Its summer, the news is a little light on, so the media begins to focus on shark attacks:
Some may have considered the three fatal shark attacks in West Australian waters in 2011 to be a tragic coincidence.
However, when a further two fatal attacks and one life threatening shark attack occurred in the state in 2012, many had little doubt WA had a shark problem.
To be fair, the article talks a lot about the positive research that is being done to deter sharks, but nonetheless it is a predictable story in the media in the Australian summer.
I’m not going to suggest for a second that shark attacks are anything but horrific for those involved, but they should also be put in context. The Australian Shark Attack File, Taronga Zoo shows that in the 222 years since 1791 there have been 201 fatal, unprovoked shark attacks in Australia. Thats less than 1 per year!
Compare that to the 121 people who drown at the beach year in Australia. Or the following accidental causes of death in Australia in 2010 (Australian Bureau of Statistics):
- Transport accident: 1502
- Accidental falls: 1648
- Assault: 217
Of course, these accidental causes of death are quite low in the top 20 causes of death in Australia in 2010 - a list which is dominated by cardio vascular disease and cancer.
A couple of months ago I blogged about Shark Perils, showing a great infographic from Josh Aggars. Josh has gone one better, and created a new infographic that shows the shocking truth behind shark extinction.
Shark numbers are in decline, and as the apex predator in the oceanic realm, the survival of the shark species may be directly linked to that of humanity.
Humans rely on protein to survive and grow, and the oceanic food chain is the major source of protein for a majority of the planet’s population. Killing off of sharks throws that food chain into unbalance, and without that food chain, we may not have sufficient protein to maintain the survival of our species. Imagine a world with “protein wars” – people fighting not over oil or money, but protein.
This may sound alarmist, but as a keen diver I do believe that “the only good shark is NOT a dead shark”.
As a keen scuba instructor-trainer, I am a big believer in advocating self defence in our oceanic adventures. But mostly in defending ourselves from the silly antics of people. Marine life is seldom a problem, but is headline making whenever an “attack” occurs….