Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bikini models, artists, sharktivists and whatnot?

I have said it many times in the past and will say it again. Mike aka Da Shark Neumann in Fiji is one of the industry greats. Willing to go out on a limb to call out those within our industry who "play at conservation" and as his recent post suggests those who's personal over-the-top backslapping media output fails to meet up to the realities on the ground.

Case in point South Africa (thanks Wolf).

We're at a crossroads in the shark conservation game and everyone knew we would get here eventually. The good news is that we have reached a wonderful place where shark conservation measures are being knocked over like dominoes all over the world.

The effort has been titanic and the birthright of everyone who became involved in small and large ways.

With this effort have come a few who have capitalized on the shark conservation frenzy and used this opportunity to self promote themselves with videos and websites proclaiming themselves to be the Second Coming of Shark Conservation.


This effort should be recognized as a mass effort, not a single individual or even small group success and yet here we are and yes, there are a few who have ridden this wave for purposes that have little to do with conservation.

Unfortunately those who came to the game late and who are seeking to make a name for themselves are using the old dive industry playbook squeezed through the lens of modern social media to appear as if they have had a larger hand in the shark conservation successes then they actually have.

Even worse a few have taken ideas and successes of others and attributed them to themselves in a gratuitous display of theft.

Selfish, arrogant, rude, and disrespectful are just a few of the words that come to mind and well documented by those who are watching. I fail to understand how you can lay claim to a particular shark conservation success when the 30,000-100,000 others who were involved know what they did to effect change for sharks.

A while back I was having dinner with an old California whale campaigner and she told me what's happening with sharks now happened in the 70's and 80's with the various whale groups until the effort imploded under the sheer weight of self congratulatory and ideological bikini models, artists, and whaletivists...sound familiar?

As we head into 2012 and 2013 with the wind at our backs for shark conservation take a moment to look at your efforts for sharks both big and small and celebrate it quietly in your own way.

You deserve it.

We still have a long way to go and the successes to date all come with an Act Two that will need to be dealt with the same passion and dedication that Act One delivered.

Let's focus on the Act Two and leave the high flying media self promotional hits behind. The effort is big and small enough for those in-the-know to hand out personal kudos to those who have gone above and beyond for the effort.

To run ahead of the marching band for sharks wearing an outfit pulled from last years Mardis Gras and say "look at me" is not cool, it's disrespectful, and we could all use less of it.

Thanks to Mike and Wolf for pointing out the issue before it gets out of hand.

Patric Douglas CEO