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Big Blue Conservation - 26th August

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Imagine your whole reputation depicted by one famous movie. After millions of years swimming on this planet, evolving in to a smart and gifted organism.  But then shamed for the image created during one movie scene.

It is known for being one of the best suspense filled movies of all time, however with its success came great cost. When asked if sharks are dangerous most would say YES!

But why I ask myself, after having the opportunity to swim with sharks, some of which known for their aggressive behavior. I felt that the label of killer is a little vague. After all a toaster could be dangerous or even a cow.  In fact you are 24 times more likely to be bitten by another human on the New York subway than by any shark in the ocean.swimming with sharks

Yes they have big teeth and, they are master predators, add this to the fact some species can grow quite big. However despite what has been emphasized in movies, humans aren’t really the best choice of snack for a shark. Our own feeding habits of processed commercially produced food make us a very non nutritional meal, for a growing predator.

Yes sharks have been known to attack humans, and over the decades people have lost their lives to these attacks. So let’s take a look at why if we have no nutritional value would a shark decide to eat a human.  Well let’s look at it this way, if you were hungry and you came across a burger, looked good and tasty amongst other similar looking burgers.  You wouldn’t hesitate to take a bite, to then only discover that, that one burger out of all the other beef burger was made from the neighbor’s cat.  Horrified by this and knowing eating cat isn’t as nutritional as the quarter pounder you normally eat, but it’s too late that hungry bite was a third of the burger.

Now go back to the issue sharks face most days, when they visit a place that should be abundant with the food they normally eat, is of short supply and then the issue of things that look like food and move amongst their food is adding to mix.  In this example you could associate yourself as the cat burger amongst all of the other burgers.

Trying to explain why something would attack you for no reason, and then come back with how it was an intelligent creature. Seems to contradict the fact, but as mentioned unless humans and sharks start to develop telepathic abilities, it would be difficult to not make those mistakes.

As statistics of sharks attacks globally show, they occur in the same areas and these areas are also renowned for being big fishing communities, or surfing communities, add on top of that they are normally areas with a large population of the shark’s natural prey.

Despite humans being known as the most intelligent organism on the planet we seem to lack empathy and understanding, with which we are not alone, and that for millions of years the planet has survived in a balance of realizing each organism plays a vital role on this life vessel. We all have jobs in maintaining the healthy function of this planet.

So asked if a species that is known for being a nasty devil like organism is actually vital to the planet, well you could put it down, to how important sharks are to the oceans. The reason we have life on Earth is down to many things, although one of the most crucial is the 70% water coverage we have on the planet.  Providing us with over 50% of the global oxygen, and absorbing excess heat, and unwanted gases. Life could not exist globally without the oceans, and so how do sharks help. Well it is not just the water that provides us with the things we need, but more so what lives within. Like any habitat it is filled with many life forms and all of which have a role. A food chain creates that circle of life, where populations are maintained, and balanced to insure life of all the organisms living within the habitat can prosper.

Now where do sharks stand in the oceans food chain, predators like sharks, are good at what they do. Most shark species will be at the top of their respective food chains, and being at the top has great responsibility.  Responsibilities include controlling population numbers of species below, eating diseased or injured animals, which would cripple their community.

With all this in mind, and the constant decline of shark populations attention is needed.  If shark were to disappear from our oceans, food chains would collapse resulting in the decline of all species within them. That would include even the microscopic organisms that provide us with such an abundance of oxygen.

The oceans should be considered as a whole, and the impact on one species can cause an effect on all, since the increase in human population many species have suffered. Sharks amongst those greatly affected by habitat decline and over fishing techniques.

Whether it be for their fins, their blood, or killed to make an area safe for humans, they are being brutally murdered globally.  Not only does this make no sense in maintaining a healthy ocean, but also consuming such an organism can come with great personal health risks.  Any apex predators in the oceans contain high toxic levels of mercury, which without being a doctor I can say it’s not good for you.

So coming back to the original topic, changing the image tainted for decades. Here at Big Blue Diving Koh Toa for the past 6 years we have like many dedicated an entire day to sharks.  Swim for sharks is not only a fundraising event but also an awareness raising on the worlds sharks.  Teaming up with charities, and inviting the local community to get involved, it is a busy day of swimming, partying and celebrating all things shark.swim for sharks 2018 70 x 70

Each year we print event T-shirts that can be sold, and then profits donated to the selected charities. This year we took the famous image from the movie originally mentioned and for once aimed to use its popularity for something that would help our sharks.  Changing people’s perception is always going to be a challenge, but knowing how important sharks are I feel it is a challenge we should all accept.

Here at Big Blue we work closely with local charities such as Koh Tao Whalesharks, and Shark Guardian, both of which are dedicated to educational awareness, and the monitoring of local shark populations. We were happy to announce that just like previous years the day was a success and we raised over 4,000 US dollar, along with the attendance of over 100 people on the day.Swim 4 sharks 2018 500x281

Concluding this article, I hope the points made were clear and that from what I have mentioned, anyone could make a personal conclusion on how they feel about sharks.  Education is the way forward, and I feel the ability to educate others could be our greatest gift. However a gift for good or bad, that is down to you.  For thousands of years people were told the world was flat, and that you could simply just fall off the edge. For 20 years you thought sharks were only here to kill humans, and by going swimming in the ocean, you could end up disembodied by a hungry shark.  Well now with a little more info I hope the perception of sharks will change. As I for one, I think, it’s a little unfair that sharks cannot sue Hollywood for the images created, like any celebrity could.

Thank you for reading