November was a not a good month for shark researchers and extreme media gaffs.
From the Farallones to Australia and now Richard Fitzpatrick the perception of qualified shark research is being modified by a few within the community who have chosen to seek the media limelight.
"Riding a tiger shark is awesome, said Mr Fitzpatrick, who left Cairns this week on a diving expedition tagging sharks in the Coral Sea."
Richard Fitzpatrick represents a new and startling brand of shark researcher, those that do extreme things with animals and use research data to justify their actions, leading many to question the work being done.
"He admits most people think he is either "a liar or a loony" when he tells them he lassoes sharks for a living."
Like commercial shark diving, invasive shark research practices are under scrutiny. There are some who might argue that "the ends justify the means" with invasive shark research.
We maintain reality television shows and basic stunt work with sharks have no place within shark research community and media gaffs like this week with Richard Fitzpatrick only lower the bar for others who perceive shark research as a hybrid entertainment entity.
Shark Cowboy, Liar or Loony?
To Mr. Fitzpatrick and those who would emulate him, we would suggest the answer to that question might be both.
Invasive shark researchers seek media at their own peril, this weeks offering once again delivers a black eye to the entire effort.