Nuclear Sharks in the Marshall Islands
One of the talks at SXSW Eco conference was Nuclear Sharks by Philippe & Ashlan Cousteau. Philippe Cousteau Jr. is the grandson of the famous underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau (scientist, filmmaker, conservationist, and researcher) and credited his grandfather for his love and passion for the ocean. I grew up watching, "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" which helped promote human understanding of ocean life. It was an honor to see Philippe and hear about the work he is doing to continue his grandfather’s legacy.
For a little perspective...After WW2, from 1946 to 1958, the United States conducted over 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, equivalent to 1.6 Hiroshima-size explosions per day. The largest nuclear-weapons tests were the 15 megaton detonation on Bikini Atoll. Its flash was seen in Okinawa, 2,600 miles away and its radioactive fallout was later detected in cattle in Tennessee. To this day the islands are still highly radioactive and uninhabitable.
Their mission was to investigate how the environment has been impacted decades later and the film carries a strong message about the importance of preserving marine life and the environment for present and future generations. As
They tagged many sharks to monitor what's happening with them and how they got there and how they migrated. The dark side of their story is several of the sharks they did tag were captured and killed even though it's illegal to fish there. “Illegally half of the sharks that we tagged were caught by long-lining vessels, most likely for shark fin soup,” says Philippe. “That was a real big eye-opening, shocking experience.”
Only 1% of all oceans are marine protected areas or also known as "