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 EXHIBIT: SHARKSPLOITATION

Long before Jaws, sharks were targets for fear and recklessness. One of the few misunderstood apex predators left on our planet, residing in our equally misunderstood oceans, sharks took the blame for our nightmares. In the 1600’s they were still being grouped with other toothed predators, like dolphins, whales, believed to be the same species. Abysmal illustrations depicted them as dragons, fierce dogs of the sea. They would remain a mysterious terror even into the early 1900’s when the likes of Captain Wallace Caswell would kill them (and species that looked like them) mercilessly. The attacks of 1916 on the Jersey coast, and the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis only reinforced the negative relationship with sharks, laying the grounds for fictional works of sharksploitation, using fear to turn a profit.


SELECTIONS FROM THE SHARKSPLOITATION COLLECTION


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SHARKSPLOITATION

Once Jaws hit the big screen, endless souvenirs were made depicting the man-eating shark. Few actual photographs existed since at the time (1970-1976) only Ron & Valerie Taylor had published underwater photos of Great Whites from (and outside of) the new “shark cage”. Note the menacing “open jaws” in every photo.

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SHARK EXPLOITATION MAGAZINES (1975-77)

RARE OFFICIAL JAWS FILM MAGAZINES (1975)

Iconic Photo by Ron & Valerie Taylor

Private Collection - Keith M. Cowley

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SEA WORLD

The highly controversial attraction Sea World was not immune to sharksploitation. Over the years its gift shops, like countless coastal tourism destinations, sold gruesome shark photos, shark jaws and other shark parts for a quick dollar. Cultural fear of apex predators designed by the entertainment industry left many unsympathetic.

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GREAT WHITE SHARK POSTER

IN ITS ORIGINAL PLASTIC WRAP

Sea World, Orlando, FL (1976)

Private Collection - Keith M. Cowley

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SAWFISH

Sawfish species are in the shark/ray family. Their highly specialized toothy rostrums or “bills” have been used by coastal indigenous cultures as cermonial props, gifts as well as weapons. This sawfish bill was purchased as a tourist souvenir at the Sea World Gift Shop in 1987.

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SAWFISH ROSTRUM

Pristis pectinata

Sea World, Orlando, FL (1987)

On Loan - Cowley Family

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SHARK BOTTLE

Tourism destinations are seasonal cash-grab traps for our tired and adventurous people, conditioned to return with collectible evidence of their travels. If the destination is coastal, you are guaranteed to see shark’s parts for sale: shark teeth, shark jaws, even preserved baby sharks in bottles. These shark parts are now a symbol of sharksploitation and we need to end their sale.

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SHARK IN A BOTTLE

OUTER BANKS, NC

Tourism Souvenir - 1997

Private Collection - Keith M. Cowley

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SHARK RIDER

This image is just upsetting.

And the highly fictional story as well. Drink alcohol and conquer the beasts of the sea? Nurse Sharks are bottom feeders and not aggresive unless ridiculously provoked. Like all marine life they should be observed from a distance as to not alter their behavior. Exploitation is not advertising.

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MAN RIDES A NURSE SHARK IN BAHAMAS

CANADIAN CLUB 1960’s Advertisement

Hiram Walker & Sons Limited - Canada

Private Collection - Keith M. Cowley


MORE TO COME…

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