Air Jaws and conservation laws


Nov 6, 2004
So, I rented the Air Jaws/Air Jaws 2 DVD a couple weeks ago. These were Discovery Channel shark week specials about Great Whites that leap out of the water when attacking seals. In Air Jaws 2, the team set out to do some "research" near Ano Nuevo Island in norther California. The project involved towing a rubber dummy in the shape of a seal behind a boat at about 4 knots in an attempt to get a Great White to think it was food and jump out of the water when it attacked. It worked.

I was thinking that there's no reason I couldn't try something that stupid with my boat out near San Miguel Island, where they have a large colony of Elephant Seals that Great Whites like to eat. (Don't worry, I won't do this for reasons that are a combination of laziness and prudence). So I started looking around to see if anyone else had tried it, maybe even earned a Darwin award for it or something. I didn't find any other attempts, but I did find out that the research group that was involved in filiming Air Jaws 2 got slapped with a $21K fine:

They claim the goal of their project was to prove that there was nothing special about the Great Whites themselves in South Africa that made them jump out of the water while white sharks elsewhere do not. Their hypothesis was that anywhere you have deep water and seals swimming along the surface for several miles, you might see a Great White attack from the bottom at a speed that lifts its entire body out of the water. NOAA thought this was a bunch of crap and slapped them with a fine for "teasing" a shark in a marine protected area for purposes of commercial entertainment.

I can't seem to find a whole lot of info on the fine or the rule they broke. Can anyone get slapped with a fine for doing something like this, or is it probably just an agreement in their permit that they broke that warrants the fine? I mean, I fail to see where any harm has been done.
The biggest reason is probably a P.R. one...california has been trying to downplay the whole "red triangle" thing for years now, and lauding its beaches as perfectly safe...yeah. sure.
In the article it says they violated conditions of their permit. Which stated that they couldn't use lures (which the dummy seal was!) and apparently NOAA considered Air Jaws 1 & 2 to be "entertainment" as opposed to research or documentary filming which contravened the permit.

I think it's interesting that lures were forbidden as strictly speaking , burley or chum trails are also lures!

But I guess we have marine reserves for a reason and EVERYONE must behave. I feel it's especially incumbant upon researchers to follow the rules to the letter, as we're the ones that are often advocating for reserve areas, protected species status etc etc

my :grad: for today!


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