Archives for October 2011

Sharks Are Not the Enemy

My buddy Jo with a reef shark at Sipadan

My buddy Jo with a reef shark at Sipadan

Recent shark attacks off the Western Australian coast have become a political hot potato as the City of Perth prepares itself for hosting an international event that will attract the focus of world media – the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Political leaders in Perth are at a loss as to how to deal with a media-fuelled frenzy, unparallelled since Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel ‘Jaws’ was adapted to the Hollywood big screen.

Three recent deaths all appear to be the handiwork of what the press have described as a ‘rogue monster’ Great White shark.

The head honcho in Perth, whose name isn’t even worth recording, has ordered his henchmen to hunt down and execute this man-eater for the safety of our swimmers.

Let’s face it, the government has to be seen to be doing something before the press have people believing that sharks will be breaking into their houses during the night and dragging unsuspecting victims back into the ocean for a late night snack.

It’s a laughable concept that if they can parade a dead shark carcass in public, they will have saved the day and we can all rest easy again in Gotham City.

Even if they do catch a shark, can we really be sure that this one ‘man-eater’ is solely responsible, like some kind of twisted serial killer?

What we really need here is some education for the gullible public, who have been fed a diet of Hollywood baloney for far too long.

Sharks are not hovering like gangsters down a dark alley waiting for their chosen target to walk into their ambush.

A turtle from below

A turtle from below

Sharks actually don’t really care too much about humans, in the same way that a hungry lion isn’t waiting outside the local supermarket, waiting for shoppers to get in their cars, despite what the media has been saying. They are just wild creatures who opportunistically eat what comes into their domain that happens to look edible.

If that unfortunately is a human, they might show interest, but usually only because it appears to be something else. When silhouetted against the sunlight above, a human might appear to a shark below to be somewhat like a seal – one of their favourite foods. A paddling surfer looks from below very much like a turtle – another delicacy for sharks.

Sharks are also attracted by creatures that appear to be weakened or dying, particularly if blood is present. In the same way that an antelope separated from the herd appears an easy target, so too does a lone swimmer.

Therefore, if the lone swimmer is also spear fishing and probably causing dying fish to bleed in the water, that’s like shouting ‘free beer’ to a room full of thirsty backpackers.

Our last victim in WA was doing exactly that – spear fishing on his own, at a time when these sharks are following their main prey up the coast, tagging behind the whale migration.

By the way, Great White sharks live in the ocean. It’s their home. If you were to walk across an African wildlife park near a herd of antelope, carrying a string of freshly butchered and bleeding small animals, what are the chances that a lion might think ‘Hello, takeaway food delivery! That’ll do me, thanks!’

Us diving with sharks

Us diving with sharks

Wasn’t it interesting that one interviewee said after the recent attack off Rottnest Island, ‘To think, our children were playing in the surf there right near where that guy was taken’. If the shark was so interested in ‘hunting’ humans, wouldn’t he (assuming it’s just the one rogue monster) have come in earlier?

No – that guy was ‘taken’ 500 metres off shore, diving alone and spear fishing.

Of course I feel sad that this happened and I sympathise genuinely with the family of this man. It’s a horrible thought that he died that way. Isn’t it also just as bad if someone is killed tragically by a drunk driver in a car crash?

It’s called wrong place, wrong time or simply ‘fate’. In the last case, it’s also called ‘bad judgement’.

We, as in human beings, kill 100 million sharks each year. On average they kill 5 or 6 humans in the whole world.

Many of the sharks are killed solely for their fins, because some humans have convinced other gullible humans that shark fins are an aphrodisiac and source of potency. These creatures do feel pain, yet they are butchered mercilessly, and thrown back into the ocean still struggling.

If you saw people doing that to dogs or cats, you would scream for vengeance and justice.

The key point here is that sharks are a vital part of our marine eco-systems. The oceans need sharks for everything to stay in balance. We need fish in the oceans as a food source for our childrens’ children.

One of our friends near East Borneo

One of our friends near East Borneo

Don’t fear sharks, just respect them and learn about them. They deserve our respect – they’ve been here a lot longer than us.

They also breed very slowly and some species are endangered, particular sharks perhaps irreversibly so.

In the same way that you take precautions when driving a car or flying a plane, be sensible in the ocean.

Remember though that more people are killed by defective toasters than by shark attacks. More people are killed by coconuts falling on their heads than by sharks. You are far more likely to be killed in a car crash on the way to the beach or the dive site, than by a shark, while diving or swimming.

Sea Shepherd, the organisation that fought wars against the Japanese whaling fleet to save our whales, has now targeted the plight of our endangered sharks. These are intelligent people who do their research.

I urge you, the reader, before buying into this media hype (designed to make you watch their new bulletins or buy their newspapers, so that you’ll look at their advertising), do your own research.

 

Tony Inman Cray Diving

Tony Inman Cray Diving

“Ladies and gentlemen – sharks are not the enemy. Fear itself is the enemy.”

Tony Inman

Rescue Diver and admirer of marine life, including sharks.

 

Here is some information to start you off:

 


 

Passion and Persistence – Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino - not an overnight success!

If you want an example of an overnight success, then don’t look at ‘Pulp Fiction’ Oscar winner, Quentin Tarantino.

Why? Because the Academy Award-winning Director was no such thing – he had a dream as a young man and he followed his passion with unremitting fervour.

Yesterday, I came down with a mystery bug that left me with barely enough energy to leave my bed in the morning and my couch in the afternoon. Thus, we spent a family evening at home and decided to watch a movie. My step-son, Troy hadn’t seen the movie, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and it had been a few years since we last watched the movie classic, so the decision was a no-brainer.

As a writer, I find myself analysing plot structures and subtleties on which other viewers might not ‘waste’ their time, but to me it’s extremely satisfying, and with his films I am captivated and intrigued.

We all enjoyed the movie immensely and laughed out loud at some of the dark humour, with me, who has seen it probably four or five times, laughing just as much as first time viewer, Troy.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Realising that this tenth anniversary DVD came with another disc full of extras, I sat spellbound this morning by in-depth interviews with an amazing cast of accomplished actors and of course, Director and Screenwriter, Quentin Tarantino.

Most people probably only heard of Tarantino when ‘Pulp Fiction’ took the world by storm, thus making him an ‘overnight success’.

As in most cases where these words are dropped in by the media, the man was no such thing.

For years, he had struggled as a ‘nobody’. Quentin joked that if you had sent a letter addressed to him at ‘The Outskirts of the Movie Industry’, he would have received it!

With a passion for movies at the core of his being, he had spent his childhood on self-study, of the great Directors. His encyclopaedic knowledge of movies, of themes, of plots, of genres, of techniques had earned him a job, working behind the counter in a video store.

On the weekends he would hire equipment, to gain the maximum benefit of the rental, and would work tirelessly from Friday night to Monday morning making what he himself described as ’embarassingly bad films’.

Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds with Brad Pitt

He shot hundreds of hours of movie footage and couldn’t afford the editing equipment to review it, until a considerable time later.

This was in effect his personal study programme – the apprenticeship that made him ready. The interviewer summed it up as a realisation that ‘everything you’ve learned in your life so far has prepared you for this moment’.

An incredibly talented expert, his  original screenplays were so compelling that one of the Producers of ‘Pulp Fiction’ was willing to take a chance on Quentin without having even seen his earlier work, including the lower budget hit, ‘Reservoir Dogs’.

As they say, ‘The rest is history’. The actors who have worked with him, which include a star-studded list of names like Samuel L Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt et al, proclaim that they would turn up to work with this guy in whatever starring, or cameo, role that he asked them to play. Such is their love of his work and his style.

The legend is now also a producer, cinematographer, director, screenwriter and cameo actor in a manner reminiscent of the great Alfred Hitchcock.

His screenplays are emotive and unconventional, especially with his love of altering timelines to tantalise an audience as his characters’ stories inter-weave or run concurrently.

Travolta & Jackson

Travolta & Jackson - Pulp Fiction

The dialogue is supremely realistic and believably commonplace, such as the scene where the two hit men in ‘Pulp Fiction’ are on their way to kill a drug dealer, who has wronged their boss. Travolta’s character, Vincent has just returned from Europe, so on the way in the car, he chats mundanely about the little things he has experienced, such as a cheeseburger being called a ‘Royale’, or the interpretation of the sexuality of a foot massage. The horrific nature of their job does not alter the humanity of their chit-chat on the way to work.

Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed movies include: Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994) – (yes it was that long ago!), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003 & 2004), Death Proof (2007), Inglorious Basterds (2009) and the upcoming feature, Django Unchained (2012).

Kill Bill

Kill Bill spawned a sequel

In his youth he was but a poor man, with no car and no money, working in a video store to make ends meet, and sleeping on a friend’s couch.

What he did have though was a dream,  as Tarantino himself puts it, “with no fall back plan”. He had a willingness to fail until one day he could earn a living doing the one thing that he really loved.

Whether you personally like his films or loathe them is immaterial, as the man is a rock star of his industry. Slightly eccentric without doubt, but a man to be admired for both his passion and his persistence, so thank you Quentin for sharing your gift with us all.

By the way, he also comes in on budget, because he wants ‘the people who believed in me to get their money back’.

The big question is, ‘What is YOUR passion? And are you following it?’

Until next time, think about what matters to you and seize the day!