Oceans of Opportunity

it’s a bad week to be a seal

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael Lombardi

For ocean enthusiasts big and small, it’s near impossible to tune in to Discovery’s Shark Week for at least some of the latest action. This week happens to be it.

A few things go noticed for those of us that are more closely connected with the industry:

1. the ‘style’ of content delivery is as close to mainstream reality television as possible an environmental documentary. This is good in that it reaches today’s popular/mass audience (good for ratings). This is bad in that it is overly repetitive and appears ‘hoakie’.

2. Where’s the real ‘meat’. Certainly we do not know all there is to know about sharks, but one can only digest so much of white sharks breaching and feeding action- of course this sensationalism grabs audiences, but makes me tune out.

3. Poor seals – even the positioning statement for this year’s Shark Week of ‘it’s a bad week to be a seal’ says it all. perhaps we need a ‘Seal Week’ to support these poor critters who do nothing but get eaten all week, and poked fun about it.

Probably two decades ago I recall the first killer whale feeding videos where they chased seals up onto the ice as they blitzed their prey in a frenzy. Those images were considered ‘graphic’ and were restricted to certain audiences. Now we have chum blasting out of canons and guts spewing from the poor seals on daytime television. Censorship is an  entirely different subject, but the point is that being de-sensitized has done much to bring us action, but little to bring us new knowledge.

Always a challenge – how do we bring science to the public. Sharks are always an interesting experimental vector given their public appeal, though I do hope that we can find a balance between guts and glory with new scientific knowledge for the betterment of humanity.

For more from the author, visit oceanopportunity.com.

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