Q. How can you make sure the right people read your book? (By "the right people" I mean decision makers who can make things happen).
A. This is an interesting question because the book gives everyone the tools to fight the problem as well as to understand it. Statistically any person that you know is usually only 2-3 contacts away from someone who is influential or in a position to affect mass change. Whether that is a celebrity, law maker, politician, lobbyist, or media affiliate as long as the book is read by enough folks and they take the time to share the word, it is almost certain to reach the ears and attention of many of the “right people”. But I am also doing a media push to promote the book and am already beginning to work on the newest and most unique documentary movie that has ever been made. It is in its infancy at the moment, but it will continue to build up strength as we go.
Q. I was inspired by your article on myspace "How do I fight the giants?” Would you agree that the real "giants" apathy and ignorance?
A. I think that certainly apathy and ignorance are huge giants. It is not the context that I meant it in directly, but yes indeed it certainly serves the same purpose. To me the giants are also corporations and industries and politicians. I think that we all also have our own inner giant. We need only be inspired and driven to tap into that strong self-belief and compassion. So yes I think that apathy and ignorance are very much a part of the fight.
Q. Isn't it unrealistic to think that we can really make any difference when even the president of the USA - supposedly the most powerful man in the world - is having huge difficulties in getting a very moderately progressive health bill passed? What chance does the man/ woman/ child on the street have of changing the world?
A. Without getting into the USA’s political problems too heavily I believe that the President of the US is having difficulty passing a health care bill because it is not an issue that is very pressing on the American public as much as the US Economy. People who are unemployed or under-employed do not wish to support or hear about Health Care when it is not as pressing as paying bills and putting food on their table.
As for the public I think that people sometimes see themselves as less powerful than they actually are. They seem to feel tiny or insignificant, but they are not. My big example to this often-posed question is the “Driver Ant” example.
In Africa the most dangerous animal is the Siafu or African Driver Ant. The Siafu is a sisterhood of blind ants. But unlike most ants the Siafu consider everything to be food. They kill anything that cannot escape them. From insects to elephants nothing is safe from the Siafu. But individually they are not the most impressive ants. It is as easy to kill a Siafu as any other ant species. BUT the Siafu swarm more than twenty million strong. They act as one and as a result they overcome everything that they encounter.
People can be and are like the Siafu. You need not think of yourself as small or insignificant. And like the blind sister ants, you need not see what all the other members of your colony are doing. If we will each just do our part as individuals, then together we will overcome any and all problems. EVERY effort matters!
Q. In order to influence decision-making we need to gain power. That power can be gained in various ways. Considering the urgency of the situation facing the planet, how far is it justifiable to go in order to obtain that power? Is violence of any kind justified or useful?
A. I think that in order to affect change and decision-making we need to act. I think that we all have power already. There is a sick illusion that seeks to make people think that they are somehow weak or ineffective. But power is already ours. Our greatest power is in numbers and in the media.
I am not an advocate of violence. I think that there are many forms of strength and power. The book is a platform for the WEECs Act ( World Extinction Events Crimes ) as seen in Chapter 8. My goal is to get it passed into law in the UN and the EU. Once passed it will allow for the formation of a Law Enforcement body that is specifically designated and formed for supporting the WEECs convention. This fleet of Conservation Law Enforcement vessels will be fully armed and authorized to affect arrests and seizures. In extreme cases they can use and are capable of using lethal force to subdue criminals or protect the vessels from terrorism or piracy. But this is the very worst-case scenario.
Far more is gained from education and positive action than force or violence.
Q. What projects are you working on at the moment?
A. Today I am working on the groundwork for the Movie “6X” which is a unique documentary that combines traditional documentary measures with entertainment type movies. That is because there is a lot of “plausible fiction” utilized in short stories in the book as a tool to grab the readers attention. This plausible fiction is what I term “Science-fact-tion” because the events may not be actual, but the science and plausibility are very strong!
I am also working on a new book. “Anthroview” which is an anthropomorphic story of the life of an Oceanic White Tipped Shark as told by the shark itself, but in human words, terms, and memories. The story presents the shark from a world humans never would otherwise know.
This is an effort to share the shark in its mannerisms and day-to-day life experiences with the public. An effort to generate a greater compassion for these magnificent fish.
I am also starting to lay down the Groundwork for IMEC ( International Marine Enforcement Commission ), the law enforcement body for the WEECs Act. Additionally I am working on the Sea Rangers Program ( which involves the children around the world ) in a push to allow the next generation to directly influence lawmakers and politicians into making responsible choices for the planets conservation needs.
I am working on a new project with Ady Gil to help generate funds for the Ady Gil 2. Sea Shepherds new vessel to replace the lost Ady Gil in the face of ongoing poaching of Cetaceans and Marine Life!
I have some other project pending including the Bruce Lee Campaign, to promote anti-shark fin soup sentiments in China, and then there are some other projects that are not yet as widely known. I am going to work on promoting the “Shark-Free Marinas” program, which helps to promote Marinas worldwide, which prohibit any vessel from porting in a Marina with any parts of or whole sharks on the vessels.
Q. I wanted to end the interview on a positive note - so tell the readers about your friend the lemon shark!
A. Thanks Duncan! My shark friend is a beautiful female lemon shark who I met on a public beach early one morning. This is an account from my book:
I was out on Siesta Beach. This is a beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Siesta Key is a barrier island. It was early and the sun had recently risen. I caught a type of fish called Ladyfish. These are the smallest members of the Tarpon Family. They are not good eating and very bony, but fun to catch. They are competitive predators and often appear in huge schools. Their mouth is bony and hard and they readily jump and shake their heads, often throwing the hook. It is not that often that one is landed due to this self-release talent that Ladyfish exhibit. Now I also caught Cravel Jacks, which are good to eat. I had 2 jacks and had released all the Ladyfish that I did manage to land when suddenly a very large Ladyfish hit my bait. I had it up out of the water and pulled out my dehooking tool to release the fish. But it sharply shook and managed to snap the line, the bait, and took my dehooker with it. Oops!
Now without the dehooking tool it is harder to remove hooks but I re-rigged and tried for Jacks again. The next Ladyfish as Murphy's Law would have it swallowed the hook too deep for me to release it. I had to kill the fish and then cut it open to retrieve the hook. In the process I tossed the head and body back into the surf when a waiting dolphin came in and ate the remains. It then hung around just a few feet away from me and of course I am a sucker for cetaceans. Every time I did manage to get a Ladyfish off the hook and in hand there was the waiting mooch. He/she was quite appreciative. The Dolphin was hunting Ladyfish and mullet in the shallow waters, and of course they are quite opportunistic. Why chase down a school when a freshly caught fish is nearby?
Then I caught another Jack. I got it in shore and my reel broke in an odd spot. No more fishing until I could repair the reel. The dolphin decided to take off, as it was not getting any more fish. I then decided to clean and fillet the Jacks. The blood must have run in the water and it drew with it an unexpected visitor.
A beautiful female lemon shark that cruised up slowly in the shallow water. I knew it was a female, as it had no claspers on the ventral fins when she turned sideways in a low wave. There were tourists starting to gather and pointing out the shark very close in the lapping water by the shore. Her dorsal and caudal ( tail ) fins were out of the water exposed. So having filleted 2 of the 3 Jacks I took the heads, guts and body remains with me and stepped into the water walking toward the beautiful shark. The water was just below my knees and she cruised around casually. I slapped the water with the fish body to get her attention and she turned and swam toward me. The tourists especially one German lady seemed concerned. I was in the water discussing about the merits of sharks and how beautiful and docile they are, and how very much the sharks need our help.
At this point the lady warned me. “That shark is going to attack you!” But I laughed and told her, “I am too big for her to eat and I am not a fish so she is not interested in me.” Then as she got close she slowed down and cruised slowly right in front of me and I tossed the head of the Jack to her. She ate it and then banked and came back around. The German lady continued to rant that the shark was going to get me! I knew better.
I was chuckling and in great spirits as I told her that I was perfectly safe and then I tossed the gut and tail to her ( the shark, not the German Lady! ) and she gulped them down happily. She veered again and I now tossed the body to her.
Then something caught her attention and she moved a short ways from me. So to get her attention again I once more slapped the water with the second body remains of a Jack. She turned immediately and zipped toward me and then slowed down to almost a snails pace right in front of me. So I tossed her the second Jacks head, which she ate in a very casual manner. Then she repeated her return for the guts and tail, and finally the body remains. I had not yet filleted the third Jack.
She now moved off to continue hunting down the beach were she was joined by a second smaller shark. Many of the tourists were taking pictures of the sharks and were listening to me talking about sharks as I worked on filleting the last Jack. But the German lady droned on about how I had gotten lucky and sharks are mindless killers and eating machines. She was determined to make this point to the public all around her as well as to snap me out of my insanity as she apparently perceived it.
This bothered me a bit and as I gathered the remains and went back into the water I told her, “If you think that she is mindless then watch this!” She was about 300-400 yards from where I had fed her. All of the tourists watched as I slapped the water again with the remains and the female only turned and swam toward me at a blinding speed. At about 40 yards she slowed down and then casually swam up to me until she was almost at a stand still right in front of me. I tossed her the fish head, then the guts and tail, and finally the body. She ate them casually as if to say "Thanks guy!" And once again she casually swam off to continue her morning patrol of the shoreline.
I turned to the astonished German lady and asked her, "If the shark is such a 'Mindless Eating Machine' and a 'Killer', then how is it that she learned that feeding pattern and the water slapping associated with the feeding all in just two times of doing it? By the third repeat she came immediately to me for more food? Why is that? Also did you notice that the other shark did not come? It had not been conditioned. AND she learned the feeding pattern as well. A head, then guts and tail, and finally the body. If she did not associate the three turn feeding, then why is she swimming away after the third item was given? And trust me, the shark may seem far away to you, but if she wanted to attack me she could have turned and covered the distance in 2-3 seconds! She has no interest in messing with humans!”
The crowd actually clapped as if I had been performing some sort of show, and the German lady admitted that perhaps she needed to learn more about sharks. All in all a good win for a large crowd who left with an entirely different impression of the animal after listening to me and watching her feed and casually hang out with me.
I am always talking sharks every day. I try to tell at least 3-5 people about them if I can, and thus the word spreads! But the tale of my shark friend did not end there. Our cycle was one of familiarity and periodic feeding as well as non-feeding socialization that grew until a sort of bond had formed. Read on.
On a number of subsequent visits she continued to come and interact with me. Always early in the morning when there were few swimmers in the water. She always approaches with a casual pace and while she is leery of other waders or swimmers, this is not the case between the shark and me.