Category Archives: In My Opinion

BS On The Bull Shark!

I call BS on the bull shark!

Yes, exactly what you think that means.

Well, it’s not the shark I have a problem with. It is how the corporate wildlife media has covered it in recent years that irks me.

Numerous most dangerous shark lists and television programs have named the bull shark as the top aquatic terror.

Yes, bull sharks are high on the International Shark File (ISAF) attack list with 73 nonfatal and 27 fatal attacks. Yes, they have extremely high levels of testosterone. And yes, they can be found commonly on popular beaches and even far into river systems as they do just fine in fresh water.

bull shark noaa.jpg
Bull Shark (Photo Courtesy NOAA)

It is the combination of those factors that put the bull shark high on the dangerous list but that is not what the public hears.

They hear “most dangerous shark” and assume that if a tiger shark, a great white and a bull shark swims by them, the bull shark would be the most likely to attack.

Well, for starters that is not even true in terms of just raw attack numbers.

The tiger shark’s nonfatal attacks are at 80 and they have 31 fatal attacks (total 111). The great white has 234 nonfatal attacks and 80 fatal attacks with a total 314. Just looking at these numbers alone you can see the bull shark is not the most dangerous shark.

Then you consider the logic of putting the bull shark at the top (its abundance in nearshore coastal waters, wide distribution, freshwater ability) actually paints a different picture when turned around.

Bull sharks are far more abundant than great whites and tiger sharks. Far more!

There is no comparison in their abundance especially in populated areas with great whites in particular having a limited range in warmer waters with more swimmers.

Looking at these numbers does anyone think that a shark (great white) that has 314 “verified” attacks and that has its largest abundance in relatively isolated areas in comparison to bulls would not do far more attacking if the population roles were reversed? Ditto for tigers.

I have no doubt there would be double the attacks for both species if they were as abundant as bulls on the Gulf, Atlantic and Caribbean Coasts.

I put “verified” in quotes because of something ISAF has said themselves.

 This list must be used with caution because attacks involving easily identified species, such as white, tiger, sandtiger, hammerhead and nurse sharks, nearly always identify the attacking species, while cases involving difficult to identify species, such as requiem sharks of the genus Carcharhinus, seldom correctly identify the attacker.

The requiem sharks include the bull shark.

I have written recently that blacktip sharks could likely be the culprit for some bull sharks and current data shows them only behind great white, bull and tiger in total attacks.

ISAF has a category for requiem and lamniforems-attacks linked to those branches but not to exact species and those are both higher than the blacktip. But when it comes to identified sharks biting people blacktips rank fourth.

Period.

This is not to implicate the blacktip as a creature to be feared. It is however to question some of the shark attacks identified as bull. People have a very hard time identifying sharks.

I am constantly getting emails, social media tags and text messages asking me to identify sharks and most of the time they are a bull shark someone thinks is a blacktip or a blacktip someone thinks is a bull shark. I know this is only anecdotal evidence but in my opinion it speaks volumes.

The photo you see below is the one I use the top of this site. It is a large blacktip shark I caught and released near Venice, La. in 2012. Numerous people have commented on it being a bull shark.

chester shark 2
Spinner sharks are nearly identical to blacktips and bull sharks and big blacktips can appear similar especially in murky water. Could spinners even be responsible for some alleged bull shark attacks?

I reiterate the public hears or sees “most dangerous shark” and assume that if a tiger shark, a great white and a bull shark swam by the bull shark would be the most likely to attack.

That is just not true. At best it is up to debate.

I am not trying to say the bull shark is a sweetheart. I was circled by one twice while wade fishing the Chandeleur Islands in 1997 and had to make my way to shore. I have also tagged and released a number of these amazing creatures up to six feet long. I have bull shark experience.

I also have great white, blacktip and spinner experience and while I have never dealt with tiger sharks all I really need is statistics to make this case anyway.

The reason for this article is not to make the great white or tiger shark look bad. I don’t want any shark to look bad!

It is to make us reexamine the bull shark.

For an intense podcast on this topic click the link below.

They are a very commonly caught shark in the sport fishery and while the fishing community does wonderful conservation work and there is a growing ethic toward catch and release of all sharks, not everyone has gotten the memo.

An uninformed angler who has just seen a program on the “most dangerous shark”and happens to catch an eight footer on a busy beach or in a bay commonly used by wade fishermen and snorkelers might think he or she is doing the public a favor by killing the shark.

Hopefully many anglers will see this article and then can make an informed decision on what to do.

In reality, killing more bull sharks does the ecosystem a disservice by taking out one of its apex predators.

There are no “bad” sharks. There are just sharks.

Sometimes they hurt people and we have to find creative ways to make shark attacks even less common. I love sharks but people come first. I get that.

It’s interesting that many believe the New Jersey attacks that inspired “Jaws” were actually committed by bull sharks. We will never know for sure but now roles have been reversed and the bull shark has been declared public enemy #1.

And it simply does not deserve that title.

Chester Moore, Jr.

(To subscribe to this blog enter your email address in the box on the top right of this page. To contact Chester Moore e-mail chester@chestermoore.com.)

Epic Fail of Corporate Wildlife Media

Corporate wildlife media has failed again.

And again .

And again.

You might be asking “Hey Chester, what is the corporate wildlife media?

It is media outlets owned by publicly traded corporations.

It is the large wildlife nonprofits who by virtue of their budgets and staffing have created a bottleneck in wildlife related information.

It is the large wildlife websites and programs interested in sensationalism instead of stories to initiate clickthroughs.

(Public Domain Photo)

So, how have they failed?

Let’s start with the Asiatic elephant problem.

Currently there are an estimated 400,000 African elephants throughout the continent. That’s a huge drop from at least two million in the 1940s but it is large in comparison to the Asian elephant with a best estimate standing at around 35,000 animals scattered throughout Asia. Think about that.

There are less 1/10 Asian elephants in comparison to African.

Why is little said about Asian elephants?

For starters, big conservation is big bureaucracy and the public’s fascination with the African elephant helps generate funding. Lots of it. The largest threat to Asia’s elephant has been habitat loss with poaching also a factor but showing African elephant carcasses stripped of tusks raises funds.

Showing palm oil plantations and villages taking up space for Asian elephants not so much.

Listen to my intense monologue on the failure of the corporate wildlife media here.

In the April 24th entry I quoted a story that came out of Myanmar showing there is a growing market for Asiatic elephant skins and now bulls, cows and babies are being slaughtered.

Just before making this very post I did a google search for “elephant poaching”.

I finally found a story FIVE pages back on the Myanmar situation with every other story dating back several years in the NEWS section about African elephant poaching.

An even bigger failure is the sad story of the vaquita porpoise I reported on here last year in several entries.

There are only 30 vaquitas left.

30!

If Japanese whaling vessels start pounding on humpbacks the fundraising nonprofits will send out their letters and the social media will be abuzz.

But the vaquita is likely about to be extinct and you see almost nothing on it.

Why?

Harpooned whales and blood-stained seas raise funds and generate web traffic. They don’t think small propoises no one has heard about tangled in nets will do the same.

Slaughtered whales are more sensational than netted porpoises. (Public Domain Photo)

I think it would.

I think you and the wildlife loving public are smarter than that but in my opinion the gatekeepers in much of the corporate wildlife media think you’re not.

They think you need sensationalism when I think you need real stories.

That is what I try to do here.

I probably fail as well since this is a one man operation and things slip under the radar but I do put my heart and soul out there and say things I promise gain me no political favor on any side of the conservation aisle.

If you love wildlife and believe in conserving it do your best to stay tuned to independent researchers, small conservation groups and bloggers like myself in addition to the big outlets.

Not everything they do is bad but they miss way too much. And sometimes its on purpose.

It’s time all species in danger of extinction get attention, not just the chosen ones.

Chester Moore, Jr.

(To contact Chester Moore e-mail chester@chestermoore.com. To subscribe to this blog enter your email address in the box on the top right of this page.)

Another Eagle Killing Shows Teen Poaching Out of Control

Washington Fish and Wildlife police said a sheriff’s department officer found evidence of teen poaching with teens purposely killing eagles.

“Officer Bolton and the deputy searched the area for downed wildlife and soon discovered a relatively fresh doe deer on the hillside near where the suspects had parked. Four older deer carcasses in various stages of decomposition were found in the same location. The officers learned that one of the young men shot the doe the night before by using a high-powered spotlight,” police wrote in a Facebook post. “The animal was then placed near the other carcasses in an effort to bait in and shoot eagles.”

That report at wqad.com paints an ugly picture of a trend I have written on extensively here and at Texas Fish & Game magazine. Teens are increasingly involved in not only poaching but killing protected and endangered species.

deereaglefeature1-630x339
The bait pile discovered by law enforcement officials.(Washington Fish & Wildlife Photo)

And no one seems to be addressing it head on.

Check out my post on the manatee fantasy killer and teen poaching here.

Teens shooting sick dolphins with fishing arrows.

Teens shooting highly endangered whooping cranes and bragging on social media.

Multiple eagles killed across the country by teens including this which was obviously a focused effort.

A pair of teens smuggling endangered key deer in their car resulting in death of the animals.

Poaching is vile.

And when our young people are involved in so much of it everyone from the hunting industry to wildlife organizations should be asking why.

There will be more on this topic coming with top officials in the wildlife and hunting world interviewed on the subject.

This has to change and we must take off our blinders for not only the sake of wildlife but the teens themselves.

Poaching is not hunting. It is the antithesis of legal, regulated hunting and it damages wildlife populations in terrible ways.

We need to confront it here in America before it becomes an epidemic.

Unfortunately this kind of contempt for wildlife can be contagious.

(To subscribe to The Wildlife Journalist blog enter your email at the top right of this page.)

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

Dog eating skunks and Transylvanian armadillos

Hollywood gets lots of things wrong.
And one of the most glaring examples are references to wildlife in films. There are countless examples like CGI whitetail deer with elk antlers and any number of animals shown in the wrong country.
The following is a short list from horror movies that show there were no wildlife experts among the crew.
“Could’ve been a skunk”—In the 1978 classic “Halloween”, killer Michael Myers is believed to have visited his old house and when his doctor and the sheriff find a half-eaten German shepherd, they blamed it on a skunk.
Skunks might be able to kill a dog by giving it rabies but there is no skunk big and bad enough to kill a full grown German shepherd and eat it.
It’s a great movie but it boggles the mind to think of that line getting the green light.

dracula-armadillos
A still from “Dracula” featuring not only Bela Lugosi as the Dark Prince but armadillos! In Eastern Europe!

Armadillos in Transylvania—In 1931’s groundbreaking movie “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi, we are introduced to the count’s creepy, gothic castle.
In the castle are rats, bats and…armadillos.
Yes, armadillos, the nine-banded variety  to be exact.
Apparently someone thought what would put that movie over the edge is a North American armored mammal. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Oh and there was an opossum too.
No Grizzly Here—The 1970s produced lots of killer animal movies in the wake of “Jaws”. One I liked as a kid was “Grizzly”, about-you guessed it a killer grizzly bear.
When they figure out a killer bear is in the park, they are amazed because someone allegedly caught all of the grizzlies and relocated them as if grizzlies can’t move long distances. And also as if they would know if they caught all of the grizzlies.
Night of the Lepus—A movie about giant, carnivorous rabbits. Nothing else to say.
Chester Moore, Jr.