The Deadliest Animal?

Shark Girl
Shark Girl

Watch the video below to compare how human deaths by shark compare to death by other animals, including humans.

Actually, the video doesn’t tell the whole story. The viewer is left with the impression that sharks are not as dangerous as, say, lions because sharks kill ten people a year vs lions, which kill 100.

First of all, sharks account for roughly 100 attacks a year, and attacks, in some cases, can be a fate worse than death, leaving the victim disfigured or injured badly enough to negatively effect their quality of life dramatically. Secondly, you have to be near the animal for it to attack you. Most people do not live in the ocean. People generally wade close to shore in areas that sharks rarely frequent. There are, however, people that live, work, and sleep in lion territory.

Less human deaths by shark than lions does not mean sharks are potentially less deadly than lions. Being thrown in a great white shark tank is no less dangerous than being thrown in a lion cage.

Do fictional shark movies and videos promote unnecessary fear or do they serve to remind the public of possible dangers?

What is galeophobia?

Fear of sharks: Excessive and persistent fear of sharks is termed galeophobia. Sufferers from this phobia experience anxiety even though they may be safe on a boat or in an aquarium or on a beach. Hollywood films depicting sharks as calculating, vengeful diabolical monsters have no doubt enkindled the fear of sharks in many persons. So have validated reports of sharks venturing into rivers and lakes.

Jaws effect on sharks

The movie Jaws had broad cultural repercussions. Similar to the way the pivotal scene in 1960’s Psycho made showers a new source of anxiety, Jaws led many viewers to fear going into the ocean. Reduced beach attendance in 1975 was attributed to it, as well as an increased number of reported shark sightings. It is still seen as responsible for perpetuating negative stereotypes about sharks and their behavior, and for producing the so-called “Jaws effect”, which allegedly inspired “legions of fishermen who piled into boats and killed thousands of the ocean predators in shark-fishing tournaments.” Benchley stated that he would not have written the original novel had he known what sharks are really like in the wild. Conservation groups have bemoaned the fact that the film has made it considerably harder to convince the public that sharks should be protected.

Endangered Sharks

Shark species are increasingly becoming threatened because of commercial and recreational fishing pressures, the impact of non-shark fisheries on the seabed and shark prey species, and other habitat alterations such as damage and loss from coastal development and marine pollution. Rising demands for shark products has increased pressure on shark fisheries, but little monitoring or management occurs of most fisheries. Major declines in shark stocks have been recorded over the past few decades; some species have declined over 90% and population declines of 70% are not unusual. In particular, harvesting young sharks before they reproduce severely impacts future populations. Sharks generally reach sexual maturity only after many years and produce few offspring in comparison to other fish species.

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