Friday, April 13, 2007

Under the Sea

There is no questioning a few basic facts about me. The following three things, in particular, are irrefutable and anyone who has known me for more than say, five days, will know these things about me.

1. I am a total softy. To the point of fault, at times.
2. I become overwhelmed and over-emotional with incredible ease. My first physiological response to any emotion - happiness, anger, jealousy, pain, fear - is to cry.
3. I am an animal lover. I have always been passionate about animals. Sometimes my adoration of them is so strong that my heart literally aches at the sight of them.

Considering how obvious the above truly are about me, I should have known that going to see a film about one of the most misunderstood, yet stunningly beautiful and fascinating animals on our planet would have a considerable impact on me. But sharks? Really? SHARKS?

Yep. Sharks.

The Suze and I went to see Sharkwater tonight. What I expected was to see some incredible underwater footage, not only of these stealth predators of the sea, but just of other various aquatic wildlife and just of the ocean itself. I'm not called Beaches for nothing. I love the ocean more than any other piece of our incredible planet. It's my personal version of heaven. Trust me, on this level, the film does not disappoint.

I vaguely knew that Sharkwater also had an activist slant, something about shark fin soup and the illegal fishing industry. What I wasn't quite prepared for was the utter brutality with which the act of harvesting shark fins is undertaken, and how utterly devastating it is to witness. Naturally, I was moved to tears. Over sharks.

Softy or not though, I challenge anyone to see this film and not come away moved and angered at the complete and utter disregard and lack of respect being shown, not only to these magnificent (note: I'm still scared rather poopless of them) creatures, but also for our oceans, our international wildlife protection laws and really our environment as a whole. It's an atrocity.

This was a film that left me on the one hand completely disgusted by human-kind and our pigheaded, self-righteous, conceited notion that this earth is ours for the taking, the ravaging, and the raping; while on the other hand intensely proud of those brave ones among us who have the courage and conviction to take a stand and bloody well fight to do something about it.

Rob Stewart, the filmmaker and shark lover responsible for this film is one of those people that I am now very proud of. His passion for this misrepresented and horribly mistreated animal, an animal that we are so quick to vilify and detest, is nothing short of inspirational. And the fact that he is a Canadian and looks pretty darn good in a Speedo doesn't hurt either.

I can't go without mentioning the renegade conservationist Paul Watson, who joined forces with Stewart in a mission to stop illegal long line fishing in Costa Rica and Ecuador. He's a true warrior of the sea and his passion and willingness to do just about anything, seriously, to save sharks and whales is something that you need to see for yourself. A lot of people will say that he goes too far. That his brand of activism is too physical and hurts the hinders the cause more than helps it. I say bravo brave man, keep fighting the good fight.

See the film. I know that this might not be a cause at the top of your list. I struggle daily to determine what is at the top of mine, too. I struggle until I become so overwhelmed that I end up in tears, doing nothing at all. But the environment, whether it's oceans or forests, endangered species or third-world sustainability, should be high up on everyones priority list. Rob Stewart is one person, out there, swimming with that which most of us fear, just to bring us his message. The least we can do is listen.