Mit Reklaw’s Sympathy For The Devil

Not the Devil, not really, although this presence is equally hellish…

Shark attacks have become a way of life for beach-going folk of Western Australia. Some are saying that these prehistoric behemoths ought to be culled: ‘Beaches are no place for Great White Sharks’, they say…

Beaches are the exact place for fish, I say, and if you want to get all territorial on it, I would be tempted to also say, ‘Fish go in the ocean, people go on the land’.

Seems pretty clear to me, and whenever a person does choose to enter the ocean – the fish’s domain – that person must understand that there is a notable amount if peril attached to that decision.

Around 400 million years ago – long before Neanderthal man first skulked across the landscape – the first White Shark could be seen swimming through the ocean with tremendous speed and breathtaking agility, swiping a succulent Cretoxyrhina from the passing shoal, tearing into it with its razor sharp teeth then gulping down the morsel, still more or less whole.

White Sharks are awesome. These beasts have been around for a lot longer than you or I, therefore who the hell are you or I to say that these kings of the ocean should do anything other than go on living their lives as they please?

Word is, sharks don’t fancy the flavour of people anyway and while I can’t imagine that wrapping the aforementioned vertebrate in a wetsuit makes it any more palatable, here’s the thing: sharks are predators. Predators survive by preying on other living entities. Typical of predators or in fact carnivores of any kind, when they are not eating their prey, they probably like to play with their prey and this I believe is the essence of most shark attacks…

So you see, they’re likely only playing – just a pity a bite from a Great White isn’t a little more fun.

White Sharks are an endangered species. This means it is technically illegal to kill them. Since being labelled ‘endangered’ their numbers have burgeoned. A great many Western Australians, having seen the devastation that these sharks can cause, are lobbying to have them removed – by which I am sure they mean ‘killed off’.

That’s the arrogance of people. We think that if something is preventing us from maintaining our desired lifestyle, we should simply get rid of it.

White Sharks are the kings of the ocean. Their obvious land based equivalent is the lion. What would happen if lions became extinct? Zebras and deer would gambol through the trees without a care in the world; grass and plant life on the forest floor would grow unabated; insect life would exponentially multiply; now instead of the threat of being eaten by a lion, equine mammals of the forest should be more concerned with having their blood drained by swarms of mosquitoes.

Same applies in the ocean. Kill off the greatest aquatic predator ever in existence and suddenly tuna are living longer hence breeding more; with more tuna requiring food kingfish numbers take a big hit; fewer kingfish means mackerel numbers rise uncontrollably; won’t be long before so many mackerel have exhausted their food source…

I’ve often wondered if like us sharks possess the ability to think, or if like invertebrates they function purely on instinct – running the basic survive to procreate programme..?

Turns out they do have functional brains. A shark’s brain is purported to be highly visual, yet they are thought to be colour-blind. Australian scientists have used this knowledge to design a wetsuit which camouflages a diver in the water, thereby making him invisible to sharks. Another group of creative Aussie boffins have developed a way of effectively fencing off sections of beaches by implementing ‘bubble curtains’. These are essentially lengths of perforated hose placed on the sea floor and charged with a continuous supply of air, producing a wall of bubbles which confuses sharks’ senses, causing them to retreat.

That sounds much more sensible. It’s short sighted to think that we can rectify a problem through extermination. It’s our eco-system and it is imperative that it is kept in balance.

The reason that Great White Sharks are still in existence is because they are necessary to further existence.



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Shaq Attack

Photography by W A Ocher

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