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Archive for July 24, 2008

Every wonder why don’t see sharks anymore when you dive?

Mindless shark killing. That’s why. Between the senseless slaughter of sharks by various Asian countries for shark fin soup and and the ridiculous shark tournaments here at home like The Montauk Shark Tournament the shark populations are plummeting.

100 million to 1 – This is the ratio of sharks to humans killed by one another in 2007. The average number of human fatalities for the last two decades, per the International Shark Attack File, was five. Compare that to the average of eighteen annual fatalities from dogs, and you have more to fear from Fido than you do from Jaws.Source

But there is a small glimmer of hope on the horizon. At least here in the USA.

To curb the illegal practice of removing shark fins at sea, U.S. officials announced Thursday that all sharks caught in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico must be brought ashore with their fins attached.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also reduced by 85 percent the commercial fishing quota for the sandbar shark, a popular species for the Asian delicacy of shark fin soup. Recreational fishermen also will be banned from catching and keeping sandbar sharks.The new rules, which also reduce and set quotas for some other sharks, will help rebuild populations, NOAA says. Sharks take years to mature and they produce few offspring, making them vulnerable to overfishing, said Jim Balsiger, an acting assistant administrator.The rule will take effect July 24.AP NEWS

Now don’t get us wrong, we are not against sport fisherman who catch and release. We are not against fisherman who put food on our plates. But we are FIRMLY against the useless slaughter of sharks soley for the use of their fins, and the barbaric ways in which sharks are killed in uncontrolled tournaments like the The Montauk Shark Tournament . It seems that today, in 2008, people would have more understanding about the affects of removing these apex predators from the wild. Obviously the idiots who run the The Montauk Shark Tournament don’t get it. They should take a look at the Quiznos MadFin Tournament to see how it should be done.

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Israeli diver finds rare artifact

David Shalom

YAVNE-YAM, Israel (21 July 2008) — A rare 2,500-year-old marble discus was found last week by an Israeli lifeguard diving in the underwater antiquities site of Yavne-Yam, an ancient port city settled in the middle Bronze Age and inhabited until the Middle Ages. (Today, the beach is named for the nearby kibbutz of Palmahim.)

The convex object is believed to have been fixed to the front of ancient ships as a talisman, its shape and painted circles connoting the pupil of a forward-looking and vigilant eye to protect mariners from misfortune.

Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, explained it is known from drawings on pottery vessels, coins and other historic sources from the 5th century BC that this model was very common on the bows of ships and was used to protect them from the evil eye, acting as a pair of eyes to aid navigation and warn of dangers.

Variants of the decoration are still common on modern boats in Portugal, Greece and other coastal countries, and eye-shaped amulets and good luck charms are extremely common throughout the Mediterranean.

Although believed to have been commonly used in the region, the object — Ophtalmoi in Greek — is surprisingly rare, and only three have been found before, all in the Mediterranean.

Two, dating to the same period, were recovered from an ancient Greek cargo shipwreck found off Tektas Burnu along Turkey’s western coast, and another one was found off Israel’s northern coast around the Carmel.

Israel’s sea coast is 200 kilometers long (about 124 miles) and 500 meters wide (about three-tenths of a mile); the waters are rich with evidence of ancient history and cultures, but this underwater heritage is endangered by construction of wave breaks, ports and marinas, as well as by contractors dredging sand for the construction industry.

Scuba looters

Scuba diving has become an increasingly popular sport in recent years, and most of the estimated 100,000 divers are in it for the fun.

But the authority worries that others are removing antiquities illegally for sale to dealers or private collectors.

Last month, inspectors seized dozens of ancient artifacts stolen from underwater antiquities sites in northern Israel.

Among the artifacts found in a Haifa house were Roman-era bronze figurines, pottery and glass vessels and three anchors from ancient ships.

There are around 30,000 known antiquities sites in Israel, most of them open-air and unguarded.

Hundreds of sites are damaged every year by robbers looking for valuable artifacts for sale or collection.

Thieves frequently use metal detectors to locate ancient coins or other valuables.

Many ancient graves are desecrated, their contents plundered and sold.

The authority has a special unit for preventing antiquities robbery, as well as an online form for reporting stolen artifacts.

Ironically, one pilferer of Israeli archaeology was apparently Moshe Dayan, renowned Israeli general and later political figure.

Bitten by the antiquities bug in the early 1950s, Dayan had a deep, genuine passion for archaeology but was believed to have taken liberties with (and artifacts from) dozens of sites throughout the country in Israel’s early decades.

Some of his collections were sold and others donated after his death in 1981.

So sun-hats off to David Shalom, the lifeguard who found the object and handed it over to the Antiquities Authority.