Rather than join in the general mass media hysteria, Discovery have taken the trouble to get expert opinions on why there have been several incidents with people getting hurt recently. (Sharktrooth would like to go on record as saying that we view these incidents as tradgedies and our sympathy goes out to anyone affected)
A rise in turtle and herring numbers in this area at this time has brought more sharks to the area – at the same time lots of people are visiting the beach for a swim. More people + more sharks = more chance of interaction. Unfortunately, interaction with humans can often cause injury.
As mentioned in Sharktrooth’s previous post The Scary Truth About Sharks, injuries caused by sharks are probably accidental.
“Scientists believe that most shark bites are a case of mistaken identity. From below, a surfer in a black rubber wetsuit looks a great deal like a seal, for example,” explains David Shiffman, a PhD candidate at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.
OCEARCH’s chairman, Chris Fischer (I know!), said “From a scientist’s standpoint, you have a maximum amount of bait in that area this time of year, the summer’s peak. And occasionally… these sharks that come in all around that life get confused — and you’re starting to see more of the typical kind of bite and release type of events that occur up and down the coast regularly every summer.”
So what can be done? Well, according to the top shark science peeps – the best defence against these ‘bite and release events’ is common sense.
Last month, marine biologist Ralph Collier gave Discovery some simple advice for staying safe around sharks:
“I would say to bathers: don’t wear bright-colored bathing suits, especially those that have contrasting colors. Some sharks can see color. Don’t wear jewelry. When you’re in the ocean and the jewelry moves around, and the sun reflects off of it, it could be interpreted as a fish by some of these smaller sharks and they might come in thinking it’s a fish in distress.”
“And just use common sense. If sharks have been reported in an area, don’t go in the water there. Common sense goes a long way with these animals. Never provoke a shark. So don’t grab a tail. Don’t try to feed them. Don’t poke them with anything because you might elicit a response from them that you’ll be sorry you got.”
So remember – be safe, be sensible and be respectful when you are entering the home of such a powerful animal.