17 June, 2009

Saving Sharks will Start on Paper not in the Water!

Seeing yet another "voracious man-eater" type picture of a Great While shark in the Education section of the Bangkok Post this past Tuesday I felt compelled to write to the editor this morning:
I take my hat off to David Canavan's contribution to the plight of sharks in "Sharks and shark fin soup" which appeared in the Education insert in the BP edition of June 16, 2009.

Sadly, though, whomever selected the pictures to accompany the article, opted to totally undo David's good work and, in the process, further stigmatize and penalize this wonderful species in the eyes of the averagely ignorant reader, by publishing a fabricated, disturbing, blood-thirsty image of a Great White shark seemingly wanting to chew to pieces anything or anyone willing to sympathise with the cause!!

Firstly it is important for the average reader to know that while all David says in the article including the very low human fatalities attributable to sharks is absolutely true (more people die each year due to bee stings or falling coconuts!!), the Great White shark represented in the article has been coaxed in displaying such an aggressive behaviour by pouring plenty of fish blood in the water first and then by dragging and pulling away from it a bait (normally half a tuna fish) to induce surfacing and the "trade-mark" all-teeth display. By perpetuating this false and terrifying image which was originally started by the creators of the Hollywood block buster JAWS, the media is not doing any favor to the plight of sharks. While the eye-catching picture may surely serve the media purposes of attracting viewers, it perpetuates the deep fear and mistrust that humans have of sharks and promotes lack of interest and support to putting an end to commercial finning and mindless extermination of sharks.

Prominent individuals in the field in the region like Mr. Michael Aw, Director of Ocean Geographics, have started getting deeply involved in interacting with these formidable creatures at very close range and capture amazing pictures which portray them as they should been seen. Creatures that we should not fear and exterminate but respect and treasure.

Secondly, and finally, David's article perhaps misses the most important point which is about WHY the systematic extermination and extinction of sharks is wrong and, most importantly, very dangerous for human kind. The dramatic decrease in shark populations is creating catastrophic results in marine ecosystems across the globe. The loss of this apex predator is travelling down the food chain and is set to devastate the marine ecosystem and this will have dire consequences for us on dry land. Traditionally sharks have been feeding on the sick and the old fish playing their part in nature's plan for furthering and evolution of the strongest species and individual specimen. The disappearance of sharks means that sick, unhealthy fish is allowed to reproduce thus compromising the quality of stocks and contributing to both the loss of fish stocks due to disease and also poisoning one of the major sources of nourishment of human kind!!

Starting with members of the media we have the power and an obligation to get involved, change the perception the masses have of these wonderful predators and stop the mindless killing for their and our own good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Google "Dolphins Denmark" and see the type of peope you're up against.