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Shark Week 2009 - Letter to Discovery

From:

THE SHARK GROUP

http://groups.google.com/group/The_Shark_Group?hl=en

September 3, 2009

Open Letter to the Discovery Network


Object: Shark Week 2009,
Discovery's Tribute to The Year of the Shark

Mr. John Hendricks, Founder & Chairman,

Mr. David Zaslav, President & CEO


Sirs,

We, The Shark Group, wrote to you in June, about the nature of the new programs created for Shark Week 2009. We were concerned that you were focusing once more on sharks as dangerous man-eaters, thus misleading your viewers about their true nature, and facilitating their mass slaughter with almost no public sympathy, nor protest. Not only did we not receive a reply, but the programs themselves were worse than their titles and advertising.

You have misread and discounted your viewers in presenting such an extreme shark horror show, with absurd special effects. The contrast with your conservation message was so blatant that it has lost you your credibility.

The reports received predominantly reflect viewer'…

Shark Week, or Human Week?

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August 1, 2009, 9:43 am
Shark Week, or Human Week?
By Andrew C. Revkin

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/shark-week-or-human-week/?hp

The Discovery Channel’s “ Shark Week” is here. There’s a decent amount of conservation info on the Web site and amid the saturation programming that’s otherwise focused on Carcharodon-style carnage. That may work as a kind of bait and switch, drawing eyes with fear and giving them data on environmental damage. (Here’s our review by Mike Hale.)

But I know more than a few marine conservationists and biologists who would rather see a week-long special, call it “Human Week,” on how humans have devastated marine ecosystems, and in particular have devastated shark species. (More here on overfishing, and prospects for change.)
Discovery’s Shark Week Web site asks, “What kind of shark are you?” Many biologists would ask, “What kind of species are we?”

Shark Tournaments and Fishing

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Here is a description of the results of the release of the movie 'Jaws.' It is an excerpt from a book about shark fisherman, Frank Mundus, who led the massacre of sharks off America's East coast. Its called 'In the Slick of the Cricket' by Russell Drumm.

Prior to that, sports fishermen had mostly targeted fish to eat, and considered sharks to be 'inedible as snakes.'

excerpt:

“In Act One, a hundred plastic boats explode to life, tearing out of Montauk harbour (and every other harbour along the East Coast) before dawn, with enough engine and fuel to get them 30 miles offshore and back by evening weigh-in. At a $400 per boat entry fee, its Jaws glory and big cash prizes that drives them on...

“Act Two: In the afternoon. Flags and pennants fly. Blues, makos, hammerheads are raised on gin poles for the triumphant harbour entry. Hoisted again to the scales, in turn, to the ooohs and aaahs of hundreds of onlookers wearing tee-shirts advertising sharks, advertising ma…

On the Interview with Paul Gasek, Shark Week Executive

David Shiffman's interview with Discovery's Shark Week executive Paul Gasek has taken place, and is posted on David's blog.

http://southernfriedscience.com/2009/07/07/interview-with-discovery-channel-executive-paul-gasek/

Gasek failed to address the point of our Manifesto--that his company is making a great deal of money victimizing sharks by cultivating hatred and fear of them, when they are on the verge of extinction.

He failed to address the fact that Discovery is considered by reputation to be an educational channel, so that people believe, when shown sharks as monstrous killing machines, that they really are. The truth is that they are not. People all over the world swim with sharks for pleasure, an activity which is possible because sharks are social, calm, intelligent, and do not target people for food.

As expected, Gasek repeated similar platitudes to those he gave The Shark Group representatives when they met with him. When asked about his background, he said he h…

The Influence of Discovery Channel

Here's the kind of thinking that comes from watching Discovery's Shark Week. Note: the author's attitude to sharks comes from Discovery Channel, and his resulting terror of sharks makes him strongly resist, and write about, how outrageous it is to try to save them from extinction.

Government to spend money on sharks?
by Justin Clarke

June 29, 3:00 PM

http://www.examiner.com/x-7564-SF-Libertarian-Examiner~y2009m6d29-Government-to-spend-money-on-sharks

The house voted on a climate bill this weekend, so I thought I’d ramble o about conserving nature, and wasting money to do it as ineffectively as possible.

I went to ocean beach (OB) on Saturday, hoping to sneak in a quick surf before my bartending shift started. Let me tell you friend, the sea looked angry; I opted to stay dry. Anyone who surfs at OB will tell you that it can get plenty creepy out there on the darker days. The six-mile stretch of beach means that it’s easy to find an uninhabited peak or two, and even easier to wet …

Why Boycott Shark Week?

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Discovery Communications has twisted and warped the interviews of researchers on sharks since 1987 in order to present them as scary and dangerous, while pretending to be telling the scientific truth.

They themselves laughingly call it "shark porn."

Now we are in the Year of the Shark and once again Discovery will make millions of dollars by casting sharks as monsters in Shark Week 2009.

The new titles are:

BLOOD IN THE WATER (focuses on shark attacks)

DAY OF THE SHARK (focuses on shark attacks)

DEADLY WATERS (focuses on shark attacks)

GREAT WHITE APPETITE (focuses on the most frightening shark species)

SHARKBITE SUMMER (focuses on shark attacks)

As the large species of sharks approach extinction, Discovery's deliberate misrepresentation of them to encourage people to hate and fear them, is a crime against life.

All efforts to reason with those responsible have failed, (see below) so the members of The Shark Group felt obliged to go to the next level of protest.

We wrote the follow…

The Manifesto

We, the organizations, researchers, and divers who foresee the imminent extinction of the large shark species, demand a stop to Discovery Communication's dishonest use of sharks for profit.

Since 1987, Discovery Channel has annually presented 'Shark Week.' This week-long series of programs featuring sharks claims to present facts about sharks, and its popularity has earned the company billions of dollars.

Discovery Channel is owned by Discovery Communications, which claims to be “dedicated to upholding the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct.”

Discovery's scientific credibility and reputation has resulted in the wide-spread belief in the truth of the shows televised on Shark Week.

In reality, Discovery uses sharks for the horror-show effect that draws a wide audience. Shark Week dramatizes shark attacks, blood and the animals' unusual dentition, to frighten viewers. Since no true sea monsters have been discovered, Discovery has cast sharks in that rol…

Discovery's View of Sharks

Here's an excellent example of how Discovery twists and warps science to promote the idea that sharks are dangerous killers. To seriously compare the hunting strategies of any predator with that of an obsessive and murderous primate is absurd.

From the perspective of an ethologist, for example, the observation that sharks know when they are visible and when they are hidden indicates self awareness. Discovery's interpretation couldn't be worse for sharks.

If you have not yet signed our Manifesto regarding the wrong that Discovery is doing to sharks, please do so now: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Boycott-Shark-Week

Great White Sharks Hunt Like Serial Killers
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

June 22, 2009 -- Sharks may only kill for food, but they share similar strategies with human serial killers: They lurk out of sight, stalking their victims.

Sharks and human serial killers can both be tracked using geographic profiling, according to a new study that applied this inves…

Rebuttal to Criticisms of Observations of Sharks

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Since my posting resulted in much disagreement by those whose experience with sharks comes from watching television instead of sharks, this added explanation seemed necessary.

I am not implying that sharks do not use their mouths and teeth. Indeed they do, since their mouths are their one part adapted for the manipulation of the solid fraction of their environment.
They investigate objects by picking them up and feeling them with their mouths.

My point is that they don't raise their heads and bite automatically in moments of aggression as terrestrial vertebrates generally do. Even people in extremis will bite; instinct takes over when survival is threatened.

When my sharks got mad at me they didn't bite me--they slammed me.

The late Arthur Myrberg, who was an ethologist, listed many shark species he had watched in nature, and he told me he had never seen sharks fighting. I never saw them fighting either. Further, they maintain little or no inter-animal distance.

I have heard of wh…

Why Portraying Sharks as "Attackers" is Wrong

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As one of the few people who has conducted a long term ethological study of sharks, and the only one who went alone to watch them under a wide variety of circumstances, I have long acquaintance with the phenomenon of fear. Often it took all my psychological force to compose my mind in order to overcome it, when things went wrong, and I found myself in tossing waters opaque with blood, and solid with excited sharks, in an unexpected situation for which I was unprepared. For years, people told me, and I believed myself, that one day I would be bitten, and would bleed to death, or faint and drown, in consequence. Since I was alone, far from shore, often as night was falling, I could expect no one to save me. These circumstances enhanced what appeared to be an instinctive tendency to react with darkening consciousness and soaring terror to certain visual cues. Yet, no matter what happened, no shark bit me, time after time. Once I accidentally kicked one hard in the side--I didn't realize…

Letter to Discovery Founder and President

June 13, 2009

Subject: International Boycott of Shark Week Programs

Mr. John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman,
Mr. David Zaslav, President & CEO,

Dear Sirs,

We, representing The Shark Group, wrote to you in July, 2007, with regards to the inauthentic material shown on Shark Week, portraying sharks as dangerous man-eaters. When your representatives contacted us, after what seemed to be a candid discussion of the problems involved, four of our people spent much time and money to travel to Silversprings, Maryland, to meet with them in your offices.

While at the time it seemed that our points were understood, we have waited to see some results, and found that we were simply ignored. The new programs advertised for Shark Week 2009, make it very clear that you are continuing to use endangered marine animals to provide horror shows for profit, facilitating their mass slaughter with almost no public sympathy, nor protest.

Indeed, Discovery Channel has so effectively convinced their millions of vi…

Our Original Letter about Shark Week

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(pictured above: Our representatives to the meeting with Discovery Communications. Left to right: David Ulloa, Paul Gasek, Steve Fox, Julie Anderson, Maris Kazmers)

From:

The International Shark Discussion List, SHARK -L

http://raven.utc.edu/archives/shark-l.html

July 18th, 2007

To the Discovery Network:

Mr. John Hendricks, Founder & Chairman, and

Mr. David Zaslav, President & CEO

Members of our Internet shark discussion forum, SHARK-L, have been asked by your marketing representatives to help promote your famous Shark Week sequence. This letter, signed by list members and friends, is our formal response to the request from your grass roots agency, New Media Strategies, for our support of the programming.

How can we support Discovery Channel when we are fighting for shark conservation, and its biggest obstacle is the monster image given to sharks by the media, including Shark Week programs? Further, some of us who have been directly involved in the production of your documentaries fee…