Who’s Biting Who?

Are sharks wrongly accused?  We don’t often think of them as gentle, peaceful creatures.  These black-tip, reef sharks certainly look peaceful here — swimming around quietly with the other fish in their aquatic home at the Waikiki Aquarium.  If anything, you might even call them friendly.   

Two black-tip reef sharks swim quietly at Waikiki Aquarium

The ones at Sea Life Park hide at the bottom of the tank during the daylight hours but these guys swim by and glance at admirers with mild curiosity.   I remember the first time I saw them up close and personal like this.  I was beside myself with awe and admiration and couldn’t take my eyes off of them.  Even now the sight of them nearly has me in tears. 

Obviously, I’m not the only nut case that has an attraction to this particular ocean creature.  Bobbie, over at The Right Blue, can share the drama from a fish’s-eye view.  Nobody shares the water more intimately with the sharks and the other aquatic wildlife, more than divers do. With that in mind, nobody can feel the pangs of animal cruelty like a diver can either!

The underside of a shark swimming overhead

Yes, they are scary to behold but that’s because some fiction writers (love them as I do) and our own beloved Hollywood movie makers have distorted the true character of these aquatic marvels in the interest of providing us with some great entertainment. 

The truth of it is, these ocean dwellers have little to no interest in us.  We taste junk!  They obvioulsy don’t know our race very well because they mistake us for seals and sea lions and the like.  In other words, they mistake us for lunch.    In reality, their biggest danger is us. 

We need them.  They are essential to the balance of the ecosystem and without them our oceans may end up like so many swamp lands that are either tarnished, polluted, or completely destroyed after the upheaval of their environmental balance.  There have been instances where the loss of just one essential life form was enough to throw the entire ecological system of an area out of whack.  

My philosophy is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Our attempts at “fixing” things are exactly what’s leaving them broken!  Our sharks may be joining the humpback whales on the endangered species list if we’re not careful.  Remember insisting on buying dolphin-safe tuna?  We’re going to need a new label soon:  “Dolphin & Shark-Safe” tuna!  

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jennifer // Feb 11, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I think it would be an amazing thing to swim with sharks — and that was a sad story in your link. What are people thinking???

  • 2 Evelyn // Feb 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve got to tell you, Jennifer, I was so excited about the idea of going down in the metal cage to see them even more up close and personal! My husband panned the idea but I haven’t given up on it! 🙂

  • 3 The Right Blue // Feb 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Aloha Evelyn –

    You are so right. MOST of the time MOST of the sharks leave MOST of us alone. That includes Tiger Sharks — the critter people in Hawaii seem to fear most. Statistics collected by the Hawaii State Dept. of health (and others) show that about once a year, on average, someone is bitten by a Tiger Shark. The majority of these ‘attacks’ are not fatal. Compare this statistic to an average of 50 drownings per year in waters around the Aloha State. Sharks simply are not the scary problem that so many people imagine them to be.

    Bobbie

    P.S. Thanks for linking to my article.

  • 4 Keahi Pelayo // Feb 12, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Let me think. I am a shark and I can eat a hard shelled turtle or a soft tasty human? Hmmm, I go for the latter not the former.
    Aloha,
    Keahi

  • 5 Evelyn // Feb 12, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    It was a great article, Bobbie and I appreciate your expertise on topics like this. Thank you for keeping up on that statistical information as well!

    I’m guilty, I admit it — as much as I love them I hesitate jumping into waters just off of places like Yokohama just because I know they’re out there somewhere and I imagine them to be very hungry. If I had a lick of diving sense I would probably think a third time and know they are probably quite full since even the reef fishing off those shores can bring home a lot of tasty fish.

    I wish I could get a picture or two of those in the wild off of the Leeward coast of Oahu. I’ll bet they’re fat and sassy!

  • 6 Evelyn // Feb 12, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Keahi, you are such a nut! I think I would skip both entrees myself. 🙂 The honu (turtles) have made quite a recovery from what I hear. But, I’m still not going to ask for turtle soup anytime soon!

  • 7 Bobby Revell // Feb 13, 2009 at 6:26 am

    In a cage Evelyn? You scaredy cat! I’ve always wanted to ride on a great white’s back but I’m afraid of them LOL!

    It’s amazing how when a diver is bitten, a crew goes out and randomly kills sharks trying to find the culprit. I sometime get irritated when people live near wild life–like when joggers are eaten by mountain lions–and they kill dozens of them in retaliation. I say move somewhere else.

  • 8 Evelyn // Feb 13, 2009 at 7:01 am

    You know, Bobby, I would like to touch the back of one — from the shows I’ve seen on the Discovery channel, Nat Geo and the like, their skin is supposed to be like sandpaper, as opposed to the smooth skin of the dolphin.

    I would love to free one that gets caught in a net set by fishermen and then grab its dorsal fin for a tow back to shore. We can dream.

    Your final, move-somewhere-else comment brings up something I wanted to mention. The ocean is the shark’s turf. We are the invaders, the illegal trespassers if you will. We’re lucky they tolerate us as much as they do!

    Do we go out and kill alligators when they bite someone in a Mississippi swamp? I don’t know. I can’t imagine that they would scale the entire swamp land to wipe them out.

    What happens when an alligator moves into someone’s swimming pool during the dry months? I don’t know how they can tolerate the chlorine, but aside from that, do animal-control people come if you call and safely remove the scaly fellow before he eats the family dog?

  • 9 Bobby Revell // Feb 13, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Well, we don’t have many alligators here hahaha! About 100 miles west in Louisiana they are loaded down with them. A city crew captures the rogue gators and puts them back in the swamp.

    In Louisiana, alligators and turtles are popular foods. People are sometimes appalled by that, but it’s natural to local residents as it’s a natural food source for the Cajuns–and thought of like fish. I don’t eat them though. I prefer chicken, fish and shrimp 🙂

  • 10 Evelyn // Feb 14, 2009 at 8:00 am

    The wealth of knowledge that bloggers have to share! I don’t think I would want to eat any alligator soup either. It’s fascinating to hear that they return them to the swamp rather than dispose of them. Thanks, Bobby, for sharing!

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