We love drawing sharks. That’s probably obvious since they feature in so many of our sketches and designs. But when you think about it, the poor old shark is a bit of a controversial character. We’re far from experts on the subject and have never been affected negatively by their existence (so perhaps any views from us will be from one side only), but we’ve decided to explore and learn a bit more about our sharky friends, to try and understand them a little better. Here’s what we’ve found out:
We should start with the good stuff – surely there are some awesome reasons to love and embrace our huge fishy friends. Aside from their majestic beauty, lets look at what sharks do for us:
– Sharks are an intricate part of the marine eco system. Love him or loath him, he’s an intricate part in every way to the health of our marine system and our existence could be in jeopardy if he ceased to exist. Wow sharks, I’m impressed at how important you are!
– Sharks are so critical to the balance of the ecosystem. In simplistic terms, they eat the right things to regulate species abundance and keep the numbers of various species in check to help the heath of marine habitats. Thank you sharks, for this we are grateful.
– Sharks control disease in the ocean. Feeding on the weak and the sick – which helps keep gene pools strong and vital, along with eating dead carcasses to help keep the ocean less polluted … this is all stuff I’d rather they were doing than me! Thanks sharks, good job!
– Sharks are so damned interesting! They’ve been around for hundreds of millions of years… longer than dinosaurs they say! They can see at almost 360 degrees and apparently some can heat up their eyeballs to help see better! If you want to study something interesting, study a shark!
IS IT OK TO CULL SHARKS?
Its topical and its controversial – there are people who, when asked this question, throw out the blanket response that “human’s lives are far more important than a shark’s” – but is it really that simple? From what I’ve learned, it would seem that us humans can only exist if sharks keep doing what they doing, which in essence is keeping the marine eco system balanced.
Cull. It’s such a strong word – but what does it mean? In essence, cull is an abbreviated way to describe reducing the shark population by selective slaughter. Sometimes people like to use other ways to describe said slaughter. For example, you may hear a government who implements a cull refering to it as “a shark control programe” or some other “fluffy feel good” term. Interesting. The term cull is pretty brutal – but hey, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck … lets use the word cull and own it.
Shark culling is basically luring the animals – who are merely swimming around in their home – to hooks or nets and then killing them. Presumably to remove them from an area where there may be or have been a threat to human life. So, entering the shark’s home and killing them this way is justified by those running the cull by saying the process makes the ocean safer for humans to be in! There is such a difference of opinion on whether or not this is even effective but as much of this luring (or baiting as its sometimes called) is done far, far out to sea – where humans, quite frankly, don’t even swim – way out where Mr and Mrs Shark are simply trying to get on with life, in their own back yard…. call me crazy – but doesn’t this reek of human arrogance?
And its not just poor old Mr and Mrs Shark feeling the sting on those culls – it seems the traps don’t discriminate – they welcome anything that may be swimming by! Be it a pretty dolphin, a sweet turtle, a majestic dugong….
Of course, shark attacks on humans can take a horrible toll on not only the victims but also the locations in which they happened, by way of economic loss. Tourists may stop visiting a town if they don’t feel safe surfing in a particular spot anymore. So the devastation of a shark attach could result in it negatively impacting entire communities. In a perfect world, there would be some kind of way to ensure humans and sharks could use the ocean in harmony. Therefore it is exciting to learn of some of the new initiatives coming into play with the hope of achieving this. For example, in some places they are now using “smart” drum lines, where hooks send out an alert when triggered by a shark (or whatever it may be) latching onto it – allowing responders to attend the hook site, tag and then release the shark into a safer place. Or, I’ve heard about the electromagnetic cables that are being trialled, which in theory should provide an electromagnetic barrier to discourage sharks from entering certain areas. Seems like some reasonable solutions are under investigation and hopefully something will be implemented to keep both sharks, humans and all the other species that use the ocean as their home – safe.
OTHER STUFF THAT AFFECTS SHARKS
I’ve been researching quite a bit about the ocean, the sharks and other marine events, as I want to ensure I’m doing my own small part in keeping our oceans and beaches happy. I was horrified – yes horrified – to learn that we kill sharks for many other reasons too – and its not just one or two here or there – brace yourself… estimates are that between 100 and 255 MILLION sharks are killed – by humans – every single year!
Some of the reasons we kill sharks include:
– Shark Fin Soup: This involves slicing off the shark’s fin (to use in a soup) and then leaving the shark to die (he would typically sink and suffocate). Estimates are that up to 73 million sharks die this way every single year. For a bowl of soup! Seriously! I had no idea of the scale of this horror.
– General consumption: During commercial fishing, unwanted sharks (amongst a huge amount of other marine species) are scooped up in fishing gear and often thrown back in to the ocean, dead. What a sad and horrible waste.
– Sport: Recreational fishing (ummm sorry, I’m not going to call any activity that involves killing an animal a “sport” – in sport both sides are supposed to know they’re in the game). Anyhow, apparently having a big shark on the end of the hook means your some kind of legend. Meh.
CAN WE STAY SAFER AROUND SHARKS?
Surely a good start to living in harmony with sharks would be for us humans to incorporate a bit of risk analysis into how and when we enter their home. Its never going to eliminate risk entireley – as we are entering their home and they are (hopefully!) always going to be there – but any little bits of advise that may help negate risk are surely good to heed: For example, they say:
– Apparently your better to stay out of the shark’s home in the dark – they can see way better than you can in dark water!
– Keeping a bit closer to the shoreline is common sense, isn’t it? (sorry surfers, this doesn’t help you much)
– Sharks must like jewlery? I heard that you should try not to wear jewlery into the water as they can sometimes see it glint in the sun which may attract them!
– Also interested to learn that you should try and avoid being in water with a temperature of less than 22C (well that’s easy, too cold for me!)
These snippets are well known and well documented, along with other snippets of good advice. I guess at the end of the day, we really need to remember that when we enter the ocean, we are entering the homes of these majestic, beautiful creatures, who have been there for millions of years and are at the top of the food chain in their domain. If they are gone – then what becomes of the eco-system? Human’s cannot live without bees – or sharks! (Well, maybe they could but from what I’ve learned, it would not be pleasant).
Well, thats my two cents worth about sharks. Maybe I’ve over simplified things – there are so many debates online that you can be part of or learn from. But my take on it is that these animals live in the ocean – its their home – and our very existence depends on them flourishing. They are helping us and helping our planet and we should be helping them right back. Their numbers are declining – we need to fix this before it’s too late.
We will continue to celebrate our friend the shark and feature them as a much loved icon on our designs for years to come!