Report from the front lines with Animal Amnesty and Sea Shepherd Australia
By Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia.
Yesterday saw another tragic day in the Barnett government’s war against nature, with the baiting of three more beautiful Tiger Sharks. One off Eagle Bay, one off Bunker Bay and the other off the picturesque Meelup beach, in the Margaret River region of Western Australia.
A 2.2-metre female Tiger Shark, too small to legally kill, was treated with the utmost cruelty and is unlikely to survive. Another, larger than 3 metres, was shot numerous times in the head and then dumped out to sea. A third Tiger Shark was also killed.
Sea Shepherd and Animal Amnesty were out on the water in the Margaret River Region to expose the cruel and unnecessary killing of Western Australian's precious marine life by the Barnett government.
With us were a marine biologist, a marine scientist/submersible engineer, a marine campaign manager/shark psychologist and Sea Shepherd member and photographer.
Valerie Taylor, who, with her late partner Ron made a living out of filming sharks for 50 years, says that the Tiger Sharks she met in all her experiences had been "pleasant, nice and gentle sharks.” In a recent interview, Valerie commented on the drum lines off the WA coast, saying that the Barnett government has not conducted proper research. Whenever Valerie and Ron wanted to film a dangerous or semi-dangerous shark, they would encourage the sharks into the area to film them by baiting them. It is exactly this method that Barnett government is utilising off the WA coast, the most likely result being that sharks are encouraged into the region.
One question that has to be asked of the Barnett government is, if drum lines are supposedly so safe and if drum lines won't attract more sharks, then why are they being pulled out of the water for the Rottnest channel swim?
The graphic photo at left details the true horror of Barnett government’s cruel, unnecessary and ineffective shark culling operation. The underwater shot is of the 2.2 metre female Tiger Shark, hanging vertically from the drum line on which she was caught. Near death, she was still struggling for life at the time the photograph was taken.
Given she is a night hunter and the photograph was taken during the day, it is likely that this immature female was hanging on the drum line for hours. Tiger Sharks need to swim continuously to ventilate their gills. Hooked through the head, she is clearly unable to do this and is slowly drowning. Unfortunately, there is a high probability that even after release, she will die as a result of being caught on this baited hook, supposedly designed to only catch a shark of 3 meters and over.
Other heart-wrenching images show that the undersized female Tiger Shark was then brought on deck. It appears that the hook was removed from her head using a knife to carve around the barb. Note that the gash in her head is not present in the pictures taken under water, indicating the wound was inflicted on deck at the hands of the fishermen who dragged her onboard. In the process of being lifted out of the water, the hook pierced the shark’s skull, causing further injuries that were not present in the shots taken of her whilst she was in water.
As she was pulled on deck, the shark kicked. The fisherman poured a hose on her as if they believed she was to be released, but still recklessly carved her mouth to try recovering the hook with which she had been baited. When she was released back into the water, images captured a trail off coagulated blood that ran from her gills. This is a sure sign that her chances of survival are dismal. The welfare of the animals, including non-target animals such as this juvenile female Tiger Shark, that are indiscriminately caught by the baited hooks, is clearly not a consideration in this operation.
The other gruesome shots are of a Tiger Shark over 3 metres in length, who was caught, shot a number of times, hung up by a noose and then dumped out to sea.
Sea Shepherd, Animal Amnesty and the No Shark Cull Alliance will continue to provide updates on Barnett’s shark cull, as well as reports on progress with a legal challenge against this indiscriminate killing of Australia's precious marine life.
I will also be representing Sea Shepherd this evening in Margaret River at a public forum to talk with the community about possible real solutions, as opposed to knee jerk reactions like Barnett’s shark cull, that potentially make beaches less safe and indiscriminately kill marine life.
At the end of the day, an ocean without sharks is a planet without people.
All photos Sea Shepherd/ Animal Amnesty