After “Sharkwater” ended, I talked with my students about Paul Watson’s remark that major social change always begin with a handful of people, not a miraculous awakening of the masses. “I think we need to do more than protest, though,” a student remarked wistfully. I agreed. She’d pinpointed a restlessness in me to start something, to go beyond teaching–although today this section, which had felt a bit stilted, became a bit more alive.
“Why don’t classes talk more about things like this?” another student asked. “Things” like the fact that we are living through a mass extinction. On the way out, a young woman asked for advice: she had to give an informative speech. Should she talk about Sea Shepherd’s mission or the plight of sharks? As they gathered their books I overheard a few others talking “Have you seen “Blackfish”? It’s really sad.” I liked that they were talking. Sadness is a beginning. Anger is a beginning.
After the class had ended, I thought about how sharks have shaped the evolution of other animals in the sea, and how they have shaped my evolution as well. Fear and charisma. I think my students would find me weird or sentimental for saying so, but sharks are to me like strange, ancient Gods.
And what should we call the brutality and waste of shark finning but a mortal sin?