Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mediterranean Shark Attacks: You Are Food

When you are food and you go where sharks are, it is not logical to complain about being eaten.  Of course, you won't be complaining about being eaten but rather your relatives will be doing the complaining as you will be quietly ensconced within the interior of a Great White Shark.

In thinking of shark attacks, one usually finds images of the South Pacific but most of the shark attacks in human history have taken place in the Mediterranean Sea.  It's not one's first thought but the facts are that there are thousands of years of human history here and this is where many of the people were.  Very little is publicised about this as an area that makes a large amount of its living from tourism is highly disinclined toward spreading any idea that swimmers are food.  (Shark Info:  Shark attacks in the Mediterranean)

People love to think it can't happen here but people are exceptionally poor at predicting what can happen anywhere.  However, charts show clearly what has happened and the second highest number of shark attacks in all of Europe has been in Greece with the highest number going to Italy.  The difference is that almost all of the shark attacks around Greece have been fatal (Florida Museum of Natural History: 1847-2012 Map of Europe's Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks)

In thinking of Great White Sharks, typically one thinks of Australia and again it's little-known that the Mediterranean Sea is one of the breeding areas for them.  In fact, the central Mediterranean Sea is one of the prime breeding areas for them.  Jaws created much of the hysteria about Great White Sharks but bull sharks may be more dangerous and many of the attacks attributed to Great White Sharks were quite likely to have been by bull sharks.  The latter can be found in many more places as bull sharks go into much more shallow water and they are extremely tolerant to freshwater, so much so that they can go great distances inland via rivers.

People consider sharks to be terribly dangerous so this makes it ok for the Chinese to kill a shark simply to take the fins to eat and to throw away the rest of the body.  The obscenity of such wastefulness and wanton killing speaks for itself but the justification makes no sense at all.  Sharks aren't dangerous but rather people are.  If you present yourself as food where sharks live, it is inevitable that a shark will eat you.  The flawed thinking is that people can go anywhere we want to go any time we feel like going there but very large creatures exist in many places that will strongly contest that thinking and their ability to defend that position is vastly greater than yours.

The probability of being attacked by a shark in this area is not high as the chart shows less than ten attacks in one hundred and fifty years but it is seriously flawed thinking to ignore this altogether.  The solutions are simple as you can cut your risk in half by swimming with a friend as perhaps the shark will eat your friend instead of you.  The other consideration is that swimming in deep water makes it much easier for large creatures to find you.

Do what you will but definitely know that you are food.


There is additional documentation with video in a newer article:  Great White Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea (video)

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