Friday, March 13, 2009

Shark Kill - The "Sin of Media"

Last month we blogged about an Outside Magazine article called Ready, Aim, Sushi. The story was about a group of professional spearos caught in a "life and death" moment with a large tiger shark.

Shark Perceptions

At the time we wanted to know more and called Ryan McInnis who shot much of the video of this tragic event. Ryan was upset about this, in his world the killing of a tiger had never happened and according to him it was unavoidable.

In fact none of these free divers had ever encountered a tiger at this site.

Some of the video supports Ryans claim that this animal was ready to attack - from his perception. A large tiger coming in danger close, frantic voices can be heard in the distance. To others in our industry who have had 100's of hours with tigers this video shows nothing more than a curious animal.

For a spearo who has never encountered a tiger having an animal this large come within six inches, head on, might be considered a prelude to an attack, justifying a kill.

That fact of "justified kill" remains debatable depending on your perception of sharks. As this story has blown up in the media those with many hours of experience with tigers are calling foul, or worse. Those with many hours of experience are in the absolute minority as well, and come to the table with a full understanding of these animals under a range of conditions that few in the general populace understand.

The Sin of Media

What I think is more to the point in this discussion is not what happened, or even why it happened, it is the "Sin of media". This absolutely sad story about a split second perception of a large predatory sharks "intentions" was well documented by the spearos. In fact one might argue too well documented. As these spearos recount, the final death of this animal took two hours, after six shafts were put into the shark, it was dragged behind the vessel, and finally was put to rest with a dive knife to the brain. Horrific.

In my opinion, where this group goes completely wrong, nine months after the event, is to appear on major news channels to recount their stories. In effect being used by a biased anti-shark media to regurgitate a man vs shark 70's story that pushes the perception of sharks back into the stone age. The "Sin of media". There's really no point for being on television with this story but for the two minutes of fame it generates.

This story has been picked up by the British tabloids and has migrated to the US where these spearos are on the morning talk shows and CNN. The "Sin of media" is taking a negative shark event and allowing it or promoting it to a wider audience, where sharks are once again seen in the worst light.

Did these guys stage the whole thing? They might have. In my conversation with Ryan he was verbally upset and even broke down on the phone. If they staged the event - why wait nine months to get major media attention?

I keep coming back to the "Sin of media". These guys documented an unusual event in great depth. They killed a tiger they felt was going to attack. All of that is horrific enough. The real sin is showing this to the world with the perception that tigers in close proximity are "going to attack".

Shark Diving Industry

Industry members are outraged as we suggested they would be last month. We know the worlds perception of sharks is ultimately negative, and these stories serve to cement that perception into the zeitgeist. As an industry we can help change this, media is not a one way street. We need more pro-shark 2 minutes PSA's on You Tube and elsewhere. We need more pro-shark dive media everywhere. We need effective counters to media stories like this when they break, from credible sources.

If we want to see change to the perception of sharks, we have to make that change. Getting in front of the major media with our own pro-shark stories would be a good first start.

Being reminded that we already have the images to make the case, even better:

Amanda Cotton

Frederic Buyle

Patric Douglas CEO

Photo DJ Struntz


Tom said...

Or they faked it. Either way a shark is very dead and more yahoos will be after them in the near term.

Shark Diver said...

The more you dig into this story the more questions pop up. 2 hrs to kill a Tiger on breath hold?

Why didn't this animal jet off when it was first speared?

They were filming a TV show at the time?

My brain is starting to hurt.

DaShark said...

It stinks!

The "story", color pics and all, even made it into Fiji's biggest newspaper today.

Whatever brought this about -and it may well be a genuine incident with an aggressive Shark-, the aftermath is clearly staged, with countless different pics showing the diver stabbing the Shark with his knife. And then that stupid storyline - indeed, why didn't the animal dash off!

Not nice!

megan said...

I don't care how or why, all I care about is that there is an innocent shark brutally and COMPLETELY unfairly murdered. These guys are not heros and I hate seeing these news shows that tell this story with their "what an amazing story" voice. this is a terrible tragedy and it angers me more than a blog comment could ever portray. And please keep in mind that these comments are coming from a woman who's husband was ACTUALLY ATTACKED by a tiger shark that looked exactly like this guy.
RIP tiger shark.

Shark Diver said...

Cannot argue with any of these comments.

Sharky said...

Way to go, Megan. Don't take any guff from those swine!

RTSea said...

My questions are:

* If the shark was truly aggressive, why not get out of the water? Where's the boat?
* Was there no other method to dissuade the shark's curiosity other than spearing it?
* The shooter has been said to feel bad about killing the shark. Then why is he smiling, sitting in the boat displaying a fresh set of tiger shark jaws?
* If they regretted the incident, as has been reported, then why seek the attention, knowing full well how the media would spin it?

The whole thing stinks like yesterday's fish.

Wolfgang Leander said...

There is no justification for this killing. Had these guys felt bad about their misdeed they would NOT have sold the story to the media claiming it was an either-the-shark-or-us situation. Lies have short legs as we say in German. Shame on these impostors!