International Shark Experts share the facts & dispel the myths
Are sharks more likely to attack at dusk or dawn? Do shark repellents attract sharks? Have shark attacks and sightings significantly increased over summer? Riley Elliott, coupled with independent researchers share the facts and dispel the myths once and for all.
Riley Elliott, international shark scientist and researcher, avid spearfisherman, surfer and scuba diver says, “There are a lot of myths around shark attacks that have been sensationalized by TV programs and simply the fear factor that ocean users feel and in turn choose to believe.”
FACT: Sharks are more likely to attack at dusk or dawn
THE FACTS: Recent research, led by Flinders University shark ecologist Dr Charlie Huveneers has proven this theory to be a fact. The research team observed over 950 hunting approaches by 44 different sharks in South Australian waters over a 30 day period. The study revealed that White Sharks strategically approached their prey with the sun directly behind them on more occasions than from different directions. Proving that White Sharks in particular have the impressive ability to follow the direction of the sun to hunt their prey. -‐
Riley says, “It’s common knowledge that most predators hunt at dusk and dawn. The major reason in the ocean is that these times are transition periods where sunlight comes and goes, providing a window of opportunity for visual predators to capture prey that use the cover of night as protection for foraging. In relation to shark attacks specifically, these times increase the likelihood of interacting with a shark that is hunting, and the likelihood of it having less of a visual sense of what you actually are due to reduced light.”
FICTION: Electronic shark deterrents attract sharks
THE FACTS: Independent testing of Shark Shield’s devices has proven it to be the most environmentally friendly, non-‐lethal method for preventing shark attacks that leaves other marine life unaffected. This method utilises the shark’s highly sensitive electroreception organs, by creating pulses of low-‐power electrical current, which are extremely uncomfortable for approaching sharks without affecting humans wearing such devices.
Riley adds, “As with anything, you are a skeptic until you understand or try it. After learning the physics behind the shark shield it became clear that it is impossible for a shark to be attracted by a shark shield at distance. The physical properties of water do not allow for the Shark Shield signal to travel outside of the short range it has. Furthermore most shark species can only sense electrical signals at short distance of 0.5-‐1m range. So where the shark can actually sense it, is right where you want to have a Shark Shield!”
FICTION: Shark attacks and sighting increased significantly in Australia
THE FACTS: According to a recent article * , Prof Simpfendorfer attributed this to the fact that there are more and more people using the ocean. He was quoted saying, “Not only are there more of us, but things like wetsuits are letting us be in the water for longer, and watersports are increasingly popular.” The total number of shark bites is going up, he said. However, on a per-‐person basis they are likely going down. In addition, data from the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History supports this, showing direct correlation between population increase and shark encounters. -‐