Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mermaid and Tiger Sharks?

This is gonna be a difficult one.
But first, watch this.

Now, read this and then, watch the video.

Yes it certainly is what it is.
To say it mildly, it has generated a lot of interest within the Shark community, and opinions are vehemently divided about whether this is actually conservation or rather, merely one more of those productions - and I'm sure you know what I mean.

Personally, I must confess that I'm conflicted.
I've never met Hannah who for me is a professional doing a difficult job, and this well - but I know both Shawn and Jimmy and in my book, they are good men that care deeply. 

But what is more important, is that they have earned my respect.
Jimmy is without a doubt one of the world's most experienced and renown Shark diving operators and a passionate voice for Shark conservation. 
Shawn has evolved into one of the universally most respected conservationists who combines limitless passion and energy with profound knowledge of the situation especially in the lesser developed countries, with admirable tenacity and the absolute willingness to risk life and limb in his relentless investigation and documentation of the trade, and in the pursuit of realistic solutions. Case in point: his and DaMary's ongoing epic Manta Ray of Hope project (watch this space for an important update!) that has directly led to the listing of the Mantas on CITES 2 and continues to spawn Manta Ray sanctuaries, latest of which in the Maldives.
From that point of view alone, this is certainly miles away from those pathetic self promoting productions featuring the usual menopausally challenged bikinettes, precocious home-schooled brats and media whores - and yes I can certainly leave it at that, they know who they are and so do you!

But is this conservation - and is it effective?
To some it may be art, whereas most Europeans including me would define it as typical American over-the-top new-agesque Kitsch - but be it as it may, the fact is that there is a lot of people who simply love those mermaids, meaning that like Shawn eloquently explains, the outreach is simply phenomenal. 

When it comes to having a real impact, however, not convinced.
This is specifically being framed as a protest against the Aussie Shark cull - and I just cannot see how it is going to influence the decision about whether to extend the slaughter to 2017. The assessment by the WA EPA will be a formal process, and so will be the review by the feds - meaning that if at all (!), the decision makers will be swayed by rational as opposed to emotional arguments.
But who knows, maybe some of them have watched it and something sticks.

Long story short?
On this one, I'm with Jimmy an Shawn.
It has been created by the right people and for the right reasons, the production is impressive, the interactions are respectful, the safety protocols impeccable, the imagery and soundtrack and editing excellent, the outreach unmatched.

So bravo and best of luck.
May I be mistaken and may this effect change.

Not convinced - but fingers crossed!


Megalobomb said...

David Shiffman gave a great talk at Sharks International about the divide between researchers and activists - and videos like this, IMHO, really illustrate this divide quite well.

Researchers, or "sciencey folks", are motivated by logic, facts, tests, etc. Activists, or "pretty much everyone else", are motivated by emotions. While the second video (which is the one getting all the press, not the first one) has incredible emotion - where is the logic? Where are the facts? While it's described as being 'inspiring' - what does it actually inspire the viewer to do/think? 'End the war on sharks' - OK, how? With body paint? It's beautiful, but the logic fails.

Also, just as another tangent, would these videos be just as 'effective for conservation' if they featured an over-weight woman? Or a naked hairy man? Don't think so - but this is a subject for another time (and I'm looking for some volunteers...)!

This is why more of those sciencey folks need to learn how to harness emotional mediums, or, this is why we need more scientific communicators! The day someone successfully marries the logical (left brain) with the emotional (right brain) in communication will be a great day for conservation.

JoySeaGal said...

I'm kinda on the fence with this one. I want to first say Hannah is gorgeous in everyway and is supported by a excellent team. I wasn't happy to see all the fin grabbing thou(at one time 2 are holding shark)and the guy sitting on coral SMH... I feel that is TOTALLY unnecessary and I see no purpose in it other than for personal reasons.I was contacted by a friend that viewed the story on local news and it did sway her to want to learn more about sharks, so in the end it is doing its job of education and awareness. I guess this falls under the lines of the eyes of the beholder in the end. Just a quick question, isn't this the Guad Mermaid?

Shark Diver said...

I'm on the fence on this one as well. It seems like people either have an irrational fear of sharks and think they are mindless killers, or they portray them as harmless, almost like pets.

Most people don't respect them for what they are, awesome predators that are neither mindless killers, nor completely harmless.

This one seems to be somewhere in the middle, which is better than the other stuff I've seen.

JoySeaGal said...

Readding my link due to it not coming up in comment for some reason.

DaShark said...

This link?

Dunno if she is the f@$%ing mermaid.
If so, I wouldn't hold it against her as once again she'd be doing her job - other than calling her an utter fool for risking her life, and that for such an unadulterated piece of horse manure!

Douglas Seifert, World Editor, DIVE Magazine said...

"The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all."

I am not on the fence.

Bad art is bad art.

In my book, anything that denigrates or cheapens nature in the name of anything still denigrates or cheapens nature.

The bright side is one can always fast forward and move on.

DaShark said...


No, probably if they featured an old, hairy overweight bold white male (= e.g. me), naked or otherwise, it would not quite have the same impact - the point being?

So, I learn that Shark conservation consists of, and that there is a divide between researchers and activists = "pretty much everyone else".

He has just lumped Pew with the likes of, to make a pertinent example, Lesley Rochat.
Pretty rich if you ask me - and pretty snotty as well.

The truth is that the conservation universe is way more nuanced, and that the "divide", if there really is one, may only be found at the extremes, e.g. in the clash between supercilious academics on one side and rabid extremist idiots on the other.

In the center there is no such confrontation and on the contrary, researchers and conservation advocates cooperate beautifully and mutually benefit in the process.

The communication gap?
I say, leave it to the pros.
I've seen dozens of embarrassing examples like this and it just doesn't work.
Best have the researchers cooperate with media people whereby the researchers do the research and the media people, the media - much like somebody has done in South Africa!

Megalobomb said...

The point is, if you repeat the video with a naked white guy with hairy cracks, and it somehow doesn't carry the same "conservation message", then your message actually has nothing to do with sharks/conservation, it has to do with the pretty thing. It shows what/who is actually the star of the video. If you replaced the sharks with grizzly bears - would it carry the same message? Yes. But again, it is beautiful, and I like to watch it, but let's not try and call this a win for shark conservation.

As for the divide, chat with Mr. Shiffman about that one, his study is very enlightening!

And no PEW =! Lesley Rochat. Nothing, and I mean nothing can equal that woman. You have left brained people and you have right brained people, most left brained are "sciency folks" which includes researchers, and most everyone else is right brained.

And the other video - it needs more body paint. Nick - I'm looking at you. :)

Lindsay L. Graff said...

perhaps for her next performance, she should wear her zebra outfit and dance with lions....

Shark Stunt Idiot said...

Megalobomb said it first and best.

"End the war on sharks' - OK, how? With body paint?"

Seriously, just because one group did it a Guad (universally hated) and one group did it at Tiger Beach (universally loved) does not take away from a few simple inalienable truths.

1. This is a mind bogglingly stupid stunt with sharks

2. This stunt serves the "careers" of those involved and not the sharks from ongoing fishing pressure

3. This stunt blows open the doors to "others" who would like to perhaps share their own worldviews on the saving of wildlife - enter the fat, naked, hairy guy with sharks(Ron Jeremy).

When Shark Week comes out this year please ask the "Indignant Shark Week Howlers" who made this video, how, exactly, what they did here is much different from what they are watching on television...if they say "For.The.Sharks" you know they are full of shit.

Stunts are stunts. Cop to it and stop playing coy.

DaShark said...



So the marketing industry got it all wrong when they operate under the premise that pretty & sexy sells... oh well...

The brainy thing has been outed as bunk science (google it) - but even if it were true, I would argue that at least those left and right brained people have something to work with... as opposed to those brain dead people!
And THAT's the divide we all need to be concerned about!

DaShark said...

Hey, SSI...

Assuming, purely hypothetically, that you may have raised some valid points there - are you really asking me to agree with a self-avowed idiot?

Ibrahim Abdullah, Apt. 3b, Omar Sharif Building, Giza, Egypt said...

Greetings from the land of the pyramidds!!! tHis is Ibrahim Abdullah from Cairo.

No one invited me to stay in the USA :-(

mMy moustache is very big now so perhaps that should be :-{

'The point is, if you repeat the video with a naked white guy with hairy cracks,'

I agree! gGreat idea! Lets do it! How about in the rRed Sea off Sharm el Sheikh in front of the Hilton Hotel by the windsurfing hut!!! according to Professsor Dr Amal of the Khartoum Institute of Fishes wWe have 4 speceis of shark in the rRed Sea. (1) the big shark (2) the not so big shark (3) the small shark and (4) the very small shark. None are dangerus. tThis is the only dangerus fish in the Red Sea: tTHis is why we have the law NO NUDE SWIMMING :-( & :-{

Wow!!! Can you imagine??

tThink of this brave aAmerican doing the sSwim with the girish:

Wow!!! Can you imagine??

mMillion sSharks saved from extincton!!!

He alreddy has a graet cCostume:
Wow!!! Can you imagine??

10 mMillions of sSharks saved from extincton!!!

Or maybe if hes' busy we could use someone else.

Wow!!! Can you imagine??

Lucky Omar!!

aAnd then afterwards, after wev'e shown the hwole world that sharks are not man-eaeters, i could take the famuos acktor for a swim in the Hilton Hotel swimmming poool wehere there are no man-eaeters either :-}