Standing up for the Shark - A mission within a mission

At some point in everyone's life, they take an interest in some form of conservation.  Usually, that interest is due to some sort of animal.

You know the kind of interest I mean: "Save the Dolphin!"  "Save the Tiger!"  "Save the Panda!" and many others. 

Pretty much everyone has got behind at least one of these causes, often more than once.  All of these animals are endangered, they are all cute and (perhaps most importantly) they all have adorable babies!
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, digital television and book publishers, the modern population is more or less up to speed with the wildlife that live and that have lived on the planet.  Conservation icons such as the Lion Man and the late great Steve Irwin have inspired millions with their passion for wildlife and their desire to preserve it as best they can.  It would also be very rude to ignore the contribution and effort of the legendary Sir David Attenborough.  He has become such an undisputed authority in his field that anything he says with regards to the natural world is treated by many as truth.  These men and women are responsible for countless people championing their own conservation efforts throughout the world, and this cannot possibly be a bad thing.

Now even the wasp has somebody championing its survival (even though most of us would not even consider it worth protecting.), but some species have more supporters than others.  These days I have stopped shouting so loudly for the dolphin, the tiger and the panda, and have chosen an animal that I have become very fond of.

These days you will mostly hear me championing the shark.

There are many species, from the terrifying Mako, Tiger and the iconic Great White, to the bizarre Megamouth, Hammerhead and Goblin sharks, to the gentle Basking and Whale sharks.  All of them good and bad in their own individual ways, most of them not as championed as, say, the Killer Whale.

Lets consider some important information about sharks:

They are NOT particularly cute.
They are NOT in the least bit cuddly.
Their babies are NOT cute, unless compared to their parents.
They are famous for having big, visible and most importantly sharp teeth.
Some species have been known to eat humans.

Shark attacks have recently been brought to our attention in the news.  This has been a terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to the families of the unfortunate victims.  But the shark as a species should not be condemned as a whole.  Sharks do not deliberately choose their victims, and to my knowledge are not capable of choosing species.  You are either edible, inedible, another shark, or unknown, and if you have fallen into the first or last category then you will probably be bitten. 

It's understandable that sharks have gained a monstrous reputation, but in contrast the tiger (which has been proven as able to develop a taste for human flesh) is adored in comparison.  The reason is simple - sharks have a scarier reputation worldwide, and one little word is responsible for this:

JAWS

Or as he was "affectionately" nicknamed, "Bruce the shark."  Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, adapted from Peter Benchley's brilliant novel of the same name, put the Great White Shark, and all other sharks by association, into the spotlight.  Even now, over thirty years after its release, Jaws continues to leave a lasting impression to all its watchers.  Despite a flood of Shark attack movies and sequels - each more riddled with plot holes than the last - it is the original that remains the best.  "Bruce" has been the spokesman, as it were, for the shark population since he appeared on the big screen.  Is it any wonder, therefore, that people regard these beautiful predators in such a negative light?

Sharks have existed for millions of years, and through that time have never had to evolve in the way that others have.  Despite the lack of change they remain an apex predator that inspires both awe and fear in most humans that see them.  Yet, in their own way, they are beautiful and fascinating. 

They shouldn't be regarded as friendly to humans - they aren't friendly to anything!  I have seen footage of a Great White attacking and eating a smaller Great White that had become trapped in a net.  But they should be respected, and protected as much as any marine animal.

For this reason I want to incorporate sharks into my novel, and try to give them some good press. I have a very good setting in mind thanks to an entry to a publisher that never took off the ground.  It will involve my character, Burkins and will be set predominately out at sea.  In the unlikely event that my novel becomes the Next Big Thing, maybe it will convince some more people to join the modest group that believes shark conservation is important too.

Just a little idea, of course.  Nothing is set in stone in writing until it has been published.

Comments

  1. Sharks are incredible. I find them to be fascinating in their graceful ferocity. Watching them swim, they look so peaceful and graceful. It is a great shame that this is so often overlooked.
    I look forward to hearing of your published shark novel :)
    When I can, I will 'officially' follow your blog, but at the moment the computer seems to be playing up. I borrow my fiance's laptop for the internet, and so it won't let me sign out of his account, but only for following, not for everything else... bizarre.
    Nari X

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  2. Thank you for such a lovely comment, Nari! The fact that you are following me unofficially is flattering enough - I enjoy reading your blog entries thoroughly and am very pleased to hear you are enjoying mine.

    I am always pleased to hear of other shark fans. My shark novel currently has three muses to help me along. There's my 1m long shark teddy (called Nim-Nim, my new shark charm, and my best friend, who is a fan of the novel's main human(ish) character. It's just the attempts to pull the ideas together into something that makes sense.

    Thank you again!

    HC xx

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