Sharks Are People Too

Last week was the holiday also known as Shark Week. It’s an annual week of shows on Discovery channel devoted to the greatness of sharks. According to their Twitter account, they’ve been jawesome since 1988. This is an obvious nod to the movie Jaws and I find it amazing that over thirty years since it came out, the fear is still alive. And not fear in general. If I’m ever in open shark infested water, I’ll need a change of underwear if I get rescued. I’m talking about the fear of sharks specifically wanting to eat people. It’s simply not true.

Remember when Siegfried and Roy’s tiger attacked them? Shortly after it happened, Chris Rock had a hilarious take on it. He said something like, “People were saying the tiger went crazy. The tiger didn’t go crazy, the tiger went TIGER!”

I think we forget sometimes despite all our advancements that we share a world with wild animals. They live in a kill or be killed world and have to rely on their instincts to survive. In other words, it’s not personal. I get the confusion because there are many documented waves of attacks that sure make it seem like we’re their favorite snack food. But we see this sort of thing all the time when a person is wrongly accused of a crime. The available evidence points in one direction, but when all the facts come out, they paint a much different picture.

During this year’s Shark Week, there was a show called Rogue Shark that wanted to answer the question, “Does the man-eating shark exist?”

While shark attacks were not uncommon off Australia’s coast, these particular attacks caused alarm because the shark would come back after the initial bite. It also didn’t help that the attacks happened right around the same time Jaws hit the theaters.

Most human shark attacks aren’t attacks in the sense that the shark wants to eat us. They’re tasting us to see if we’re something in its diet like fish or seals. Once it figures out it made a mistake, it’s gone as quickly as it came. But with a bite strength that can be as powerful as two tons, it sure looks like the shark wants us dead.

So, back to Australia. They call in an expert to figure out what’s going on with the attacks. There were pictures of the offending shark and the first thing the expert noticed was a small piece of the shark’s tail was missing. This became a crucial piece of the puzzle when a video surfaced of divers filming sharks near the attack sites. In order to lure the sharks, they were hand feeding them fish and one of the sharks in this video had a piece of his tail missing.

The diver unwittingly trained this shark to associate people with food.

This would explain why most of the victims were bitten on the hands. But they were also being bitten in their butts. Did the shark have a bizarre sense of humor? Nope, sharks are all business and when the diver reached behind his back to grab more fish from his pack, (hanging near his rear) the shark noticed.

It’s important to note that this shark was young. They don’t get born with a handbook on what to eat and no one’s around to train them. Everything they learn is on the job and in this shark’s case, the easy meal came from the people shaped things. Not his fault and not ours, just a slight mix-up.

We have to remember that the ocean isn’t a body of water, it’s an ecosystem filled with life. Some more dangerous than others, but what’s even more dangerous is not understanding it. We need everything in there if we want to keep this world turning, including sharks. It’s okay to fear them and we should respect them. Let’s just stop thinking they’re out to get us.

What’s your opinion on sharks? Hate them or heart them?

13 comments on “Sharks Are People Too

  1. I love to watch them (like, in a really cool aquarium) but would be a very big wimp if I saw one in the same water I was swimming in.

    Have you ever read “In a Sunburned Country”? The author travels around Australia and part of that involves telling you about the various things there that will kill you. Including sharks. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I never read that book. Sounds interesting. The author reminds me of a guy I used to work with. Pick any place around the world and he’d tell you the bacteria/parasite that would infect and kill you. Not surprising, he didn’t go out much.

  2. What? Man-eating sharks? No, the Ellie the Ellisaurus is better than that. The Ellisaurus is a swimming mammal that eats fish. Did you know that when a fish comes too close it gets eaten by the dinosaur which is swimming? And now you know a dinosaur, Andrew, my cute!

  3. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the water with a shark. But that’s because it could mistake me for something it’s supposed to eat. I don’t believe that sharks intentionally harm humans…they just think we’re something else. They aren’t vicious, they’re just surviving like any other animal.

  4. I know that sharks are people too, but they terrify me! They are so big, and strong, and their teeth and jaws can destroy any human. I like watching them on TV, but if I see anything close to resembling a shark in the water, I’m out!

    Adorable smiling picture of one, by the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Smart woman. And besides sharks, there’s all sorts of other creatures swimming in the ocean. That’s why I stay out all together.

      I was wondering if anyone would notice he’s smiling. Must’ve eaten someone REALLY tasty before getting photographed.

  5. I love sharks! I’m adopting one (research group devoted to tagging and tracking to do further research to aid in understanding and shark conservation efforts). I’ll get to name my shark. I’m naming him fluffy. ๐Ÿ˜›

    But yeah, only like 5 people die per year from shark attacks. So it’s a WAY overinflated fear. And that totally makes sense with that shark attacking people because some stupid person was feeding them and the shark associated people with food and got confused.

    • That’s so cool you adopted a shark!

      The research being done is very interesting. There’s still a lot not known about shark migration patterns. With more research, it may be possible to predict when and where they’ll be. Hopefully we find a way to coexist.

  6. […] To celebrate Shark Week, Andrew Mocete reports on one reason why a shark might go for the hands when it attacks. Who’d have thought? ย Sharks are People Too […]

  7. “Once it figures out it made a mistake, itโ€™s gone as quickly as it came.”

    Oh cool. It just leaves us in the water needing 178 stitches. And all this time I thought the sharks were trying to hurt us. I’m glad to know it’s just a misunderstanding.

    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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