Why Do I Care About Sharks?

Why have a dozen or more Vineyard musicians come together to record original songs against the shark tournament? Come to Katharine Cornell Theater on Sunday June 3 at 7 pm and find out.

Or, Vineyard Musicians Against the Shark Tournament

A CD Release Concert, Sunday June 3

Katharine Cornell Theater, 7 pm, $10 donation


Why have a dozen or more Vineyard musicians come together to record original songs against the shark tournament?


Already 50 of the world's 307 shark species are registered as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered.

Over the past decade the worldwide catch of large sharks has increased as the demand for shark meat and shark fins has risen sharply.  Ocean biologists now estimate that every year over 100 million sharks are killed, primarily for their fins. It's a multi-billion dollar industry. One pound of dried shark fin can retail for more than $300. And shark meat has been promoted heavily for sale as an alternative to fish, despite that it is dangerously unhealthy due to high levels of mercury.

Moreover, the damage already done to the ecosystem by decimating the apex predator sharks is beginning to endanger East Coast shellfish populations – oysters, scallops and clams –consumed by rays, skates and smaller sharks that have now flourished.

So why are there tournaments like the one in Oak Bluffs in July every summer?

The Boston Big Game Fishing Club calls it the Monster Shark Tournament in order to create fear and excitement, on the one hand, by tapping into the Jaws zeitgeist and, on the other, to justify the unnecessary and wanton bloodshed and drunkenness that invades our island towns.

It’s easy to see why the Oak Bluffs merchants tolerate this Not Very Vineyard spectacle -- over 500 registered shark fishermen spending, the BBGFC estimates, between $2.5 and $3.5 million.

But is it necessary to promote killing sharks to have a successful shark-fishing tournament?

More than a few shark tournaments in Florida, California and Hawaii have converted to a catch-and-release format, although the jury is still out on whether enough sharks can survive the exhausting struggle even when released.

But enough of the facts.


Come and hear the hearts and minds of Vineyard Musicians singing out Against the Shark Tournament.

And bring a few extra dollars to purchase the CD that Steve and Joyce Maxner produced to bring attention to ending this shark slaughter.

Here is the track list:

Hold On…We’re Comin’

Save the Sharks – William Marks

For the Stray and Estranged – Dan Waters

Hang ‘Em High – Steve and Joyce Maxner

Shanty for Sharky – Al Schackman

Day of Days – Kenny Lockwood

Shark Hunt – Rico Holley

Truth – Nancy Jephcote

Lament of Deep – Porchlight (Allie and Noah Maxner)

Betting on Sharks – Nikki Patton

Blood in the Water – Michael West

All for the Killing – Dan Waters

The Last Shark – Joyce and Steve Maxner

Hold On…We’re Comin’ – Steve Maxner and Jen Powers, sung by Darby Patterson


I was personally thrilled and honored when Steve Maxner asked me to write a song for this CD, and with his patient help we got my vocal and guitar track down (after maybe 10 takes). Then Al Schackman added bass and guitar to the mix and, when Steve played the cut for me, I could not believe how amazing it sounded.

Schackman is a wizard. If you don’t know him, he’s the guy in the rehearsal shots above with the baseball cap, a mellow dude, a real pro (guitarist and musical director for Nina Simone, has performed and recorded with Dinah Washington,The Drifters, Carole King, Miriam Makeba, Ben E. King, Sarah Vaughan and Burt Bacharach).

Anyway, it is my privilege to be part of this project and to perform with wonderful Vineyard musicians on Sunday night.

All proceeds, after the initial $800 of production costs, will go directly to expenses such as advertising, publicity and posters associated with ending the Oak Bluffs Annual Monster Shark Tournament. Date: July 19-21.

Oak Bluffs Selectpersons have been invited and sent complimentary tickets to the event.

They probably will not show up, but you should make plans to go right now.

You will especially not want to miss the performance of the CD’s title song – a moving tribute to the humanity in all of us sung by 14-year-old Darby Patterson -- Hold On, We’re Comin’


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jeri Dantzig May 31, 2012 at 12:22 PM
When we disrupt the balance nature has so beautifully provided, the whole system faces dire consequences. Also, why must we be so inhumane with the shark slaughter
Michael West May 31, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Somehow we have been persuaded that sharks are vicious threats we must feel good about eliminating. Yet as the apex predators decline the next level down blooms, and that means rays, skates and small sharks are freely gobbling up our shellfish stocks. It has already impacted parts of Florida and the southern coastal states, and we are next unless we can reverse this ecosystem damage.
William Waterway May 31, 2012 at 01:18 PM
As a lifetime advocate of water and the protection of ecosystems - I am honored to perform a Native American Flute/Spoken Word piece for this CD. To see the recent performance of the "Hold On - We're Comin'" song composed by Steve Maxner and performed by Darby Patterson and the "Golden Girls", go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4b5tZaGv-k
Michael West May 31, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Thanks for posting this marvelous preview YouTube video. it is a very moving song that will haunt you for days, and it will remind you of why we want to end the shark slaughter and reverse the ecosystem damage already done.
Page Rogers May 31, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I'm still humming the chorus to "Hold On-We're Comin'" days later and have watched the vid and shared it with family and friends. I'm deeply thankful for your courageous and powerful witness. I grew up overlooking OB harbor and it pains me a great deal to see the community lowered to this level of consumerism, voyeurism, blood sport and spectacle.
Michael West May 31, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Page, thank you for your comment. I agree about that song. It is the kind of thing people will be singing to themselves for days later. I hope you can come to the concert. It promises to be a wonderful evening. If not, please keep your eye out for another musical evening to come. The more people we can touch with these feelings, the better our chances of ending this needless slaughter.
Lee H. Mccormack June 01, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I posted a wonderful comment Michael, but this page is set up so backwards that my comment was lost and did not post. I do not have the energy to do it again. Sorry. keep up the good work!
Mathea Morais (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Lee, I'm so sorry your comment did not post. Hopefully you'll feel inspired to try again soon!
Lee H. Mccormack June 01, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Either you are censoring or this set up is simply awkward and inefficient. I have had trouble posting every time I try because of this. No go gnoe mo'!
Michael West June 01, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Lee, there is some getting used to posting here, and part of that is a log-in process every time you post a comment. It used to be that Patch would remember you for a while, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other high volume sites, so you didn't have to long in every time, but either there was a system wide change or somebody reset some parameter when Mathea was on vacation and now you have to log in every single time. I am sorry you had difficulty, as I value and enjoy your comments.
Mathea Morais (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Certainly not censoring and it's odd that these comments are working and others are not. I have spoken with the people at HQ and they are aware that there is a problem with the log-ins and promise they are working on it!
Holly Nadler June 01, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Michael, great story, as always, told with vigor & style! Can't wait for Sunday's event! Just need to say in passing that, in addition to wishing these shark hunters would refrain from whacking sharks, I wish with all my heart no one would be responsible, even second-hand, for killing any creature for food or sport. So all you anti-shark folk, please also take the time to think about that burger on your plate and the poor cow with the big sad brown eyes who was held in a pen and then brutally slaughtered. Sorry! Can't help it! I'm just a bleeding heart vegan!
Holly Nadler June 01, 2012 at 10:36 PM
And Lee, please post again! Everything you say is worth hearing!
Michael West June 01, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Couldn't agree more, Holly, except isn't a "bleeding vegan" a contradiction in terms? Everyone knows when you eat all that green stuff you have chlorophyll in your veins. Or is it chloroform?
Michael West June 01, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Yes, true. I'm a member of the Lee McCormack fan club, too. He should have a blog on Patch where he posts his poems.
Mathea Morais (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Here here!! A Lee McCormack poetry blog is exactly what we need!


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