I live in a country whose media is fuelled by shark hysteria. The fear of the Great White Monster of the deep, the lurking predator – a creature that can smell blood from kilometres away.
This time of the year our news headlines perpetuate an inherent fear of sharks – the summer killer. Shark sightings are a regular occasion, with the odd bite to the foot. Politicians wage war against sharks in a bid to flex their leadership muscles. In my lifetime alone I have seen Australian shark culls, netting operations with excessive deaths of marine life and additionally, the listing of Great White Sharks as endangered species.
Sharks have been here a lot longer than humans; in fact, sharks have been here longer than dinosaurs. Sharks determine what species live and what die out. They are the regulator of the sea, ensuring the equilibrium of all marine life.
Despite sharks’ crucial stature in the ocean, the number of people willing to fight their cause remains minute at best. As Rob Stewart would say, people were more concerned about the pandas and tigers.
I first became introduced to Stewart through his documentary, Sharkwater (as I’m sure many others were too). As a dweller of the sea, the film resonated deep within me.
The ocean is a playground for me, but it’s not my home. I’m not at the top of the food chain under the sea. I’m not going to pretend to be either. In a gesture of respect to the apex predator in its domain, protecting sharks is the least we can do.
Stewart’s work has expressed to me the increasing importance of ocean conservation and particularly defending the shark population. The knowledge he has shared and efforts he has gone to for the ocean is tremendous.
Stewart is a man whose legacy lives on through his work and is passed on to those who view it. Along with online sharing of Stewarts work, physical action and ocean conservation will continue the wave of change.
And for me? Although seaweed under my surfboard still sometimes gives me a little jolt, I appreciate my position in the ocean as inferior. I am not at the top of the food chain – and it’s humbling that way.
Watch Sharkwater on YouTube:
Donate / Contribute to Stewarts cause: http://www.sharkwater.com/