Embracing rare perile
and Fellow Stewards of Land and Water,
Yesterday, I was extremely fortunate to join a group of fellow open-ocean swimmers to swim in an area of ocean where sharks frequent. We boarded a 25-foot-long boat and headed directly to the heart of shark waters 3 miles off Halewia Harbor Hawaii.
As promised upon arrival 8- to 15-foot sharks were circling the boat, estimated number of 30. No “baiting” brought them to the surface — it was like this is our space and you are intruding. This was similar to me showing up in my pastures with cattle or Bison — I’m on their turf.
By now you are asking how does this affect Southwest Nebraska and why should I care?
Oceans directly affect Southwest Nebraska and the rest of the world because 71 percent of the world is covered by water. The water consists of 96 percent ocean and 4 percent fresh.
We all depend on this water including sharks to survive. Fresh water — a significant need for the world to continue to produce crops and livestock. The fresh water originates, as we all learned, at some point in our educations from water evaporating off the oceans. No matter where one lives on earth the health of the oceans, aquifers, lakes, rivers, streams and ponds matter. Unbalanced ecosystems in the waters of the world create problems far and beyond the beaches and shorelines.
Sharks as the apex of the ocean predictors determine what survives and what doesn’t basically. They are the creatures that remove the weak, dying and dead in the ocean that then are recycled into the ocean for creatures in the lower part of the ecosystem to use as nutrition. Sounds very similar to removing the natural predators from the mountains and prairies including Yellowstone National Park. Removal of wolves, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and bears from these native areas have resulted in over populations of deer, antelope, Bison ( Yellowstone), rabbits, mice, rats, etc., etc.,
Sharks as the Bison in the 1800s are being slaughtered at alarming numbers. Sharks at the rate of 100 million a year is estimated, Bison went from 60 million to a 1,000 in 50 years. Look at what the near end result of the Bison slaughter was – extinction. The Bison and prairies evolved interdependently
— I’m betting a healthy ocean ecosystem depends on sharks. If one wants to admit it or not nature had it pretty much right with the balance in the world before “civilization” changed it all.
I could mention several other correlations between sharks and Bison but I will conclude with the fact neither see humans as a “target” for food or as predators. Once one understands the need for mutual respect and proper management unfortunate interactions should result.
Of course, I as one individual cannot change the world — especially only having 160 acres of land and 10 Bison. But I’m hoping that some of my experiences far from Southwest Nebraska and by embracing Holistic Management will lead others to consider changes in their stewardship practices for the long term health of the natural resources they own.
I went on the shark adventure to learn. I have the Bison venture north of town in hope others can learn and make a difference going forward.
Darrell A. Meister
Nebraska Bison Rancher
Mililani Hawaii Resident