Sharks need hugs too

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This week is Shark week on the Discovery Channel and while there are some good quality fact based programmes a lot of them are fictitious nonsense with titles such as , Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine, and Megaladon: The New Evidence. These programmes portray sharks as evil, calculated killing machines which we know just isn’t true. This coupled with the ingrained theme tune to Jaws that a generation of 70’s and 80’s kids like myself have on standby to scare themselves whilst in the sea does little for the sharks reputation. Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel Jaws and the iconic art work that accompanied the film has placed sharks firmly in our subconscious as premeditated man eaters that should be hunted down, killed and feared.

The truth is sharks are in real danger, from us . Sharks kill 5 people a year and we kill 8000 per hour! Yes there are shark attacks on people, there’s no denying that but, the overwhelming evidence is that these are exploratory bites and not an intentional attempt to kill and eat people. It’s so much easier to market a save the panda campaign than a save the shark and I was as guilty of the Jaws effect myself . I never hated sharks I just didn’t care for them and I did have a fear.  I wouldn’t even go into the sea past my waist in Hawaii so loud was that blasted theme tune in my head. On a whale watching Kayak trip that should have been tranquil my heart was beating like a drum imagining 15ft tiger sharks under our measly kayak.  In Thailand I went on a snorkelling trip and didn’t let go of the boat. I’d scream to Dave not to swim too far away from me. I called this my ‘shark thing’, it was a thing not a phobia as it never stopped me enjoying the sea. I know it came from an overactive imagination and having subconsciously absorbed all the ‘sharks will eat you’  bullshit over the years.

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Of course this silliness was all before I started surfing and until a friend suggested I watch a documentary about the finning industry called Sharkwater. He assured me that Sharkwater would wipe out that nervousness I had and would totally change the way I felt about sharks. He was right. This documentary is one of the best I have ever seen.  I never expected to cry buckets watching a documentary about sharks. But, cry I did, and cry and cry even after it had finished. I was heartbroken for sharks. Rob Stewart the film maker is so passionate and puts his all into what he believes in, literally. I won’t tell you every detail of the documentary here or how many awards it won . I just implore you to watch it and to share it and to spread the love for sharks. Here is the trailer and you can watch the whole film  online. It may be 7 years old now but, it’s even more relevent and even more urgent today than ever. If sharks become extinct our planet will die. We need them.

 Sharkwater Website http://www.sharkwater.com/

Rob Stewart Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/rob.sharkwater?fref=ts

Fin Free Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/#!/FinFree?fref=ts