Are we willing to give up the cages? I find myself spending more time watching the sharks from the top deck of the boats I go on than from within the cages themselves. It's certainly not the same, but equally mesmerizing watching the sharks move through the water from above.
Since cage collisions seem to the biggest source of concern for the sharks what about getting rid of the cages completely? Raised platforms could still extend over the back and side decks in order for the bait handlers to attract the sharks within sight of the spectators, but now there wouldn't be anything for the sharks to collide with.
Of course, since diving outside the cage is illegal, the removal of cages means people would have to sacrifice seeing the sharks face to face, and for many tourists, "looking a great white in the eye and surviving" is just too high of a priority to give up; an essential part of checking this particular event off their bucket list. And there's nothing to back up the notion of "surviving" this encounter (no matter how terrible of a show you've seen on Shark Weak that claims otherwise). The divers aren't in any danger. As we've seen too many times it is the sharks that are at risk of injury, and even when they do get in the cage all they want to do is get out.
But don't get me wrong, the desire to see the white sharks face to face isn't without merit. Watching them glide past you, especially when they look at you, is a fantastic experience and it saddens me to suggest taking that opportunity away from people. But maybe that's what it will take to move forward in the industry. Necessity is the mother of innovation. Maybe we'll see some new types of viewing enclosures created if the existing cages are banned?
And even if cages were banned, would that stop people from going on these trips? The list of ways to see white sharks first-hand is pretty limited so my guess is, no. People would still head out to see the sharks. Heck, at the Farallones people don't see them from the cage or the top deck and that doesn't stop tourists from going there.
What's your answer? Are you willing to give up the cages?
#cages #cagediving #cagealternatives #topside #sharkdiving #sharkecotourism #guadalupe #mexico #southafrica #australia #farallonislands #farallones
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
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.