Monday, 13 February 2012

Some things I like

If you visited this blog yesterday, you might have seen a piece I wrote about the politics, fallacies and bad guys of shark conservation, as is usually the case, I didn't really pull any punches but, although fully sticking to everything I wrote, I decided to pull it. It's actually the second blog I've pulled this year because my new year's resolution was to focus more on the positives and less on giving further exposure to people who grasp at any opportunity to appear in the limelight so with that in mind, I thought it would be better to give a platform to people who deserve it!

Gary Adkison (left) and Alex (centre)

Alex The Sharkman  in Malta is someone of whom I've been aware for god knows how many years, probably around fifteen or so and he's one of the few who I can relate to in the 21st century shark community. I don't know Alex personally unfortunately but I am reliably informed by mutual friends in the shark world that he is a great guy so that will do for me.  Alex was  around and involved with sharks long before it became the cause celebre it is today and when there were precious few of us, particularly in Europe. I would use the resources provided by his website in conjunction with those of the European Shark Research Bureau, run by Ian Fergusson, (another man for whom I have the utmost respect and who is, in my opinion,  the go to guy for info about European sharks, in particular the Great White) to keep up to date with all the current Euro-shark news and always enjoyed the totally unpretentious, passionate and enthusiastic way in which he writes.

Alex has just uploaded his interview with Gary Adkison and it's well worth a read.The word legend is used far too much but Gary is a bona fide shark conservation and shark diving legend, in fact, it's probably fair to say it was he and his wife Brenda who invented the commercial shark diving model we see around the world today. I have never met Gary either but I have had the pleasure of spending time with Brenda and it was an honour. She is a wonderful, kind, articulate and intelligent woman with whom I would have loved to spend many more hours discussing a world of topics. The Adkisons are a credit to the shark world, a world which is in desperate need of more of their type. I'm a huge fan and I'm sure you will be too when you have read the interview.

South Africa is a mess when it comes to shark conservation, rivalling Australia  for their complete inaction when confronted with the numerous shark harming things that go on there (Bulls and Tigers being fished out of Aliwal Shoal, people catching and killing Great Whites etc) and for all the bluster, pretty pictures, shocking pictures and glossy PSA videos that emanate from the usual sources, nothing is actually being done or achieved, it speaks volumes that one of the groups over there quickly gave up and fled the country when the first better offer arose and completely pissed away a golden opportunity to be one of the best NGOs out there.

Thank god then for Afrioceans and Lesley Rochat. Here is an organisation which has been quietly going about its business and trying to make a difference where it counts, the local youngsters from all kinds of cultures and communities, involving them in positive, pro-active and media friendly projects designed to have a lasting legacy. Where other groups may be content for their legacy to become a Facebook group overrun with people not really doing anything, AfriOceans continue to push against at best apathy and at worst, bureaucratic resistance to try and change the bleak future for South Africa's sharks.

Although diminutive in stature, Lesley is a tough lady but aside from all that, she is media savvy and at times, creatively brilliant and here is the latest example.

I love  this. Yes, we could go into endless discussion about context when it comes to the probability of injury from shark to more domesticated risks to our health but that would be to completely miss the point. They had sixty seconds to deliver a message and they nailed it, it's creative, fun, cool and hugely appealing. Also brilliant is that the opportunity was given to a group of final year students at a South African animation school to put it together, helping them with a platform for their talent. A huge well done to them especially, they did a great job and if you want to support an organisation trying to make a difference for South Africa's sharks, bear in mind that although glossy photo shoots of pretty people on the beach might look nice, it doesn't do anything, the stuff AfriOceans is doing, does.

Finally, and totally un-shark related, we have the partial conclusion to the "Paradise Lost" documentary series, I say partial because there is still one major detail to be rectified but if you are not aware of the story or the films and you enjoy (not that they can really be enjoyed but you know what I mean) hard hitting documentary films on shocking subject matter, then you absolutely must see these.

I have followed the story of the West Memphis Three since the early '90s and it is one of the most shameful episodes in the already chequered history of the American judicial system, three vulnerable young boys from a community entrenched in poverty and religious zeal, arrested and found guilty of the heinous murder of three young children, despite there being no evidence of their guilt other than the way they dressed and the music they listened to. Despite the evidence and DNA all clearly pointing to their innocence, the judge and jury, through a series of underhand police tactics, lies and religious posturing, sentenced two of the boys to die in jail and the supposed leader, Damien Echols, to death by lethal injection.

What these three films portray, is a broken system, entrenched in medieval religious bigotry in a country which seems unwilling to accept its many, deep rooted flaws. The subject is handled with delicacy, even handedness and grace yet never shirks the issue at hand, and is often a shocking and hard to watch piece of work.

The third and final instalment was released recently and I had the pleasure of seeing it last week and in keeping with everything Joe Berlinger and Bruce Synofsky do, it's brilliant. Find the three films anyway you can, sit back and subject yourself to what is at times unpleasant and difficult, but ultimately, finally, a rewarding look into three exploited, vulnerable children, who in the most appalling of circumstances, grew into remarkable, dignified and articulate men.

More good stuff coming soon, news on Behind Blue Glass (finally!!!) Of Shark and Man and an exciting new partnership!

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krengeseth said...

Hey, I just wanted to say that it's appalling I've never come across this blog before! I, like you, am a major shark enthusiast and having read more of your blog, I have so much respect for what you have done and continue to do. The shark conservation sphere seems to be full of so much nonsense and useless posturing that it's difficult to find anything of substance. I'm glad to have found this blog and will continue to read!

OfficetoOcean said...

Hi krengeseth.

Thanks for your very nice comment mate, I'm glad you're enjoying my blog and it's always a pleasure to connect with like minded people. I hope you keep enjoying future blogs and if there's ever anything you think would be interesting for me to write about or you have any questions at all, please feel free to let me know! :)

Thanks again.