Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shark BS

To me, surfers look like, well, surfers.

But granted, I'm not a Tiger Shark.
Apparently, to Tiger Sharks, surfers look like Turtles - this according to the expert opinion of some surfer gal who happened to be in the vicinity. Because Turtles routinely surf the waves? Because Tiger Sharks don't know what Turtles look like?

And to top it off, some biologist dude from Save our Seas seems to agree!
Save our Seas - as in SOSF??, thinks me and goes rummaging in the web.
Turns out that there's another SoS based in Hawaii, and I spare you any ulterior comments. You can check out their website here, and here are the credentials of the bio dude. He seems to be a passionate guy who loves Sharks and is trying to fight the usual stereotypes, for which he needs to be commended.

But please, not like this!
Yes, that Shark had very likely no intention to eat a surfboard and as such, it is certainly plausible (not certain!) to call this a case of mistaken identity.
But that's all we can assume, full stop.

Do you know cedar plugs?
They're fantastic trolling lures for anything from Tuna to Sailfish. Lately, they have been engineered to look like a variety of Fishes but the original ones are just weighted wooden cylinders and certainly equally effective.
Thing is, they don't need to look like any specific prey species: to be effective, it's enough that they convey the sense of some generic prey skipping at the surface. In fact, they only work when trolling, i.e. when their speed will prompt the predators to attack without prior inspection - and thus, unsurprisingly, they will be ignored when stationary.
Think about the Tiger Shark vs surfer situation and draw your own conclusions.

I say this because we must stop making up this kind of pseudo-science on the fly.
Yes we want to combat the notion that Shark seek out and hunt humans - but in doing so, we must remain fact-based or we will lose all credibility.
Nobody knows what that Shark was thinking, whether it was "thinking" at all and what triggered that attack. Maybe it hated surfboards. Maybe it didn't want to be disturbed whilst hunting and was trying to bite away a perceived competitor. Maybe it wanted to play. Maybe it got startled and acted on a reflex. Maybe it thought that it was attacking a Dolphin, a species that sometimes rides waves.
Who knows - and, ultimately, who cares!

Tiger Sharks are alpha predators and as such, they will attack prey at the surface.
Sometimes, they will attack a human and sometimes, they will feed on it. It's an incredibly rare event but it happens never the less.
That makes them neither bad, nor good - they are just being Tiger Sharks.

Those are the facts - no need to always try and put some spin on it.

PS video here.


Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

reminds me of some shark repelling magnets we covered last week

Anonymous said...

You missed the story about the guy riding the tiger shark and then going back to surfing for another 45 minutes!

DaShark said...

Indeed I did!

Tim of the Deep said...

I was following a travelling circus on assignment that was crossing Micronesia. In Pohnpei, a 2-year-old male lion tried to attack the trainer and she did wind up getting her palm ripped open. She had become a friend on the trip and I was concerned and immediately went to see her in the emergency room. I was talking to her at the hospital when a local police officer came in and asked if she wanted him to shoot the lion. She was shocked and immediately said, "No, don't touch that lion. He was just doing what a male lion does."
Common sense from a person who really knew her animals.
I think the tiger shark's role pretty much speaks for itself as well.

The Sharkman said...

Well said Mike.