Monday, 10 December 2012

Off to Antarctica

Hi all

Amazing news. Chris and Monique Fallows are taking a trip to Antarctica and they have invited me to go along with them.

Look out for my Antarctica trip in the New Year.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Teaching about Great White Sharks

Hi all

I am back in the UK and today I helped my buddy Steve teach a group of children about sharks. I was keen to pass on my experiences of great white sharks and how they might look frightening, but actually they are amazing animals.
I shared with them what I had learned from Chris and Monique about great white sharks. How great white sharks are endangered and they have more to fear from humans.

I shared with the children how Chris and Monique study these sharks and how they use a decoy to attract the sharks and photograph them. They also run tours to bring sharks and humans together so they can experience what these amazing sharks are like and will tell other people.

I showed them the photographs of me riding the decoy, to show how sharks only feed when they are hungry. They were very impressed.
 We then showed them one of Chris and Monique's decoys that had been chewed by great white sharks and they put their fingers into the tooth holes - they were really excited about this.

We shared some of the amazing photographs that Chris had taken of me during my visit and also of the sharks.
Seals are clever too and very acrobatic and they sometimes manage to avoid an attack from a feeding great white shark 

The children were amazed to discover that sharks had characters too - such as Shy Guy a 7 year old great white shark. I enjoyed sharing my experiences and the kids had a great day too. They all said it was amazing.

Bye for Now

Ed the Bear

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ed the Bear Comes Face to Face with Great White Sharks

Hi all

Here is my final instalment of my trip out to see great white sharks.
The sharks here at seal island are powerful predators but Chis and Monique showed me there was another side to the Great White Shark.

Monique said that when the sharks are not hunting their prey they have to slow down and conserve their energy, and this is the best way to see the Great White Shark as they gently cruise around the boat and interact with us on some level.

To attract the sharks to the boat, they put out the fake seal decoy and a piece of tuna. Monique and Chris said that sometimes the sharks decide to visit us. They do not come to the boat because they are hungry, but rather because they are very curious animals and they just want to find out what is going on!

Chris and Monique explained that they have identified many of the same sharks coming back year after year to Seal Island. In 2012 we recorded 2 male sharks , Cuz and Shy Guy, making their 10th year visit to Seal Island.

they told me that each shark has its very own character and personality, just like people do. Chris & Monique have come to know many of the sharks over the years and each time they see them, they behave in the same manner. For instance, Cuz, a 4 meter male grea white shark is very relaxed and curious around the boat.

Shy Guy, also a 4 meter male does not feel comfortable coming to the boat at all. Chris and Monique said they have observed him hunting seals for the past 10 years so we know at times he is at Seal Island. But, only once has he ever visited our boat!
I had hoped I would be able to go some cage dives so I could see the sharks underwater but I did not have my diving bell and I was a bit too small for the cage as I might get washed out through the holes. So I had to be happy just to see the sharks from the boat and to watch the other guests have the cage diving experience.

Even though I was very excited to see the sharks they knew I was disappointed not to be able to dive with them. Chris & Monique still wanted to give me a very close encounter so that I could see for myself that sharks are not interested in people (or Bears!), but only the prey items that they have evolved to feed on for hundreds of years.

So, I had the chance to take part in what the other guests called my 'daring encounters'

Firstly I took a ride on one of the fake seal decoy which they drifted behind the boat. Monique said the sharks were not hunting and that I would be perfectly safe.
A few of the sharks passed very close to me and I must admit I was more than a little nervous at first after seeing the sharks burst out of the sea with a shark decoy in their mouth.

But Monique was right the sharks swam about looking very relaxed (more than me) because they were no longer hunting so they were not in their hunting mode. After a while I became more relaxed and it was a great thrill to be so close to these amazing animals.

I did get a bit wet and when I returned to the boat they gave me a special dry down with a nice warm towel.
Afterwards I sat in the sun and enjoyed the view while I warmed up.

But I didn't get much time for a rest. Chris and Monique were keen for me to get an even closer encounter with the sharks.

They made a special seat on the end of a pole so I could be swung out over the sea. They held onto the end of the pole while I was hanging out over the water so I could watch from above as various sharks gently cruised by.

It was an amazing experience and Monique was pleased that I got to experience first hand the very calm and endearing side to the Great White Shark, but at the same time still have respect for what this predator is capable of when it needs to do “its job”. Every animal in nature has its place and it’s just for us to understand and respect.

During the morning we saw 9 different Great white sharks, which was fantastic. Monique said that no trip to Seal Island is complete without a special close up view of the 60,000 strong cape fur seal colony on Seal Island.
It was a perfectly flat calm day so Chris was able to take the boat very close to the Island for a very close view. Seal Island is made up of adult females and juvenile seals.

It was fun to watch the 6 months old pups playing in the safe water very close to the Island, as well as watching the interaction between these very social animals. They are just like dogs, even down to the fact that they also have fleas!
Seal Island is the largest island bound seal colony in Africa so it was a real highlight to see is close up
The day was not over yet and as we headed back to Simons Town we came across a school of 2000 common dolphin and about 500 cape gannets. It was a spectacular sight and Chris said it was the largest school of dolphin we have seen for a long time.

It was amazing to witness this amount of life and activity in False Bay. Great White sharks, Southern Right whales, common dolphin, cape fur seals and penguins all in one day! Wow, what a privilege.

So much happened in such a short time it has taken me a few days to write up my experiences.

Thank you Chris and Monique, and the rest of the crew, for giving me such as special day that I will never forget.

Bye for now
Ed the Bear

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ed Encounters Great White Sharks (continued)

Very soon we were heading to Seal Island, home of the famous Flying Great White Sharks that I had heard so much about. Of course I knew sharks can’t really fly but Seal Island is home to very special shark behaviour. I had seen whales leap (breach) out of the water before but this is a unique place where great white sharks breach out of the sea.

This spectacular sight of a nearly 1 ton shark launching itself out of the water is seen here at Seal Island on a very regular basis and Chris and Monique record up to 700 predatory events each year between April and September.The sharks are attracted to seal island because of the large number of seals present at this time of the year.
Monique said the sharks at Seal Island are also the largest average size sharks in South Africa and they can be 3.5 meters and many times bigger than this. The reason we see the larger sharks is that once Great whites get older their dentition (teeth) become broader which allows them to feed easier on seals. Seals have very thick blubber and this gives the sharks very good amounts of energy which means that it is a very valuable meal.

While the shark is a powerful predator it does not always manage to catch the seal it hunts.
Cape fur seals are fast, agile and acrobatic swimmers and often they use these skills to escape from the shark.

A breach takes places when a Great white shark is hunting a cape fur seal. Chris & Monique explained that when watching these events we have to have great respect for both the hunter (the great white shark) and the prey (the cape fur seal). Life is very challenging for both animals and as such we need to respect that both shark and seal are just trying to survive and it is best to observe these events as objectively as possible.

While some people might think of seals as being so cute that we should protect them from being eaten by shark, this is just nature. Monique reminded me of what she had told me about the eco system. So this means that big sharks help to keep seal populations at the right level for the ecosystem. If sharks did not eat some seals then the seal populations would get too big, the seals would eat more than their share of fish in the ecosystem and other animals would go without. The ecosystem itself could the collapse. Nature is good and keeping itself in balance.

Today we were very lucky with our sightings. We witnessed 3 predatory events as shark hunted seal. We also got to see a breach on a decoy.
Chris was the first person to start using fake seal decoys. They tow the decoy slowly behind the boat and sometimes they get very lucky to see a breaching Great white shark very close to us.

Monique said it’s very exciting and it also provides an opportunity for our guests to see this incredible behaviour. Eco tourism is vital to shark conservation. Sharks are not easy animals to see, you have to look specifically for them and you need people who know what they are doing to treat them with the respect that they deserve. If eco-tourism is done correctly people will come away from the experience as ambassadors for sharks and this ultimately will help in the future well-being of sharks. I will certainly be telling lots of people about my amazing experiences here with Chris and Monique.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit the great white sharks is because I heard that they weer endangered and I wanted to find out why. Chris and Monique are very concerned about the dangers to great white sharks. They explained how great white sharks are one of the predators at the top of the food chain. As such they play a vital role in keeping the balance of nature in check

Great white sharks have become an endangered species directly due to pressure from people. Great white sharks have been threatened by illegal poaching and sport fishing before they became a protected species in South Africa in 1991. Even so offshore long lining, the Natal Sharks Boards bathing nets up our South African East coast and various other implications from people.

Chris said there are many people that love sharks, especially kids. Chris and Monique said they get emails almost daily from kids all around the world telling them how much they love and respect sharks. Children are vital to the future of all animal conservation so Chris and Monique always encourage those that show such an early appreciation for sharks.

A lot of other people do not understand sharks and therefore are afraid of them. Often people are afraid of something because they know nothing about them, and this is very true of sharks. Yes, sharks are predators and as such when they hunt they can be aggressive and ferocious, this is what they do. They don’t waste anything and they only kill to eat. Sharks have been living in the oceans since the time of the dinosaurs - so the sharks were there first, it is their domain that we are entering.

Find out what happens next in the final part of my adventures with these amazing great white sharks.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Off to see Great White Sharks with Apex Expeditions

Hi all

Monique woke me at what appeared to be the middle of the night. It was still dark, the time was 5.00am. We all got aboard and departed Simons Town harbour just before first light. Monique said that all the Apex Crew and even the other guests on the boat were just as excited to have me on board and help me make the most of my experiences.

I asked why it was called False Bay and one of the crew told me that the name "False Bay" was used by sailors (at least three hundred years ago) who confused this bay with Table Bay whch is further to the north.

We were not the only ones active at this time of the morning. As the sun was just below the horizon and the sky was still a beautiful shade of early morning pink, we came across a school of about 400 common dolphins.
We could see large shoals of anchovy (fish) on the surface and this had obviously attracted the dolphin to the area. As our boat approached most of the school broke off to follow us in the wake of the boat. Everyone on board was very excited to see this beautiful scene. I have seen dolphins on my travels before but not hundreds in one place or so close to the boat.

As we looked towards Seal Island we were in for another surprise … 3 Southern Right Whales were relaxing on the surface just 1 mile from Seal Island. On our boat “White Pointer 2” we sat with our engines turned off, just a little way away from the group of whales. Within 10 minutes the whales were extremely relaxed and had moved very slowly towards us.
The crew found me a safe comfortable place to sit on the side of the boat where I would be close to the whales.

I enjoyed an amazingly close moment with the 3 Southern Right Whales. One of the whales even “spy hopped” right in front of us.
This is when a whale pokes its head out of the water to have a look around. Monique said that maybe the whale was just as curious about me!

Monique said that the Southern Right Whales migrate from Antarctica to the South African shores, arriving here in August/September each year. Whilst they feed in Antarctica their reason for travelling to South Africa is to use the safer shallow bays to breed and give birth to their calves.

I have seen acrobatic humpback whales in the Hawaiian Islands and Channel Islands in the US. But there is something very special about floating on a very still ocean listening to the whales calmly breathing in very loud spurts very close to us. They seemed quite happy with our company, something I will always remember.

Wow, so much excitement and we haven’t even seen a great white shark yet!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Ed meets famous shark experts Chris and Monique Fallows

Hi, I am Monique Fallows. Earlier this year Ed the Bear wanted to visit us to learn about Great White Sharks. In September we could finally make this dream come true and help Ed to experience and learn more about the famous Great White Sharks of Seal Island.

Hi all

Well I am back in South Africa I can’t believe my luck. Earlier this year I had hoped to see great white sharks. For some reason only a few sharks returned to seal island and so I did not see any before I had to return to England.
However, this changed very quickly and I got a call (and invitation) from Chris & Monique Fallows, who are naturalists and Shark Lovers (!). They would to be my hosts and guides.
Monique explained that even though we were going to be looking for Great White Sharks at Seal Island, we were also going on a Marine Safari in the magnificent False Bay. She told me that this natural Bay is a very special place in which a huge variety of marine life and different ecosystems co exists.

I asked Monique what an ecosystem was. She said that the plants and animals that are found in a particular location are referred to as an ecosystem. These plants and animals depend on each other to survive. This balance between the plants and animals is a delicate balance and can easily be damaged by some human activities.

I asked Monique why they were called Apex Shark Expeditions. She explained that the great white shark is an Apex Predator, which means no other predators hunt and eat great white sharks. So I wondered why the oceans were not full of great white sharks if nothing else eats them.
Monique explained that great white sharks help keep the other animals in the ecosystem in balance. While nothing eats the great white sharks, their numbers are kept in balance by the rest of the ecosystem. The amount of sharks will not be greater than the amount of food that is available to them. No wonder the oceans are in so much trouble when ecosystems are so delicately balanced.
Because of this wealth of wildlife, the opportunity to see other wildlife is something that Chris & Monique and Apex always make the most of and share with others.

I asked Monique what wildlife we might see, but she said she did not want to spoil the surprise. When at sea you never know what you will encounter. Chris and Monique said that everything in nature exists together and there are many unique relationships, so it is always a good idea to go to sea with your eyes wide open! You never know what you might see.

Monique said we would be leaving very early in the morning so I left them both planning tomorrows trip and went bed.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Monday, 3 September 2012

Back in South Africa to find out about great white sharks

Hi all
Some very exciting news. I am back in South Africa to visit Chris and Monique Fallows who study great white sharks.

When I was in the USA visiting the National Marine Sanctuaries I visited the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. I was photographed by a life-sized model of a great white shark.

Sadly, I did not get to see a live shark, but I hope to see some here.

I have heard lots of crazy things about sharks. Some people think they are very dangerous and eat lots of people, other people think they are beautiful animals. While I am in South Africa I hope that I will be able to find out what is fact and what is fiction about sharks.

I have been told that Chris and Monique are very passionate about sharks and so I am sure they will be able to tell me why sharks are important - I found out recently that Geat White Sharks are endangered!

While I am very excited I am also a bit nervous too as I am only a little bear, but I know I will be safe with Chris and Monique

More about my visit soon

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Friends of Ed the Bear explore West Beach Local Nature Reserve UK

Hi all

If you are a follower of my this blog you will know I spend much of the time travelling around the world learning about marine life and investigating conservation threats to the ocean. You may not know this but the wildlife and coasts around the UK are just as fascinating and important.
So I will be enlisting the help of children and their 'bear friends' around the UK to visit these beaches and make a report of what they discover. This may be individual children, schools or at special events.

They will be the Friends of Ed the Bear.

To find out more about the Friends of Ed the Bear and their adventures at West Beach you can follow the link below to the friends of Ed the Bear website.  
I hope you enjoy discovering West Beach along with the first of the Friends of Ed the Bear. Sand beaches, tide pools, a pier, vegeatetd shingle and sand dunes all on one beach.  

Bye for now  

Ed the Bear

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Bella's Animal Olympic Games

Hi all

While I am busy putting together the final pictures and blogs from my trip to the NABS Youth Summit, why not check our Bella's Animal Olympics on my sisters weblog at


More form the Youth Summit soon

Ed the Bear

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Hi everyone

Today we are at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

It was set up 1966 as a refuge for migrating waterfowl that spend the winter here and other bird life.   The Discovery Center at the Refuge provides a place for refuge volunteers to meet visitors and answer questions.

Chanel McFollins has written my blog entry about our visit toi the wildlife refuge. I hope you enjoy reading it. - Through Ed the Bear's eyes

Although only the second day of the NABS youth summit, Today was a blast!! First, we went to the Discovery Center on Brazoria. There, my group first toured the environment on the bus with an interesting marsh view of all types of animals including alligators! There were many in the stream and we stopped to take pictures, then continued on to our destination to learn several key facts about the specific marsh land. Then, some of us put on fisher boots & caught some fish, brown shrimp, and a blue crab in the water.

Next, my group went to catch as many insects as we could to determine the freshness of the marsh water. Because there were dragonflies and shrimp caught, the water was undoubtly fresh, however we decided not to drink it.

During this time, there was a mother alligator watching us, for she had previously snatched a net from the preceding group. She swam back and forth, but need harmed us. Did you know alligators can go 2-3 years without eating? Or that the best estimate of its size is to change the units from inches to feet? Well, that's what we talked about in the next section, & I even got to touch one! It was so smooth. I also touched boxed turtles, corn snakes and more!

After lunch we went to OceanWorks, which is a company that creates, builds, and manufactures ocean technology and equipment for underwater building and projects. An example of this would be divers trying to fix the broken oil rig during the BP oil spill. They use a suit called an ADS, which stands for Atmospheric Dive Suit. One person usually goes down for half an hour to inspect the premisis, then goes back to land to formulate a resolution, and works for 6-8 hours at a time. They are able to come back to land so quickly because the ADS remains at 1 A the whole time, while their air is being filtered. If cut off, the air will last up to 48 hours! I even got to get inside of one. It was a bit oily, but the experience was priceless.

We also took put one copy of the cups Ms. Michelle had us make at 1,000 ft to understand why myself and the humans in NABS can't go deep underwater without the proper equipment. Today was awesome! I can't wait to see what NASA has to offer.

I was invited to take part in the 25th Anniversary Event of the Lewes Railway Land Nature Reserve back in the UK. This beautiful nature reserve has woodland, grassland and like the refuge, it has many freshwater habitat to. I was unable to accept because I would be here at the Youth Summit, so my sister Bella went instead. Bella took my display stand about my adventures and ran some bug hunts with visitors. You can read about her adventures and see some of the wildlife on Bella's weblog on the following links

Part 1

Part 2

Bye for now, Ed the Bear

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Arriving at the Youth Educational Summit and meeting everyone

Hi all

I have arrived in the USA and I was pleased to meet up with my good friend Lisa. As with my last visit to the Youth Education Summit, some of the youths will write some of my blogs for me.

I just arrived from England and met my friend Lisa at the Houston Hobby airport. It was a 10-hour flight, we arrived in at 8:20 A.M

Then after we got off of the plane we then went to the TSU (Texas Southern University) lobby and just hung around until we could get into our dorm rooms. Once we got in our dorm room we cleaned the room and bed up a little bit so we could put our sheets on the mattress. After we finished cleaning and putting the sheets on the mattress we came back down to the TSU lobby so we could register for our rooms. 

We are waiting for everybody to arrive tonight. At 2:00 we took a tour around the Texas Southern University campus. We went to the Moot court room and that is where the law students practice their cases so they could be ready if they actually had a jury case. Then after we did that we talked about Jacques Cousteau and we wore red hats to celebrate what his birthday Jacques Cousteau invented the BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) Written by Lisa.

I got to have my picture taken with all the youths when they arrived.
 This is me with Alexis Braden (I met Alexis last time as well)

 This is asmin Henry

This is me with Bashir

 This is me meeting Cesar

 Here I am with Colin

 This is David Brown Jr

 This me relaxing with Desiree Boyd

And of course, this is me with my friend Lisa

 This is Matthew Edwards (who I have also met before)

 This is me with Rachel Stewart

 This is Toure'
This is TJ Bently

Here I am with Winston Sharp III

I hope I will be able to remember all their names.

I can't wait to find out what we will be doing tomorrow.

Bye for now, Ed the Bear.