Friday, January 16, 2009

Riding the wave of seasonal stupidity

It is almost impossible not to love writers like Malcolm Knox. Tackling the hysterical media bias of three near simultaneous shark attacks in Australia recently with an article formula based on two parts searing humor and two parts serious thought.

Read, be amused, become informed:

Full Story

On Tuesday a rampant great white shark, rows of teeth bared and bloody, lunged out of the front page of The Manly Daily. In case readers weren't already running, the headline shouted: "Coming to a beach near you?"

The annual shark hysteria always devolves into the debate between the head - someone saying that you're more likely to get hit by a car on your way to the beach - and the guts - an unfortunate surfer in hospital letting the teeth marks speak for themselves. By playing the impossible game of measuring probabilities and evidence against the bottomless pit of basic human fear, the hysteria is a distraction from the main issue affecting beaches in summer: the seasonally adjusted spike in stupidity

Basking Sharks: A Global Perspective, Kudos

When disparate research interests, conservation groups, and fishing interests get together you know two things are going on:

1. What brings them together is usually grim news
2. There's still hope

to the Save our Seas Foundation and others who have initiated this conference:

THE Isle of Man is to host a conference on basking sharks this summer following four years of ground-breaking research. Experts from all over the world are expected at the three-day scientific event, Basking Sharks: A Global Perspective.

It will be hosted by the Manx Government, the Manx Wildlife Trust and Save our Seas Foundation.

The Island's basking shark population has received worldwide attention since a shark tagged in Manx waters crossed the Atlantic in 2007. It was previously believed basking sharks on this side of the Atlantic were a completely different group to those off the Americas.

It is estimated there are now only about 8,200 basking sharks left.

'We are close to losing them,' said Jackie. 'This practice must be stopped and our tagging work lends power to the scientific argument against it.