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SCS is a small volunteer run Society which has achieved an enviable record of conservation and research wins. The world today is obsessed with everything needing to be safe. A small adventure group of shark enthusiasts (SCS) simply can't afford the legal, insurance and administrative back-up which would guard against any risks of SCS having to pay out in the event of a claim or a legal action. The cost of our expeditions would have to double or treble!

When I read last year that a BBC film crew had to do a 'risk assessment' before filming a group of Morris dancers it brought home to me just how pathetic the world has become, we all know how dangerous knotted hankies can be! Today's adventurer who wants to be safe must wrap him/her self in cotton wool, go to bed and watch TV.

The directors of the Society are currently studying this problem searching for a way for our expeditions to be able to continue. It is with great regret therefore we have to announce that until this process has been completed, and a way forward found, we will have to suspend expeditions.

To our loyal supporters and past volunteers the message is 'We are not going away, won't lie down, and will find a way at going on, even if it involves all volunteers having to buy shares in cotton wool and avoid Morris dancers'! More to follow.

Cornwall Expedition

From August 6th - 20th 2003 thirteen days of intensive and extensive chumming were carried out on the North Cornish/ North Devon coasts between Trevose Head/Quies Islands and Hartland Point. Fresh and frozen mackerel were used as chum combined with blood and the other materials. Operations were carried out from between half a mile offshore to eight/nine miles out and using tidal currants the whole coast was covered either inshore or offshore.

At the end of the thirteen days only the following sharks had been encountered:-

  • 3 Blue Sharks (Prionace Glauca) - 1 male tope, 2 Porbeagles (Lamna Nasus)
  • 5 Bull Huss - 6 Lesser Spotted Dogfish - 8 Basking Sharks (Cetorhinus Maximus)

I had expected to encounter a lot more Tope, Blue Sharks and Porbeagles and had hoped for a Mako or Thresher or two and maybe even a Great White. Chumming was conducted on a continual basis in a professional manner and the worrying lack of sharks is a further indicator of the serious depletion in numbers.

The Dalhousie University research produced alarming figures of depletion levels in the North West Atlantic - Hammerheads down 89% - Great Whites down 79% - Tiger Sharks down 65% - Oceanic white tips down 70% - Threshers down 80% and Blues down 60%.

During our thirteen day expedition we worked in a variety of weather conditions in areas which have historically produced sharks. The vessel chartered for the period was the Padstow based Blue Fox which I believe is the last professional shark angling boat in operation on the North Cornish Coast.

The Blue Fox crew are therefore highly experienced in finding sharks.

Also on board was Craig Ferreira from South Africa who brought further long experience to the operation.

Given the effort expended and the expertise deployed I am sure that had there been sharks to find we would have found them. In the weeks before the expedition and afterwards until the time of writing I carefully collected and monitored information from recreational shark anglers, longliners and professional fishermen on the same stretch of coastline and the picture was always consistent - no species of shark was being encountered in any numbers.

The Shark Angling Club of Great Britain based in Looe in South Cornwall has kept catch records since the 1960's and the figures for the last ten years are as follows:-

Compare these figures to the 1960's and 1970's when over 3000 sharks per year was the norm! In twelve specifically targeted trips in 2003 the Blue Fox has caught only two Porbeagle sharks instead of the usual average of 24 in the 1990's. Whilst various factors explain the up and down nature of the figures there is no denying that the trend is down.

The conclusion has to be that the reason we did not find more sharks is that numbers are so depleted the sharks are not there to be found.

UPDATE. See Future Expeditions for planned trips to Scotland, Libya, and the Arabian Gulf and see the News Section for information about shark diving off Cornwall in summer 2006.


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Shark Cornwall | Richard Peirce | The Poachers Moon