Mistaken Identity

My brother and I have had this debate going for years now. About sharks. More specifically about their intentions regarding humans.

My view is that sharks are equal opportunity hunters. Why spend so much energy going after faster (than us anyway)  swimming seals or fish, when there are convenient humans floundering around in the surf? My brother has the view that if a shark attacks a human being, then it’s all a case of mistaken identity.  They would much rather be eating seals or fish or whatever. We don’t really taste that good to them anyway. Really?! Then what about those stories of shark attacks, where the sharks come back for “seconds”? Or the guys who say that they’ve had sharks trailing them when they’re paddling in their sea kayaks or in their rubber dinghies, giving them nudges every so often?

A Great White shark with an evil glint in his eye, ignoring all the fish and waiting for an unsuspecting human to enter the water! (Image: Wikipedia)

It’s really not that I’m anti sharks as such. I recognize that if one has to tally up deaths on each side (as my brother so frequently does when he’s arguing with me!), then sharks get killed in far greater numbers by humans, than vice versa. What for me (living along a coast with a lot of sharks in the water) is so alarming, is that there have been many more serious and fatal shark attacks off our coastline in the last decade than previously. Again my brother (the “voice of reason”?) says it’s all statistical. There are a lot more people on earth than there were 10 years ago i.e. more people in the water. So then it follows that the sharks can’t help but “bump into us” all the time. But I’ve heard comments from fishermen who go out to sea in boats, that they are seeing a lot more big sharks close to shore. A couple of years ago I heard the comment from one of them that “if you knew what was in the water, you wouldn’t swim in the sea”. Good advice.  I haven’t swum in the sea here for years, and I take my holidays in the desert!

Anybody else want to weigh in on this topic?

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Categories: Nature/Environment

Author:lisa@notesfromafrica

I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)

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8 Comments on “Mistaken Identity”

  1. Global_Furry_Conspiracy
    August 30, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Nice pic. What a handsome fella! A little too much overbite there …

    But no, he’s NOT waiting for some crunchy surfer-on-a-stick delicacy, he’s just had his fish breakfast and is busy going with the flow, as all self-respecting sharks have done for millions of years, leaving a low CO2 footprint … er, leaving no footprint … and generally only consuming enough to keep fin and tail together.

    Unlike some primates I could mention (I’m looking at YOU, Mr. and Ms. H. Sapiens), who left their allotted forest habitat to go marauding in the deep blue ocean, over the wide open prairies and on the mountains high, and even in the deserts. Talk about invasive species!

    So more big sharks are being seen by fishermen. What about all the tourists taunting them in those diving cages? Tossing them tantalizing scraps and then scarpering without allowing even a fair nibble? Another problem is the overfishing. Taking away the sharks’ normal brekkies just makes them look around for an ersatz meal, surely?

    We of the Galactic Species Against Bipedal Colonialism would welcome a more balanced and – above all … er … below all – a less mammalian-centric attitude.

  2. GeoRoMancer
    August 30, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Did you know? Shark meat is also used in making “surimi”, which is a form of processed protein used widely in Asia. It can be made from many kinds of meat or fish, and is being used in Western countries to imitate expensive products, e.g. lobster, crab meat, shrimps.

    For some facts, check out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surimi

    For some interesting photos and a video on processing shark meat, check out this blog post on Japan’s “Shark Fin City”:
    http://www.alexhoffordphotography.com/node/2333

    • August 31, 2010 at 7:18 am #

      I’ve eaten surimi – was fairly bland – but didn’t know it was made from shark meat.

      That “Shark Fin City” story is very shocking.

  3. August 31, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    “”They would much rather be eating seals or fish or whatever. We don’t really taste that good to them anyway. Really?! Then what about those stories of shark attacks, where the sharks come back for “seconds”? Or the guys who say that they’ve had sharks trailing them when they’re paddling in their sea kayaks or in their rubber dinghies, giving them nudges every so often?””

    I’ve read a few articles and it sounds like sharks can have individual tastes, much like humans. Their sensing of the small electrical currents that “animals” emit seem like a plausable reason for them to exchange one meal for another.

    “”A couple of years ago I heard the comment from one of them that “if you knew what was in the water, you wouldn’t swim in the sea”””

    Yeah, I’m all for NOT swimming in the sea – leave that to the fish. Or if you really want to swim in the sea, better make sure your “electrical current” beeps “I don’t taste good!”

    • August 31, 2010 at 7:17 am #

      That’s interesting – the bit about sharks preferring certain tastes. Does that mean that they can develop a “taste for human” too?!

  4. August 31, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Found an article that makes for interesting reading.
    http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/shark-attack.htm/printable

    In general all the known ‘facts’ about sharks seem contradicting in my opinion. And maybe, just maybe sharks aren’t such simple creatures as one might think. To me “simple” means easy to figure out.

    Your post brings to mind this movie I saw a few years back – Deep Blue Sea. It was Sci-fi, but still. . .

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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