Fishy fear mongering

When it comes to the media we all know to take it with a pinch of salt right? But it seems this idea has been lost when the media has pumped our brains full of negative and frankly incorrect facts about sharks.

‘Jaws’ and a string of sub-standard shark films have all catalysed a barbaric demonization of sharks which the media has clung its teeth into resulting in an astronomical amount of sharks being captured and killed.

Last year I had the privilege of swimming alongside the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale shark. I was overwhelmed by their beauty, playfulness and inquisitive nature. I couldn’t believe that people would want to catch these magnificent creatures, and so the quest to understand sharks began.

I soon realised that sharks do not naturally attack humans and in the few instances this has happened (considering the millions of surfers) it is probable that this is due to sharks mistaking a surfer/swimmer as a seal. Sharks predatory nature is pivotal for the ecosystem of the ocean, they pry on the weak, old and slow fish; allowing the stronger fish to reproduce and pass on genes creating a healthy ecosystem. Although this predatory nature of sharks is what concerns people the most it is important to remember the ocean is their home, not ours, and needs to be treated with respect.

Nothing is wiping out sharks more than the beloved ‘shark fin soup’ in China. Fins are sliced off and corpses are dropped back into the ocean all for the privilege of the wealthy to enjoy a bowl of rather bland and tasteless soup. Makes sense right? Disturbingly Mickey and Minnie Mouse are supporters of the shark finning process, with T-shirts of Mickey and Donald viciously slicing off shark’s fins and adding them to their soup. Disneyland Hong Kong have received criticism for continuing to serve shark fin soup at banquets and weddings with a leaflet explaining for the cruelty of shark finning. I’m not sure a mere leaflet is really proactive enough.

If sharks are still something you fear every time you go for a dip just remember you’re more likely to get killed by lightening whilst playing golf than being eaten by a shark.

 

– Ethne Gibbins

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