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The Dark Room

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#1 shawnh


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Posted 02 January 2012 - 08:30 AM

Hi folks,

After wishing everyone a wonderful and happy new year, I figured it was time to get something off of my chest. The Dark Room is a visual journey through the darker side of my investigative work in the shark fin trade. I share this story and images as a means of self therapy, to clear my head so I can move forward in 2012 revitalized and passionate to make a difference.

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Warning – The following contains imagery that depicts the hard truth.

My soul was blackened. Where once I had seen light at the end of the tunnel, now there was only darkness engulfing me. How had mankind gone so far off the track, engaging in such barbaric acts, willful cruelty and reckless destruction? Nature has given us so many incredible gifts, but rather than cherish and protect them, we have set out to systematically eradicate them.

Fighting on the frontlines of shark conservation can be a lonely, frustrating and often depressing experience. In July of 2011, I had just returned from a long string of investigations focused on the shark fin and manta ray gill-raker trade. With a decade of environmental investigation experience under my belt, I have seen just about every imaginable act of cruelty and wanton destruction. Through these hard experiences I have learned to separate myself, developing an alter ego as it were, to cope in the heat of the moment and not subject myself to increased danger.

Over the years I have convinced myself that these two personas can coexist in harmony, that my thick skin and polished armor would safeguard my soul from the effects of the ugliness I have witnessed. I feared that if it the blackness seeped through a crack in my armor, it would poison my soul and I would lose the path. Folks often ask me what it is like to work on frontlines and how do I keep it up. I respond with a safe confident answer that I get used to it, that I maintain professional detachment, keep my cool, focus on the job at hand, and I don’t internalize it.

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In the face of such destruction, I walk a fine line between bitter reality and hope. My job is to expose the destruction as a wake up call to the world, but also to preserve hope in the future; that mankind will wake up, will change and things will get better. I call this approach ‘strong medicine in small doses’. The problem is, in the process of collecting these ‘small doses’ I have had to expose myself to massive and prolonged doses. And as no surprise, this extreme exposure has proven toxic and painful and only now am I realizing this.

Read More: Journal: The DARK ROOM
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#2 acuevas


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Posted 02 January 2012 - 10:06 AM

My respects to you Shawn.
I have to admit that I dropped a few tears after reading your Dark Room.

I don't have any clever words to tell you, but I can tell you that whenever you feel alone remember that there is people all over the world that cares what you are doing, I care.

People that is damaging the earth doesn't believe on anything, we must believe that the human kind can change, we must believe that is possible.

Hope you a great 2012. :)
Andres Cuevas

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#3 adamhanlon


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Posted 02 January 2012 - 12:31 PM

Bravo Shawn!

We need people out there bringing these kinds of images back.

These pictures, bleak as they are, must spur us on to do more.

I hope 2012 proves to be the year when we turn the corner and put the brakes on this brutal grotesque trade.


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#4 gina


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Posted 03 January 2012 - 07:37 AM


Those images are horrific and tear-inducing, but necessary. I simply do not understand how people can act that way, but the behaviour of most people puzzles me in general.

Thank you so much for all the work you do. You are making a difference! Let's all be strong and continue to work for ocean conservation.

Thanks again,

#5 sasdasdaf


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Posted 04 January 2012 - 06:50 PM


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures. Respect to you for being so strong and driven to make a difference. Your work inspires us all.


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