This week a group of nine shark attacks survivors traveled to Washington, DC. Their goal? Lobby the US Senate for greater protection for the sharks who attacked them. Many of the survivors are missing limbs, fingers, and have other lasting injuries. Nonetheless, they see urgency in protecting these wild animals from US fishermen.
Survivors See Past Their Attacks
Chuck Anderson of Alabama was one of these survivors. In 2000 he was diving in the Gulf of Mexico, looking to get a close-up glimpse of sharks. In a sudden attack, a 7-foot bull shark slammed into him, chomped off some of his fingers, bti into his stomach and then entirely took off his right arm. He survived the attack and after doing some research concludes that he cannot blame the shark for his attack. “They’re vicious, and they’re mean,” Anderson said in an article featured in the Washington Post, “But, you know, I don’t have any right to be angry at the shark.”
From Vindictive Shark Hunter to Shark Defender
Not all shark attack survivors are as understanding as Anderson. Before joining the shark protection group, one member often hunted sharks in an effort to get retribution. For years after his attack he hated sharks. He would go on fishing expeditions where he would attract sharks with bait, shoot them from his side of his boat, cook them, eat their flesh, then save their jaw bones as trophies. Now years later, he is among the group calling on the Senate to enact laws that would outlaw that very practice.
Sharks Attacking Humans, Humans Attacking Sharks
Shark attacks are very, very rare. The International Shark Attack File, based in Florida, calculated the odds: 1 in every 11.5 million beach visits result in a shark attack. Humans, on the other hand, are hunting sharks at a devasting rate.
The Goal: Outlaw Finning
The group is in DC this week to lobby the Senate for a bill that would outlaw shark “finning” in U.S. waters. Finning is a practice where fishermen sever a shark’s fin and toss the rest of its carcass overboard. The fin is often sold for use in shark fin soup. The bill has already been making some headway. It passed the House of Representative. In order to become law it must pass the Senate, then be signed into law by the president.
Let’s all hope this important bill moves forward.
- care2 petition: Establish a Global Ban on Shark Finning
- Washington Post story:Survivors lend hand to sharks that bit them
photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/candiche/299061448/