Experience in the Civil Science of Sharks

It’s been months since I’ve written at raw.bio. For shame. I have been working on the house more-or-less, threw a great Halloween party despite the disarray. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that stuff has happened but now it’s time. Time to write a post.

I went shark fishing for the first time last week. My brother-in-law is super into it as well as my sister. They even have started their own little business, Spartan Tackle, selling the stuff that’s used to preform this activity (note the words and logos on the shirt I’m wearing – yes, my siblings, this is your plug). They have been doing this since before their first child was born and now that little girl is a heck of a beach baby. In addition to shark fishing, her, my sister, and I collected seashells. It was great.

The process of “shark fishing” is a leap from quite boring (aside from enjoying the view and the seashells… and, if it hadn’t been 40 degree F and windy, the swimming and whatnot). Until it’s abruptly not boring. Then it is ridiculously exciting. There is so much to do all at once and it takes multiple people to do it.

Capturing a shark like this is a team effort. Someone must prepare and pack the camp (no small thing). Someone must prep and kayak the bate and hooks out hundreds of meters. Someone must reel the fish in (and in my case, first timer and all, I had help with that job too); meanwhile, as it gets closer to shore, someone lassos it to bring it closer on the shore. Someone must make sure it stays put, but also isn’t at risk of suffocation. Someone must tag the fish and then there is the release.

Seeing one off was moving.

Last Friday, I reeled in a 10ft dusky shark (that’s big). Beautiful and graceful, she brought me perspective on an animal we rarely see. The dusky shark is among the overfished and is at 15-20% the population they had in the ’70’s. Our group tagged her for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) so that the continued conservation of dusky sharks can be watched and populations preserved. Without it, this apex predator is not likely to survive. The tag can be seen on the viewer’s side of the front dorsal fin. These sharks live around 38 years. I hope this one lives long.

Reeling in a 10ft shark takes time. One of the veterans on the team though it took about 45minutes, which is a quick speed (go team! woo!). My right arm was working pretty much that whole time. And sometimes, all the effort I could give was not enough. The pole would bend over as the shark fought and it was a toggle of reel in and release until it could be reeled all the way in.

This shark was not exactly thrilled to be caught as I doubt any animal would be. But I was surprised at its calmness once in. She gave my brother-in-law a harsh slap to the face with that wicked tail, but he barely bat an eye and kept at it.

At the end of it all, I nearly wept with amazement.

To reiterate… this species and others have been diminished in population directly because of human work. Issues such as overfishing, bycatch, and shark finning all contribute to a threat to the stability of our environment.

Species ebb and flow and come into existence and go extinct. But, I think it’s important to keep in mind that the world we came into and can live in is the one with dusky sharks and other creatures in the cycle that supports our existence. It is in our interest not to fuck it up, lest we go extinct.

Being the flavor of transhumanist that I am, I am looking for a way out of this type of survival, but that does not mean I want to rush our species into harm’s way or risk other species’ lives either. It’s a delicate balance and humanity knows how to push it and push it hard. It doesn’t hurt to inform yourself and pay attention to potential repercussions of our actions. And perhaps even try to do the right thing.




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