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loftus

Chumming does not seem to change shark behaviour

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I think it's legitimate for the authors to suggest that these shark diving operations should not be dismissed out of hand by managers, but it seems odd to imply that such objections are largely based on concerns about long-range or long-term behavioral modifications of these sharks. Last I checked, the main concern about chumming and diving with sharks was the potential or perceived increased risk of "accidents" between routinely chummed sharks and people in the water—including people who encounter these sharks long after or far from these operationsnot to mention the counterproductive media hype and tourism drop-off that can ensue when these "accidents" occur. It's nice to know that shark dive operators' activities are not preventing or dissuading tiger sharks from heading off into the Gulf Stream, but that seems like a minor issue, and an answer to just one of many important questions that swirl around this weird industry, which somehow rationalizes the kinds of manipulations of wild predators that would be greeted with derision and horror if they were done on land with grizzly bears or mountain lions.

 

I got curious about what JASA is up to these days, so I went to the JASA Captain's blog. I found the following passage, which could easily be a line from an episode of "Flipper" or from one of the books I read as a child in the 1970s:

 

Later in the day our group noticed a beautiful, small Green Sea Turtle on the surface. It appeared to fear for its life as shark after shark came up to the surface to investigate. Thankfully, crew member Mike Black was able to get a hold of the turtle and bring it to the boat for safe keeping until we could release it back on the reef in much safer water.

 

I am astounded by this. First you manipulate a bunch of sharks into spending most of the day looking around for food that they aren't going to get, all for the purpose of making the sharks pass by your customers' cameras. Then, when a living prey item shows up and is investigated by its natural predators, and predation seems imminent—when actual nature is actually occurring!—you save the prey item so it can live another day? WTF?

 

I guess this is what I should expect from an operation whose motto is "the ocean is our playground."

Edited by danielandrewclem

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