[Coral-List] Shark Feeding

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Thu Sep 17 13:44:47 EDT 2015

Dear Listers,

I have a question that I believe is relevant to the Coral-List as it has been fairly well established that conservation of sharks and other upper-level predators is a vital component in the effective management of the world's coral reefs. Within my industry (scuba diving) shark dives involving provisioning is all the rage. Most recently I was bewildered by an article that announced that there would be an attempt made to set a world record for the longest "shark dive". In the spirit of full disclosure, my opposition to these activities is two-fold. One is best summed up by taking a quote from a paper written by Mark B. Orams in Tourism Mangagement (2002) "Where it becomes objectionable for many is in the gradual creep of these kinds of approaches into the few remaining vestiges of the uninfluenced natural world. The argument that there should be some places and some experiences that remain sacred from human influence, as much as is possible, is a good one. The feeding of wildlife in natural settings to simply facilitate interaction with tourists is a corruption of this philosophy and that is probably the real reason that the feeding of wildlife is such an emotional issue so vehemently opposed by some". My other concern is that if feeding sharks somehow becomes "scientifically sanctioned" even under the guise of promoting shark conservation, it seems logical to extend that same rationale to all other marine wildlife species or at the very least, to the many which are similarly at risk.

I seem to be out on an island on this. I don't hear many within my industry voicing opposition so I want to know if the old adage of "not feeding wildlife" applies to marine wildlife today or if that concept is simply out of step with contemporary thinking on the issue.


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