Humans have a special way of ruining things, even positive shark stories.
In 2014 I spent a week diving with oceanic white tips, duskies, and a few other marine animals at cat island in the Bahamas. While there, the dive guides, Debbie and Vincent Canabel, shared a story with me about how they cut the rope off a dusky shark and likely saved it from death. I asked the tour operators what they thought of me spreading this story, an idea that they loved, so I proceeded to interview them. I combined the interview with my footage of sharks from the trip I was on, shot some additional b roll of the dive operators to support the story, and then contacted a photographer, Lee Arbo, whom they had suggested in order to get some photos of the actual rescue. After receiving full blessings from all parties involved I proceeded to make a short film about the rescue. As an unknown person on YouTube it was nice to see that many viewers enjoyed the happy story and left kind comments about their new appreciation of sharks. The film included (and still does) all credits for video footage, music, and photography, which were the agreed conditions. All involved were pleased with the results.
My original version of the film above
Despite her having nothing to do with the film I made, I was kind enough to appease her ego and release a second version of the film that mentioned her in the credits just to be nice. Perhaps I should have gotten the names of everyone on board that day, maybe even found out who fueled the boat up. Heck, maybe Amanda even did the film editing and composed the music while I wasn’t looking!
A couple of years went by and as the video slowly gained popularity on YouTube I was contacted by Barcroft Media asking if they could run a story about my film. It's not often that the news wants to spread good stories about sharks so I was quite happy for this to take place, but first, I again contacted everyone whose media appeared in the film to get their blessings. Once again I received their blessings and proceeded to give Barcroft access to the Dropbox media folders which were organized with the names of the people who provided the associated media. I reminded Barcroft to be sure to credit everyone accordingly. I repeat, not only was the media in the folders of the people who deserved credit, I reminded Barcroft to credit them.
The last piece came with the request to provide Barcroft with a self-filmed interview providing my personal take on the story, feelings, and what I knew about sharks. I was also told they needed the clips uploaded by the next day so I sat in my back yard, held my iPhone and recorded several versions of me answering the questions before hurrying off to work. In a few clips I intentionally described my personal experience while out with Debbie and Vinny as well as
other shark encounters and listening to it now it sounded like I was present on the same day as the rescue. Considering Barcroft had contacted me to do a story about MY film which was about the actual rescuers (clearly showing that I was nothing more than the interviewer) and considering I told Barcroft I was not there during the rescue I never imagined how badly this would come back to haunt me.
Below are excerpts from an email I sent March 9th, 2016 after the disastrous publishing by Barcroft
The next day The first thing I saw were messages from my friends saying that someone named Amanda Cotton was bashing me online. I looked at the article which repeatedly describe me as one of the brave rescuers. I was even described as a dive operator. Not only that, but none of the pictures had proper credit - not Debbie and Vinnie’s, not Lee’s, and not mine. Yes, even mine. The video footage was not properly credited, my name was not properly spelled and my company was not properly named. But the icing on the cake was the new version of the video that Barcroft had edited themselves. Their own narrator also described me as a rescuer. That, combined with Barcroft using specific sections of my self-shot interview, and the repeated written description of me as a rescuer and completely misquoting me in the article definitely pointed at me as being there that day.
This was and continues to be a painful lesson for me to be more careful with my words and review my self shot interviews before uploading them. However, never once did I say in my interview or in my written correspondence that I was one of the rescuers. In fact I pointed this out to Barcroft in our emails. How foolish of me to think that they actually watched the video that they contacted me about being interested in, which clearly shows that I was just the filmmaker! Ultimately, you have to believe that I, the guy who made the film about the actual rescuers, decided to try to fool the world into thinking I was a rescuer despite the overwhelming evidence that I wasn’t. Evidence which I provided myself with my own film!
First email with Morgan from Barcroft is below
So instead of enjoying the news clips I spent the next day explaining to people in the comments that I wasn't there. I also spent the day writing emails to Barcroft complaining about the improper credits and their own version of the story which repeatedly misquoted me and called me a rescuer and dive operator. Debbie, Vinnie, and Lee were (and continue to be) included in every email sent. I suggested that the story be taken down if the others involved felt it should should be. The last email on the matter from that year was assurance that Barcroft had resolved the issue with the others involved and was crediting properly.
More than a year has gone by since then without incident and I thought this nightmare was finally over. Unfortunately, two weeks ago I was tagged in a post which led me to yet another version of the story. In this version I was a Canadian filmmaker who returned to the island regularly to check on the health of the shark and all of us were scared of sharks and horrified by the encounter. At what point to people realize the editors are writing their own versions of this!?! I never said I rescued the shark, I never said I was a dive operator or part of the team, I never said I return to the island regularly, and I never said I was Canadian. The story even shows a photo of a great white shark.
And this time NO ONE was given credit on the photos…Only Barcroft's logo appeared on the images.
And today I wake up to see that Lee Arbo is bashing is me on his Facebook claiming I was stealing his photos, selling his photos, and even altering his photos. Apparently Barcroft has decided to revive this story which has caused this whole stink to be stirred up again. I was kind enough to contact Lee directly and ask hi not to lie about me online, to take down his comments, and to ask Barcroft with me to take down the stories. But Lee seems to think Barcroft is my other secret identity and that I'm responsible for every time the stories pop up. The reality is that I only learn about them after other people tell me about them.
By now I’d had enough headaches from this story and immediately wrote to Barcroft asking them to pull the story and all versions of the story that ultimately Barcroft is apparently letting other news agencies run.
Rather than attacking Lee online I asked him to consider what he's saying and kindly remove his words. Instead he insists that he's going to sue me "if I don't stop", once again showing that he seems to think I have my finger on the magic news agency button.
What Lee hasn't shown anyone on his Facebook is all the complaints to Barcroft I've written over the last year on this matter (I've CC'd him on all of them). He hasn’t shared all my requests for them to fix the story and to fix the credits, he doesn't include that I never stole his images but that he sent them to me willingly...MULTIPLE TIMES!
Unlike Lee and Amanda, I don't make money off of sharks or photography. They do. I try to create stories to tell the world a different side of these animals and I don't get paid for it...everything comes out of my pocket. And when Barcroft sent me an email announcing some advertisement revenue that had been made thanks them running the story it sure would have been nice to be rewarded for the film I made that made so many people aware of the happy story. Know what I did? I offered it to everyone else.
You won't hear any of that from Lee. According to an email from Lee “He’s learned everything he needs to know about me from Amanda”…someone I’ve never met. I wonder if Amanda would have been any kinder with her words if she'd seen the interview segment I sent Barcroft where I talk about the shark being named after her son? It wasn't used, like many of the other clips. I guess that's my fault too.
If media released the still frame below with the title "Shark Attack" people would be eager to believe it, gobble it up, repeat it, and even add more to the story. Why is it so disappointing for us to find out that instead of conflict and violence this was just two animals sharing space in water without any problems at all? That's just one of the many questions that falls under the umbrella of rethinking who the real monsters are.
Aliwal Shoal, South Africa, oceanic black tips.
We'd been on scuba a few minutes before this so had just finished and were just returning to the boat. The dive guide, Walter Bernardis, is also very against the shark nets and said, "Why don't you say a few things about the sharks while you're still in the water with them at the surface." Then they started throwing bait around me to keep the sharks in the area (otherwise they leave rather quickly). So it was unplanned and unscripted.
Here's the dialogue from the video: "I can see the beautiful dorsal fins of the oceanic black tips we just went diving with. I can feel them bumping my legs below me, they're surrounding me, going around me. At any time obviously, these sharks, as apex predators, could take me out...effortlessly. Why aren't they? Well, these are the questions you have to ask to begin rethinking the shark, to think about their role on this planet. It has nothing to do with us...it has nothing to do with killing us or eating us. Obviously it's choosing the fish - not only is it choosing the fish, it's making a specific effort not to make a mistake of biting something it doesn't want to bite. Why would that benefit the shark? It doesn't. They don't go out looking for us. They don't even want to bite us when they have the opportunity to bite us. We don't need nets.
#shark #sharkcull #nosharkcull #coexist #wsv #whitesharkvideo #sharkdiving #drowning #sentient #monsters #monstersfilm #underestimatinganimals #skylerthomas #wedontneednets #coexist
We've all heard that sharks can smell one drop of blood in an Olympic size swimming pool. What's that mean for you and me? Watch and find out.
Perhaps it's the fact that we aren't participating members of the food chain that causes us to forget that the ocean is full of other scents...scents that the sharks are also keenly aware of. Why exactly do we think they are going to drop everything they are doing and be more interested in our blood? Sharks have jobs to do, niches to fulfill, and have been doing so for millions of years. We don't have anything to do with that. As @DrChrisNeff says, "We're in the way, not on the menu"
Shot by Dan Abbott of @blackgillmedia , Ollie Putnam of @sharkservation and Skyler Thomas of @whitesharkvideo while on location for #Monstersfilm. Music by Tyler Newman of Solidgreyskyrecordings. Concept and editing by Skyler Thomas. ------------------------------------------
#sharks #senseofsmell #coexistence #monsters#wsv #whitesharkvideo #blood #dropofblood#sharkminutes #skylerthomas #blackgillmedia#sharkservation #coexistence #thinkfor yourself #factsnotfear8h
It's hard to keep track of OCEARCH's lies, (unless you just blindly accept what they say as truth) so here's part 1 in a list of OCEARCH's B.S.
OCEARCH tried to branch out from tagging white sharks a couple of times, but even those times it was only because they were denied permits to tag white sharks in other places they were trying to get into.
Although the sharks and the researchers on these expeditions needed help, the general public has forgotten or never even knew about these fishing trips.
The tagging of a couple of sharks in Cape Cod saved OCEARCH. To spend that much money and only tag two sharks in a season is an utter failure for any research organization, yet for OCEARCH it was twisted to the public as unprecedented success, thanks to the deep pockets of OCEARCH’s marketing team.
And thus OCEARCH keeps coming back and tagging the same sharks that are already protected. That we already have years of research on their movements. That no additional protection will be put in place for regardless of how many more are tagged.
But pulling great whites out of the water gets the press every time. Gets the readers, viewers and gawkers as well. Go ahead and pull that shark out of the water, turn to the camera, and tell the world how saving sharks will save the oceans. Sorry, Mr. Fischer, not true, especially not those sharks.
1. You aren’t saving them. They are already protected. You are hurting them, even the ones that survive.
2. The schooling pelagic species being wiped out by the fishing and finning industries desperately need help. Spend your money on stopping that, rather than going fishing for sharks that are already on the rebound and have been for quite some time (no thanks to you).
White Shark Video is thrilled to announce that Dan Abbott of Blackgill Media and Ollie Putnam of Sharkservation are lending their filming expertise and shark knowledge to the production effort of 'Monsters'. The help is more than welcome and I couldn't be happier to have like-minded individuals on board.
This help is born of passion and not only are they volunteering their time, they are fitting the bill for their trip to South Africa All donations from this point on (until we depart on the trip) will go to repay these individuals for their willingness putting love of a cause over money.
It's time to cull the cowards.
Simple minds. Is it basic stupidity or is it a general lack of morality they have in common more? They certainly share a vast array of pathetic traits.
The bloodthirsty who seek the of killing random animals thinking to teach others of that animal’s kind a lesson in revenge. They who react with panic and fear rather than reason and calculation. The same who feel a sense of entitlement to do as they wish at any time without any consequence. The same who reap the joys of nature while paying her no respect. These are the same who steal, who act as journalists while committing copyright infringement, who mislead their readers with false information, who let frightened little boys call for “an icing of a few” sharks because a fish was brazen enough to leap from the water.
The site of one shark in its realm while surrounded by 20 visitors is an act of war according to these minds. Apparently nature must remain out of site at all times. How dare a shark show itself?! After all, the 20 humans belonged there, not the shark, right? Someone forgot to get a memo to the shark that it was required to move on within a designated amount of time. Apparently that amount of time is designated by the genius writers at BeachGrit since they reminded us repeatedly like scared little girls that the shark stayed in the area “for hours”. What a monster!
Hiding from humans is easier said than done when we expand without pause, invading every last bit of land and water that remains for anything that isn’t us to hide in. As the sighting of one shark is seeing one too many.
The simple minded claim that shark numbers pose a threat even as shark numbers plummet lower than they’ve been in history. But sure, killing a few more is what we need.
The simple minded resort to violence immediately to solve problems.
The simple minded succumb to fear rather than showing courage.
The simple minded seek revenge where there is no revenge to be had.
The simple minded who think they can “show who’s boss” to animals that are migrating…who try to remove animals that don’t even live in the area they are “being removed from”.
So I finally see the similarities. Pro cullers are simple minded cowards. It’s a shame that they are allowed to enjoy the ocean at all, much less have their cowardly voices heard. Perhaps a few of them need to be iced to silence the stupidity they spread.
For those of you who still have some respect for the ocean, enjoy this video I shot of a white shark jumping for the pure purpose of the fact that it can. Or as Derek might say, it was obviously trying to get in the boat to eat all of us.
On Sunday, May 21st, White Shark Video will release an extended episode of Shark Minutes, examining some of the heated debates regarding the white shark cage dive industry.
Shark Minutes host Skyler Thomas combines his footage, personal experience, and feedback from those he's interviewed over the years for a comprehensive look at the topic. Tune back in!
#cagediving #whitesharks #whitesharkvideo #greatwhite #whitesharkvideo
Taking another 60 second look at Guadalupe we focus on the temperature. Above and below the surface things are very nice. I wouldn't call the water warm, but South Africa and Guadalupe are the only two places I've gotten in a cage without a wetsuit for any amount of time. South Africa comes in second because you can only do this in South Africa's summer and your time in the cage is much shorter than in Guadalupe; I don't think it would be fair to compare 20 minutes in a cage to four hours. Because you can stay in the water so long in Guadalupe most people where a wetsuit in order to preserve their body temperature. This is particularly important when going into deeper water with the submersible cage where you can definitely feel the temperature drop. Furthermore the weight harnesses are heavy enough that it's nice to have the wetsuit as a buffer.
All footage shot by #SkylerThomas for #WhitesharkVideo except two white shark clips from Andy Dellios and the footage of Skyler in #SouthAfrica filmed by Amanda Brewer and Maarten Jozef Billen. Special appearances by Andy Dellios and Marshall Lally in this clip as well as appearances from Andy's famous pole cam. :) Stay tuned for the complete guide coming soon!
#WSV #ultimatecagedivedestinationguide #cagedive #sharkdiving #guadalupe #whiteshark #cagedivedestinations #sharktourism
WSV's Ultimate Cage Dive Destination Guide also includes "x-factor" pros and cons about each destination. For example, the RIDE to the Farallon Islands is, in itself, an attraction. A cruise through the San Francisco Bay passing landmarks such as Alcatraz the city skyline, Bay Bridge, and going under the Golden Gate Bridge is all conveniently included since the trips depart from the SF Bay. In addition, many species of whale and dolphin can be see on the way to and from the islands. BUT, while the trip to the islands is a pro, it is simultaneously a con. 27 miles straight out from San Francisco, this stretch of water takes over three hours to cross and is easily the roughest of all the rides to any of the cage dive destinations of the world that I've been to. You should still go, but be ready to lean over the rail and "feed the fish." All footage shot by #skylerthomas for #whitesharkvideo #sanfrancisco #cagedive #farallones #farallonislands #cagedivedestinations #wsv #whiteshark #sharktourism
In fact, the killing of sharks has likely made the situation at Reunion Island what it is.
Researchers along the South African coast have been concerned about dramatic changes they've seen in shark populations over the last 10 years and what these changes could mean for the local habitats. Much of these changes are due to overfishing and culling. Is it possible that this has contributed to the rate of shark bite incidents at Reunion Island? Kelly Slater referenced an imbalance, but what he didn't mention is that we likely caused the imbalance and that pursuing killing as a solution to this imbalance could make the issue even worse. Killing isn't the answer. Nature needs time to heal, but will we let it? I think we already know the answer to that.
#nosharkcull #kellyslater #cullkelly #reunionisland #wsv#whitesharkvideo #sharkculling
The Price of Existence is the blog and film series from WSV
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.
White Shark Video