Hello humans out there!
My name is Sharky (simply called "Hai" in German) and readers of this blog might already now me or have caught a glimpse of me on a photo here or there. I am a little shark living in a small town in Austria together with my bigger and smaller brothers and a sister and the nice humans who adopted us.
My little brother is not on the photo, too bad! But my human friend Varis dressed up as one of us :)
I am not from Australia, but Austria. As similar as the names might sound, the countries are very different. There are no wild sharks here, for example. My humans found me in an aqua zoo in Vienna called "Haus des Meeres" (House of the Sea) where they decided to take me with them. Some sharks live in the aquariums there, too, and my humans like to go there to watch them swim and feed. These are small sharks - white and black fin reef sharks, that would not be dangerous to humans even if they wanted to. My humans came to love sharks very much, and so they also grew more and more interested in the sharks out there, in the great big oceans of the world, and the problems that my brother and sister sharks face out there every day. Me, I spend most of my time chilling around, I like to play video games and watch TV with my humans. I have a very happy life. But from time to time, I realize that the outside world is not such a happy place as my home.
Have you ever heard of shark finning? Shark fins are considered a delicacy. In Asia, people like to put it into their soups, but also in Europe sharks end up as food - the so called "Schillerlocken" are strips from the belly of a mud shark (dogfish), smoked so that they curl up, hence the name "Locken" (curls). As a matter of fact, the dogfish is an endangered species due to overfishing, and thus the sale of these is actually forbidden. But from time to time, shark meat turns up on German fish markets, and even in supermarkets. Many people are not even aware that the stuff that they are buying is shark meat, and probably even less know that it is actually forbidden to sell it because the mud sharks are an endangered species.
Shark finning is another kind of problem. The sharks are not just caught, killed, and get eaten. Caught sharks have their fins cut off and get thrown back into the ocean while still alive. As you can imagine, these mutilated animals have no chance of survival, most of them actually suffocate because many shark species have no means of active breathing and require to stay in motion by swimming to get air to their gills.
As a meat eating, predatory animal, of course I understand that you humans must eat too. But we are not talking about a fair competition here. This is no survival of the fittest. You have boats and nets and knives. And you don't just hunt sharks to eat them to survive. You hunt them to mutilate them, and throw them back in the ocean to die a gruesome death. You let kilograms of meat go to waste so you can nibble on our fins. It amazes me that the process of catching a shar to gut, bleed and filet it and sell all of its meat is apparently so much less profitable than catching it and cutting of its fins, that you prefer to throw the rest of the shark back into the ocean like worthless trash. You humans are very strange creatures, and your tastes are even stranger, and your economy and money is probably the strangest thing any living creature has ever come up with on this planet.
You might be the earth's apex predators, but you do not seem to understand the responsibility that your advanced technology brings with it. You have to power to eradicate almost any species on the planet if you tried to - even your own - yet you most often fail to consider what you're doing to this planet and its ecosystems. And simply put, quite often the measures you take to solve a problem are far from helpful and like the proverbial sledgehammer to crack a nut. This is currently proven again by the idiotic policy of West Australian Government, to have sharks killed pro-actively in a feeble attempt to decrease shark attacks on humans.
There is a petition that has already reached over 50.000 signatures, and is currently aiming to hit 75.000.
Please take a moment of your time and read through the information summarized there, to understand why pro-active killing of sharks is utterly senseless and will not help anyone. In order to stop shark attacks on humans by hunting all sharks down, you would most likely have to kill literally ALL sharks in the ocean.
This is such a "human" solution once more. First invading an ecosystem, then declaring it's 'yours' and then, upon realizing that you are not alone, deciding to kill everything in it that might get in your way instead of trying to find a way to co-exist. Well, fortunately not all humans think this way, and some are defending us sharks. I am very thankful for that.
Shark attacks are no to be taken lightly, every victim can account for that - but you should also learn to differentiate between shark attacks. When a surfer has a limb bitten off by a Great White that attacked their surf board, this is different from a person swimming and being bitten in the toes by a Bamboo shark. Yet both are often counted equally and used to compile statistics and numbers that are supposed to prove how dangerous we are. But most sharks are not dangerous. And most shark attacks are not life threatening, rarely attacks occur that are so severe that they are lethal.
Bamboo sharks (and a stingray) at the Haus des Meeres. They are about 15- 20 cm long.
Imagine if the government would react in the same way to other animal attacks.
How about dogs that bite humans? Would you go around and insist that every dog in your country must be killed, because every year, due to irresponsible owners, dogs happen to attack people? Some of these attacks have a deadly end as well. Yet you would probably agree that killing all dogs as a "pro-active" measure would be very stupid and senseless.
In the words of my friend Jacques from Shaaark! ...
In the words of my friend Jacques from Shaaark! ...
I know, we sharks are no domestic animals.
We are wild, and therefore you consider us less predictable, more dangerous. We are not under your command or influence. I admit, you might consider us not very smart because you cannot argue with us or negotiate terms, but I wish we could. We go wherever we want to go, and if you declare a beach 'shark-free' you have to take structural measures in order for it to be so, because we cannot read your signs on the beaches or understand your laws. But is not us who threaten you to extinction. It is you who invade our habitat, because you want to go swimming or surfing in the ocean.
We are wild animals, but we do not want to harm you on purpose.
You are not our food and if we bite you, it's because we mistake you for something edible.
(In all honesty, you actually taste pretty shitty.)
This is why most attacks are just a single bite, after which the attacking animal realizes its mistake and gets off again. We are no mindless killing machines, and we are certainly not 'cruel' - definitely not as cruel as some humans are who systematically mutilate sharks and leave them to suffer until they die a gruesome death.
Therefore I would like to ask all friends and readers of my human friend Varis' blog to take a moment to think about this, and maybe even sign the petition to let WA's government know that they are taking the wrong steps to protect swimmers and surfers.
Sorry. I'm not good at taking seflies. Fins too short, you know.
Thank you for your reading this!
First shark killed in Western Australian shark culling program
Why is there an increase in shark attacks perceived?
A surfer's defense of the great white shark
Video clip on the topic of 'Schillerlocken' (German)
Seashepherd.org on shark finning
A quarter of sharks and rays threatened with extinction