24 March, 2013

Great white shark attempts to kill divers - sent by Al-Qaeda...

Why not kick off the Shark Alley blog with one of the most controversial videos from Gansbaai?  

This video had 110 views on Friday and now at the time of posting has nearly 1 million!  It's the Gangnam Style of white shark catastrophes!  I can easily tell which company that cage belongs to – but does it matter?  Videos like this impact the entire industry – from Gansbaai to Guadalupe – so finger pointing is neither hither nor thither (although maybe someone should recalc those openings – sheesh!).  Amongst the general malarkey, this incident has brought back one of my favourite failures of logic against cage diving: 

“…but if we were to drag impala heads on ropes for lions to chase towards game drive vehicles there would be a huge outcry, why is there not the same with sharks - its baiting pure and simple! “

Big 5 game lodges dig waterholes nearby their premises so that clients can see wildlife, essentially chumming for lions, hippos, elephants etc.  Is this so different?  Also, I think it’s a tad na├»ve to pretend that the loud landies clients chase around wildlife in aren’t serving as indirect signals to nearby predators of prey abundance.  EDIT: Crazed giraffe attacks vehicle - but don't worry, it was just elevated hormones that caused him to charge the nearest moving vehicle.  Perhaps this shark was just trying to mate with the diver?  It's disturbing how that is more 'acceptable'... 

Think of all the incredible wildlife encounters you have ever had – was there a lure of some sort involved?  Why do I never see anyone rally against bird-feeders? Perhaps there is no huge outcry about shark baiting/luring/chumming because there is no research that support these emotional arguments, in fact, quite the opposite!

The bottom line is, if you want to see wildlife – specifically sharks – within the narrow-attention span of the tourism world, you have only two options; 1) lure in your wildlife in areas of their abundance, or 2) keep them captive.  I’d rather white sharks were kept wild with the off-chance of freak accidents like this than the latter.  Yes you could also sit for months nearby seal colonies on the off-chance to see a white shark, but only a rare breed of humans (called ‘researchers’) have that kind of patience.

So, what happened to this shark to possess it to lunge at the cage?  Fuck knows, white shark behaviour is an imperfect science because each individual animal will react uniquely to stimuli.  I have seen a shark fully breach attack kelp, I have had a shark ram my engine full speed out of no-where, I have had a shark lunge at a shadow.  They are not known for their complex reasoning skills and their ‘bite first, ask questions later’ method makes them terribly efficient predators.  Before we started filling the ocean with non-organic things (like cages and seal decoys) this was fool-proof shark logic.  However, various media outlets have found the natural explanation, the shark was most certainly trying to kill the divers inside – and sharks have fangs!

What I find most disturbing about this video is the reaction, or lack-thereof, of the people/crew.  No one attempts to help the people in the cage (or the shark), and once the shark frees itself (luckily) the people erupt in awesome hoots and hollers like that’s the best shit ever.  What kind of weird shark culture is this?

We will keep our eyes out for this shark (i.e. one that has torn out gills - see the blood?) and hope that this calls for stronger cage-related regulations to be passed.  The Marine Conservation Science Institute page (and their intelligent commenters) nailed it with this:

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