Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Sammy The Survivor

"whale shark" Underwater tourist sho...Image via Wikipedia
You've got to hand it to whale shark Sammy, the girl's a survivor. When we all thought she'd popped her clogs or was on death's door and being released clandestinely, she actually turns out to have been tagged by Mote Marine Laboratory and sent on her way swimming as free as only a happy whale shark could be.

The nocturnal release of the big fish with no video or photographic evidence made many cynical souls doubt - particularly as it came at the end of an extended period when Dubai's Atlantis Hotel was being pilloried for keeping the whale shark. There was more than the odd whiff of sulphur to the whole story, with undercurrents roiling regarding the actual nature of the whale shark's 'rescue' - whether it was caught to order or just wandered in for tea and decided to stay.

We get the news that Sammy is alive and well earlier than we normally would, because we should really have had to wait for three months to hear from the whale shark. Fortunately, the tag 'popped off' early and now Sammy's free to swim the waterways of the Gulf and beyond, free of tagular encumbrance.

Hooray! Thank goodness there are no links between Atlantis and Mote that would allow nasty cynics to question the tale of Sammy's good fortune.
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nzm said...

Any journo care to phone Dr. Robert Hueter and ask him for Sammy's tag #?

Not a mention of Sammy on Mote's website. You'd think that her info would be on this page along with Mote's other tracked whalesharks, or at least be mentioned on Mote's website to capitalise on how they are working together with Atlantis to track Sammy - but nada.

Searching for "sammy whale shark mote" on Google News only brings up the solitary Gulf News' article.

Interesting that the tracking map in the GN article, sits on a Mote server - http://isurus.mote.org/~lmitchell/1Nadine%27s%20Press%20folder/4FriNews/Dubai%20Whale%20Shark%20tracking%20map.jpg - but the shark's track looks nothing like Mote has produced on other shark tracking maps. The tag pop-up symbol is a red hexagon instead of a yellow star.

Makes me wonder! Also makes me wonder if the tag was in fact put on another animal which was then let go.

Grumpy Goat said...

Just a point of information, Alexander. The whale shark is a fish; not a mammal.

As for the tag being released, I maintain a cynical level of scepticism.

Susan said...

Well, nzm, did you phone the guy?

Seabee said...

I'm amazed that you cynics can doubt it. After all, it's a statement from Atlantis which can obviously be believed absolutely - and that bastion of investigative journalism Gulf News wouldn't have printed it without carefully checking the facts...

alexander... said...

Mr Goat, I do of course defer to your knowledge of our animal friends!

Interesting in The National today to read: "The whale shark showed normal swimming behaviour during the month it was tracked, diving and surfacing regularly, according to a report from the research centre, which is not affiliated with Atlantis or its parent company, Kerzner International."

Why would they feel the need to assert that about Mote? HmmmMM?

the real nick said...

Did anyone snoop in Atlantis' bins after the release?
What if Sammy never made it out of there? Now, with the tag "lost" nobody will ever know...

Alwaysozmatt said...

Isn't there a Nobu at Atlantis? Not of course that I'd cast aspersions on the Atlantis hotel, Nobu or Japanese culture/cuisine but it COULD explain why poor Sammy was never found in the dump truck.

Susan said...

OK, I'm on to it. Will let you know what I find out :-)

Personally I'm willing to give them the benfit of the doubt for now. I absolutely didn't approve of her capture but having seen her a couple of times (the last time only about ten days before her release) she did not look unhealthy or distressed. Their reason for keeping her so long was a valid one - there was a horrendous red tide the previous year at the time the migrating whalesharks are here. There was an interesting article in Xpress just after her release by Daniel Beardsley and I don't think he is the kind of person who would knowingly put his name to a pack of lies.

Anyway, as soon as I get anything back from Mote I will pass it on.

samuraisam said...

nzm: I'm assuming here but MOTE probably just had an advisory role in the release of the whale shark. I'd assume there are people here capable of attaching the transmitter etc.

I'm a bit curious as to how scant information on the whale is on their site though.

samuraisam said...

As usual, the national has more in-depth reporting on this story

Susan said...

OK guys - this is what I got back from MOTE this afternoon. If anyone want the press releases let me know. I think this is good news, though not for those who choose to be cynical ;-)

>>Hi Susan,

Here is a press release about the tracking of the whale shark. We're happy to report that the shark seemed to be doing well during the tracking period - the release below describes our results. Mote Marine Laboratory scientists have now analyzed the shark's travel data and created a map, which is also included below.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Hayley Rutger

Hayley Rutger
Public Relations Specialist
Mote Marine Laboratory / Mote Aquarium
(941) 388-4441, Ext. 365

nzm said...

Susan - please email me the PR - matdxbfreenet.de - thanks!


Do all the Mote people have German-sounding names? Then there's also Steve Kaiser - the vice president of marine science and engineering at Atlantis. Oh wait, there's Sol Kerzner too - he owns Atlantis! ;.)

Sam: Mote would still have to track the whale shark with their satellite access.

Which begs the question: if Mote wasn't present when Sammy was released, how could they absolutely know that the tag was really attached to a whale shark?

Maybe Mote has been taken for a ride, too?

The map in the National article is a different one to the original on the Mote server, yet it's also credited to Mote. Why would they draw up 2 maps?

Jury's still out for me. Still can't get around the fact that Atlantis released her in the dead of night with no publicity and no photos taken. Most unlikely given the huge opposition to her captivity. Wouldn't you think that Atlantis would want to demonstrate that they did the right thing in the end?

As a diver and lover of the marine world, I would like to think that Sammy's out there happy and healthy - but haven't seen the evidence to support it.

nzm said...

Susan - the @ is after matdxb in my email address - thanks.

Susan said...

Sure nzm I'm not at my own computer now but I'll send them to you as soon as I've downloaded them onto this one.

OK the story I heard about the actual lift-out procedure was that it was incredibly risky and the last thing they wanted was a bunch of photographers taking pictures of it all going horribly wrong - this was from the guy who designed and built the crane and the sling they used to lift her out. He said ne of the other reasons they kept her longer than intended was they hadn't realised how fast she was growing so they had to keep redesigning the thing!

I think Atlantis have been unbelievably arrogant and bloody minded about the whole thing and they could have saved themselves a lot of bad publicity by being a bit more intelligent - on the other hand the hotel is always full so why should they give a monkey's??

I'm a diver too and having swum with whalesharks in the ocean I know that is the proper place for them. I'm glad the evidence is looking good that Sammy is out there now.

nzm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nzm said...

Thanks for forwarding the PR, Susan.

It's now on the Mote website - the only mention of the whole Sammy saga on the whole site. They take care to distance themselves from the actual tagging procedure, and interestingly, the tracking was paid for by Atlantis.

I'm not convinced that this is evidence that Sammy is out there, but we'll probably never know for sure.

As for her "growth spurt", in 2008 news reports, (and there are many from this time), had Sammy's capture length at between 3.9 and 4.0 metres long. Her release length was 4.6 m in 2010. A whopping 60cms in 2 years was enough for them to keep redesigning the lift-out rig?

As we would say in NZ, in an unconvinced tone, "yeah, right". ;.)

Susan said...

Her length may not have increased but her weight did. Listen, all the info I got and all the people I spoke to is out there if you choose to look for it. But some people prefer to hold on to negative thoughts rather than do the research and that's their prerogative.

There's plenty of real shit going on out there, we don't need to invent more!

nzm said...

Susan, if you're addressing me with your last comment, I don't believe that I've invented anything. I've merely voiced my opinions, which everyone has the right to agree with, disagree with, or not give a toss about.

As I've stated, as a diver of 18 years, I'd like to think that Sammy was out there, but the evidence, (or lack of), has failed to convince that this is the reality.

Susan said...

The thing is NZM, you don't need to have an opinion. You could do the research and find out some facts.

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