Humans are killing sharks. Sharks are killing humans. Most humans don't realize that we are killing off sharks a lot faster than they are killing us. Here we investigate both sides of the story.
There are many theories as to why sharks attack humans.
As Great Whites have a keen sense of sight, it is believed that they perceive the silhouette of a surfer paddling on the surface of the ocean as that of a turtle or a seal.
Biting is a sensory activity for sharks, as it helps them identify the object in their mouths, like our hands. They possibly bite humans to find out what we are exactly. In False Bay, one Great White persistently bites a buoy in the middle of the bay, unsure of what this foreign object is.
This is the most common misconception. If sharks did like the taste of humans and included us in their food chain, many more humans would have been attacked along with an increase in fatalities. Or maybe they just don't like the taste of wetsuits!
Jaws & Other Publicity
Jaws, the 1975 hit movie, kept thousands away from the ocean for decades. Pouring alcohol over a fire of fear, people hated sharks more than ever before. Many people decided that it was right to kill the predator, thinking that somewhere, somehow they were helping to save someone from a brutal death. However, since then, the author of the book Jaws, Robert Benchley, has learned much about sharks and regrets the effect the movie had on society. He stated in the National Geographic DVD Great White: Deep Trouble, “This animal is so sophisticated, we’ve learned so much, it’s almost as if this isn’t the same animal that I wrote about a quarter of a century ago. And if there is one thing I know for dead certain, it’s that I couldn’t possibly write Jaws today. I could not turn this beautiful beast into a villain.”
National Geographic, Discovery Channel, IMAX among others have recently produced documentaries educating the public on this incredible animal, dispelling the common myths of the Great White Death.
However the falsehood continues. For example, the computer game SHARK! Hunting the Great White encourages the player to kill sharks.
Finning is a practice where the fins of sharks are sliced off and used mainly for the Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup.
The sharks are caught and only their fins are hacked off. The sharks are then thrown back into the water to die an agonizing death as, without fins, they can no longer swim. Although many countries have banned finning, an estimated 100 million sharks still get killed because for their fins.