Entry Title: "Shark Tourism: To Feed Or Not to Feed"
Name: Matthew Smith , Australia
Category and Expertise: Environmental|Photo Essay and Feature Story|General News|Other_ED|Underwater|Other_S|Travel/Tourism|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional


Entry Description: Shark Tourism: To feed or not to feed? Does it help us get close to the animals to observe, photograph, learn and educate? Or is it reckless disregard for our safety and training sharks to associate humans with food? Like it or not shark tourism and feeding is on the up, often taking place in close proximity of popular tourist beaches without the knowledge of the holiday makers taking a dip. But is this really a problem? One of the most popular shark dive operators has been successfully running it’s business only kilometers away from top south pacific resorts for over ten years without a single incident. Do sharks + humans = attack? Proven time and time again the answer most often no. However media hype and Hollywood has built the reputation of the shark up to have one aim in life, to bite people. However, sharks play a very important role within the ecosystem and need to be protected from the decimation they face partly due to their fearsome reputation. Shark tourism does go someway to protecting the species in some areas as locals dependent on the tourist dollars now see they are worth more in the water than in the soup dish.

Story: Shark Tourism: To feed or not to feed? Does it help us get close to the animals to observe, photograph, learn and educate? Or is it reckless disregard for our safety and training sharks to associate humans with food? Like it or not shark tourism and feeding is on the up, often taking place in close proximity of popular tourist beaches without the knowledge of the holiday makers taking a dip. But is this really a problem? One of the most popular shark dive operators has been successfully running it’s business only kilometres away from top south pacific resorts for over ten years without a single incident. Do sharks + humans = attack? Proven time and time again the answer most often no. However media hype and Hollywood has built the reputation of the shark up to have one aim in life, to bite people. However, sharks play a very important role within the ecosystem and need to be protected from the decimation they face partly due to their fearsome reputation. Shark tourism does go someway to protecting the species in some areas as locals dependant on the tourist dollars now see they are worth more in the water than in the soup dish.

About the Artist:

I have always had an attraction to the water for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of my brother and I collecting frogspawn from local streams to take home and watch it hatch into tiny tadpoles and grow into small frogs. I used to spend hours just watching the changes going on in the jam jars on my parents’ kitchen table, mesmerised. At the age of 7 I was given my first fishing rod by my Mum & Dad, which I still own, this fired up a life long passion that grew my obsession more of being at the waters edge. I’m not much of a fish eater and never have been; my fish were caught out of pure admiration to be photographed and safely released. A pointless task in many peoples point of view, but not mine. As I grew so did my aquatic pursuits. Swimming, surfing and scuba diving also took a hold of most of my spare time and led to many trips abroad to far off countries. Now residing in NSW Australia after emigrating from the UK in 2007 I have the worlds biggest playground at my feet, the Pacific Ocean and I have truly fallen in love with it.