Almost every day I meet someone who is afraid of sharks. When I ask why the answer is always “because they can eat me”. This is a myth which the media and certain Hollywood films have imprinted on our brains. This is not true!
Sharks have been on this planet for more than 400million years. That is older than the dinosaurs, and the asteroid which whipped out the dinosaurs is only one of the five mass extinctions that sharks have survived. But now 20-30% of the 500 species are on the edge of extinction!
In fact, it is humans who are eating sharks, or at least parts of them. We cut their fins off and sell them to china where they are used for a delicacy called shark fin soup traditionally eaten at weddings as a status symbol. We believe that the cartilage and liver oil has special healing powers so use it in medicine and cosmetics. We make the skin and teeth into souvenirs such as wallets or necklaces. We kill 100million sharks a year!
Apparently shark fin soup tastes like a simple chicken broth. (I have never tried it and never will.) So why is it a delicacy? This “special” cartilage and live oil can be found in any fish. So why do we take it from sharks? Necklaces and wallets are made from so many different products. So why do we have to use sharks? But you are still scared of them. So why should you care?
Do you remember that food chain diagram from your biology lessons at school? What happens if you take the top predator away? The next level (level 2) strives and wipes out the level below (level 3). With nothing to eat level 2 eventually dies out. Level 4 will then strive and wipe out level 5 and the pattern continues until we are left with just the bottom level. Sharks are top of the marine food chain, no sharks, no fish!
So what do I need to do to stop you from being scared of sharks? I can tell you the facts; you have more chance of dying from a toaster, a coconut, a car crash, or a cow, than a shark. Experiments have been done to test whether sharks react to human blood. They didn’t, but when fish blood was put in the tank they went crazy. A surfer from 30meters below looks a lot like a seal or turtle. Those 50 attacks which happen a year are a mistake on the shark’s part, and the reason why at least 40 of those casualties survive is because the shark realizes the mistake and does not come back to finish the job. Yes that is correct, less than 10 people die from sharks every year and they don’t intend to kill or even attack humans!
If you are still not sure about sharks get in the water with them and see how gentle and calm they are. Appreciate the moment because shark sightings are getting rarer and rarer. Sharks are becoming increasingly scared of humans!
For more information please visit the following sites and check out the good work these companies are doing to help save this precious species, and how you can get involved.