A trans-species and sensory ethnography of human-shark (Selachimorpha) encounters.
WHY RESEARCH SHARKS THROUGH AN ANTHROZOOLOGICAL LENS?
Many shark species are on the edge of extinction. It is argued that conservation
efforts require a positive public perception of sharks. However, public perceptions of
sharks are often that of mindless ‘man-eaters’ and research shows the general
public’s shark knowledge is low. Conversely, the economy of global shark
watching ecotourism increases annually as does the number of recreational scuba
divers participating in the activity. Furthermore, a number of scuba divers have
developed intimate, endearing relationships with sharks. These diver ‘shark listeners’
have come to know sharks as individuals, with an evolving interest in the lives and
deaths of the sharks they befriend. The aim of this research is to address how these
interspecies connections help to change perceptions of sharks, by conducting
a sensory, trans-species ethnography. Ultimately, this research will fulfil the role of
documenting these unique human-shark relationships, unearthing whether such
relationships can change the perception of sharks. In addition, this research will
contribute to the understanding of the complex and delicate nature of sharks through
an anthrozoological lens.