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AFC Flag Expedition #12:
Immersed in the Habitat of the Great White Shark
Expedition Artist: David C. Gallup
Purpose: To study through sketching, notes, photography and collaboration with local scientific experts to bring attention to the plight of our oceans and in particular the Great White Shark.
Location: Channel Islands off the California Coast
Scheduled For: September to November, 2010
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For three weeks in September- November of 2010, David Gallup will be granted access to a small fleet of research vessels staffed with some of the world’s top experts on Pacific Predators, as they embark on three week-long journeys into waters which once teemed with the Great White Shark.
Gallup and the scientists will be joined for much of the project by camera crews from the Essential Image Source Foundation and Discovery Channel. The mission of the scientists is to tag as many great white sharks as possible in an effort to establish migration and population charts.  This knowledge will be used to affect public policy toward the sharks, and accurately assign them to the proper status on international endangered species lists.

David will  keep a journal with sketches for AFC and the entire excursion will be filmed in HD digital video.  David will share his personal photos from the expedition, including any encounters with other marine life they find, including birds, whales, dolphins, and sharks. For three non-consecutive weeks, and durning much of the time in-between, I will be working on a
small body of paintings, oil on canvas, depicting the Great White Shark and it’s environment.


David is already in the habit of giving public lectures about painting on the high seas, and about the need to protect our oceans.  He speaks about once or twice a month around southern California, generally with the use of power-point projection.  I will incorporate slides from this exhibition, and share his newfound knowledge of the Great White Shark, as well as giving exposure to AFC The audiences range from symphony groups, art groups, and science groups to library venues for children and adults, and school groups.  

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For three weeks in September- November of 2010, David C. Gallup will be granted access to a small fleet of research vessels staffed with some of the world's top experts on Pacific Predators, as they embark on three week-long journeys into waters which once teemed with the Great White Shark.

Gallup and the scientists will be joined for much of the project by camera crews from the Essential Image Source foundation and Discovery Channel. The mission of the scientists is to tag as many great white sharks as possible in an effort to establish migration and population charts. This knowledge will be used to affect public policy toward the sharks, and accurately assign them to the proper status on international endangered species lists.  The current status of the shark is “Threatened” (or
“Vulnerable”), but so little is known about their numbers, migratory patterns, and mating behavior that the label is rightly treated with skepticism from many within the scientific community- some who would list it as “Endangered” and some who argue that there is too little evidence to support any accurate listing at all.  By understanding the population numbers and migratory patterns, a baseline of current numbers can be established by which future scientists will be able to accurately
gauge the health of the species by increases or decreases in numbers.  The mission of Gallup and the film crews is to bring attention to the plight of our oceans to a broad international audience.

He will be using the resulting attention-grabbing paintings to raise both awareness and funds for the cause of our oceans.  The trip will result in approximately twenty paintings, from studies of life on the research vessel to topside and underwater views of the sharks in their environment.  As these paintings will be exhibited along with his other paintings of the Channel Islands in a major museum tour, he will invite local, national, and international NGO's to join him for special public lectures at the museums to help get out the word about the importance of saving our oceans NOW.  These opportunites for local NGO's to interact with the public helps them to raise funds at the same time as they enlighten their audience.  Regional and International ocean-minded NGO's will be invited.

David's View of the Mission and Sharks

The planet is in peril.  Our Oceans are facing particular challenges.  They are the ultimate environtmental challenge, both for the importance of their health for the human population and for the fact that they are not yet past a breaking-point.  Simply stopping the destruction now would allow most
pelagic and coastal populations to recover completely in just fifty years.  But the problems are grave, and the solutions challenging.  Public awareness will play a key role in the struggle to save our seas. Over-fishing has brought stocks of what humans consider the tastiest fish to within vulnerable lev-
els.  Sharks in particular are hunted for fins, the still-living bodies thrown overboard to bleed to death or drown.  Why do we allow this behavior with sharks, when it would surely never be tolerated with a dolphin or just about any other animal?  Because of the public perception of the shark as a
mindless eating machine.  What gives them this reputation?  The most feared animal in the world, the Great White Shark, is the image that comes to mind when people hear the word Shark.  Fatal attacks from Great whites are rare- about one every five years in North America- fewer than twenty
in the past century, and unprovoked attacks on humans which are non-fatal are also very rare. Attacks on White Sharks by people are much, much more common.
Whites are commonly shot by recreational boaters, tortured to death when caught in nets, or made the subject of brutal “revenge hunts” whenever a human is attacked.  In these revenge hunts, all sharks are considered fair game, regardless of size or species.  When humans act out of fear and
ignorance, we are very, very dangerous animals indeed.  The fear must be made rational, the ignorance cured with re-education.  Fictional movies and novels must be replaced as sources of information by scientifically accurate and unemotional data.  Likely sources of such information are documentary films for mass media, and group lectures and public events on a local scale.  Both are a part of my plan.
The problems facing our oceans are more perceptual than anything else.  We are not on the diet of any animal in the sea, including the Great White Shark, and yet it remains the stuff of nightmares. While sharks need to be treated with respect as dangerous wild animals, they are not indiscriminate
eaters.  Having a license plate in the stomach suggests to an uninformed audience a set of teeth with no brain, when in reality the metal gives off an electro-magnetic charge when exposed to sea water which is similar to that of a fish in distress.  We tend to look at the scenario and think, “stupid
shark”, when it was humans who introduced metal trash into an environment where such things have never existed before.  Changing public perception of the Great White Shark will surely change the way they are treated, and help to limit the abuse of the ocean's Pinnacle Predator.  It is changing
the perception of these sharks and generating respect for ocean life which is the goal of my project."

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