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Can you see sharks in Komodo

Do Sharks Spit or Swallow? – 10 Shark Facts To Shock You!

Are they the hunters, or the ones being hunted?? Few people realize that well over 100 million sharks die every year at the hands of humanity. This is largely as a result of the market for shark’s fins. Millions of others die as by-catch in nets intended for other species. These sharks are often tossed overboard as trash.

By comparison, there are usually fewer than 10 fatal shark attacks on humans recorded in an average year.

Surprised? Don’t be. Sharks are widely misrepresented, and misunderstood. Read on. We have 10 shark facts that we’re willing to bet you didn’t know. Let’s separate some of the fiction from the fishy facts….

 

1. She’s Older Than You Think…

Over 400 million years of evolution has refined shark species to be perfectly suited to the various aquatic environments in which they are found. Compare that to human history. The cave dwellers from which we descended only got up on two legs around 6 million years ago.

 

2. The Mighty Megalodon

Compared to the now extinct Megalodon, the Great White is a pussy cat. The largest shark that ever existed, they could grow up to 30 metres in length. A grown man could easily have stood up inside the open mouth of an adult Megalodon.

 

3. Jaws Spits, She Doesn’t Swallow

Sadly, the majestic Great White shark is still consider a mindless, murderous, killing machine by many people. There was a time not so long ago when humanity also feared predators at the top of the food chain that walked on land. Tigers, lions, polar bears were all slaughtered without a thought as to the effect that this would have on the ecosystems of which they were (and are) an important part. Slowly, they are becoming protected, instead of executed.

When a Great White takes a bite out of a swimmer, surfer, or his board, it is often a case of mistaken identity. Seen from below, a surfer on a board can look an awful lot like a big, fat, tasty seal. Great Whites are so highly evolved that when they bite into their prey, they get a sense for how much body fat the creature is carrying.

When they take a bite out of human, they often don’t bother to “finish the job”. We’re rather bony, not fat-filled and juicy like the seals. So they spit us out. Unfortunately, we are left with a rather nasty wound, often miles from shore….

 

4. You Can’t See Me….

Even when sharks cannot see you…they can still sense you. As sharks evolved they developed a “sixth sense”. Ampullae of Lorenzi may sound like an exotic Italian dish. It’s not. They are the receptors which sharks use to sense electromagnetic signals that go unnoticed by humans and other species.

It is said that sharks can “feel” how fast your heart is beating as they swim past you. Hammerheads have been observed hunting rays buried beneath the sand, using their ability to sense where their next potential meal hides. Once they have pinpointed the location, they (literally) nail down the ray beneath the sand using the two pronged hammer that is their head. Incapacitated, the unfortunate ray becomes lunch.

As they say, you can run, but you can’t hide…at least not from a hungry hammerhead!

 

5. Sharks Don’t Get Cancer

OK, not 100% true, but almost. Scientists have forced sharks to ingest known carcinogens and injected them with deadly toxins. Yet still there are fewer than 10 verified reports of sharks that developed malignant tumours. Humanity has much to gain by studying these fascinating fish, as opposed to slaughtering them.

 

6. Bad Tooth? Grow Some More!

If you have a cat you know how much hair they can shed. A similar phenomenon can be observed in many shark species. It is not surprising that they lose teeth while feeding or as they age. What is unusual is that they have the ability to grow more.

 

7. Is That a Shark in the Lake?

Bull sharks are one species of shark that has developed the ability to regulate the amount of water in their bodies, regardless of how much, or little, salt is in their aquatic environment. That means they can enter rivers, and even swim upstream into lakes in the search for food. Lake Nicaragua, and the Zambezi River in Africa are two spots where sharks are frequently reported quite comfortably cruising by.

 

8. You Stink. And You’re Noisy.

A shark’s sense of smell goes beyond anything we humans can imagine. Some species can sense blood in the water at a concentration of one part per 10 billion. That means a person with even an open scratch would be detected by any shark within a very wide radius, very quickly. Sharks can be found in pretty much every oceanic environment on earth. So can people. Swimming, fishing or diving. Yet there are relatively very few attacks on people.

Mindless, indiscriminate killers? I think not.

While a diver using a re-breather unit is relatively silent, conventional scuba gear is loud and noisy to those who live in the underwater world. This is part of the reason why it can be so difficult to spot and photograph sharks. To them, we sound like a truck roaring by, with our bubbles and noisy breathing.

 

9. We’ll Eat Anything

That depends. Tiger Sharks have earned themselves an especially infamous reputation as “opportunistic” feeders. Tires, baby whales, shoes and sailors. You name it, chances are it’s been found in the tummy of a Tiger.

That said, the gentle giants of the sea, and the biggest fish on earth are the Whale Sharks. They have no teeth. Being filter feeders, they strain plankton from the sea as they swim. They are gorgeous creatures who will tolerate snorkelers and (sometimes) divers swimming alongside them. Sadly, they are now endangered in many places where they once swam in healthy numbers.

 

10. Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid. No, Wait. Don’t Be…

Large sharks, like any wild animal that is a top predator and a carnivore, should be shown a healthy degree of respect. Especially when we divers suit up, take the leap into the sea, and essentially drop in (uninvited) to their homes. If a group of tigers fell through my roof unannounced, and proceeded to follow me around my house, it would make me a little nervous too.

Essentially, this is what we do when we enter the ocean. Sharks, like the earth’s other creatures, are not looking for a fight. They will obviously defend themselves if they are cornered or feel threatened. Show sharks the respect they deserve, and it is very likely that they will return the favour.

 

Thanks for reading, please share if you liked this through the buttons below. Love and bubbles from the Uber Scuba Komodo Dive Center team. 

muck diving in komodo national park

Yucky, Mucky, Macro Diving in Komodo

The Magnificence Hiding in the Muck

Don’t let the name fool you. It may not sound like much fun, but it’s surprisingly easy to get addicted to diving in the “muck”. Some of the strangest, and most fascinating marine inhabitants can be found hiding amongst the silt and rubble in many parts of Indonesia when scuba diving. The Komodo National Park is no exception. Muck diving is also named Macro diving.

 

What Makes up for Muck?

Muck diving environments are not the prettiest places on the planet. Usually fairly shallow sites, the bottom can be a mix of sand, silt, dead coral or rubble. There may be a lot of garbage, discarded fishing lines or even small wrecks. Harbours, bays and other shallow, quiet areas often offer the best opportunities for muck diving. The calm conditions make it the perfect environment for macro-photography.

 

Life in the Muck

While the landscape may be less than lovely, the myriad marine creatures that make muck their home number in the thousands! And this is why you dive muck. The sea life that you’ll find may be small, even minute. But the many unique species that have adapted to life in this environment are fascinating examples of mother nature’s powers of evolution. A number of these species have highly developed mechanisms for camouflage and disguise.

A muck dive is usually a long, slow, shallow dive. You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled so as not to miss the most interesting creatures. Many species of frogfish, scorpionfish and flounder will be still and silent as they sit on the ocean floor. In many cases, it may be just a pair of eyes and a gaping mouth that alerts you to the fact that what appears to be a stone, is in fact a stonefish.

Frogfish have exceptional exteriors designed to keep them well hidden, even while in plain view. Also called anglerfish, these masters of disguise spend the vast majority of their time staying still. When they do move, they are lightening fast and targeting their next meal. Even heaven can’t help a fish that gets sucked into the gaping mouth of a hungry frogfish. Blink and you’ll miss it. The process takes less than a second.

Seahorses are another special treat seen on many muck dives. Look for them close to the bottom, anchoring themselves by tail to a piece of rock, dead coral or seaweed. They are not so simple to spot, but once you do find one, you’ll want to hang around next to it for awhile. Octopus, including the rare blue ringed octopus, may be sighted squeezing themselves into any available cracks and crevices.

The flamboyant cuttlefish is a psychedelic, writhing mass of changing colour that may slip through the sea next to you. Eels can often be spotted sticking their slender heads out from the sand, and there may be mantis shrimp, sea snakes, and sea moths in good numbers.

 

Must Visit Muck Sites

Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and some spots off Malaysian Borneo are considered to be home to the best muck diving. However many places have dive sites that are filled with small but sensational critters. Muck diving sites can also serve as “nurseries” for juveniles of larger species. Ask your dive master for hints on where to look, and for what.

 

Our Very Own Mucky Dives

The Komodo National Park has something for everyone. We have a fantastic diversity of sites for divers of any ability level. Muck diving can be done at Manta Point off of Central Komodo, Wainiloo in the South Komodo area, and at East Komodo at the Sebayor Kecil site. If there is a particular type of dive, or a creature you are hoping to spot, let us know. We’ve had years of experience in these waters and will be happy to make this dive trip your best dive trip!

Boom! Why Dynamite Fishing Might Blow Us All Away…

It’s nothing new really. And some fishermen argue that it is an effective method of catching the maximum number of fish, with the minimal amount of effort. It’s DIY bomb building that usually involves improvised underwater explosive devices made at home.

 

If commercial dynamite is unavailable, or doesn’t fit the budget, a glass bottle packed with potassium or ammonium nitrate, pebbles, and a splash of kerosene, will do the trick.

 

Sometimes cyanide is added to the recipe. Apparently, the fish that are caught with cyanide are not intended for the fisherman’s own dinner plate. Obviously, cyanide that enter the fish, could easily be transferred to the humans sitting down to a seafood supper. Or maybe the local fishing families don’t understand the dangers of cyanide. Or the dangers associated with dynamite fishing.

 

Perhaps the families that fish this way don’t care. Perhaps they cannot afford to. It is unlikely that any parent would deliberately compromise their families health, and the future of their children. Nevertheless, dynamite fishing endangers not only the coral reefs and the myriad of magnificent creatures that they support, but also the fishing communities ability to provide for themselves.

 

The beginning is always a good place to start. We’ll assume that the local engaged in dynamite fishing doesn’t blow himself up in the process of building the underwater bomb. Which does happen. Low income fishermen with limited education don’t make the best bomb builders. So they may lose a hand, arm or child while attempting to put together an underwater explosive.

 

Most of the time, the bomb building is relatively uneventful, and the bomb goes out on the boat. Tragically, dynamite fishing has been practised in Indonesia, and throughout Southeast Asia for over 50 years.

 

So let’s imagine an Indonesian fisherman heading out to the reef, looking for a good spot to drop his bomb and scoop up the stunned and injured fish that will float to the surface. Once an appropriate location has been decided upon, the fisherman lobs the bomb overboard, and waits for the shock blast. This stuns the fish, and ruptures their swim bladders and other internal organs.

 

Many float to the surface. Voila! Could catching fish get any easier?

 

Another question. Could it get any more destructive?

 

Some fish float to the surface, and are an effortless catch. Many, many more sink to the bottom to rot. And it’s not just the fish that are stricken down. Virtually every marine organism in the vicinity will be seriously harmed or killed. Equally tragic is the damage that is done to the coral reefs.

 

What the fishing families do not see, and may not understand, is that while in the short term dynamite fishing seems to work well, it is actually undermining their traditional way of life. It is also seriously compromising the ability of the coral reefs and the ocean to provide any source of food or income for them in the future.

 

Perhaps today the fish float to the surface. Underwater the environment that enables the fish to live and breed is being destroyed. The reefs are crushed and turned to rubble. Without the reefs there are no fish. No fish means no food. Divers and sun seekers do not travel thousands of miles to see rubble. No tourists means less or no income, and ultimately, no future.

 

In the short term, fish populations are reduced, driving the boats to bomb other areas. In the long term, hundreds of miles of coral reefs become skeletons. Where once a diverse and productive marine ecosystem thrived, now a grey and barren graveyard lies. The coral’s calcium carbonate structures are dead, an incapable of regeneration. Thousands of years of mother nature’s underwater work, the building blocks of an ecosystem, destroyed.

 

Komodo National Park is a protected marine reserve, and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nevertheless there is fresh and indisputable evidence that dynamite fishing practices continue here. Some of Asia’s most spectacular dive sites have been irreparably damaged. If they can recover, it will not be during our life time, nor that of our children.

 

The Indonesian government has assumed complete responsibility for the protection of the Komodo National Marine Park. In the past, they had a co-operative agreement with the Conservation International group to monitor and implement measures critical to conserving the coral reefs in the area.

 

There is clearly a need to look into a better coordinated response to the dangers of dynamite fishing. Local communities should be protecting their reefs, not destroying them. The situation sadly seems to be getting worse in many areas, not better.