The unique international collaboration between UKZN doctoral candidate Jessica Escobar-Porras, Blue Wilderness and international organisation Ocean Encounters, has seen the completion of the first phase of a very exciting Blacktip Shark Project at Shark Park. The project is looking at the genetic relationship among the Blacktip sharks at Shark Park and also the genetic relationship between these Blacktip sharks and those from the rest of the Western Indian Ocean. The outcomes of this project will provide for a better informed shark viewing experience for tourists, definitive management outcomes for fisheries managers and a greater scientific understanding of the social structures of Blacktip shark populations. In a silent realm where all but the most basic scientific endeavour is beyond reach this ground breaking project will deliver a massive breakthrough for science and tourism in KZN. Forty genetic samples were taken on a field trip from 20th – 28th February 2012 by Ocean Encounters founders and freedive legends William Winram and Fred Buyle with Jessica in attendance to annotate and preserve the samples for further genetics tests back at the laboratory under the watchful eye of her supervisor from the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu/Natal Dr Angus MacDonald. The team entered into a further two weeks of field work to do a basic population census of the Blacktip shark numbers at Shark Park from the 1st – 14th March 2012. Observations were made by visiting Australian shark scientist Sam Moyle on daily trips to sea over this period. Backing up visual observational techniques with photographic images to identify and count the sharks a total of 83 Blacktip sharks were recorded of which 27 were part of the initial genetics study. The sampled animals formed approximately a third of all Blacktip sharks sighted and from this the team will be able to determine a population size for the Blacktips at Shark Park. Initial estimates were around 60 individuals but thanks to this study the population would appear to be muchlarger than initially expected. The team have received a huge boost in support from East Coast Radio DJ Darren Maule who is participating in the “Operation Man Cave” Competition at Decorex Durban from the 21st -25th March 2012. Darren has nominated Jessica’s work as his charity for any funds he raises at Decorex. Get down to Decorex Durban 2012 and make a difference to any of the worthwhile charities that will benefit from “Operation Man Cave” but to “Give Sharks A Chance” make your donation to Darren. He has given sharks the chance that they desperately need, now, by supporting him so can you!
2011 has been a long year, a year of extreme highs and lows, opportunity and misfortune, and a year where the boundaries have been pushed to the limits physically and mentally. This tribute of 2011 is dedicated to my beautiful wife, Ronelle, my family and my amazing friends, who have stood by me, pushed me, cursed me but most importantly stuck by me through thick and thin. Inadvertently they have allowed me to set new boundaries and bigger targets for 2012 by getting me through the ones I achieved in 2011. Thank you!
Captains of Industry nominate SOUTH AFRICAN Photographer Allen D. Walker at 5TH ANNUAL PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERS CUP
LONDON – Amateur photographer Allen D. Walker of South Africa was presented with the 5th Annual Photography Masters Cup Nominee title in the category of Wildlife at a prestigious Nomination & Winners PhotoShow. The live online ceremony webcast Sunday, October 29, 2011 was attended by photography fans in 83 countries who logged on to see the climax of the industry’s most important event for color photography. The awards international Jury included captains of the industry ranging from Hasted Hunt Kraeutler in New York, Brancolini Grimaldi, David & Goliath, Simon Studer Art Associates, Stills Gallery to Christie’s in London who honored Color Masters with 272 coveted title awards and 1099 nominees in 18 categories.
The Sardine Run, visions fill my mind, sharks cruising through a concert of little silver fishes, dolphins stacked up into the light and gannets streaking past in a blur of white bubbles. Ah yes the Sardine Run. 2011 was never destined to be my year on the “Sardine Run” but a call from a friend to join him and a few others in Port St John’s for the Sardine Run sent my life into a rescheduling chaos. Objections from family, work and my wallet were crowded out by visions of millions of silver fishes turning as one in crystal blue water. Pictures of dolphin super pods, the Agulas Clans banded together, hunting as one, had the car packed and ready to go. Bones and coins were mixed together and thrown out on the road, the signs, and a rumour of good surf, had us on our way and heading North to Port St John’s to the Sardine Run.