This week is the 367 annual “Shark Week” on the Discovery channel.
I love shark week. Sharks are cool, scary, but cool.
Apparently, according to the “Shark Week” experts, shark’s reputation as man eaters is overdone and sharks are really quite safe. Your chances of getting hit by lightening are 100 times greater than getting bit by a shark. Of course, if you spent the same amount of time swimming in shark infested water as you do out of the water during thunder storms, those odds might be quite a bit different.
Anyway, sharks are cool and I enjoy learning about them on “Shark Week.” I do want to throw a penalty flag on some of their episodes.
A common thread to “Shark Week” segments is:
“Sharks are a valuable part of our eco-system. Without sharks the oceans eco-balance would be disturbed and…we will all die! (some exaggeration on the all die part, but implied.)
Because our continued existence is dependent on sharks, it is incredibly important that we study and learn more about sharks so we can protect their population.” (again some exaggeration, but implied,)
Now I am not throwing the penalty flag on protecting sharks or their importance in our eco-system. I have a nephew who is a marine biologist. His wife is a marine biologist. They are both beyond brilliant. My friend Frog’s son is a marine biologist. He is beyond brilliant. I am certain they would all tell me,
“Yes Uncle Cranky, sharks are very important to the ocean ecology.”
See, I am not arguing that, though it may be a tiny bit overblown, I am questioning how these “Shark Week” experts study sharks. I suspect they are more concerned with getting entertaining content for “Shark Week” than they are in learning about and protecting sharks.
For instance, I just watched an episode where the experts captured a Sleeper Shark. Now, sleeper sharks live over 6000 feet deep, and even though they live to be over 250 years old they are very rare to see.
These experts baited hooks and sank them to sleeper shark depths. They left the hooks overnight and returned the next day where they were ecstatic to have caught an 8-footer (small for sleeper sharks).
They raved about how important this catch was. They would take all the shark’s statistics, length weight etc., tag it and release it.
“This is an incredible opportunity. To capture one of these magnificent animals is super rare. We can tag it and later learn about its habits; where it feeds, how fast it grows, all information which will help us to preserve the species and save all humanity from extinction.” (They did not say that last part, but again, it was kind of implied.)
Anyway, here is my problem with all this.
Hooking a large animal at 6000 feet deep and not pulling it up for a day must be very stressful on that animal. It seems to me hauling it up 6000 feet must not be good for the animal (do large fish get the bends?) Finally, if it is so super rare to capture this animal, how valuable will tagging it be? I mean will it ever be caught again to gather all that valuable information?
I say, if you want to preserve this species, leave it the frig alone! The damn things live over 250 years, I don’t think they need our help. The capture and tag charade in this case was more about content for TV than it was to save the sleeper shark.
It was however, very cool, and interesting.
BTW, sleeper sharks are not known to attack people (maybe because people don’t often swim 6000 feet below the surface) so you are safer swimming with sleeper sharks than playing golf in the rain.