Perth Now is featuring a special report about Leon Deschamps a “Western Australia conservationist” who can be seen in images and video petting tiger sharks while sitting on the carcass of a whale that the sharks were feeding on. The images and video were shot in Shark Bay. Deschamps said that he hopes the images will help dispel misconceptions about tiger sharks. DeSchamps was quoted as saying…
“Tiger sharks are not aggressive, and I thought the most effective way to demonstrate that would be by throwing ourselves into the middle of a feeding frenzy.
They were sedate in their movements and far from aggressive, despite it being a time when they are supposed to be at their most ferocious. I think they enjoyed the experience.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Conservation has condemned the act, citing that touching whales was illegal and that interfering with the sharks, is “highly irresponsible and dangerous behaviour.”
Despite Deschamp’s actions in the video and photos, he also warns people to leave sharks alone especially while they are feeding, according to the PerthNow article. Go figure.
While I’m all for raising awareness for RESPONSIBLE shark conservation, I’d have to say that this particular act doesn’t fall anywhere under the responsible umbrella. Attempting to physically interact with any wild animal, while it is feeding, is not a good idea and shows a lack of respect for the animal.
Acts like riding sharks, petting sharks, etc. might be a good way to draw attention to one’s self, but then again, so is robbing a liquor store (another act I strongly discourage). Often times, these kinds of stunts can end up doing more harm than good. There is plenty of footage of divers swimming in the midst of non-aggressive tiger sharks out there. Does climbing on a dead whale carcass and petting sharks really do anything to help dispel myths about the species or is it just a good way gain publicity?
PS The statement made in the video that tiger sharks are scavengers and not predators is utterly false. They are most certainly a predatory shark, in addition to being scavengers. One can’t “dispel myths” by creating new ones.