Knowledge is power.
As an educator, these are the words that I live by.
It is easy to think that people are silly or that they are intentionally touting misinformation, in reality, we are all doing the best we can with what we have.
Following the capture and killing of a Great White shark at Maroubra recently, I felt so angry when I saw on social media, people, including celebrities and influencers, condoning the killing of these beautiful creatures.
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Maroubra Beach Sydney, a 4.6m Great White Shark, caught in a protective beach net. Tail was over 2m tall and the sharks weight was over a ton. This is one of Sydney’s most popular surf beaches.. #shark #fishing #fish #sharknets #maroubra #beach #braboys #maroubrabeach #maroubracommunity #Sydney #Australia #surf #ocean #scary #awesome #epic #monster #greatwhiteshark #protected
But then I reigned that in and was overcome by a sense of sadness that ocean-loving social media influencers still believe that this is a good message to be sending.
Sharks are absolutely essential to the survival of our oceans and Great Whites are now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the WWF, only one step away from Endangered. Add to the story that this particular Great White was 4.6m long – meaning that it was at least 10-11 years-old – it truly is a great tragedy that it has been killed.
I think any public influencer owes it to their followers to do some shark research and present to them information that comes from a place of knowledge rather than fear or product placement.
I would highly recommend everyone who spends time in the ocean read the Australian Guide to Surfing with Sharks which can be downloaded for free. This document was created after a lifetime of research and face to face experience by Madison Stewart.
I would also recommend watching one of many documentaries on the importance of sharks in the ecosystem, such as The Blue Film. You can also follow Madison and companies such as One Ocean Diving who have dedicated their lives to helping the public step out of fear and into a place of knowledge, where we understand reality and can make decisions about the ocean environment that are good for everyone and everything.
Fear is easy, let’s choose the higher path and learn about our environment and respect that everyone has their place – including us.