Wednesday, 1 February 2012

More weight against the shark/oxygen myth

 "This is the self serving conservation pseudo-science you are looking for."

In the last couple of weeks, calls for the debunking of the "kill sharks and we'll all die 'cos the oxygen will go" myth have surfaced again and over at The Best Shark Dive in the World, Mike has now had his say here.

Mike's post is a more detailed variation on the theme laid out last week by Rick and Patric and is probably the best of the three purely owing to the detail. This blog isn't my weighing in because that would be pointless as I would have nothing to add of any value that they have left out and because I am not an environmental biologist, this is just me pointing you, my faithful reader, to these articles and imploring you to read them.

I am not perfect, not by any stretch (hard to believe, I know,) and I did once buy into the idea that sharks help regulate oxygen etc because I didn't really have a reason not to, I had seen it on the shark conservation "big bang" that was "Sharkwater" and I thought, "hey, that's an interesting concept, I'd not thought of it like that before," and because the dude telling me was a biologist, I didn't feel it was my place to second guess it.

I am not a biologist, nor do I feel the need to claim to be one to validate what I am saying, I'm just a dude that likes sharks a lot and so with that in mind, when I don't know something, or I at least start to question something, I ask people who do know what they're talking about and whose opinions I trust. Having done that with regards to this particular subject I now understand a lot more and see that yes, it is complete nonsense.

It shouldn't be a big deal, we all disagree about things and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact it can be a good thing, but in this day and age of de rigeur shark conservation, it appears that the only qualification one needs to qualify as a "shark advocate," "shark conservation researcher," "shark and marine life saver" or any other wanky, self important label, is a copy of Sharkwater and a condescending, patronising, westernised view of other nations and people as uneducated savages who must be gentrified at all costs.

Why so annoyed? Well, because we are being treated like we are stupid and that annoys me, I am not stupid, nor probably are you. There is zero scientific proof to back up the shark/oxygen theory yet it is the go to argument when mithering every restaurant, city, government or nation to stop shark finning. Shark conservation existed before 2006 and the bull in a china shop approach since then carries with it a severe risk of damaging the credible work done by credible people long before then.

For anyone who wants to either wind you up, or has a more sinister interest in the harvesting of sharks, it's easy for them to discredit you and everything you stand for with two words, "prove it," because we can't. We have to know our limitations, it isn't your fault if you don't know much about sharks, if you have never seen one or you are new into this whole thing, the most important and pivotal factor in the conservation of anything is enthusiasm and passion, if you have that, you don't need to pretend you are the second coming of Eugenie Clark because, guess what, you're not, you're you, you believe in something and you want to help, concentrate on that and be positive!

I certainly don't want you to feel this is criticism of you if you, like I did, espouse this myth, it isn't, nor am I telling you you have to believe everything written in the linked blogs, all I'm saying, is don't be afraid to question things and at least now you have the chance to research the subject further, if we want to start "educating" others, then we need to educate ourselves first. Secondly, I don't think it is our place to appoint ourselves in any position to "educate" anyone, we should instead concentrate on inspiring others.

I actually get contacted a lot, in private, by people who want to talk to me about a variety of the shark related things I speak about, people who, if you are on any of the zillions of shark related facebook groups, you will know of, who want to ask me questions or discuss various things and do you know why they contact me in private? Because they are worried if they speak up in public, they will be effectively banished and discredited, by a baying mob of devotees to one of the handful of self appointed shark svengalis that are easily visible online, pushing their own agendas behind the facade of "shark conservation."

This is sad to me, sad because the people who contact me have far more to offer than any of those aforementioned svengalis. The most common reason they contact me? Sharks and oxygen and shark attacks, by a mile, two subjects they want to know more about or just want to discuss with a like minded person, due in part, to the fact they feel if they raised the subject with any of their peers, they would be heckled, harassed and harangued, institutionalised into believing that if they don't tow the party line, their opinions are worthless.

We have had stories of online groups where an individual has threatened other admins with "legal action" if they dare to disagree with what he demands, arguments over ownership of ideas and bullying which leaves good natured, well meaning people who want to help, devoid of any confidence, exiled in the online shark conservation abyss. That more people want to be involved and have joined the shark conservation community in however small a capacity since Sharkwater is no bad thing, no bad thing at all because sharks need all the help they can get. Bear in mind though, if you want to be involved in "educating" others, chances are, you need to educate yourself first, don't be afraid to do so and don't be afraid to question what you read, including on here and when it comes to those self appointed Svengalis, remember this, in the words of James Hetfield, "the empty can rattles the most."

In other news, last week this blog passed the 50,000 unique views milestone which, bearing in mind it came from a totally standing start only eighteen months ago with only myself to get it going and keep it moving, is pretty amazing. Thank you to each and every one of you who keeps coming back, your support is enormously appreciated!

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Shark Diver said...

Nicely said sir. BUT it is not for us to prove anything, it is those making the claim to prove or or shut the hell up, lest they be labeled as LIARS!

To wit:

OfficetoOcean said...

That video made me laugh :D

You are of course right, it does bother me that this theory is given some kind of value due to a lot of people not feeling empowered enough to question the people who live by it to sell whatever it is they're flogging.

"Evil exists because good men do nothing."

You know where I was reminded of that saying? "Beauty and the Geek." Make of that what you will :D

Shark Diver said...

Congrats on 50k, he said whilst languidly smoking a French cigarette.