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Shark Week "How Sharks Hunt": Are they mishandling sharks to get the shot?


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#1 Drew

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 12:32 PM

As usual, Discovery's Shark Week came and went and of course, there's a bit of controversy regarding Guerney Production's "How Sharks Hunt" program with Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin, the Dual Survivor guys. In one particular segment, they bait a tiger shark, a female named Emma, and wrangle it while it bit on the chumsicle to get shots. They brought the shark up near the surface and the shark resisted and subsequently pulled the chumsicle down, with the rope, snapping it and causing the arm to swing round and hit the crew. A bit of poetic justice if you ask me.
However the question is that the wrangling with the chumsicle seems excessive and unneeded, and certainly there was a lead weight on the line with the chumsicle as well as a metal chain, things that could hurt the shark. More importantly, does this sort of shark programming aid sharks in any way? Big monster able to snap people in half, attack and kill and be aggressive to humans. Is this sort of programming even bothering to run under the veil of conservationism anymore? It seems not.
Judge for yourselves:


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#2 wagsy

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 03:41 PM

Gee, I cannot watch crap like this, commercial TV and how they cut stuff up is just trash these days.
They will say and do anything to over sensationalize anything.

Not good to get the sharks feeding aggressively like that at the same place they take tourist to dive on them.
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#3 tdpriest

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 08:07 AM

Jim Abernethy's efforts undone in an instant?

It's drivel, isn't it? Poor Emma...

Not to mention pretty obviously cut with footage from a different dive site...

Tim

:)

#4 adamhanlon

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 12:00 PM

Can anyone figure out which boat it was shot from?

Maybe one way to attack this kind of thing is via naming and shaming the facilitators?

The talking heads don't know any better... :)

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#5 Drew

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:35 PM

Guerney Productions has been using Dolphin Dream for the shark chums in the Bahamas, which is clear that is the boat in the program. Dolphin Dream was also part of a few other controversial programs:

Les Stroud antics on Dolphin Dream

More Dolphin Dream Antics

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#6 loftus

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 02:05 PM

Jim Abernethy's efforts undone in an instant?

It's drivel, isn't it? Poor Emma...

Not to mention pretty obviously cut with footage from a different dive site...

Tim

:)

Stands in stark contrast to Jim's portrayal of Emma in his film with Guy Harvey, Wyland and director George Schellenger 'This is your ocean - Sharks'
Really hope that film gets taken up for next years Shark Week.

It's probably something to think about in general - boycotting operators who support this type of filming
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#7 Drew

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 02:18 PM

You mean this one:

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.c...></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.c...s=1&rel=0&hd=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>



But seriously, what is it with people and getting all tactile with animals? They aren't pets! :)

I'm not sure I agree with the idea of making sharks out to be docile pet like creatures either. I don't think that would sell to the public anyhow. I suppose trying to garner emotions for sharks may be the goal. I'm just against anthropomorphy but I guess it's a human trait.

As for boycotts, it is a great incentive to get operators to "shape up" After all, they are making money off the sharks, it should be in their interest to promote the preservation of the species. If they just want to milk the profits until it's gone, then I'm afraid they'll have to do without my money!

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#8 loftus

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 02:53 PM

But seriously, what is it with people and getting all tactile with animals? They aren't pets! :)

I'm not sure I agree with the idea of making sharks out to be docile pet like creatures either. I don't think that would sell to the public anyhow. I suppose try to bring emotions for sharks may be the goal. I'm just against anthropomorphy but I guess it's a human trait.

As for boycotts, it is a great incentive to get operators to "shape up" After all, they are making money off the sharks, it should be in their interest to promote the preservation of the species. If they just want to milk the profits until it's gone, then I'm afraid they'll have to do without my money!

You have a point; about the docile pet thing; but at least it provides some balance to the 'mindless killer' portrayal. I'm not sure that it's always anthropomorphising (big frikkin word that's probably not in Webster's) to portray sea creatures as more than mindless eat and survive machines. Probably about time that we acknowledge that animals in general may have some thought or emotion processes that are not uniquely human.
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#9 danielandrewclem

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 04:29 PM

You have a point; about the docile pet thing; but at least it provides some balance to the 'mindless killer' portrayal. I'm not sure that it's always anthropomorphising (big frikkin word that's probably not in Webster's)...

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#10 nirv996

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 04:38 PM

Out of all of the Shark Week programming....that is the only program that I changed the channel on (back and forth) ......way too much playing it up for the camera (sensational).
I also did not see the point to it. How does hooking a shark... show how it hunts???? Other than tick it off....

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#11 stewsmith

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 02:23 AM

Not to mention pretty obviously cut with footage from a different dive site...

Tim

:)


Do you think so Tim. It looks just like the area of Tiger Beach where I was diving.

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#12 stewsmith

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 02:27 AM

Can anyone figure out which boat it was shot from?

Maybe one way to attack this kind of thing is via naming and shaming the facilitators?

Adam


I would imagine that you would have to have been in a coma for a few years to not know what boat this was filmed from. Drew is constantly reminding the forum readers at any given opportunity that he does not like the Dolphin Dream and will post links to other posts he has made regarding this bit of footage.

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#13 stewsmith

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 02:51 AM

As usual, Discovery's Shark Week came and went and of course, there's a bit of controversy regarding Guerney Production's "How Sharks Hunt" program with Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin, the Dual Survivor guys.


There is only controversy because you bring it up all the time Drew.

In one particular segment, they bait a tiger shark, a female named Emma, and wrangle it while it bit on the chumsicle to get shots. They brought the shark up near the surface and the shark resisted and subsequently pulled the chumsicle down, with the rope, snapping it and causing the arm to swing round and hit the crew. A bit of poetic justice if you ask me.


Is this any different from fishing for Wahoo or Dorado and photographing them whilst they have a barbed hook in their mouth. Probably less damaging. If the Tiger was in pain it would have let go. It wasnt hooked.

However the question is that the wrangling with the chumsicle seems excessive and unneeded, and certainly there was a lead weight on the line with the chumsicle as well as a metal chain, things that could hurt the shark.


Drew Tiger Sharks are known as dustbins of the ocean because things like car number plates have been found inside of them when they have been killed by sport fishermen. I hardly think a piece of chain is going to cause to much if any at all damage to the shark. Shall we wrap all bait crates up with bubble wrap so the hard plastic that the crates are made from doesnt scratch the lemons, tigers and reef sharks

More importantly, does this sort of shark programming aid sharks in any way? Big monster able to snap people in half, attack and kill and be aggressive to humans.


Maybe it wont help, but it will help people realize that sharks do have the potential to cause harm. Just ask your your favourite tour operator Jim, he should know better than anyone. His safety record isnt exactly all that.

Is this sort of programming even bothering to run under the veil of conservationism anymore? It seems not.


Was it called Shark Week or Shark Conservation Week?

Judge for yourselves:


I did, I looked at the number of accidents and deaths whilst shark diving in the Bahamas and chose to charter the Dolphin Dream as their statistics dont cause me concern.

And please Drew dont tell me that I should not use this as an opportunity to promote the Dolphin Dream. I am only sticking up for them. They do not use these forums to promote themselves or to argue their corner. I have been on the boat and can say that they operate a good boat. If it is ok for you to drag up all of your old posts about this subject then I will continue to say my piece.

Just to add that I do NOT condone or condemn what happened within the footage. I personally think there are a lot of other issues that deserve the airspace that this has taken up.

Stew

Edited by stewsmith, 15 August 2011 - 03:31 AM.

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#14 tdpriest

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:31 AM

Do you think so Tim. It looks just like the area of Tiger Beach where I was diving.

Stew


Fair enough, but I haven't seen the big shoals of fish at the same time as the sharks at Tiger Beach (maybe it was the wrong time of year), and the lighting looked like a different dive, at least to me. Tiger Beach isn't the most photogenic site in the Bahamas...

... until the sharks turn up!

I don't have an axe to grind about Dolphin Dream: if you're chartered by a film crew who are aiming at airing on the Discovery Channel, then you can expect sensationalism, but you can't really afford to get a reputation for turning them away, even if you have reservations. Stew has made me think about diving from the 'Dream: it's Discovery Channel that I can't abide! Thank heavens for the BBC Natural History Film Unit, one of the few things about which we Brits can still feel proud (tho' I don't think that any dive stores were looted last week).

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Edited by tdpriest, 15 August 2011 - 06:37 AM.


#15 tdpriest

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:40 AM

Maybe it wont help, but it will help people realize that sharks do have the potential to cause harm. Just ask your your favourite tour operator Jim, he should know better than anyone. His safety record isnt exactly all that.

I did, I looked at the number of accidents and deaths whilst shark diving in the Bahamas and chose to charter the Dolphin Dream as their statistics dont cause me concern.


Now you're at it, as well as Drew!

Tim

:)

#16 shawnh

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:52 AM

Hi Stew,

I read this thread with interest but honestly was disappointed by much of your commentary. In the past I have considered your input fair and impartial. Your recent posts unfortunately reflect a strong defensive posture for Scotty and Dolphin dream, regardless of their flagrant abusive behavior as documented in this video. Did you know Emma was pregnant during this period? Do you understand the possible repercussions and if so, do you care? Sharks are nothing like wahoo and other sport fish. You should understand that their biology, behavior and lifecycle are completely different. In addition, the use of a chain directly on the bait damages the sharks mouth and destroys their teeth. Most shark operators today shun this practice. Yes the next row of teeth comes in, but is this abuse reasonable and to be endorsed? I know folks who frequent the Dolphin Dream who are publicly very outspoken against the use of chains in baiting. I also know folks who have shot FOR Discovery Shark Week on the Dophin who feel their practices used are excessive, sensationalist and abusive. If ALL operators chose to set the standard higher and not allow film crews to create sensationalistic and abusive programming on their watch, the media portrayal of sharks would be in a different state. Unfortunately some operators do not take this stand, and the resulting video is what we end up with. And yes, their are many other important issues relating to sharks. That said, public empathy for the animals plays a critical role in supporting legislation to protect them. This kind of programing that that job more difficult....and working every day on this issue, we don't need any more obstacles than we already face.

I understand your need to defend the operator you choose. That said, please don't let this cause you to also defend the abusive and reckless treatment of the sharks we saw in this video. Your last post offers all kinds of justifications, then ends with "but, this doesn't mean I support it". If don't support it, then say so with conviction. If you do, then do state it. A luke warm posture is safe, but not really compelling. Let's not confuse the issue. Scotty needs to man-up and tell Discovery this kind of behavior is not welcome on his boat and will not be tolerated. If they don't like it, then they can take their business elsewhere. In that case, I would be delighted to see him continue to run his business and share the sharks of the Bahamas with more potential shark supporters.

I hope you take my commentary as intended, for the sharks and nothing more.
Cheers
shawn


There is only controversy because you bring it up all the time Drew.



Is this any different from fishing for Wahoo or Dorado and photographing them whilst they have a barbed hook in their mouth. Probably less damaging. If the Tiger was in pain it would have let go. It wasnt hooked.



Drew Tiger Sharks are known as dustbins of the ocean because things like car number plates have been found inside of them when they have been killed by sport fishermen. I hardly think a piece of chain is going to cause to much if any at all damage to the shark. Shall we wrap all bait crates up with bubble wrap so the hard plastic that the crates are made from doesnt scratch the lemons, tigers and reef sharks



Maybe it wont help, but it will help people realize that sharks do have the potential to cause harm. Just ask your your favourite tour operator Jim, he should know better than anyone. His safety record isnt exactly all that.



Was it called Shark Week or Shark Conservation Week?



I did, I looked at the number of accidents and deaths whilst shark diving in the Bahamas and chose to charter the Dolphin Dream as their statistics dont cause me concern.

And please Drew dont tell me that I should not use this as an opportunity to promote the Dolphin Dream. I am only sticking up for them. They do not use these forums to promote themselves or to argue their corner. I have been on the boat and can say that they operate a good boat. If it is ok for you to drag up all of your old posts about this subject then I will continue to say my piece.

Just to add that I do NOT condone or condemn what happened within the footage. I personally think there are a lot of other issues that deserve the airspace that this has taken up.

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#17 stewsmith

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:09 AM

I did intend to send this as a PM, but decided my opinion is my opinion and as a member of Wetpixel I am entitled to express it on the open forums.

Hi Shawn, firstly I dont recall ever having any dialogue with yourself whether that is on the forum or in person.

Please dont take what I am about to say in the wrong light, which a lot of people do when words are written rather than spoken. I am not going to post a reply to your posting as I know where it will end up and Wetpixel has been there time and time again.

What I would ask you to do though is to look a little bit nearer to your Wetpixel home and ask yourself why Drew Wong felt the need to actually post this topic in the first place. Do a search for Drew and Dolphin Dream and you will see that he takes any given opportunity to near on slander Scott and his lively hood. Do you think that this behaviour from a moderator is acceptable. I certainly do not. I have met Scott as you know, and he is not the man that Drew would like everyone to think he is. He is a passionate guy and of course he cares about the sharks. That goes without saying.

I will take this opportunity to address the points that you have made.

I read this thread with interest but honestly was disappointed by much of your commentary. In the past I have considered your input fair and impartial. Your recent posts unfortunately reflect a strong defensive posture for Scotty and Dolphin dream, regardless of their flagrant abusive behavior as documented in this video.

Yes I will defend Scott and his team if Drew continues to portray them for soemthing that they are not. I did not see Scott in any of the footage acting abusive so why have you indicated that he was acting in a flagrant and abusive manner. When quite clearly it was the guys who chartered the boat that in your opinion were acting in this way.

Did you know Emma was pregnant during this period? Do you understand the possible repercussions and if so, do you care? Sharks are nothing like wahoo and other sport fish.

No I didnt know that Emma was pregnant when the footage was taken. Like I said before If she felt the slightest harmed she would have let go of the chum. Yes I care, that is why I will not allow Drew to dirty the minds of forum members with his very biased opinion. As a moderator he should do just that. Moderate. Yes I care, that is why I contribute monthly to many organisations and foundations across the globe to help save our planet. I am not a veggie or whatever the word is that they call themselves this week, but I have morals, believe it or not. When I think somethng is wrong then I will say. Just like you have. That doesnt mean that I am correct in my opinion though, and people need to understand that just because they say something, it doesnt mean its correct.

You should understand that their biology, behavior and lifecycle are completely different. In addition, the use of a chain directly on the bait damages the sharks mouth and destroys their teeth. Most shark operators today shun this practice. Yes the next row of teeth comes in, but is this abuse reasonable and to be endorsed?

Yes I do know that. But who can say that it is ok to catch sport fish, but not ok to pull a shark around on a block of chum that is connected to a chain or rope. Or would rope be ok?

I know folks who frequent the Dolphin Dream who are publicly very outspoken against the use of chains in baiting. I also know folks who have shot FOR Discovery Shark Week on the Dophin who feel their practices used are excessive, sensationalist and abusive. If ALL operators chose to set the standard higher and not allow film crews to create sensationalistic and abusive programming on their watch, the media portrayal of sharks would be in a different state. Unfortunately some operators do not take this stand, and the resulting video is what we end up with. And yes, their are many other important issues relating to sharks. That said, public empathy for the animals plays a critical role in supporting legislation to protect them. This kind of programing that that job more difficult....and working every day on this issue, we don't need any more obstacles than we already face.

Well if Drew did not start this topic off once again then we would not even be chatting about it. People would not be able to read about it, and people would not be able to find it on a gooooogle search. As it stands it is on the www for all to find. I totally agree that you dont need any more obstacles put in your way and do not personally think that it is the DD that you should be ranting about, it should be the Discovery Channel and other channels that screen items such as this. But like I keep saying Drew likes to drag the DD name down whenever he can.

I understand your need to defend the operator you choose. That said, please don't let this cause you to also defend the abusive and reckless treatment of the sharks we saw in this video. Your last post offers all kinds of justifications, then ends with "but, this doesn't mean I support it". If don't support it, then say so with conviction. If you do, then do state it. A luke warm posture is safe, but not really compelling. Let's not confuse the issue.

In the footage that was put on the posting I do not see much wrong with it. OK you will argue there is and have mentioned the chain for instance. I am entitled to my view and should be allowed to express my view on the forum, afterall thats what makes a good forum. I agree that screening footage like this can give the wrong perspective of sharks and that is totally wrong. But have a go at the multi billion dollar corporation Discovery and not the guy who is trying to earn a few dollars to feed his family. The stupidity on the dive deck, that I do agree was pathetic and careless. But having a solid frozen mass of fish on the end of a rope for the shark to attack is not really any different from shark feed dives. Like I said in my posting, bait crates are hard plastic and they chew and chomp on them all day long. Should all operators stop using bait crates as well. Is it any different than having a ball on a piece of rope for your pet dog to play with. I dont think it is. The only difference being that one is a domesticated animal, the other is wild. But then that opens up another can of worms. If we say that we should not do it to the sharks because they are wild animals, then do we then say we are not allowed to feed, chum and or use any kind of attractors into the water.

Scotty needs to man-up and tell Discovery this kind of behavior is not welcome on his boat and will not be tolerated. If they don't like it, then they can take their business elsewhere. In that case, I would be delighted to see him continue to run his business and share the sharks of the Bahamas with more potential shark supporters.

When was this footage taken, I do not have a clue myself but I guess a few years ago judging by the hairdo on the dive deck. Is there recent footage that shows similar or are the ones Drew repeatadly embeds the only ones. In which case they should be allowed to be put to bed and Drew should stop bringing them back to light. I would be interested to read the emails of complaint that have been sent to Discovery regarding this issue. Or has no one actually written to them.

I hope you take my commentary as intended, for the sharks and nothing more.
Cheers
shawn


Of course, I have broad shoulders and a big ugly face and more importantly an opinion. I donate a fair bit of my income to helping organisations to make the oceans a better place so asking whether I care is a little below the belt. If I came on the forum saying, yes this is great, where can i go to do this kind of thing, then you have the right to ask whether i care or not. But for just putting all this into perspective I feel the question was not called for. If I didnt care, I would not have spent half of this afternoon replying to you, and half of my life on Wetpixel.

Regards

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#18 adamhanlon

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:29 AM

Stew,

Unlike you I have not had the pleasure of diving with either operation so am unlikely to recognize the boat. I also have no affiliation with any operation. I can also assure that I have not been in a coma.

I think Shawn has put it more succinctly than I. If you support the cause of shark conservation, and hence disagree with what is being done in this film, then I think you should also take a stand on spending your dollars with the boat from which it was filmed.

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#19 Timmoranuk

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 09:05 AM

Well, at least two Christmas cards won't get sent this year; Discovery Channel (a good reason NOT to subscribe to satellite TV) and Dolphin Dream.

I expect Jim will be very pleased with DD's antics which can only serve to (deservingly) swell JASA bookings.
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#20 Drew

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 09:18 AM

Here's a little background info about Discovery for those who may not know:

The controversy of shark week has been around the last few years (as far back as 2005, I think) because the programming had been increasingly sensationalistic and thus detrimental to the public's perception of sharks. There was quite a bit of uproar against the shark week programs like those of Les Stroud's programs. Every year, there's a shark week and increasingly, there's been alleged abuse of animals ( either physically or through sensationalism, the public image of sharks) perpetrated by a few shark week programs, including most of the ones produced by Guerney Productions.
In fact, shark conservationists and other organizations, including DPG and WP, wrote a joint letter to Discovery about the programming and how it is detrimental to the conservation of sharks.

As a response to the criticism, Paul Gasek, executive producer for Discovery Channel and Shark Week, stated in 2010 :

"...we have millions of people watching our Shark Week programming (29 million people last year) and visiting our Shark Week website (one million people in July alone) we work hard to educate them about the importance of shark conservation.

Each year, Discovery Channel partners with Ocean Conservancy on a Public Service Announcement about the state of sharks which airs throughout Shark Week. Here’s the script for 2010’s PSA:

“Everyone hears about the rare incident of a shark mistaking a human for food – but the reality is we are taking sharks out of the ocean by the millions. Some shark species are down by 80%. Many face extinction. Sharks need your help to survive. Help Discovery and Ocean Conservancy protect sharks around the world””

We also dedicate a large portion of our website to shark conservation, using it as a tool to entertain and educate people.



So if their web sites and exec producer says they support shark conservation and promote it as so, I think it's safe to say that shark conservation is part of the mission statement of shark week, although evidently not in the actual programming.

The issue in this particular program "How Sharks Hunt" was the shark was treated. The clip (which is obviously from the recently broadcasted program) shows the crew pulling it around with the chumsicle chain and lead weight, possibly causing cuts , abrasions and losing teeth (and other more severe injures) to get the shot. Other operators have found ways to get the same result without doing that.

Now as to where the criticism should directed at, it's sort of chicken and egg. Discovery gets a pitch from production companies like Guerney and approves the program, then Guerney goes out and shoots it. So obviously part of the fault lies with Guerney and Discovery. This isn't Guerney's first controversial show, and it certainly won't be their last. However, if all the operators say to Discovery and Guerney productions that such antics aren't allowed, there's no way things like this can happen. Operators like DD enable the production crews. If DD didn't want anything like this to happen, it wouldn't.

Obviously, editing can make many things seem like it was real but it's not and DD has no control on how the show is edited. However, they have ultimate control over how the fish are handled and treated. The shark wrangling is the responsibility of the operator and not the TV crew. To allow an untrained person to wrangle the shark, endanger himself (and everyone else as well in this scene) is irresponsible.

However this brings us to a very important point: that Dolphin Dream, Guerney Productions and Discovery Channel are businesses and their primary mission is to make a profit first. There's nothing wrong with that. Still, even if Guerney books the DD for 3-4 weeks a year for their shoots, the operator can still put down stipulations of what can and cannot be done. Other responsible operators have done so, why not DD and others who choose to work with productions like these?

Are operators like this one trying to corner the production market by having the reputation of being the operator which allows anything? If so, then it's a good thing for potential clients to know this. Unfortunately, Discovery knows sensationalistic shark programming gets viewers. The annual shark week event shows it.

Fortunately, those who see that protecting the sharks as the first priority can also choose to support those who share this sentiment with their patronage. Knowledge is key and those looking for boats to do the Bahamas shark dives can decide for themselves whether to support an operation which doesn't protect the very sharks they make money off or one that does.

As Shawn says, it's time to work at stopping the production companies from concocting this sort of drivel and possibly affecting the health of the subjects, simply for a TV show. Of course there are fishing shows which hook fish etc. That's not the point. Is saying that other activities like sport fishing more damaging, thus it's not a big deal? The same argument is made for carbon emissions, with volcanoes vs human made emissions. Moreover, tiger sharks are slower reproducing fish and numbers are dwindling faster than sport fish. Shouldn't we do what we can when we can, one step at a time? This includes the operators, who are in the position to stop this since it can't happen without them.

Drew
Moderator
"Journalism is what someone else does not want printed, everything else is public relations."

"I was born not knowing, and have only had a little time to change that here and there.