Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | December 12, 2014

Research meets protection

A link to an interview I did with the folks of Planet

Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | November 3, 2014

Becoming an EcoPirate

It’s an odd job title.

It was not something that I applied for. Not even sure it was something that I wanted. More so, it was something that just happened.

When people ask what I do… my response often gets a strange look. Yet, it is totally true. I am an EcoPirate.

I had been working as a marine biologist in public aquariums. Big ones. It was my job to collect and transport the marine animals for display, maintain & operate the facilities research vessels, and to train divers and biologists to care for the animals as well as work safely in and underwater during the potentially dangerous activities. To help the facility teams to find, capture, and bring back these unique creatures safely and effectively.

It was a dream job for me and it gave me great pride to watch kids and adults light up when they visited my facility and area. When they saw something new or unique or discovered the amazing grace and beauty of a marine animal. When they made a connection or gained a better understanding. When the public that attended the facilities learned.

I have always loved aquariums and could stand in front of the windows that looked into the sea for hours on end. It brought me back to the days of watching JYC on tv with the family. His wise and soothing words rang in my ears and made me dream of seeing these animals in the real world. I often imagined the adventure to arrive at a destination and thought of splashing down and immersing myself in this alien world, donned with the heavy gear needed for me to visit it.

I recalled the days and earlier times exploring with my family and friends. It was different then. There was little understanding or even the belief of the ocean being a finite resource, even though the wise words had rang in my ears, it didn’t feel that it impacted me. The ocean was a place of adventure and bounty. A place where you had ability to bring back your food from hunting & catching fish and other critters while providing adventure and recreation.

When I became a professional aquatic collector for aquariums, it was like a dream come true. I was going to be paid to fish and these fish I caught would then teach people to love the ocean as I do. Win Win in my book. I took on the challenges and reaped the rewards, although my rewards were not so much monetary. It was very special to me

I began to learn more. I went from being the one that was a “tourist” on the ocean to one that was leading expeditions for employees to work. The pressure increased to become effective and fast in efforts to keep operational costs down. I had to really know the animals and locations. I had to understand exactly how to catch the specific animals that were sought for display as well as when and where they could be found. It’s a big ocean, so I began to watch much closer.

Instead of just saying “that was an amazing dive with many fish”. I began to use my knowledge. I began to look at actual numbers. Actual sizes. Specific species. How many of each kind? How big were they? I was spending more and more time out there. I was seeing more and more things.

As I began to see more, I started to notice the changes. What was once easy to find, was becoming not as easy to locate. I had to go further, to rougher places, to locations that were not as accessible. I began to wonder why?….. animals that were once of size and stature with large numbers, were now small and lower numbers, or not even there at all. It got me thinking. It got me wondering. It got me researching. It got me talking.

I began to notice other things happening. I saw so many fish being landed. So many boats working. In every location I went. The commercial fishing boats were there, they were always working.

Flagged from every nation and with men from every race. Built of many configurations and using many different methods of fishing. Some scrapped the bottom, some used nets, some used traps, some used lines with thousands of hooks. They were countless and endless. Not new and bristle – these ships are weathered and rusty. Like the men that work them, they were tough and rugged. They earned their living from the bounty of the sea.

I watched these boats offloading cargo holds full of fish. Cranes lifting, conveyor belts turning, odd machines pumping and sucking out, the bounty of the sea.

It did not take long to realize…. We humans were taking too much. Pieces of a puzzle greater than I fell into place.

I found myself in a quandary. How could I bring these facts to light? What could I do to help save the ocean and her inhabitants that I love so much?

Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | October 30, 2014

it all started when….

I guess I should start with my thanks from the beginning. Gotta give a huge shout out to Andy Brandy Casagrande IV & Andy Brandy Casagrande IV – It all started when he called me about running a shoot for Discovery Channel and Shark Week for the show later named as “Great White Triangle”. The Captain Jack (the boat I had been running for expeditions) was not suitable for the equipment and not liked by one of the talent involved in the shoot – We could not find a boat that was right for the job that was affordable. I wanted the shoot and the adventure – which selfishly pushed me to make the plunge and buying the Sea Watch – Shark Boat – although a very trying schedule, extremely challenging shoot and an overall humbling experience that I lost money on in the end – It started the motion and momentum that has the boat underway to fight pirates poachers and shark finners today, I very much appreciated the opportunity then and happy with where the path has lead me. Many great friends and more sharky adventures than I can count- feels like the boat and my pirate crew have done some pretty solid things to help sharks and the ocean already. So- Much Respect and many thanks amigo for picking up that phone and activating this “shark monkey” – that day changed my life in many many ways.

Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | October 9, 2014

When push comes to shove

It was a crazy idea… Not the first I have had. Probably not the last.

I wanted to do what I could. I didn’t have much, so figured it wasn’t much to lose. I wanted to save sharks and do real research that would help to protect our ecosystems. I had seen to much madness – everyone fighting for money and not really caring about impacts humans were having.

Always fought for research dollars- never got much of them. Funny to me that we know more about outer space than inner space. I guess that is why I started working on and with the ocean. How to take that into my own hands?

In comes the Sea Watch. She is a big girl that needed se love and care. She had been decommissioned from USC’s research fleet. They dropped funding and had left her setting at dock in Fish Harbor.

I had been approached to run a vessel for Discovery Channel for a Shark Week Production called Great White Triangle.

I bought her for a song. Friends volunteers and family helped to refit and fix her.

As things evolved – I began to realize our real mission. It wasn’t hard to see. We were motivating and inspiring while teaching many people. The stories of our adventures drew people in. They wanted to learn and become involved.

Fast Forward to present.

We have cast the lines and shoved off on our biggest adventure to date. We are heading south into the unprotected waters of the eastern tropical pacific to fight pirates, poachers and shark finners. We have truly become EcoPirate s – we are the Pirates of of the Pacific.

Short on funds, not everything repaired, not everything is ready- but we are out of time. Either give up or go…the point of not return had come…. Push had came to shove.

We are at sea aboard the Sea Watch. We call her the SharkBoat. Day 1 of our adventure sends us back to where it all began…. Fish Harbor

Follow our journey

Captain Chris WadeIMG_3785.JPG



Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | September 17, 2014

Animal Care Angst

Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch:

When I was a kid…. I went to Sea World with my family. I learned to love these amazing sea creatures, I became connected to them. I saw trainers and wanted to be them. I said the words out loud. I want to be a dolphin trainer when i grow up….
fast forward.
Here I stand today laying my life and I all have on the line to save and protect our oceans as well as the animals that call it home.
How many similar stories are in the world? This debate – it is not a cut and dry thing. Not everyone can go to the ocean. Some will never in their life see it. Some will never gain those connections or interest. Some will never build that passion. Some never would have. They will never have a chance to smell the scent, feel the salt on their face, see the animals in their natural environment.
For those that choose to cast stones – do you still go and eat a nice sushi lunch? Open a can of Tuna to make a sandwich? Buys the Shrimp Fajitas? Ahi poke with cocktails on friday night? Looks down to see the lobster at market price and wonder if you can afford it or deserve it that day decide on the Swordfish or Salmon instead?…..These things cause much greater death and destruction with zero educational return to anyone. The ironic nature of our world baffles me.
Cats and dogs have been domesticated and transformed. How many of you own pets? What is the difference there? These animals have been an evolved at human hands and will from a wild animal to a working animal – to now – simply a pet to please it’s human master and be a companion. Share with me the difference that makes one thing ok but not the other? Because that transformation happened before our time? Because owning a dog or cat is socially accepted? Is a dogs natural environment a plastic house in your back yard? Chained to something so that it will not run away while you are at work?
Talk the talk… Walk the walk. If the human race as a whole did this… We would not have the issues we do today.
I am no longer in the animal care or husbandry world. I am proud of what I did and the lives that I changed. The kids I inspired to do more than just play video games and sleep on the couch at moms house. The budding marine biologists I trained. The perceptions that I have changed. The learning that was achieved from my efforts – these things came at the expense of low wages, long hours, lost family time, lost relationships, along with lots of my own blood sweat and tears.
Sadly – the all mighty dollar and push to grow revenues while we each gain more material things is evolving the world as well. Not just in the corporate world but yours and mine. Don’t you want that raise – the nicer house – the better car? That tropical vacation? Don’t you think you deserve it? That you have earned it?
Not sure that captivity has ever been done right – I have extreme doubts & very skeptical that it will be or even could be.
That said – it is not as cut and dry as those with narrow vision may try to portray. I can personally say – I very much doubt I would be doing this if it were not for building those connections so long ago, that my dreams/passions would have developed another path and followed another direction. Maybe an doctor or attorney. Maybe I would manage a retail store. Maybe I would be a astronaut.
But I am not those things…. I am a Marine Biologist and Ocean Advocate. I am a protector of our oceans.
Captain Chris Wade
R/V Sea Watch – Shark Boat

Originally posted on Tim Zimmermann:

AC HortonNursing

Over the past month I’ve been digging into the lives of former SeaWorld Animal Care workers, and publishing their stories (here, here, and here). Many of their experiences seem shocking to people unfamiliar with animal care work, and how difficult it can be. And it is easy to see how the stories can fuel an anti-SeaWorld sentiment.

Jim Horton, one of the three former Animal Care workers I interviewed, was troubled by the vehemence and hardcore anti-SeaWorld nature of some of the comments he saw posted to social media in the aftermath of the stories (big mistake, to read comments, I explained). And also by the fact that many of the stories published in the Animal Care series focus on the negative aspects of the lives of the workers and the nature of managing animals in captivity.

Animal Care obviously includes a lot of positive experiences…

View original 2,022 more words

Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | August 26, 2014

Leaving Fish Harbor

My life is weird. No two ways about it. Weeks feel like lifetimes….

I had been living aboard the Sea Watch – Shark Boat for about 4 years in Fish Harbor at the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI). I got to keep the slip after I bought the Sea Watch from USC. 

We had a long road there… Many pirates came and went while many an expedition was had. We were able to dive with sharks and open new doors for many people. The shark boat had some really great times and overcame more challenges than I care to remember. Looking back now… I really don’t know how I survived. Working at the California Science Center as their Dive Safety Officer/Sr Collector, running the Sea Watch, captain of  research vessel Yellow Fin for CSULB and working with their AAUS scientific diver program…. all while pulling together a crazy campaign.

I figured to have the Sea Watch finish her final days in the USA there but do the unique circumstances of being a real life pirate – well – I pissed off SCMI overlords and they told me to leave when I gave them notice of our intent to leave for Costa Rica. My 90 day exit plan was turned to 30.

One would think – no big deal, but the Sea Watch is a BIG BOAT and we have needs to prepare for our adventure south. She had been in that spot for about 28 years. I had an office and shipping container for dive shop and boat storage. We had two small supporting vessels and the long distance rowing vessel bojangles. It is a big job and large operation. I was already planning on closing up shop – but I had hoped to jump from there south. I lost my home court advantage.

I began to look around and checked in with the “Sheriff” of Redondo Beach Marina- captain craig. They had a commercial slip of 23 ft wide with the documented width of the Sea Watch at 22.1 ft, we knew it was gonna be a tight fit. I made the plan we squeeze her in after working with TBA 21 Foundation on the Shark Symposium and pirate diving adventure around Catalina. 

We pulled out from marina del rey with high hopes. we were tired and beat from the event – but it was time to see what would work or not.

While working for the Science Center and operating their Research Vessel Maximus – I had pulled into Redondo Harbor many times. This time was completely different.

The Sea Watch took the entire channel pulling in and dwarfed the boats and buildings that surround. The wind began to pick cell phone rings. Its the sheriff – captain craig. We have foamed the runway. Lets give her a shot.

He had two guys plus himself on the dock. I eased the nose towards the concrete pilings and swing the back of the stern towards the crane… my crew yells the clearance. You got about 10 ft captain…. 

I began to ease her forward between the pilings. It was going to be super tight. bumping her in and out of gear we move in, there is about 1 inch clearance on each side of the boat. They yell to me to keep going. I bump her forward again. I feel her stop on her own. We are pinched. 

There were bumpers and tires that had been added to their slip for securing lines and protecting boats. We could move no further. I was gonna need a plan B….

Video and pictures will follow



Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | May 20, 2014

The most important fish in the sea

Originally posted on Grist:

Menhaden fish. Cross-posted from Gilt Taste.

On a bright morning in May, a calm Chesapeake Bay glitters in the sun, an expanse of blue, the nation’s largest and once most productive estuary. A sudden commotion shatters the serenity: Dozens of gulls swoop toward the 135-foot ship Reedville, and the water beneath the boat begins to churn and froth. With two smaller boats at its side, the Reedville encloses a school of fish in a stiff black purse seine net. With practiced efficiency, workers onboard hoist a vacuum pump into the net and suck tens of thousands of small silvery fish out of the water. It looks like an unusual way to catch fish; it’s all the more unusual when you realize that this particular industrial catch is actually banned by every state on the East Coast. Every state, that is, save for one: Virginia.

The fish going up the tube…

View original 1,190 more words

Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | February 15, 2014

Pirates Adventure – Diving with Great White Sharks

We were in Mexico working with the top divers and underwater photographers of mexico aboard the Research Vessel Sea Watch – We were 225 miles off shore at a remote island.… This is my video journal from only the first day. 

It had been an amazing crossing – the channel was flat and we hit some mahi for grub along the way. We were greeting by at 12 ft white shark — before the anchor hit the water, although there was a bit of haze to the water- It was the start of another great adventure. 

On this day – I was the safety diver. I was not there to capture images – I was there to cover the back of other people that often focus to much attention on expensive cameras rather than the behavior and location of the sharks, I only put a go pro on the the end of my “shark stick” – which is about 2 ft long aluminum pole. Its nothing really….

In my opinion… the sharks are interacting with the divers. Once out of the cage we have entered their world. They are curious. They did not behave as one would think, although certainly saw spunk and heated moments over the upcoming weeks. More footage and stories to come of those adventures.

Diving withs sharks is potentially dangerous and Do not attempt this on your own. These are professional divers. If you wish to shark dive and experience these amazing animals, please go thru a known and reputable expedition leader that has resources and experience. 



Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | February 9, 2014

A day in this Pirates Adventure – Filming Seals on Isla Guadalupe

The R/V Sea Watch – Shark Boat was 225 miles offshore of Baja Mexico. We were working with a great team from a Mexican NPO called Pelagic Life.

The team from Pelagic Life was able to secure the required permits for us to make land on the Biosphere of Isla Guadalupe.

It was my 3 third time touching land there. It is an amazing and truly wild place. The animals show little or no fear of humans, they do seem to show fear from size or loud noises.

We were truly immersed in the animals world. At one point of the the elephant seals wanted to snuggle with my shooting partner from Pelagic Life. It is noted in the video that follows.

Living the dream aint easy… but some days do make it worth it.

Safe Travels

Captain Chris Wade

R/V Sea Watch – Shark Boat

Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | February 7, 2014

sharky the baby sea gull…

Give me your tired. your poor, your weary travelers….

I get them all the time- human and non human alike. I always think… man it has got to be bad if I am the one helping.

Sharky the baby sea gull was the first sea bird

I was being eaten alive by a project aboard the boat. It was not going well at all. I had been stuck deep in the bilge of the boat all day.

Greasy grimy and beat up. I needed parts from storage and while walking back to the Sea Watch – I heard this distressed chirping.

After a couple minutes of hide and seek in the bone yard… I find the cutest little bugger stuck behind some old ropes. Night is falling and its cold. I know he is toast if we don’t take him in.

Here are a few parts to his story. There are a couple of videos that follow the pictures at the bottom

Safe Travels

Captain Chris Wade

R/V Sea Watch – Shark Boat

R/V Sea Watch – Shark Boat


Sharky the baby sea gull was the first sea bird





Give me your tired. your poor, your weary travelers….

I get them all the time- human and non human alike.

Sharky the baby sea gull was the firs sea bird

t. I was being eaten alive by a project. I had be stuck in the bilge of the boat all day. Greasey grimy and beat up. I needed parts from storage and while walking back to the Sea Watch – i heard this distressed chirping. I find the cutest little bugger stuck behind some old ropes. Night is falling and its cold. I know he is toast if we don’t take him in.

Here are a few parts to his story. There are a couple of videos that follow the pictures at the bottom

Safe Travels

Captain Chris Wade

R/V Sea Watch – Shark BoatImage

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