Different cultures have different traditions. I passed this sign the other day in Roppongi Hills and stopped short.


If you have not heard about the process of shark finning, read about it here. A terrible, cruel thing where they catch the shark, cut off it’s fins while it is still alive and then throw it back into the ocean to die a horrible, painful death.

If you are not convinced that this is truly barbaric, this 2 minute video should be enough to turn you off shark fin soup for good. Those big, bad, terrible sharks are disappearing at a rate of 250,000 a day through fishing, finning and as collateral damage from commercial fishing and face extinction if we don’t do something. How will the ocean ecosystem change if one of their top predators disappears?

Barbaric. But then so is tying a dog outside all year long and never giving it attention.

“Man is the cruellest animal.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

I won’t be eating there .. ever.

Please.. Pass it on.



The Australians are a tough bunch. You have to be in an environment where it seems like everything is dangerous, the wildlife, the ocean and everything that the continent can throw at you. In fact, 2,433 tourists have died in the last 7 years in Australia according to this article. As one ranger points out …

Ranger Craig Adams, of the Australian Reptile Park, said: “Going bush here is a far cry from the urban European lifestyle. A mud pool can hold a five-metre crocodile. And while koalas are cute, people don’t realise one will give you a nasty bite or carve you up with its claws. A wombat can knock you over.”

While in Sydney I got a text from my wife (the family was out at Manly beach surfing and hanging on the beach while I worked) that both boys had been stung by a bluebottle (type of jellyfish), the beach had been cleared by a shark sighting, they had narrowed the swim area due to overly strong rip tides (a 27 year old man died the next weekend in a rip current) and they were busy announcing that a 7 year old was missing (he was with a school trip I imagine – and was found as there was nothing in the paper). Exciting beach.


The lifeguard was collecting these after dinner, they were staked all along the beach.


All along the beach were thousands of blue bottles, washed up from the strong winds and currents. Dangerous but pretty.




But it doesn’t stop the Aussies.



These help.


Update (1/9): I continue to marvel at the number of tourist deaths in Australia. It is not like the Caribbean, it is definitely more of a adventure vacation. Found this piece on Australia very funny. A small sample:

Ah, but the tropical beaches, you say! Surely the paradise on Earth that is the Australian beach makes up for an entire continent of biological weapons. And it’s true: Australia is known for having some of the best beaches in the world…all you have to worry about are the Saltwater Crocs, Great White Sharks, poisonous Stonefish, or being stung by the Box Jellyfish: The deadliest and most painful sting of any Jellyfish species in the world.


One of the excursions was a 3 hour snorkelling trip with 3 stops:

First stop, swim with the stingrays. We pull up to the reef and within minutes, there are 30 stingrays swimming around the boat and someone asks ‘Are they dangerous?’.  The guides say ‘No, not at all’, while my wife remembers that the Crocodile Hunter (a dude way tougher than me) died from a stingray incident. I am the 3rd to jump in!

2007 Bora Bora Snorkelling with Manta Rays (7)

2007 Bora Bora Out swimming with the  sharks and manta rays (3)

Didnt that kill the Crocidile Hunter???

There are several of the stingrays that the guides actually grab (they have removed their stingers – the bone like outcropping on their tails). The others are wild and float all around you as the guides throw small fish.

They captured a Manta Ray

At one point I decide to try and feed one and get the scare of my life. It took me about 5 minutes to get a stingrays attention and then he starts coming at me. So I fling the fish at him while under the water. He misses it and comes right at me – not stopping. So, I do what anyone would do. I grab him on either side of this fins and push him back. He keeps coming and bangs into my side.

Ok, now I am a little bit freaked and push him again (Where is that crocodile hunter killing tail I wonder?). He spins and comes at me again (Now I may have yelled out ‘AHHH, he won’t stop coming after me .. I am being attacked!!’)

He comes at me again, I push him away again, the entire time hopping backwards on one foot trying to make my way into the crowd of people (Yes, I know .. courageous, employ a human shield). He comes at me again, and I push him away again .. then he finally loses interest and heads off.

FREAKED ME OUT, but what an awesome experience.

Second stop, swim with the sharks: The guides had a line in place and your directions were as follows:

1. Do not go over the line – hold onto it.

2. Do not hold onto a fish, the shark will bite off your hand.

3. Do not step on the sea urchins that are scattered around the sea floor, they will hurt for many weeks.

The pictures say it all, it was unbelievable. Not my photos, I need that camera case!

2007 Bora Bora Out swimming with the  sharks and manta rays (15)

2007 Bora Bora Snorkelling with the sharks (7)

2007 Bora Bora Snorkelling with the sharks (14)

2007 Bora Bora Snorkelling with the sharks (5)

Next, we went to a coral garden which is simply a lagoon filled with coral, it was beautiful and I had a truly unique experience. I looked down on this .5M long sea cucumber (At least, that is what it looked like – it was long, tubular) and I saw it eliminate. Out of the end came what looked like a dog’s poop. I was pretty surprised. I did not get close, but it looked like it was all sand. Amazing to see a plant take that type of action.

Bora Bora Coral Garden

Standing on the coral

Last, we enjoyed a BBQ on a private island with the natives. A great way to finish an extraordinary day. The women below taught my wife how to hula (smile).

2007 Bora Bora Travelling to Lunch on our private island (8)

They served a desert called ‘poe‘ which is pumpkin in coconut milk. It was amazing.

Lunch on the beach after sharking

What a day.