Shark Week Woes

One of the most frequently asked questions about Reef Ministries’ trips is, “What about sharks?”  This seemingly benign question is loaded with apprehension as most people only encounter sharks through their television.  Take for instance the annual occurrence of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.  Every year producers attempt to create programs that are increasingly dramatic from the year before.  Stories of naval seamen being eaten, surfers losing limbs, and actual footage of shark bites on humans evoke sheer terror in most people watching.  Combine that with a large amount of evolutionary dogma added in and you have an overly inaccurate portrayal of one of the most important animals in God’s underwater world.

As I state in many Reef Ministries presentations, damselfish are far more “ferocious” than sharks.  Just as thousands of other divers have done, I too have participated in “shark diving” trips where over forty large grey reef sharks congregate to be fed.  When that many sharks abound, and they swim inches away from you, you get the understanding that they are not interested in humans.  And yes, I have all my digits and limbs to prove it!

When we hear about shark attacks they are usually a) bites in what are mistaken for animals within their diet, such as surfers in a surf zone which the shark mistakes for seals or sea lions. Or, b) divers who are provoking the shark with intentional food such as chum, or when spearfishing the movement of a struggling and bleeding fish attracts sharks.  In both of those cases within “b” the shark may think it is going after prey when the human is simply in the way.  Literally countless numbers of scuba divers and snorkelers have shared the water with sharks.  When that happens the humans come away with that experience feeling a greater understanding and appreciation for an animal they originally had strong apprehensions about.

Just as with many things in God’s creation, once we experience them first-hand we get an intense appreciation for the beauty, complexity, balance and design from the All-Mighty Creator.  Our sovereign God has placed the multiple varieties of sharks in His oceans for a specific purpose.  Sharks are integral to a balanced marine ecosystem.  Their complexity in fertilization, migration, tooth regeneration, eye protection when eating, and their senses for blood and motion are some of the uniquely crafted features of these amazing creatures designed by the hand of God on the fifth day of creation.

An absolutely fantastic article I recommend you read is Sharks Remain Sharks by Frank Sherwin, M.A. of the Institute for Creation Research.  Frank shows very clearly the absolute uniqueness and complexity of sharks, and how these animals could not be formed from evolutionary processes.

Another wonderful resource is from my friends at Shark Savers.  This group is actively spreading the word that sharks are not “monsters of the deep” and that they are a vital part of ocean ecosystems.  Although you will see them mention sharks as being 450 million years old in a few places, their main thrust of education and conservation is solid and well-natured.  They are true stewards for the plight of the shark as they are taking a strong stand against atrocities associated with shark finning – the grotesque act of catching sharks, cutting off their fins and throwing the animal back into the water experiencing a slow, suffering death.  This is done to make money from the high demand of the Asian dish “shark fin soup”.  By the way, shark fin soup has NO medicinal nor nutritional value whatsoever – it is simply a fad to show status and prosperity among the Asian culture that is killing 100 MILLION sharks annually.  Please consider their cause in your prayers.

“Ours is not to grovel in polluted gutters or to wring our hands over our sins. Instead, we are called to go about reclaiming creation for our Lord, knowing that ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’” Psalm 24:1