Saturday, January 12, 2008


Da-Dum, Da-Dum, Da-dumdumdumdumdumdumdumdum

Blame it on its many teeth, giving it a perception that it can cut through flesh and bone. And no thanks to movies like Jaws, which has set that perception in stone that sharks are extremely dangerous creatures that have one mission, and that's to eradicate human swimmers from the sea. How do you try and convince what is generally "accepted truths" by the masses? You go at it small, with persistence, that fire in the belly to fuel your crusade in re-educating the masses, and the best example being yourself taking the plunge to try and set things right, one step at a time.

That's what Rob Stewart did, in trying to change the incorrect mindsets we have of sharks, by demonstrating to us how they are actually more afraid of us, and making a documentary film out of it to spread the good message. Don't let the poster fool you into thinking it's a fictional, narrative film. It's a documentary, and like most documentaries, it has an agenda to cover. Here, Stewart's agenda is simple, to talk about shark conservation, and the importance of the ocean ecosystem. Yes, it's a myriad of topics that can spiral out of control, but strangely enough, the key points are all presented in a compelling manner, against very beautiful underwater images of marine life, the very life he is seeking, on the bigger picture, to try and save.

Naturally, one doesn't talk about saving the sharks without touching on the demand side of things, and that is the perceived value of a delicacy called the Shark's Fin Soup, which is a staple in any self-respecting Chinese restaurant. While the usual illegal poaching through long lining and footage of skinning are aimed to shock an audience into the cruelty of the way the sharks are destroyed, the biggest impact made here are the frivolous statements given by the chairman of a prominent brand of canned shark's fin soup. You will definitely chuckle at his arguments, or the lack thereof in the intelligence department, as he's made to look quite animated, and not in good light, deliberately of course.

Some might feel that the movie did seem a little like an ego-trip for Rob Stewart, with himself being featured quite prominently in many scenes, but I thought it's a given because it is a trip along a journey he's bringing us, and that's why we see some of the inherent risks involved in the many conservationists efforts as they go out to try and stop, with limited budget and resources, the perennial problem of trying to stem out the supply side of things. Naturally, it's never easy with the illegal trade, as shady corporations, characters and corrupt governments are almost always involved, because that's how the activity can thrive, and it boils down to obscene amount of profits to be made by all parties.

Through documentaries that touch on current hot topics involving the environment, it's hard to tell how effective they can be. I guess a good measure if how convinced you are to the cause, and from the documentary, try to reinforce the message yourself to your peers. Simple actions done by a few, can go a long way, and I guess the simplest of ways is to start from yourself. An Inconvenient Truth has made me more diligent in electricity utilization, and now Sharkwater has convinced me to layoff the shark's fin soup, whether they come in cans, or presented in wedding dinners. I have a choice, and I choose not to consume it. You might laugh at the futility of my actions, or want to take my share, but go ahead please, as I'm exercising my choice, a choice which you have too.

Watch Sharkwater. You might be convinced by the arguments for the cause too. If not, it's still an educational trip in learning more about sharks and the ocean ecosystem, with a stark warning not to tamper with the natural order of Mother Nature. Highly recommended, naturally.

P.S. I wanna hug a shark too!

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