Are sharks really dangerous?
Are sharks killing machines, tireless predators? Is the shark the perfect killer? They flood the nightmares of many of those who live on the coasts. They are the recurring thought of bathers on the beaches.
Perhaps the number of myths that are woven around it is due to its ancient character. It is estimated that they have inhabited the seas for 420 million years. Although they did not share with the dinosaurs, they are much more long-lived than the human race.
There are many curious facts about sharks. But its contemporary bad publicity has basically only one culprit: Steven Spielberg. In 1975, the then-unknown filmmaker released Jaws. It was the film that would end up cementing the terror of sharks forever.
Above the myth
Outside of Hollywood, urban legends, and ancient tales, are sharks really dangerous?
It is true that some species do represent a potential danger to humans. Sharp teeth and a powerful bite can easily tear considerable gashes from the body of a strong adult male.
The largest specimens of the white shark print a force of 1.8 tons with their jaws. This represents 3 times more than a lion, and 20 times more than a human bite. However, despite its obvious danger, reality is far from any fiction.
The danger of sharks, for whom?
In 2016, 150 shark attacks on humans were recorded worldwide, of which 4 were fatal.
These episodes are divided into Unprovoked (usually the victims are bathers who look surprised) and Provoked (involving direct interaction with animals), such as when a diver is bitten after catching a shark.
Also included in these categories are attacks on boats. Of the first group, 43 (53.1%) of the cases occurred in North America, including 10 in Hawaii. The rest is divided between Australia (15), New Caledonia (4), Indonesia (2), Brazil, Japan, Reunion, South Africa, and Sri Lanka (1).
Fatalities were registered equally in Australia and New Caledonia.
Statistically speaking, there are many more chances of dying from the flu, from falling from a high place or in a car accident, than from a shark bite .
But the most alarming fact is that for every human that dies in an attack, man kills 2 million sharks.
The perfect killer
Specialists have spent years trying to minimize the negative perception of these beings, considered the ancient kings of the seas. Old is conditioned because the number of copies has decreased dramatically in recent decades . And the cause of this decrease is one and only one: the direct or indirect action of man.
Are sharks dangerous to man? Is man dangerous to sharks?
“Sport” hunting for recreational purposes, or fishing, have been some of the reasons why there are fewer and fewer sharks in the oceans .
It also influences the fact that sharks are a species of slow development and procreation, so replacing an adult and developed specimen is not an easy thing, nor is it fast.
But what has really meant literal death for these animals is shark fin soup, a luxury dish served in China .
Despite the strict controls that several countries have wanted to impose to prevent the trafficking of fins from their seas to the Asian giant, this has only managed to boost prices in the markets. It has become a much more lucrative business than it already was.
Also, the process to obtain this body part from sharks exceeds the limits of sadism. The fins are forcibly cut off, and the animals are thrown back into the sea alive. Unable to swim, they slowly sink, at the same time that they begin to suffer attacks from other fish, until they die of suffocation.
As a last piece of information, it is important to take into account that the human being is not part of the shark’s food chain . Almost all unprovoked attacks are due to misidentification of the prey, mistaking it for turtles or sea lions.
Other factors of shark attacks can come from simple curiosity, attracted by surfboards (surfers are their favorite “victims”), the splashing of bathers or some brightly colored clothing. In addition, most of the resulting deaths are related to bleeding, and not to dismembered bodies.