Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fishy Business off Malta - Save the Sharks!

So the boys weren't spinning a reel after all! (Great) White Sharks are back in the seas of Malta!

A few weeks ago, some of our friends at Techwise surfaced from a dive to be ushered into the boat a little quicker than normal! The boatman was gesturing in the direction of the wreck they had just dived and spoke of a BIG fish. Later on the radio as they drove home, reports came in of a small fishing boat being rescued after a 'bump' from a shark.

How you feel about the return of Great Whites to Malta will vary from person to person. I know a lot of people don't like the idea of bumping into sharks out on dives - especially when it comes to the big boys of the family. But I think it's as great as the sharks we are talking about. My only sadness is returning sharks will never make it to the coast without being killed.

It seems to me that Malta could easily begin a baby version of the thriving cage-diving business that does so much for the African Tourist industry. Of course first we would have to educate as to the value of these creatures LIVE as opposed to dead. Africa and other countries have developed an art of teaching divers about the threats posed to these seemingly threatening mammoths of the seas. Sharks only breed small litters of young, and are slow in reaching maturity (enough to breed new generations), so when a shark is killed, we often wipe out possibility of future generation too.

They are keystone species of the aquatic world and their disappearance will have serious consequences for all life in the seas and those who depend on the oceans for their lives. The return of the sharks might even be the signal of the general eco-system returning to healthier times before pollution and industry development on the island decimates the underwater landscape - we've certainly noticed that the algae coverage and fish numbers are once again beginning to climb. The sharks are supposed to be here - they were here before! You only have to check the photographs on the walls of the Zurrieq cafe.

Lets hope we see many more Great Whites off the coasts of Malta - and lets hope we see them with new eyes, higher awareness and appreciation - ALIVE! Why not check out the Project AWARE Shark Awareness to find out more about these amazing creatures.

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