So, sharks. About them. I saw Jaws for the first time when I was a little kid. Like many of my generation, it fostered an unreasonable fear of sharks that haunted me whenever I went near the ocean. As an adult I didn't think much about them until I started following Atlantic White Shark Conservancy on Facebook and reading their posts. I knew sharks were making a comeback on the Cape, I did not realize that the sharks I once feared are struggling to survive worldwide. I have learned from AWSC and others that the number of sharks in the world has declined by as much as 90%. Much of that decline is due to human exploitation from harvesting sharks for cartilage used in joint repair supplements, killing sharks for their fins to be used in shark fin soup, ghost fishing, poaching, pollution, and loss of breeding areas, I have heard I am more likely to be struck by lightening than bitten by a shark. I now wonder if the odds are more remote than that, given the huge numbers of sharks we have managed to eliminate from the planet. Maybe with the odds adjusted for shark population decline I am more likely to be struck by lightening during an earthquake than bitten by a shark. Or struck by lightening while cashing in the winning power-ball ticket. You get the idea. I see the signs on the Cape that warn me not to swim with seals and I think about that. I no longer fear sharks, not because I have forgotten those gory scenes from Jaws, but because I know there are so few sharks left in the water that the odds of one biting me are remote indeed.
I love to carve whales, but have recently taken to carving sharks, too. Sadly, I have the same feeling when I work a shark into shape that I have when I carve the right whales. These are precious creatures, these sharks. We may stop seeing them in our lifetime if we don't put up a decent fight and stop some of the abuses to their populations. So I carve little sharks, set them into a slab of wood, sell them, and hand the money over to the people doing the hard work in education, research and conservation. Maybe my sharks will start conversations that bring more people into the fold. I'd like to think the chances of that are better than being struck by lightening.