbelievable as it could get. When faced with what seems like almost certain doom there are many excuses to spend the remainder of one's lifetime pursuing dark paths. Or we could spend it being the best version of ourselves that we can be... which is what we all should have been doing from the beginning.
Why do we have to be talked into or tricked into doing "the right thing" rather than simply choosing it because...well, it's the right thing? Isn't it profoundly obvious that attempts to convince people to act with kindness require an alternative incentive other than simply the act of engaging in kindness? Why do we have to be shown that our own doom is directly linked to the exploitive manner by which we treat other life on this planer rather than just realizing that exploiting other life on this planet is wrong? Why is compassionate behavior looked down on while the cold-hearted pursuit of money is a character trait that is praised?
Predictions of the end of days have haunted most of my adult life...with the first rumors of scientists predicting a breaking point decades before "climate change" was a household phrase. But we ignored each and every warning each and every decade because "doing the right thing" was less and less of an admirable characteristic to pursue according to society's changing value system.
Imagine if you were faced with 6 months of life left to live. Really dig deep into your imagination and envision there's absolutely no way around it. You'll remain healthy the entire time, but it will come to an abrupt end exactly 6 months later no matter what you do. Would that finality embolden you to be cruel and reckless? Perhaps. At least for a time. But perhaps you would also realize there is more fulfillment in spreading kindness and compassion than could ever be accomplished through cruelty and selfishness.
Why is that a revelation? How can basic acts of decency be strange rather than normal? It sounds like insanity, but it is the insanity of reality and why we are where we are.
Imagine a version of the human race that didn't alter each and every moral decision based on financial implications. Imagine a version of the human race that didn't close its eyes to the cruelty and destruction behind habits of convenience. What if that version of us simply said, "No, that's wrong."
Of course, this concept becomes ambiguous because people define right and wrong according to what fits their current lifestyle.
There's a version of right and wrong that doesn't require a lengthy speech to try to justify that version. There's a version of right and wrong that would have inspired the innocent, youthful version of yourself rather than furthering the robotization of your former individuality. There's a version of right and wrong where something suffers unnecessarily as a consequence of your decision and there's a version where that doesn't happen. All the grey area in between those versions consists of the lies of a morally decayed society.
If, when faced with doom, we choose to be even more exploitive, selfish, and cruel perhaps that's an indication that we were always doomed. If we chose kindness of selflessness what would that look like? And what if we went that path a hundred years ago? Perhaps this conversation would belong in a science fiction novel rather than a blog about our actual situation.
#doom #climatechange #future #selfishness #behavior #humans #kindness #morality
Are we willing to give up the cages? I find myself spending more time watching the sharks from the top deck of the boats I go on than from within the cages themselves. It's certainly not the same, but equally mesmerizing watching the sharks move through the water from above.
Since cage collisions seem to the biggest source of concern for the sharks what about getting rid of the cages completely? Raised platforms could still extend over the back and side decks in order for the bait handlers to attract the sharks within sight of the spectators, but now there wouldn't be anything for the sharks to collide with.
Of course, since diving outside the cage is illegal, the removal of cages means people would have to sacrifice seeing the sharks face to face, and for many tourists, "looking a great white in the eye and surviving" is just too high of a priority to give up; an essential part of checking this particular event off their bucket list. And there's nothing to back up the notion of "surviving" this encounter (no matter how terrible of a show you've seen on Shark Weak that claims otherwise). The divers aren't in any danger. As we've seen too many times it is the sharks that are at risk of injury, and even when they do get in the cage all they want to do is get out.
But don't get me wrong, the desire to see the white sharks face to face isn't without merit. Watching them glide past you, especially when they look at you, is a fantastic experience and it saddens me to suggest taking that opportunity away from people. But maybe that's what it will take to move forward in the industry. Necessity is the mother of innovation. Maybe we'll see some new types of viewing enclosures created if the existing cages are banned?
And even if cages were banned, would that stop people from going on these trips? The list of ways to see white sharks first-hand is pretty limited so my guess is, no. People would still head out to see the sharks. Heck, at the Farallones people don't see them from the cage or the top deck and that doesn't stop tourists from going there.
What's your answer? Are you willing to give up the cages?
#cages #cagediving #cagealternatives #topside #sharkdiving #sharkecotourism #guadalupe #mexico #southafrica #australia #farallonislands #farallones
Whether it's a beach resort, ocean-front restaurant, or a boat trip, it drives me crazy seeing those businesses provide products that are major enemies of the very environment that attracted their customers. When I confront the business owners on this matter the response usually falls into two categories: 1. They don't want to lose customers by not catering to conveniences they are accustomed to (like plastic straws and bottled water) or 2. The cost of doing the right thing will hurt their profit margin too much.
Actions speak louder than words. If customers observe behavior that contradicts inspiring words, the real message they go home with is, "It's OK not to do my part. That blaring alarm is for everyone else, not us.
Guests are not required to be vegan, they simply need to be willing to experience incredible food for a few days and leave their single-use plastics behind.
Yes, I realize sharks are not vegan. I realize one species of fish is used to attract a different species, so a perfect divorce from exploitation hasn't been achieved yet. But I'm not going to reject steps toward progress because perfection couldn't be achieved on the first try. Until we figure out how to observe sharks without using fish carcasses to attract them at least the humans on board can participate in a more responsible diet and learn ways to apply this to their daily lives back home. At least we can stop providing single use plastics for the sake of convenience and to meet the demands of the customers.
In the future ecotourism boats will universally stop catering to bad behavior and will instead lead by example...like they already should.
Join this trip!
There were strong reactions to my footage of sharks being offloaded by fishermen in South Africa (that video can be found at the bottom of this post) and it made me wonder about the things we choose to accept and the things we choose to condemn, because that footage doesn't hold a candle to fishing I've seen in the United States. And sadly, I know I haven't witnessed anything close to the true horror of industrial fishing.
But to watch dumpsters full of dead sharks unloaded nonstop for an hour from a boat that we consider "small"...an operation we refer to as "small scale"...a practice with the label "sustainable"...is a chance to ask if we are honest with ourselves at all and how willing we are to look the other way rather than consider changing.
Consider how many games and distractions we are offered to focus on rather than considering the only solution that is guaranteed to actually help.
"Make sure you are buying from a sustainable source."
As if any of us knows how to investigate that other than taking the distributor for their word. As if 'sustainable' isn't a shockingly abused term that has no real meaning in the first place. Instead of playing that game we COULD just stop consuming any potential product of the destructive industry. But we won't.
"Cutting edge research is looking into ways to reduce by-catch".
Great, someone is doing research, so I guess we can go back to our usual destructive behavior. OR we could just stop consuming products that support the destruction of our oceans. But we won't.
"New research attempts to reduce fishing debris entanglements."
OR we could stop contributing to the industry.
"New research will try to limit fishing vessels during certain times of the year"
(even as more fishing licenses are sold to other countries to rape the ocean). OR we could stop participating in the destruction.
"New regulations attempted for super trawlers"
Super trawler shouldn't exist. Period.
"A shark fin ban will undermine the shark fishing industry" (even as shark populations slip toward extinction globally). Yes, that's an actual argument from a 'shark scientist' employed by the department of commerce. Good ol' David Shiffman.
The list could continue as long as I was willing to retype all the different headlines out there that enable us to keep eating from our depleted ocean while feeling better about it. The lesson here is that would rather listen to these things than give up something we enjoy. The bottom line is that we aren't willing to give up something we don't even require for the sake of the ocean's future. That says everything anyone ever needed to know about why the planet is doomed.
The answer to our salvation won't be found in a peer-reviewed scientific paper unless that paper reveals the cure for human selfishness and greed.
Stop playing the consumer game and start being part of the solution. As the New York times was bold enough to recently state, "The only way to save the ocean is to stop eating fish".
#fish #fishing #sharkfishing #bycatch #sustainable #sustainablefishing #capecod #chatham #ocean #oceanrape #oceanhealth #overfishing #smallscale #shiffman #noaa #cites #whalestrikes #whaleentanglement
âClosing in on a moving target:
Take a closer look at this sequence captured with a 360 camera. Even though the camera is being pulled away (which is why the camera survived) the 360 capability allowed me to rotate the view so as to keep looking at the shark and appreciate its adjustments as it attempts to close in on a moving target. Of particular interest are details we might otherwise miss while we obsess over the teeth. Look at the ongoing use of the fins, especially the pectoral fins! Appreciate how many times the head and body turn in a split second! We see again that the eye is a 3 dimensional, beautiful orb, not a dead, black socket in the skull. And we see the size of the gills which are necessary to provide oxygen to an animal of this size and speed. But we also see that the throat is closed off to protect the stomach from being flooded with the same rush of water that provides the oxygen!
All that information in what, in real-time, was a few seconds of footage!!!
#360 #sharks #whitesharks #360whitesharkfootage #whitesharkvideo #greatwhites #finuse #guadalupe #skylerthomas #insta360
The lessons provided to today's youth by todays' adults
I'm guilty of many of the behaviors I criticize, or at least was guilty of them at some point in my life; I think that's a large part of why seeing such behavior in others stands out to me so glaringly. And when I hear the excuses used to justify not changing or improving I feel a deep anger that reflects embarrassment in realizing I said similar things at one point in time with the same arrogant ignorance.
I think the most common behavior that bothers me the most is the attempt to find flaws in individuals or to point at past mistakes in history as justifications not to make improvements today. No one is perfect, certainly myself included, but a much grater sin than not being perfect is an unwillingness to make personal improvements which is manifested in preaching that because someone else isn't perfect you don't have to pursue perfection yourself.
So here we are today when adults belittle a 16 year-old student, taking any desperate angle they can come up with in order to deflect the flaws and truths she has cast a spotlight on. Any excuse not to improve, any excuse not to change. "This is how I was raised therefore it's what I'm going to stick with, not matter what you say."
A world where environmentalists aren't allowed to protest Big Oil destroying an entire forest because they, as an individuals, purchased something made with petroleum products. A world where someone will point out that you purchased one item wrapped in plastic as an excuse to continue to buy, in bulk, single use plastics. A world in which Christians claim that the God who created the earth ultimately intended for us human, created in his image, to destroy his creations as a part of his plan for us. I've even had people that like killing sharks try to discredit my attempts to save sharks by pointing out my camera equipment; indicating that I embrace the destructive technology of modern humans therefore I no longer have the right to criticize any aspect of human behavior.
Greta Thunberg says she was robbed of her childhood and future. She's not wrong. Hell, I'm an adult and I feel like I've been robbed of the future I imagined for myself so I can only imagine what it feels like to grow up that way. Of course, bad things were taking place back when I was growing up, but it felt like there was a chance to improve those things rather than an overwhelming sense of doom. Perhaps it was already just an illusion, but I at least felt hope for the future thanks in part to the in individual behavior of adults picking up trash or even spanking children for being "litterbugs". Spanking might be controversial, but I'd rather see that than what I see today, which is adults telling their kids it's OK to leave their trash behind because (choose one):
A.) Their hands are full. B.) There's already trash on the ground C.) Someone else will pick it up D.) It's decomposable.
As an adult there are a myriad of different, and much more enjoyable career paths that I'd like to take, and indeed I pursued several of them over the years. But I couldn't find peace in them; lurking in the back of my mind was always a sense that I needed to be doing something more meaningful, something that would help put my soul at ease because I was at least attempting to make improvements rather than just closing my eyes and enjoying what I could while I could.
My time as an environmental documentarian has shown me that our failure in caring for the planet extends far beyond laziness and a lack of responsibility for our own trash disposal. No, it is our very moral fiber that has been corrupted. We are calloused to a point that seems almost inconceivable. When I show people footage of a turtle slowing drowning in a fish net, they say, "Yeah, but how many does that happen to?" When a thousand whales beach themselves from underwater noise pollution they say, "Yeah, but is it an endangered species?" When an endangered species is projected to go extinct in the next year because of human activity they say, "Human life over animal life." When they see the Amazon burning they say, "That's not where my beef comes from". When I show them footage of the suffering of dairy calves and the foolishness of adult humans consuming bovine milk produced for bovine babies they say, "Sorry, that's how I was raised therefore I am sticking with it no matter what you show me."
There's always an excuse and those excuses are almost always to justify reasons NOT to improve; reasons NOT to change. How UNinspiring is that!? No wonder the younger generations seem to lack empathy for the planet. No wonder they spend half their waking hours in the false reality technology provides for them to disappear into. The real world is full of adults who would rather criticize a little girl who took a stand against greedy corporations rather than join her in the fight. What she's doing is brave and difficult. It's much easier to point fingers rather than pursue personal change.
#greta #GretaThunberg #climatechange #conservative #republican #christian #trump #change #convenience #watchinghumans #convenience
...that weren't actually very close at all.
Coinciding with Shark Week I've released three episodes to help bring the hype level down to a reasonable volume. Every one of these stories could be told from a fear-inducing, ratings-focused perspective, but when told from the perspectives of the shark and an real animal advocate you might actually learn something.
Watch all three episodes here
Debra Canabal of Epic Diving in the WSV hoodie. Get yours!
About the Author
Skyler Thomas is the primary blog contributor, cinematographer, and lead editor at White Shark Video.