I believe it is true that starting with the release of the movie JAWS back in the 1970's the image problem for sharks went from bad to worse. Just look around you: Honestly, have you ever seen any representation of sharks that looks remotely friendly? Normally it is wide open mouths and baring sharp triangular teeth! Well, at least it was until recently.
Something is definitely changing for the better and some of the leading activists and people involved in the movement to bring the truth about sharks to the surface and to the masses have started realizing that to gather momentum we need to get over that well rooted sense of fear of sharks.
What if pictures of a smiling Great White started appearing on the covers of magazines?
The following is an extract from an e-mail from Michael Aw, Director of Ocean Geographic:
"......I have just returned from an awesome Great White shark shoot at Guadalupe; without a doubt the location and operation is the best in the world – much much better than South Africa and South Australia. The operation was run by Lawrence Groth of Shark Diving International – it was his 98th trip and his success rate - 100%. For years I have been chasing for a picture of a smiling Great White; you know those gruesome bloody jaws agape pictures of Great White – very popular with magazines and TV are mostly induced and teased by sadistic shark wranglers… these pictures give sharks, especially the GW a very bad reputation. In real life, GWs are cool, cautious, caprice as leopards, cheetahs, lions and likewise very powerful formidable predator. See my pics at -www.michaelaw.com/masite2006/Great%20Whites/index.html; en route to Guadalupe we encountered half dozen Blue Whales resting on surface and on the way back hundreds of common dolphins. You know I will be going back. If you wish to join me, let me know ASAP......." The pictures on Michael's site are an absolute MUST SEE!!!
This is a tremendous effort in support of the shark cause. As responsible divers and caring people we should help stop perpetuating the myth of the man eating machine by boycotting anything that remotely portraits shark in that manner, by educating kids to the truths of sharks, by making our voices heard when the media tries to exploit that old blood-hungry sharp toothed image which actually haunted me until the day I actually found myself face to face with one of these wonderful creatures in their own habitat!