Effective shark protection hinges on changing the public perception of sharks, and judging by recent media reports there is still a very long way to go. Some might even say that we haven't moved forward a jot since the bad old days of the 1970's.
Two recent media articles covering the slaughter of a large, female short-fin mako shark (pictured) by leading American news outlets is particularly depressing for shark lovers.
Msnbc.com covered the story with the opening line "A monster of the sea was killed and brought in to Marina del Rey – a shark so heavy that it damaged the brand-new scale at the dock." Full story here.
The LA Times wasn't much better, but seemed reluctant to use the word shark "The fish was so big, it was too heavy for the scales. It was so big, in fact, that it couldn't be hauled aboard the boat and had to be dragged into the dock by the tail." Full story here.
What is most worrying is not just the way these leading news outlets glorify the killing of these increasingly rare animals, but that they can't even be bothered to temper their blood-lust by mentioning that sharks are in dire trouble worldwide.
MSNBC and The LA Times should really know better. It's long overdue for the media to take some responsibility for shark slaughter, after all, how many people may be inspired to kill a shark after reading such sensationalist rubbish?
Public outcry would prevent the publication of an article like this about the unnecessary killing of a land animal, and it's time for the media to give sharks equal respect.