Climate Politics Ocean Conservation Swim With Sharks

My Response to Commissioner Ron Beaty on Cape Cod Shark Cull

Today’s post comes as a response to Barnstable County Commissioner, Ron Beaty’s recently announced “shark hazard mitigation strategy”.

On Monday, August 21st a video surfaced of a shark eating a seal 75 feet of the shoreline of a crowded Nauset Beach in Cape Cod. Cape Cod white sharks have a singular focus on seals; they would call this “eating dinner”, but Ron Beaty is calling it an “attack” and using it to launch his proposal for a massive shark killing spree in Cape Cod.

Beaty’s plan is to deploy drum lines along popular beaches; any white sharks that are found hooked will be shot to death, their bodies tossed out to sea. He claims this plan has been a successful strategy used in places like Australia, which is a flat out lie; the Australian government deemed drum lines an ineffective way to handle shark populations earlier this year.

I just have one question for Commissioner Beaty: Who the hell do you think you are?

The ocean is not our home, it’s theirs. The ocean belongs to sharks and all the other marine organisms that inhabit it.

Anyone who swims off Nauset beach knows, or should know, that they share those waters with sharks. The same goes for any beach across the world; when we enter the ocean we are doing so as a guest and there is always a risk associated with that.

During the “incident” caught on that video, no one was injured. It was startling to watch as the water turned red from the blood of the seal, but all the lifeguards got everyone out of the water; no one was harmed in the making of this “ready to go viral on Facebook” video. The call for a shark cull is entirely unwarranted in any situation, but it’s even more unbelievable in this case.

It’s also clear that Beaty’s proposal comes with absolutely no knowledge of sharks or the history of sharks in the Cape Cod region. He’s defended his proposal by claiming an increase in shark attacks in Cape Cod, without citing any credible statistics, “from my viewpoint, there is a clear and present danger to human life as a result of this growing problem.” The simple fact is that there has not been a fatal shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936.

It’s obvious that Beaty has spent far too much time in front of the television watching Jaws instead of reading a book. In an interview with CapeCod.com he had this to say about sharks, “These sharks are not pets. They are man-eaters. They are killers. So we have to see them for what they are. We’ll see how much we embrace it when somebody’s child is eaten alive.”

The laughable inaccuracies of this statement truly prove this man has no idea what he’s talking about and should not be the one making the decisions regarding the future of these animals.

Despite the backlash he’s received, including refusal of support from other Commissioners, Beaty is sticking to the idea that his plan is the only one that will work.

 

He’s even going as far as to taunt those on Twitter who are expressing outrage over his comments.

 

And quite honestly, all of this Twitter nonsense is a page straight out of the Donald Trump playbook. Are grown ass politicians really still threatening the “I told you so”? I thought we all dropped that in middle school.

Sharks are vital to the health of the ocean. Marine life experts, including those from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, have said the presence of the great white sharks is indicative of a healthy ocean ecosystem. To quote Sylvia Earle, “you should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks”.

The fact that Ron Beaty thinks the solution to keeping humans safe at the beach is to order a massacre of innocent sharks is a stunning example of humans believing they are the all mighty superior species – and that is the furthest thing from the truth. Sharks are an ancient species, having existed for more than 450 million years, which is about 65 times longer than our most distant ancestor.

Beaty wants to murder white sharks before we even have a chance to truly understand them. White sharks are probably one of the most feared sharks in the ocean, yet we still know so little about them. We don’t know for sure how long they live, how many months they gestate, or when they reach maturity. No one has seen great whites mate or give birth. We don’t really know how many there are or where, exactly, they spend most of their lives.

To senselessly kill off the entire white shark population in Cape Cod would be robbing us of the chance to truly understand these animals.

“People fear what they do not understand.” I understand this rash decision by Beaty is being made out of fear because he doesn’t understand sharks. So why not use this as a learning opportunity for government officials and private citizens alike. Rather than deploy drum lines to kill sharks, let’s start advocating for more shark education in Cape Cod and help people better understand sharks and know that they are not “man eaters” or “killers”.

For those interested in learning more about sharks, I encourage you to check out the following organizations and individuals:

Atlantic White Shark Conservancy 

Nakawe Project

Conversation Ocean

Bimini Sharklab

One Ocean Diving

Andy Casagrande

Paul de Gelder


Beaty’s proposal is currently in an “indefinite interim freeze” until “another variable alternative” to the “Cape Cod White Shark problem” is offered. (Can we take a moment to acknowledge this disgusting photo choice? This man clearly has no respect for animals and is downright rotten to the core.)

 

This proposal is garbage and should not be acknowledged by any government official. Nor should any other option to try and cull sharks. It’s plain as day; the ocean is their home and we have no right to try and regulate where they swim or feed. All we can do is be cautious and recognize the risks of entering the ocean.

To have your voice heard and let Ron Beaty know how ridiculously cruel this plan is you can contact him at:

ron.beaty@barnstablecounty.org or 774-994-2959

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Rosie August 31, 2017 at 4:41 am

    It’s scary that completely misinformed people are allowed to make decisions and do things that are so damaging to the environment. I went to a wolf sanctuary in Alberta earlier this year and they told me about the ‘wolf management’ program that runs up there – similarly to this, no experts or actual science were used when deciding to start this ‘program’ and it’s actually more damaging to cull wolves than it is to deal with the real problem, which is the encroachment of mining, forestry and tourism on habitats.

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