Friends, it’s time for another Southern Fried Science interview! Please submit your questions below for Discovery Channel Senior Science Editor and Executive Producer Paul Gasek.
First, some background:
The shark blog-o-sphere has been buzzing lately with calls for a boycott of the Discovery Channel over its portrayal of sharks in the famous “Shark Week” series. People are concerned that the sensationalized shark films gives sharks a bad name at a time when they most need our help.
Nearly every shark blogger I know has gotten involved.
As Wolfgang Leander at Oceanic Dreams says,
” sensationalistic portrayal of sharks on the yearly “Shark Week” programs is not to educate but to irrationally frighten the general public by using the “Jaws” stereotype presented as the true nature of these fabulous creatures of the oceans”
Patric at Underwater Thrills refers to falsely portraying sharks as violent and dangerous as “shark porn” , and proposes that he and other professional shark diving operators adopt a “contract for sharks” that stops these kinds of films from being made in the first place.
The Shark Safe Project posted a letter from one of their members calling on the Discovery channel to “Educate their viewers and not (B.S.) them”
Ila Porcher, another shark advocate, has even started an entire new blog just dedicated to this controversy called “Discovery’s Shame”.There is also a petition, which you can sign here if you’re interested. Her manifesto, which everyone else is circulating, can be found here.
Titles for this year’s “shark week” include things like “Deadly Waters” and “Sharkbite Summer”, which my friends in the shark blogging community claim are hardly the sort of thing that inspires the public to not fear sharks but instead support conservation efforts.
Well, friends, you have the attention of the Discovery Channel bigwigs. I met Paul Gasek, Senior Science Editor and Executive Producer of the Discovery Channel, at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival, and he’s eager to tell his side of the story.
Please submit questions to my main site here. I’ll leave this thread open for one week, and then e-mail Mr. Gasek some of the questions, as well as some of my own. By agreement with the Discovery Channel, I can only submit 10 questions to Paul. Only one (or maybe two) of them will be my questions.
Personally, my feelings on this issue are mixed. I grew up watching shark week, and it’s part of what got me into sharks in the first place. The Discovery Channel also funds a lot of science and conservation. However, when all people see is shows about sharks attacking people, it makes people less likely to support shark conservation. I’m withholding judgment until I see what Paul has to say, but as always, I won’t hide information from you just because I’m not sure if I agree with it. I would recommend that you at least look at the petition and manifesto just so you fully understand the discussion we’re having here.
Questions do not need to be confined to the Shark Week controversy. You can submit as many as you like, but I probably won’t pick more than one from the same person (I might if they are excellent questions) PLEASE keep questions respectful- I’ll tell you right now that I won’t send him anything rude or insulting. Emotions are running high, I know, but we will never accomplish our goals by insulting people.
Tell everyone you know- this is a BIG DEAL that the shark conservation blog-o-sphere is making such an impact, and I want to make sure that we make the most of it.