Fact vs. Fiction
It's okay to indulge in shark films, as long as you know the truth.
Sharks do NOT stalk humans.
They much prefer seals, tuna and other high fat prey.
Sharks do NOT attack blindly every time they see a human.
If they did we would see several attacks on every beach every day of the year. Just about everyone who has ever been in the ocean has been near a shark whether they know it or not.
Sharks are NOT serial killers, mindless eating machines or swimming garbage cans.
Some sharks will only eat once or twice a week. Lemon sharks, for example, eat less than 2% of their body weight per day. Most shark species are highly specialized in what they eat.
Sharks are NOT “blood thirsty.”
Sharks much prefer the taste of fish and will be attracted by fish blood and oil, not by mammal or human blood.
Sharks do NOT try to get inside your boat, and they do not remember individual people and then plot revenge against them and their family members.
Sharks are intelligent animals, similar to some bird and mammal species. But they don’t have the complex emotions that drive humans, such as hate and revenge, and they do not kill for fun.
There is NO such thing as “shark infested waters.”
A healthy reef system includes top predators. A “normal” underwater scene must include shark, so one can hardly say it is “infested.” Shark populations are on a steep decline. The new normal has become to see reefs and shore areas without any sharks, therefore the sighting of several sharks is hyped as shark infestation. TV shows also like to hype the machismo of their stars by claiming they entered “shark infested waters.”
Sharks do NOT try to get inside shark cages to bite humans.
When you see a scene where a shark runs into a cage, gets stuck in ropes and thrashes around or gets stuck inside an opening of a cage, it is a dangerous situation for the shark, created by humans. Bait gets dragged to attract the shark closer to the cage. Sometimes the speed at which the shark follows makes it ram into the cage because it is focused on the bait. Sharks cannot swim backwards so they thrash to get away from the obstruction.
Scenes and images of shark’s gaping mouths are NOT aggressive attacks.
Cameras and bait are used to get the shark to bite something (the camera housing). Photographers work long and hard to get a shark to come out of the water to grab the bait. The bait then gets edited out of the image. Unless you see footage of a natural prey or predator incident, such as a shark grabbing a seal or a reef shark hunting fish, toothy images are mostly created with a great amount of manipulation.
Scuba diving with sharks is NOT inherently dangerous and does NOT require a great act of bravery.
Scuba is a great way to experience the underwater world. Sharks are usually intimidated by divers and keep their distance, unless bait is involved. Diving with sharks is not an adrenaline filled crazy stunt. When it is presented in that way, it is nothing but a hyped scenario to boosts ratings. Most people that spend time in the water will attest to the fact that it is quite calm and peaceful down there. Quietly observing wildlife requires some skill and tact but the result is that animals will be less nervous and more accepting to the alien visiting their vicinity. With that said, sharks are still wild animals and apex predators and should be respected as such by giving them their space and distance.
Few shark species are dangerous.
Most sharks are harmless to humans. Of all shark species, about 80% grow to less than 1.6 meters (5 feet) and are unable to hurt people or rarely encounter people. According to the International Shark Attack Files, of shark attacks recorded since the year 1580, only 10 of 400 species were involved in unprovoked fatal attacks. Bull, Tiger, Great White sharks account for almost all attacks, many of which are assumed to be accidental. Odds of someone in the United States getting bitten by a shark are about 11,500,000 to 1. As a matter of fact, you are more apt to be killed by a cow, lightning bolt, vending machine, power tool or court-ordered execution than by a shark. Of course, it doesn’t take a programming genius to know that millions of people aren’t going to tune in for Cow Week.
Humans attack sharks.
The greatest enemy of sharks is man. Millions of sharks are being slaughtered every year to meet the demand of shark fins and shark meat.
About 11,000 sharks per hour, 250,000 sharks per week, 73 to 100 million sharks per year are killed by humans either through targeted fishing for fins, meat and other products, or through by catch of other fisheries.
Who really is the dangerous animal?