A cave man contest
To the Editor:
I am a high school student, and this letter was written to the Oak Bluffs harbormaster.
I'd like to bring to your attention an issue of the utmost importance that you have authority over. I mean the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament.
While it may be a major tourist attraction, it is, in my humble opinion, a vicious slaughterfest and extremely demoralizing toward sharks. This contest is encouraging people to violently dismember creatures for glory, and generally approving violence. In this society, with blood and gore splattered on every aspect of the media, do we really need more violence? And it's not as if we're killing them for food. We're just killing them because we can. Are we any better than cavemen?
Furthermore, this tournament is confirming the stereotype that sharks are vicious killing machines. This is untrue. Sharks do not maliciously search and destroy humans like the monster shark in Jaws. The four species of sharks that are known to occasionally attack humans (the great white, tiger, bull, and oceanic whitetip) are all open ocean predators and only rarely come near shore. Can you even recall the last shark attack that happened on the Vineyard, or in Massachusetts, for that matter?
Also, sharks are very necessary creatures in the process of natural selection. Can you imagine what would happen if every egg laid by every cod (each female can lay up to nine million) were allowed to reach adulthood? So long, ecosystem.
Lastly, the last thing sharks need at the moment is hunting. In recent years, shark stocks have plummeted. It is so dire that they have lost 70 percent of their worldwide habitat in the last 50 years. To say that this is disastrous would be an understatement.
Although this is a catch and release tournament, exactly how many released sharks survive being caught? Also, it seems impossible to me that 97 percent of the caught sharks are really being released, as the Boston Big Game Fishing Club website states. This website also reported that in 2008, 202 boats took in 26 sharks by the end of the tournament. If this really was just three percent of the total, then did the fisherman really catch 900 sharks? In just two days? Obviously less than 97 percent of the catch is being released.
I very much hope I have convinced you. Thank you for your time.