Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


UC ocean research into blubbery buddies and toothy terrors

UC ocean research into blubbery buddies and toothy terrors

November 19, 2012

Many people will not have had any real-life contact with marine creatures like dolphins, whales, and sharks, other than via the media, despite the increase in marine-fauna tourism, a University of Canterbury (UC) researcher said today.

Because there was less chance for real-life encounters with these species, the way they were represented had more of an influence over public perceptions, UC masters student researcher Jess Stewart said.

Some animals were seen to be worthy of more care, protection and affection than others. This impacted on whether they were raised to end up as food on dinner plates, bred as pets, or seen as pests, exotic species or as tourist attractions. Stewart has begun researching the value, the perception and future of dolphins, whales and sharks.

``The oceans are home to around 295,000-321,000 different animal species. They house 80 percent of all life on earth and produce over 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe.

``My research has been on three of the ocean's most well-known residents: dolphins, whales, and sharks. Additionally, they're also iconic and have featured in some of popular culture's most well-known media texts: Flipper (1964), Moby Dick (1851) and Jaws (1975).

``I see dolphins as the 'smiling smarties'. They are without a doubt among the most popular of all animals and I've yet to meet someone who dislikes dolphins.

``The soft-spot many have for dolphins is linked with their sophisticated intelligence. Some even believe dolphins may be more intelligent than every other species on the planet.’’

Stewart said whales, or 'blubbery buddies', were also viewed positively, and often seen as the peaceful giants and guardians of the seas. She said the thought of eating whale meat was almost unthinkable.

The 'save the whale' movement in the 1970s gave whales a complete public image makeover and provoked a major cultural attitude shift from an 'indifference' to a 'love' of whales.

Whale-watching had replaced whaling as an industry in many former-whaling nations, such as New Zealand.

``Finally, sharks, the toothy terrors, are the most vilified of all oceanic residents. Their reputation as killing-machines is largely unjustified, considering that out of around 415 different species of sharks, the vast majority are smaller than 2 metres, and have no interest in going near divers.

``While it's true that some species may be more dangerous than others, most species have never been known to bite or kill a human. Although Jaws was great for Steven Spielberg's career, it was detrimental to sharks, provoking some to kill sharks out of a kind of 'hatred' of them

````Fortunately for sharks, there's a ‘softening’ in public perception of them and sharks need protecting from people. This is largely thanks to a greater understanding of the role of sharks as apex-predators, and the impact the decimation of their populations through overfishing would have on the oceanic ecosystem.

``Shark-related tourism has also increased, including swimming with sharks, even free diving with great whites, which would almost have been unthinkable shortly after the release of Jaws.''

Stewart said the killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, for their meat, the killing of whales in the Antarctic, and the killing of sharks for their fins have been brought to public attention.

Three films in particular focus on these issues The Cove (2009), the Whale Wars television series (2008) and Sharkwater (2007). These films seek to politicise the slaughter of dolphins, whales and of sharks for their fins for food.

``My research will look at the different meanings that are assigned to dolphins, whales and sharks resulting in cross-cultural conflict.''

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Interest Rates: RBNZ Hikes OCR To 3.5%, ‘Period Of Assessment’ Now Needed

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler raised the official cash rate as expected, while signalling a pause in rate hikes to assess the impact of moves so far this year. The kiwi dollar sank after Wheeler said its strength was “unjustified” and that the currency could have “a significant fall.” More>>

ALSO:

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Warming: Warming Signs From State Of Climate Report

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 'reflect trends of a warming planet' -- says the latest State of the Climate report, launched by U.S. and New Zealand scientists. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Embrace Falling Home Affordability, Says NZIER

Despair over the inability to afford a house is misplaced and should be embraced as an opportunity to invest in more wealth-creating activity, says the principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub. More>>

Productivity Commission: NZ Regulation Not Keeping Pace

New Zealand regulators often have to work with out-of-date legislation, quality checks are under strain, and regulatory workers need better training and development. More>>

ALSO:

Callaghan Innovation: Investment To Help Deepen Innovation Reporting

Callaghan Innovation, the government’s high tech HQ for Kiwi business, is to help deepen New Zealand media coverage of the commercialisation of innovation through an arms-length partnership with independent business news service BusinessDesk. More>>

ALSO:

Tax Credits, Grants: Greens $1Bn R&D Plan

In the Party’s headline economic announcement, the Greens have launched their plan to build a smarter, more innovative economy which has as its centrepiece an additional $1 billion of government investment in research and development (R&D) above current spend, including tax breaks for business. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news