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Great White Shark

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What words/thoughts immediately come to mind when you read/hear "Great White Shark"?

We're [Friends for Sharks, http://forum.wurmonline.com/index.php?/topic/111454-are-you-a-friend-for-sharks/ ] looking for a bit of help with perceptions of Great Whites. We're not looking for 'good' or 'bad' words in partciular. For instance while I will fight tooth and nail to speak up on behalf of these creatures, I know that when I hear the word, while 'interesting' and 'interested' are up there, I can also hear the warning of 'dangerous' in the back of my mind.

We're especially interested in the responses from anyone here who may have a fear of sharks or just doesn't like them. I know how passionate (or just trolly...) some people are in this group when it comes to controversial subjects, and sharks are often a love or hate things, so please, don't comment on anyone elses choice of words.

 

Cheers

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I immediately think of the shark culls off Bondi for the safety of beachgoers.


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I don't have a fear of great white sharks, but of course I wouldn't swim near them because they might be hungry!


 


As for their conservation, I'm all for it.


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Have not had a swim in the open ocean or bays for a lot of years for reasons related to sharks.


 


I watched as a teen jaws and ever since then i seem to see realistic reruns of the movies attacks were I am the victim, in my head ofc.


 


This would happen whenever I would go to the beach to swim/body surf or spear fishing, some times even if i was solo in some swimming pool, totally irrational.


 


One time i remember after a solo spear fishing trip around rocks and some bridge foundations on the south coast of NSW, I catched the local news later that day (father watch's the stuff like kids eat candy) and see that a hammerhead shark had been seen right were i was snorkelling no less than 1hr after i had packed up and gone home early with 2 flat-head.


 


 


Needless to say i don't hate sharks, they taste great with chips ;)  and personally, like bears and lions etc.. i simply wont be putting myself with in reach of them ever again, hopefully.


 


As a side note, i feel safe in boats and the weird feelings i attribute to jaws only happen if i am actually in the water deeper than waist, yea i know most sharks can still swim in that depth but its not the most rational thing i have had to deal with in my life tbh.


Edited by lawurm

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I have been diving for 25 plus years , dived with hammer heads in the Maldives , Tiger sharks in Tonga , and caged dived with great whites in south Africa , beautiful fascinating creatures

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We're especially interested in the responses from anyone here who may have a fear of sharks or just doesn't like them.

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Respect is the term I would use for Great Whites.  Sharks are amazing creatures, with the exact tools to do one job: KILL.  I enjoy watching video footage of their hunts, and can really enjoy an hour long documentary on them.


 


That said, there is no way I would swim or dive around them.  In a survival of the fittest situation, the Great White is king in his domain.


 


/lives in the mountains at  high altitude.


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I don't like them, and part of that has to do with fear.

This video is a good example:

>http://vimeo.com/101165012

As a shark expert, you can tell me up and down about how this is an intelligent creature, but as far as I am concerned (and from evidence such as that video), predatory sharks are primitive, bloodthirsty monsters. If it's dumb enough to stalk and clamp away, over and over, at a metal tube (that hasn't produced blood or food for it yet), then it's not even smart enough to recognize what it's doing... it's just going through the motions of natural instinct.

Sure, there are plenty of predatory animals that walk the planet that I should fear, and I do... A lion encounter will do you in. But on the flip side of the coin, lions aren't gnawing on things just for the sake of it... they're either killing for food, for territory, revenge, etc. There is a functioning, thought processing brain inside the skulls of most predators, not sharks though.

Was the shark playing? Possibly. If that's how the monster "plays", it's dumb and dangerous enough for me to consider it a serious threat. Honestly, if these creatures walked the surface with us, I would be actively hunting these things with the intent to exterminate. The only reason why I am okay with their existence is because they're aliens and stay in their alien world, where they belong (and I don't).

(I know, I know... ecosystem and all that jazz. Mosquitoes are important to the ecosystem too, but you don't see me shedding a tear every time one drops.)

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An interesting take on it, though I would ask why you believe the shark is being a bloodthirsty monster in that video, rather than perhaps defending it's territory, or examining the alien craft that is following it around (as a lion might). 

Here's the thing about it for me... and "bloodthirsty" was the wrong word to use (was added to emphasize my feelings of their predatory kills):

Send a camera on an R.C. craft into lion territory and the lions will definitely study it. They may even attack it. Once the lions realize that attacking it doesn't stop it, nor is it food, they will do one of two things: ignore it or run from it.

Great whites will apparently continuously attack a "threat", even though the threat's not stopping and doing what it wants.

It's the primitive aspect that gets me. They seem to rely almost purely on natural instinct and very little thought comprehension. More so than any other predator alive in the animal kingdom.

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Having grown up in Australia I'm vaguely terrified of great whites, bull sharks and tigersharks. Oh and oceanic white tips. I wouldn't dive with any of those... probably most other species no problem though.

I've got mixed feelings about about humanity's interaction with sharks. Yeah it's a shame when we threaten a species or wipe out a local population, but quite frankly if lions lived in the fertile plains of Australia we'd have wiped them out a century ago and never given it another thought.

I also don't buy a lot of the talk about sharks, especially those species. I am quite certain tiger sharks at least see humans as a rare food but definitely still a food, and I'm suspicious of the claims that bullsharks and great whites only attack us out of mistaken identity.

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There was a cougar this week in Kentucky, first time in 150 years.


 


So they called the state wildlife agency, which promptly shot it


 


(Sounds off topic but maybe it's not)


 


I felt sad about the cougar. I am admittedly not found of sharks, however. There is something more cold and "alien" about sharks. It seems to switch on some genetic "danger" alarm.  You don't really even have the option of tranquilizing them and moving them away from populated areas (or maybe they can do that, I don't know).


Edited by Brash_Endeavors

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Send a camera on an R.C. craft into lion territory and the lions will definitely study it. They may even attack it. Once the lions realize that attacking it doesn't stop it, nor is it food, they will do one of two things: ignore it or run from it.

Great whites will apparently continuously attack a "threat", even though the threat's not stopping and doing what it wants.

It's the primitive aspect that gets me. They seem to rely almost purely on natural instinct and very little thought comprehension. More so than any other predator alive in the animal kingdom.

White sharks have very individual personalities (which to me is a sign of considerable intelligence) but without going in to long discussions on the interactions I've seen over the course of 7 months, I woudn't expect anyone to just accept that as truth - and while I'd be happy to share some of those stories if people are interested, I'm not going to type them in this post.

 

However, I've got a clip you might like to see from a chap I worked with for a day (on a different project to this clip) earlier this year. He tows a camera behind his boat and you see a shark very defintely investigating it and checking it out before it comes in for a nibble (and it really is just a nibble) to see what it is. The video of the RC in Guadalupe does show the sharks as a little more tenacious, but the sharks in Guadalupe do their hunting underwater, so they're more likely to grab something and try and hold on there I guess, while the sharks around Seal Island in False Bay, SA, take their prey on the surface, which could explain the gentler attitude towards an unidentified object further down.

 

You also mention the sharks continuously attacking. I'd be interested to know, are you basing that on the individual sharks keeping hold of the RC for a short while and gnawing a bit, or on the multiple approaches seen in the video? Or perhaps on other videography you have seen? I identified at least 3 different sharks doing passes or having a chew, so it's not always the same one. I was also surprised (and slightly shocked) to see them pilot the RC directly in to the sharks tail! I'm not surprised if that made one or two turn around and bite it ;)

 

I apologise in advance for what I find an incredibly irritating narration voice on this vid...

 

http://www.beautyofplanet.com/how-it-feels-to-be-chased-by-a-great-white-shark/

 

I'm suspicious of the claims that bullsharks and great whites only attack us out of mistaken identity.
May I ask how you would interpret the (vast majority of) cases where a person is bitten, and lives? White shark teeth are incredibly sharp and if they went for a kill or to eat, or even just scare us away each time, people wouldn't be escaping with a bad wound and scarring, they would have chunks taken out of them and would not survive.

 

 

That sucks about the Cougar Brash but an extremely interesting example and a brilliant piece for us to compare with sharks at our talks. Thank you!

 

There is something more cold and "alien" about sharks. It seems to switch on some genetic "danger" alarm.  You don't really even have the option of tranquilizing them and moving them away from populated areas (or maybe they can do that, I don't know).
Some nice words in there, thanks :) As for the relocation, that's not really possible with White Sharks (again, I know less about Bulls and Tigers). White Sharks can migrate huge distances (another reason I credit them with intelligence). One was tagged in Gansbaai, South Africa a number of years ago, 99 days later it pinged off Australia, then over the course of the next 9 months it swam back to Gansbaai.

 

 

This article is a very interesting read on Myths and assumptions about Great Whites: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2014/nov/26/-sp-great-white-sharks-10-myths-debunked

Klaa... I guess thanks for your input ;)

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You also mention the sharks continuously attacking. I'd be interested to know, are you basing that on the individual sharks keeping hold of the RC for a short while and gnawing a bit, or on the multiple approaches seen in the video? Or perhaps on other videography you have seen? 

Since I have literally no experience with great whites outside of films, I would say it's probably the videography/editing that makes me believe that. I admit that all of the videos I've watched could have featured multiple sharks, but the editing leads you to believe it may be just one... couple that with the fact that the normal human being doesn't have an eye for distinguishing the difference between 2 animals of the same species and assumption kicks in (in comparison, show me 2 different zebras in a film and I will believe it is the same zebra, unless one has clearly obvious markings/scars/deformities or you show me the 2 zebras together in one frame).

And, as you've mentioned, part of it is that one specific shark will hold and continue to bite. One of the sharks in the video I had linked clamped and reclamped onto that sub for roughly 10 seconds, which is a hell of a lot longer than any surface predator would have chewed on a piece of metal (that didn't have food inside of it).

On a side note, I also found the sub's approach on the shark's tail to be very invasive. Honestly, while I may not be fond of these creatures, that was stupidly provoking and the scientists really shouldn't be subjecting stress to the animal just to study it. Definitely feel that because of that, the sharks had plenty of reason to show the behavior they did in the specific video I linked.

I did watch your video, and didn't find the narrator's voice annoying. What did it for you, the tone of his voice or the accent? (While the shark in your video seemed much more inquisitive than it did threatened/territorial, the problem still lies in the fact that the shark uses its powerful teeth and jaw to "study" something. I've been told that certain species of sharks - perhaps Great Whites as well, i'm not sure - will also use bumping tactics to study something they don't understand, which, to me, seems a little more sophisticated and "smart" than just mashing their teeth all over the object.)

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I did watch your video, and didn't find the narrator's voice annoying. What did it for you, the tone of his voice or the accent?

I think for me it was partly the accent, but coupled with the emphasising which to me was not so neccesary. The words themselves were fine though I guess emphasising draws attention which is what most media is about.

 

 

Biting (or at least 'testing' with the mouth) is just another sense that sharks have to find out what something is. We have very sensitive fingers which give us a lot of control over how we touch things to find out more about them, but sharks don't have such a luxury. Their most sensitive touching utensil is their mouth and they can control the pressure incredibly well - another reason sharks are sometimes said to attack and yet people literally walk away from it. I was surprised with how long the shark held on to the RC sub and gnawed on it, but I would be very interested to know where that piece of footage came - out of nowhere? After some posturing and threat displays? After it buzzed up the backside of the shark? Something we'll likely never know!

 

Video/film editing is a useful tool, but it is so often used to provoke strong reactions where really one isn't justified. I could do the opposite and put together all the footage I have taken where the sharks are peacefully pottering about, but then that's not the absolute truth either. Here's a clip I filmed a few months ago:

>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ8z-Mf3phk

Pinkie [i know, I spelt it wrong in the video :P ] is a young, playful shark (probably about 5 or so years from maturity), and not one I would rush to swim with. Not because I think he'd attack me immediately, but because an inquisitive and playful white shark can do a lot of damage even accidentally. Then again, I think he'd be a lot more cautious around a 6'3" diver than he is around a tuna head bait ;) I'd be more likely to get in and swim with a 5m GW than a 3m one. The larger ones tend to be more relaxed.

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I also think people take the 'arrogance' of the White Sharks as scary. Humans are used to most land animals knowing we are the top tier predators(Well, since the adoption of firearms we have been.) When we are faced with a top tier predator doing its normal behavior it frightens us in a very deep evolutionary way IMO.


 


A top tier predator in its own habitat is kinda like Fat Bastard in Austin Powers. It is gonna test you out to see if you should be in its belly.


 


You would see similar brazen behavior from wolves, polar bears, lions, tigers etc. IF they have not had experience with humans much at all.

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Lets put it this way....


 


Your sitting in your living room watching "The walking dead" and having something to eat.....your all warm and relaxed and in the zone for a great night / day in.


 


Then a bunch of fat guys swim through the room right in front of the TV and just start floating about being a right pain.....how would you feel ?


 


The Sea is THERE front room......if i was them (and because they don't have hands) i would bite the guys floating around to get them to move on so i could get back to living my life LMAO.


Really...if your going to stick your nose in where others live you should not be upset when they kick your ass.


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May I ask how you would interpret the (vast majority of) cases where a person is bitten, and lives? White shark teeth are incredibly sharp and if they went for a kill or to eat, or even just scare us away each time, people wouldn't be escaping with a bad wound and scarring, they would have chunks taken out of them and would not survive.

 

Edit: broken post

 

I think those numbers are skewed. Add in the people who go missing in those waters and no trace is found and you might be looking at the real number.

As to how I explain the survivals, well most of them have another human present who pulls them out. As you know great whites generally inflict mortal wounds on seals, wait for them to bleed to death and then eat at leisure - a minimal risk hunting strategy. My explanation is that they are doing the same thing with humans but the humans have other means of escape not available to seals, not to mention healing. In a lot of cases the human victim survives not because their wounds are light but because they are hauled out of the water by friends and given modern emergency medical care.

If you want to look at the stats and guess from them what the shark's real intent is, what percentage would survive without modern medicine? I would guess a tiny minority, and of the great white attacks in Australia in recent years, I think most of the ones where the victim survived have been from smaller sharks and of the rest the common theme is getting pulled out of the water fast and given emergency care.

Not to suggest that great whites are somehow evil monsters. They're just massive predators doing what massive predators do. When lions or tigers kill a human we don't call it mistaken identity, we call it what it is. A wild animal killing a human.

Edited by Shiraek

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An amusing analogy Pleb. Not one I will be bringing up in the talks ;) However that's a very interesting point you have about the percieved arrogance and how behaviour of land animals might be like that if not for learning what treatment that gets you.


 


 




As you know great whites generally inflict mortal wounds on seals, wait for them to bleed to death and then eat at leisure - a minimal risk hunting strategy.




As I know? I have watched it many times with my own eyes, and that is not what they do in South Africa. The White Sharks I have watched hunting seals do so by flying out of the water in pursuit of their prey, chase them until they get it, or get tired, and assuming they catch the seal, they tear it up as fast as possible and comsume it within seconds. But that's partly beside the point as I concede that White Sharks have different hunting strategies in different areas of the world depending on their prey. My point above was that there is absolutely no way the ratio of survivors to fatalities would be as high as it is if the sharks were biting with intent to kill. Humans are flimsy creatures and a bite that would mortally wound a seal over time would slice straight through a human with or without the emergency care we have these days - I agree that survivor rates are as high as they are thanks to modern medicine and the quick assistance of others, but my belief is there'd be nothing to save in the majorty of incidents if the sharks were after a human meal. I also believe they'd likely follow up with attacks on those trying to help as Great Whites are opportunistic. I've witnessed 1 shark make 2 seal kills in 11 mins with another half an hour later.


 


I think those numbers are skewed. Add in the people who go missing in those waters and no trace is found and you might be looking at the real number.
While I also don't doubt that some sharks will scavenge dead humans, I can't accept that everyone who's gone missing in shark areas has done so due to a shark. From my experiences with sharks and their behaviour, most people would drown or die from exposure (or at least be on the way out already) before a shark would approach them with intent to eat, but as with your comment, there's no direct evidence to back that up, so the truth could be yours, mine, or somewhere in the middle ;)

 


Not to suggest that great whites are somehow evil monsters. They're just massive predators doing what massive predators do. When lions or tigers kill a human we don't call it mistaken identity, we call it what it is. A wild animal killing a human.
I'm glad you see them that way, it's amazing how many people aren't even willing to give them that much credit.
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Didn't know they did that there... maybe the seals are smaller... I've seen much footage of them hunting big seals and they wound and retreat, come back and eat the corpse. Well, ya learn something new every day :) Maybe they do the fatal wound thing with anything they're not 100% confident with. That would make sense too.

I think regardless of the intent, of which we can only guess really, the fact is great whites attack and kill humans, and they do it regularly enough that most people consider it their normal behaviour. We had another fatality in western Australia yesterday in fact, again suspected great white, estimated "up to" 5 meters from sightings (so adult but by no means a standout huge one).

 

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decadewhitefatal2014.png

 

(from https://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/White/Decade.htm)

As you can see, the % of fatal attacks starts high and drops off as modern medicine kicks in. In fact the rate of decline in fatality coincides almost exactly with the availability of blood transfusions in fact (probably not 100% of the explanation but no chance its a coincidence either). Rate of attacks isn't really going up of course it's just higher human population, more interaction with the water, and more attacks being reported and recorded.

If I had to judge intent from this, and I think it's drawing a long bow to judge intent either way, I'd have to guess the intent is to inflict a fatal wound.

Other sea creatures which _don't_ regularly attack humans, for example the Orca (up to 5 tons, eminently better equipped to kill humans than even the biggest great white), you have a handful of incidents which DO look like accidents, and no confirmed fatalities (one suspected). Killer whales often eat the same prey has Great Whites, and yet they don't seem to "mistake" humans for seals, or fatally bite humans out of curiousity... or bite humans at all in fact. I would be nervous as hell diving with one, but I'd take that over diving with a great white any day of the week :)

Whereas for example saltwater crocodiles regularly attack, kill and eat humans (in oz we get maybe 20 attacks a year and a fatality or two), and often attack humans or boats out of territoriality - but you don't see anyone claim that these are either mistaken identity or curiousity. So I don't really understand why the great white shark is supposed to get so much benefit of the doubt.

I think all of these creatures are beautiful, amazing animals that should be protected and largely left alone in their habitats. That should go without saying and it is a pity that it doesn't now. But I just have trouble believing the mistaken identity or curiousity hypotheses for attacks, as this would be more or less unique in the animal kingdom.

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Interesting graph, thanks for sharing that, though I'm not sure what happened to the 1940's... Perhaps everyone was a little too preoccupied with other events to keep data [i've now just read the caption that goes along with the graph and rather than showing 0 they just removed that decade - not sure why...].

 

While I agree there's an obvious trend in increasing incidents, I also agree with you that this is most likely due to the increasing human population with an increasing penchant for watersports. More efficient recording and probably more stupidity/acts of bravado (particularly among the youngish male section of the population) rather than it being due to sharks wanting to chomp more humans [Man, I should have opened the link to the graph and read the caption before writing this post... it even says "This graph illustrates an overall increase in the numbers of reported white shark attacks over the last century. This apparent trend is a reflection of increased numbers of people utilizing the ocean, as well as enhanced media coverage over the last century. These data do NOT support an increase in the per capita attack rate by Carcharodon carcharias."]. Afterall, we've merrily decimated 90% of shark populations worldwide. If they wanted to chomp humans all the time the numbers of incidents would be dropping rather than increasing. We also have to consider other human pressures like over-fishing. White sharks by no means subsist entirely on seals and such-like. Younger sharks especially catch tuna and other fish, and as we reduce their feeding opportunities of course they're going to get hungry and if all you can find is weird things flapping around in the surf, then sure, you might have a go.

 

The Orca comparison is also interesting, but without going in to all sorts of detail, I would put that down to mammal intelligence vs fish (and obviously crocs are reptiles). I'm of course maintaining that white sharks are intelligent creatures, but I'm not suggesting they're as bright as humans, dolphins, orcas and some other apes but equally I wouldn't rate white sharks down at goldfish level too ;) Incidentally, there are a couple of Orca pods that come by False Bay, South Africa occasionally, and they specialise in hunting Dolphins. There's an island with a colony of 65,000 Cape Fur Seals in the middle of the bay, and as I'm sure most are aware, Orca's in some places do catch and eat seals - even beaching themselves to catch them. However, the Orcas in False Bay concentrate only on Dolphins. Seals have been seen swimming alongside the head of Orca's so close to the mouth that all they have to do to catch one would be open it's mouth - the in-rushing water would suck them straight in!

As for wounding to kill, I know that the White Sharks in the Galapagos hunt elephant seals underwater, and those things are BIG. I shall ask a mate of mine who runs trips out there exactly how the hunting happens. It might well be they take the style of attack you mention rather than what I'm used to seeing which is mostly preying on youngish cape fur seals which are considerably smaller.

 

Here's a photo I took of a chase earlier this year: Edit: The link appears to break aftera short while, sorry about that. I'll post it up again in due course.

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Oh, and yes, I too have been a little concerned at the relatively high number of incidents reported very recently (as in the last few weeks), but it's worth bearing in mind that in just about every fatal incident (certainly that I've heard of lately) the desceased was spear-fishing. I'm not suggesting the swimmer has always got a catch already, but dying flapping fish gently pumping out blood in to the sea and giving off distress signals are like a big klaxon screaming "Free food!" to us. Even if the fish has been chucked out in to a boat and the diver returned to the water, the shark will still have heard/smelt it and come investigating.


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The difference between shark and killer whale attacks on humans may simply be the different methods used to identify probable prey. It could be echolocation used by the whales is much better at discerning humans from common prey animals. IIRC the whales are also social/pack hunting animals as opposed to the solitary hunting style of the sharks. It may have nothing to do with intelligence of the individual/specie and everything to do with hunting style and prey detection/identification method.


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Here's the pic I took that I mentioned 3 posts above:


 


Breach01watermarked_zps1c9d494e.jpg


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