The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Keep the sharks dancing — and swimming

| Wednesday, February 4, 2015

DancingSharks_WEBEMILY DANAHER | The Observer

Whether you watched the Super Bowl or not, you have seen the dancing sharks from the halftime show.

These dancing sharks are a game changer. You may think, “What’s the big deal about a couple of cute, friendly, dancing sharks?” The big deal is that statement.

Sharks have the reputation of bloodthirsty killers, and they are represented as such in the media. It started with “Jaws” and the effect has lent itself to “Shark Week” and movies like recent release “Unbroken.”

The image of sharks feeding on humans is frequent in the media; however, statistics show that sharks are responsible for, on average, less than five deaths each year. Contrasted to the upwards of 273 million sharks killed each year by humans, decide which species deserves the horror films.

One of the scariest “horror films” I’ve seen, and the reason I became so interested in the perils sharks face, was “Sharkwater.” A 2006 documentary by Rob Stewart, “Sharkwater” explores and exposes the shark finning industry and its atrocious effects.

Shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy banned in the U.S., sells for over $100 a bowl. The fin only adds status to the soup: no flavor, nutritional or medicinal value.

To obtain the meat, fishermen catch sharks, hack off their fins and discard the rest of the shark back into the ocean. Finless, the sharks will bleed to death or, as they are unable to swim or defend themselves, be eaten. The barbaric process rivals any “Shark Week” attack we see on TV.

Successful documentaries on other controversial aquatic practices have risen since. “The Cove” (2009) exposed dolphin abuse and harmful health effects in Japan, and “Blackfish” (2013) has garnered mainstream attention for calling out killer whale captivity practices, specifically at SeaWorld.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that one-third of all shark species are nearing extinction. In the past few decades the populations of some shark species have decreased by over eighty percent (Muskegon Chronicle). Perhaps these numbers are not appalling to the public because of sharks’ reputations, but even if sharks are not held favorably in peoples’ minds, the whole oceanic ecosystem would suffer from the loss of these sometimes feared, predators.

Thankfully, Katy Perry did sharks everywhere a favor by providing us with performing — or improvising if you were the left shark — “Teenage Dream” and “California Girls” during the Super Bowl half-time show. The Internet has been swimming with shark memes, Vines and Buzzfeed articles — someone even got a tattoo of one of the sharks. There hasn’t been this much excitement over dancing sea creatures since Amanda Bynes brought out the dancing lobsters.

The press is all positive, besides the questioning of left shark’s coordination, and have headlines like “The Best Part of the Super Bowl,” “Left Shark Was The Real Super Bowl MVP” and “The Dancing Shark was Hot.”

Search “shark” on Buzzfeed and you will find eight Super Bowl shark articles and quizzes, but look past those and the next headline is “Two Monster Sharks Are Eating Dolphins And Closing Beaches.”

Maybe if we can keep sharks dancing, we can keep them swimming, and hopefully their appearance at the Super Bowl will lead to fewer appearances in soup bowls.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About Erin McAuliffe

I'm Scene's editor and a senior Marketing & Journalism student. To quote the exquisite Sadie Dupuis, "I'm not bossy — I'm the boss."

Contact Erin