Sharks are more at danger than humans

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by jacquesb, 16 Jan 2009.

  1. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Just found this AWESOME article - have a read!
    URL: News - Science: Sharks, not humans, most at risk in ocean

    Quoted:
    "By Michael Perry

    Sydney - Three shark attacks in Australia in two days this week sparked a global media frenzy of "Jaws" proportions, but sharks are more at risk in the ocean than humans with man killing millions of sharks each year.

    Sharks are at the top of the marine food chain, a powerful predator which has no match in its watery realm, until man enters the ocean.

    Commercial fishing and a desire for Asian shark fin soup sees up to 100 million sharks, even protected endangered species of sharks, slaughtered around the world each year, says the Shark Research Institute (Australia).

    Yet in contrast, sharks, apparently, do not like the taste of humans. Very few shark attacks involve the shark actually eating the human, unlike a land-based predator like a lion or tiger.

    "Most of the indicents in the (Florida-based) global shark attack file have nothing to do with predation," says the Institute on its website (integrated security management).

    Unlike fat seals - the preferred meal of sharks like the Great White - humans are bony with not much fat.

    Sharks use various sensors to hunt their prey and a quick bite will tell it whether its found a good meal.

    Usually when a shark bites a human it then swims off. Unfortunately for humans, sharks are big and we are small, so a large shark bite can mean death from rapid loss of blood.

    "Sharks are opportunistic feeders. They hear us in the water, we sound like a thrashing fish or animal in the water, and they just react to that instinctively and go to take a bite," marine analyst Greg Pickering told local radio on Wednesday.

    According to the latest figures by the International Shark Attack File, there was only one fatal shark attack in 2007.

    It took place in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. The mean number of deaths between 2000 and 2007 was 5 a year.

    "You have more chance of being killed driving to the beach," said John West, curator of the Australian Shark Attack File at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

    In fact, the number of fatal attacks around the world has been falling during the 20th century, due to advances in beach safety, medical treatment and public awareness of shark habitats.

    The bulk of shark attacks do not happen in Australian waters, despite its shark reputation, but in North American waters.

    Half of the world's shark attacks occur in the United States, and one third of the world's attacks are in Florida waters.

    In 2007, there were 50 shark attacks in US waters, compared with 13 in Australia in the same year - none were fatal.

    The big difference between Florida and Australia is that the later has much bigger sharks and therefore more fatal attacks.

    From 1990 to 2007, Australia had 19 fatal attacks, Florida 4.

    But there have only been a total of 56 fatal shark attacks in Australia in the past 50 years, or an average of about 1 a year, says the Australian Shark Attack File.

    The last fatal attack occurred in December 2008, when a Great White attacked a 51-year-old man while he was snorkelling off a beach south of Perth in Western Australia.

    So, is it safe to go back in the water?

    Shark attacks are on the rise worldwide, but according to the International Shark Attack File, that doesn't mean there is an increased rate of shark attacks.

    "As the world population continues its upsurge and interest in aquatic recreation concurrently rises, we realistically should expect increases in the number of shark attacks," says the file on its website (Florida Museum of Natural History).

    Sharks in decline

    But while more humans enter the ocean each year and for longer periods of time, the shark population is declining, theoretically reducing the chances of a shark-human encounter.

    "As a result, short-term trends in the number of shark attacks, up or down, must be viewed with caution," says the file.

    So, if shark numbers are falling why are there more sightings of sharks off Australia's beaches.

    Surfwatch Australia, which conducts aerial patrols of Sydney beaches, estimates shark sightings have risen 50 to 80 percent in recent years.

    Wildlife officials say cleaner beach water means sharks are chasing food closer to shore.

    Sydney beaches were closed this month when hammerheads started feeding on squid near swimmers.

    But only about two dozen shark species are considered potentially dangerous to humans because of their size and teeth.

    The Great White, Bull, Tiger and Hammerhead are among the most aggressive and responsible for most attacks in Australia.

    The Great White can grow to 5.5 metres (15 feet) in length, weigh up to 1 000kg and has the biting power to lift a car.

    Australian scientists have recorded the bite power of a 3.2 metre (10 foot) shark as equivalent to 1.5 tons of pressure.

    The aggressive looking Grey Nurse, with its piercing eyes, pointy nose and protruding teeth, is as timid as a cat and will only attack if provoked. But its fierce appearance has seen it hunted to the point where it is now endangered and colonies of Grey Nurse sharks off Sydney are protected.

    There are 30 sharks, including the Great White, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's threatened species list.

    "Sharks need our help now and we cannot let our fear push them to the brink of extinction," says Ben Birt, from Australia's Nature Conservation Council, which has launched a "Save Our Last Sharks" campaign. - Reuters"
     
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  3. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Thanks for sharing jacquesb! It's a pretty important subject...
     
  4. jacquesb

    jacquesb Thread Starter Retired Moderator

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    Cool Jaak! There are many people on this forum who knows how I feel about sharks. BUT, perhaps not ENOUGH people get the message that SHARKS ARE NOT TO BE KILLED FOR NOTHING.... SHARKS ARE ENDANGERED!
     
  5. Gawiedj

    Gawiedj

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    Great read, thanks Jacquesb.

    I do a bit of kayaking, more specifically surf kayaking, and get asked about sharks quite a lot by people on the beach. Most people are very interested in the boat I use and come to ask questions. One question you always get is: What about the sharks? You must see the looks I get when I tell people that they have a bigger chance of being run over by a car than seeing a shark at the beach. :)
    I have huge respect for sharks. They are fantastic to watch, really magnifincent creatures.
    It's sad that we are driving one of the oldest creatures on the planet to extinction.
     
  6. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    being a surfer i should hate sharks but being a lover of sealife helps me to understand their valuable contribution to the food chain as well as their beauty.. i have had many friends attacked by sharks and have lost a very dear friend in an attack about 16 years ago.. still we need to respect that we are going into their terratory.. ingeneral sealife is in a state of decline.. how many more seasons os hake/salmon/sole/crab etc can we harvest before we are in more serious trouble than we are now??

    the addition of nets along the KZN coast is pointless IMO as they catch more sharks going out than ward off from going in!! its getting more urgent by the day... very disturbing!!!
     
  7. jacquesb

    jacquesb Thread Starter Retired Moderator

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    Surfer & Spearfisherman = shark bait ;)

    Sorry Less - I just HAD to say it... LOL!.... Not too serious...

    BUT, being a SCUBA diver, that is what I believe in... ;)
     
  8. Gawiedj

    Gawiedj

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    I suppose all three of us should invest in a POD. :thumbup:
     
  9. jacquesb

    jacquesb Thread Starter Retired Moderator

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    LOL..... Nah Gawie - I have never even seen a shark during more than a 100 sea DIVES..... Why would I need a pod? I actually WANT to see a shark...

    I had to do the 2 Oceans shark tank dive, and the UShaka shark dive, AND white shark cage dive - JUST TO SEE THESE WONDERFUL CREATURES UNDERWATER!
     
  10. Gawiedj

    Gawiedj

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    Jacque: I saw a small raggie twice and some other smaller sharks loads of times (Had no clue what they were back then) snorkeling and spearfishing in Mosselbay as kid. I spent most december holidays there growing up. Luckily the sharks were not big and never THAT close. Sightings were actually few and far between.
    I still snorkel there when I am in mosselbay visiting my mother in law and I have not seen a shark or decent size fish in these spots recently.
    Obviously if you go to Seal Island (Mosselbay) you will see loads of sharks and BIG ones. There's a cage diving operation that run dives around the island. Dont know how you feel about cage diving, but could be worth checking out.
     
  11. jacquesb

    jacquesb Thread Starter Retired Moderator

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    You lucky Gawie.

    Shark numbers have been declining in their MILLIONS every year. SCUBA divers have reported hugely dwindling numbers of sharks on reefs, the past 10 years.....

    There are even proof that the Great White Sharks seen in Australia, South Africa and Florida are the EXACT SAME individuals..... I have read scientific resource documentation saying that they think there are only around 300 to 400 great white sharks left in the WHOLE WORLD.....
     
  12. Gawiedj

    Gawiedj

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    Well I am talking about 17 or so years ago...:whistling:
     
  13. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    i have seen and dived with plenty sharks, got videos of huge zambezi from mozambique, plenty of raggies, black tips, hammerheads, lemon and had a few close encounters, had the priviledge of seeing a school of hammers feeding on baracuda, then a huge 6m zambezi feeding on hammers :) not to mention whale sharks. i cant upload videos here, but will try and add on my homepage.

    what gets me with japanese trawlers is that they slaughter thousands of dolphins and sharks for a stupid delicacy which if they modernised they way of thinking would see its stupid. i would love to take them shark diving with me :)
     
  14. Mike

    Mike Retired Moderator

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    As bait?:whistling:
     
  15. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    yip, so i can see air jaws at seal island
     
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