Category Archives: News

Latest News

Mike Rutzen rescues juvenile Blue Shark

On Saturday morning 18 May, False Bay Yacht Club members notified Mike on Shark Diving Unlimited’s research sailing vessel “Catalyst”, that a young Blue Shark was swimming bewildered and confused in the shallows in the marina at Simon’s Town.

With fellow club members John and Nina, they sprang into action, commandeered the club ferry and hauled the young fellow into the boat.

They then proceeded to take the shark out beyond the SA Navy harbour wall and set him free.

The shark was approximately 1.3 metres in length and was sexually mature. He had two holes, most probably from a gaff, in in his lower body near the head. He showed signs of extreme stress, but still seemed quite strong. Mike’s assumption is that a fisherman had caught him, brought him back from the trip and then decided to throw him overboard in the jetty/marina area.

Michael says “the problem is that most shark species are considered commercial fish within the Republic of South Africa’s borders, even though some of them are protected by Cites”.

A big thank you to all who helped in this endeavor.



Mike Rutzen to receive prestigious 2012 TOURFILM LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The International Film Festival on Tourism Films will award world renowned South African Shark Specialist Michael Rutzen their highest honour on the occasion of the 45th Jubilee year of the Festival in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic on 04 October 2012

Gansbaai, South Africa, 15 August 2012:

Last year more than seven hundred films were entered into the Festival from 135 coutries around the world. TOURFILM attracts professionals from the global tourism industry, politicians, international media and the general public. The people of Czech Republic have a passionate interest in expeditionary travel, a hallmark of this small and highly educated nation.

In October of this year, Michael Rutzen will join a long line of luminaries in accepting the 2012 Tourfilm Life Achievement Award for his “contribution to extending human boundaries with respect to the world’s oceans, in particular for his pioneering work with sharks and reducing man’s innate fear of the marine environment”.

Former Tourfilm Life Achievement Award winners include Reinhold Messner, Dr. Jane Goodall, Renowned author Eric von Daniken, Mark Inglis (New Zealand’s double amputee who climbed Mt. Everest in 2007), Michael Palin, South African Mike Horn, Travel Channel Presenter Ian Wright, BBC presenter Charlotte Uhlenbreuk and – last year, Bertrand Piccard.

Bull sharks spotted at McDonald's

Two bull sharks have been spotted swimming past the McDonald’s restaurant in suburban Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane, 30km from the coast.

Goodna butcher Steve Bateman saw one of the sharks swimming through the flooded waters of Williams Street near his butcher’s shop in the St Ives shopping centre yesterday.

There were several reports of another shark spotted in Queen Street, the main street through Goodna.

Bull sharks have been spotted in the Goodna sections of the Bremer River previously, with fishermen regularly catching them from the Goodna boat ramp.

Ipswich councillor for the Goodna region Paul Tully said while it may sound almost too bizarre to be real, the shark sighting was valid.

“It would have swam several kilometres in from the river, across Evan Marginson Park and the motorway,” Cr Tully said.

“It’s definitely a first for Goodna, to have a shark in the main street.

“I know Steve (Bateman) and he wouldn’t say he saw a shark unless he really saw one.

“It’s not like there have been polar bears or crocodiles spotted.

“Bull sharks have been in Goodna for a long time in the Bremer.

“They are regularly in the Brisbane River and often swim up. I know a number of fishermen who have caught bull sharks.”

State Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller also backed Mr Bateman’s bull shark sighting.

“Steve wouldn’t lie about something like that. He’s very well known in the community.”

Bull sharks are the third most likely shark to attack a human being. They are noted for their aggressive behaviour and often swim in shallow waters along coasts and rivers.

Mr Bateman was not available for comment.

Goodna was awash with water eight metres deep during the past 48 hours. The water receded dramatically overnight.

Police evacuated people from a large area of Goodna as large quantities of flammable gas spewed into the air yesterday.

Police said significant amounts of fuel had leaked into floodwaters from ruptured underground storage tanks at petrol stations near the St Ives shopping centre.

Queensland Times

Shark attack survivors plead case for attackers during rally at UN

BY Helen Kennedy

Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 4:00 AM

Survivors of shark attacks discuss their experiences at UN on Monday.

Nine shark attack survivors – some missing arms, legs or feet – came to the United Nations on Monday to beg the world to save their attackers.

“If a group like us can see the value in saving sharks, can’t everyone?” asked Debbie Salamone, 44, a Florida newspaper reporter whose Achilles tendon was severed in 2004 as she stood in waist-deep water.

The Pew Environment Group, which organized the rally, says a staggering 73 million sharks are killed each year to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

Fishermen slice off the fins – which can fetch up to $300 a pound – and dump the mutilated sharks back into the sea to bleed to death, according to the group.

“We’re decimating the population of sharks just for a bowl of soup,” said Australian navy diver Paul de Gelder, whose right hand and lower right leg were torn off last year in Sydney Harbor.

“I tried to go for the eyeball and realized I couldn’t because my hand was in his mouth,” he recounted of his close encounter with a 10-foot bull shark. “I punched him. I think that just upset him.”

Despite being maimed, de Gelder said, he came to New York to “speak out for an animal that can’t speak for itself.”

The Pew Environment Group says 30% of shark species – including great whites, smooth hammerheads, whitetips and threshers – are threatened with extinction or on the verge.

The shark fans want the UN to adopt curbs on shark fishing.

“We do not have scientific management plans for how many sharks can be caught,” Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group, told reporters. “There are no limits.”

The survivors were between the ages of 21 and 55 and traveled to New York from all over the world.

With News Wire Services
Read more:

Hawaii Bans Shark Fin Soup

Perhaps the most surprising thing to many (including me) about Hawaii’s newly adopted ban on shark fin soup, which takes effect on July 1, 2011, is that it is still legal in the U.S. at all.

The Hawaii ban, though more than a year away, includes heavy fines for anyone caught selling the soup in the state: $5,000 for a first offense, $50,000 for a second offense and up to a year in jail for a third.

Regarded a delicacy by many in China and Japan, the tasteless soup is mostly an extravagant addition to menus at high-end birthdays, weddings and business affairs.

That the soup’s popularity results in 70 to 100 million sharks being killed each year doesn’t seem to faze many in Asia. But to witness a shark being finned is the height of environmental and animal abuse: They are slashed off the still-living animal with sharp knives and its still breathing carcass tossed back into the ocean, to sink to the floor and die.

In Hawaii a bowl of shark fin soup—tasteless, with the fin is not eaten but thrown out like chicken bones—can be had for $17; at fancy affairs in Hong Kong, which traffics between 50 and 80 percent of shark fins in the world, a bowl can fetch $1,000.

In a confusing and obviously tough-to-enforce legislative move dating back to the Clinton administration, the U.S. banned shark fins from being imported into the country on ships registered in the U.S.—but not foreign vessels. It also mandated that fins could not be imported without being attached to the shark.

Apparently that law has been ignored, and Hawaii, a state that entertains many visitors from Japan and China, has stepped up as the first state to ban fins outright. Like the U.S., many countries ban shark finning in their waters but laws on the open ocean are easy to evade. A national Shark Conservation Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009, but has yet to be adopted as law.

Other states and countries are said to be watching the Hawaii legislation closely, and similar laws are being considered from Malaysia to Canada. In a state where 13 percent of residents are Chinese, only about a dozen restaurants serve the soup.

The timing of the law is essential since open ocean sharks are considered to be at great risk; an effort this past spring in Qatar by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to get international protection failed in part due to effective lobbying by Japanese representatives—the same lobbyists who succeeded in keeping similarly-endangered bluefin tuna off the list.

I’ve walked into restaurants advertising shark fin recipes in Japan and China and have asked tasters to describe the delicacy. As best I can decipher it apparently has less taste than chicken consommé.

Despite some out-moded beliefs, there are no aphrodisiacal attributes to shark fins. In fact, heavy consumption may cause sterility due to mercury in the sharks. But as China’s middle-class grows, with more and more disposable income available to hundreds of millions, so does its demand for shark fins.


You could be eating shark meat and not even know it.

South African fish shops are selling unlabelled or mislabelled shark products, which poses a threat to these endangered species and the unaware shoppers, according to the WWF’s Southern Africa Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI).

“We are getting more and more reports of fish shops selling products with strange sounding names like sokomoro and ocean fillet. (Some are) common or even made-up names that most consumers won’t recognise,” said John Duncan, a programme officer for the initiative.

Referring to the latest name on the market, sokomoro, which is another name for the shortfin mako shark, Duncan added, “Retailers are purposely mislabelling these species and lying about their origins because they know shark is unpopular with consumers.”

The shortfin mako is listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union. In addition to depleting the shark population, selling shark meat poses dangers to consumers with certain allergenic or religious food restrictions.

There are no regulations in South Africa to keep retailers from selling shark under different names like gummy, lemon fish and ocean fillet, a few of “thousands and thousands” of common names used to mask fish, according to Duncan. An exotic sounding name like sokomoro is just as mysterious.

“If you wanted to, you can call it peanut butter,” he said.

It is not illegal for retailers to sell shark, and concealing the identity of shark products has advantages. Selling shark under a different name gives fishers a way to catch and sell more sharks than the legal limit in a given year.

Mislabelling also attracts shoppers who normally avoid buying endangered animal products.

The anonymous meat can also make up shortages of a popular item that is similar, like swordfish. This was the justification put forward by Sidney Fishing director Sidney Moniz, whose employees at the Fish 4 Africa in Woodstock gave inconsistent answers about sokomoro yesterday.

One vendor said sokomoro was a fish from Spain and another vaguely described its origins as “from the coasts”. One manager said the shop carried, “no fish from Spain, as far as I know”.

Most shortfin mako are snagged near Japan when long-lining for tuna according to Duncan.

“I’m not sure if they knew it was from the shark family,” said Moniz, who added he was embarrassed, as he wrestled with reasons why the shop would be selling unlabelled fish. He said it was possibly done to bolster swordfish shortages or could have been a mistake because shark is difficult to distinguish off the bone.

“A big problem for me in the recent economic recession has been all these guys shipping these substitute fish,” Moniz said. “I didn’t even know it (sokomoro) was on the endangered species list. It’s not even a big portion of our business.”

Duncan said the SASSI programme was lobbying for government and NCIS standards to develop a list of acceptable trade names. For now he said a good policy for consumers is to avoid buying a product if they do not know what it is.

Article By Hunter Atkins

  • This article was originally published on page 8 of Cape Times on May 14, 2010