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Steady on.

by John Curnow, Editor, 26 Sep 22:00 UTC
Shortfin mako shark © NOAA Fisheries

Hold up. Just take a breath, please. No-one I know likes to hear reports of injuries or fatalities, and I am certainly of the same ilk. I have been saddened to hear of two recent shark attacks in Queensland's Whitsunday Islands, and I gather there was one in Florida, and also the Caribbean around the same time.

Yet the real issue is, was the response fair and reasonable, or even effective? Three Tiger sharks have been senselessly murdered, along with three more other species, yet there is not even the vaguest idea if they caused the problem in the first place! And if you consider that Great Whites, Tigers, Makos and Bulls are listed as the main threats, then slaughtering thrashers and reef sharks is just nuts.

True, I am not a Marine Biologist, but I have spent a lot of time in the water all over the globe, and swum with many a predatory creature nearby. There may have been something like six hundred sharks in the general proximity of the attacks, but they were there the day before, the week before, the month before, the year before, and so on.

I do know that swimming at dusk is dangerous, which is the general timeframe of the initial incident, and given the likely depth at the anchorage, it could well be Bull sharks that did it. After all, they had a crack at Navy Clearance Divers in Sydney Harbour not that long ago. Yet there are a few key and critical elements to investigate here.

Firstly, if you take your car onto the racetrack, you sign a waiver foregoing all your rights. If you end up with concrete rash, however severe, the buck stops with you. End of discussion. Equally, some say they will not vaccinate their child against certain diseases, yet the long-term data clearly indicates that eradication of the problem, along with zero ongoing incidences, are the proven outcomes.

So then, if we have scientifically proven methodology, and also a product that can create an 'electric force field', if you will, around your boat of say something like 10m and 6m down, why would you not have one today?

Death and destruction of ocean species for no human advantage is completely unacceptable. Now before everyone types me an email faster than the SR-71 flew around the globe, consider the drum line that has been hastily put in nearby, so as to appease everybody. Absolutely no one is there standing up for the turtles, dolphins, and countless other marine life that will pay with their lives, just so someone else can say they are doing something about it, with nary a regard to efficacy!

If they still caught the tuna that goes into your cans with drift nets, then we'd all be waxing on lyrically. Everyone also gets up in arms about arming American school teachers with guns, because having even more bullets whizzing around in a fire fight sounds like a great idea. Not! Yet where is the rational thought in the discussion relative to our topic today? If you look at the data (and you can see the AUS and US data - here and here), then there has been one fatality in AUS from the last 14 strikes. Honestly, crossing the road is more dangerous. Even the great Rodney Fox came out in defence of sharks, and just look at what he went through!!!!

In Australia, particularly off the South West corner, surfers are rapidly adopting the technology provided by Ocean Guardian. Lindsay Lyon, CEO of Ocean Guardian, commented to me, "I just wish an incumbent State or Federal Government Minister would pick up the phone to talk with the only organisation in the world that has a solution, and ask 'how can we speed up your development and delivery?' They will happily spend a fortune on shark mitigation strategies, yet they are not prepared to ask why hasn't someone made our scientifically proven technology happen faster, or how can we help you get there?"

Nothing has been proven to be more effective, by the way. Lyon also added that there is no scientific basis for the myth that the technology also draws sharks in. "Shark's electrical receptors have a maximum sensing distance of 50 cm, so that's how close they have to be to the electrical field (your body) to feel it. The Ocean Guardian electrical field is immeasurable at 6-8 metres away, according to research by the South African National Space Agency, so for the shark to feel it they have to be within 6-8 metres of the surfer. They will hear and smell you way before this will ever happen... Note that in all of the independent research conducted, each scientific paper specifically states, there is zero difference in the number of sharks attracted to the baits whether the device on or off."

In the end, all we ask for is sense and sensibility to prevail. It is a tough issue, much like air crashes (and it is not like they happen every other minute either), yet the hyperbole does not match the facts, and it is this that we ask you to accommodate in your thinking. Why pull the soapbox out now? Simple. No charter fleets, no vessel sales to new entrants to the market, and after all, we are about making sailing more accessible, and seeing the world... Perhaps charter boats could have Ocean Guardian's Boat01 product as standard equipment?

Now just like a lot of these glorious tropical areas we all love to holiday in, the Whitsundays are only just back from Cyclone Debbie that tore through with utter devastation her primary objective. Tourism Whitsundays General Manager Natassia Wheeler had this to say, as part of a wider comment on the matter: "The incidents that occurred in Cid Harbour this past week are extremely rare in the Whitsunday waters, and we praise the actions and rapid response of all emergency personnel involved. We again want to express our sympathies and thoughts to the victims and victims' families during this difficult time."

"With school holidays in full swing, we certainly hope this incident will not discourage or deter anyone from enjoying a Whitsundays holiday and we urge visitors not to change their upcoming plans to visit the amazing Whitsundays."

"September and October are ideal months of the year to visit the Whitsundays, with mild weather making it the perfect time to partake in a range of activities that the Whitsundays is renowned for, such as visiting Whitehaven Beach, snorkelling, hiking and diving. It is, and will continue to be, business as usual for our resilient tourism sector."

"The safety and enjoyment of people coming to the Whitsundays remains front of mind for our tourism industry, and we encourage all people entering the water to be vigilant and take the necessary safety precautions, such as not entering the water at night, dawn or dusk."

Can't say "tacking" for this one, as it is more like the full reciprocal, so perhaps we'll go for ships in the night. Of course, it is still very much in keeping with having a buoyant industry, just as we mentioned only a few paragraphs ago, and keeping Bavaria in the game of producing boats is beneficial for all, especially when they went to the effort to produce so many new and innovative designs recently.

So now, Capital Management Partners and the staff can get on with making boats and fulfilling the order book after making 220 of them in those more difficult four months. At least one dealer had placed a large number of boats on back order, so I'm guessing they will be first served as well, now that it is confirmed production is to get ramped up ASAP. Supplies have been ordered, which is good news, for there were boats in the yard in need of parts to be completed, so now that there is money in the bank, the suppliers too must be nearly as thrilled as the staff.

All in all, if something like the new C45 or C57 was on your radar, and you're still in the mix, then now would seem to be a good time to commit. I am sure that Ensign Ship Brokers here in Australia, along with those around the globe, will be ready to take your call, and make your new dream craft a reality. Expect production in October to be on a gradual climb as the big machine builds up a head of steam once more.

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you from the wonderful Mission Océan, Bill Hatfield (79) completes a West-about circumnavigation, a teenager spends 50 days at sea in a fishing shack (yes shack, not smack), the Race for Water, containers over the side, Multihull Solutions inform us about the new Fountaine Pajot 45, not picking a good time to head to sea and paying with your life, the ARC, Nemo gets some genome therapy of sorts, Orcas, tyres removed from reef, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow

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