Wednesday, 7 March 2018

[I wrote this piece five years ago when I was still living in the United States, and my Timeline recently reminded me of this 'event' -- as the holidays draw nearer, I thought this was a good time to reiterate my message]


Spring Break is the student’s (and family!) dream: sand, sun, and no homework or responsibilities for days.  I do not typically take part in the trek down to Myrtle Beach, the Keys, or the Bahamas, but I do live vicariously through the Facebook updates of those who do.

I was recently navigating through the waves of information on my newsfeed, when I was stopped by a disturbing image.  The mouth of a shark was being pried open to show its teeth, which shined bright against the blood, and an old classmate of mine was kneeling beside it, pole in one hand and a smirk on his newly tanned face.

1450905_10202574732276262_1541724197_n.jpg

Now let me stop there for a moment.  I am no stranger to gore.  I grew up in Western New York in a family that hunts for food and I have watched Game of Thrones.  So why did this death horrify me?

It was not the smiles of those who crowded around the shark.  This I have seen in pictures of my family posing with a freshly caught deer (although it does still disturb and upset me).  And it was not the blood that speckled the white jaws.  I think it was the sheer shock of seeing a creature I watched reverently on Shark Week splayed out on the sand, dominated by a man that had been the high school class clown.

1623616_10202984823159758_216590103_n.jpg

The picture was a slap in the face, one that continued to mock me with similar updates over the next few days.  So why did I not just delete these guys who were clearly making me uncomfortable?  Because if I had, they would have continued to ruin much more than my silly attempts to sunbathe via Facebook.

Over half our planet is covered in water, so many believe that the ocean’s resources are unlimited. We can splash all we want to, boat all we want to, and fish all we want to, right?

The NOAA Fisheries claim that in 2011, nearly 2.7 million sharks were caught recreationally by anglers in the U.S.  Of these captured, about 96% were released back into the oceans.  However, that tiny 4% adds up to be over 100,000 sharks.  When you begin piling up the world’s catches, the number of dead quickly grows.



Reports show that the Oceanic White Tip, once one of the most common sharks in the world, is nearly extinct in the Gulf of Mexico, a population crash of almost 99%.  Similar destruction is seen in the Atlantic hammerheads (a drop of 89%) and the Gulf’s silky sharks (90%).

So why are people casting out for sharks?  Big game fishing has a strong pull, with contests advertised along popular beaches and celebrities flaunting their catches.  One man, Peter Burban,  made headlines a few years ago after catching a 1,000lb hammerhead during a Florida competition.  During an interview, Burban states, “If you catch one huge fish, it's like a drug, you cannot stop. It's like motivation to catch bigger and bigger fish.”

Big fish! A Florida angler reeled in the catch of his life as he fished off the South Florida cost

Burban proudly stated that he was able to safely relocate the shark back into the ocean because he had used a circle hook, a tactic many fishermen are using to ensure a successful catch and release. But is there more to this “safe” release than meets the eye?

The University of Miami has recently discovered that the tactic can prove deadly to certain species of shark, including the hammerhead.  Austin Gallagher, head author of the project, says, “Our results show that while some species, like tiger sharks, can sustain and even recover from minimal catch and release fishing, other sharks, such as hammerheads are more sensitive. Our study also revealed that just because a shark swims away after it is released, doesn’t mean that it will survive the encounter.”

Figure credit: A. Gallagher, et al.

Sharks do not give you steak.  They are not running into cars on the highway or tearing up your garden.  There is not a surplus population and the DEC has not issued a control on the animals.  The money for these fishing competitions is not going towards conservation.  And for those shouting about this creature's 'man-eating' qualities, it takes only a minute of fact checking to realize that this simply is not the case.  The US averages less than one human fatality due to shark attacks every two years, yet globally for every twelve people killed an estimated 100-273 million sharks are killed per year.

These extraordinary fish are vulnerable, and may soon be on the brink of extinction due to misinformation, poor regulation, and pure deluded vanity. The only reward you receive for flaunting your catch is bragging rights, and who really wants to gloat about annihilating a species over Spring Break?  I for one would rather get some sun.




What are your thoughts on trophy fishing?  And what would you say to someone who thinks of catching sharks as sport?

19 comments:

  1. I recently turned vegetarian and I am just getting more upset about the cruelty of animals and fish - so shocking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's absolutely awful - I get upset about overfishing as it is, so senseless killing like this just breaks my heart

      Delete
  2. This breaks my heart. Seeing people treat animals like this without any hesitation. "We used safe hooks" as if the shark won't be swimming with a fresh wound for days. This needs to stop and we can do that with little notions, together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only reasons to catch a fish (or any creature) should be to help it or to eat it if you're so inclined, and those both need to be humane. These fish are so impressive, and it hurts me to see stuff like this shrugged off :(

      Delete
  3. Pictures like this really upset me and have such a bad effect on my mental health because I end up thinking about them for days and feel really low. It really breaks my heart that there is so much animal abuse in this world, I believe the people who cause abuse like this need to be on death row themselves. You take a life then you loose your life. Thank you for sharing and making people aware that this happens sadly in our world. 🌸✨

    With love, Alisha Valerie x | www.alishavalerie.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too :( that's why I try not to have pictures show in previews when I know it might be a trigger to someone. I was shattered when this came up on my Facebook feed, especially since it was from someone I went to school with. The main thing I can do is to try to explain why it's not okay, and how thoughtless 'fun' has very real consequences. *hugs*

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really don't like trophy fishing as there's no real gain from it and it's horrible to see that shark out of the water just for some fun x

    ReplyDelete
  6. This post is heart breaking, its so sad to see the photos of those guys not appreciating life and for treating the sharks that way.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Angela Ricardo Bethea8 March 2018 at 05:00

    Seeing those people hurting animals without hesitation are so brutal. It's break my heart so much.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really dislike trophy fishing - I just don't get the fun in it, it's cruel.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think trophy hunting is appalling. Hunting for food and just taking what you need is one thing, but this mindless sport... it's sickening!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Things like this upset me so much - why do people feel the need to be so cruel?!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have always hated the idea of trophy fishing I think it’s just cruel and a bad habit

    ReplyDelete
  12. Trophy killing is not anything I could ever participate in. Whether that's aquatic animals or mammals. I understand the need to kill animals for food and survival but trophy killing doesn't serve a purpose at all. I can't understand why in this case they couldn't catch the shark and re release it. Its death is pointless.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Trophy killing is simply disgusting! I don't even agree with the killings of animals to "control the population", as deer or boars. But sharks and whales.... it's even more disturbing! I recently swam in the ocean with black tipped sharks (which are harmless to humans) and it was such an extraordinary experience. Why would someone want to kill them?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't agree with any type of trophy hunting. Catch what we need for food and kill them humanely and make sure the rest remains free

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is so devastating! I hate animal cruelty! Thank you for sharing this an during awareness!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I had to hurry through those photos as it just breaks my heart. I think it’s disgsuting that anyone would think taking a life is to be seen as a trophy. What a waste of life.

    ReplyDelete

Share your thoughts!

Blogger Subscribe!

Subscribe on Bloglovin!

Follow

Subscribe by Email!

Popular Posts