An Open Letter to the Sharks


By the time you read this, you’ll probably be snared on a drum line, waiting to die a slow and painful death; punishment for your heinous crime of existing in your own ocean. If I may be honest, we don’t like you. In fact, your mere presence in the great blue abyss of our beloved seas makes us uncomfortable.

You frighten our children. You certainly scare our tourists. Where the bloody hell are you?

You’ve only been an apex predator of the seas for the past 450 million years. That’s no big deal- we’ve come along at what may be near the finish line of your race through evolutionary being, and I’m pretty sure our 200,000 years of modern existence trumps yours. We know better about what’s best for you, and we want our beaches to ourselves.

We go for swims, and surfs and paddles- the ocean is our playground. When you come along and attack someone (a case of mistaken identity, you call it), we get angry. You didn’t know any better, you claim. Instead of respecting that the ocean is your domain, and your very presence in our seas allows the ecosystem to remain healthy and in balance, we’ve decided that killing you is the solution to the problem.

Because we know what’s best for you.

In response to the seven shark fatalities in Western Australia between 2010 and 2013, we’ve implemented a shark cull- we’ve installed 72 drum lines along the coast, at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of $20 million dollars, according to the Guardian, with the aim of snaring you, and your great white, tiger, and bull shark brethren. Fisherman attach a small amount of bait, just enough to entice you into nibbling and hooking on, and then the drums hold you until you drown. And die. Never mind the fact that sharks are constantly migrating, and that a great white shark can travel thousands of miles to feed when food is scare. So, who’s to say the sharks terrorizing the good people of WA are the same sharks that will actually be killed in the cull?

Don’t worry; we know what’s best for you.

In 2013, 46 people drowned in WA. But we won’t shut down the beaches or close the swimming pools. In 2013, 163 people died in road accidents in WA. But we won’t shut down the roads, or cull the car manufacturing plants. Between 2003 and 2007, deaths related to cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol consumption ended the lives of 325 people in WA. But that didn’t lead to a culling of bars and breweries.

From 1959-1976, the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources implemented a shark culling program, which saw 4500 sharks killed, in an effort to protect the good people of Hawaii from you blood-thirsty monsters. The conclusion of the program was that it had no effect on the number of shark attacks.

We also overfish, dump unwanted chum along the coast, and we use the beaches and oceans as a place of recreation and relaxation, more than we ever have before.

Yes, we may enter your home, uninvited and in search of our own pleasure, but this whole mess is your fault for your refusal to behave as we want you to.

And, for that, you must be punished.

Sincerely yours,

The Government of Western Australia


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