Shark Fact & Fiction : Love Local News

Shark Fact & Fiction

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.  -­‐
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