Animal Emotions

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Shark Hunters: A Reprehensible Celebration of Torture

This NBCSN series shows horrific suffering and regrettable celebration of pain

For the past few days, while watching the Tour de France cycling race on NBCSN, there have also been advertisements for their series called Shark Hunters that premieres today, as if it's a sport. Their tagline is "The sharks are on the hook and there's money on the line."

A description of the program is: "The documentary-reality series features three East Coast shark tournaments – each more than a quarter century old – and highlights five captains battling against each other, the sharks, rough conditions and the Atlantic. Anglers from all over the world venture to the Northeast Atlantic to compete. Approximately 630 boats will have a collective six days to catch the biggest shark."

If you can bear watching the horrific torture to which sharks are subjected and humans joyously celebrating their interminable pain then this series is for you. In an earlier essay called "Sharks and Humans: A Much Needed Corrective" I noted that sharks are highly sentient beings who suffer just like our companion animals and there are people who have been attacked by sharks and are now advocates for these most amazing animals. For more on how to interact safely with sharks read about Dr. Erich Ritter's Shark School.

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You can read another review of this reprehensible show by Rick Juzwiak here and you can protest Shark Hunters here. This sort of violence should not be tolerated. An analysis of this series would be an anthrozoologist's dream and nightmare.

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation (see also)and Why dogs hump and bees get depressed (see also). Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence will be published fall 2014. (marcbekoff.com@MarcBekoff)  

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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