Monday, July 9, 2012

Did Sea Shepherd Take Shark Conservation Into a Brave New World?

Dear Shark Conservation Community,

I write this desperate email from the future having perfected time travel in my spare time. I don't know what the deal is with scientists because I did it with a few random wires, an old refrigerator box, and this glowing object that fell from the sky on a recent drift boat trip down the Mackenzie River.

I recently visited several of the years from 2022 - 2100. While I really enjoyed hanging out with dead celebrities for extended AppleGooFace Hover Hikes through the Grand Canyon in 2050, I am actually writing to warn you of impending DOOM for shark conservation.

Yes, DOOM.

You see as it turns out Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the year 2012 decided to get into the shark conservation game in a big way and no one in the wider shark conservation community even noticed. Save for a few bloggers, shark diving operators, filmmakers, and shark conservation folks whose metrics based conservation efforts were in fact changing real conservation paradigms and yes - saving actual sharks.

Conservation folks from the future, those who are left, call this period in time, "The Golden Years."

It all started with Whale Wars in 2009, an Animal Planet soap opera/reality tv show that featured Sea Shepherd in all it's media glory chasing whalers...year, after year, after year, after year. They called this conservation. But the animals kept being harvested and even South Korea joined in after watching Japan harvest whales from coastal waters for over a decade without any opposition.

Much like Sea Shepherds other efforts to save seals in Canada for 35 years to no avail.

China sadly harvested the last Canadian seal in 2034 with the President of China dressed in traditional Inuit native clothing holding up the last seal pup by the tail to cheering cod fishermen from Newfoundland.

Not to mention the Bluefin Tuna that went extinct in 2041.

I was at the last Sushi Party for Bluefin watching in anticipation with an invite only crowd of 300,000 as Russian Oligarch, Dimitri Vostanoff, carefully lifted the last known slice of Bluefin to his mouth at a cost of $425 million dollars.

In attendance was a stage filled with Tibetan Monks giving ancient blessings upon the event, the entire Mitsubishi Corporation Board, weeping heads of state from the Mediterranean and a small group of Bikini Clad Sea Shepherd Extremists who rammed a perfect replica of the Hover Ship Steve Irwin into the side of the GoogleFace Concert Stadium in Wembly, U.K

Folks in attendance treated the ramming and subsequent explosion as any other media stunt in the future. Many opted for the "Donate Now" button on the side of their ocular implants and donated money to Sea Shepherd with two quick blinks. A girl next to me waving a tuna flag said, "not quite as good as the Greenpeace Volcano Jump for Marsupials, but I will give them a few dollars none the less."

It seemed strange to see Sea Shepherds in Bikinis, even the men, sporting the traditional Paul Watson big belly and White Beards of Truth and Justice, but that is the conservation world of 2041. A place where conservation looks a lot like big budget Hollywood stunts that served no actual purpose but to get folks to donate to the next big budget Hollywood stunt.

The Presidents of Planet Earth (2022-2053) Trey Parker and Matt Stone even produced a little documentary on the early exploits of Sea Shepherd, perhaps you have seen it.

If I thought the Bluefin Tuna spectacle was strange my visit to 2100 still haunts me.

In 2012 Sea Shepherd created another soap opera/reality tv show for sharks. In a world that was already filled to capacity with honest and hard working conservation groups struggling to bring awareness and conservation help to dwindling shark stocks, this new program was designed to do what Paul Watson, then head of Sea Shepherd did best before he succumbed to a $75.00 sustainable appetizer at a Hollywood fundraising party in 2026:

1. Lay claim to all conservation.

2. Create personality cults around "high value" wildlife.

3. Get ordinary folks to donate to Sea Shepherd by offering them media spectacles for their money.

It's known as the "Watson Doctrine," and there's even a statue to his honor at the Grand Palace of Conservation. A sprawling 70 acre estate in Hollywood where the old Church of Scientology used to sit before it was purchased by Sea Shepherd in 2023. They kept the religion, just changed the logos on all the vestments, wall hangings, and Scientology Sippy Cups.

Much like the Romans did to Christianity in AD 391.

A 200 foot tall and 90 foot wide statue of Watson stands in gilded glory pointing to the horizon with Sea Shepherds motto blazed across the sky day and night with 700 Diamodium lasers - "Make It Up As You Go Along."

After the airing of the new Shark Reality TV show in 2014 Sea Shepherd essentially owned shark conservation by sucking up all the conservation bandwidth and donations, laying claim to the hard work of others.

They even started a new fashion trend in the conservation world, The Conservation Bikini or Con-ninni.

As it turned out and much to the horror of the many thousands of hardworking souls who had quietly worked to save sharks without wanting to grab the media spotlight, the Sea Shepherd Spectacle Machine rolled right over them. Replacing years of metrics based shark conservation with reality tv bytes and vessel rammings that did nothing but suck money from regular folks coming home from minimum wage jobs.

These shows also helped sell SUV's and detergent during the commercial break which made Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd the darling of giant earth wasting chemical companies, huge corporations, and well heeled politicians who soon realized that supporting conservation groups who seemed radical was good for business.

I came back from the year 2100 exhausted.

This is not the place that I ever envisioned conservation would end up. It happened because instead of pushing back against media spectacle and personality cults that started to infest and subsume the conservation world in 2012 too many of us sat by and said and did nothing. In fact many of us adopted this strange new world hoping to become the Kardashians of Conservation, selling hand bags and tailored soaps to help animals that commercial fishing fleets and big governments were taking from our oceans with abandon.

It's not too late, that's why I came back, to make a difference by saying "no" to the insanity that soon will be.

It's up to us.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a date with Rolling Stones in concert at the Music Hall in Athens.

After the Greek bailout in 2014 failed the Stones bought the whole country and with life extension technology from Russia have been playing twice a decade gigs to throngs of fans.

Set dial for July 18th, 2120 and

More on the subject here and here (read it, this is great stuff).

Patric Douglas CEO

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at