Friday, January 16, 2015

Is this the way to promote shark conservation?

Diver interaction with sharks is getting way out of hand. Everyone is trying to outdo each other, to do a "world's first", "world's closest", "world's best" etc. We have talked about these stupid stunts here, here, here and many, many other times.

The latest entry into the "world's closest" category, is Aaron Gekoski from London, who claims to have taken the "worlds closest selfie" with a shark.


The London Evening Standard writes

"Mr Gekoski, who lives in East Dulwich, south east London, who says his pictures are the world’s closest shark selfie, added: “We did two dives to get the perfect images - and quite a lot happened during them."

“At one point it all kicked off and I got hit in the face by a tail. I also got a face full of claspers - which is what we call shark genitalia. That was unpleasant."


“At another point, one of the sharks got spooked and made a grab for my camera. I could have lost my fingers with that one."

“Perhaps the most terrifying moment of all was when one of the sharks grabbed on to the buoy line just above my head. I had no idea what was going on at the time - the video footage shows me looking bemused at the camera with it all going on above me. I was very lucky not to get tangled in it or dragged away. That was quite close.”

So why does Mr Gekoski think it's a good idea to take these selfies, when obviously it seems quite dangerous and they had no idea what to expect from the sharks?

Here is his explanation 

“Myself and Chris Scarffe, my colleague and filmmaker, have made hundreds of films but we thought it was time to reach a bigger audience. I watched loads of videos online featuring animals - pandas sneezing and cats with heads stuck in bread - many of which were very popular and thought I needed to harness the power of social media."

So they have made hundreds of films that nobody watched, so they needed a stunt to reach a broader audience. Refreshing honesty. 

But wait, there is more! Here it comes
“The selfie has been huge for the past two years - so I thought it would be a great way to highlight the plight of the shark in a modern way. Whilst sharks are one of the most feared animals on Earth, they in fact have a lot more to be scared of than we do and are now on the brink of extinction. We wanted to highlight that it’s not me in danger, but the sharks themselves."

Of course, it's all to highlight the plight of the sharks. They didn't want to point out their "heroic" actions, risking life and limbs, diving with these sharks. It's wasn't a "look at me!" kind of stunt, like all the others we have gotten used to. Of course not. They simply wanted to highlight how the sharks were in danger.

I mean, what better way to get people to think that sharks are not a big danger to us than to point out how close they came to disaster during their two dives.

Not only do they do nothing to show that the sharks are not dangerous, but by their blatant disregard for any safety during their dives, they actually risked being bitten, which would have accomplished the exact opposite of what they claim their intentions were. It would have become another shark attack, reported around the world.

And their final thought?

“I was still glad to get back in the boat at the end though.”

So they want to say how we should not be afraid of the sharks, but they sure are glad they are back on the boat and cheated death again? Yep, I sure don't know a better way to do that.

All I can say is what I always say. When will we learn that sharks are neither mindless killers, nor harmless pets. Let's portray them the way they really are.

We at Shark Diver promote "Safe and Sane" shark diving expeditions. We don't fear the sharks, but we do respect them and always take all the safety precautions necessary to ensure a safe and exciting shark dive.

Let's go shark diving!

Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

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