What a week. Following an nice interview with Roy Noble on BBC Radio last week about my adventures in the Antarctic and a factual account of the trip for a local paper where I live, I was contacted by the national press. By Wednesday April 6th my Leopard Seal images were in the Mirror, The Times, The Telegraph and the Metro here in the UK and on the Daily Mails website.
I guess I should be happy about that but I’m not, I’m actually saddened by the whole affair.
I explicitly stated in the interview that I did not want my images attached to any sensationalist story. I believe that constant sensationalism of the very few shark attacks that occur has contributed to only a minority of people actually caring that we slaughter 70-100 million a year and many, even most species are destined for extinction during our lifetime. I emphasised this point and also emphasised the gentleness that the seals showed me in our encounter, their evident intelligence and playful nature. The interviewer totally agreed with my point of view, or so it seemed……..
Lo and behold when the pictures hit the press they were accompanied by “Deadly Leopard Seal Encounter”, “Killer Seal Moves In For a Close Up” etc. I was absolutely gutted that my images should be used this way and I’ve since received a written apology. But the journalists involved also point out that this is what the majority of people want to read and therefore what the papers want to publish. I despair. Why does something have to be dangerous or deadly for us even to give it the time of day?
And if dangerous and deadly things are apparently of interest to us, why are we even unable to save those from the brink……
Humans have evolved an incredible intelligence. Nonetheless, there is one critical facet that we are sadly lacking as a species: That is the wisdom and empathy with which to wield our intelligence in a responsible way and exist in harmony with the natural world that supports our lives.
If sensationalism is what they wanted, the caption should indeed have read: “Deadly Human moves in for a close up with Leopard Seal”
But then that would be closer to the truth wouldn’t it……..?