It is very difficult to get empathy for sharks. After all, the media has told us that (all) sharks are evil, man-eating monsters. Most people feel they know a whole lot about sharks, when in fact they may have some hollywood knowledge of the Great White shark, they know almost nothing of the other 400 species of sharks. Yes, 400 other species of sharks. Are they all evil man-eating monsters? On the contrary. In fact, out of the 400-odd species of sharks, less than a dozen actually come in contact with humans; and out of those, only about 7 or 8 are actually a threat to humans. So even though 'Shark Week' furthers the depiction and fears of sharks, they are as a species, pretty cool and un-dangerous.
In the popular media, sharks have traditionally been portrayed as vicious killers. Motion pictures, such as JAWS, news media coverage of shark attacks and many documentaries still perpetuate this image by sensationalizing attacks and disproportionately portraying sharks engaged in feeding or aggressive behaviors. According to a survey conducted in 2003 by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, seventy percent of Americans surveyed recently believe that sharks are dangerous. 72 percent also believe that shark populations are just adequate or too high.The publics' ignorance about sharks perpetuates the continued over-exploitation and depletion of these species. Inaccurate perceptions inform consumers' choices and public support of necessary conservation measures for these vulnerable species.
IEMANYA has already collaborated with journalists and TV channels to dispel the negative image of sharks in the media. Our ongoing goal is to provide the public with accurate and scientific information about sharks and raise awareness of the conservation needs of sharks utilizing all media avenues.And boy do we have our work cut out for us! Please feel free to step up and offer your smarts to our pro-shark mission.