Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our International Team Plans on Making a Great Difference

After a smooth crossing our team had assembled. Canadian and USA core team are
leading this trip. We are also sharing the boat with divers from Germany, France, Russia, Colombia and Costa Rica. We are also joined by Ginger Garrison on this trip. Ginger is the author of the most frequently sited Cocos Island Fish identification book ("Isla Del Coco Fishes") and brings a wealth of knowledge about fish behavior to the group. She is in the process of updating the book with new photos and updated scientific and behavior information. With the changes being made to the marine ecosystem at Cocos Island IF volunteers are contributing to this activity as
much as possible during this expedition.

One of the most interesting aspects of this expedition is the fact that the underwater ecosystem seems to be constantly changing. Tiger sharks are being spotted somewhat consistently. This is the first time these sharks have been seen in many years? What is bringing these sharks to the island? Temperature changes? Ecosystem shift? Longline bait from orphan fishing lines providing an easy meal? These large, reportedly aggressive sharks seem to be frequenting the Cocos Islets at night hunting the white
tip shark populations that congregate there. We hope to document this and hopefully uncover clues about this new behavior here. Stay connected with live video updates and blogs of both our obstacles and successes. Together we can save Cocos Island.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cocos Island Expedition Journal - Dec 17 2008

It’s hard to believe that today is the half-way point of the wholeexpedition. We’ve only learned this evening that the communications thatwere sent over the past few days have not been received. We hope thatthis can be resolved quickly so that the messages don’t have to wait untilour return. Even with today’s modern conveniences and satellite systems,where we are is so remote that many of the daily things that we take forgranted are difficult. To make matters even more difficult almost halfof the expedition crew has become sick with a cold or flu.
The relative trend in large animal activity from yesterday hasunfortunately not continued at the southern and eastern dive sites visitedtoday. In almost all cases, the sightings have been very brief and theanimals have been near the far edges of visibility.
Thankfully, still no signs of fishing boats in the area. However, at“Shark Fin Rock,” the most southern divesite at the island, a largeportion of the dive was spent untangling and removing longline fishingline. Even with sharp knives, it is very difficult to cut through it. In many areas it becomes so wrapped around coral heads that it takes quitea bit of coordination and patience to remove the line without furtherdamage… especially in areas of surge or current. In some cases, the lineshave completely broken off sections of coral. It’s a clear example of howthe lines continue to injure the ecosystem long after they’ve stoppedattracting fish to baited hooks. Even with several teams working togather the lines we know that we left quite a bit behind. We’ll continueto work at removing the lines if the dive conditions there are calm enoughover the next few days.
As mentioned in a previous posting, Ginger Garrison, author of IslaDel Cocos Fishes has been a great resource and inspiration to have peoplefind and photograph as many different fish species as possible on thedives. It’s quite likely that several photos from this expedition will beused to update the new edition of the book and educate and train legionsof visitors to the area. A couple of the more uncommon species sightedincluded both tiger snake eels and freckled snake eels as well as a loneCocos batfish. We also managed to get video of a no-holds-barredterritorial fight over an empty barnacle shell between two Cocos barnacle blennies!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Chase is On!

The Imaging Foundation is back at Cocos Island for round two. With a SAT phone and limited internet access the team is more connected than ever.

Yesterday IF went on the first dives of this week and they took part in a wild chase they did not expect. After seeing numerous fishing boats just miles from the Island we decided to take matters into our own hands. Geared up with still and video cameras the team was able to document the dangerous interaction they had with the fishermen. Below you will find a few from this cat and mouse chase.

::The fishermen finally caught onto us and became quickly frantic::

::The engines roared and they were off::

Friday, December 12, 2008

Expedition Team Recovers Yards of Fishing Line

While in Cocos Island the Imaging Foundation team has pulled up yards and yards of long line with many sharks hooked and dying. These images depict just a small fraction of what the team has accomplished on this expedition.

Cocos Island, Costa Rica - Dec 2008
Day 6 of expedition

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Finding the Truth - Cocos Island

Sharks, marble rays, dolphin, turtle... These are some of the wonderful creatures divers dreams of seeing during every dive. Never would a diver ever dream of seeing ALL of these animals in one place... On a longliine... Dead.

Right now there are reports of pregnant sharks found on these longlines as well as\ other megafauna at Cocos Island, Costa Rica. The illegal fishing is increasing, as the ocean's apex predators are decreasing. These reports are disheartening, hence we are taking matters into our own hands.

"We cannot stop this activity,unless we can show local people the beauty and importnce of an intact Cocos ecosystem. We also need to provide viable economic alternatives." says Georgienne Bradley, Imaging Foundation's executive director. The Imaging Foundation is packing up and leaving for Cocos Island tomorrow. The team is eager to get in the water to witness first hand what is going on.

Stay tuned as IF reports their findings. . We believe knowledge is power and power comes in numbers; so tell your friends about our story and check back often!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New pizza place opens, offers shark as a topping

New pizza place opens, offers shark as a topping

DESTIN -- When they get a shark-sized appetite, why not take the family where the locals feed

Destin's new Landshark's Pizza has a fin up on the competition when it comes to pushing out brick oven pizza worth writing home about.

Longtime Destinites and self-professed country boys David Hooten and Tom Shelton decided that the quiet period between the tourists leaving and the arrival of the Snowbirds would be perfect for the soft opening of their family friendly pizzeria to open its jaws to the locals.

The economic timing seems a little off for a business to open, but Landshark's has pretty tough skin.

"No matter how bad the economy might seem, people are gonna shop for a value and they aren't gonna stop eating pizza," Hooten said. "The generation coming up was raised on pizza, and people will still continue to go out to eat at a great place for an affordable price."

Landshark's claim to fame is right in their name.

"What we hang our hat on is a mako shark pizza," Hooten said. "It's made with real mako shark bought straight from Destin Ice."

The shark pizza has mako shark bits that are fried up and put on a pie with alfredo sauce, onions and mushrooms.

The multi-talented artist, surfer and pizza chef, Adam Bayard, 27, also serves up alligator pizza that 99ROCK describes as a "Cajun slap in the face."

"The idea is you can only get this in Destin," Shelton said.

Landshark's is also an ideal place to catch football and baseball on six 42-inch plasma TVs in a clean and cozy nook where the crew knows the regular lunch crowd by name.

Hooten and Shelton pride themselves on running an original, not franchised, local's retreat that serves up a fun menu that won't make the wallet cry.

"We built this from the ground up and hope to open more up and down the Emerald Coast," Hooten said.

Landshark's Pizza will have their grand opening Saturday at 1 p.m. The restaurant, located at 763-2 Harbor Blvd next to Old Time Pottery, also delivers. Just call 42-GOPIE. Z96 will be on hand to give away Georgia Tech tickets.

Reprinted from:
Florida Freedom Newspapers
By Jenni Rich

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Protesters Blocking Princess Cruise Ship from Docking in Costa Rica

Reprinted from USA Today
By Gene Sloan

The Coral Princess this week was blocked from calling in Costa Rica for a third time by fishermen protesting new regulations.

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises tells USA TODAY the 1,970-passenger vessel once again had to turn away from the Costa Rican port of Puntarenas after fishermen in industrial fishing boats barred the entrance. The fishermen are protesting a law that bans shark finning -- the practice of removing the fins of sharks while still at sea.

Princess' Julie Benson says the line has sent a letter to the Costa Rican Minister of Tourism expressing its concern over the recurring incidents. "We have have been in ongoing discussions with Costa Rican officials on this issue and are hopeful it can be resolved with no further disruption to our calls there," she says.

The incidents come in the wake of unrelated protests on the island of Roatan, Honduras, that have caused several ships there to miss port calls in recent months.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuna Farm Threats in Costa Rica

Last November 5, the Technical Secretariat of the Environment of Costa Rica (Setena) issued a resolution calling for the operation of Tuna Farms of Golfito to continue with its execution. The project, which consists of the installation of 10 cages that will fatten up to 120 tons of tuna per cycle, was suspended by order of the Constitutional Court on May 9 of 2007, due to the serious inconsistencies found regarding the threat of polluting the delicate ecosystem of the Golfo Dulce, and the impact on sea turtles. Setena had declared that the project was environmentally viable since August 19, 2005.

In order to elucidate the inconsistencies that the Constitutional Court pointed out, Setena requested the technical criteria of the Center for Marine and Limnological Research of the University of Costa Rica (Cimar). In the report, submitted last September 30, Cimar underlines that to predict the possible destiny of wastes and served waters with more certainty, a much more comprehensive study regarding ocean currents is needed than the one that was submitted in the Environmental Impact Study. Furthermore, it points out the need for a Plan of Action to deal with the sea turtles and whales that use these waters.

According to the Costa Rican NGO Pretoma, which filed the Constitutional Law Suit to stop the installation of Tuna Farms together with the Association of Neighbors of Punta Banco, Setena granted the environmental viability without having elucidated the inconsistency described by the Constitutional Court regarding the ecological impact that the Tuna Farms may have on the Golfo Dulce. To make matters worst, Setena doesn't even acknowledge that sea turtles nest in the area, in spite of the fact that for the last 11 years Pretoma has been doing sea turtle conservation projects in the community of Punta Banco, an olive ridley sea turtle nesting site located directly in front the area that the proposed Tuna Farms will occupy.

"The Constitutional Court had already expressed that Setena was in the obligation of ordering the performance of studies to previously guarantee, and with an acceptable degree of certainty, that the metabolic wastes produced would not affect the environment nor the delicate ecosystem of the Golfo Dulce", informed Randall Arauz, President of Pretoma, "The requested studies still haven't been performed, nor have the contaminant issue been elucidated, because of which the recommendation to continue with the execution of the Tuna Farms is contrary to the order of the Constitutional Court", explained Arauz.

According to Miguel Gómez, Pretoma's Campaigns Coordinator, sea turtles are under serious threat, as the structures with the cages would attract the sea turtles that visit the beaches of Punta Banco, Estrechura, and Río Coco to nest, and would interrupt the hatchlings on their way to the open sea. "We still don't see a serious plan to mitigate the impact of the Tuna Farms on sea turtles, but if Setena won't even acknowledge that sea turtles nest on these beaches, what can we expect?," said a disappointed Gómez.

On November 11 of 2008, Pretoma filed suit to revoke Setena's resolution, as well as an appeal to the Ministry of Environment.

Randall Arauz

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Check out the Imaging Foundation's response to a recent Conde Nast Traveler article about shark fin soup!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hakkasan drops its famed �40 shark fin soup over ethics

"The Independent"

By Jerome Taylor and Sophie Morris
Wednesday, 3 September 2008

When Alan Yau opened his prestigious Hakkasan restaurant in the heart of London�s West End seven years ago it promised to provide patrons with a truly authentic Chinese culinary experience. It earned him a Michelin star.

But for some Hakkasan was unpalatably authentic, not least its �40-a-bowl shark fin soup.

And now, following a consumer backlash over the ethics of international shark fin trade, Hakassan has withdrawn its controversial dish. Environmental campaigners are hailing the move and declaring it as a starting point for a global protest targeting restaurants and businesses in the developed world that profit from the shark trade.

For conservationists, shark-fin soup leaves a distinctly bad taste. A symbol of wealth and prestige on mainland China and much of South East Asia, it is responsible for barbaric fishing practices that are decimating the world�s shark populations.

Environmentalists now hope to kick start a global movement reminiscent of the anti-whaling campaigns of the 1970s where activists were able to turn public opinion in the developed world against whaling which in turn pressured major whaling countries to sign up to a moratorium on hunting.

A spokesperson from Hakkasan today refused to be drawn into why the restaurant decided to stop using shark fin in their dishes after more than seven years of doing so. Jessica Salmon, a spokeswoman for the restaurant said: �There were many reasons but none that we would like to talk about.�

But campaigners are adamant their protests and growing public awareness of the plight of sharks were behind the sudden change of heart.

Since January this year environmental activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and UK-based charity Bite Back have been targeting Chinese restaurants in London that still place shark fin products on their menus.

Hakkasan was particularly singled out because it has a global footprint, with a restaurant already open in Istanbul and more chains planned for Abu Dhabi, Miami and Shanghai.

Activists began holding regular protests in Chinatown and handed out flyers explaining how the fin trade leads to what marine scientists say is the unsustainable deaths of millions of sharks each year.

Campaign director at Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: �This victory for the seas sends out a determined and resolute message to the restaurant world ? sell shark-fin soup and be damned. The only reason shark populations are facing extinction is because of retail and consumer demand. Remove that demand and the shark fishing trade will collapse.�

And the campaign appears to be becoming more dramatic. This afternoon a woman placed hooks through her skin and hung herself from a shop window on Regent Street to highlight the plight of the world�s sharks.

Canadian film maker Rob Stewart who has spent his life documenting the damage done to the world�s shark population told the Independent today that he hoped more restaurants would follow Hakkasan�s lead. �If you go down Chinatown in London, Toronto or LA, believe me, shark fin will be available. It might not be on the print menu but it�ll be there.�

Every year more than 100 million sharks are killed for their fins which conservationists say has led to a devastating 90 per cent reduction in the global shark population over the past 30 years. Most of those that are caught are killed for their fins. In order to save space on the boats, the vast majority of those that are caught have their fins removed with a knife on board the ship � a process known as finning - and are then dumped back in the ocean where they die slowly.

Shark fin soup is coveted across China and South East Asia for its supposed �medicinal qualities� based on the erroneous belief that sharks never get sick.

Although 16 countries and the EU have banned finning, it is still not illegal to import or export fins anywhere in the world and hundreds of tonnes of fins arrive in the UK ports every year.

Activists now say they will continue to target restaurants that use shark fin in their dishes as well as any businesses that profit from the sale of jaws, cartilage, fins, teeth, meat and liver oil. Next on their list is the health product store Holland and Barrett which sells capsules made from shark cartilage.

Holland and Barrett today said that their shark capsules would not be withdrawn but they were being discontinued. A spokesperson said: �You may still see it in the shops but it will phase out very quickly.� This afternoon the capsules were still available on the shop�s website.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Volunteers Needed

As the "Virtual Cocos Island" team prepares for the next round of the American Express - Members Project, we are looking for volunteers. We are especially interested in people with experience in marketing and / or advertising!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thanks For Everyone's Support!

The first phase of the American Express, "Members Project" ended yesterday. We emerged 4th out of 1,200 projects. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate. We are eagerly searching for volunteers as we enter phase 2.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hey everyone!
This week we began our full focus on our ETIC Project. We took account of what we wanted to accomplish and jumped in with both feet. We are well on our way with divebuddy, with over 760 new friends! Divebuddy is an online community of divers, making this site extremely important to us since these are the people who too are passionate about the ocean and marine life! Today we will continue these efforts and update our information blogs. Right now we are looking into setting up a live webcam of the Pacific Ocean! We are also working on an interactive tool so our members can TAKE ACTION!
-Haley M

Monday, July 14, 2008

Imaging Foundation Broadcasting Now!


I am Kelsey Anne, one of the students who recently attended the Imaging Foundation's Kona Scholar's Expedition. The trip was fantastic! We produced a few videos about ocean life as well as fun stuff to show that the ocean is not a scary place. These productions are being uploaded to the Imaging Foundation YouTube Channel. Log on and check us out: .Subscribe so you are notified on all new videos! We all love hearing from people who like what we are doing so PLEASE leave a comment on our videos as well!

-Kelsey Anne

Friday, July 11, 2008

Your Chance to Help the Sharks!

The Shark Conservation Act of 2008 was adopted by U.S. House! Please take action and help the sharks by contacting your local senator and asking him or her to vote for this essential bill in the Senate! This Act will help stop fining which is decimating shark population¢s. If this Act passes in the U.S. other nations will be encouraged to take on similar programs. Also, the cost of implementation is estimated to be less than $1 per American over a 5 year period (2009-2013)! What a low price for such an important bill! The sharks need your help, please write to your senator!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

IF Insider Update

I really miss everyone from Hawaii. Right now, I am communicating with Jay(Monterey), Ana (Washington State) and Haley (Long Beach, New Jersey). It is wonderful to have all these wonderful volunteers and to be able to come together via the Internet and work together without needing to drive and use gasoline. We live in an amazing time!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Imaging Foundation Office Update

Let us know what you want to hear. Today is Ana Martin's first full time day. She will be working for IF for the next four months courtesy of Wells Fargo Bank. Welcome Ana. Kelsey is completing her second summer working for IF. We are currently working on completing and uploading the Kona presentations.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Costa Rican Government Effort to Thwart Shark Finners


(June 26, 2008 – San José, Costa Rica).
The Permanent Special Environment Commission of Costa Rica's Congress issued a report yesterday titled: Investigation on Shark Finning in Costa Rica, File N°16.890
In the Report, the Commission points out that the use of private docks for the landing of shark products by foreign fleets is legally inadmissible, a key issue for marine conservation and fisheries management, and recommends the immediate closure of these illegal landing sites.

We are very satisfied with the Report of the Permanent Special Environment Commission", commented Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA, a Costa Rican NGO that has led a battle against shark finning since 2001. "As we have denounced over and over again, the use of private docks for the landing of shark products by foreign fleets is illegal, and it is the main legal loophole used by foreign fleets to circumvent shark finning regulations", added Arauz.

"The Costa Rican Fisheries Institute, the Direction of Customs and the Ministry of Public Transportations have all claimed over and over again, that due to the lack of public docks they are in the capacity of legally authorizing the use of private docks by the foreign fleet", informed Jorge Ballestero, of PRETOMA. "However, the Costa Rican Congress has just confirmed what we have known for years, and it's that neither Customs nor any other public entity is in the legal capacity of authorizing their use", clarified Ballestero.

"In spite of the good news, we still can't celebrate", declared a cautious Miguel Gómez, Campaign Coordinator of PRETOMA. "Since January of 2006, the Constitutional Court ordered the aforementioned institutions to halt all landings at private docks that were not provided with public installations, an order that was seconded by the Comptrollership's Court a year later, but they still fail to abide by the rulings. Will they finally abide this time?" Gómez asked himself.