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Saving Ibu Hiu (Mama Shark)


On Aug.17 our office receives a call from a Denpasar Fisherman relaying the message a 1.6 meter White Tip Reef Shark that had been captured overnight in net off Singaraja (North Bali.)  Fishermen would rather kill, instead of handling catch that large.  When asked if it "was a female?" since they are the larger of the species, the caller did not know.  Regardless if they were willing to drive it down 4 hours we would be more than happy to put it in the Bali SHark Conservation area.   Their alternative would be to kill it for the value of the fins in the Chinese market.

Next day as usual, a truck pulls and is covered with a tarp to keep the sun off the shark with bamboo sticking out from both sides of the truck.  Must be to keep the large plastic bag in place as smaller Sharks are usually placed in a large bag  with water & then filled with oxygen before tie up.  As they untie the tarp I walk over to the truck reaching into my backpack for my camera equipment.  Looking up am blown away to see a shark swimming in a makeshift pool in the back of the truck.  A child hangs out of the passenger window and notice they transported it fully equipped with an oxygen pump.  Wonder how many tourist buses they drove past in the last 4 hours. . .  but this is how they roll in Bali.

Only thing the fisherman is mentioning "It's female, she's….." and he makes an enlarged motion to his stomach.   "She's pregnant!" is what he is trying to say.  All the sudden everything made sense, the fishermen (probably Hindu) wanted to save Ibu Hiu, translated as "Mama Shark."

"Ibu Hiu" received her own holding pen.  At first it was a great success story as fishermen on the other side of Bali saved a pregnant shark.   However outgrowing the 10 x 10 meter nursery is a reminder of the overfishing & finning problems facing the species.  The following week received calls to save three 2 meter and three 1.5 meter White Tips along with a 1 meter Black Tip Reef Shark from Singaraja.  We were unable to facilitate the sharks in our limited space and found out the next day their fins had been sent to Hong Kong.

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