The Great Shark Release Day
On September 3rd, Adventure Divers, Pattaya, partnered up with the Dive Tribe and Scuba
With Mike to release 62 sharks back into the Gulf of Thailand. This undertaking was the brain child of Gwyn Mills, founder of the Dive Tribe and environmental activist. He had spent some of his money and and had managed to collect donations from various people to go to the fish markets and aquarium markets to document the activities revolving around the shark trade and to buy live shark for release into the ocean.
When Gwyn approached me a few weeks before, he spoke of his desire to put in many conservation measures into the Gulf of Thailand, including my favorite, placing and maintaining buoys on most if not all of the dive sites in the area and in the recreational areas used by tour groups where corals are present. Other measures included implementing sustainable fishing regulations and speed boat and jet ski regulations in place.
|The real purpose of the shark release was to attract attention to his organization and to organize momentum for the other projects. At the time we first spoke he had 41 sharks being held in tanks in Underwater World, Pattaya, and he as planning to buy more sharks before the release. He still held out hope that one of the Marine Universities would like to tag the sharks for a possible study on the effectiveness of the release, but that measure was not to be.|
Still, the project held some value to the immediate area and certainly to the site that was picked for the release, which Gwyn graciously allowed me to pick. Needless to say that I was on board immediately and started to plan the logistics required for the actual release.
The day of the release, we had two boat to carry around 61 people and 62 sharks. The sharks consisted of 6 juvenile Black Tip Reef Sharks, around 25 juvenile Banded Bamboo Sharks and around 30 normal gray Bamboo Sharks of different ages. The day started a bit late, as I expected but we finally got under way around 0930 Hrs with around 40 volunteers and 20 media folks from many different news organizations. After an hour or so of steam, we arrived at the first release site and with a lot of fan fair and jostling with the media cameras we managed to successfully release about 30 sharks.
After a great lunch ( I must commend our caterer, Saifon, for such a feast ) we moved to the second release site and started to release the rest. This site is such a great dive that when everyone went under with their sharks for release they all seemed to forget about the other 20 sharks on board. But no matter, as I did not forget and was privileged to release over 25 myself.
Although the actual environmental impact of the action is debatable, what a great day it was and I hope to be able to organize or at least participate in another great Shark Release Day.