I just read the tragic of story of Australian surfer Sean Pollard who lost both his arms in a shark attack earlier this week, and I was very disappointed to learn that the shark, believed to be a 8.2 foot Great White, has since been caught and “destroyed“.

In this case the word “destroyed” is a euphemism for the word “kill”, meant to divert attention from the fact that the shark is a living, breathing creature not unlike ourselves. This choice of word not only downplays the loss the life, but also implies that the shark is an object for humans to essentially dispose of as we see fit. Sadder still,multiple sharks suspected of the attack were all killed, each inspected to see which was the assassin. This is mind-boggling to me. What does killing the shark fix? It certainly does not give Sean his arms back. It only brings more death and violence to a world that already has enough of both. Unfortunately, many sharks have met this same fate, including the tiger shark that attacked Bethany Hamilton in 2003. It’s not just sharks either- a few months ago an alligator in Florida who attacked a trespassing young boy was hunted as well.

The way humans treat animals is nothing short of barbaric. According to a recent WWF report, we have depleted 50% of our animals in the past 40 years, mostly due to unsustainable factory farming, pollution and habitat destruction. Overfishing has wiped out 90% of large fish, and some shark populations have declined by up to 98% since the year 2000. We are a cancer to this Earth. We speak out against violence so much, with our anti-gun and anti-war advocacy, and yet we actively accept or ignore acts of violence inflicted on other species deemed inferior to humans. Instead of living in harmony with other inhabitants of the Earth, we go around killing everything that gets in our way. Sharks, like all animals, are incredible creatures, a fascinating gift to this Earth.  Perhaps if we directed more of attention towards understanding them and less attention towards killing them we would live in a world of life and respect, instead of fear and death. The diversity of species is what makes this planet so beautiful.

On average, sharks kill less than one person every year. Humans kill over 100 million sharks every year. Who is the more dangerous species?