Shark attacks are one of the worlds most fascinating, yet rather unfortunate, events in the constant battle between humans and nature. Sadly, sharks often fall at the losing end, with some species being constantly feared and actively hunted. Many species of shark are in fact under threat from bigger problems like over-fishing, shark finning, and climate change.
Sharks have always been feared, though whether this fear is irrational or substantiated is arguable. Peter Benchley’s novel and cinematisation of ‘Jaws’ hugely worsened public attitude towards sharks; Benchley retaliated as he saw the effects of negative media lead to actively hunting species like great whites, by setting up shark conservation groups and writing other books about their positive attributes.
With shark attacks on the increase in Australia, the government have recently proposed a cull that may lessen those species most dangerous to humans. But this is without evidence. Research has shown that in fact, shark attacks are on the increase as a result of more people visiting beaches, coupled with an increase in coastal populations and a cultural increase in activities like surfing and swimming, (activities which look, to sharks, like some kind of injured animal), thus encouraging attacks.
It’s important that shark conservation is the foremost regarded factor within the shark culling debate, with Chondrichthyans (sharks) a highly vulnerable candidate group for extinction.
A recent article even stated that we shouldn’t even be using the term ‘shark attack’ on account of it’s negative connotations, dramatization, and imagery that does nothing but enhance our fear of them, and cause problems for shark conservation efforts. Human’s aren’t on the menu, folks.