The Good and Evil in Sharks.
Written by Morgan Stavrinou.
A terrible event occurred on Wednesday the 16th of February 2022. British man 35-year-old Simon Nellist was training for a charity swim (that raised money for children with disabilities) in Little Bay, a beach in Sydney, Australia. He was 150 metres from the beach where he was tragically attacked by a 15ft great white shark. Mail online shared that the “swimmer’s injuries were so catastrophic there was nothing paramedics could have done to save him, even if they got to him sooner.” Family members and friends were shocked and deeply heartbroken by this news, with many family members stating that “Simon was a gentle, kind and wonderful human being,” as well as “a very kind and considerate man who just loved life.”
Little Bay and 11 other local beaches were closed for 12 hours in search of the shark to capture it since the great white disappeared soon after the attack. To hunt for the Chondrichthyes, drum lines have been used to bait sharks as well as helicopters, drones and jet skis.
The shark has not been caught yet which a lot of people are grateful for, including me. I understand why people would want to kill it as it keeps the water safer, but I don’t agree with causing any harm towards any type of animal. They follow their instincts and don’t understand right or wrong. Dr Laura Ryan of Macquarie University stated that sharks are “not these mindless killers, but we just happen to look like their food.” All types of sharks have poor eyesight and can’t see much detail, so when people are surfing above the water, the shadow looks like their prey (for example sea lions) meaning they don’t mean to hunt humans.
The media shapes the way the public views sharks, whether, in films or articles, it’s never a positive light for the fish. The famous film Jaws (which is an adaptation from a book) that we are most likely all watched when we were kids (I know I did) terrified us into adulthood teaching us to fear these ‘violent sea creatures.’ I found something interesting that was said by the author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, a few years later after writing the book saying that “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.” And said that “Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today,” I think having the author say this, shows off that the viewers shouldn’t be afraid of shark films as it’s not real and that it’s exaggerated. “Since the release of Jaws – populations of sharks – have decreased by 71%.” This statement from ‘Mongabay’ helps prove my point that the media helps create fear amongst these innocent animals.
Another way the media changes our perception of these fish is that all the articles and newspapers that go into detail explore shark attacks and ignore the conservation of the sharks. By not giving information about how sharks help our ecosystem, 100 million sharks are killed per year, which is “equivalent to a shark being killed once every 3.17 seconds.” Said ‘Casino’ All of these articles that talk about attacks rather than conservation, share fear amongst their readers. It also creates more of a negative stigma towards the shark’s image. In the media, sharks are portrayed as just human killers and they don’t get the positive recognition they deserve.
On The Other Hand.
On the other hand, Reader’s Digest wrote that “The real-life likelihood that you’ll have a close encounter with a shark is about 1 in 11.5 million.” However, I do understand why people are afraid of these beings, as they have sharp teeth, swim fast and have murdered people in the past, people like Simon Nellist. I empathize with people’s fears and see where they are coming from however, I personally do not agree that sharks should be killed for a mistake.
It’s also important to know swimmers should be aware of the many risks of being in the ocean, you’re in the shark’s environment, which is their home.
How Sharks Help.
Sharks are very helpful towards our ecosystem, they “help to keep the prey population in good condition, healthy and strong.” ‘Support our sharks’ is a good website that shares many facts about the conservation of sharks and gave me a lot of useful information and knowledge on the topic. This site also shared the information that these large fish are getting closer and closer to extinction “in recent years,” the estimated time they think this tragedy could happen is in 2040. Another quote I found from ‘Metro’ explained that if they are removed from the food chain, the whole structure could collapse. “Without sharks regulating the ecosystem underwater, vital habitats would undergo serious damage.”
It’s very important that sharks are alive as they help keep coral reefs alive and grass seabed, they eat the turtles who munch on the seabed meaning that the grass isn’t overeaten, and it helps save and control the turtle’s habitats. “Unfortunately, too few people understand the importance of sharks.” I think it would be a good idea if people research this topic which can gain a bigger appreciation for sharks and help them not go extinct. I would never want any harm to come to any animal, especially to sharks as they help our oceans flourish. Simon Nellist also would agree with this and wouldn’t like anything to happen to the shark that killed him, this is evident by the way his family shared that “he wouldn’t want the shark to now be destroyed.” as “He loved nature.” This reminds me of a similar shark attack with a 13-year-old girl from Hawaii named Bethany Hamilton.
Bethany Hamilton is a surfer and lost her arm to a 14-foot-long tiger shark on October 31st, 2003, when she was surfing in Kauai. Graham Hill from ‘CNN’ reported that she lost “nearly two-thirds of her blood,” and that “her life and future in surfing were anything but guaranteed. But Miraculously, just 26 days after the attack, she was back on her board. Two years after that, she was a national champion.” Local fishermen located and killed the shark and a statement from residents came back saying “This is a magnificent creature … and I don’t think it’s necessary to kill all of the sharks in the islands by any means.”
While Bethany herself said, “We don’t want to see anyone get hurt but we also can’t just kill sharks.” Both people close to Bethany and Simon, they agree that sharks should not be harmed which says a lot due to the traumatic event that happened to them.
An interesting point is that, from the site ‘Our World in Data,’ “More than 400,000 people die from homicide each year” earning them 16. 5 years in prison, while the average of shark attacks is “71 attacks globally each year.” And that tends to be a mistake that gets them killed. I just don’t think it’s fair that a mistake can lead to the downfall of a species due to us hunting them. I just think all animals and fish should not be harmed for any reason as it’s not nice and animals help our planet grow.
Why Sharks Are Hunted.
I also want to explore the fact that sharks are hunted a lot. I have briefly mentioned that 100 million sharks are killed each year but didn’t go into much detail. The main reason why they are hunted would be because of how much their meat goes for in the market also including their cartilage, liver, skin as well as their fins for soup in Hong Kong. Billions of pounds is earned yearly by poaching these animals. “Almost 33% of the shark fins for sale in Hong Kong were from species listed as Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.” Says ‘Aljazeera’ I find that very crazy, that’s a lot of sharks dying for their meat and fins just so certain humans can eat it or sell the meat. As a vegetarian, this greatly upsets me, and I don’t support or like the fact that this is the cause of why so many sharks are dying to extinction.
Before writing this, I knew nothing about sharks however, felt drawn into writing this as I’m a big animal lover. I have learnt so much from all the research I’ve done which consisted of reading through different articles and news stories. I have a new understanding of sharks and appreciate what they do for our oceans, and I emphasize the fact they don’t kill people on purpose, it’s usually because we look like their prey. I want to use my writing skills to share why I believe sharks are good creatures and why saving them is important. Learning more about Chondrichthyes, not eating as much seafood and share your love of sharks with friends and family, could potentially do some good.
This piece of writing takes about 5 minutes to read, in the time of reading that 95 sharks have been killed for their meat. We really need to act fast, people need to stop harming sharks and our ocean’s.