In recent days social media networks are on fire. Deep Blue reappears in Hawaii, the largest white shark ever recorded and weren’t we all lucky that Ocean Ramsey was there for some amazing videos swimming with this incredible animal.
The manipulation of information in news and social media
We all know that social networks sell us what they want. Many people use them as a means of personal promotion, which is perfect, but not when it is done by manipulating information as a regular practice in posts, photos, etc.
It was more than a week before information came out that indeed the great shark in the videos was not Deep Blue but another female named “Haloe girl.” Of course, it wasn’t the original ‘influencer’ Ocean Ramsey who shared the information. Several scientists and dive operators who specialize in diving with these types of animals were the ones to deny the news. Personally, the most serious mistake I see in this type of post about Deep Blue in Hawaii and Ocean Ramsey is that the focus of the video is her TOUCHING this incredible white shark. In this huge moment of encountering these large sharks the biologist didn’t think to showcase the fact that there are more large sharks like Deep Blue, that their migratory routes take the females to the same area at the same time… in short, it was more important to make a ‘likeable’ video instead of something with scientific value. Gotta get those followers.
Neither ruthless killers nor household pets
We agree that we have to work hard to protect our oceans. For far too long the great white has been considered a mindless killing machine, which they’re not… but they are also not our pets. They are neither one thing nor the other, they are wild animals, predators, that, depending on the circumstances, will have a passive or aggressive response to their surroundings.
Seconds of glory regardless of the consequences
For those who have only seen the videos of Deep Blue in Hawaii and have not read or gone further, I leave a Facebook post of Dr. Michelle Domeier, researcher in the Guadalupe Islands and member of the Marine Conservation Science Institute:
“Many people who saw my last post may wonder: “Hey, what’s the bid deal…the sharks weren’t hurt by people riding them.” Let me give you a bit of background on white shark life history. Females only give birth once every two years, and sometimes the process is so energetically taxing that they will skip a breeding cycle. All 3 sharks observed feeding on the whale were female…and there’s a 50% chance each one was pregnant. In fact, Deep Blue is almost certainly pregnant since she has been pupping on odd years recently. Pupping time is just 4 months away, meaning these big girls are currently feeding about 500 pounds of babies in their uteri! These sharks spend almost their entire 18-month gestation in the deep offshore waters between the mainland and Hawaii, where food is very, very scarce. I led the very first expedition to that area, sometimes referred to the White Shark Cafe or Shared Offshore Foraging Area (our preferred moniker), and we found almost nothing that we would recognize as white shark food. We did find quite a lot of sperm whales, so maybe the occasional encounter with a dead sperm whale is the majority of the caloric intake for these huge sharks! Harassing a pregnant white shark while she is trying to feed could cause her to leave the meal…impacting her ability to successfully carry her pups to term or reproduce the next cycle. Did you know that the very next day after all the videos went viral there were about 60 people floundering around that dead whale in hopes of having their encouter with a white shark? Guess how many sharks were observed: ZERO! Don’t you think all those people in the water might intimidate the sharks?? And if they try to come in and feed they have people climbing all over them, all wanting to be like O. Ramsey? Think about that…. “
Where ethics die
As diving professionals, marine biologists, nature lovers and people with common sense, we know that rule number 1 is NEVER TOUCH. This is even more important when you have a position where you can influence many people. For a few minutes of glory, that ‘perfect’ photo or video teaches all your followers that this behavior is okay. We have gotten into a culture where getting “that photo” breaks all the established rules. What matters more? The morality of what you’re doing or getting 25k Instagram followers?
When a weekend tourist pulls a starfish out of the water to get a photo taken, it is wrong, but perhaps he does not know it. When a professional in the diving industry is mounting a shark this not only harms the animal and their environment, but it provokes others to do the same. It is showing a lack of respect to all those that teach and educate new divers the number 1 rule…. DO NOT TOUCH.
Let’s change the world starting with those closest to you
Much of our work at Azul Unlimited is the professional training of new PADI Divemasters and Dive Instructors. We were in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for several years and now in Labuan Bajo, and the Komodo National Park.
Our philosophy is all about environmentalism and conservation of our planet. We work hard to make it important to our students as well because we want to make a difference in this quickly degrading environment. How do we make a difference? By reducing the use of plastic, keeping a respectful diet based on plants and sustainable proteins, reducing our CO2 footprint and trying to raise awareness through social networks.
We can use social media for teaching and sharing opinions or use it for ego. Even if you’re not using social media for your own business promotion, you make a difference by who you’re following and the things you are liking. Make a vote for the responsible behavior.
PADI Course Director #285713
With this blog I do not try to discredit or personally attack anyone who has been directly related to what happened in Hawaii with Deep Blue. It hurts me to see when a professional deliberately damages the dive professional image for a moment of fame which could have been just as effective without engaging with the animal in that way.
We are a PADI dive center in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia offering daily dive trips to the Komodo National Park. The PADI courses available include Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, EFR, Divemaster and Sidemount. Join us for an unforgettable experience diving in one of the top dive destinations in the world!