by Roy R. Morris
Some Barbadians are apparently killing baby tiger sharks off the coast of St. Philip for fun, and one outspoken marine biologist is hopping mad.
Andre Miller, a former veteran with the Coastal Zone Management Unit, who is now involved in reef conservation consultancies across the region, said he had received information that over the last two weeks close to a dozen his organisation was in no way involved in offering a bounty shark pups, no bigger than three or four feet, had been killed by divers.
“I am told that [someone] is paying a bounty to have them killed because they don’t want tourists on the beach to be scared away,” Miller said.
“But that is absolute foolishness. We don’t know of anyone being attacked by a shark around here, and in any event you are talking about people hunting an endangered species. More people are killed around the world each year by pigs than by sharks – and there is no problem in Barbados with sharks anyhow.”
The marine biologist noted too that the very method of destroying the sharks suggested the motive was suspect, since they are hunted in the water by people with spear guns.
“What’s the danger? People go diving with their sharks everyday and there is no problem,” he said, adding that tiger sharks were categorised as apex predators whose presence was critical to the protection of reefs, by keeping other species in check.
However, owner of Crane Residential Resorts, Paul Doyle, made it clear in an interview with Barbados TODAY that for the slaughter of the sharks. He said his checks revealed that a local fisherman had been involved in some shark harvesting operation, but it was of concern to them since the landing of the creatures on the beach near the resort sent the wrong message to guests.
“Quite frankly we do not support the practise because when they bring them ashore they frighten our guests,” Doyle said. “From what I heard they are baiting sharks with chicken and my concern is that they would be attracting them to the area, but emphatically no, Crane is not paying anyone to hunt sharks.
“As a matter of fact, we are doing what we can to deter them…”
Meanwhile, Miller explained that Barbados could follow the lead of the Bahamas and expand its undersea attractions by “allowing these amazing creatures to thrive”.
“You are talking about creatures as old as the dinosaurs and there are people who get a thrill from diving among them. We can do much better than killing the pups indiscriminately,” the marine biologist added.