Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Only half the story on increased shark attacks

From the LA Times Shark attacks: 2008 figures could indicate troubling trend for West Coast
There were five unprovoked shark attacks along the West Coast, slightly more than double the number for 2007. All involved great white sharks...
The 2008 figures bring to 42 the total number of authenticated shark attacks along the West Coast during the first eight years of the century -- more than five times the 20th century annual average.

It might be simply because more people venturing into the ocean. It could also be that more white sharks are milling off Southern California, perhaps taking advantage of an exploding population of California sea lions. Or it could be that both factors are in play.

One thing I learned about the controversies about the impact of shark tourism on shark behavior when I read The Devil's Teeth : A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks. Researchers speculate that great whites could begin to associate human presence with food, and there are other problems as well.

I should write more on this, but it will have to wait until later.

The Devil's Teeth A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks


  1. Ooh, Bill would really enjoy that book!

  2. Could it be that humans' current diets make them tastier to sharks? ;-)

  3. A few years back Florida had a problem with a significant increase of gator attacks. Besides the tremendous population surge as a possibility, it was determined that many people who were new to the state, were feeding them when encountered. What this lead to was the alligators losing their fear of human beings, thus becoming more aggressive. I wonder if the shark problem isn't also a loss of fear of humans. Just a thought.

  4. How many burgers could you get out of the average great white, as compared to the average human?
    Wondering in Ontario (where there are no big fishies)

  5. Da dum da dum da dum...when I think of sharks I think of JAWS. That movie scared me so much that I won't put a toe in the ocean!

  6. Kate - He probably would like it.
    Mr. S - Lol! You always know just what to say to make me laugh.
    JJ - That is exactly what the scientists were concerned about.
    Doug- Great white sharks are warm-blooded creatures that are amazing evolutionary survivors. I'd hate to think about making hamburger out of such a magnificent creature.
    That said, I'm guessing you'd get about 10-times more burgers...
    Labetine - The ocean is so wonderful, I'm sorry you can't enjoy it.