Sharks should hate humans, not each other

March 29, 2012

Environmental issues usually get the most coverage when humans focus on oceanic issues, but instances of social inequality persist at a level that the vast majority of Georgetown students would find abhorrent. Movies such as Jaws portray sharks as ruthless creatures incapable of self-control, which is the typical depiction of sharks in popular media. Finding Nemo depicts sharks as the bloodthirsty vampires of the sea, jumping into attack mode at the scent of the slightest drop of blood, but it also exposes a serious problem within the shark community—intra-species inequality.

In Finding Nemo, one shark leads the other two (who probably have names, but might as well be nameless) in his sharkpack. Bruce, presumably a Mako or a Great White shark, is portrayed as a strong, charming, fierce leader. However, his sidekicks, a smaller Hammerhead and a Blue shark, add far more comedy and clowning to the film than the blundering Bruce. Would the jokes have landed just better if the roles had been reversed? Would audiences have been able to see a smaller shark as the group leader? The sad truth is that they might not have, even though studies have shown, on average, that Blue sharks attain an average of four years more education than Great Whites. Although such discrepancies within the shark community show up in a lighthearted Disney tale about a Clown fish, this is no laughing matter.

The trend of preferential treatment for some shark species extends beyond Hollywood, leading humans and sharks alike to perpetuate false stereotypes. According to the Bureau of Shark Labor Statistics (BSLS), Nurse sharks continue to make 40% less than their Great White counterparts in the same jobs, even when performing the same work. What’s more, male Nurse sharks are often stereotyped and stigmatized as immasculine, Bull sharks are portrayed as violent, and Lemon sharks are thought of as unreliable. The BSLS has routinely spoken out against these distinctions, which Executive Director Reese Reefhunter says “are completely false from a scientific standpoint and only serve to hurt all shark types.”

Inequality in the shark world only masks the real oppressors: humans. These ideologies of difference are nothing but fabricated, arbitrary ideas passed down from humans to sharks to prevent them from rising up in revolt of human mistreatment of the oceans. Cooperation and persistence are essential to not only to overcome human misconceptions about sharks, but to allow the sharks of the world to unite against the true common enemy—piggish humans. This issue is too important for sharks to ignore any longer. Just because this problem happens under the sea doesn’t mean it can get swept under the rug.

Editorial Board
The Editorial Board is the official opinion of the Georgetown Voice. Its current composition can be found on the masthead. The Board strives to publish critical analyses of events at both Georgetown and in the wider D.C. community. We welcome everyone from all backgrounds and experience levels to join us!


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