Let’s talk sharks!
Reading the reports of two women attacked by a Great White recently in their kayaks got me thinking about the balance between humans in the water and sharks feeding.
According the USA Today report:
What experts believe was a great white shark took a bite out of one of two kayaks that two women were riding as they took pictures of seals, WCVB-TV reports.
This account provides very important facts. Two kayakers were mistaken for seals, while they were in the floating among what basically comes down to shark food.
While the report played up the terrifying nature of the attack. It is clear that the shark came in and saw the kayak shape, took a test bite and left the area. There was no other sighting of the shark and no one, once in the water was attacked or nearly attacked by the shark. The frustrating part was the assets put into place to locate the shark, including a helicopter.
Fearing the Unknown
We have not learned much from the so-called summer of the shark (2001) and while media was covering every shark related event on both coasts, statistically, numbers of shark attacks were lower than previous years.
The ocean, as divers know, is a complex ecosystem based on complex food chains, behaviors, and changing conditions. But common sense doesn’t have to push too far to show data that sharks have been feeding for years around Cape Cod on the seal population and that two kayaks in the water would certainly be misidentified as seal shaped in murky water.
Sharks have been misrepresented through films, books, and other media for a long time. They are predators, but they are also serving their ecological purpose.
Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle published an article in late June about the surging numbers of Great White sharks in the western Atlantic.
The study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, says the population of the notoriously elusive fish has climbed since about 2000 in the western North Atlantic.
He goes on to explain,
The scientists behind the study attribute the resurgence to conservation efforts, such as a federal 1997 act that prevented hunting of great whites, and greater availability of prey. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are endless possibilities to encounter sharks in an educational and safe way.
Turning Our Fears Into Facts
It doesn't matter if you fear sharks, or you are fascinated by them - they still have an important place in the ecosystem.
It isn't surprising with the surge of tourist and the building up of waterfront property that more and more people are having contact with sharks and other marine creatures. It is hopeful that organizations like Ocearch are working to negate the evils of sharks, work on long term studies of their habits and their movements, and provide some concrete data about great white and other sharks.
The hope is that with data and information about the patterns, food seeking behaviors, and general understanding of how sharks operate, the fear of these apex predators will eventually disappear.
Do you fear sharks?
It’s a common thing for land locked people to fear sharks, but how does divers feel? How do you feel abut sharks and would you like to go diving with them?
If you really love Sharks Help stop Shark Finning