Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: Obsessed by sharks

 

Share

 

There is one piece of television I am looking forward to more than the return of Sherlock. (You can find Ellen E Jones’s review here, but if you haven’t seen the first  episode, be warned, her write-up  carries a major “spoiler alert”.)

The BBC’s Natural History Unit has been quietly filming a major series on sharks, my mole in the unflattering neoprene tells me. After shooting around the world – from South Africa, Australia and Mexico to Norway and the Hebrides – the film crews are now back in their editing suites in Bristol.

I’m obsessed by sharks, a creature that has barely changed for 400 million years and yet is still so poorly understood. I was frightened by them  until four years ago, when I dived on  the Great Barrier Reef while on assignment in Queensland. Seeing  your first sharks glide out of the Pacific haze right at you quickly gives you  a humbling sense of insignificance within nature’s expanse. Their gift to  the two-legged intruder is mystery, power, grace, mutual curiosity.

In Western Australia, the state is about to embark on a mass shark cull, following the deaths of six surfers and swimmers in two years. Scientists dismiss the slaughter as well-intended but futile and possibly counter-productive – not to mention further endangering threatened species. Politicians will get carcasses to hoist aloft at the seaside, but “there is evidence [it will] draw white sharks in,” says Christopher Neff, who has completed the first PhD on the “politics of shark attacks”. Perhaps someone should make a blockbuster film...

Another Pacific hotspot which has also seen several fatal attacks, the  Hawaiian island of Maui, has turned to  education instead. Marine scientists are electronic-tagging tiger sharks – and the public can follow eight of them online (go to tinyurl.com/nsfyoav). It won’t tell you when it’s safe to go in the water, but may help begin to unravel this aquatic enigma. Bring on Auntie’s take on Jaws.

i@independent.co.uk

Twitter: @olyduff

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election 2015: The big five of British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon would turn Britain into a 'communist dictatorship, warns Sarah Vine  

Election 2015: much of the concern about the ‘legitimacy’ question is misplaced

John Rentoul
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power