Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shark Strikes - Amateur Hour!

Oh for crying out loud - again!

And I cite.
Victoria - How do you test a shark proof wetsuit? It sounds like it could potentially be a very terrifying test. 

Nathan - Well, we have lots of PhD students who are willing to swim with these suits on (just joking!). 
Really, it is very hard, in actual fact for all shark deterrents to test these things. Limited testing can be done in the lab, but ultimately, you have to take the product out into the wild, try and induce sharks to come up and investigate. Then you have to see how effective it is. We’re at the very early stages of helping the company to test their wetsuit and it would be really nice to validate it and see if the science really works. There's likely to be no downside of the suit, but it would be really nice to know whether it decreases your chances. 

Victoria - Does that really involve putting dummies in different wet suits underwater and inducing sharks to come and investigate and see what happens? 

Nathan - Well obviously, there are ethical problems in putting either a person or even just an entire wetsuit, a mannequin in the water. So, we have to do it in a slightly more controlled way which is to use a piece of the wetsuit material, wrapped around something which doesn’t resemble a human because obviously, we have to be very careful that we don’t want to make any association between humans and food in an area where there are sharks.
So they want to test those stupid Shark repellent wetsuits on something that does NOT look like a human - and then what? Simply claim that their experiments are applicable to Shark strikes on humans as well?

Please re-read this post.
Those various explanations about why strikes by different Sharks occur are at best plausible hypotheses and as Doc eloquently illustrates, they are essentially not testable. Shark strikes on humans can only be rigorously tested by, wait for it...,  having Sharks strike humans, and this against a control group and sufficiently often in order to have an adequate sample size allowing for statistical analysis - and this of course equally applies, mutatis mutandis, to testing those wetsuits!

Nathan is a researcher and knows that.
Or does he? From what I can see, he's essentially an animal physiologist that is now dabbling in Shark behavior - so maybe he would be well advised to refresh his knowledge by corresponding with the Grand Mufti of Sharks?

Because this is just bullshit.
We got plenty of clues as to why different Sharks strike people - but we know nothing with certainty and will have to continue speculating, and no money out of WA coffers is gonna change that anytime soon! That money would be much, much better spent on further perfecting WA's early warning system - and were Nathan not a veritable PROFESSOR, no less, I would have to scream, totally busted!

So there - no screaming!
And anyway, who am I to say! :)

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