SHARK WEEK! Shark myths BUSTED!
OK! So Sharks aren't the cuddliest of creatures, they don't have fluffy fur that we snuggle into and their nip isn't always a small indentation on your flesh....
However, here's a few uglies that we can shed some light one.
Sharks are not man eating machines
Sharks do not actively hunt humans (no matter what you see in the movies!). They merely "attack" due to curiousity or a simple case of mistaken identity. For example, surfers can be mistaken as a Seal Lion.
Did you know, on average there are approximately 60 confirmed Shark attacks around the World every year? And only 5-15 of them are fatal.
Not all sharks have rows of teeth either. Some, like the Basking Shark don't have any teeth at all - they are filter feeders and feeding purely on Plankton.
Shark fins grow back if they are cut off
Put simply, no they don't! Unfortunately due to the growing trend of shark finning, predominantly for the shark fin soup trade, Sharks are cut, have their fins cut off and are thrown back into the water. Thousands, if not millions, of Sharks are slaughtered this way every year. This is adding to the decrease in numbers around the world, and unfortunately is quite uneccessary. The fins add no taste to the soup at all, it's merely an addition for a bit of texture and it catches a high price :(
Shark Attacks are common.
Shark attacks are not common at all, that odds are actually quite low. Check out this list of daily things that are more likely to kill you!
There's no real evidence that Sharks actively hunt Humans, the BBC have an interesting article to read HERE.
Sharks have no predators
WRONG! Although Sharks are apex predators they do have their own hunter...Humans :( Sadly millions of Sharks are killed annually - whether that be for food, bycatch or sports.
Also, in most recent years research and observations have shown Orca attacks on Sharks AND interestingly cannibalism can happen amongst embryos in a Mothers womb.
All sharks must swim constantly to stay alive
Some sharks do have to keep moving to keep water flowing over their gills, but others can hang around in one spot and breathe by using their muscles to pump water over their gills.
Sharks are dumb
Not at all, they have a highly complex brain. Sharks (and rays) have some of the largest brains amongst marine animals. They exhibit complex social behaviours and some species can even communicate via body language and even hunt in packs. I mean, come on, you can't be that dumb if your species has survived for millions of years!
Sharks actually have a unique y-shaped brain that weighs around 1.2 ounces. A Sharks olfactory organs grant them their notoriously acute sense of smell.
All sharks are dangerous
While Sharks have a fearsome reputation not all of them will attack. Attacks will either be provoked or unprovoked, either way they dont always end in tragedy.
Sharks are all the same
There are around 500 species of Shark around the world, they are all so incredibly different and diverse. They come in all shapes & sizes, live in different habitats, have different behaviours and feed on different things. For example, a Whale Shark only feeds on Plankton, while a Great White Shark can feed on Whales, Dolphins, Seals and Fish.
Don't believe everything you see and hear, especially in the films!
Here's a list of rated and reviewed Shark films by Rotten Tomato.
Some are good, some are cheesy, some are just plain awful! Sometimes it's worth just for a laugh though! ;)
However, don't believe everything you see in these films. Yes, somedays you might "need a bigger boat" but other days (most days!) it's more than safe to enter the water, no matter where you are and what you're doing.
Hollywood do a great job of convincing people that it's not safe in the water and that shark attacks happen all the times and are always fatal etc etc. But remember, it's not true. They're not all that bad, they're just swimming along minding their own business and every so often they get it wrong.
Don't believe me? Do your own research, make your own conclusion. There's plenty of research out there that has been carried out and is still being done about Sharks behaviours and eating habits. 9 times out of 10 an "attack" is usually just a case of mistaken identity.
If you're planning on going dive with Sharks GREAT - enjoy it, I'm jealous! Check out his blog for a few pointers on destinations.
I hope we've debunked a few misconceptions of Sharks for you.
Don't be scared and don't let it put you off.