Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sharks: The monsters tamed

Peter Benchley (1940-2006) and Steven Spielberg taught us to fear sharks. But this video presents a different image of them.


When Benchley later saw how "Jaws" led to the wanton destruction of sharks, he said: "[T]he shark in an updated Jaws could not be the villain; it would have to be written as the victim; for, worldwide, sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressors."
Direct link to YouTube video.

6 comments:

Sakievich said...

The comments on the youtube page indicate that the shark was put into a tonic immobility, which basically is some sort of temporary coma. At the end it indicates that the dive suit was specially designed for working with sharks. It also vaguely reminds me of that idiot who was eaten by the grizzly bears he lived with for months and months...

Vicki said...

It seems to me that Spielberg and this photographer have made the same error, in opposite directions--that is, of assigning sharks anthropomorphic qualities. As someone in Dinotopia said about tyrannosaurs, "They are not evil, they are just hungry." It is wiser to treat them with the respect due their sharp teeth and singleminded urge to hunt. Regardless of the diver's petting of this shark, it is never going to have affection for a human.

Unknown said...

Often shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity. Sharks don't like to eat people, but attacks happen usually because they mistake surfers for seals. Besides, hunting is the only way they can get food, and their stomachs aren't adapted to digesting plants. Sharks should be respected not feared because they've been around longer than even the dinosaurs.

James Gurney said...

Sakievich and Vicki--Good points. It's so hard for us humans to regard the big predators without looking through one lens or another. They're neither cuddly friends nor hateful monsters--the reality is much more interesting and complex.

The movie "Grizzly Man" by Werner Herzog does a fascinating job of exploring the fraught relationship we have with such creatures.

As for me, I'd rather not hang out too close to hungry grizzlies, great whites, or T.rexes.

Zubin Erik said...

Well, Jaws didn't teach me to fear sharks. It actually started my love affair with animals ;) that's what u get when you're 6 and your favorite movie is Jaws (now 2nd favorite movie at age 22). I would love to do this but my inexperience would lead to some missing fingers. Its amazing how they could be put into that state of tonic immobility just by being flipped upside down. Crocs too!

Seeing this reminded me of cage diving with salties in Darwin. Now that is so cool! You got to check that out.

Chantal Fournier said...

I saw Shark Waters last year in a museum and I know it's also available as a dvd (I own it) and it's great to watch at least the first part where some divers swim with sharks and explain a lot about them. The second part is about shark finning and is really hard to watch. I think it's still worth watching, and it's why I never eat in restaurants that serve shark fin soup now (some of my friends argue that it's not real fins, but then if you charge 30$ for a fake soup, I'm not going to eat at your restaurant anyways!)