Shark vs. Man

Since the beginning of time, humans have always tried to conquer and overcome nature. Whether it is building enormous skyscrapers that disturb the perfect serenity of sky, or hunting innocent creatures for sport, people treat nature as inferior to them. Industrializing the world and eliminating our old ways of living have been goals of the human race for centuries now. It is almost looked down upon to be one with nature now, and give in to its beauty. Specifically for males in society, it has been a highly praised action throughout the years to overcome nature. Many males believe it is respectful to show their superiority through hunting, fishing, exposing themselves to danger, etc. This is because it causes men to feel greater than the world, and gives them a sense of power. Since sharks are one of the most deadly predators in the world, many men make it a sport to hunt sharks. By doing this, men feel like they have control over the most dangerous animal in nature. By researching shark hunting, I found that it was a perfect representation of humans’ desire to battle nature.
Fishing is a very common sport among men throughout the world. Many people believe it provides bonding time, and allows males to sit out on the water for hours in nature, talking and attempting to catch large fish. Originally, fishing was simple and only used for food. Only when people were hungry did they actually fish: it was never a game or sport. Now as we clearly don’t need to fish for ourselves any longer, people have continued to do it nonetheless, mainly because it is entertaining in a lot of people’s minds. With men specifically, it helps them feel like they have control. As the “sport” became more competitive, it was known that the bigger the fish you caught, the more masculine you were. Therefore, sharks began being the target for sport or game fishing. They weren’t hunted for food, but simply for game. Catching a large shark would be a confidence booster for any fisherman. Even though it is not vital or necessary for survival, it allows men to feel superior to nature.
So why is it “cool” in so many people’s minds to overcome nature? In my opinion we are not actually overcoming it. Although we always try to grasp nature and have it be beneath us, it will never actually happen. By treating the wilderness so horribly, we are also causing ourselves pain. Humans forget that they actually originated from nature, and at one time we weren’t in the safety of our indoor homes with meat in the fridge and running water. Despite all this, people still think that it is necessary to overcome nature. Some people like Bear Grylls, seem totally unselfish when it comes to nature. However, I believe that it is a tactic to demonstrate their power, and inspire other people to want to be like them. It is desirable for many because it is an indicator of masculinity. As I was researching men who hunt sharks, I found a surprising amount of stories. Although there are now laws and regulations surrounding shark hunting, it still occurs a lot around the world. In other countries, sharks are still killed mindlessly for their fins. For example, in China there is a legendary dish called “Shark Fin Soup”. Many Chinese consider it a delicacy. Little do they know, sharks are becoming more endangered and face the risk of extinction in further years if the hunting continues. Humans are constantly taking more than what they actually need. Shark hunting is a perfect example of this, because it demonstrates how people believe they are superior to the ocean and nature.
I am a firm believer in nature, and hate it when humans attempt to abuse it and take advantage of its resources. What bothers me most is the treatment of the ocean, specifically how people kill innocent sharks. However, I must agree that is clear to see why humans are afraid of sharks. For decades, they have been portrayed as evil and malicious in movies, commercials, books, etc. From the time we were kids, the idea that sharks are mean has been implanted in our brains. Through movies such as Jaws, Open Water, and even Finding Nemo or the Little Mermaid, sharks are illustrated as monstrous beasts that prowl the waters looking for humans to kill. Images in realistic movies show sharks slicing through the water creeping towards their prey, with their fins sticking ominously into the air. Music that invokes fear or nervousness is also played during the movies when sharks are being shown. Automatically, because of the way they are filmed, and the suspenseful music in the background, humans are naturally going to fear sharks. Even in children’s movies, sharks are always enormous with big large teeth and they chase the main character of the movie. Therefore, kids are going to assume that the sharks are the “bad guys”.
Personally I believe that sharks are absolutely incredible animals who are completely misunderstood. In my experience with sharks, I have never once felt threatened or vulnerable when being with these beautiful animals. I’ve swam with many sharks in my life, including the most dangerous types in the world. You always hear about shark attacks, and how a person was “minding their own business” when they suddenly got brutally attacked by a savage shark. However, if you truly research a shark attack incident, most of the time the person was acting as a threat to the shark by taunting them or making harsh movements. Therefore, it is unfair to say that sharks are killing machines who kill people with no reason or cause. We are actually the ones who kill them without a cause.
The most memorable experience I had with a shark was when I was working in Fiji this past summer. We went on a shark dive as a research project in which I got to feed over 50 sharks. There were a variety of different kinds including; Nurse, Lemon, Bull, Reef, and Tiger sharks. I was completely immersed in the sharks, without a cage or spear for protection. Before the dive, I had been told many times by my dive master that it would be almost impossible to see a Tiger shark. This greatly disappointed me because they are one of my favorite animals, and I have been studying them for years so it was my dream to see one. Tiger sharks are considered the most deadly sharks in the world, because even though they aren’t exactly as large as a Great White, they are more vicious and aggressive. As I was feeding a ten-foot long bulky Bull shark, I noticed all the other fish began darting away. Soon I was left alone, with a large piece of dead fish in my hand. Immediately I knew what had happened. I looked as an enormous figure began immerging from the darkness. She came with the most overpowering presence in the world. Her sleek muscular body was covered in dark brown stripes that raced down her razor sharp skin. Scars creased the fins that shot up from her body like a mountain range rising up from the Earth. The Tiger shark swam with force yet also with peace towards me. Her wisdom and antiquity radiated through the water, causing me to be in complete awe. She was truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. As she stared into my eyes, my heart began pounding wildly. I felt respect and admiration for this beautiful animal. She seemed so much wiser and so much more established than me. I felt more in touch with nature at that moment than I had ever felt in my life. As the eighteen foot long shark swam inches away from my head, I was honored to be in her presence. I reached out my hand, and stroked her beautiful head gently as she swam by me. Even though she was supposed to be the most dangerous creature in the ocean, she didn’t seem like that whatsoever.
Having spent a lot of my time in the ocean, I understand why sharks don’t scare me. However many people are terrified by them and reject the ocean because of their phobia. Although, if you look at shark attack statistics, the numbers are surprisingly low, especially in comparison to deaths that occur in things like car accidents. This always puzzles me because each day of our lives all of us get into cars. We have all heard about car crashes, and have all witnessed one on the side of the freeway while driving by. However, we still fear sharks more than cars, or anything else. This is another reason why shark hunting is so admirable to some people. Since sharks are portrayed as evil and scary, when people fish for them it is considered to be heroic. Males feel like they have the upper-hand when fishing for sharks. My goal is to even out the imbalance between man and nature. We are all the same, and all originated from the same place. Why punish sharks for our insecurities?


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