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Shark human interaction / Shark attack false assumptions.

Shark ­ human interaction: a research field too long neglected

Large sharks, independent of species, show similar and clearly developed patterns of approaching humans. Their approaches reveal their intentions. Approaching patterns of sharks are much more complex than previously thought. These patterns change with sex, stage of maturity and size, number of animals present, as well as environmental cues. They are directly influenced by factors such as the position of humans, their swim directions and speeds, and trigger different reactions in the sharks. Understanding thedifferent approaches and follow-up scenarios are critical, as researchers, swimmers, and divers can use results, to successfully interact with sharks. A general overview about the basic interaction scenarios between humans and different shark species will be given.

What is wrong with the shark attack picture?

The "Shark Attack File" was created to document shark attacks on a global basis in order to determine causes and design an effective repellent. It was conceived from fear of sharks, leading to a predominant view that sharks were directly and purposefully targeting humans. This type of thinking has led to false assumptions of shark behavior and strategies. Hence, shark attacks of recent and historic dates have been incorrectly analyzed thus promoting a false image and erroneous nature. Although the yearly number of shark attacks is small, the few that do occur are enough to perpetuate thenegative image and damage conservation efforts. Accidents have to be analyzed from a different point of view to reveal the true causes for incidents with sharks. In order to advance the field of shark behavior, it is essential to get rid of false assumptions and unproven hypotheses and embark on applied research that directly deals with shark encounters. A critical overview of the most questionable hypotheses will be given and some new ways of analyzing shark attacks discussed.

Text by Dr. Erich Ritter

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