Sharks hardly ever eat people. But now and then ...

Two times in one week in Australia:

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Lucky for him the shark's teeth only grazed him. I wonder if we'll see more frequent attacks over the years as more people go swimming/surfing and we continue to decimate the sharks' food supplies.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 12 Dec 2011 #permalink

Yep, humans should stop eating so that sharks don't have to go hungry. Stupid enviro-loon.

Shark attacks in Australia are on the way up not because more people are swimming but because less sharks are being caught.

This is now starting to change - after the last few Great White attacks in Western Australia, the government there has realised that its stupid "hands-off" policy towards killer sharks is actually costing lives. They have come to their senses and will start killing them again. About time.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 12 Dec 2011 #permalink

There is an episode on the TV "River Monsters" series, but I have never been able to watch the whole program. There is some river in South Africa full of bull sharks, a 13+ footer from there is the world's record. People swim in the river with radio tracked bull sharks in close proximity. There has never been a shark attack on anyone for at least 40 years, but fishermen regularly lose a fish to a shark. All very strange!

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 12 Dec 2011 #permalink

My understanding is that Great Whites and a couple of other species are a bit more likely, depending on where you go,to chomp on people than the many many other species of sharks because they often feed off of surface animals such as seals, sea lions, penguins, etc. There are probably other reasons why there really aren't too many shark attacks.

Having said that, I'm pretty sure almost everything we hear about sharks is folkore.

Agree with the folklore thing and some sharks being nastier than others. Also (maybe more folklore) most sharks will "feel" objects with their mouths and generally reject humans. Bit late for the human by that stage though...

Here's a picture I took one night

Yes from what I hear Stephenk is right. Sharks do not usually eat people, they take a bite and spit us out. The bite can be sizable. The video might be a bit misleading as it showed everything happening in clear water, where as a lot of shark attacks probably happen in murky water where it may be difficult for the shark to fine tune its prey. In the Eastern Caribbean we really have no (zero) authenticated records of shark attacks, despite the many thousands of tourists swimming. I remember when the movie jaws came out. No one would swim for years.

Nice shark picture!

Sailor, interested, I had no idea the E.C. sharks were so nice!

Sailor, I was about 5 when I saw Jaws and I think it ruined the ocean for me for life. I can force myself to go in and tell myself it's a completely irrational fear. But I can't enjoy it.

"I can force myself to go in and tell myself it's a completely irrational fear. But I can't enjoy it."

I felt the same way about swimming off a boat in the middle of the Atlantic. Something about being able to touch bottom, or see bottom, or at least hit the bottom with an anchor on chain of reasonable length is quite comforting. Alone, at night, with the bottom so far below it is essentially a theoretical construct taking that first step into the dark water was like stepping off into space. Irrational as it was, attacks by sea creatures in deep water are vanishingly rare, there was some very deep and vocal part of my turtle brain that was screaming bloody murder. And when the rope trailing from the boat brushed against me I levitated myself vertically out of the water and jumped onto the deck using a Jedi trick I had heretofore been unaware I knew. I emerged both lighter and cleaner than I went in. Trembling and tingling in the cold I felt very alive.

I suspect most of the 'attacks' are simply sharks exploring their environment with the tools they have, nose, skin and teeth. A friend, surfer dude, has scars from the road-rash that was a consequence of a shark rubbing against him. He claimed the shark was quite affectionate and rubbed against him like a cat. He was somewhat less amuse when he noticed the blood and felt the sting of the salt.

If you have ever seen the videos of shark mating they are quite brutal with each other. So a quick nibble and spit might be the shark equivalent of a handshake. It isn't their fault that your skin is so tender that their friendly gesture leaves you gutted like a fish.

But then again sharks got to eat. Our rapid and ongoing conversion of the once verdant and bountiful oceans into watery wastelands kind of leaves us as the 'last food swimming'. With better than seven billion of us crowding the earth, and our love of humanity less than uniformly distributed, we cry over a surfer eaten but cheer a supposed enemy blown up, I'm not sure a few being eaten is any great concern.

As an avid hiker I used to get a kick out of being perceived as a bit special/crazy hiking through snake and alligator infested swamps. Take away the wild animals and it would be less fun. Slightly less dangerous but a whole lot less fun. As it is surfers can brag about meeting nature eye-to-eye even as the danger is pretty much statistically insignificant. Take away the sharks and surfing is just a little bit less special.

From a wildlife population and ecosystem perspective I say we monitor the situation and when and if the population of surfers declines precipitously we can think about intervening. As it is surfer populations seems to be holding steady or increasing. Which suggests there is no problem.

"I'm not sure a few being eaten is any great concern"

It is of *enormous* concern to the individuals involved and their friends and family.

I hear nothing but sentimentalist crap about sharks all the time.
If mosquitos are giving people malaria, we think nothing of bombing their swamp with chemicals to kill them all.
Sharks aren't much different - I have no idea why people think they are so vital to eco-systems - as a top-level predator they aren't doing anything much that we aren't doing ourselves.
As dangerous animals that kill people, we would be well rid of them, just like mosquitos.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 13 Dec 2011 #permalink

Plus, thanks to the do-gooders, I can't get my favourite dumplings anymore: shark's fin dumplings have been my favourite since 1989, and it's been a few years since I've seen them on any menu.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 13 Dec 2011 #permalink

If you're going to put the rest of that shark to waste, then you can do without the shark fin dumplings.

The shark would fare less well without the shark fin.

PS Humans are dangerous animals that kill people.

"It is of *enormous* concern to the individuals involved and their friends and family."

I couldn't give a rat's arse, Vinny.

The big three, acording to UF, are the Great White, Tiger and Bull Shark. There is some waffling about bull shark attacks being attributed to other sharks. Bull sharks are the only one of the three which routinely hang out in shallow water and enter fresh water. When I lived in New Orleans, it was fairly routine to hear of a swimmer in Lake Ponchartrain getting a minor nibble from a small bull shark.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 14 Dec 2011 #permalink

I find it strange how people can be so afraid of sharks. They usually don't go after humans, but mistake them for seals and other such prey. I hope that people are able to see past their stereotype and feel safe in the ocean.

people enter sharks territory and they have their flaws too

By Jaqueline biber (not verified) on 27 Feb 2012 #permalink