Shark Attack? Or Human Attack?

Photo by Mohamed Ajufaan on Unsplash

A.M Gilbert, Journalist

Many people believe that sharks are vicious predators that eat people at random and are a real threat we should be scared of every time we swim in the ocean. Rumours have been spread about how sharks kill hundreds of people each year. No matter how you look at it, sharks seem to be held as evil creatures we should eradicate and despise. Many forms of media focus on the “predation, hype and scariness” of the shark’s behaviour because it provides entertainment with excitement and thrills that draw many people in. But on the contrary, it is not the safety of humans that we should be worrying about. Instead, we should be worrying about the animals we all think are villains that are out to hunt us down, the animals we all think are cold-blooded killers.

One of the many things that people don’t know about sharks is that most of these animals are harmless, in fact, most of the shark species are smaller than humans and their instinct is to hide from all life forms larger than themselves. Out of the three-hundred and seventy-five species of shark only twelve are considered to be dangerous or harmful to humans in general and that is mostly because of their immense size and the way they look.

I can assure that there are very rare deaths caused by sharks, around fifteen people are attacked every year but only around five die in actuality and I might even be exaggerating that! That total is less than the number of people who die from lightning strikes or even lion attacks that kill around two-hundred and fifty people every year. So, if you look at the facts, you can see that sharks do not kill humans very often.

In saying that, I do not mean that sharks are completely safe and would never hurt anyone because the fact remains that these creatures are still apex predators. They are high up in the food chain. But this does not mean that we should recklessly kill them just because of what they are. Instead, we should respect them, and when we wish to see them out in their habitat we should not be scared but wary and careful.

It would be all well and good if the only thing people did to sharks was to believe that they were evil and cold-blooded hunters and that was all. Just to think and not to act. But, unfortunately, this is not the case at all. Us, humans, have a reputation of action and in this case, the action that was and still performed is a horrific deed. It seems that whenever an animal or any living thing that dares to kill, eat or destroy in any way our own race, we give back tenfold.

In this case, humans hunt sharks. Where sharks only kill fifteen people each year, humans kill around 100 MILLION sharks every year. The shark population has decreased alarmingly and sharks are now close to extinction, two-hundred and forty-seven species of shark are now endangered. Not only is it horrible to think that we could kill so many sharks just because we can, but it is also having a large effect on the surrounding ocean.

Sharks are sort of like the police of the ocean, they eat the dead fish and keep things in check, in coral reefs and other areas. But since sharks have been rapidly disappearing the balance they maintained has gone haywire and that causes things to go out of control.

For instance, the biggest coral reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef has largely diminished in size not only because of weather change but because the sharks are almost all gone and the balance they maintained has been disrupted. The decrease in shark population has led to increases in particular fish populations. This has had a flow-on effect through the food chain which has been detrimental to the health of the coral reef.

When humans kill the sharks they don’t actually use the whole shark because all they want is their fins. This is much like what has happened in the past with the whales and their blubber. In areas of Asia, one of the main delicacies eaten is shark fin soup which is exactly what its name suggests, a soup made from a shark’s fins. This practice is not only horribly cruel but also extremely bad for health reasons.

When humans hunt the sharks they haul them up still alive and cut off their fins, then they toss them back in without a moments thought. This is a horrible, horrible thing to do to a shark because sharks can only breath if they are constantly moving. Since they can only swim by using their fins that have been cut off, they drown slowly and painfully at the bottom of the seafloor. It is horrifying and what makes it doubly worse is that a massive majority of the 100 million sharks, die this way and the rest die partly by people killing them for sport and the novelty of it.

Health-wise, shark fin soup is extremely bad for humans. What most people don’t know is that consuming shark meat has side effects on their health due to the elements in the shark’s food. Many fish that sharks consume contain mercury (which is a deadly type of poison for humans). Sharks can digest mercury, a human cannot and would most likely die or have serious health issues if consumed. It has been observed that if a pregnant woman eats Shark, then the mercury inside the meat causes the mother to have serious health impacts on their child. But that is not all, there are many other health issues caused by eating shark. Yet even though many people know this there is still a large majority of the world that eats shark.

I have endeavoured to present facts about sharks and the consumption of sharks by human beings. Hundreds of millions of sharks have died and any effort to stop that has had minimal impact. These amazing creatures that date back millions of years, back even to the dinosaurs, are now being killed off by our kind. BY US. Looked at from another perspective, I would even say humans are the cold-blooded hunters and the evil villains so many people believe sharks to be.

Sources –

100 million sharks die every year, by national geographic –

Why sharks are so important –

Shark finning and why it is bad! ––nwst2MDuB9BrA14sfwaAhcVEALw_wcB

Help save sharks website –