Not just for yucks: Phil Watson on the role of humor in shark conservation

Filed Under (Special Events, Summer Sharktakular 2010, conservation) by Alexa & Cindy on 21-07-2010

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Phil Watson is an Australian cartoonist, surfer, and the mastermind behind the website Shaaark! that showcases his cartoons, animations – and even a free iPhone app. All this silliness - that sends Alexa into peels every time she sees any of his work – came out of Phil’s self-professed love-hate relationship with sharks, when he decided to “make fun of sharks from the safety of his drawing board.” Take it away, Phil:

This is a change for me writing a paragraph or two! Its usually just a few words introducing my latest cartoon. But thanks for the chance to be a guest blogger, and great work with what you’re doing with this website!

So, how can shark cartoons help shark conservation?

Most people are probably afraid of sharks because of the media; Jaws movies and documentaries/stories about shark attacks. The majority of people aren’t going to spend time researching what sharks are really like. That’s why I believe cartoons are a great way to re-educate people about sharks. You can quickly catch peoples’ attention in an entertaining way. Most of my shark cartoons and animations are just about pure entertainment, but I also hope that I can show people that sharks aren’t as scary as they think. And once in a while I throw in a cartoon that addresses a particular issue:
shark cartoon
A couple of years ago a young surfer was attacked by a white shark at my local beach. The guy survived with some pretty serious bites (my neighbour was one of the first on the scene and showed me some photos). Around the same time there were a couple more shark attacks in and around Sydney. The attacks deffinitely made me more wary when going for an early surf by myself. But it hasn’t changed how I feel about sharks. That’s part of the adventure of surfing, being out there playing in shark’s territory. I’m going to keep on making fun of them from the safety of my drawing board, and I hope to show more people that sharks are worth respecting and protecting.

shark cartoon
And just for anyone out there who still thinks sharks are terrifying man-eaters, just remember that most sharks attack are a case of mistaken identity!

Phil Watson

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