Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sharks - Dispelling The Myth of "The Myth"

This week angler, and kayaker, Michael Night decided after seeing several large sharks kayaking one day-to catch one.

The story that follows is a classic case of using the "shark myth shield" to do bad things to sharks. In this case after seeing these magnificent animals from a kayak, Mr.Night went about baiting, hooking and dragging one up a local beach, his reason?

Mr Knight caught this critter not only for "the sport of it" but to dispel the myths about sharks "I wanted to show people that they are out there all the time and they don't cause any harm," he said (sound of wet palm slapping forehead).

This statement boggles the imagination and is unfortunately much of the excuse we are seeing worldwide for humans conducting themselves in a manner with sharks that is abjectly inappropriate. The misguided attempt to dispel a nebulous "myth about sharks".

Next time Mr.Knight...grab a mask and snorkel instead.

Complete Story

"Da Shark" in Beqa, Fiji - NIMBY

"NIMBY" is an acronym used by the Pentagon during the height of our mis-adventures in Iraq. It's stands for "not in my backyard", and what, you may ask does this have to do with shark diving?

Recently "Da Shark" from Beqa Adventure Divers told a film crew they would not use his operation to access sharks. Essentially the entire shark production was little more than exploitative "shark porn" with a tailor made shark script from L.A.

These scripts are typically produced by non shark people and attempt to bend sharks into the script, not work with the animals as the operators know them. This particular shows script has made the rounds within the industry and has been denounced by everyone who has seen it.

Here is the complete post from Beqa's blog this week.

This is also "Da Sharks" personal take on the industry as a whole. "NIMBY" also stands for industry leadership in this case. As operators we have become the unwitting gate keepers for the ongoing perception of sharks. In the final summation it is up to us to look at our dive sites less as Biological ATM Machines and more as complete shark sanctuaries.

Da Shark:

We're all in this together.

I refuse to believe that the Channels cannot treat predatory Sharks in the very same way they have finally learned to treat the terrestrial apex Predators: as iconic, endangered, fascinating and essential elements of their habitats. It obviously works commercially or they wouldn't be airing those shows - Right?

Fiji would have some wonderful Shark stories to tell, combining huge Sharks with grassroots Conservation and ancestral beliefs, all set against the magical backdrop of the South Pacific - it sure wouldn't take a rocket scientist to weave that into a fascinating narrative.

But alas, all we get is more requests for the same, tired, endlessly re-hashed garbage.
How does that dovetail with the new green image those guys are trying to portray?

Go wonder.

Doc Gruber-On Commercial Shark Diving

Felix over at the excellent blog Oceanic Dreams posted a return email from Bimini shark researcher Doc Gruber this week.

The email was in response to a TV producer who wanted an expert opinion on the subject of diving with, and feeding, 'dangerous' sharks; specifically, how these activities affect or alter shark behavior, and also whether Dr. Gruber would consider cage-free shark diving a "hazardous" activity. Posted emails like these serve to enlighten our community and help guide future conversations about sharks and television and the industry as a whole. Kudos.

Typically questions like these are stacked for eco-edutainment programming that feature bad things with sharks. Doc Grubers response serves as a template for well reasoned and pro shark thought on the matter. It's hard to fault the opinions of a guy whose entire life has been spent in the company of sharks:

"I feel that shark dives produce several very beneficial outcomes for humans and sharks. First exposing divers to sharks, safely and professionally - and in a beautiful environment will inevitably turn fear into fascination. Quickly these people become ambassadors for shark conservation. Further it produces jobs and income for areas and folks that need the work - especially in an economy such as the Bahamian one.Tourism in the Bahamas is the country's life blood, and sharks are a draw".

Complete Post