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Great white sharks ended up in Mediterranean after 'wrong turn' 450,000 years ago

A genetic study has suggested that the great white shark may have ended in the Mediterranean after it took a wrong turn 450,000 years ago, from the seas around Australia.

Researchers believe the arrival may have been simply a migratory "wrong turn" by a few pregnant females, brought about by a tumultuous climate between ice ages.

It had previously been assumed that the great whites in the Mediterranean were most closely related to their cousins in the Atlantic Ocean, but a team led by Les Noble of the University of Aberdeen found something else.

They examined several groups of sharks' mitochondrial DNA - genetic material passed through the maternal line that is particularly suited to tracing lineages - and found that the Mediterranean sharks were very different to the Atlantic group and more like sharks from Australia and New Zealand.

Although changes to the DNA in the different populations happen randomly, they do happen with a regular average rate.

And the few differences between the Australian and Mediterranean sharks indicated how long ago they parted ways: 450,000 years ago - a time between ice ages that would have seen many effects of a changing climate.

"That was a time of interglacials, when you would've had all kinds of changes in the currents going down the east and up the western coast of Africa," the BBC quoted Dr Noble as saying.

The team hypothesises that strong, warm currents pushing the sharks northward would have put them far off course.

"They might have gone a considerable way up there before the warmth ran out. Then they start trying to turn east and north and the first place you can go east, of course, is the Straits of Gibraltar," the team said.

Dr Noble explained that perhaps only a few pregnant great whites would have needed to make the journey.

"The reason we still have a genetic signature of that with the great whites is because they're like salmon - where the pups are dropped, they recognise as their home - that's where they always return to," he said.

The findings have been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society


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Great White Shark facts:
Great white sharks are found in most temperate waters throughout the world, and are most common around Australia, South Africa and Northern California. Their diet consists of warm-blooded mammals, primarily pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), but also whales, dolphins, fish and squid. Caught for their jaws, teeth, leather and fins, which collect high prices and are in demand worldwide, great white sharks also face the threat of accidental capture in fishing gear, and animals that survive are often killed for their body parts.

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SA researcher to save sharks

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South African researcher's work will help in tracking sharks movement and boost conservation efforts.South African researcher Alison Kock of the Save Our Seas Foundation’s Cape Town shark centre is one of the international group of contributors to an extensive photo library of Great White shark fins – one they hope will enable them to eventually track the movements of every Great White and boost shark conservation efforts.

The project was initiated at the International White Shark Symposium, held in Hawaii earlier in 2010, and is coordinated by the UK’s University of Bristol.

It is based on an innovative system designed by Swiss-born marine biologist Michael Scholl, founder of the NGO White Shark Trust, which was established to conduct research into and conservation of the fearsome Great White shark.

The Great White is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

Scholl’s research was based at Dyer Island between 1997 and 2007. This little island, a nature reserve, is one of a group of two situated about 5km off South Africa’s southern coast – the channel between them is popularly known as Shark Alley.

The trust claims that Scholl’s study was the most intensive ever undertaken of Great Whites. During this time he developed the system of finprinting that identifies the features on a dorsal fin, which are as unique to sharks as fingerprints are to humans.

Over 1 500 different sharks have been identified by the White Shark Trust since 1997. “An automated software-based identification system is necessary for building an international centralised database for scientists to be able to collaborate and work together efficiently,” said Scholl.

The South African team uses a submersible to capture the local sharks on camera. South Africa is home to one of the largest populations of the magnificent creatures, and the areas around Dyer Island and Seal Island, some 175km away, are said to contain more Great Whites than anywhere else on earth.

Ecotourism in the form of shark cage diving is very popular in this area. Gansbaai, the mainland town closest to Dyer Island, is often referred to as the cage diving capital of the world.

Kock, who has been involved with shark research for six years, said that finprinting is nothing new to scientists, but previous manual methods of identification were time-consuming. The new system will allow for more accurate population estimates in different areas, she said, as well as enhance scientific collaboration.

Other tracking techniques such as satellite tagging and acoustic pinging will still be used, as they record details that images can’t, although they are more invasive.
Sourced by SA – The Good News via MediaClubSouthAfrica



Happy Shark Week 2010

Shark Week 2010 starts this year on the 1st August .Watch it on the discovery Channel .for more information go to  [HERE

Do you have the time for a quick educational game , click here for the Ring of Death Game 



Jaws..a hard act to follow

The monster they couldn't remake! [Click Here For Source]

One great ferocious fish film just isn't enough, says Joe Queenan.

THIRTY-FIVE years ago, the first and only great movie about great white sharks opened. It was in fact the first and only great movie about sharks, period.


The third full-length Steven Spielberg feature, and the first one with a serious budget, Jaws is one of the most admired and, in a certain way, beloved films ever made. It is also one of the most influential; after the success of Jaws, followed two years later by Star Wars, the age of expensive, high-tech filmmaking was upon us, and Hollywood would never be the same.

Jaws made Roy Scheider, previously a little-noticed character actor, a star; it made Richard Dreyfuss, an annoying, neurotic, nerdy sort of fellow, a star; and it made the brilliant Robert Shaw into the kind of crafty old codger the American public could no longer take for granted, even though he wouldn't last much longer. Lines such as ''You're gonna need a bigger boat'' have become immortal, as has John Williams's unsettling shark-attack theme, even though the music is lifted from Igor Stravinsky, who was already immortal.

But more than anything else, Jaws made killer whites - and sharks in general - stars. Before Jaws, people were afraid of sharks, but not in the way they would be afraid of them afterwards. Jaws tapped into something primal, primordial, archetypal, visceral, subcutaneous. This was partly because the setting of Jaws was so placid and bucolic and middle-American and innocent. But it was also because the shark in Jaws was gigantic, a veritable monster. After Jaws, people weren't merely afraid of sharks. They were afraid of water. I know of at least one child who refused to so much as dip his toe into Lake Michigan in high summer for fear that a shark might eat him. He expressed the same concern at the Olympic-sized pool on the top floor of the Intercontinental hotel in downtown Chicago. There are no sharks in Lake Michigan, which even in August is too cold to accommodate the tigers of the deep and is usually too cold to accommodate nervous little boys. That had nothing to do with it. Lake Michigan was a large body of water, and in a large body of water sharks were capable of anything.

The public loved Jaws. The public hasn't stopped talking about it for 35 years. But it did not love Jaws II, a listless 1978 dud, nor did it love Jaws 3-D, the 1983 monstrosity that had nothing to do with the films that preceded it. And the public most certainly did not love Jaws: The Revenge (1987), one of the worst of the many, many bad motion pictures Michael Caine has gleefully appeared in over the years. What's more, in the 23 years since Jaws: The Revenge appeared, there has not been a single movie about sharks that can hold a candle to Spielberg's 1975 classic. Deep Blue Sea (1999), which featured scheming, highly intelligent, genetically modified sharks, was fun but stupid, one of those films - like Jaws: The Revenge - where the producers could only afford to pay the star for about 14 hours' work, so Samuel L. Jackson, or the ragdoll playing him in the hilarious scene where he gets eaten, checks out early.

Of all the other shark movies that have been made in the interim, only Open Water (2004) can be considered in any way a success. But this low-budget tale of a scuba-diving couple abandoned to their own devices by the bozos operating their excursion boat is mostly about the relationship between the doomed couple, not about sharks. It is a disturbing film that makes you feel as if you are right there in the water, with the sharks circling around you, as your relationship with your spouse disintegrates because neither one will admit that they should have surfaced earlier, before the last scuba boat left. But you don't actually get to see the sharks very often, and when you do see them, it's mostly just their fins.

Owing to financial constraints, Open Water lacks the electrifying shark footage of Jaws, in that it lacks an eight-metre mechanical shark. Even though the mechanical sharks that were used in Jaws gave the crew all kinds of trouble, the scene where the shark finally starts dining on Robert Shaw is unforgettable. This time, the mechanical shark rose to the occasion. Open Water doesn't have any scenes like that. The long and the short of it is: you don't send a bunch of five-metre, slightly-out-of-focus great white sharks to do a humongous eight-metre mechanical shark's job. It's a basic rule of cinema.

That raises an obvious question: why is it so hard to make a second great film about sharks? Is it simply the fact that Spielberg casts too large a shadow over the shark genre? Are young directors afraid to take him on, chary about getting into the ring with the champ? Is there somehow a sense among directors and producers that one great shark movie in 110 years of motion pictures is more than enough, that Jaws can keep holding the fort until, gee, I don't know, 2046? Or are there simply no more great shark movies to be made?

That is probably the single most intriguing question about how the movie industry operates. Hollywood has no trouble whatsoever making and remaking the same bad films; this year alone, it released both The Losers and The A-Team - loud, dumb films about disgraced American special-ops who are determined to clear their names and make the world safe for democracy. It has no trouble making and remaking The Count of Monte Cristo and The Mark of Zorro and Dracula and Robin Hood. It never stops releasing new versions of Pride and Prejudice and Oliver Twist, not to mention Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So why is it so hard to go back to the original well and make another great shark movie?

Jaws is not the only film to fall into this category. Seen any great films about a Los Angeles bus that will explode if it slows to less than 50 miles an hour lately? Exploding buses are really, really terrifying, precisely because buses are so humdrum, so ordinary, so ubiquitous. Why, then, has no one made another film like Speed?

The basic creed of Hollywood is: if it worked once, it should work again. But that is a cynical worldview that leads only to Spider-Man 3 and Saw IV and Rocky V. That is not what we are talking about here. What we are talking about is phenomenally successful motion pictures such as Jaws and Speed, films that people all over the world adore, but which become so successful and daunting that no one with any real talent ever tries to make another one. It's as if everyone is deathly afraid of invading Spielberg's terrain. And not just his. There hasn't been another thriller told back to front that involves traumatic memory loss since Memento. Well, why not?

There hasn't been a good horror movie about insects since … well … Michael Caine appeared in The Swarm. Killer whales have been on the sidelines since Orca: Killer Whale. There hasn't been another great film about tornadoes since Twister. There hasn't been a great film about gladiators since Gladiator. Is it that hard to make a movie about violent, musclebound men armed with tridents and mesh nets who are trapped in a Roman amphitheatre? Really?

There have been remakes, sure, plenty of them. Psycho was done a second time. Dial M for Murder was done a second time. The Poseidon Adventure was done a second time. Even The Stepfather was done a second time. But remakes, even the best remakes, are entirely derivative; they add nothing new to the canon. What I'm asking for here is not a crass remake of Jaws or Speed or Twister or Gladiator. I'm asking for one more - just one - great film about man-eating sharks, imperilled metropolitan transportation systems, heroic meteorologists, or the fallout from the policies of a corrupt son of Marcus Aurelius. Is that too much to ask? Is it?

Apparently, the answer is yes.



Hearing our Voices - a victory on Whales

Dear friends in Conservation .

See below the press release from the  Avaaz team. Whale and Shark Conservation are closely linked .


We did it! The proposal to legalise whale killing went down in flames in Morocco -- and our campaign helped to tip the balance.

In a few short weeks, we built the biggest whale-saving petition in history, signed by an extraordinary 1.2 million of us worldwide, and delivered it directly to key delegates at the International Whaling Commission meeting. In the end, the 24 year old whaling ban was upheld.

The pro-whaling lobby tried to use political favours to win a so called 'compromise' that amounts to a quota for hunting whales, but as tension grew in the closed-door talks, our massive petition became a top story on the BBC’s world news, and we worked with friendly negotiators and other allies to put pressure where it was most needed and draw greater global attention.

The Australian environment minister Peter Garrett received our petition for like-minded governments in front of the world's media and said “Thank you very much Avaaz. It is a great pleasure to be here and accept this petition ... I believe the people of the world’s voices need to be heard. I certainly hear them today."

The U.S. delegation greeted us saying -- “Avaaz! We saw your billboard at the airport!” and delegates were overheard excitedly discussing our giant real-time petition counter outside the meeting as it blew far past the million mark.

After the meeting, one European negotiator told us: "We've managed to keep the ban in place...I've been checking the petition online. I was very impressed by how fast the numbers are rising and seeing people signing from across the world.”

This is an important victory for whales -- and for global people power -- together we demonstrated that international decisions can be shifted by a little bit of well-placed effort from a lot of people everywhere.

But winning this battle won’t guarantee the whales’ safety yet -- Japan’s “scientific” whaling fleet is already sailing out of harbour through IWC loopholes to kill hundreds of whales.

To win for good, we’ll need to campaign to strengthen and reform the IWC, and to mobilise in countries with pro-whaling governments like Japan -- where the Cabinet knows Avaaz and we have changed environmental policy in the past.

We can do it if enough of us chip in just a small amount a week. We’ve now reached 6,000 regular donors -- if we get to 10,000 we can start funding campaigning in Japan and other key nations now. Click here to become an Avaaz sustainer and make it happen:

Over its short lifespan, our movement has exploded through a simple democratic idea: that people power can stand up and win against powerful special interests. Whether it be protecting whales, countering corruption, supporting authentic democracy movements or fighting for a global climate deal, we are coming together to bridge the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.

Now, if enough of us chip in just a small amount for Avaaz’s member-funded campaigning, together we’ll have the strength to win even more victories. Click here now to donate --

With hope,

Ricken, Alice, Paul, Mia, Ben, Luis, David, Graziela, Milena and the whole Avaaz team]


Welcome Note

Welcome to this our new venture White Shark Expeditions.

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Latest Blog Posts

A genetic study has suggested that the great white shark may have ended in the Mediterranean after More...
Give a gift that will help protect the future of nature. Your symbolic adoption supports WWF's More...
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