Australian officials say that sharks just have a bad wrap.
Some Australian officials have opted to stop using the word “attack” as the go-to description of all interactions between sharks and people.
Instead, they are referring to these interactions as “incidents,” “bites” or, in some cases, “a negative encounter.”
“For years, they’ve [researchers] argued that using ‘attack’ to describe every case is inaccurate and can lead to emotional, knee-jerk reactions not rooted in science.”
Around 40 percent of human-shark interactions don’t involve any injuries, bites are usually just a sign of sharks trying to explore the world.
Data from the Florida Museum of Natural History indicates there were 129 alleged human-shark interactions last year. Of these, 39 were provoked by humans and 57 were unprovoked. Provoked interactions include humans harass or attempt to feed sharks and while fishing.
Overall, 13 deaths were reported due to shark interactions and 10 of these were unprovoked incidents.
Annually, the typical average of unprovoked fatalities is four.
“The total number of unprovoked shark bites worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year,” said the museum.
According to a BBC report from early this year, a recent study concluded the number of sharks found in the open oceans has plunged by 71% over half a century, mainly due to over-fishing. Of 31 species of sharks included in the study, 24 are now threatened with extinction, and three are classified as critically endangered.
If we fear them less, maybe we’ll want to save them!