I had a boss once who was prone to strange perspectives on things. One day, he came across an article about shark’s fin soup, and how the mad desire to eat it was endangering sharks.
“Why would anyone want to eat a soup made from the cartiliginous appendage of a dangerous sea creature?” he asked aloud. “Except maybe for revenge…” he further speculated.
The fact is that there are not enough people who owe sharks revenge to create a serious problem for sharks. Shark attacks in Florida, for example, apparently occur only about once in 11.5 million visits to the beach. Notwithstanding the high drama of such events when they occur–the ‘derby reported several weeks ago, for example on a father’s heroic rescue of his son from an attack in Australia–it’s for other reasons people want shark fins. And it’s pretty brutal how they go about getting them. They catch the sharks, cut off the fins, and toss the animals back into the water to die.
And thus a contigent of shark-attack survivors has gatherd in Washington, DC this week to petition Congress to enact legislation protecting sharks from “finning,” as many species are seriously endangered. The article in the Washington Post is filled with quotes from people introduced by name, age, and hideous shark-induced injury. “Joe Smith, 43, lost an arm to a shark in 1982…” it will say, for example.
Every shark survivor asked to participate didn’t choose to do so. According to these folks, some people in their position get angry and stay angry for a long time at the creature who hurt them. Others though, come in time to recognize that a shark is a shark and will attack. It isn’t personal. Also, many of these folks are ocean enthusiasts, scientists and environmentalists, which is how they found themselves in the way of hungry sharks in the first place. They worry about what effect the loss of the top of the ocean’s food chain will have on a delicate ecosystem.
I don’t know. I understand the dad who saved his son earlier this year is back on the water, riding the surf with his boy, which is admirable. But could I forgive and defend the creature who hurt my child so badly? I hope I could. I do understand the principal involved. But it would be hard. What do you think? Could you protect the creature that took a bite out of your child?