« And It Fought To Escape » That is the name of the song by saxophonist Colin Stetson playing on this video.
Picture us fresh off the boat, and following our cinematographer Will’s friend to dive with sharks, near Cape Town. I never swam with sharks before, and considering I’d be in a cage, I enthusiastically jumped into the water and the first sight of a fin. The power and otherworldly wisdom of the beautiful beast was strange to witness. I knew it wouldn’t come for me, it had no business to and that was extremely comforting and an unexpected feeling.
As we headed to shore, already ecstatic, we were met by a bank of dolphins, hundreds of dolphins, as far as the eye could see. We followed them toward False Bay until we got a call from someone at the coast that a shark. There, fishermen had found a 15 year old Great White, a female, one of the last 3000 last Great Whites, caught in the net. Reluctantly, they gave us the shark and returned it to a marine biology lab near by.
What a strange way to end such a joyous day. As if we were being spoken to, led by a story so much larger than our own.
The following morning, as I walk toward the supermarket for some breakfast, Chakib has me notice a poster. Front page of the news paper, Great White Dies in False Bay. At the bay, posters were put up to warn tourists of sharks as if they were coming on our territory. The same thought I’d had earlier on my voyage resonates: We are the aliens. We are not from here.
I contacted a local television station and quickly brought them the footage, editing it in the cab. It was important to me to edit it myself so the right conclusions may be drawn from the footage. The fishermen, even if they came back after us after, trying to take the shark back, despite their having indirectly killed it, they were also victims in this story. Criminality is a result of poverty. We may add and strengthen laws for them not to fish in False Bay, but without other alternatives, for their own survival, they will keep fishing.
The name, False Bay, also sends strange echoes through this story. Probably something about our perception twisted to find the role of the villain, the fishermen for some, the shark for others. In the eyes of the fishermen yelling « I want my job » to us as we left with the best catch they may ever have, we, the supposed heroes of this story, were definitely the villains. Obviously, heroes are not a part of this story. We are but witness to a tragedy far greater than we can conceive, science fiction. We’ve colonized a planet, claimed it as our own.
Picture this for perspective: what if it was a human that had died that day, one of the last 3000? A woman.