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Join the conservation effort to save Salmon Sharks from extinction and educate the public on protecting this vital species.

With your help we can change the tide and start gathering badly needed updated data, local awareness and raise the alarm with the public about a species thats population has collapsed.

About The Project

Sharks around the world are losing ground on co-existing on this little blue planet with us.  We lose up to 100 million sharks each year and over 175,000 per day due mostly to commercial interests. These are staggering numbers, unsustainable and they are in desperate need of our help.

Although we would like to save all sharks, we've dedicated ourselves to helping a very specific and little known shark species called the Salmon Shark.  This is due to the unique advantage we have with our lodge and their final migratory destination, here in Alaska.  My wife and I have been blessed with the chance to live in a very remote part of Prince William Sound and utilize our wilderness lodge (home) to allow researchers, scientists and the general public unparalleled access in understanding these little known sharks.  But just as we've started this endeavor, salmon shark numbers have crashed due to a varied array of reasons and is now in recovery mode.  We want to devote more of our time during the summer to focus solely in saving these amazing fish from extinction and create a conservation fund that allows us to change public opinion at a local level to stop killing them for sport and for commercial harvest/bycatch. 

We've already taken the first steps in creating a sister website to entice a very small niche community of divers (www.alaskasharks.com) willing to spend money to travel to Alaska and help inspire shark awareness around the globe.  Although its not enough to allow us financially to move our small lodge away from our biggest tourism income, which is salmon and halibut fishing.  But we also know we can't stand idly by and watch these sharks slip silently into extinction.  We've slowly started to pay for the basic costs that would allow the lodge to help fund research, local advocacy education and conservation campaigns to protect these sharks from being hunted into oblivion.  We want to become Alaska's ambassadors in practicing sustainable shark tourism and lead the way in embracing her underwater world, which is honestly a mystery to most Alaskans.  

We've slowly started to retrofit our lodge/vessel in order to better serve researchers and scientists with greater access, even if there is little to no monetary gain for us.  We've also purchased $25,000 in camera gear to showcase these sharks as intelligent and beautiful creatures, not mindless killing machines.  Its been an uphill battle for our business but someone has to be the first to take a stand.

Thats where you come in!  With support from like minded individuals, we can educate at a local level and beyond, provide badly needed updated research data and stand up for these sharks during this crucial moment in history.

 

 

                                  

What are Salmon Sharks? 

Unique Coldwater Sharks: Salmon Sharks are one cool shark in my opinion!  They look like a mini Great Whites and move like a Mako.  But what really sets them apart in the shark kingdom is its ability to sustain itself in cold alaskan waters and are masters of heat regulation during bursts of speed in icy waters for prey.  This also increases their vertical range in the water column.  Salmon Sharks are part of the endothermic Lamnidae family.  Meaning they are able to thermoregulate or maintain a body temperature above the temperature of the surrounding water.  Most other marine life is ectothermic, which means they maintain an internal temperature that matches the surrounding water.   Lamnids have vascular counter-current heat exchangers or retes, that enable them to retain the heat produced by their metabolism.  These retes are located near the muscles used for locomotion and in their viscera or body cavity organs.  They are also able to regulate their temperature using vascular shunts that enable them to alter and re-route blood flow. Giving them the advantage to raise their internal body temperature anywhere from 10-15 degree's above the surrounding water!  They are a pelagic species of shark that are can be found roaming the open ocean and migrate inland during summer salmon fish runs.  Found largely in the North Pacific, between Japan and the west coast of North America.  Female sharks live up to 20 years and mature at 6-9 years of age, while males can live up to 27 years and mature as soon as 3-5 years of age.  They are extremely smart, cunning but also shy animals.  I like to use the dinosaur analogy to describe them to folks with Great Whites as the T-Rex of our modern oceans and Salmon Sharks as the Raptors that roamed alongside them.

Shark History and What Happened 

History: On a geologic time scale, sharks have been around since before the dawn of the dinosaur age.  And as far back as we know during this geologic era, Salmon Sharks have migrated from southern pacific oceans to Alaska each summer to feast on Salmon since before humans sailed across the oceans.  However, in the span of 40 years shark populations have dropped by 90% globally.  And more recently in Alaska, we've witnessed commercial and sport fisherman nearly wipe out the species from 2007-2010.  Research data on Salmon Sharks is outdated and does not accurately represent the actual population.  How do we know this?  

Per IUCN, Salmon Sharks are labeled as least concerned, stating “The Salmon Shark occurs in the eastern and western North Pacific and its population appears to be stable and at relatively high levels of abundance. Currently there is no directed fishery in the Northeast Pacific, apart from a small sport fishery for the species in Alaska.  Bycatch in the Northeast and Eastern Central Pacific appears to be at low levels and is not increasing at this point-in-time” A research paper by L.B. Hulbert, stated that he found an abundant population of salmon sharks from 1998-2001 (Hulbert et al 2005).  But nearly all research conducted on salmon sharks was taken between 1998 and 2006, during the peak of a healthy shark population. Scientists and biologists will use this old research as a baseline when talking about this shark species.  But current population rates are heavily skewed with old data and must be updated with not only with new scientific research and recreational fishing data, but also commercial fishing data regarding the number of sharks that they discard. Coupled with the recreational/commercial fishing interest that still exists and the high dollar value connected to it, these sharks may not recover if not given the chance.  But it is a fragile recovery that could be jeopardized easily if one or two charter boats over a few days decided to take the old practice of fishing for these sharks. On one hand the low number of sharks will most likely prevent any large scale recreational fishing. However, should the population rebound to the numbers pre-2007, a risk exists that history will repeat itself.

What happened:  My family struck out to build a remote lodge in the wilds of Alaska in 2004. Little did we know that we built next to the biggest annual Salmon Shark migration destination which gave us uncanny access into their behavior, population and habits.  But also unfortunately gave us front row seats to the shark culling that happened later.  

Along the course of building the lodge business, I met my wife who is a biologist.  She was the catalyst to create time to invite researchers, scientists, photographers and production companies to give them a home base in the extreme remote area of Prince William Sound to study these sharks.  We've advanced that cause at every opportunity and want to share our knowledge on the population collapse that happened between 2007-2010 from over fishing.

Sharks are an easy target and these were no different for the flock of tourists that visit Alaska looking to string one up just for a picture.  Fishing charter boats from several nearby towns switched to only shark fishing when the demand had hit a feverish pitch starting in 2007.  What caused the influx of shark fisherman in Alaska?  A single image of a fisherman with a shark draped across his kayak on the front cover of a well known magazine.  Commercial fishing long liners also kill them accidentally as by-catch and commercial seining boats kill them when they tangle in salmon nets, with little oversight from extremely stretched Fish and Game resources.  Where we use to see hundreds has now dwindled down to a few dozen.  Because this apex predator is nearly gone, there has been an explosion of rays (mesopredators) which causes havoc to the Eco system starting from the top down.  

 

Where Do We Go From Here 

Our Mission:  I believe it must start at the local level.  We want to get local communities excited about seeing, learning and understanding what a vital need they are.  In Alaska it seems like 90% feedback is to kill sharks.  When asked why, there is no real answer why other then what they perceive on tv and movies.  By engaging kids and adults directly over the stigma of fear on images in movies as "monsters", we can start the conversation with real informed information first hand, giving them a broader opinion then the normal response of "sharks are bad". 

We can raise awareness with outreach programs that brings them out to the sharks and allows them to see sharks from the safety of a boat dedicated to teaching them what it means to have sharks in the eco-system.  Show them they are not "scary" and these particular sharks have a teeth structure designed for catching small prey and need to be smart about ambushing their food source. 

Location and Lodge: How do we achieve this?  We are in a unique position with an already established business that has already started conducting research and raising awareness. Having the lodge located directly at the end of the migration route allows us to have access to shark behavior for months each year and allows others to easily access this remote area.  My wife and I would love to see part of the lodge become a research center in the future for young aspiring wildlife biologists and believe in time, it can.