Saturday, April 26, 2014

West Australian Shark Slaughter Continues to be 100% Ineffective

Greetings everyone, it has been too long. I apologize for that. I mentioned in my last blog that I wasn't sure how much I was going to be able to do blogwise due to my clinicals going on on top of work. Let me just say that it has been pretty much nonstop for me over here, but just because I have had literally zero time off doesn't mean I have lost touch or lost sight of what is going on in the world. So with that being said, let us return to West Australia where the bloody shark cull aka a tiger shark holocaust has continued to cost the lives of many tiger sharks and strangely enough no great whites. Now though pretty frightening news has surfaced that threatens the lives of hundreds more. The West Australian Government has applied to extend the cull for another three years. As is the case this year, the 72 drum lines would be in play from November through April over the course of the next three years. The application however has come under scrutiny by the West Australian EPA who will be conducting an investigation into the cull to see just how needed it really is.

As was the case back when the whole bloody slaughter started, the answer to the EPA's question is that this cull is completely unessesary. If anything has been proven over the last several months it is that great whites are not simply prowling just off the beaches of West Australia. Looking at the cathes again, nearly every shark caught was a tiger shark. Three "sharks" for some reason went unidentified, but rumors have swirrled that one of these was actually a baby dolphin while others were undersized sharks that should have been released, but weren't. Not one mention of a great white being caught. In fact, until recenty no great whites had even been seen. So if these animals are not going around and killing people, why try to kill them. Yes there have been shark attacks since this cull started. No proof has come out at all as to which species of shark was responsible for any of them. So why does that make it ok to countinue blaming sharks that more and more look innocent and try to exend the cull for another three years? It's a large question that I cannot truly answer, but I can offer possibilities on.

One possibility remains just pure ignorance. The West Australian Government still truly believes that this cull is making beaches safer. Out of the targeted three species, the bull, tiger, and great white, only tiger sharks have been confirmed. Tiger sharks are also the least threatning out of the three and have not been responsible for a human fatality in West Australia in roughly 40 years. So the question with them is why are they even on the list. Clearly if they were that dangerous there would be far more shark attacks in West Australia if the number caught is any indication. The danger of this cull still has nothing to do with the sharks themselves, but rather the people who insist on baiting them close to shore. They are intentionally trying to pull these animals close to shore by placing the drumlines where they do. The shark smells food close to shore so it moves inland. That shark gets caught and shot and bleeds all over. That blood goes into the ocean and attracts more sharks. It's a vicious cycle. Yes they are killing the sharks which is what they want, but what is the excuse going to be when the shark decided it'd rather investigate what all the splashing is a short distance from where it smells the food? What happens when someone inevitably gets hurt? Will the government seek to extend it's program and continue denying that the cull is a bad idea overall? Probably. The problems will only grow from there.

Another possibilty is that this whole thing is out of an irrational fear. For some reason the West Australian Government blames sharks for a decreased tourist population. Yes, you read that right. That sounds like something out of World War I when Americans believed that Germany actually had trained sharks to patrol the East coast and pick off random bathers. Sounds a little silly doesn't it? Look at the state of the global economoy and tell me just how easy it is to afford extravagant vacations. Sure for some it's easy, but for many it's not. Sharks have literally nothing to do with a decrease in tourism in West Australia and frankly, if the only thing to do is go in the ocean there, then I personally don't see a reason to vacation there anyway. The fear that these animal have somehow paralyzed people into staying away from West Australia is simply ludacrious. 

Whatever the reason, there is no true excuse for this... Warning... Graphic images ahead...





















Photo: a 3+m tiger shot 4 times at  Mullaloo

Photo: No words :(







All of the above photos are from Donna Martin and West Australians for Shark Conservation on Facebook



I guess you can come up with many conclusions as to why this cull is truly taking place, but as it winds down for the season, several things remains clear. The majority of people are against it, conservationists are not going to stop fighting it until it does stop, and each shark that this cull kills is further endangering species of shark that are currently threatened with extinction. The tiger shark is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN's Red List. That is just one small step below the Vulnerable status of the protected (except in West Australia) great white. The bull shark is also Near Threatened. Systematically trying to wipe out as many as possible will cause dramatic and devastating damage to the populations of those sharks in West Australia and the entire ecosystem around them. Until the West Australian Government sees this truth they will continue to be the ones literally trying to destroy their own oceans in an attempt to somehow make beaches safer. Also... Don't forget this...

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