A Eulogy of Sorts for the Shark Who Died for K-Mart

Here’s a truly horrifying article about sharks being shipped across the country, only to die in swimming pools while being filmed for K-Mart ads. As is my usual response to news of our culture’s Caligula-like march towards complete destruction: it would almost be funny if it weren’t true. According to the article, a “company called Critters of the Cinema was hired to provide and care for the shark. They presumably didn’t have a shark at their facility, which is in Southern California, so they had a shark sent over from New York.” You know, like you do when you don’t have a shark handy. You have one sent over.

This unnecessary and extremely cruel and unusual shark killing reminds me of a show I watched about a year ago on Discovery or Animal Planet (which is “surprisingly human,” if by surprisingly you mean completely predictably), about scientists trying to develop netting that would “ease” a white shark into a cage-like contraption, making it possible to transport the shark into an enclosed tank for further study. White sharks, oddly enough, don’t much like being stolen from the ocean. Even healthy and fecund adults in the wild will, when in captivity, cease to mate or even eat; according to the narrator of the show, after capture many sharks apparently just kind of starve themselves.

The scientists were of course totally baffled by this. The sharks that didn’t commit suicide were noticeably “stressed,” and scientists were thus studying how to lessen their stress levels during capture, hoping that maybe the sharks would then acquiesce to further testing. The scientists featured in the show were, from what I could tell, very knowledgeable about sharks and even seemed to care for their well-being a great deal. They were putting themselves in real danger in order to make things as easy as possible for the sharks. They proudly stated that they would do anything for the sharks—anything, of course, except for the most important thing: not taking them from their home in the first place.

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