Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Must-See Documentary on Sharks

I highly recommend Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart's amazing documentary Sharkwater. Documentaries don't get much better than this one. In it, Stewart effectively debunks the myth of sharks as terrifying predators that prey on human beings. He brilliantly mixes underwater footage, interviews, old film clips of movies portraying sharks as fiends, and he follows a heroic radical conservationist who uses his ship to fight against illegal shark hunters. Director Stewart also takes his hidden cameras inside of Central American operations that capture endangered sharks to sell their parts, including teeth and fins.

Documentaries like Sharkwater and my personal favourite, Death on a Factory Farm, are so powerful - and so essential - because they help convert human beings to reason and compassion. They do so through effectively using images and interviews to show troubling truths about our world. In Sharkwater, there are a number of harrowing moments. Ironically, the scariest predators in the film are human beings - especially the so-called "Shark Mafia" in Central America that illegally hunts the sharks for huge profits. These are the bloodthirsty hunters of Sharkwater. By sharp contrast, the majestic sharks, who have been around since the age of dinosaurs, kill an average of 5 people a year around the world. More people die in vending machine accidents each year than shark attacks. Yet popular culture continues to portray sharks as underwater devils. Hopefully, Sharkwater will help debunk this terribly destructive myth. But it can only do so if people actually see it. My advice: Do whatever you can to view it. Order it from Netflix or Zip.ca, buy it from Amazon or ask your local video store to order it. It's an incredible film.

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