A Dying Shark

For a generation that was bred on a staple movie diet of ‘Jaws’, the Hollywood scare epic; sharks have come to signify everything dangerous and loathsome. The fact that as one of the apex sea predators, they have a significant contribution to the eco system; has been completely lost on most of the people on this planet. After all, movies score far more than knowledge and facts.

To me, sharks were a far away danger, lurking in movies, internet videos, and books. However, when I did become a recreational scuba diver, the childhood image of sharks was driven away by observing fish behavior in the oceans. I did manage to ‘meet’ a whale shark, which is not the archetypal fire breathing monster shark that one would like to expect. The fish in question is a gentle docile giant. I did not encounter white tips or dozens of any other types of this species in my  dives. However, scuba divers who have encountered them have told me that they are usually shy and timid, like most underwater creatures.

This article is not a leisurely rant on sharks but rather about a more pressing issue, the recent declaration of ‘shortfin mako’, probably the fastest shark on the planet; as being endangered*.

makoShortfin mako shark — Image by Mark Conlin, SWFSC Large Pelagics Program [Public domain]

It turns out that the apex predator on this planet — the human, has been finishing off sharks at a faster rate than they can be replenished. According to some estimates, almost 90% of some shark species have been wiped out in some regions of this planet**. Sharks are killed for meat, fins, and gaming.

Shortfins can have burst speeds in excess of 70 kilometers per hour !! That is very fast when underwater. Efforts are underway to limit deep sea fishing of these fish but like in every other case, nations are mostly non-commital.

To be honest I am writing this article hoping that the shortfin mako does survive otherwise this article may be an ode to the dying shortfin mako.

Sources:-

*https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/39341/2903170

**https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/14/queensland-shark-numbers-down-by-90-per-cent-in-55-years-for-some-species

Travel Plans

After a long bout of illness — more than a month, am back at the helm of my bicycle. Made a disastrous short trip to Prayagraj (a city about 200 km. from my place), just after coming back from my Jaislamer tour around 8 Feb, 2019 and fell very ill. Anyway, I have recovered sufficiently to start preparing for my next binge of bicycling tours. I did manage to punch out the remaining Jaisalmer trip blogs even through illness, but had little time for anything else.

With the advent of summers, most of my country is going to become a boiling cauldron. Temperatures at this stage exceed 35 degree Celsius in the afternoons. In about a month’s time, this will cross 40 degrees Celsius. This naturally restricts bike touring to the cooler Himalayan region, further North. Which is where I am headed to.

I have undertaken some bike upgrades in order to head to the Himalayan mountain region. This includes switching from a 7-speed freewheel to a 8-speed cassette on a new Shimano Deore hub and, changing the cotter pin crank to a lighter square taper one. I will also be carrying a lighter load. My plan is to ship the bike on a bus to a launch point that will help me start off from the base of the Himalayan region — called Terai over here. 

Currently, the higher Himalayan passes and regions are snowbound, but regions below 10000 feet are OK. The options are to either head for Nepal or a tour through the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, in my own country. Later on, when the mountain passes become snow free I will be touring through the high altitude Manali-Leh highway, which averages over 14000 feet, reaching almost 18000 feet on it’s highest elevation.

In case I do choose to tour Nepal, a pre-tour bus trip through various regions of Nepal is on the cards in order to select the best possible bike routes over there.

The touring will start once the bike upgrades have been done and I have coasted through with some needling injuries and physical weakness resulting from the long bout of illness. So, stay connected, and keep visiting this blog!