Monday, February 18, 2013
Setting an Example for Future "Shark-Girls"
This video has been going around the Internet and I have had quite a few people email or message me about it.
As a woman in the shark conservation and shark diving industry, I want my reputation to be based on the media I create, the outreach I do and the message I spread. I am not trying to prove how, “tough,” or, “cool,” I am, in fact, I am a science geek who is utterly obsessed with sharks.
I believe this woman was actually sharing a positive message for sharks and I have no doubt that she loves these animals and wants to help protect them. I am not sure though, why grabbing or riding sharks, seems to be the current popular choice for spreading shark conservation. She has spent time in the water and has observed the behavior of these animals, but what about the yahoo that has not and decides this looks like fun? What happens when something goes wrong? It is NOT the shark’s fault, but the shark will get blamed and it will only add fuel to the fire built on stereotypes, fear mongering and media frenzies.
I do a lot of classroom visits and I am always thrilled when girls come up and say they want to be a marine biologist or dive with sharks. If I am so lucky as to be looked at as a role model, I want young girls to aspire to ask questions, be science geeks and love and respect the ocean. I don’t want them to feel as though they have to ride a shark wearing a bikini to make a difference. I know sex sells and it is used to sell everything from potato chips to automobiles, but I do not think we need more reasons in society for woman to only be valued for their body.
P.S In the words of my good friend Mike Neumann, “sharks are NOT underwater scooters.”