In a story too good for The Onion, shark nonprofits on both sides of the Atlantic have reported a boost in donations in 2018 after news outlets reported a likely affair Donald Trump had with porn star Stormy Daniels in 2006. When news broke that Trump hates sharks, people rushed to defend the poor sharks.
“We have experienced a notable and welcome upturn in support in the last few days,” Paul Cox, managing director of The Shark Trust located in Plymouth, Britain, told PJ Media. “We’ve seen increases in donations, shark adoptions, membership applications and sales in our online store. A few of the donations have included messages related to Mr. Trump’s alleged comments.”
Cox insisted that “there is no way to determine the motives for the support,” and he did hedge that “it could be because the story has put sharks ‘in the news’, it could be in response to one of our campaigns, or it could be that it’s the end of the month and people have been paid.”
He also lamented that Trump’s remarks were negative. “Generally, it’s never good for us to hear about someone in public life making negative comments about the animals that we work hard to protect,” Cox said. “But it stimulates debate and it gives us an opportunity to make the case for sharks. And for effective conservation action to safeguard their future.”
What exactly did Trump say?
The Stormy Daniels story broke early this month when The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 one month before the 2016 presidential election as part of a nondisclosure agreement.
Both Daniels and Trump have denied the allegations that the businessman had an affair with the former porn star in 2006. In a 2011 interview with In Touch magazine, however, Daniels recalled her relationship with the future president, complete with at least one sex act. In Touch released a full transcript of that interview. During that interview, Daniels described interesting remarks Trump made about sharks:
We had dinner once again in his room. I had swordfish that time. Once again, no alcohol. The strangest thing about that night — this was the best thing ever. You could see the television from the little dining room table and he was watching Shark Week and he was watching a special about the U.S.S. something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history. He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks. He was like, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.” He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know.
These comments fit Trump’s previous tweets.
Sorry folks, I'm just not a fan of sharks – and don't worry, they will be around long after we are gone.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2013
Last week, MarketWatch reported a boost in donations to shark charities.
“We have been receiving donations in Trump’s name since the story was published,” Cynthia Wilgren, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Massachusetts-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, told MarketWatch. She said most of the money has come from first-time donors. “It can certainly be a challenge to raise money for a species that most people fear.”
Captain Paul Watson, founder of the California-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, told MarketWatch his group had received “quite a few” donations specifically mentioning Trump’s comments. Watson’s group captures poachers who illegally kill sea animals. Sharks are often hunted for shark leather and for shark liver oil, a dietary supplement and ingredient for some beauty products.
Watson emphasized that “it’s actually more dangerous to play golf than it is to go swimming in the ocean with sharks. Quite a few more die from lightning strikes and bee stings while playing golf than from sharks.”
Samuel Gruber, founder and president of the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation and Bimini Shark Lab, told PJ Media his organization has received one unexpected donation after posting about Trump’s comments on social media. The group is located in the Bahamas. The group’s Facebook post read:
Words by Doc Gruber: With recent pronouncements from the White House suggesting that all sharks should be killed and that sharks are useless horrible animals, attention on this incredibly atavistic statement has circulated in the media. Whether you support or resist the present administration, I feel that you would not want to reverse our four-decade effort in protecting sharks and return to the 1950’s when the only good shark was a dead shark. Thus I am asking you to push back on such statements as “all sharks should be killed” by writing your representative in the US or elsewhere and lending your support to shark conservation. More directly if you feel it is appropriate to express your desire for sharks to be conserved we would be very grateful for any donations that could be made in support of our conservation efforts.
“We suggested that the White House had it all wrong. Naturally we suggested that if anybody wanted to support sharks instead of Kill Them All, 1950s style, they could always make a donation to our foundation,” Gruber told PJ Media.
Not all shark charities have received donations following the reports of Trump’s comments, however. Shark Spotters, a charity based in Cape Town, South Africa, told PJ Media the international windfall has not reached them. “No we have not seen an increase in donations. We are based in South Africa though so that may be why,” a representative of the charity told PJ Media.
In a fascinating twist on the Trump-shark angle, the future president was temporarily cast to play the president in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! He decided not to take the role in 2015, preferring to become the real president instead. That said, the Stormy Daniels interview from 2011 suggested that there is nothing Trump would enjoy more than leading Americans to slice and dice sharks brought in from the sky.