My personal campaign to raise shark awareness began when the entire community of hundreds of sharks that I was studying, as animals and individuals, were finned for shark fin soup, and when I tried to get help in protecting them, I came up against the Shark Week mentality, the mentality that declares that sharks should be slaughtered to extinction.
Yet sharks had turned out to be the most interesting and intelligent animals I had ever studied, so different from the way they are shown on Shark Week and other media extravaganzas, that it was hard to believe that they were the same animals I knew so well—sharks are simply not the dangerously stupid automatons that popular media will have us believe—they are not low, cold, and murderous monsters.
They are ordinary animals, thinking about the events in their lives and responding intelligently. By their actions, sharks reveal that they are self-aware, form companionships, make swift decisions depending on the circumstances, and can plan to influence an event in the future. They enjoy socializing, communicate through posturing and gestures, and are capable of influencing each other. They can become highly emotional, yet are peaceful among themselves. Unlike many other animals, including humans, they do not fight!
Yet, because of the way they have been presented in the media for so many decades, fish and sharks are treated worse than any other animals, though they suffer just as much, and the bias against them is not even recognized. If you are caught fighting dogs or chickens in Florida, you are guilty of a felony, but it is perfectly legal to brutalize sharks—fighting sharks is considered a prime entertainment.
Due to the hatred raised against them by such shows, sharks and fish have not been protected by law from brutality, as other animals have. Yet they suffer just as much. They way sharks have been presented in the media has been lethally harmful to them.
The continuous diet of shark horror shows that is served up has raised a barrier to their protection, and allowed them to be brutally slaughtered by "monster hunters" with no public outcry of protest. People really believe that sharks behave the way they are presented on television, but they do not.
That is why I have followed up the many articles I have written about them with a book describing The True Nature of Sharks, and as part of this campaign, I invite Discovery to join us, and begin to show the viewers of Shark Week what sharks are really like.
Please join me in working on raising shark awareness, firstly by telling others about the problem, and sharing information with your social network, and secondly by denouncing the monster image whenever it comes up in discussions on the Internet, and tell others the truth about sharks.
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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 predom
When I was on Shark Week in 2004, I gave this message to their film crew and presenter, Mike DeGruy. But it was suppressed because it contradicted the dangerously stupid and bloody-toothed image of sharks that they wanted to convey. So it is now in a short video, along with the news that what is known about wild shark behavior has now been published. Sharks are not the cold and senseless monsters described by fisheries science and the media. They are ordinary animals, thinking about their lives, each one with a perspective that matters to him. The True Nature of Sharks is a full scale exploration of wild shark behavior. Drawn from fifteen years of observing sharks underwater as animals and individuals, it reveals a new dimension of understanding of their lives. This timely book will make the mysterious world of sharks come alive for you, and show you how the flexible and complex actions of the sharks reveals their conscious intelligence.
In 2014, Discovery Channel again followed its tried and true formula of using sharks to generate millions of dollars, by presenting them as monsters just waiting to get their teeth into the viewers. Discovery's angle seems to hinge on the fear people have of the unknown, and especially the unknown in the water where they swim. Shark Week has been so good at tweaking and magnifying this fear, that generations of viewers who grew up watching the show are afraid to go in the water. Yet, all over the world wild sharks are welcome visitors during shark dives. How is this possible, without the divers being torn apart? I asked divers to describe what they felt on finding themselves deep in the sea, surrounded by sharks, and they used similar words to describe their feelings. In every case, they spoke of being thrilled by the experience. Not frightened. Many expressed having a transcendent experience on meeting sharks for the first time, saying that nothing had prepared the