“They can’t help that people fear them.”
The first reaction of many people when hearing the mention of sharks is one of fear or indifference. Their main frame of reference is the media, who love to portray sharks as evil, mindless killers that lurk in the water, just waiting to bite a surfer or swimmer. Never mind the statistics that sharks are responsible for very few fatalities on yearly basis, especially compared to animals like the hippopotamus, deer, or cows. Heck, even taking a harmless selfie proved to be more dangerous last year. And moreover, there are over 500 species of shark described in science, less than 5% of which is responsible for the majority of human shark bites. Sharks do not eat humans and diving with sharks is perfectly safe as long as you adhere to the proper guidelines.
On the other hand, humans are responsible for the death of an estimated 100 million sharks each year in fisheries. Not taking into account recreational angling, illegal catches, discards, and the secondary effects of fishing. Many fishermen just consider sharks a nuisance, competing with them over their catches.
The attitude towards sharks needs to improve in order for more people to start applying themselves to shark conservation. And spreading the word that sharks do not have a disposition to be aggressive is a first step.
By Linda Planthof