Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Don't Dive In

Sharks are really cool to watch. Whenever it's time for Shark Week, I get excited. If some lame scary movie features sharks (not even Jaws), I'll watch it. So I can understand why people would want to get up close and personal with them on shark tours. But in Hawaii, there's an anti-shark tour movement that wants to shut down the tourist attraction. Some of the reasons:

"Some Native Hawaiians consider sharks to be ancestral gods and view feeding them for entertainment to be disrespectful of their culture. Surfers and environmentalists fear the tours will teach sharks to associate people with food — leading to an increase in attacks — while disrupting the ocean's ecological balance. Federal fisheries regulators, meanwhile, are investigating the tours on the grounds that they are illegally feeding sharks...[S]hark populations are likely to increase in areas where tours feed sharks daily. An inflated shark population might consume more prey, depleting other marine life, Burgess said. Or a tour site may lure so many sharks that apex predators may decline in other areas."

Tour owners argue that they're not going anything illegal or harmful to the sharks. They head to areas that already have high populations (like crab fishing waters, where sharks have been snacking on the extra bait).

As cool as I think sharks are, I still don't think I'd head out on a shark tour, just in case it was messing with the animals and their environment in any way. The tours have a lot to do to convince me that these are perfectly safe for both sharks and humans, in a long term way.

But for now, it's another reason for a cool shark picture!