...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.
When debating the pros and cons of cage diving people are usually talking about white shark cage diving and whether it endangers people. But what about the use of cages with other species of sharks? Can that be bad? Is it possibly bad for the sharks? Features appearances by Walter Bernardis, Jim Abernethy, Shark Man Dan, and Skyler Thomas.
#cagedive #cageless #sharkdive
Can you tell which parts of the shark culling news is real and which is fake? Sadly, reality and parody are not that far from each other in terms of ridiculousness when it comes to proposed methods of "shark mitigation".
Yes, Western Australia really does refer to a 15-month time span as a "trial", thus I jokingly called my non-existent 2-year study a trial. Does calling something a trial help placate the public who are concerned? "Oh, well, it's just a trial..." Yes, a trial that lasts well over a year.
Yes, a contractor paid to check shark cull gear in Queensland died, presumably via entanglement and subsequent drowning. That puts this year's stats in Queensland at:
1 person killed by anti-shark safety gear
0 people killed by sharks
Yes, smart drum lines still use baited hooks, which, so far, are catching non-target animals. Damage induced by being caught on these hooks simply can't be avoided, but it's not always as obvious as when the hook goes right out the skull of the animal. Animals that aren't dead upon discovery often die from their wounds later. These animals are listed as "released alive"...
Although my example of "pointing feet to the left at a beach" is a silly example, it is nevertheless comparable to real-world statistics. Across the world, beaches enjoy zero shark-induced fatalities, whether there are shark nets or not. No one pays attention to the success rate of humans entering the ocean without being hurt, we only look at the rare incidents when something goes wrong...then act as though we know how to make a number go from "once in a blue moon" to never.
#sharkcull #sharkstatistics #sharkbitestatistics #nosharkcull #trial #drumline #sharknet #capecod #westernaustralia
"Hey everyone, don't change. Look at this distraction instead!"
Let’s tag sharks for another decade or two so we can figure out how to save them. Ignore the fishing fleets, super trawlers, and corrupt policy makers that allow the raping of our ocean. Ignore the fact that we don’t enforce protection laws that already exist. The real answer lies somewhere in data from tags so just hang in there, we’re studying this mystery, you can trust us, we are scientists.
(Pretend this hasn’t been the same story the last five decades.)
To save orcas let’s kill sea lions. They are no longer endangered thus there must be too many of them, eating all the fish in the ocean. Ignore the fishing fleets which are allowed to take hundreds of tons of fish per month from the very waters the orcas are starving in. Ignore the trickle down effect on transient orcas that eat sea lions. So the first pod of orcas will still starve and more will follow. Just as long as we have something to blame while we continue not to share. Don’t worry, scientists backed this plan so you have nothing to worry about, it must be a good idea.
(Pretend 100,000 humans weren’t born while you read the above paragraph.)
Hey, someone spent a trillion dollars on a machine to clean trash out of the ocean. That should solve it, right, I don't have to change do I? Now I can keep buying trash. Someone said plastic could be reused for something good...somewhere, someday so now my plastic is no longer trash. I don’t need to change my behavior, someone will clean up my mess.
We are like spoiled children who instead of being spanked have parents who buy their kids new cars every time we wreck the previous one.
(Pretend you didn't see the latest article on dead whales with stomachs full of trash.)
Pretend that shark repellant on your ankle is the reason the 99.9% chance you already have of not being bitten will make up the other 1% so that you now magically live in a 100% risk free world. Don't worry, someone will take your money. In fact, I have just invented a special chewing gum that if you chew while surfing will keep you safe from sharks...well, 99.9% of the time at least.
What’s that? 100 green sea turtles slowly drowned in shark nets last year? Well, are they endangered? Because long, horrific deaths are only bad if it’s happening to an endangered species.
Catch and release makes me a conservationist. Hey, I let it go so no harm no foul, right? Pretend being hooked in the mouth and fighting for your life isn’t detrimental to health. Pretend a broken jaw won’t lead to the eventual starvation of the animal.
(Pretend thousands of animals aren’t killed by other predators as they are being reeled in (does that count as catch and release, btw?) Also pretend we don't already have overwhelming evidence showing post-release mortality rates are extremely high. All that matters is that you let it go after you were entertained by tormenting it. You're a good person.)
Shark safe beaches! Yay! We’re working on a system to improve the current system of killing sharks where you want to go swim, so take heart in that. You no longer need to feel bad about the thousands of innocent animals dying in shark mitigation gear because someone is working on something somewhere that might get deployed someday.
(Ignore the fact that we haven’t made a real improvement in 60 years nor that there is no date set for any deliverables on promised improvements.)
Farmers are good people! Don’t tell me not to eat meat! So, 50% of land in the United States is devoted to agriculture. Big deal, we still have the other 50% to go. So half of the world’s diversity of life has been replaced by humans and their livestock in the last 50 years. So what!? Don’t tell me I can’t eat meat! It’s a way of life, it’s American! Look at the flag wrapped around me you terrorist hippie! Farmers are good people! They raise animal-slaves in the most environmentally costly manner possible for products we don’t need to eat, but you’re talking about our “salt of the earth”, Christian patriots, God damnit!
Now let me get back to watching this meat commercial showing happy animals and a hard-working white man looking out over a green pasture... you know, the commercials that show every 5 seconds on television in case you happen to forget that you should eat meat.
Someone made a film about it. Heck, it even made you cry! So, surely things will change! Ignore the fact that your own behavior didn’t change despite being moved to tears. Ignore that the last white rhino died last year. Ignore the fact that Shark Water was made over ten years ago yet Costa Rica, as well as the world, continues to harvest fins from sharks both as targeted catch and as bycatch. (Pretend NOAA hasn’t repeatedly fought against shark fin bans. Pretend Fish and Game is controlled by fishermen and hunters).
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.