The Western Australian Government refused to review a law that initiates the culling of Great White Sharks. In one protest alone, over 4,000 people in gathered on Perth’s beaches to protest the move. I’m interested in this with respect to the sociology of animals and wildlife conservation. Institutions like the Government and the media have the power to shape public perception of animals and how we protect or neglect certain species. Sociologist Corwin Kruse writes:
Human action is embedded in a world populated by many species. By any measure, the role that animals play in human society is enormous.
As Deep Sea News points out, fear of sharks far exceeds the danger they pose:
The ocean is wilderness, no less than what you would expect in Alaska’s Denali National Park or Africa’s Serengeti. When we enter these wilderness areas, we need to accept that there are risks… Western Australia’s decision to position symbolism and perceived action ahead of leadership and evidence will be borne on the backs of an already vulnerable species. Sadly, Australia could have truly served the world a powerful symbolic message if they instead concluded that culling was unthinkable at a time when every shark matters.
Watch the video by physicist Derek Muller (Veritasium), who interviewed Rodney Fox, the Australian man who invented the shark cage which has enabled better research on sharks. Fox invented the cage after surviving a shark attack. He has since been an advocate of protection of sharks specifically because he witnessed first hand the public hysteria that followed his attack.