On Carcharhinids (and Lamniformes)

What with the start of Shark Week and all, I decided that it was time to ruminate on sharks.

The annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament took place on Martha’s Vineyard recently. I attended this event once and stood somewhere between disgust and enchantment the entire time. The crevasse between the fishermen/sportsmen/hunters and the environmental/PETA/HSUS types is deep. Protests have grown in the past few years, but so have the crowds. Having witnessed the tournament’s ‘flare,’ i argue that a good part of it stresses education, but that they could find ways to cut back on the sensationalism. (First, but cutting the ‘Monster’ out of the name.)

I am not an advocate of ending shark fishing tournaments. They collect valuable biological data, result mostly in catch and release, and the majority of the fishermen elect to have their catch donated to the Greater Boston Area Food Bank. It is absolutely unreasonable to think that sportsfishing can be eliminated. There will always be rich people, and they will always insist on spending their money on ego-(or other body part) boosting and buying adrenaline rushes. Environmental groups and individuals that wish to end tournaments and protest events like the OB Tourney are spending their time and effort on a pipe dream.

But I do wish that the animals could be treated with a bit more respect. My stomach churned each time I watched a fisherman or tourist sidle up alongside a blue shark (its stomach protruding from its once formidable jaws) for a photo op. The gaffing, the kicking and the hooting and hollering and other man-ish gestures seem superfluous once the animals have been subdued (they are all dead upon reaching the dock). They are beautiful creatures, and perhaps our race could evolve a little bit further by treating them as such.

In related news, shark sightings in Cape waters have been on the rise, as evidenced in the local media here and here and here. I can attest to the fact that grey seal poulations are on the rise, and when you protect and preserve a food supply, you are likely to be helping out a predator. I am all for the continued preservation of seal populations—even now they are less than historical levels, and would love to know that white sharks (aka ‘great whites’) are safe and free to prosper in the Northwest Atlantic. The ocean is nice to cool off in on hot days like these, but I have no evolutionary right to get pissed about sharing it with an apex predator that was here first.

I’ll keep my blog updated with shark sightings as the summer commences. And I’ll check out Shark Week to see if the Discovery Channel is doing its part to combat rumor and myth and sensationalism and ignorance by replacing it with the education and empathy we all need.

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This is an article that was posted on Jul 31, 06:10 PM.

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Comment [4]

  1. jake Aug 1, 02:57 PM

    Ya know what stinks about Shark Week? No programming on DiscoveryHD… :(

    My family just got a new HDTV and I was hoping for some cool shark programming… All I got was this...

    Sure it was interesting, but I want more…

    I pretty sure I’d have to be in awe at seeing a shark up close like that.

  2. Surfer Stud Aug 3, 11:43 AM

    So you’re saying I went surfing with Jaws the other day? Whoops.

  3. jess Aug 3, 12:52 PM

    surfer stud, you are such a badass.

  4. jess Aug 3, 12:53 PM

    surfer stud, your badassitude is duly noted.

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