Whether it's a beach resort, ocean-front restaurant, or a boat trip, it drives me crazy seeing those businesses provide products that are major enemies of the very environment that attracted their customers. When I confront the business owners on this matter the response usually falls into two categories: 1. They don't want to lose customers by not catering to conveniences they are accustomed to (like plastic straws and bottled water) or 2. The cost of doing the right thing will hurt their profit margin too much.
Actions speak louder than words. If customers observe behavior that contradicts inspiring words, the real message they go home with is, "It's OK not to do my part. That blaring alarm is for everyone else, not us.
Guests are not required to be vegan, they simply need to be willing to experience incredible food for a few days and leave their single-use plastics behind.
Yes, I realize sharks are not vegan. I realize one species of fish is used to attract a different species, so a perfect divorce from exploitation hasn't been achieved yet. But I'm not going to reject steps toward progress because perfection couldn't be achieved on the first try. Until we figure out how to observe sharks without using fish carcasses to attract them at least the humans on board can participate in a more responsible diet and learn ways to apply this to their daily lives back home. At least we can stop providing single use plastics for the sake of convenience and to meet the demands of the customers.
In the future ecotourism boats will universally stop catering to bad behavior and will instead lead by example...like they already should.
Join this trip!
There were strong reactions to my footage of sharks being offloaded by fishermen in South Africa (that video can be found at the bottom of this post) and it made me wonder about the things we choose to accept and the things we choose to condemn, because that footage doesn't hold a candle to fishing I've seen in the United States. And sadly, I know I haven't witnessed anything close to the true horror of industrial fishing.
But to watch dumpsters full of dead sharks unloaded nonstop for an hour from a boat that we consider "small"...an operation we refer to as "small scale"...a practice with the label "sustainable"...is a chance to ask if we are honest with ourselves at all and how willing we are to look the other way rather than consider changing.
Consider how many games and distractions we are offered to focus on rather than considering the only solution that is guaranteed to actually help.
"Make sure you are buying from a sustainable source."
As if any of us knows how to investigate that other than taking the distributor for their word. As if 'sustainable' isn't a shockingly abused term that has no real meaning in the first place. Instead of playing that game we COULD just stop consuming any potential product of the destructive industry. But we won't.
"Cutting edge research is looking into ways to reduce by-catch".
Great, someone is doing research, so I guess we can go back to our usual destructive behavior. OR we could just stop consuming products that support the destruction of our oceans. But we won't.
"New research attempts to reduce fishing debris entanglements."
OR we could stop contributing to the industry.
"New research will try to limit fishing vessels during certain times of the year"
(even as more fishing licenses are sold to other countries to rape the ocean). OR we could stop participating in the destruction.
"New regulations attempted for super trawlers"
Super trawler shouldn't exist. Period.
"A shark fin ban will undermine the shark fishing industry" (even as shark populations slip toward extinction globally). Yes, that's an actual argument from a 'shark scientist' employed by the department of commerce. Good ol' David Shiffman.
The list could continue as long as I was willing to retype all the different headlines out there that enable us to keep eating from our depleted ocean while feeling better about it. The lesson here is that would rather listen to these things than give up something we enjoy. The bottom line is that we aren't willing to give up something we don't even require for the sake of the ocean's future. That says everything anyone ever needed to know about why the planet is doomed.
The answer to our salvation won't be found in a peer-reviewed scientific paper unless that paper reveals the cure for human selfishness and greed.
Stop playing the consumer game and start being part of the solution. As the New York times was bold enough to recently state, "The only way to save the ocean is to stop eating fish".
#fish #fishing #sharkfishing #bycatch #sustainable #sustainablefishing #capecod #chatham #ocean #oceanrape #oceanhealth #overfishing #smallscale #shiffman #noaa #cites #whalestrikes #whaleentanglement
âClosing in on a moving target:
Take a closer look at this sequence captured with a 360 camera. Even though the camera is being pulled away (which is why the camera survived) the 360 capability allowed me to rotate the view so as to keep looking at the shark and appreciate its adjustments as it attempts to close in on a moving target. Of particular interest are details we might otherwise miss while we obsess over the teeth. Look at the ongoing use of the fins, especially the pectoral fins! Appreciate how many times the head and body turn in a split second! We see again that the eye is a 3 dimensional, beautiful orb, not a dead, black socket in the skull. And we see the size of the gills which are necessary to provide oxygen to an animal of this size and speed. But we also see that the throat is closed off to protect the stomach from being flooded with the same rush of water that provides the oxygen!
All that information in what, in real-time, was a few seconds of footage!!!
#360 #sharks #whitesharks #360whitesharkfootage #whitesharkvideo #greatwhites #finuse #guadalupe #skylerthomas #insta360
The lessons provided to today's youth by todays' adults
I'm guilty of many of the behaviors I criticize, or at least was guilty of them at some point in my life; I think that's a large part of why seeing such behavior in others stands out to me so glaringly. And when I hear the excuses used to justify not changing or improving I feel a deep anger that reflects embarrassment in realizing I said similar things at one point in time with the same arrogant ignorance.
I think the most common behavior that bothers me the most is the attempt to find flaws in individuals or to point at past mistakes in history as justifications not to make improvements today. No one is perfect, certainly myself included, but a much grater sin than not being perfect is an unwillingness to make personal improvements which is manifested in preaching that because someone else isn't perfect you don't have to pursue perfection yourself.
So here we are today when adults belittle a 16 year-old student, taking any desperate angle they can come up with in order to deflect the flaws and truths she has cast a spotlight on. Any excuse not to improve, any excuse not to change. "This is how I was raised therefore it's what I'm going to stick with, not matter what you say."
A world where environmentalists aren't allowed to protest Big Oil destroying an entire forest because they, as an individuals, purchased something made with petroleum products. A world where someone will point out that you purchased one item wrapped in plastic as an excuse to continue to buy, in bulk, single use plastics. A world in which Christians claim that the God who created the earth ultimately intended for us human, created in his image, to destroy his creations as a part of his plan for us. I've even had people that like killing sharks try to discredit my attempts to save sharks by pointing out my camera equipment; indicating that I embrace the destructive technology of modern humans therefore I no longer have the right to criticize any aspect of human behavior.
Greta Thunberg says she was robbed of her childhood and future. She's not wrong. Hell, I'm an adult and I feel like I've been robbed of the future I imagined for myself so I can only imagine what it feels like to grow up that way. Of course, bad things were taking place back when I was growing up, but it felt like there was a chance to improve those things rather than an overwhelming sense of doom. Perhaps it was already just an illusion, but I at least felt hope for the future thanks in part to the in individual behavior of adults picking up trash or even spanking children for being "litterbugs". Spanking might be controversial, but I'd rather see that than what I see today, which is adults telling their kids it's OK to leave their trash behind because (choose one):
A.) Their hands are full. B.) There's already trash on the ground C.) Someone else will pick it up D.) It's decomposable.
As an adult there are a myriad of different, and much more enjoyable career paths that I'd like to take, and indeed I pursued several of them over the years. But I couldn't find peace in them; lurking in the back of my mind was always a sense that I needed to be doing something more meaningful, something that would help put my soul at ease because I was at least attempting to make improvements rather than just closing my eyes and enjoying what I could while I could.
My time as an environmental documentarian has shown me that our failure in caring for the planet extends far beyond laziness and a lack of responsibility for our own trash disposal. No, it is our very moral fiber that has been corrupted. We are calloused to a point that seems almost inconceivable. When I show people footage of a turtle slowing drowning in a fish net, they say, "Yeah, but how many does that happen to?" When a thousand whales beach themselves from underwater noise pollution they say, "Yeah, but is it an endangered species?" When an endangered species is projected to go extinct in the next year because of human activity they say, "Human life over animal life." When they see the Amazon burning they say, "That's not where my beef comes from". When I show them footage of the suffering of dairy calves and the foolishness of adult humans consuming bovine milk produced for bovine babies they say, "Sorry, that's how I was raised therefore I am sticking with it no matter what you show me."
There's always an excuse and those excuses are almost always to justify reasons NOT to improve; reasons NOT to change. How UNinspiring is that!? No wonder the younger generations seem to lack empathy for the planet. No wonder they spend half their waking hours in the false reality technology provides for them to disappear into. The real world is full of adults who would rather criticize a little girl who took a stand against greedy corporations rather than join her in the fight. What she's doing is brave and difficult. It's much easier to point fingers rather than pursue personal change.
#greta #GretaThunberg #climatechange #conservative #republican #christian #trump #change #convenience #watchinghumans #convenience
...that weren't actually very close at all.
Coinciding with Shark Week I've released three episodes to help bring the hype level down to a reasonable volume. Every one of these stories could be told from a fear-inducing, ratings-focused perspective, but when told from the perspectives of the shark and an real animal advocate you might actually learn something.
Watch all three episodes here
Despite the dramatic photo I've never been bitten by a shark. Dr. Erich Ritter, however, has. I don't think being bitten makes someone an authority on shark bites, but nonetheless, I do think Erich Ritter makes a lot of sense in his podcasts. I'm curious what you think of his advice following the recent incident in the Bahamas so here are two episodes he released following the incident. Take a listen, I think you'll find it worth your while.
How has documenting the plight of terrestrial animals been similar to documenting the plight of sharks? You probably won't like the answer...Watch this segment of my interview with environmental lawyer Jeff Hoffman for a taste.
I'll be back to sharks soon. Follow my side project at @watching_humans.
#sharks #cattle #agriculture #fishing #bigag #bigfishing #careerscientists #corruption #moneyfirst #followthemoney #whitesharkvideo #scienceforsale #funding #shameofpointreyes #nationalpark #marineprotectedarea
My family weren’t farmers by profession; my father was a teacher and football coach, but we did live on four acres with a barn and raised a few animals ourselves, but morello the point we were part of the community, which was a farming community…I remember helping to build fences, bailing hay, playing in the backs of the grain-filled trucks and sitting on my dad’s lap as he drove the combine late at night during harvest season. I never second-guessed the world I lived in or what I was surrounded by. It was just the way of the land.
I never wanted to write depressing blog entries like this. I never wanted to pursue a career where I pleaded with my fellow humans to stop slaughtering the same animals we were mesmerized with in our youths. I didn’t want to see a planet full of people who regularly shrug off the disappearance of iconic species as casually as hearing the sports report from the previous night’s games. The romantic days of farming and ranching are gone. We aren’t feeding the hungry. We aren’t feeding the world. We’re stealing every last bit of land left that wildlife try to survive on to turn their homes into crops that are fed to cattle; NOT to hungry humans. We poison the waters and soil of a national park and cull the wildlife in that park for the sake of profits within an industry that doesn’t even need to exist. Dairy creates luxury products that are unnecessary, arguably unhealthy, as UNsustainable as you can imagine a product to be, and cost the tax payer billions each year in subsidies. Stop repeating the propaganda about “feeding the American people”, stop abusing the word “sustainable”, stop calling the rich and greedy “honest, hard-working families”. It’s time for us, the human race, to grow up and set aside our selfish desires to consume things we want but don’t need for the greater good of all living creatures, including ourselves.
Avengers Endgame’s “happy ending” script provides the audience with complete indulgence, a minimal amount of loss suffered by individual characters, dreams fulfilled by all survivors, revenge upon the enemy, and yet another escape from facing the consequences of our actions. It’s what almost everyone wanted to see (except me) while simultaneously being a testament to the self-absorbed, self-righteous state of mind of the modern human.
For example, in both ‘Endgame’ and it’s predecessor ‘Infinity War’ the script and dialogue repeatedly refer to losing 50% of all life. Yet not in a single scene in either of the movies in which we witness characters turning to dust do we see ANYTHING else turn to dust. This includes scenes where characters are in the depths of the jungles of Wakanda, city parks, yards, or entire landscapes such as Agent Barton’s (Hawkeye) estate.
I tried to dismiss this thought as perhaps the writers had actually meant only human life, not all life, but they repeatedly and specifically used the phrase “all living creatures”. If that were the case, to drive home the devastation of what Thanos had done, I thought they might show at least one non-human perishing, such as a deer turning into dust or maybe just one tree amongst the many trees setting the backdrop where we see humans disappear.
Was this an oversight by the writers? Did it not occur to them that when Thanos’s mission was accomplished some of the vegetation surrounding our heroes would certainly fall into the randomly selected 50%? Surely at least one tree or blade of grass would be included in the “random” selection of living creatures.
Or is it even worse? Is this a reminder that our species is so focused on ourselves that non-human living creatures didn’t even register as a blip in the consciousness of the screenwriters?
That’s how most of us approach the planet in our daily rat race devoted to “getting ours while we can”, sacrificing anything in our path in the process. Chop down another forest. Mine another mountain. Level the grasslands to build another strip mall. The mall isn’t necessary but it sure is convenient and why not, there was no loss to life right? Nope. Not as far as we can see. Not as far as we are concerned. Not to a species that doesn’t see any life other than itself. Jobs, the economy, growth, progress, etc. Any one of those is an excuse used to extinguish other life as we expand.
Captain America does make the slightest reference to other life when he says that he “spotted whales on the way in, there are less ships in the water is cleaner.” But this doesn’t mean the whales are recovering from what Thanos did, it means the whales finally have a chance to recover from what we do currently. Black widow responds by giving him a look and a response that amount to, “How dare you think of anything except our personal loss? “
Which brings me to the next overhanging theme of the film. We, under the impression that we are such a special, important species, believe that none of us should ever suffer loss, that every human death is a tragedy, no matter how worthless that particular deceased biped might have been. But for every other living creature on the planet we quite comfortably declare death as a part of life...”that’s nature.” Furthermore, the scenes shown following Thanos’s’ ‘snap’ made it seem as though the planet was reduced to a ghost town rather than the reality that 4 billion of us, still far too many than should ever exist, remained.
I’m not sure people grasp the rate at which we are multiplying...consider that even if Thanos had successfully killed 50% of humans (roughly 4 billion people) he’d have to come back in only 50 years to cut us down to 4 billion again. He must not have done his homework because it turns out destroying the Infinity stones after accomplishing his initial goal seems to have been a premature celebration.
A planet of 1,000 people, 20 million, 8 billion, 15 billion...it doesn’t seem to matter how many of us there are, we all desperately hold on to an ideal that each of us is important. I admit that it doesn’t feel good to think we aren’t important, but it doesn’t change the harsh truth. Our pursuit of shallow existences leaves us feeling hollow at the end of the road, no matter how impressive your collection of selfies in exotic locations may be by the end. A more meaningful life was available, something closer to an actual purpose was yours for the taking, but instead you were another human chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of the survival of the entire planet. The only thing that can change that is us. But change is difficult and since we’re in a position of power we don’t have to change. Just like a spoiled child that won’t put down the candy even while suffering a stomach ache.
Thanos is the disciplinary parent we need, but don’t want.
Now that I’ve offended you and your sense of importance you’re probably ready to pose the challenge of whether I’d be willing to sacrifice my own life. The answer is yes, with the guarantee of a planet free from the horrific dictatorship of humanity. My only regret would be not to see it myself.
Last night an old travel buddy called me up trying to talk me into going on a trip with him. As he described his goals for the trip I immediately knew my answer would be no, although I didn’t have the heart to tell him immediately.
This caused me to reflect on a “guy trip” to South America with several friends back in 2011. It so happened I was in the early stages of emerging from my hard-core party phase and feeling the call of nature again. As they listed the cities they wanted to visit and party in I found myself conflicted with a desire to instead disappear into the spectacular forests and possibly witness the unique wildlife of those areas. Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted the other part too, but it was occurring to me that traveling all the way to South America to partake in man-made things was somewhat foolish considering the mind-blowing natural treasures exclusive to that part of the globe.
Today I woke up to see posts about the Notre Dame fire and quite a bit of sentiment reflecting my own feelings; ‘why were we so concerned and devastated about a building while we simultaneously have made peace with the destruction of earth’s temples? I turned off the social media before I could see counter-posts from Trumpsters calling people who defend nature “terrorists and Satan worshipers.”
I’ve been to Notre Dame and yes, it’s a cool building rich with history. But treasuring something for its histrionic value is becoming an increasingly hollow sentiment as I watch my species destroy some of the most amazing things our imaginations could even come up with in order to build more buildings...and more buildings and more and more and more of the same. Or make way for cattle grazing. Currently I’m not sure which is worse, grazing fields or building development. Both equal death for EVERYTHING that previously existed in those areas. These forests are homes to creatures which, when we see them documented on television, cause us to mutter, “My God, I never knew anything so amazing existed.” Followed shortly thereafter with actions that say “In the name of God we shall destroy these creatures and their homes.”
Every year it gets a little harder for me to feel sad about the loss of any human relics, being as that the species that built those structures seems dedicated to the death of the planet. As far as religion goes, yes, Notre Damn is a cathedral...a cathedral full of tourists. My experience with Europeans is that they are a lot more realistic about their relationship with God, while self-declared Christians in the United States support one of the most unGodly men in the history of men, a man who promotes the destruction of God’s creations and the persecution of certain humans in the pursuit of more money.
So yeah, I think I can live without seeing more monuments to the human race...I’m not exactly filled with pride or awe regarding our accomplishments. Back in 2011, as bad as things were, I thought I’d be dead before I saw certain species go extinct, but instead of our kind making improvements, the rate of destruction has accelerated and documentaries will be the only reminders of the treasures we chose to destroy.
Debra Canabal of Epic Diving in the WSV hoodie. Get yours!
About the Author
Skyler Thomas is the primary blog contributor, cinematographer, and lead editor at White Shark Video.