Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Shark Baron on German TV

From left to right: Shark Baron Jupp, me, Folkart Schweizer
Photograph: Paul Spielvogel

Josef Clemens August Johannes Rudolf Antonius Hubertus Wendelin Pankratius Maria Baron von Kerckerinck zur Borg, aka Jupp Kerckerinck, is becoming a hot tip for German TV stations.

In April Shark Baron Jupp appeared in three shows in regional German TV channels, and yesterday he and my other buddy Folkart Schweizer were the special guests on one of Germany's most popular TV talkshows, the ZDF Markus Lanz Talk Show. The show usually attracts an audience of some two million viewers in Germany, and is subsequently transmitted via Deutsche Welle TV to all continents. I will be able to see the show next week in Bolivia.

The subject: Sharks, why people fear them, how "Jaws" negatively affected their image and, thus, contributed to their relentless decimation since 1975 which was when that fateful movie was released. Another subject for discussion was the alleged 'danger' sharks pose to humans.

Jupp eloquently described the perils these beautiful and still misunderstood animals face, mainly because of the ever rising demand for their fins, and the crucial role they play as apex predators in the marine food chain.

Both Jupp and Folkart emphasized that snorkeling / diving with sharks is perfectly safe, and that humans are not part of the sharks' diet. Specifically, they put the bad rap sharks get in perspective and said that the almost insignificant rate of fatalities word-wide vis a vis much more trivial dangers such as being killed by wasp stings has to be attributed in most cases to mere accidents where swimmers and surfers get bitten and bleed to death. We know all those arguments, but the TV viewers didn't.

Since Folkart once had the dubious privilege of actually having been in the mouth of a large shark, he competently explained the concept of a test bite, and told an incredulous talkshow host, that the shark's mouthing felt like a love bite and did not cause him the slightest harm. In fact, the sharp teeth of the shark left only 14 marks on his wetsuit and did not even perforate it.

Souvenir of a most gentle test bite

I was able to see the show online*) and felt very proud of my pals. They have performed like a duo of seasoned, telegenic professionals and were able to effectively transmit the message all shark conservation organizations call their principal mission statement: Creating awareness through education.

Folkart is a well known German entrepreneur, as are his wife and his sons. The origins of Folkart's family owned business with well over 500 employees both in Germany and overseas date back to the middle of the 19th century.

Folkart's business is rock solid "Mittelstand", medium
sized enterprises that are the backbone of the German economy. "Mittelstand" is what makes German high technology the almost legendary label of unsurpassed quality - "Made in Germany".

Folkart considers himself an adventurer, always hungry for new challenges. He was well over 60 when he decided to discover the Artic and the N
orth Pole for himself, and about two years ago he became a certified diver. When he dived for the first time with sharks "up close and personal" he did not expect that "up close and personal" could be just that, literally... :-)

Jupp, on the other hand, has a family background of which fairy tales are made of. He was born in a castle - yes, in a real castle that was his family's humble home since the 15th century.

Although Jupp is 'only' a baron, there is something exquisitively princely about him. At the same time this dashing aristocrat is surprisingly modest and just clean fun to be with, even if you happen to be a 'commoner' - hahahahahaha.....

But that is not the interesting part of Jupp's life as his noble birth was accidental. What is not accidental is what he made of his life. Read his own words

I really admire Jupp for his dedication to the cause of sharks. He became interested in sharks less than five years ago when he dived with white sharks in Guadalupe, Mexico. That experience gave his life yet a new dimension. As he faced those sharks he instinctively felt that to fight for their survival would ultimately mean to sa
ve the world.

*) First click: "Zur ZDF Mediathek", then, on the lower bar, right, click: "Hai Society".


berto xxx said...

yeah! thats awsome!! i like it!

berto xxx

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