Playa Del Carmen Bull Shark Slaughter

Posted by admin in Ocean Conservation | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Last night I found out a long liner went to Playa Del Carmen and caught 9 Bull Sharks. I visited Playa in February of 2010 specifically to see these Bull Sharks and I have my flights booked to go back in December of 2010. The news struck a very personal cord with me on a few different levels. My first thoughts were of disbelief and sadness. I was sad because I know these particular sharks and that they are the same ones that return year after year. If they are killed, that population will be gone forever. Not only is this the death of a generation, most of these sharks are thought to be pregnant so two generations are gone. I am aware that long lining and the general killing of sharks is happening around the world en-masse and find it appalling and disturbing. Having it happen so close to home, so to speak, made it extremely personal.

When I went in February the hotels were redoing the beaches by scooping up sand from under the ocean and dumping it on shore. The noise made the sharks disappear for a short time. I arrived just when they were starting to come back. They were shy and wouldn’t come in close even though we had lots of fish for them to eat. These are shy and intelligent creatures. Ones that myself and many others enjoy spending time with. Not only did my heart break for the individual sharks, but for the ecosystem as a whole. As top predators sharks keep the food chain in check. Scientists often view sharks as a litmus test for the health of an underwater ecosystem and when sharks are not present it usually means something is very wrong.

Then you have the economic impact. The local newspapers reported 500 families benefit from the tourism these sharks attract. I am one of those tourists. I pay thousands of dollars to go see these sharks. If the sharks aren’t there, I won’t go and the local economy loses my money. That money will undoubtedly be spent somewhere where sharks are abundant. I hope governments will realize this and do their part to protect their sharks. I say “their sharks” liberally. Many shark species migrate and are not bound by our human made lines in the sand. So a shark may be protected in one country only to swim to a country that does not.

I did not sleep last night. All I could think about was “how can I stop this from happening again?” I don’t know that I came up with any new ideas, but I did come to one conclusion. A conclusion that had been brewing in my brain for a long time. I cannot sit by while this is going on without some sort of action. This is a small example of what is happening all over the world and I’ve had enough. If you have any ideas to help I’d love to hear them. Better yet, do something yourself to help out. Hopefully, I’ll see you out there enjoying a healthy ocean.

5 Responses to Playa Del Carmen Bull Shark Slaughter

  1. Greg H. says:

    The sympathetic part of my being feels really bad for you right now. This is not the normal ‘wildlife’ piece – it is raw and emotional, and your love for the creatures shines through. However, my selfish side is giddy with excitement – you have that dangerous combination of intellect and passion. When intelligent, passionate people decide to create change, the world has to watch out.

    I don’t have any ideas for you, though I am going to watch Sharkwater and raise a glass of scotch to your departed friends. Thanks for rekindling my relationship with the ocean and opening up my respect for sharks. You have the power to change minds, man – frankly, you changed mine (which is no small feat).

    I am sorry you lost your friends, but something tells me their sacrifice is going to create a whole world of change. Thanks for fighting and best of luck.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you Greg, that means a lot to me

  3. Christian H says:

    I live in PDC and did my first dive with these magnificent sharks two years ago. The first ones for this season were spotted a couple of weeks ago, I was so happy they seemed to return this year too.
    Now, I feel so much sadness and frustration. I’ve basically not done anything at work since I heard about this around lunch-time, just re-read the same article on http://oceanicdefense.blogspot.com/.
    Roughly half the population is gone, and at this point nobody can tell the future of bull sharks in these waters.
    This tragedy woke me up though, realizing nothing will ever be preserved unless one actively supports it. First time in my life I’m at the very epicenter of such an event, it always seem to happen -somewhere else-. Now it happened at my backyard. I will not forget this ever. I will spend time and money on helping to prevent future disasters like this, the best way I can.

    Ironically, I ordered this very morning a new Fish eye dome port and extension ring to fit a wide angle lens to my UW rig, it would make a good shark setup. I planned to spend each possible weekend out there this winter. That kit is worth roughly the same money that fisherman made out of killing the sharks, according to approximation in the oceanicdefense.org article. I would happily have spent that on keeping them alive instead..

  4. admin says:

    Christian,

    It hit me so hard i couldnt imagine if had happened in my back yard. It is great to hear you are committed to doing something. That is exactly what the sharks need! Action!

    Yes, you need a fish eye lens for that close up bull action. I’ll be bringing my 10-17mm tokina and 8″ dome down in a few weeks…i sure hope there will be some sharks there!

    i’ll update this space with new info as it comes in and also report my own experience down there. if you have any info please share, all of us shark divers are so hoping some sharks still show up.

  5. admin says:

    i just got word that three bulls were spotted today. hopefully this means there will still be some economic benefits for the local operators. it doesnt change what happened, but it still makes me happy that sharks are there!