Who’s the monster?


To the Editor:

Public spectacles like the annual Monster Shark Tournament have much in common with the gladiator games conducted in the Coliseum during ancient Roman festivals. Large, adoring crowds immersed in a circus-like atmosphere amidst unbridled commercial activity awaiting the extravaganza of torture, execution, and the eventual display of victims.

Efforts to justify such activities are insulting. The simple truth is it’s all about the money. In the final analysis, the bottom line trumps all other considerations and points of view. Institutions such as the media, Chamber of Commerce, and scientific community become little more than propagandists for event organizers.

The agonizing deaths and public display of 13 sharks last week and the likely deaths of many more undersized and therefore released sharks represents an assault on the sanctity of the natural world.

Oak Bluffs, along with the president of the Boston Big Game Club, have determined that the death of each shark was valued at $154K, resulting in a $2 million boost to the economy of the town. With that amount of financial incentive, it is likely that the tournament will remain an important fixture in the economic life of Oak Bluffs. It can be reasonably assumed that the tournament will continue until the shark population is exploited to the point of exhaustion and eventual collapse.

James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.” Mr. Baldwin’s observation invites the question, Who is the real monster in the Monster Shark Tournament?

Steve Maxner

West Tisbury