Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lions, sharks and the human beast

17 years ago I was diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia when suddenly a 2.5 meter shark passed right in front of me. He (or she?) briefly looked at me and then continued peacefully along the way. It was an absolutely amazing experience!

The strange thing is this though: sharks are said to be brutal killers – shound’t I be dead?

From an early age on we learn that sharks are dangerous. Our parents, friends and especially the media teach us that sharks love to eat humans. But the truth is far from it: They’re very shy animals, often they are even more scared of us than we are of them. And sadly, while our fear is irrational, theirs is justified.
Each year an average of 5 people get killed by shark attacks. At the same time humans kill over 100 million sharks – annually. That’s about 10.000 per hour! PER HOUR!
Most sharks are caught, their fins cut off and then the rest of the body is thrown back into the water. Fins are profitable, bleeding animals are not. Makes sense, right?

Another vicious animal is the lion. Not suprisingly, we either lock them in cages so we can stare at their amputated wilderness, or we kill them. But what if we treated them differently? Check out this video, at least the first couple of minutes. It’s probably the most beautiful thing you’ll see today:

Looking beyond our illusionary fear, here’s what lions and sharks really are: They’re beautiful animals! And they're the police of nature! As top predators they control the balance of the eco-system they’re living in. Sharks for examle eat fish which feed on plankton. Plankton takes carbon out of CO2 and thus produces breathable oxygen. No sharks mean more fish which means less plankton which means less air for us. Considering that about 75% of all our oxygen comes from the deep sea, the health of the oceans is vitally important to us. In other words: without sharks we are screwed!

I really recommend the documentary SHARKWATER – beautiful, sad and inspiring. And even free!

Now, you may wonder what all this has to do with you? You don’t eat sharkfin soup and you neither kill lions nor do you visit the zoo. So what are you trying to say, Claus?

Here it is: The world is a hyperconnected, living organism – if you destroy one part, it will affect all the rest. A simple concept, but somehow difficult to grasp for the highly evolved human mind.
Kill sharks and the oceans won’t be able to provide us with oxygen; cut down the rainforest to have burgers and salami and again – no trees, no oxygen. Burn all fossil fuels and the air gets polluted leading to...guess what? That’s right, no oxygen. So basically if we continue with our ‘ignorance-is-bliss’ strategy, we’ll suffocate!

Already I hear the Japanese say, ‘but sharkfin soup is so delicious!’ And the white man adds, ‘but I just adore the taste of lamb!’, while everyone insists, ‘I need a car and want to fly to Paris for the weekend to do some shopping!’ Human reasoning, you gotta love it!
Killing sharks for soup, cutting trees for juicy beef and polluting the air for comfort – you would think these are selfish acts, but they’re not. They’re stupid, because ultimately we’re committing suicide.

Here’s a final thought: If we as a species want to kill ourselves, that’s fair enough. But why do we need to kill all the other species in the process too? Surely we could figure out a smarter and more respectful way to go to heaven. Although I guess we won’t go to heaven anyway, because hell is where it belongs: the human beast!

Who knows, maybe some of us will end up like this…:


  1. I absolutely loved the lion video too...mesmerized...great post as usual dude, mucholove xx

  2. As I'm sure you know, I completely agree. I've seen Sharkwater and I also thoroughly recommend it. I also had the same experience with a large reef shark in Thailand: I spent several days snorkelling in Shark Bay, looking for black tipped reef sharks and saw at least one every time, but one day I was swimming back to shore after an unsuccessful 'hunt' when a shark swam right across my path. I saw it before it saw me, it did a double take when it did see me, then it immediately sped off in the other direction. I also just saw two related things on the internet this week. 1: Ten times more people are trampled to death every year by cows than are killed by sharks (I think those are global figures), and 2: there's a video out there somewhere of a scuba diver hitching a ride from a Great White, holding onto its dorsal fin for a few seconds. Before letting go and watching it swim peacefully away. I wouldn't try it myself, but it's an amazing clip...