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Sharks; an introduction…
brokenogre - 8/30/2013 2:55 AM
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There are several different species of animals that roam our oceans that are considered dangerous to humans. Thanks to a few recent media sensationalisations; species that were previously not considered dangerous, now sadly are. At the top of this list is the shark, a creature that has been immortalised in science fiction movies, and even a few documentaries; that portrayed the animal to be easily prone to violence, bloodthirsty, and human hungry.
Besides Polar Bears; I personally know of no other animal that will actively hunt a human (and even then the polar bear/ human interaction rates are very low). I lived in Anchorage, Alaska for a number of years, and in and around a friend’s property in Yukon Territory after I had left the U.S. Army. I spent several months above the arctic circle where Polar Bears are frequent, and only had one interaction with them; from a very long way off; while ice-fishing. I use this example to show that a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. While Polar Bears will, and have killed humans; they are not the dangerous, human hunting creatures that some northern residents make them out to be. These particular bears were moving north, and were; considering the time of year; probably headed to the ice shores to hunt seals.
Back to the sharks. The same applies to sharks in my opinion. People misunderstand them, and a little education goes a long way. While Jaws and Deep Blue Sea are cinematic works of art in the early days of the psychological horror genre, they have led people to believe that sharks are actually like that. Thank goodness George Romero came along and replaced sharks with Zombies… but then a movie came out in 2003 called Open Water, and personally disgusted me. People won’t even go scuba diving now because of the movie; I have had it actually used as an excuse to me personally by several people. If you’re a diver I recommend you watch the movie; you’ll laugh and call it for what it is; retarded. If you’re not a diver do not watch it, it is fake, and retarded; and is not indicative of scuba diving, the industry as a whole, or the majority of boat and live-a-board operations around the world. But that is the introduction that the world has gotten from the mass media in regards to sharks. Much like sting-rays; which are now dangerous thanks to the death of Steve Irwin; which, while sad and a life taken too soon and very much missed in the conservation and education communities, shouldn’t bring global awareness of an animal to be now dangerous that never was and probably never will be. People take risks, and risk management should be a part of any interaction with any animal above or below the water. Sharks, though, have lived with the wrath of folklore, legend, and science fiction, even to the point of near extinction; which is where we are currently headed. Mistreatment of the animals to begin with, coupled with sensationalising them in the media, has led to sharks being misunderstood, and miseducated on.
So these articles should serve to introduce them for what nature intended them to be. With follow-up articles on behaviour, ecology, brooding, reproductive differences between the various species of sharks, and the different physical characteristics of the various species. Although there are hundreds of species of sharks, I will write in general terms for each of the major subspecies, and touch in minute detail on major differences in species, behaviour, and ecology as they present themselves. I hope these will be educational, informative, and will help raise awareness on the level of damage that we as humans are actually causing on their habitats. Sharks are apex predators that provide a very important role in the oceans’ vast ecosystem, whilst bringing balance to the underwater food chain; and in a broader sense the whole world; but that last bit may just be opinion rather than scientific fact.