Saturday, September 20, 2008

Snubbing "Shredder" the shark

This morning a "tongue and cheek" article looking at shark diving appeared in the op-ed section of the Calgary Sun.The article featured a particularly stunning shark we named in 2004-"Shredder".

Back to the article. It misses the point.

As commercial shark diving operators who cater to divers and non divers, the labeling of our clients as mere "thrill seekers" is a misnomer. Let me explain.

I was speaking with a reporter last week on this same subject. What is commercial shark diving? For me it is a way to introduce "thrill seekers" to our planets past, a time when things were truly wild and life was not completely dominated and forever changed at the whim humans.

These rare sites, like Isla Guadalupe, are becoming extinct. Looking back a mere 200 years you read first hand accounts from Meriwether Lewis of millions of Buffalo on the plains of America. Today they have been replaced by millions of Starbucks, and we have lost the very real sense of our place in this world-and the interconnected life that the generation of Lewis once lead.

Charismatic Megafauna, like the Great White shark, serve as front line reminders of our place on this planet and also act as gateway species for direct action by those that have had the rare chance to experience them. What sometimes is billed as a "thrill seeking encounter" with sharks quickly becomes so much more. You just have to hear the voices of the divers and see their faces to truly understand this.

We need sites like Island Guadalupe on this planet, pristine and accessible. We need eco tourism with Charismatic Megafauna.

What "Thrill Seekers" often discover once the "thrill" is gone are rare moment with wildlife, similar to what Mr.Lewis discovered almost 200 years ago on the great plains of America. It takes your breath away, causes reflection, and sustains us in ways a double half decaf and our daily dose of bad news from the Middle East can never do.

The reporter finishes his "tongue and cheek" article with this:

That's why I've decided to launch a travel company dedicated to cautious, comfort-seeking vacationers. I'm still working out details, but I plan to offer a number of packages, including the "easy-chair napping and nibbling extravaganza."

For only $175, I'll pick you up and let you spend six memorable hours in my favourite padded chair, while I offer you a variety of salty snacks and thirst-quenching beverages.

No sharks. No terror. No insurance waivers. Just good, old-fashioned safety and contentment. (Priceless.)

Sadly the "price" we are paying for just this kind of thinking is a planet and people divorced from our place in it, and our impact upon it. You want to change your perception of the world? Become a "thrill seeker" and go shark diving!

Patric Douglas CEO