The Science of Sustainability

The Great White Shark: Meet the Man in the Gray Suit

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The Farallon Islands off the coast of California are prime habitat for the great white shark. QUEST ventures to these shark-infested waters and discovers that the creature of our imaginations may not be the monster we think it is. Worldwide sharks are now threatened due to extreme overfishing to satisfy the shark fin trade. See why scientists are now tracking the movements of these magnificent animals in hopes of protecting them.

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Category: Biology, Television

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Chris Bauer

About the Author ()

Chris Bauer is a Media Producer for QUEST. Chris has nearly 20 years experience working in broadcast television; producing sports, history, technology, science, environment and adventure related programming. He is a two-time winner of the international Society of Environmental Journalists Award for Outstanding Television Story and has received multiple Northern California Emmy Awards. Some of his Quest stories have been featured in the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, United Nations Association Film Festival, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and the Environmental Film Festival in Washington DC. A 5th generation Bay Area resident and a graduate of St. Mary's College of California, his hobbies include canoeing, snowboarding, wood-working and trying to play the ukulele. He and his family live in San Francisco.
  • Chris Bauer

    STORY UPDATE: (Press release from The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education)

    HISTORIC CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION PROTECTS SHARKS

    Governor Jerry Brown Signed Assembly Bill 376 into Law Today, Making California the Largest State to Ban Shark Fins.

    Sacramento, California – 07 October 2011 – Today, the state of California enacted a legislative ban on shark fins, through the adoption of Assembly Bill 376 (authored by Paul Fong and Jared Huffman). The bill was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown into law today. The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE), applauds the state of California for joining them in their work to actively address shark conservation issues, and their attempts to reduce shark fin consumption in the U.S. and worldwide.

    California is now the third State in the continental U.S. to ban shark fins. The law represents a significant step towards reducing pressure on rapidly declining shark populations.

    "The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans," said Governor Brown. "Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing. In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill."

    California is one of the largest sources of demand for shark fin outside Asia and is a major entry for shark fin distribution in the United States. Every year, fins from up to 73 million sharks are used for shark fin soup, a dish traditionally served at Chinese weddings and banquets. This soup has grown in popularity, increasing consumer demand for shark fins and contributing to the decimation of shark populations worldwide as millions of sharks are killed every month, many for their fins alone. As a result of these fishing pressures, one-third of shark species are already threatened with extinction.

    "I'm pleased that California can take part in the worldwide movement to protect these important creatures, and that we can continue to provide leadership in important environmental matters," said California Assembly-member Paul Fong, the bill's primary author, Sept. 6, when the measure passed the Senate. "We're grateful for organizations like COARE, which have provided invaluable support throughout this process."

    "Sharks have shaped ocean ecosystems for more than 400 million years, but we've pushed many of them to the brink of extinction just in our lifetimes. This new law represents a much needed shift in the way we treat our ocean's fragile resources, said Alexandra Cousteau, founder of Blue Legacy and granddaughter of conservation pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

    "Shark populations have declined dramatically over the last few decades as a result of human greed and lack of understanding," said Christopher Chin, COARE's Executive Director. We're thrilled that Governor Brown has done the right thing, and seen past the grousing of special interests,” continued Chin. "We look forward to a now brighter future for our oceans."

    Assembly Bill (AB) 376 was introduced to the California State Assembly on 14 February 2011 by Assembly-members Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), and subsequently passed the Assembly on 23 May 2011 with a vote of 65-8 and the State Senate on 06 September 2011 with a vote of 25-9.

    California's ban complements similar legislation recently signed into law by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. California's ban is also preceded by legislative bans already adopted by the State of Hawai'i, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Fiji, and the Bahamas.

    About COARE

    The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education, Inc. (COARE) is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its purpose is to study our oceans and increase public awareness of the earth's marine environment through educational programs and outreach. COARE seeks to enlighten people, young and old, to the plight of the oceans, to change the way they think and act, and to encourage them to create positive and lasting change. For more information about COARE, visit http://www.coare.org.

    COARE, Shark Safe, and the Shark Safe logo are trademarks of The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education, Inc. All other company names or marks mentioned herein are those of their respective owners.

  • Chris Bauer

    STORY UPDATE: SeaStewards To Honor Shark Champion Assemblyman Paul Fong for Shark Protection Act

    On Saturday, October 15th Ocean Champion Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) will be honored at the annual SharktoberFest, an event co-sponsored by SeaStewards and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. SharktoberFest is a celebration of the white sharks annual return to our Sanctuary, and honors sharks worldwide. SharktoberFest, a free family-friendly festival, includes live ukulele music, hands-on shark crafts, and a mini ocean film festival. A special “Shark-itecture 101” program will also be offered (fee). For event schedule see:
    http://seastewards.org/news/sharktober-celebrating-sharks/

  • Jean Ricci

    Could not watch this or the one re fire fighting. They both kept stopping every few seconds, especially the one re fire fighting.
    Hopefully this can be corrected.

    Thanks,
    Jean

    • http://www.questscience.org Mike Kahn

      Hi Jean,
      Sorry to hear you were having troubles watching the videos. Our website and the video appear to be displaying properly on this end. Perhaps it was an internet connection issue. I hope you are able to try again, as we really appreciate your interest in the content!
      Best,
      Mike