Dispelling the fallacies around shark attacks

2013-12-30 00:00

THE many misconceptions created by movies and the natural appearance of a shark has tainted its reputation when it comes to fatalities regarding shark attacks.

According to research conducted by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board and taken off their website, an analysis of South African shark attack records over the last four decades has shown some interesting patterns.

Most importantly, the results confirm that attacks are rare events, with an average of only six incidents per year.

The KZN Sharks Board website states that most attacks take place in warm, shallow waters on KwaZulu-Natal beaches, but shark nets, now used concurrently with drumlines, have greatly reduced the number of these incidents in the province to fewer than one per year.

“There have been only two serious attacks at protected beaches in the last 30 years. Both involved surfers who were bitten in very clear water by a great white shark.”

“In KwaZulu-Natal more attacks have taken place in the late afternoon than at any other time of the day, despite most people swimming in the heat of the late morning and early afternoon.”

As the graphic explains, there is a greater chance of a person being killed by a dog than in a shark attack. It is evident from the graphic that everyday activities pose a greater threat to your life than a shark attack.

Given all the adverse publicity associated with shark attacks, one needs to put this threat into perspective. Most sharks pose little or no danger to humans who enter the sea.

The KZN Sharks Board says it is probably true that sharks are more scared of humans than we are of them. The number of people who drown at sea along the South African coast each year far outnumbers fatal shark attacks.

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