BUT WHAT ABOUT SHARK ATTACKS? WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT SHARKS IF THEY HURT PEOPLE?!
Many people are afraid of sharks....some will not even swim in the ocean due to this.
But as we have already established – sharks are not senseless killers, they are in fact very sensitive and very susceptible to exploitation.....they definitely have more to fear from us, so why exactly are they so feared? What is it about sharks that terrifies people?
Extract from Truo world aims day film by Phil Knox of Purple Flame Media.
The origin of this fear probably has a lot to do with the iconic monster from the film Jaws – the unseen threat that is ever present in the movie, that makes an appearance to the spine chilling “Da....da.....Da....da theme music. The image of the black fin slicing through the water, the mouth rushing at the unsuspecting swimmer jaws agape; exposing row after row of teeth, and then blood everywhere.
Jaws quickly made its way in to the public concious, and the tension present in the film means that to this day it is still considered one of the ultimate horror movies. The tag line “Don't go in the water" from the movie struck such a cord that it radically changed how people perceived (and continue to perceive) sharks and inadvertently turned out to be the biggest anti shark PR campaign ever. The “revenge seeking shark” effect was such that Shark numbers worldwide have been effected due partly to the frightening and false ideas the film helped spread about them, and partly due to the thousands of shark fishing tournaments and revenge killings that popped up in its aftermath.
(Coming soon - Fin Fighters podcast about the psychology of fear and why Jaws still effects us so much?)
The film did have other effects however, it was never intended by the writer or director to be detrimental to the species; In fact Peter Bletchley the author of the novel that inspired the film spent much of his life after its release working to un-do the damage caused and promote shark conservation.
For many the movie has spawned a lifelong passion for the predator, and it has inspired a new generation of shark enthusiasts and scientists from around the world; all fascinated and excited by sharks and the idea of understanding and studying their anatomy and behaviour. The same can be said for conservationists, many of whom saw the film and fell in love with sharks – researching and campaigning to change the much maligned attitude of the shark as a killer.
However for many the damage was already done and the legacy proliferated by the film - whether intentionally or not is that 'the only good shark is a dead shark.'
We know that sharks are not capable of the 'Revenge' style attacks that occur in the film Jaws but we also know that shark attacks do happen – however these are extremely rare and are often blown way out of proportion by the media who thrive on spreading fear and anger in an effort to sell stories.
Many so called attacks are more accurately described as incidents or are even the result of a situation that provoked the shark to defend itself.
Fatal attacks on humans by sharks unfortunately do happen; it is foolish to ignore the fact that these animals are predators after all, but fortunately these are incredibly rare and are often the result of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Humans are not food for sharks, we are not part of the ocean food chain – The Great White shark for example favours blubber rich seals/whales while some species like Tiger sharks prefer Turtles and other sharks such as Makos predominantly eat fish. Many species are however opportunists and have been known to 'feed' on shipwrecked or floating bodies, but for the most part when a shark actually attacks it is not doing so to eat us but rather to find out what we are.
Many bites occur as the shark uses its teeth to 'mouth' its prey before it eats it – these are known as Test bites.
Often once the shark has tested its intended prey and discovered it to be human not a tasty seal; the shark releases and looses interest. Many deaths from shark encounters occur due to blood loss as this test bite severs an artery or causes the victim to go into shock. Very few people have been intentionally the prey of sharks and even fewer have been devoured by them.