[Coral-List] Shark Feeding Question

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 14 14:03:42 EST 2014

   Hi Nancy,
   I was aware of the fact that shark feeding is not allowed in Florida waters,
   but  my  question  was posted in reaction to shark dives which involve
   provisioning that have become somewhat of a growing trend in the scuba
   diving  industry  outside of US waters. I am familiar with the typical
   arguments pro and con, but it struck me as odd that in general feeding
   wildlife seems to be discouraged and I simply assumed that this approach was
   firmly backed by scientific opinion. When I began to research the topic, I
   came upon a number of papers that basically presented a more ambivalent
   attitude towards the practice (at least when it comes to sharks). In fact
   some studies lent support to provisioning by suggesting that it could become
   a  potential  benefit to conservation efforts by providing much needed
   data.That  led  me  to wonder if my personal aversion to shark feeding
   encounters had any basis beyond individual bias colored by a desire to keep
   the  oceans wild. I thought this list would be a good place to solicit
   information regarding peer reviewed papers that have examined the issues
   involved. I would like to think that I could change my opinion on shark
   feeding if the science clearly discounts my concerns. Then I would only be
   left  to wonder if there was ever any scientific basis for the general
   anti-feeding wildlife approach developing in the first place.

     -----Original Message-----
     From: Nancy Diersing - NOAA Affiliate
     Sent: Feb 14, 2014 10:27 AM
     To: "Delbeek, Charles"
     Cc: Steve Mussman , "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
     Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Shark Feeding Question

   Everyone:  FYI--

   Here are the regulations from Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation
   Commission regarding fish feeding by snorkelers and divers in the state
   waters of Florida.

   Regulations for Feeding Fish, Shark, or other Marine Species

   Feeding fish, sharks, or other marine species while diving or snorkeling is
   prohibited. It is also prohibited to operate a boat that is hired to carry
   passengers to any area within state waters to feed marine species or view
   marine species feeding. These regulations were developed because of concerns
   about the
     * safety of divers, surfers, and swimmers
     * feeding of marine species in multiple-use areas, and
     * effects of concentrating and training sharks to associate humans with

   "Chumming" or feeding fish for the purpose of harvesting marine species as
   otherwise allowed by FWC rules is permitted.

   On    Thu,    Feb   13,   2014   at   12:27   PM,   Delbeek,   Charles
   <[2]CDelbeek at calacademy.org> wrote:

     I would think it depends on the context under which the feeding is taking
     place. For example, feeding hotdogs or trout chow to reef fish would be
     different to feeding natural prey items to sharks.
     On Oahu, The Hanauma Bay marine preserve used to allow feeding of fish,
     eventually since most people were feeding bread they began to actively
     sell packets of pellet food for this purpose. As a result large more
     aggressive fishes began to displace the smaller, less aggressive ones. I
     think there was also an impact on algal growth in the inner part of the
     bay but I may be making that up. Someone more familiar with the history of
     this can correct me if I am wrong. Once the feeding was banned the fish
     assemblage eventually returned to a more "normal" balance of species.
     J. Charles Delbeek, M.Sc.
     Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium
     California Academy of Sciences
     Desk: [3]415.379.5303
     Cell: [4]415.859.0420
     Fax: [5]415.379.5304
     [6]cdelbeek at calacademy.org
     55 Music Concourse Dr.
     Golden Gate Park
     San Francisco CA 94118
     What you can't see will amaze you.  Dark Universe, a new planetarium show,
     now playing at the California Academy of Sciences.
     -----Original Message-----
     From:                     [8]coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
     [mailto:[9]coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve
     Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:41 AM
     To: [10]coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
     Subject: [Coral-List] Shark Feeding Question
        It seems to me that there is a clear understanding that in general
        animals in the wild is considered bad form.
        That said, why is it that shark feedings and the growing popularity of
         staged  shark  interactions seem to be viewed as (almost) being
     sanctioned by
         a number of papers that conclude that there is no evidence that
        has any measureable (detrimental) impacts on the sharks involved,
         communities and ecosystems?  In fact it is often suggested that
        monitoring  of sharks and other marine life at provisioning sites will
         likely  provide  much  needed  temporal  data that will benefit
        conservation efforts and protected area management strategies.
        Are we therefore wrong to simply assume that in general feeding animals
        physically interacting in such ways) in the wild is to be discouraged?
        aquatic animal interactions somehow innately different from terrestrial
        encounters? Is it best to only make species-specific assumptions on the
        appropriateness  of such activities? For example, is food provisioning
        (following  accepted  protocols  in areas where it is allowed) somehow
        considered acceptable for sharks, but not for other marine animals?
        Finally, I have found a few papers on the impacts of provisioning on
        but  none on other aquatic species. Can anyone direct me to additional
        studies that could help shed some light on the broader issues involved?
     Coral-List mailing list
     [11]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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   Nancy G. Diersing
   Science Interpreter
   Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
   (305) 852-7717 x26



   1. http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/feeding-fish/
   2. mailto:CDelbeek at calacademy.org
   3. tel:415.379.5303
   4. tel:415.859.0420
   5. tel:415.379.5304
   6. mailto:cdelbeek at calacademy.org
   7. http://www.calacademy.org/
   8. mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   9. mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  10. mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  11. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  12. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
  13. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  14. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
  15. http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/
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