Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Keep the Secrets of the Sea

In January an in-depth study of the current depletion of sharks was published (Worm et al 2013). It revealed that the numbers of sharks killed for shark fin soup are not falling, that no sharks have been saved, and that the ravenous market for the infamous party soup continues to be fed, in spite of the increase in support for shark protection that has come in the last decade.

A review of the way our society treats sharks reveals almost no segment in which they are respected, with the exception of certain researchers, divers and veterinarians. Their fins are taken for soup by the Asians, they are vilified by Shark Week in the west, they are wrestled and stabbed by scientists for a few minutes of glory as a he-man “shark fighter” on National Geographic or the ill-termed “Discovery Channel,” and they are fished as sea monsters by “sportsmen.” Television with its monster shows has unleashed an out pouring of hatred that has allowed them to be massacred in full view with almost no public outcry nor protest, and the idea that they should be exterminated stands in the way of protecting them from extinction. Even science often measures the numbers of sharks it kills in the metric tons, with no regard for any individual.

And no one weeps for sharks.

But this is the point :

Much research, including some sponsored by certain NGO's who claim to be working for their protection, is geared to finding out where sharks are, how many are there, and announcing that information amid as much fanfare as possible, often using the unpleasant blood and teeth slant of Shark Week or National Geographic as the medium to dramatize the information to the maximum.

What is wrong with this picture?

This is exactly what shark finners want to know—where sharks are!

Since shark fin is the most valuable seafood, surely no one who is actually concerned about their welfare would ever reveal such information. Look what happened to the sharks using the much publicized shark “superhighway” off the west coast of Central America. It attracted shark finners en masse and it was the sharks who paid for this grand discovery. Some secrets of the sea should remain secret.

Why is this information being so widely tooted by those who claim to be protecting sharks? Because its easy to get with modern equipment, so with little invested, a dramatically announced discovery can lead to many more millions in donations? Possibly. There must be some reason for it.

I implore you to think twice about aiding and abetting such efforts by revealing the location, species, or numbers of the sharks you see while diving.

If you learn where sharks are do not tell anyone. If you see sharks on a dive, do not report their location or numbers to anyone. Do not get attached to any place, to any underwater beauty, if you don't want your heart to be broken.

We all read all the time about the millions of sharks being finned all over the world, figures that seem unreal. I assure you that they will no longer seem unreal if you go diving, and find the sharks you loved to be with lying alive and finless on the bottom of the dive-site instead of circling majestically around you. Then even if its only one million sharks you find, or maybe only twenty five, you will find that the psychological effect is a lot more intense.

As an analogy, it is disturbing to hear that some dogs elsewhere were poisoned. But if it was your dogs who were poisoned, you reel.

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