Shark feeding controversy

Check out this footage of a group in Florida called the "Marine Safety Group." They have caught a shark with rope, and proceed to shoot it with a handgun several times -- in the presence of a small baby. One of the guys calls the shark a "Bii-aaatch" (which is just too funny!), and their boat is called "Sea Kill." The story of how this tape was acquired is interesting too, but you'll have to ask Jim, if you ever see him. I'm not sure that I'm allowed to tell it myself.

There's a raging debate going on at Wetpixel about baiting and feeding sharks. It seems to me that people who are in favor of shark-feeding bans do so only because they "feel" like it's wrong. There seem to be no real facts that absolutely correlate shark feeding with danger to humans. I feel that it is slightly hypocritical to campaign so ferently against "modifying" shark behavior when one's very existence on this globe is the result of the absolute modification of the behavior of all non-human life. In my opinion, the benefits of public outreach and education stemming from baiting sharks in for viewing far outweigh the disadvantages of having sharks that will come closer to humans. The vast majority of people who harbor a "Jaws mentality" clearly have not been in the water with sharks, unless, of course, you were in the water with a shark and were bitten. :) Accidents definitely happen, but people are killed by all sorts of things; if you don't go into the water out of fear of friendly sharks, you probably shouldn't ever leave your house. Note that I'm not certain about the statistics shown in the above link, but it's interesting to read nonetheless. Also, these statistics don't take into consideration the number of people around each of the respective "threats." True statistics would compare (# shark attacks/# people at risk) to (# people injured by X/# people at risk) instead of using total populations in the denominator.

Shark feeding proponents aren't arguing that shark feeding doesn't change behavior. They are arguing that the effects of fish waste disposal by fisherman far outweighs the effect of shark baiting and feeding by divers. They are also arguing the banning shark feeding for viewing is discriminatory:

In the state of Florida under the present ruling (courtesy of Jim Abernethy):

- It is perfectly legal to feed a shark, at the public beach on a fishing pier.

- It is perfectly legal to feed a shark, if you want to catch and release it or take it home to eat.

- It is perfectly legal to feed a shark, if you want to catch it to take a trophy picture and then push it in the water dead.

- It is perfectly legal to feed a shark, if you want to shoot it with a gun.

- But it is not legal to feed a shark if you want to view it with a mask or use it as an educational tool to help protect the species.

More interesting reading:

- The Wetpixel Debate
- WeLoveSharks.com
- CDNN Shark Feeding Report (the people behind this site are unknown, and they have violated numerous copyrights by using photos without permission)
- CDNN Forum about Shark Feeding
- CNN.com - 'Shark Summer'