Greenpeace Australia Pacific BLOG

Shark Girl: Why the Discovery Channel has got it wrong on sharks

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Rashini Suriyaarachchi

This is a guest blog by activist and shark lover Madi Stewart – also known as Shark Girl. Madi has been swimming with sharks since she was 12 years old, and makes conservation films to try and change the way people see her finned friends.

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Many people develop relationships with animals. For some, it’s their pet dog or cat, the possum that lives in their backyard tree, or their local birds. The animal I most connect with is the shark.

But growing up loving sharks can be very different to growing up with your pet labrador. Put yourself in my shoes – how would you feel if people took pride in killing your favourite animal, if the media gave them a terrible reputation, or if people ate them and hated them?

This is what I face everyday when my favourite animal is the shark.

The significance of sharks to our oceans and their true nature continues to be neglected – not only by films like Jaws, but also by the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

What’s wrong with the way the Discovery Channel depicts sharks?

Out of all the species I have encountered underwater, sharks are the most cautious towards me. In my experience, they’re affable, and they operate in a peaceful equilibrium in which they live and hunt without sound.

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Sharks do not need an introduction that involves dramatic music or blood spilling into the water.

How our species perceives another can be deadly for them. The fear that people who see shark attacks on Shark Week programming, or hear the Jaws theme when they’re at the beach feel about sharks is not natural. It’s created by darkness and ignorance.

And in the absence of caring voices from these masses – sharks silently disappear.

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So what can you do?

Look past what you’ve been told about sharks and dismiss what you cannot prove. Because when you look at sharks with fearful eyes – that fear can be deadly.

You can help save Madi’s best friends today – send an urgent email to the West Australian government urging them not to extend the brutal and misguided mass cull of sharks!

Blog post by: Rashini Suriyaarachchi
Hi, I'm Rashini! I'm the Digital Communications Officer at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. Right now, I'm working on digital campaigns and the Green Living blog series. I love feedback - so leave a comment or tweet me any time and I'll get back to you!
All blogposts by Rashini Suriyaarachchi
  • Andy Warstar

    Sharks good! People bad.

  • http://www.gibsonsrecycling.ca/ Gibsons Recycling

    Sharks good…..media bad!

  • Burrel Mathieu

    Yes sharks is yummy :D

  • Brittney

    You are a woman after my own heart! It’s so great to see someone speaking on behalf of these misunderstood beauties. Good on you!

  • http://wwwnostalgic-cuisine.com.au Lana

    when someone robs our home – we go mad —-when the sharks food is stolen from them…..to make people rich (look at fish prices)….they get hungry – so we kill them. God must weep every day he sees our destruction.

  • Joel

    What an amazing young woman. Standing up for what’s right and going against the masses. When so many other people are being blinded by ignorance and consumed by fear this courageous girl swims quite literally hand in hand with these so called ‘monsters’ and proves the hysteria is completely invalid. Yes, sharks can sometimes mistake us for seals and other marine animals but it’s clear we are not what they are after, if we were more people would be eaten. We need to remember that when we go in the water we need to exercise caution and if we know there’s a shark in the area or sharks do frequent there area, stay out of the water. It’s that simple.

    • Rashini

      Exactly, Joel! Thanks for your comment.

  • Ishmael Hamon

    i was just in the water with a shark…..i got out the water. i wasn’t scared but i don’t speak shark and it was 4 metres long. if it told me it wasn’t hungry i’d have stayed in and had a good conversation about depleting tuna stocks in the pacific

    • Rashini

      Haha, love it! Thanks for sharing Ishmael :)