Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sharks: Monsters or the Most Misunderstood Animals on the Planet?

Before I start off this blog I have a pair of announcements.

 The first of these announcements is that this blog is currently on The Shark Research Institute's webpage. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, whether it be your first time reading, or you've been reading since the start, I strongly suggest you visit . That is the website for The Shark Research Institute. There is a plethora of shark information and other shark related news, blogs, and educational materials. I am beyond excited to be on their webpage and am hoping to be able to work with them more in the near future. To anyone who is visiting this blog from The Shark Research Institute would like to say welcome and I hope you enjoy the read!

The second announcement is that this blog will be one of the final blogs of Operation Forgotten so within the next few days I'll do a quick little summary of everything that I covered over the summer. My next operation will be called Operation Kibou. Kibou is Japanese for Hope. The campaign will focus on sharks, dolphins, whales, and to a lesser extent, manta rays. As was the case last year, I will be following Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Campaign. I will also be keeping watch over the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji Japan. To top it off I will continue to blog about sharks, the animals which I personally think are the most important in the sea. Manta rays will not be majorly featured, but if any news involving them breaks, I will be sure to bring it here. As I said, there will be a very short break in this blog. Operation Kibou begins on September 1st... With that all being said, it is time for this blog to get underway.

Sharks have been portrayed in the media as complete and total monsters. The real question though, is is that the reality of sharks? Are they really the monsters that we see in the movies and on T.V.? Common sense would say of course not. However, many people do not feel this way. Ask around and chances are someone who doesn't know much about sharks will say they are dangerous animals that will attack a person should the opportunity present itself. Lets take a bit of a closer look at some of the most famous, or infamous shark movies that are out there and break them down and hopefully make some of the doubters see just how wrong they are. Lets start out with what is a very strange movie about a shark with two heads. This film is called "Two Headed Shark Attack".

Right off the bat, the title of the movie should bring some questions to the seriousness of this movie. Do two headed sharks exist? Yes they do, but they typically do not seem to live for very long. With that being said, do two headed sharks grow to massive sizes and consume everything in their paths including outhouses, and entire landmasses? I think not. In this movie, a two headed great white shark literally wrecks an entire island. Even causing a tsunami to hit the island. No species of shark has the ability to do this. Even the shortfin mako, the fastest shark in the sea, can not even remotely make a wave anywhere near large enough to flood an island. Getting back to our crazed two headed shark... At one point, this shark literally crashes through an outhouse on land and attempts to grab some visitors on the island. It is true that on occasion some sharks will actually beach themselves while chasing fish, but they are not beaching themselves to grab any people. Sharks cannot breathe on land and when they get on land the last thing they want to do is bite a person. In fact when they beach themselves, they want one thing and one thing alone. That of course is to get back in the water.

The next film is more of a hit, but still shows sharks in a light that they really haven't earned. It came out in theaters a oouple years ago and goes by the name of "Shark Night".

By more a hit I mean it actually made it to theaters. Anyway. This film features a group of 7 friends at a vacation home at a salt water lake where 15 species of shark just lie in wait for the friends to enter the water. In this lake the movie showed great whites, hammerheads, sand tigers, and tiger sharks. Apparently other species of shark also exist in the lake, but they weren't seen? So the first thing that I am going to point out is that sharks typically do not live in lakes, even salt water lakes. In fact, the only land locked body of water that I've heard of sharks living in is some golf course in Louisiana where a family of bull sharks got trapped during hurricane Katrina. Other than that, have never heard of sharks living in salt water lakes. Speaking of things that don't frequent salt water lakes... There are lily pads in the lake... Lily pads do not grow in salt water... It is true that some sharks are social. Sand tiger sharks for example are known to spend the daytime hours hovering in groups in caves. However, sand tigers, great whites, tigers, and hammerheads are not known to live with eachother at all.

Third lets quickly look at the most famous shark movie ever made. "Jaws".

The film that started it all. The film that started the whole shark fear epidemic that has gripped the world. The film that started the mass hatred that seems to exist towards sharks. The shark in that movie was was a very, very poor example of a great white shark. First of all great whites do not get quite as large as Jaws. Great white sharks do not mindlessly hunt down people for their next meal. Nearly all shark attacks involving great whites involve one bite and one bite alone. After that bite, the animal usually vanishes, hence they have no interest in eating us. Great whites are known to occasionally approach boats for a closer look, occasionally using their mouths to figure out just what the boat is. This actually happened this summer off of Atlantic City, NJ. There was a white shark that approached and apparently investigated the boat by gently biting it. They are not known to leap onto the back of a boat while roaring and snapping their jaws.

Those are just three examples of shark movies. All three of those movies in some shape or form portray sharks in a very negative light. Since "Jaws" there have been many, many shark movies that have come out. All with similar stories. Sharks are hungry and want to eat you. Even in 2013, people are still scared to death of these animals. So that is sharks in hollywood. Lets now take a look at sharks in real life.

Did you know that every time you step into the ocean you are stepping into the back yard of sharks. Chances are while you are swimming, surfing, etc. there is a shark swimming by you. Whether or not the shark is large is beyond the point. Sharks are sharks. They are always there, but rarely interact with humans and when they do interact with us, it is out of curiosity and not out of bloodlust. They protect the delicate balance of the seas. They hunt down and remove the old and weak out of the oceans. They keep fish populations strong and secure.

 They use their amazing and extraordinary senses to seek out their prey and mates. They are the kings and queens of the seas, but they reproduce so slowly that their populations are not exploding whatsoever. In fact, due to all the things we are doing to them and doing to the oceans, their populations are actually collapsing. Some species of shark have seen their populations decline by an very, very alarming 99% since the 1970s.

It's a scary fact, but it is a true fact. Many people still think that sharks are the monsters that are seen in movies like "Jaws" and "Shark Night". People are killing sharks for their fins, their teeth, their skin, but rarely to eat. So who is really the monster? Is it the animal that is responsible for keeping the delicate balance of the oceans in tact? Or is it the animal that dumps millions of pounds of trash, oil, and other things into the sea? Is it the animal that occasionally may bite a person? Or is it the animal that kills over 100 million of the other animal every year? Is it the animal that has existed since before the time of the dinosaurs? Or is it the animal whose only been on Earth for a few thousand years and has managed to reach the moon, but only scope out 5% of the ocean? I think the answer is pretty easy. I think the two different animals are easy to distinguish as well. One of them is the shark.

 The other is man.

 So who is the real monster? In my opinion, man is by far the real monster. We have virtually destoryed the oceans. We have destroyed the rainforests. We kill over 100 million sharks every year. Sharks kill on average, fewer than 10 humans per year. If your knowledge is based on movies, then you would think it is the other way around, but this is the truth. This is the reality of the world we live in. We have brought the oceans to their knees and there is only so much time left for us to act and reverse the damage we have done to sharks and the other animals of the sea.


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  2. This has completely changed my point of view. Thank you

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for reading and I'm glad I could help give you a bit of a different view of these animals :)