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.