Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Return of "Jaws" or a Huge Misunderstanding

In the last 11 months there have been 5 fatal shark attacks committed by Great White Sharks. All attacks were in one place, Australia. The Government of Australia is now asking that the Conservation Status be looked at. Australia is seeking a removal of the protection of these sharks and even start a cull to reduce the population size of Great Whites in Australia.

This is a incredibly large overreaction. It is very unfortunate that the 5 attacks happened and I do feel for those who lost their loved ones, but the facts of the matter remains. Great Whites are not man eaters. Not a single one of the people who were attacked were eaten by the shark. All 5 cases can be boiled down to cases of mistaken identity. In Australia, great whites will often feed on marine mammals such as seals and sea lions. From underneath, the silouette of a surfer laying on their board is strikingly similar to that of a seal. You have a long body, 2 small flipper (hands) and 2 longer flippers (legs/feet). When Great Whites go to bite anything, the roll their eyes into the back of their head and becomes blind to whatever it is they are going to bite. They do this in an effort to protect their eye from an animal that may escape and scratch the shark in the eye with claws, a beak, etc.

The end result of these 5 attacks of course is a truly heartbreaking thing. Great Whites are so large and so powerful that a little 150-200lb person is like an ant to them. When they bite, it does a huge number on a person, sometimes resulting in death. The issue really is that Australia has always been a hot spot for Great Whites due to the fact that there is ample food there for them to eat. With that being said, the sharks have every right to be there. The fact that these animals may soon be hunted down for nothing more than the fact that they are an animal that cannot distinguish man from seal before becoming blind. There are things that Australia can do that does not involve killing off a species of shark whose remaining population is estimated to be no more than 3500.

For example, Australia can simply ban surfing from the beaches that Great Whites have claimed as their own.  The government can outlaw swimming off of those beaches at peak shark hunting hours, usually in the morning and evening. Or they can install shark safe nets at these beaches to help deter sharks from coming too close to shore. The bottom line here is that this is not the return of the feared Jaws. There is not some shark out there trying to just pick off people for their own pleasure or satisfaction. The thing that everyone needs to remember is that the moment you step into the Ocean, you are in their world. All 5 of these attacks could have been avoided if there was more of an understanding of these animals. Again I am not unsympathetic to the families who lost their loved one, I just feel that there were ways that they could have avoided the situation and that there are better ways to prevent future attacks other than outright killing Great Whites for no reason. 

1 comment:

  1. The bottom line is that sharks are an important part of the balancing act of the eco-system. If humans keep killing them off eventually we will be killing ourselves off as well.