Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

3 Reasons Humans Are to Blame for Hysteria Over Sharks

Insights + Opinion

When it comes to causes of death, sharks are on the very bottom of the list as the leading causes.

Your chances of dying in a car, being shot in the street, being struck by lightning while playing golf, slipping in your bathtub or dying of food poisoning in a restaurant are far higher.

As for animals, dogs, elephants, ostriches, bees, mosquitoes (especially mosquitoes) horses, crocodiles, deer, moose and bears are far more likely to kill a person than a shark.

Sharks are essential for the health and well-being of oceanic eco-systems. Photo credit: Nicolas Vera / Sea Shepherd

And when it really comes to causes of human mortality, no animal is more dangerous than the human animal.

So why the ridiculous hysteria about sharks?

The three main culprits are:

  1. The Media.
  2. Opportunistic politicians.
  3. Cowardly surfers and spear fishermen.

The media began their defamation of sharks with that abomination of a film by Stephen Spielberg called Jaws. This movie seeded dozens of B anti-shark movies and led to the inaccurate, demonizing portrayals of sharks on television.

Politicians, always quick to harness the fears of the public, seized on the hysteria as a cheap way to make themselves appear as defenders of their more gullible citizens from monsters. This form of behavior by politicians goes back to the days of dragon-slaying and even to the current crusades against wolves.

And now we have the craven bleatings of a very small minority of surfers who want the sharks wiped out so they need not worry about the fact that their boards and their behavior have a tendency to attract sharks because they tend to look like shark food, meaning seals. From the perspective of a shark under the surface, a surfer on a board most definitely looks like a seal.

Real surfers are not the problem. They understand the situation and they realize that when one ventures into the sea looking like a seal, it is wise to take precautions, like not surfing in areas at a certain time of the year or time of day when sharks are looking for a meal. Also not wearing reflecting watches, white bathing suits or boards.

As for spear fishermen. Their behavior of spearing a fish and spilling blood in the water is an automatic magnet for sharks.

The real miracle of all this is just how few shark attacks there actually are considering the tens of millions of people who surf, swim, fish and dive in the sea.

The reason for this is that sharks simply do not naturally attack human beings and most shark attacks are simply cases of mistaken identity.

And because of this, surfing and spear-fishing are actually safer than playing golf, where more golfers die each year from lightning strikes than surfers die from shark attacks.

I have swum, surfed and dove with sharks, including great whites, hammerheads, tigers, bulls and blues amongst others. I was never threatened. I have had tigers circle me, and great whites give me a curious stare, but not once did I ever feel my life was endangered.

But even if it was, I share the position that my friend Kelly Slater holds, and that is that the sea is the home of the sharks and it is not our place to invade and then to complain.

For the truth remains that sharks are essential for the health and well-being of oceanic eco-systems. We needs sharks to maintain that health and well-being, for the loss of the shark in our ocean will have very serious consequences and these consequences will negatively impact humanity.

Why has there been a slight increase in shark attacks in recent years? The reasons are many and almost all caused by humans. Western Australia ships hundreds of thousands of live sheep and cows to Asia every year and these livestock vessels pour blood, urine and feces into the waters, attracting sharks. Hundreds of bodies of dead animals are also thrown overboard. People routinely ignore warnings at beaches. And probably the most significant factor of all is that humans are depleting the ocean of fish and this is causing sharks to venture towards shore in search of food, yet even so, the number of shark attacks are remarkably low.

Most shark attacks result from human ignorance and because of the degradation of oceanic eco-systems.

It is not so much that sharks kill people. The problem is ignorant people who kill sharks that kill people.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Protecting the Galapagos Islands

Captain Paul Watson: If I Were CEO of SeaWorld

Shark Finning Kills 100 Million Sharks a Year, International Commission Fails to Address Crisis

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Moroccan patients who recovered from the novel coronavirus disease celebrate with medical staff as they leave the hospital in Sale, Morocco, on April 3, 2020. AFP / Getty Images

By Tom Duszynski

The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.

In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.

Read More Show Less
Reef scene with crinoid and fish in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A daughter touches her father's head while saying goodbye as medics prepare to transport him to Stamford Hospital on April 02, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. He had multiple COVID-19 symptoms. John Moore / Getty Images

Across the country, the novel coronavirus is severely affecting black people at much higher rates than whites, according to data released by several states, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Four rolls of sourdough bread are arranged on a surface. Photo by Laura Chase de Formigny and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Zulfikar Abbany

Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A coral reef in Egypt's Red Sea. Tropical ocean ecosystems could see sudden biodiversity losses this decade if emissions are not reduced. Georgette Douwma / Stone / Getty Images

The biodiversity loss caused by the climate crisis will be sudden and swift, and could begin before 2030.

Read More Show Less