Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear Isla Guadalupe Operators - What part of this is wrong?

O.K folks it's time for "The Chat -Version Two."

As you may recall we have been blogging about the absolutely moronic series of piss poor media hits members of our own industry have been streaming to the planet via You Tube, Facebook, mainstream media and more. It has been a bad year for operators who have been handing the anti-shark diving lobby the story that we, as an entire industry, are little more than idiotic thrill seekers bent on getting folks killed.

Since the beginning of 2009, full cage breaches, tiger shark media disasters, and image gaffs have been blasted to every major media outlet on the planet.

Is anyone out there listening? Does anyone care?

Clearly not.

Shark Week 2009 displayed the worst in a series to date to an estimated 30 million viewers. A stunning media achievement, alas setting the sharks we know at this very site back to the stone age in terms of the public perception of them.

Well done industry guys!

So it is with little surprise to this blog that we discover yet another remarkably stupid video placed on You Tube under the guise of "conservation". We're pretty sure the folks who actually shot this video are meant well, and they are completely unaware of the ongoing fluid and tenuous situation with Mexican lawmakers who are asking for this site to be shut down.

UPDATE: This video was not enabled by any operator at Isla Guadalupe it was shot on a private vessel shooting with National Geographic, adding an interesting twist to the shark media landscape at this pristine shark site.

Here's why this video fails on all levels except for the gratuitous "lookee here" factor:

1. Mexican park authorities do not sanction out of cage diving at this site.

2. Mexico's anti shark diving lobby (Green Party) who are looking for reasons for closure, and who, as recently as 2007/8, called for a complete ban on shark cage diving.

3. Anti-shark diving lobby, who once again have been handed a media win and who will use this video to further their efforts at maligning our industry.

4. Apart from a small group of shark diving insiders, this video places patently false expectations on white shark encounters.

There's a number of alternate reasons why this video should be pulled, but it becomes exhausting to go over them - yet again. Suffice to say none of the operators we have spoken with think this is anything but a poorly done shark stunt that will harm all the operators at this site.

Shark conservation is not shark stunt work. Let's get that straight.

Note: The person behind this stunt is also well known for his deep involvement in production Shark Porn. Shows that ultimately serve to demonize sharks to the general public.

Here is his CV.


RTSea said...

Unfortunately, this video is more than a crudely made YouTube stunt video. It has been on the UW film festival circuit; it was a finalist at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Savannah, GA and was screened as comic relief to heavier fare like The Cove and A Sea Change. Although I, myself, didn't do much laughing.

What concerns me as much as the open water shark stunt, are some of the song's lyrics coupled with imagery that, for all the filmmaker's possible good intentions, reinforce stereotypes of the white shark as malevolent man-eater.

Perhaps mildly humorous to knowledgeable shark enthusiasts as a piece of very black comedy, but as a video for mass consumption (ie: YouTube) to the general public: stupid and irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

Here is another cage-less encounter video form Guadalupe.

It looks like you guys might of had something to do with this ?

Why is this one O.K.. but the other is not?

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Hmmm, let's see.

Well one of these videos is a serious attempt to look at shark encounters with industry shark protocols in place. Including shark shield.

The video you pointed out was also in the service of getting a malfunctioning $2000 shark research transmitter off the animal. That part never made the cut.

O.K on to the "other" video.

Let's see, we have a man strumming a guitar....and not much else am I missing something here?

Thanks for the side by side comparison.

Anonymous said...

Right...I clearly noticed those differences. I'm not a fan of that video, or defending it.

But after reading your "rules", I was just wondering if I was missing something, other than the obvious?

Mainly the #1 "rule" you posted on the blog ?
You seem to be breaking it as well aren't you ?

Regardless of the supposed intent, aren't they both cage-less white shark encounters at a place where you claim they are not allowed?

1. . Mexican park authorities, who do not sanction out of cage diving at this site.

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...


There's obviously a fine line here.

In the case of "Guy with Guitar video," I am not sure if we got a phone call from the various agencies tasked with managing this newly minted Bio Sphere we could defend anyway.

The rules about out of cage were set up EXACTLTY to prevent something like this.

In fact, if you asked me to come up with the most bonehead stunt I could imagine with great white sharks, the guitar would be the home run, and frankly I am not sure I could have dreamed even that up.

There was no purpose to that shark interaction except for the "lookee here factor."

On a side note for a guy trying to show the cuddly side of white sharks it's sadly amusing to watch how fast he spins around when a shark is behind him.

We call that "Doing the Crazy Ivan". When in a situation you're not sure about with animals you do not know, you spend a lot of time "Crazy Ivan".

In the second case we could defend that video. Luke Tipple has spent more time in water and in observation with these animals than most at this site. He is a seasoned site veteran - not a drop in film guy.

He was also "in service," meaning there was a purpose for him being there, the faulty shark tracking tag that needed to be recovered.

Lastly, in no way does his video set any animal encounter expectations beyond what we consider careful, well planned, well executed animal interactions.

"If" there is a purpose to be outside a cage and have animal interactions at this site, we'll support it.

If it is a "Guy with a Guitar," with no clue, and no solid, multi year track record at this site, with THESE animals, or the current political situation, we'll have to pass.

It is what it is.