Sharks are radically different animals than those portrayed in the media. The shark will scan you, feel you with two more senses than we have, and most likely flee from you. The truth is, sharks do not eat people – if they did, we would be dealing with shark attacks every single day, on every beach of this world. Because sharks are everywhere…. At least they used to be everywhere.
Even the fastest swimmer and best surfer is still slow, weak and defenseless in comparison to animals that truly belong in the ocean. If sharks would actually target humans for food, we would not stand a chance. Entering the ocean would not be possible. But lucky for us, we are new and very strange invader of the ocean realm and evolution has not included us on the menu for sharks. Most of the time they ignore or fear us.
Sharks evolved more than 400 million years ago - 150 million years before the dinosaurs! As the first vertebrate with jaws, they created a predatory force in every ocean on earth, shaping life on this planet. Through four mass extinctions, sharks endured when most life was eliminated. With more than 400 species from the 12-centimeter dwarf lantern shark that creates its own light, to the 16 meter long filter feeding whale shark, sharks inhabit the deep trenches of the ocean, the open ocean, but mostly, they inhabit the areas right next to land, where life is most prolific….. and where we like to swim…
Of an estimated 7 billion swimming incidences occurring each year, which just so happen to be in shark hunting grounds, there are about 60-100 people are bitten by sharks annually with 5-10 fatalities. Yes, selfies kill more people than sharks. So do most things…. Cows kill at least twice as many. Toasters kill almost 800 people a year. Elephants kill more than 100 people a year. Champagne corks claim 24 lives a year.
So why are we so afraid of sharks? Sharks represent the sum of many primal fears – the fear of the dark, the fear of being eaten alive, fear of the ocean, the fear of the unknown…. there are not many natural dangers left in this world that meet those categories, all at once. Somehow we still crave the sensation- why else would be fabricate it in horror movies video games? … The media plays off of this fear, cashing in on our gory fascination by hyping shark bites withshocking headlines and reports and exaggerating the frequency of incidences.
The reality with shark “attacks”, is that they’re actually extremely rare and that they are most often “investigative bites”-.A few species of sharks hunt large animals that swim on the surface. When a human fits that image, a shark may swim closer to take a look and if the conditions are right may go one step further and take a bite. Almost all “attacks” are over after the initial bite, clearly demonstrating that sharks aren’t interested in eating us. What motivation lies behind a bite clearly does not help someone that has already become a victim. But villainizing sharks because of the occasional shark bite is irrational and does nothing to increase safety.
It only gives people more reasons to fear and hate sharks and turn a blind eye to their decimation.