Friday, February 20, 2015

Swimming with White Sharks


“Watermen” are amazing. But, you ask, What are they?

“Watermen are people who truly love the water and everything that has to do with the ocean.  Salt water runs in their veins. They would rather be in or on the water than on land, comfortable enjoying it in whatever manner they can. Freediving, sailing, surfing, body boarding, diving, paddle surfing or swimming – they are passionate about the experience. They feel one with the ocean, respect all the creatures within and live in peace with their home. It is what connects them and it is what drives them. Together, they develop and use their watermen skills to educate, preserve and protect, ensuring future generations can experience the oceans the way they do.

“Watermen are men and women who volunteer their breath-hold skills to assist scientists in their research on large marine animals. These apex predators are declining rapidly. In the case of sharks it’s due to the brutal practice of shark finning as well as the animals getting caught in permanent nets as well as abandoned nets and long lines. Sharks are highly migratory and have been around for millions of years, they keep the oceans balanced. The survival of the oceans depends on them.”

A competitive swimmer, surfer and freediving champion, William Winram founded THE WATERMEN PROJECT in 2012. This non-profit venture aims to “be involved with any activity aiming at marine conservation … to study the marine environment to protect and conserve it”. One of its main interests is shark conservation. It does this by applying the approach of “breath-hold diving”. THE WATERMEN PROJECT team “photographs and tags sharks, on a single breath of air, quietly, without the use of cages, protective devices, or noisy scuba equipment.”

According to its website, “It is the overall arching objective of THE WATERMEN PROJECT to help prepare, mentor, guide and motivate future generations to act as either leaders or supporters to the mission of protecting our oceans.”

This short video shows THE WATERMEN PROJECT’s work tagging Great White Sharks. The data will be used to find out more about the sharks’ migratory behavior. According to the team, the study is “to understand long-term movements of Carcharodon carcharias to propose science-based conservation and management plans”.

For more information and to get involved, see THE WATERMEN PROJECT.