Sharks in the News

 
 

A couple of years ago, story broke that a kayaker off the coast of Malibu, California was attacked by a Hammerhead shark. Our gut reaction was, “a Hammerhead in Southern California?” then, “how strange that a kayaker could get bitten by a Hammerhead” (their anatomy would make it extremely hard to do so). We knew there was more to the story than the news was explaining, so we went straight to the source. We got the chance to sit down with the kayaker, Dylan Marks, to hear the story that the sensationalistic media refused to share, his first hand experience. Watch the interview above.

Sharks have always been the victim of sensationalistic reporting. “If it bleeds, it leads.” And nothing gets the Majority of media’s attention like a shark encounter, no matter the circumstances.

There are some famous statistics out there: you’re 13 times more likely to get killed by a vending machine than a shark, or you’re 25 times more likely to get bitten by a New Yorker on the New York subway than by a shark. Only about 10 of 500 shark species are reordered to ever bite a human. There’s a better chance of dying from a dog bite, yet dogs are portrayed as man’s best friend. It doesn't add up. If shark attacks are so rare, why is the majority of the media so fascinated by them? The short answer is that we are fascinated by the ability a shark has to kill someone. It’s an extremely animalistic worry that has only been heightened by Hollywood films. It’s a fascination with the unknown. For humans to go into the ocean, we are automatically uncomfortable, it is not our world. We are not swimming in “shark infested waters,” we are swimming in the sharks’ home. When you think about how much time we spend in the water it is amazing how little we encounter sharks or any other marine species.

 
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THE NEWS MEDIA STILL HAS A LONG WAYS TO GO.

Unfortunately though, a large percentage of stories portray sharks in either a negative or a false light. According to a recent study reviewing media coverage of sharks by Michigan State University, 52% of coverage of sharks focused on shark attacks on people, and 60% of that portrayed the shark negatively. Comparatively, the media surrounding sharks that was focused on their conservation was only 10%! And only 7% focused on shark biology and ecology. The facts cannot compete with clicks, likes, shares and money. That’s the root of it all.

Laurel Irvine