Dive, dive, dive
Oris takes to water with the Hammerhead Limited Edition, part of its long-term contributions to marine conservation.
‘AUTHENTICITY’ NOW ACQUIRES new depth of meaning because of fake news and careless social media sharing. So it’s reassuring when a company remains consistent, and even heartening when it chooses to contribute to a greater cause that keeps with its brand. Oris is an independently owned Swiss watch manufacture that continues to support marine conservation with its diver’s watches that it has made since the 1960s.
Now, at a critical juncture for life on earth, Oris’ stated mission is to contribute to the survival of endangered species, particularly marine life. The survival of humanity and nature is an interdependent relationship, thus when one goes extinct, all life on earth is inevitably affected.
Like the Oris Red Sea, Great Barrier Reef and Staghorn Restoration Limited Edition, the new Oris Hammerhead Limited Edition is the company’s contribution to marine conservation and its public awareness. The dive watch will help it raise funds for a shark conservation project run by the non-profit organisation Pelagios Kakunjá, which is supported by Oris ambassador professional diver and documentary maker, Jérôme Delafosse. (Meet Pelagios Kakunjá’s great team and watch some brief but jaw-dropping videos on facebook.com/Pelagioska.)
One of Pelagios Kakunjá’s projects is to understand the migration routes and patterns of apex predators, the species who sit at the top of the food chain. Specifically, its latest project seeks to learn more about migration routes of the endangered Scalloped Hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna lewini) in the Eastern Pacific. The global population of Scalloped Hammerheads has declined by up to 90 per cent over the last 30 years, according to estimates by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Scalloped Hammerhead shark, which can also be found off the coast of Sabah in East Malaysia, is not protected under the country’s Fisheries Act (although exports are disallowed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to which Malaysia is signatory). This is because its population is deemed to be healthy. However, the Malaysian authorities have plans to list the Sphyrna mokarran (Great Hammerhead shark), Sphyrna
zygaena (Smooth Hammerhead shark) as protected species under the Act. Leading ocean conservation experts who have tracked the decline of the world’s shark population over the last 50 years believe sharks may be extinct in as soon as 40 years.
Pelagios Kakunjá’s project scientists will tag Scalloped Hammerheads using MiniPAT satellite transmitters funded by Oris. The scientists hope to track the sharks for six to nine months before the transmitters are automatically released on a set date and float to the surface, from where they will transmit collected data to satellites. The plan is to arm scientists with data, so they can understand sharks better and advise government agencies on best fishing practices. Fishing is one of the greatest threats to sharks, which can become entangled in nets while feeding. This is in addition to those caught for the shark fin business. The reported catch of sharks and rays in the East Malaysian state of Sabah last year was 1,788.46 tonnes which is in fact part of a falling trend, partly because East Malaysia’s security situation has led to a reduction in fishing activity.
Oris ambassador Delafosse will join the Pelagios Kakunjá expedition with fellow conservationists Dr James Ketchum, Pelagios Kakunjá director of marine conservation; shark specialist Dr Mauricio Hoyos (who shot the largest Great White so far caught on film); and record-breaking freediver and underwater photographer Fred Buyle.
“We have to do something about the declining population of the world’s sharks,” says Delafosse, who has spent the last 20 years observing the world’s shark and dolphin populations. “Sharks play a vital role in the life of our oceans and we must do everything we can to ensure their future. It’s our duty to protect them, and I’m thrilled to be working with Oris and Pelagios Kakunjá on this fantastic project.”
Very few people are killed each year by sharks, magnitudes fewer than those who are killed in road accidents, for example. But the popular perception of sharks is that they are killers. The animal is 400 million years old: if sharks are so wanton, there shouldn’t be many other species left in the water, and far fewer divers, surfers, snorkellers and beach lovers as well. Each year, an estimated 100 million sharks are caught and killed around the world.
Oris Malaysia launched the Oris Hammerhead Limited Edition in Langkawi earlier this year, giving local and international guests, including journalists, the privilege of appreciating the quiet waters and natural surroundings of the island on the pleasure vessel, Blue Dolphin. It was just the setting for the product, and the cause. To demonstrate the high-performance of the Oris Hammerhead Limited Edition, it was thrown overboard, then retrieved several days later by two master divers. Desmond Tey, 8TV host, joined the divers on the search operation. All were met with warm applause when they eventually resurfaced with the almost-lost treasure. Men and watch were intact, the watch much more impressively so.