An Expert: Sharks want fish, not humans

So says Ryan Johnson, of the independent research institute, Ocean Research. Yes, I’m on about sharks again! [For those of you who missed my previous posts on the subject, click on the “sharks” tag on the right-hand side of the page.]

As we are moving towards our summer and the long summer holidays (when a lot of South African families head to the coast), we’re seeing the usual spate of shark-related newspaper articles. Shark researchers telling us that sharks really do not mean to chew on humans, and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and coastal authorities warning people that there has been an increase in shark activity.

In the article (see link above) Ryan Johnson says:

“It’s happening increasingly often that these sharks follow big schools of pelagic fish, such as sardines and anchovies, near reefs.”

“The reefs are usually up to 2km from the shore, said Johnson.

“So the sharks don’t really pose a threat to swimmers.”

According to Johnson there is no reason for concern over the increase in the number of sharks spotted along the coast.

“Sharks have been behaving in the same way for millions of years. They’re looking for fish, not people.

Which may be true, but in the same week a 4 meter Great White was spotted (by a helicopter pilot) swimming underneath a group of surfers at a local beach. This incident, as well as other sightings close to popular beaches, have caused the NSRI to issue its warning to surfers and bathers.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the fact is that if you go into the water, there is the risk of becoming “shark bait”. So how much do you really want to go swimming when you’ve been told there are big sharks in the water?!

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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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4 Comments on “An Expert: Sharks want fish, not humans”

  1. Global_Furry_Conspiracy
    September 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Well, I for one don’t mind more posts about sharks!

    However, I find the statement that sharks are really “looking for fish, not people” a bit of a truism. It’s like excusing the death of a pedestrian when crossing the road by saying “the driver was really trying to get from A to B, not hit anybody”.
    Anyhow, just like pedestrians should keep off the road, humans should keep out of any water not surrounded by a bathtub. It’s simply a matter of appropriate habitat!

    • September 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

      It almost sounds like you’re arguing against the “mistaken identity” theory! Weren’t you supporting that in your previous comments?!

  2. Dave Joubert
    September 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I agree to an extent with the statement. Sometimes we see statistics that show that one has a bigger chance of being run over etc. than being eaten by a shark, killed by a lion etc. but then do those statistics apply when we look at proportions of people in situations where being run over is an option(almost anywhere, so no being run over per day divided by potential number that could possibly be run over per day) and where being bitten by a shark is an option (number being bitten per day divided by the number swimming in the sea per day) only when swimming in the sea. Do the statistics suddenly change? I used to camp a lot in the desert, sleeping on the ground. When I read a book about spiders, six eyed crab spiders were described as being potentially lethal but one was unlikely to be ever bitten because they live in sand and gravel plains in the Namib Desert. Hmmmm.

  3. Dave Joubert
    September 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    I agree to an extent with the statement. Sometimes we see statistics that show that one has a bigger chance of being run over etc. than being eaten by a shark, killed by a lion etc. but then do those statistics apply when we look at proportions of people in situations where being run over is an option(almost anywhere, so no being run over per day divided by potential number that could possibly be run over per day) and where being bitten by a shark is an option (number being bitten per day divided by the number swimming in the sea per day) only when swimming in the sea. Do the statistics suddenly change? I used to camp a lot in the desert, sleeping on the ground. When I read a book about spiders, six eyed crab spiders were described as being potentially lethal but the likelihood of ever being bitten was minimal because they live in sand and gravel plains in the Namib Desert and so you would have to be sleeping on the ground. Hmmmm…..

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