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Are there shark attacks after all?

Are there shark attacks after all?

I dived a few times with sharks in Brazilian and international waters. Not as much as I would like and not with all the species I want to see so much. In Fernando de Noronha I went after a lemon shark of more than two meters and pregnant, being called crazy by the dive guide. In another time I have already been surrounded by 7Caribbean reef sharks. I have never had any problems, incidents or accidents with these magnificent animals. What about attacks then. I still really want to dive with great white, hammerheads and bull sharks. And without cages.
I lived in Recife as a child (yes, it’s been over 40 years already …) and exactly in the building behind Castelinho, where we occasionally hear sensationalist news about sharks, clearly to create fake fear and terror. As a child, in Recife, I swam and passed the surf area without a problem, fear or stress. But Recife is a special case. There, a entity was officially created by the state in 2004 to study what happened there, the CEMIT: State Committee for Monitoring Sharks Incidents. INCIDENTS …

Attackers are terrorist, ex-boyfriend, Big bosses…

I recently read an article with which I agree and had always thought of writing on the topic: There is no shark attack, there is a shark incident. I then asked for help from Flávia Petean – Biologist and Master in Zoology – to translate and comment on the article and here we go!

Follow our text then, translated, adapted and commented on 4 hands!

Originally published in Blog Imensidão – Jornal O Globo On Line

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

The website published a text commenting on the article “Science, policy, and the public discourse of shark“ attack ”: a proposal for reclassifying human – shark interactions”. Download the article here.

Adding information to what has been exposed, shark attacks on humans are not a recent phenomenon. The earliest records date back to Ancient Greece, around 500 BC More recently, despite the impact of fishing on shark populations, the world is tending to the more intense recreational use of marine waters, which has increased the chances of interactions between humans and sharks and resulted in an increase in the total number of attacks. After World War II there was a gradual expansion of attacks, in addition to their military relevance as they were related to air and maritime disasters during the war, causing the US Office of Naval Research to establish an Archive. International Shark Attack, in 1958. Currently, this file is deposited at the Florida Museum of Natural History, at the University of Florida, under the care of the American Elasmobranch Society (Hazin et al.,2008).

The term “shark attack” is commonly used by the media, government officials, researchers and the general public to describe virtually any type of human-shark interaction – even when there is no contact or injury between them (
Cristopher Neff, from the University of Sydney, Australia, and Dr. Robert Hueter, leader of the Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, in Sarasota, Florida – the only national research center designated by the United States Congress that focuses on sharks – proposed a new classification system to increase the accuracy of scientific reports on interactions with sharks, as well as more correct public discussions on shark risks to swimmers and divers (
Será que posar para foto também vai deixar de ser interação e virar Ataque? – Foto de
Será que posar para foto também vai deixar de ser
interação e virar Ataque? – Foto de

In the study, the authors analyzed statistics for sharks around the planet and realized that the expression “shark attack” was misleading in several cases. For example, a 2009 government report from New South Wales, Australia, documented 200 shark attacks – however, 38 of these did not involve injury to people. In Florida, often referred to as the “Shark Attack Capital of the World” due to the number of reported shark attacks, only 11 fatal bites have been recorded in the past 129 years – less than many other locations in the world and infinitely less than deaths caused by other natural events, such as drowning and lightning (

The increased danger to divers is related to the great distances from the coast they frequent, when compared to bathers. Of the 115 cases in which data were available in 1974, 43% of the victims were more than 1.6 km from the coast (Baldridge, 1974).
There are indications in the International Shark Attack Archive that the diving victims encouraged the shark attack by causing apparently docile animals. Of the 190 cases with sufficient information available, 43 divers (23%) were considered to have provoked the attack; an increase of 9% in relation to attacks in general (Baldridge, 1974).

Okay, here I am obliged to come in and comment … Don’t worry about moray eels, puffer fish, fish, spider crab and no other animals. First for the animals’ own rights to live their lives and not be there to serve as entertainment for another animal species, in this case the human. And even more to poke and provoke a shark… my friends, ask me what I’m going to say but: they asked, right? It pokes the animal it reacts (REAGE, it is not it acts and it attacks it is REAGE) and there you go … more statistics for the dark side.

Most attacks on human beings may not be motivated by hunger, but they can be defensive or aggressive offensive encounters. Even harmless species, such as the sand shark, are known to attack when there is a very close approach. The motivations that lead to the attack include interference with reproductive behavior, threat to the shark by humans or invasion of the animal’s territory (Bres, 1993).
Despite the intense recreational use of the beaches of Recife, PE, since 1950, except for some unconfirmed reports of shark attacks, there are no records of these accidents in the area until 1992. However, from June 1992 to September 2006, 47 were recorded attacks, including 17 deaths. All attacks took place along a 20km stretch of coastline (Hazin et al., 2008).
Dançarem satisfeitos entre os seus também será considerado Ataque? Foto de 3a Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank
Dançarem satisfeitos entre os seus também será considerado Ataque? Foto de 3a Fiona Ayerst/Marine Photobank

A possible cause for the outbreak of shark attacks may have been the construction of port facilities, the Port of Suape, located south of Recife and in the estuary of the Rio Jaboatão. Port areas are generally known to have an increased risk of shark attacks. Before construction, four rivers converged on Suape Bay. After the construction of the port was completed, two rivers had their connections to the sea interrupted by landfills, which resulted in periodic flooding of agricultural fields. To solve this problem, the government demolished part of the coral reef. This measure relieved flooding, but it had an effect on accessibility for sharks, as the opening was too small and narrow to allow them to go from the sea to these two rivers. Although the construction of the port only began in 1980, the first major influx of ships did not begin until 1989-1991. From 1998 to 2008, the number of vessels tripled. That
intensification of maritime traffic may have influenced the occurrence of shark attacks, since these animals are known to follow ships (Hazin et al., 2008).

Nothing in nature is by chance, there is an interdependence in everything. Or as Eistein would say “God does not play dice”…. Man here does, the man here pays…

As ships commonly carry countless people, there is a lot of waste and sewage production. Most of this organic matter is dumped into the sea, since the space available on the vessel for storing these wastes is small: there are some trash cans at the stern. When these residues are thrown into the sea, several animals take advantage of the situation to feed, as well as sharks. It is also possible that the negative environmental impact caused by the construction of the Port of Suape has resulted in the displacement of a population of bull sharks from nursery and feeding areas. Following the sea currents that go north, they may have moved to the nearest estuary, given that this is a species that inhabits fresh and salt water environments; however, this estuary is frequented by humans. The construction of the port caused significant changes in the planktonic community, leading to a quantitative drop in plankton abundance. A key factor that contributed to these changes was an increase in suspended matter, mainly due to the rainy season. The interrupted link between one of the rivers and the sea also resulted in a decline in the abundance of zooplankton by inhibiting immigration of marine fish and crustaceans to breed in the estuary (Hazin et al., 2008).
Porto de Suape – Foto de
Thus, because there are no phyto and zooplankton, the number of individuals that eat plankton has decreased and, consequently, sharks have lost their food, as they consume fish and crustaceans that were in that area. Thus, the region’s sharks are looking for food and, when they encounter a human being, they can prey on it, even if that is not their main food option. According to the Environmental Monitoring Plan for Water Resources, in 2000 the slaughterhouse in Jaboatão disposed of its untreated effluents in the river, at a volume of 345 m3 / d, including blood, viscera and water. The biochemical oxygen demand (a measure of the amount of dissolved oxygen required for the decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms) was 7400 mg.L, which was the largest of all industrial waste in the region (Hazin et al., 2008) . As a result, the population of fish and other invertebrates increases, as does that of sharks.

And we still have to take very seriously the illegal and harmful trawling of shrimp, which spends at dawn throwing bait, blood and animal remains in the water and spends the next day dragging for each kilo of shrimp, 9 kilos of other animals, which dead are thrown back to the waters of Boa Viagem. My friends, if this doesn’t attract even more sharks, I don’t know what would do it …

It is reasonable to assume that the discharge of blood and offal in the Jaboatão River, which flows to the beach where 47 attacks were recorded, constitutes a potential to attract sharks to the area, contributing to the worsening of the attack problem.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) manual on animal health in developing countries establishes a direct relationship between the attractiveness of this type of waste and predators in general, indicating that when discarded in the ocean, these wastes can increase the shark population in the area. Such a relationship between the disposal of a slaughterhouse and an outbreak of shark attacks has been reported on at least one other occasion: off the coast of Somalia (Hazin et al., 2008).

I may not have a higher education with the seal of a formal institution, but I can clearly see behind my tired eyes with more than 30 years of sea, sun and salt, that we can say yes, we can AFFIRM that this is one of a lot of macro factors for concentrated attacks. Not the only and exclusive one, but one of the biggest, for sure.

Finally, never provoke a shark, however small it may be. Do not poke with objects (or hands), do not use it as a transport, do not pull on your tail fin. Even a small shark can cause serious injury to a human. (Baldridge, 1974).

Bibliographic references:

Baldridge, H.D. 1974. Shark Attack: A Program of Data Reduction and Analysis. Contributions from the Mote Marine Laboratory Volume 1, Number 2. Alle Press, Inc. Sarasota, Estados Unidos.

Bres, M. 1993. The behaviour of sharks. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 3, 133-159

Hazin, F.H.V., Burgess, G.H. & Carvalho, F.C. 2008. A Shark attack outbreak off Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil: 1992–2006. Bulletin of Marine Science, 82(2): 199–212.

Neff, C. & Hueter, R. 2013. Science, policy, and the public discourse of shark “attack”: a proposal for reclassifying
human–shark interactions. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.