That man-eating shark from Jaws may be fictional, but that doesn’t stop people from believing that sharks are out to get us — even though it’s not true at all.
Chris Neff, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, gave this talk at TEDxSydney about his research on the politics of shark attacks. In it, he identifies the three main misconceptions when it comes to shark-human interactions:
1. Sharks do not “attack”.
2. Rogue sharks don’t exist.
3. People don’t always react negatively to sharks following a shark bite.
Stories of sharks biting humans are uncommon, but get a lot of media attention when they do happen and are often sensationalized. A recent increase in shark accidents in Sydney, Australia prompted calls for a massive culling of the shark population.
But the thing is, sharks aren’t attacking humans maliciously. As Neff says, “trying to govern ungovernable events distracts us from real shark bite prevention.” Instead of killing even more of these important predators, we should be restricting areas where humans can swim and dive and changing our own behavior to prevent future accidents.
Because when it comes to sharks, “we’re in the way, not on the menu.”
TED conferences “bring together the world's leading thinkers and doers for a series of talks, presentations and performances.” So it was only a matter of time until TED tackled the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Topics will include: mitigation of the spill and the impending cleanup efforts; energy alternatives; policy and economics; and new technology that can help us build a self-reliant culture.
The presenters will include the following experts:
Leading up to the G-20 Summit in Toronto next month, today Oceana and TED’s Mission Blue delivered a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on G-20 nations to stop the expansion of worldwide fishing subsidies, and to prioritize a strong outcome in the World Trade Organization (WTO) fisheries subsidies negotiations.
Last week I participated in one of the most inspiring events in my tenure in the ocean conservation movement: the Mission Blue voyage to the Galapagos.
The voyage was led by legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle and included about 100 movers and shakers, including celebrity environmentalists such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton, Glenn Close and 30 of the world's leading marine scientists and non-profit leaders (like me).
We all had one question in mind: How can we work together to save the oceans?
I’m thrilled to write that we were able to put aside our conservation turf battles and collaborate to find real answers to the ocean’s biggest problems. In just four days, we spearheaded the following initiatives:
- $1 million to complete a package to protect the waters around the Galapagos Islands
- $1.1 million to launch a plan to protect the Sargasso Sea and commitments to raise a further $2.5 million to see the plan through to success
- $350,000 to boost ocean exposure in schools
- $3.25 million to commence a campaign to end fishing subsidies
- $10 million to start a new partnership to fund longer-term ocean projects
That’s a head-spinning amount of progress in four days -- but I can’t say I’m surprised considering all the brainpower and talent on board.
The folks at TED recorded more than 20 talks on ocean issues while on board, so be sure to look out for those in the coming months.
You can read more details about the background on the Mission Blue voyage at the TED blog.
Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.