Tag Archives: Sharks

Shark Attacks Statistics and Policy

A great article today on The Conversation about shark bite statistics and policy.

A cursory glance at statistics can lead to fear and a perception that shark attacks are on the rise. This can lead to bad policy, such as the shark cull in Western Australia, with the acting Premier Kim Hames vocalising the policy

So the numbers have significantly increased in the last three years and we believe the Government had to do something about it.

But the reality is that a shark attack is, mathematically, random chance. As stated by Christopher Neff in The Conversation article, there are an enormous number of human-shark interactions (most of which the humans remain blissfully unaware of) that are never counted:

The coin is tossed all the time, but we only count the tragedies.

As someone who spends a lot of time in, on and arond the ocean, I have knowingly had many encounters with sharks. Only once was I aware of a shark being uncomfortable with my presence. I moved away.

Shark attacks are undoubtedly horrific events when they occur. But so are car accidents. Car accidents, however, are far more frequent[1] and are far less random in their occurence.

Navy clearance diver and shark attack survivor, Paul de Gelder, has posted a great response to the WA Shark Cull. He makes a passionate case against the cull, but I think his conclusion says it all:

The ocean is not our back yard swimming pool and we shouldn’t expect it to be one. It’s a wondrous, beautiful, dangerous place that provides our planet with all life. It and it’s inhabitants need protection from those that would do it harm.

Killing sharks as a blanket policy is a knee-jerk reaction, and is bad policy. Doing it based on poor interpretation of random chance is short-sighted.


  1. According the Australian Shark Attack File, Taronga Zoo, as of this writing, there have been 202 unprovoked, fatal attacks by sharks in Australia since 1791. That’s slightly less than 1 per year. In the last 50 years, there have been 50 attacks. Compare this with 1,543 deaths from transport accidents in 2011 alone.  ↩

A scientific approach to shark bite prevention


As always, an excellent piece from The Conversation discussing the reality of shark bite prevention

The risks will continue when people go in the ocean, no matter what the government catches or does not catch.

The may be our playground, but it is the home for sharks. Shark attacks are rare, but traumatic and dramatic. They always attract a lot of emotion, but as with all aspects of public policy, action should be taken based on fact not emotion.

Australian Shark Attacks

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.

Shark Extinction

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 Extinction The Shocking Truth

Created by Surfmeisters.com Surf Blog | Surf Videos | Havaianas

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”.

Shark Perils

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….
Man Vs Shark

Created by Surfmeisters Surf Blog | Surf Videos | Flip Flops