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Don't call it "shark attacks" anymore

Don’t call it “shark attacks” anymore

Two Australian states, Queensland and New South Wales, have softened their language regarding the language used to report shark attacks. Scholars believe that this decision is welcome, and it is long overdue.

Authorities in Queensland and New South Wales recently reported a change in the description of encounters between sharks. From now on, it will not be a question of “attacks”, as we said earlier, but rather about “encounters” or “bites”, if there is any injury.

If it seems trivial, this change in vocabulary could serve the sharks that still have a bad reputation in spite of themselves. “[Cela] It will help dispel the assumptions that sharks are voracious, stupid, man-eating monsters‘ He said recently Sydney Morning Herald Leonardo Gueda, of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

rare encounters

We will remember that such “bites” are very rare, and the mortality inherent in such encounters is even more. Really sharks Ten people were killed around the world in 2020. By comparison, mosquitoes are responsible for 800,000 deaths annually, dogs for 25,000, and crocodiles for 2,000 deaths. Even jellyfish kill more people: about fifty people each year.

Let’s say, humans are not on the list of sharks, with the exception of the tiger shark, nicknamed “the ocean dumpster”. Affectionate of murky waters, this species is actually not very careful about what it eats. For others, most often, the sting is motivated by curiosity or by misidentification.

From 1990 to 2005, the encounters were recorded About ten species are involved Great White Shark (more than 400), Tiger Shark (141), Bulldog Shark (103), Bull Shark (76), Sleeper Shark (47), Mako Shark (45), Bordeaux Shark (40), Blue Shark (36) ), a lemon shark (27) and a reef shark (26).

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In this sample, Three species are involved in deadly encounters For humans: great white (63 deaths), tiger shark (28 deaths) and bulldog shark (22 deaths).

Tiger shark in the Bahamas. Credit: Albert Cook

Don’t be mistaken about predators

For some researchers, such as Christopher Pippen-Neff, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney, this language can create a one-dimensional perception of these events, and thus make it more difficult to protect endangered species. “After all, why bother with an animal that wants to eat us?,” he wrote in an article from 2011.

Sharks’ notoriety can already slow awareness of the alarming decline of some species, especially in international waters. The main reason for this Population collapse The practice of fin fishing still exists in which sharks are hunted to cut off their fins and their caudal fins before throwing them mutilated into the sea. The items are then used to prepare traditional Chinese soup. If it is painfully felt by the lack of data regarding this type of practice, it is estimated that More than 70 million sharks He would hunt every year for this.