Donsol, Philippines, June 2011


The world's rarest shark!


I received some astonishing news when I was flying to Donsol, one of the world's whale shark capitals: a megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) had been discovered in Mexico, only the 52nd since the first sighting of this mysterious animal in Hawaii in 1976.



Two years ago, number 42 was caught in a fishing net at a depth of 200 meters and was taken to Donsol.  Measuring more than 4 meters long and weighing in at 500kg, it didn't survive it's injuries and was eaten in “kinout,” a local recipe with coconut, sadly, very often using manta ray.  For a meal, which was without doubt one of the rarest in the world, this shark was lost to science.  It was one of the fishermen who told me this remarkable story. 


Little is known about the megamouth shark.  It appears to pass most of it's time at a depth of around 1000 meters and then rise toward the surface to feed on plankton, jellyfish and small fish.  Like  whale sharks and basking sharks, megamouth sharks are filter feeders.  It's name is credited to it's enormous mouth (up to 1.3 meters wide) which is filled with tiny teeth. 


Several symbols surround this very rare take in Donsol.  First of all, it is undeniable that very little is known about the depths of the ocean and the mysterious animals that live there.  It is also proof of the indisciminating damage caused by drift nets on all ocean life.  Whale sharks are too often victims.  On a more positive note, there is no longer any doubt about the richness of sea life in Donsol.  This region possesses an incredible biodiversity that must be conserved, a treasure to protect, and quickly.  The whale sharks are making no mistake when they stop in Donsol during their annual migration. 


It is time to go and tell this story to the students in the schools of Donsol and Sorsogon province.  They don't know much about the marine life in the area surrounding them and in their eyes it is a mystery.  We often only protect what we know! 


A short trip to meet the megamouth shark:



Cherbourg, France, August 2010


Oceans, between hope and disappearance


Today I am meeting a flock of gulls.  They are going to show me the strange architecture of the Cherbourg Liner terminal in Normandy in Northwestern France. 


Large ships, like the Queen Mary 2, still come from time to time to relive the amazing past of this history filled building.  Even the Titanic stopped in before sinking in the middle of the Atlantic. 


I leave my friends outside after checking out several scientific submarines, each stranger than the previous because we are here at La Cité de la Mer (city of the sea), a great place for sea lovers.  It is the film “Oceans” that interests me, and one of the key scenes of this documentary was even filmed here. 


Everyone seems to be fascinated, especially the kids, and they barely notice me.  I take my time watching videos and following on the giant map the 54 sites where this monumental film was shot. 


My friend, Francois Sarano, a member of our panel of experts and one of the first to believe in Eco-Sys Action, made a large contribution to this film.  It is he who is alone in front of and swims with a Great white shark.  What an awe inspiring scene that really demonstrates how we should have greater tolerance of sharks!  Admirable and and moving when Francois swims with this sea “monster.”  You can feel his passion for the sea and this makes him one of the best ambassadors for sharks. 


More strong emotions seeing this life sized reproduction of a Steller's sea cow.  Not very well known this animal, is it?  And for a reason, since it was massacred in the 18th century for its flesh, fat and skin.  This giant cousin of the dugong lived in the Arctic, close to the Bering Strait, but was rapidly hunted to extinction.  And this Caribbean monk seal? Gone!  And this sea turtle?  Protect it as quickly as possible!   


As I sit on this Steller's sea cow, so symbolic, I remember the message from “Oceans”: “the Earth does not belong to us, it is to share.  Anything is possible.”


See the Oceans trailer at:


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