It's an ongoing issue while trying to create a film; I'm searching for answers so I can tell a story. But time and again, notable people with something important to say cannot or will not won't go on record because of issues it will create in their current employment, sponsorship, or even their social circles. And in other scenarios I'm asked to protect identities of those who are "just doing their jobs". This leaves me with the predicament of putting out a film that is all hearsay.
After encountering this time and again I am starting to wonder if the real problem is that we have all become complacent because we are too comfortable in our present lives. We've chosen the mighty dollar over the voice inside us. Are the days of standing up for what is right and saying "to hell with my job" over? How will the world ever know that scientists don't approve of certain research methods, shark tournaments, or mitigation processes if they are unwilling to speak out? How will the world know that government employees don't want to do what their bosses tell them if they continue to quietly clock in at work every morning?
It's a fantasy world I desire, I know. We all have to pay the bills, right? But the bottom line is that our silence is being bough; we are choosing paychecks over integrity.
And in still other cases, not only do those in question work for the bad guy, they actually seem to enjoy the work. Watch and weep.
Shocking images reveal the moments during which a diver desperately fought off a massive Fanged “Vampire” Shark of Madagascar.
British Diver Simon Cowardson was vacationing in Madagascar when he decided to try out the ever more popular sport of shark diving. This became a decision he almost didn’t live to regret.
“The shark just kept coming at me”, Cowardson told reporters later. “I think it had made up its mind that it wanted to have me for breakfast.”
The 52 year old lawyer was spearfishing at the time that the shark suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Fanged Madagascar sharks are known for their two prominent teeth that hang down like fangs, thus prompting the frightening nickname “vampire shark”. Sightings of the species are rare, but scientists believe the fangs are used to puncture their victims then let them bleed out before feeding.
“First I shoved the shark with my fists, trying to avoid the sharp fangs. When it was clear the shark wasn’t going to leave me alone, that’s when I used my spear to ram a hole in its stomach.” An estimated only 50 of these sharks remain in the wild and Simon stated that he’s glad there are only 49 now. “I feel like I’ve done my part to make these oceans a little safer for the rest of us. The only good predator is a dead predator.” When asked if he wasn’t also a predator Cowardly responded “I’m not a predator, I’m a human being.”
“That shark had no business coming at me like that. The bleeding tuna I had tied to my spear gun were clearly mine and the shark should understand that.”
This video from Discovery Channel is inaccurate to say the least, and is horrible PR for sharks...but is a good summation of the downward spiral of Discovery Channel's Programming. I feel bad even sharing it, but perhaps in doing so you'll know why I disapprove of most of 'Shark Week'.
Here's this week's video breakdown:
This actually looked like a magnificent encounter with a gorgeous shark that was slowly, and rather gently investigating the cage.
Who knows how much of this drama was added by the producers after it was filmed so I don't know how much to criticize the host. From what I hear these shows go in and change the final product so that it is this reality TV drama crap... so if you ever see me on a shitty show like this, before you condemn me, write to me, because there's a good chance what you are being shown is not what was set out to be created.
The green light for the monster shark tournament in Newport points to several things that are wrong, besides the killing of the sharks.
1. Using the death of a family member or loved one to sway opinion based on emotion is wrong. I realize that makes me calloused, but if you're a decision maker, shouldn't you be able to say, "I understand your emotional attachment to the tournament, but it has no place here nor during this age"? I'm referring to the emotional plea given to the city council regarding a desire to carry out "the dream" of the recently deceased. We don't always get what we want and often we shouldn't. That's an opinion. Tell me why I'm wrong.
2. People are slapping the word "scientist" on everything to justify their actions. "A biologist will be on hand" is offered as pacification for those worried about the shark slaughter being for nothing. "Oh, good, a scientist will be there" sadly satisfies the concerns of many who imagine that the data is whisked away to a miracle lab that somehow brings an end to long lining and shark finning. This is not an attack on scientists. Many scientists work their tails off attempting to collect hard data to present in the face of those who demand numbers to justify conservation-minded action to be taken. It is however an attack on the idea that sharks as a whole are going to benefit tremendously because of some tissue samples or the tagging and release of some of these sharks. Yes, it is extra information, but it is not the key to the survivability of these animals. The key to survivability is NOT FISHING OUT THE BIG ONES, which is exactly what a monster tournament is about! Yes, there are worse offenders out there than shark tournaments, but if our attitude is to justify our actions because someone else is worse, then we are already lost. Samples are already being taken and tags are already being applied and this is being done within the confines of actual studies that scientists have worked hard to develop, present, and have approved before they even get to proceed with the study. To think that a few random tags and tissue samples at a tournament are going to lead to an end that justifies the current cost is...well, hopeful. Sorry, but having a scientist on hand appears to be a way to make people feel better about something that shouldn't be happening. Yes, that's an opinion. Tell me why I'm wrong.
(Please note that scientists will make use of any data they can possibly use. And yes, they are capable of even potentially incorporating data obtained from tags at a tournament like this. My attack is not on scientists and power to them for putting a silver lining on a fishing tournament; rather my criticism is on those who host these tournaments or those who report on these tournaments portraying a scenario in which scientists are pleased that this is happening. A closer depiction of reality is of scientists making the best of a bad scenario. People are catching sharks. Some might die. Let's at least tag them so we can possibly learn from those who survive. Notice the use of the words "potential" and "possible". I personally would prefer that animals be tagged within the parameters of a specific study conducted by the scientists seeking answers to a question as opposed to the chance of collecting useful data from tags administered during a tournament.
Dr. Neil Hammershclag cares enough about best practices and a few topics I touched on that he gave me permission to share a paper he wrote. This doesn't mean he agrees with me, but does want to share knowledge, so take a look at 'Killing for Conservation." As my tagline says, many people won't read research papers so let's hope Neil will do a video interview in the future highlighting this paper. And thank you for writing it, Neil.
3. Permits and special permits. These last few months have been filled with me reading about laws set forth for the preservation of marine animals that are not to be tampered with or harmed...except when permits are issued (or a law is danced around; think Wester Australia). Let's just say I'm not impressed with some of the permits that have been given and I'll leave it at that. These permits are starting to sound like loopholes to me. And what's with a city not being able to stop a tournament even if they say no to it as this article describes? Scary.
4. Parallels. It's not the same thing, but there sure are a lot of similarities to the cull in Western Australia as I see it:
Here is the article about the tournament approval
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.