02/08/12In recent years, there has been much debate about the controversial practice of adding bait to water to attract sharks. There was a time not so long ago, when you could almost be assured of a shark sighting if you were diving an outer reef, or hanging around at the point where the current splits. Those days have already gone and the decimation of our shark population to the finning industry continues at an alarming rate.
Sharks are at the top of the ocean’s food chain, and their importance to the health of our seas is never more paramount than right now. The battle to protect these apex predators seems to be one against the odds. Yet there are glimmers of hope among those of us who champion for their protection.
People are visual creatures, and one of the most effective ways to influence how we respond to a situation, is through graphic images. In the world of shark conservation, the question of ‘baiting to attract’ has become ever more critical. One argument suggests that it alters their natural behaviour. Another is the undeniable commercial advantage of shark feeding, sometimes offered as a novelty dive. And yet a third is the increased risk of something unpredictable happening, as the sharks become excited by the taint of fish blood in the water.
We need powerful images to tell our story of these misunderstood and exploited creatures. For every negative point raised, there are an equal number of positive ones. There is revenue generated locally to assist in shark protection schemes. The novelty dives help to break down prejudice and fear. The images that photographers capture can be used to raise awareness and funds, to gain support against a gruesome, reckless and unnecessary industry.
There is a tipping point beyond which it will be too late to reverse the damage already done. So the real question isn’t whether baiting or feeding is right or wrong, but whether we can globally put a stop to shark finning.
This image was taken with bait boxes in the water. The bait used was frozen, dead fish heads.
Their world. Our hands. It’s time to decide.
Photographed at Little Bahama Banks, The Bahamas