Monday, 27 October 2008

Tiger White's Demise - A Shark's Fate

Blogging is a wierd process. What to leave in? What to leave out? Some blogs seem to follow each and every turn of the week, from important to ordinary, and others, such it seems as mine, only get added to when there is something that just cannot go unmissed.
Whilst it's always good to be inspired to write something by a turn of good fortune, or an unforgettable day in the water, there are weeks that are so full of bad news that writing about them becomes a must. Last week was such a week.
First of all came reports that Great Whites had been killed on the Queensland coast in Australia by drumlines, and then only a few days afterwards came some saddening images passed onto me by my good friend Wolfgang Leander, who had recived them from friends in Aliwal South Africa. Two large tiger sharks laying dead in a boat, the latest victims to the Natal Sharks Board's rediculous strategy of shark nets and drumlines to 'protect' the public from these incredible animals.
It's always sad to see a dead shark, but these Aliwal animals have become like members of the dive community's family. To see them killed in this unnecessary way is more than just another dead body amongst the annual millions that take place.
But more worrying than the dead sharks is the blatant pig headedness of the protectionate that cause this environmental damage. Both the Australian and South African authorities responded in a shocking 'holier than thou' totalitarianist monologue, of the type historically atttributed to military dictators or perfidious religious leaders.
These imposing bodies claim to exist in the dual interests of public protection and environmental understanding. We know the effectiveness of drumlines to be completely farcical, and really how long can large industrial sized gillnets, that catch all manner of marine life in an indiscriminate fashion really be tolerated by an increasingly environmentally aware public. That said, one imagines the scientific practice from these institutions to be driven by aeons old techniques such as disection, coupled with rows of jars full of stained formaldehyde containing yet further disected shark parts, accompanied by coffee stained and scrumpled pages of derelict notes that will never be peer reviewed.
Why? Because the peers have moved on, unlike the Natal Sharks Board or Queensland's Shark Patrol Program who insist on living with the day before yesterdays methodology. Modern science has moved on from the dark days of yore. Population counts, direct observation, satelite tagging, acoustic tagging, bathymetry and eco system viability are the order of today. Yesterday's decrepit methods of studying dead bodies, and the entire cerebral disfunctionality that goes with it have no place in conservation as it has grown to be.
These governmental organisations are failing. They are failing the animals that we have placed laws by which to protect, and they are failing the people that have put them in their places of power. Their outstanding failure to genuinely understand the animals that they have been placed in a position of power to protect, is only duplicating that ingorance on an unsuspecting public.
The tide must change on this issue.

permission to use photos not obtained. please contact in the event of an issue and i will take them down.