This is one of many nurse sharks held captive within a tiny pen on Isla Mujeres’ western beaches. Accurately named “shark beach,” Playa Tiburon is a favourite destination for day trips to Mujeres from Cancun and sees hundreds of tourists a day. While sunbathing and snorkelling you have the opportunity to pay 2 dollars to have your photo taken with this gentle giant of our seas. For every paying customer the bottom dweller is scooped up from the sand and handed to tourists to make photographs. The extra lucky ones will see the guide press his hands upon the sharks’ neck causing it to cough out the water that feeds through its gills (the equivalent to us coughing all of the air from our lungs). Fun for everyone, it seems, but the shark, oh and some divers/snorkelers who are getting more desperate in their search to see animals like these in their natural habitats. The treatment of these sharks will cause early death from stress or bacterial infections caused by sunscreens and other products but there are plenty more fish in the sea… or so I’m continually told.
This is just one of the many hundreds and thousands of examples in which animals are tortured for our amusement, confined to small enclosures and disturbed from their natural behaviours.
I am aware that there are a great many of us who do not condone these activities but it seems that business continues to boom for an industry that does not make memories, only photographs. I’ve had to ask myself, why is this? The only answer I can come up with is a lack of awareness. We do not have to be bad people to endorse an activity that is cruel if we fail to see it that way. I for one, used to love SeaWorld and could not have imagined a better paradise but now that I am older and have a better understanding of the situation I would not step one foot into the place.
My learning has made me aware.
One by one we can help each other to understand what we are really doing when we choose to pay to keep animals cruelly in captivity. If we can increase our ability to see life from another perspective, maybe even that of an animals, then we have the chance to make the world a better place for everything that is living.
Maybe one by one we can see tourism like this come to an end.