Summer of the Shark

August 7th, 2013 Comments Off on Summer of the Shark

White_shark_(cropped)

Today the news is about a dead shark found on a subway car in New York City. Earlier this week, “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel kicked off with a shamelessly concocted “investigation” into whether the prehistoric giant shark, Megalodon, might still be alive. Discovery’s defense, in a statement, is that “with 95 percent of the ocean unexplored, who really knows?”

And of course, a couple of weeks back Twitter was aflame with reactions to the B-movie “Sharknado”, a reaction that earned the laughable film a theatrical release.

All very jolly, except that the real story of sharks is so depressing – they are being aggressively hunted for their fins, prized in some Asian cuisines, and researchers are estimating that perhaps 100 million sharks a year are being removed from the seas — with consequences that are likely to be enormous. Removing large numbers of an apex predator like the shark will have cascading effects throughout marine ecosystems around the world, compounding the problems brought on by climate change, pollution, etc.

And yet stories of “monster sharks” are staples of local news organizations, and shark-fishing “tournaments” are treated as jolly human-interest news items, not pathological misbehavior.

Sharks may not be cuddly, but they are not evil, either. The continuing demonization of them in all sorts of media does a disservice to the planet.

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