Friday, September 12, 2008


When I was a little girl, I lived near the ocean. Not right beside it but for many who live in the lower mainland of British Columbia, the closeness of the ocean is well known. I loved the ocean. Loved spending days exploring the beaches, staring at star fish, digging up sand dollars and I loved taking the ferry over to the Island. At one point in my life, I had wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

Still, even with my love of the ocean, I was partly afraid of it. This was the body of water that had sea monsters in it after all; sharks patrolled the depths, and I had heard horror stories of Blue Sharks and Mako Sharks. Forget about the Great Whites, there were lots of other monster sharks in the sea and they were all longing for a chance to taste human flesh. (I have mentioned before that I have an active imagination, now pair that with a little girl and her imagination)

Needless to say, I was terrified but it didn't drive me from the ocean and I wanted to swim through the water even more. I didn't really give any thought towards fishing sharks and after I moved away from the ocean, I didn't give much thought to sharks at all. They weren't a concern for me anymore since I was landlocked.

It seems to be a sentiment that so many people share. It's not a concern that affects me, so why be concerned. I was instinctively afraid of sharks and although I couldn't condone this instinctual fear when it was targeted against my favorite animal, the wolf, I could condone it against sharks.

It wasn't until I was an adult and living in Cincinnati that I really saw the error of how I was thinking. There I was, enjoying the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky (for those who aren't familiar with the area, Cincinnati is just across the river from Newport, Kentucky) and I decided to stop in and see the shark show. The divers in the tank seemed completely at home but they weren't what captivated my attention, it was the beautiful sharks that glided around them. They were breathtaking and I realized that my fear of them was a little outdated. My son was in awe and after the show, we quickly moved to the tunnels where the sharks would be swimming around us.

And that was amazing. I longed to be in the water, touching them as they swam past and it was almost overwhelming being in a tunnel where they swam over my head or under my feet. They were pure grace and although they were predators, I didn't feel the dislike I had as a child.

I wasn't so reformed that I rushed out to the nearest ocean and went diving. For one thing, I didn't have immediate access to the ocean, for another, I know absolutely nothing about scuba diving (although I have done snorkeling). The only thing that had changed was my opinion of them and I found myself watching documentaries about them.

Which is what I did last night. I watched Sharkwater. I had wanted to see it since it was in the theatre but I rarely see anything in the theatre and the last few movies that I have seen has been children's movies. Then, much like countless other movies that I had wanted to see, I forgot about it until I saw it advertised on a movie station.

In regards to movies, I probably wouldn't say that it was a must have for me but I will say that it is definitely a must watch. Everyone should watch it because this is a problem that everyone is a part of. Whether you eat shark fin soup or not, it is up to everyone to try and save the creatures that share this planet with us.

You might not believe in evolution, you might not believe in creation, but regardless of what you believe there is an infinite truth; everything in this world has a purpose. Each life force on this planet lives off another, whether it is the herbivores that eat the plants or the carnivores that eat the herbivores, every animal has a role to fill. Sharks are an apex predator and one thing that I have always been aware of is that man usually hates apex predators. Maybe we see ourselves in them, maybe we see competition for the top spot but regardless of what it is that we see, we often fear them.

There are countless stories of the evil of wolves, countless stories about lions, countless stories about apex predators and how they will try to devour humans at any opportunity. Despite these stories, we have come to realize that these animals are merely that, animals. When they attack, it is often a case of mistaken identity, starvation, protection or even disease. It is not premeditated, it is not evil.

Ok, I'm am starting to rant so it is probably best if I stop right now. My main point of all of this is that things should be done to save sharks. Long-line fishing should be banned across the planet, much like whaling, and people should stop eating shark fin soup. I'm not overly squeamish but watching people hack off the fins of sharks, while they are still alive, made me close my eyes.

So, I am recommending that you watch Sharkwater and I also recommend that you stop by a few of the sites promoted by the movie. Regardless of your feelings about sharks, they are an apex predator and something that we have seen time and time again is the fact that apex predators are essential for the health of the eco-system around them.


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