Thursday, June 18, 2009
What's this human fascination with sharks and the "threat" they purportedly represent? For every show about deadly car crashes, there are 10 about sharks. For every movie about killer lions (and I can only think of one, The Ghost and the Darkness, not a bad flick actually) there are a hundred about sharks. You want a dangerous animal!? Try the hippo. The mosquito (with its hundreds, nay thousand of potential disease spreading superpowers). The box jelly-fish. The common house dog. The vending machine. Seriously. More people died in vending machine accidents in 2008 than to shark attacks. Hell, more people were struck by lightning and wayyy more people won a lottery.
You really want deadly? Human beings. We're killing not only each other, but every other species on the planet. Including the sharks.
Yes, its true, shark attack do, very rarely occur. And some of those attacks are fatal. But so what? You start flailing around in the water, to all perceptions exhibiting "wounded seal" behaviour... guess what, there is a chance you get bit. Now, if you drizzled BBQ sauce all over yourself and made a few small incisions to get the blood flowing, then ran amoung a pride of lions, we wouldn't blame the lions, would we?
Sharks are the apex predator in nearly every system they inhabit. From the depths that the Greenland Shark inhabits to the coastal waters frequented by the Bull Shark - they are the top dog. We keep killing them at the rate we are, we keep messing with the eco-system in this way, we're courting disaster. You take out such a fundamental piece of the puzzle, and the whole thing falls apart.
Are they dangerous? Some species are very dangerous. No question, no argument. I don't want to swim in waters that I know are frequent hunting grounds for Great Whites or Tiger Sharks. Doing so should not get me on the six o'clock news, it should get me an honourable mention in the latest Darwin Awards.
Come on people, give these magnificent creatures a break!
I just found out about a great new initiative - "Shark Free Marina Initiative" which basically aims at keeping the killing of sharks, the bringing in of dead sharks and the like out of such designated marinas. Sounds like a damned fine idea.
But everyone who lives on or near the water, and those that don't as well, needs to recognize the danger we represent, not only to these perfect evolutionary apex predators, but to the ecosystems to which they belong.