Tag Archives: sharks

Celebrating Shark Week by going to an aquarium is speciopathic

Originally posted in 2012 under the title “Celebrating Shark Week by going to an aquarium is, well, abhorrent.” Reposted to correct for some unknown server error that only my site host can fix. 😀


Yesterday, I finished watching the award-winning (31 International awards) Sharkwater again, this time via the nine 10-minute segments that are on YouTube.  And then gobbled up more shark and whale news at The Cyber Whale Warrior Daily Paperli.

I noticed that fellow blogger and publisher of the paper, Holise Cleveland, had posted something I said last year about Shark Week:

Celebrating Shark Week at the Georgia Aquarium is like celebrating Dog Week at an animal shelter.

I think I later added a “dog pound” to the “animal shelter” version because I felt that was a more apt comparison.  But it got me to thinking about that analogy, and I came up with a slightly different version; but one that’s getting even closer to how I see it.  See what you think:

Celebrating Shark Week at the Georgia Aquarium is like celebrating dog week by going to look at, but not trying to rescue, the dogs living their lives out in cages at a puppy mill.  And saying, “How cute!” as you walk to the next crate.

I know.  It’s longer, and not so clever or quotable, but more accurate.  Having re-watched Sharkwater, another Shark Week simile variant came to me that I feel is even closer to how I see it.  Maybe some people won’t like this version as much as the shorter dog comparison – in fact, it may seem a bit harsh:

How is keeping a child locked up in a basement qualitatively different from keeping a shark or whale in a tank?

Celebrating Shark Week at the Georgia Aquarium is like celebrating Children’s Week by looking into the basement window of your new neighbor and discovering a child being held against its will, having been torn away from its mother, its family and everyone it knew.

Even though held in a 10′ by 10′ room, with only electrical lighting, you notice that the child seems happy when the caregivers come to feed it.   And even laughs when one of the adults teaches it how to cartwheel in that small space.

Then you notice that there are people coming to the house, and you see that they are standing outside a door in the basement looking into the 10-by-10 room, at the child.  And you see the people paying the caregiver money to come look at the child.

You overhear an inquiry about paying a little bit more money for cartwheels.  And maybe paying a little more for an interactive program, like a swim-with.

Now, that’s what celebrating Shark Week by going to the Georgia Aquarium is like to me.  Pity I can’t tweet that one.

So I thought I’d put the question to you:  What is Celebrating Shark Week at the Georgia Aquarium – or any aquarium – like for you? 

How to Celebrate Shark Week this yearWe’re a couple of months out from Shark Week, and I have no idea what is planned for this year. One idea for celebrating Shark Week would be to write our favorite “Celebrating Shark Week” sayings on a poster board, and pay a visit to our local aquariums during Shark Week (in July) to share our message.  No doubt the aquariums will have some promotion.  Let’s have one of our own.  I, for one, plan to go with a few copies of Sharkwater.

Celebrating Shark Week at an aquarium isn’t celebrating sharks at all; it’s really celebrating People Can Do Whatever They Feel Like to Sharks Week.

Whale shark is the world's largest shark species. Photo by Brian Skerry at smithsonian.com

Whale shark is the world’s largest shark species. Photo by Brian Skerry at smithsonian.com


Obstruction is Justice by Madison Stewart

One of the most pointed and poignant statements that lies behind the motivation of every animal activist:

The day we begin to back down in the face of injustice and not expose the negligence of the very people appointed to protect the animals they have now been hired to kill is the day we lose more than our sharks; we lose our ability to distinguish right from wrong.

And in a world full of so much wrong, where the rules are made to justify the decay of our last wild things, that is not a trait our society can afford.

Kudos to Madison Stewart, Sea Shepherd Australia and Animal Amnesty.

Shark Dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was in school again.  Perhaps like many of those seemingly anxiety-related dreams where you find yourself back in school.  For me, it is often not in the same buildings, in fact, most often different than the ones I actually attended.  Those dreams where I go to a class, it is almost finals, everyone thinks I really know the shit, but I don’t even know the freaking class title.  Some of you know exactly what I mean.

But this morning’s dream was not about law school.  And I’m not certain yet whether it was anxiety-related or just my brain-at-rest bringing me new ideas.  That’s also something some of you recognize.  Some of your ideas do come to you during brain “down-time,” when you aren’t actually trying to think new thoughts.

So this morning’s dream.  I was in a class, or more precisely, on a field trip where we were studying sharks.  The shark we were observing was a captive one.  In a pool.  And the instructor was proceeding to place wax on its skin for some reason.  I immediately began to doubt whether the research had any real merit, other than to support the notion that we could perform that particular experiment.  Put wax on a shark’s skin.

As the instructor proceeded and the students watched, the shark was being visibly affected by the experiment.

White Shark reef informed consent

White Shark, Photo by Dr. Dwayne Meadows

The shark’s shape began to be impacted.  Its spine became the slightest bit deformed.  The shark began to exhibit symptoms a bit like scoliosis.

I objected to the experiment and inquired, what was the purpose of the experiment?  The instructor replied that I and the other students had signed an “Informed Consent” prior to entering the class, the pool.  It seemed an odd response to an inquiry about the purpose of the study.

The instructor explained that the “Informed Consent” that I had signed was not just my agreeing that, were I harmed during the exercise, I would hold the institution harmless; that I was taking responsibility for my own safety in this research endeavor.  No, the “Informed Consent” that I had signed went further than that.  In it, I also agreed that there may not be any benefit to be derived from the experiment, and that I accepted that as a premise before entering the pool.

This came as a surprise, as it would to most, since this “lack of benefit” clause is not typical of the “Informed Consents” that I had previously signed.  At least as far as I knew.  But I also reflected that I, as many others, rarely read those before signing, especially after the first paragraph or two.

In the dream, I returned to the shark, removed the wax, and went underwater to look at him face-to-face.  We touched noses.  He knew.  I awoke.

So this morning, I find myself thinking about “Informed Consents.”  More to follow.  I hope it will be interesting.  I know it will to some.