Fortunately, the tide is turning, and not just in the sharks’ favour. In a survey of Western Australians conducted at the time of last year’s shark cull, over 80 percent didn’t want the cull to go ahead.
That’s well and good for the sharks, one might argue, but what happens when their numbers explode and more and more shark incidents occur?
In some regards, this could be called a valid argument, but it has been proven time and again that shark culls are ineffective in reducing the numbers of incidents.
Instead, we should be looking towards something man has excelled in above all other living creatures: technology.
“Speaking for Sea Shepherd Australia,” says Nicole, “it’s really important to push these new technologies and alternatives that are available to us now, which have been proven to protect sharks, humans and other marine life.”
Eco shark barriers, video surveillance, shark towers and projects such as the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker iPhone app have all been shown to be an effective means of reducing the threat to humans. In South Africa, a region particularly rife in shark activity, surfers have united to create early warning systems, using flags, spotting towers and other methods to alert water-goers to the presence of sharks before it’s too late – preventative steps that save lives.
Education, too, plays a key role in prevention. Rallies and talks create a greater awareness within oceanside communities that these creatures are present, they do make mistakes, but ultimately it is up to us to remove ourselves from the danger, and not remove the danger from us.
“Sharks are keeping our oceans healthy, which in turn keeps life on land healthy, so really, we owe our very existence to a lot of these animals, the level of negative media they get is very concerning.”
It seems ironic that we have so many far greater threats that we have created, but that have become socially acceptable; cigarettes and alcohol, weapons and firearms, even driving your car, place you in infinitely more danger than entering the territory of these beautiful and misunderstood creatures.
“The very same people who are calling for the culling of sharks would be more than happy to jump into their car and drive to work every day,” reflects Nicole, “not acknowledging that it’s about one and a half thousand times more likely that they would die on their way to work than out in the water with a shark right next to them.”
We cannot blame a dog for barking, we cannot blame a wasp for stinging. Sharks do not bite out of malice or spite, they bite because they are curious and because that is what they naturally do. It is not up to the sharks to leave their home, through nets or lines or culls. It is up to us to respect these creatures and the wild environment in which they live and that we are blessed to share.
A man died today. Our hearts go out to his friends and family.