Ten people who were attacked by sharks have joined together to advocate for the conservation of sharks species, which are threatened by human practices such as finning and overfishing. An estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year just by finning, which removes the fins and leaves the severely injured sharks to die. Sharks typically kill less than 100 humans each year globally.
As a shark attack survivor herself, Debbie Salamone decided people who were bitten by sharks could be good advocates for shark conservation, because of the expectation they would be negative towards sharks. She started up the campaign with the Pew Environment Group, and said getting the others who were attacked by sharks to join in the effort wasn’t difficult.
One of the other campaigners, Paul de Gelder, who lost a hand and lower leg when he was attacked while conducting training for the Navy asked, “Do we have the right to drive any animal to the brink of extinction before any action is taken?” (Source: New York Times)
Nine of the survivors met with officials at the United Nations to raise awareness about the large numbers of shark species on the verge of extinction.
One of the shark attack survivors, Yann Perras, said, “Even if the movie ‘Jaws’ has scared entire generations, we have to remember that it is only fiction. This animal is, like people, at the top of the food chain. We absolutely cannot accept fishing practices that menace the natural balance of the ocean environment.” (Source: prnewswire.com) His leg was severed when a shark bit him while he windsurfed off the coast of Venezuela.
Here is a list of the shark attack survivors and conservationists:
Achmat Hassiem – South Africa
Paul de Gelder – Australia
James Elliott – U.K.
Yann Perras – France
Vincent Motais de Narbonne – Réunion (French territory in the Indian Ocean)
Debbie Salamone – U.S. (Florida)
Chuck Anderson – U.S. (Alabama)
Mike Coots – U.S. (Hawaii)
Krishna Thompson – U.S. (New York)
These people are not only conservation advocates, they are examples of how foregiveness can heal ourselves and our relationships with the natural world. Some people might cling to an attitude of vengeance towards sharks, which were merely acting in a natural manner looking for food when they bit the people. An mp3 audio file of their press conference was recorded.
The Pew Shark conservation site provides some data about shark losses, “Over the last 200 years, iconic species in the Mediterranean Sea such as the smooth hammerhead, shortfin mako, porbeagle, and thresher sharks have decreased by more than 97 percent in number and catch weight.” It is thought about thirty percent of shark species are in danger of extinction.
Incidentally, the author of Jaws – both the book and screenplay – was Peter Benchley, and he became a shark conservationist partly because of all the damage done to shark populations after the impact of the movie.
He said, “Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today. “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.” (Source: LA Times)
Image Credit: Suneko