There has been a long history of sharks and humans colliding. That’s no wonder really there are lots of major industries revolving around the sea. Unfortunately this has led to a bit of a grudge match between sharks and humans. Today’s post is all about this grudge match, split into two main sections, shark attacking humans and shark fining.
So what is shark fining? Well shark fins are used in predominantly asian cooking. A dish you may have heard of is Shark Fin soup. For the primary ingredient sharks are caught. The law states that the whole shark must be brought back for this to be a legal practice but often this is not the case. Unfortunately this now means that sharks are finned alive and the rest of the body is chucked back. This barbaric practice has caused a dip in the population of many shark species.
On the positive side, there has been a huge campaign to remove shark fin soup from many restaurants menus. If you want to learn more about what can be done, the stop shark finning charity is just brilliant. The other side of this is that sharks often get caught in lines and nets for fishing. This often happens to young sharks. This is the primary reason why most sharks become endangered. For example it is listed by the IUCN red list as the main reason why hammerhead sharks are listed as endangered.
But what about shark attacks I here you ask? Well I couldn’t really do a week on sharks and not discuss sharks attacking humans. So many countries and areas of this world have beach and sea tourism as a key feature, I come from Cornwall in the UK I know all about it. So when you mix humans in the same territories as sharks there is always going to be issues.
Some things to note about sharks, the way they best identify things is with their mouths. Another thing contrary to popular belief we are not the best diet for sharks! Sharks attack and kill 10 humans per year, on average but why do shark attacks happen?
The vast majority happen because of mistaken identity if you look from below a surfer on a board looks a lot like a turtle or seal to a shark. By the time the shark has realised that the human is not what it thought due to its sharp teeth this is often enough damage to kill the person. Although it isn’t always the case. Sometimes shark attacks are provoked. These occur when people in some way touch, or otherwise disturb, sharks. Fishermen removing sharks from their nets, for example, might lose a finger or limb if not careful. Sometimes divers have taunted or tried to grab a shark, with not-surprising consequences.
The best way to avoid shark attacks well is quite obvious and thats to stay out of their habitat. Although it’s understandable that you would like to go into the ocean so here are some other tips from the NOAA Fisheries Service on minimizing the risk of shark attack:
1) Stay in groups and do not wander away from your companions, since sharks are more likely to attack individuals.
2) Avoid being in the water during early morning and late afternoon, since sharks actively feed at those times.
3) Never go into the water if you are bleeding, even if the cut or injury is minor. Sharks possess very keen senses, and blood could attract one from several feet away.
4) Don’t wear shiny jewelry when in the water. The glisten mimics fish-scale sheen and visually labels you as shark prey.
5) Stay away from sport or commercial fishermen when in the water, as their catches could attract sharks.
6) Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing in murky waters, since sharks easily perceive color contrasts.
7) Refrain from excessive splashing, which could mimic the movements of injured or disoriented prey fish and animals.
8) Sandbars, steep drop-offs and estuary inlets tend to be shark hangouts, so avoid swimming in these places.
To summarise although fearing sharks is understandable, its much more of a scary thought to think of a world without them. My apologies if this particular article has been a bit gloomy but don’t worry on Sunday I’ll be telling you all about this marvellous work being done to conserve and save amazing sharks. Also tomorrow we’re going to look at movies where sharks are the main star!
More articles from the Shark Tank