Voices of the Sea: Illuminating the Complex Relationship between Sharks and Human through Digital Storytelling in Baja California Sur, Mexico

PATERAKIS, Kristin Marie- University of Colorado Denver

An understanding of shark-human relationships is critical as an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year for reasons including climate change, habitat destruction, by-catch and shark finning. Baja California Sur, Mexico provides an example of how global changes affect local communities that rely on the sea. Traditional knowledge is becoming more valued in the fight to conserve sharks. However, it is important to look at coastal peoples in Baja Sur as both information holders and as cultural entities that also need conserving. To more effectively incorporate local/traditional knowledge I employ the methodology and research process of digital storytelling to illuminate the realities and deconstruct common misrepresentations of both sharks and shark fishers. I explore individual experiences within the complex shark-human relationship to understand how forces of the larger social matrix affect local communities and cultures from past to present. I further discuss the potential of digital storytelling in empowering individuals to become agents of positive social and environmental change.

Part of: The Ethnobiology of Traditional Fisheries: Bringing the past into the present