The resent death of a male surfer, off the coast of Western Australia after being attacked by a Great White Shark has spurred a debate as to whether or not this, the biggest of the shark species, should remain protected. This is the fifth fatal attack in this area since the start of 2012, recorded as the highest fatality rate in a given area due to Great White attacks. This has caused a bit of friction between the local fisheries/politicians and conservationists.
The question is: Who has the right to freedom in the waters surrounding Western Australia? The fatalities are no doubt tragic and I sympathise with the families of the deceased however my vote in this instant goes to the shark. They have been around much longer than humans have and while its behaviour is surrounded with a lot more mystery then a lot of its shark relatives, study suggests that humans are not considered a food source by the Great Whites. Why should Great white Sharks be culled for safer human recreation when there are much bigger threats to people out there which are not natural? Sharks just do what sharks do best, swim around, and occasionally chomp down on anything that looks like a potential food source.
Biologists have researched shark attacks for years and have come up with a theory for why sharks attack humans. They are a curious animal and may simply be “test biting” objects that intrigue them. It does not lessen the risk to people in shark inhabited areas but at least shows they are not simply “out to get us” as the film Jaws has suggested to people for years. Politicians are also suggesting that the Great White Shark population is increasing and that the ban, that was introduced in 1999 to protect them, should now be lifted in order to reduce the number of attacks. Sharks are difficult to survey but there is no evidence as of yet to support this. Plus the 5 fatalities could simply be a once off in statistics and it is too soon to launch out an attack on the Great White Shark based on a bad year.
At the end of the day, the surfers know the risks, and if wise will take as many precautions one can against a Shark attack. Potential Shark attack zones should be clearly marked and then people can make up their own minds about the risks before entering the water. Let the Great White sharks be, seeing as they are still listed by ICUN as “endangered” and let’s try to not get another species extinct due to human greed.
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