TENDUA - Association for biodiversity conservation

Newsletter n°2

Dear members, Dear friends,

In this second Newsletter from Tendua, we will discuss two ‘unliked’ predators that are in real danger of extinction: the Shark and the Crocodile.

We will begin with a short reminder of the European Shark Week which was held from the 10th till 18th October this year. The petition against shark finning is open until the end of December, so speak to the people around you, and these end of year holidays are an ideal opportunity to discuss this issue with family and friends. IT IS NOT TOO LATE!!! There are other threats, such as overfishing, which threaten sharks too. Sharks have survived 400 million years of evolution, but are actually now in danger of extinction.

In South Africa, an epidemic has decimated the crocodile population of Kruger Park at the end of 2008. Their poisoning appears to the result of water pollution in the park. It is impossible to find fresh news about this epidemic for the present time...

Animal photographers are the first witnesses to the disappearance of spaces and species, this was no more apparent than at the festival of the animal photo held in Montier-en-Der.

To finish, we present a short diary for the beginning of 2010 and we wish you wonderful Christmas time!

Enjoy your Reading!



The European Shark Week from October 10 to 18, 2009

During European Shark Week 2009 over 300 activities were held by supporters in 15 European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

A huge number of Europeans signed the petition to be submitted to the Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The petition is still open until the end of the year. You will find it online on the TENDUA and Shark alliance websites. Please sign now if you haven’t already:

The French actor, film director and diving instructor Luc Besson was among the first to sign the European Shark Week petition. He was joined by large numbers of French divers thanks to the strong support of the FFESSM (Fédération française d’études et de sports sous-marins) and other diving groups who took part in European Shark Week who, throughout the week, signed the petition.

What is Shark Finning?

dead hammerhead shark
dead hammerhead shark
Big hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) whose fins were cut, found dead on the shore in Rangiroa, French Polynesia - © Tendua

Shark finning consists of fishing for sharks and removing their fins, what remains of the now dying shark is thrown back into the sea. Without fins to swim and thus starved of oxygen, and severe loss of blood, the shark eventually dies.

This practice is not only cruel, but is extremely wasteful as only 3 to 5 % of the mass of the shark is used. Indeed, the body of the shark contains a high rate of urea that contributes to contamination of other fishes; a separate storage would thus be necessary to avoid poisoning other fishes by urea, and the fishermen consider it is not profitable to keep the whole sharks.

The fishing in itself is not very expensive and 500g of fins can be sold $200. Only these are exploited, leading to real massacres of the shark population and putting this ecosystem in danger.

Finning is probably the most significant cause in the decline of the world shark population. It caused the United States in 2000 to legislate to forbid this practice in American waters. Europe followed in 2003 with similar legislation. However dispensations are granted to the fishermen and although France did not ask for any dispensations, Spain has allowed dispensations for around 200 fishing boats.

Throughout the world poachers practise shark finning and a mafia dealing in shark fins now exists, handling money second only to the drug underworld …

What threats are there to sharks?

Oceanic shark or Carcharhinus longimanus, accompanied with pilot fish (Naucrates ductor) in the Red Sea
Oceanic shark or Carcharhinus longimanus, accompanied with pilot fish (Naucrates ductor) in the Red Sea
© M. Dupuis

Fishing with long lines – gigantic fishing lines, sometimes several kilometres long, with baited fishhooks approximately every 3 metres, are unwound following the boats which let them drift in the sea before returning to raise them. It is today forbidden in numerous countries but still practised by poachers, and drift nets - wide and long straight one piece nets which are left temporarily drifting in the ocean by the fishermen - are responsible for real massacres to many species. Up to 300,000 cetaceans – dolphins, porpoises, etc - are killed every year by drift nets.

As for the sharks, they are systematically caught because they are attracted by prey already caught in nets or hanging on fishhooks.

The sharks are definitely not the ‘super-predators’, eager for blood and slaughter, as is the commonly held belief. Between 1990 and 2005, 869 cases of shark attacks were registered in the world, among which 94 were fatal, that is one person in every ten attacked. With the shark population drop in the last 15 years, the average of attacks of sharks in the world is now of the order of 35 a year, among which less than 4 are fatal.

We won’t compare these figures with estimates of sharks killed by the man every year...
Besides overfishing, a late sexual maturity and a long gestation, as well as a low rate of reproduction make sharks particularly vulnerable.

The only super-predator – the least adapted to his natural environment and who indeed threatens the planet by not wanting to adapt it to his true needs – is Man…

The TENDUA website will soon be updated with an article on “Sharks”, explaining their evolution through a better knowledge of their anatomy and physiology, the threats which challenge them as well as the objectives for their preservation and their indispensable role in the food chain.


The main fisheries of sharks


Don’t hesitate to ask where and how the fish you are going to buy were caught, either in the fish shop or in the restaurant. It may help if people are more conscious and feel more concerned about this question.

Coastal fishing: Trawlers with gillnets fishing on the bottom take rays and small coastal sharks like the spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus sp.), the smooth hound (Mustelus sp.), the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and the school shark (Galeorhinus galeus).


Deep water fishing catches deep pelagic sharks such as the birdbeak dogfish (Deania calcea), the kitefin shark (Dalatias licha) or Portuguese dogfish (Centroscymnus coelolepis) using long lines, trawls and gillnets fishing on the bottom.


Deep-sea fishing catches big pelagic sharks, mainly the blue shark (Prionace glauca), the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) and the mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), especially with long lines on the surface.

Crocodile Epidemic in Kruger Park, South Africa

Carcass of a dead crocodile in Kruger Park
Carcass of a dead crocodile in Kruger Park

Some 170 crocodiles have been found dead since May, 2008 in the Krüger national park in South Africa, one of the largest animal reserves in Africa.

Scientists are working to contain the disease so that it does not propagate to other species.

The full grown reptiles whose size reaches several metres (up to 9m on rare occasions) do not have any natural predator.

Adult Cayman in Colombia
Adult Cayman in Colombia
© M. Dupuis

However, these immense reptiles were victims of an infection called Pansteatitis which hardened the fat in their body like rubber, making them incapable of moving and leaving them defenseless to the elements, hunger, drowning or attack from other predators.

This disease is usually caused by the consumption of rancid or damaged fish.

 Young Cayman on the Rio Bita in Colombia
Young Cayman on the Rio Bita in Colombia
© M. Dupuis

The dead animals were discovered in a mud filled gorge, resulting from a nearby dam in Mozambique and fed by one of the most polluted rivers in South Africa - due to diverse heavy industries (mining, quarries and pesticide run-off from farms).

A research program was launched into the functioning of the river system to try to understand the cause of the epidemic.

The scientists are going to attempt to reproduce the disease in laboratory to understand how it propagates to crocodiles.
Since this report it has been impossible to find anymore internet information on the subject...


Gavial, Zoo New Delhi, India
Gavial, Zoo New Delhi, India
© M. Dupuis

  • Crocodiles are aquatic reptiles of the order of Crocodilia with 3 families, 8 genus and 23 species.
    • Crocodilidae: 3 genus, 14 species (crocodiles) Crocodiles live over a wide area of the tropics in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. They live mostly in rivers but the marine crocodile of Australia and of the islands of the Pacific ventures sometimes quite far offshore. Their head has a V form.
    • Alligatoridae (alligators and caïmans): 4 genus, 8 species The Alligator genus consists of 2 species: The American alligator and the Chinese alligator (which is near to extinction). They have a wider, shorter and sharper head with a U form. When they close their jaw, the four teeth at bottom are not visible contrary to crocodiles, only the upper teeth are visible.
    • Caïmans (3 genus, 5 species) do not have any bone septum between nostrils. They can only be found in Central or Southern America.
    • Gavialidae : 1 genus, 1 species The gavial of the Ganges (Gavialis gangeticus) is one of the rarest species of crocodiles. You can find them in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and in India. The species is considered in danger of extinction.


The festival of animal and nature photography in Montier-en-Der (Champagne-Ardenne)

From right to left: Jean-Philippe Anglade and Laurent Rebelle from Biosphoto, Frans Lanting, Myriam Dupuis, Alain Pons, Michel Denis-Huot, Françoise Ziegler, Yann Metrich from Biosphoto and Jean-Claude Ziegler. - DR

The festival of animal photography took place, as is has every year for the past 13 years, on the 3rd weekend of November (from 19th to 22nd November).
The leading exponent of the festival in 2009 was Frans Lanting, world renowned figure of animal and nature photography. TENDUA also attended and established new contacts.

Animal photographers are witnesses to the disappearance of species and the degradation of our planet. Beyond the beauty of the subjects which they photograph with talent and deal with their own aestheticism, they are “scouts of consciousness”, quick to convince us that it is still urgent to act.

The chosen themes at the festival were the ones of the hymn in nature, in the beauty and in the fragility of spaces and species, in brief iodiversity, the key theme retained by the UNO for year 2010.


The 2010 Paris Diving festival

The diving festival will be held at the Porte de Versailles in Paris from 15 till 18 January 2010.

Don’t hesitate to come and see our sponsor AQUAREV and to reserve a dive journey: 1€ is donated to TENDUA for each trip you buy!

The first showing of the film “OCEANS” in January, 2010

After 2 years of preparation, 4 years of shooting, 75 expeditions around the world and in all weathers, the best of Jacques Perrin and all the professionals who participated in this incredible adventure becomes reality.

Investigate the biggest wild territory of the planet and film from the five oceans. TENDUA met some of the photographers and the cameramen who participated in this epic: reserve your cinema ticket, the entertainment should be amazing …

End of January 2010

TENDUA invites to Paris the Russian leading researcher involved in the projects of the Russian Academy of Sciences from the Russian Far-East on the Siberian tiger behavioural ecology and conservation, Dr Naidenko.

The information previously available about the number of Siberian tigers living in the wild was around 450, but unfortunately, it seems that in reality it should be closer to 250 individuals...

TENDUA wishes to organize a conference in 2010 with our guest on this subject. We will let you know when and where it will take place.
Don’t forget that 2010 will be the Chinese year of the Tiger, which should bring each of us force, new energy and determination...

Upcoming of Ocean Encounters

Did you see the French TV broadcast called « Thalassa » on October, 9th, where Frédéric Buyle, free diving world champion, was the « Man-fish »? Or maybe you were watching the last free diving world Championship which took place in the Bahamas where the finalist, William Winram, once more, won on Dec., 3rd, a silver medal and beat a new world record for dynamic free diving without fins reaching depth a depth of 86 metres?

Will taking picture of a great white shark in Mexico

Fred and Will are concerned with shark conservation programs and regularly work with scientists. From April 2010, they will propose free diving in South Africa for unbelievable encounters with the mystic Great White and the no less famous Tiger shark: YES, YOU CAN!!

For further information, and splendid shark pictures, or why not experience a real adventure, please visit: http://oceanencounters.net/journal/...

The maximum size of the white-spotted puffer is 50 cm Thanks to Maria for the picture she sent to us!
The maximum size of the white-spotted puffer is 50 cm Thanks to Maria for the picture she sent to us!


And just for fun, look at the picture of a baby white-spotted puffer (Arothron hispidus), a fish living in tropical waters.

Its skin lacks scales but covered with spinules which make it rough and particularly stretchable.

In a situation of stress or defence, this elasticity allows him to increase quickly his volume by absorbing some water (or air as in this photo).

 Amur Leopard
Amur Leopard
© A. Pons

And the last picture that Alain Pons sent to TENDUA, just for pleasure, an Amur Leopard that you can observe in the Parc des Félins in Nesles (60km from Paris)...

We do hope you enjoyed reading our second newsletter. We would be grateful for any of your suggestions.

You may contact us at the following addresses: myriamdfr yahoo.com and tendua tendua.org

We wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and an HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010 which is going to be the YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY: the last chance for a change in consciousness?...


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