Sharks, despite their nasty image, seldom attack people. New study backs up the “mistaken identity theory,” which states that they attack people because they mistake them for seals, It has a lose situation for everyone. Jaws certainly did shark dirty, providing the soundtrack to nervous swimmers all across the world attempting to enjoy the free ocean with their legs kicking for everyone to see. The negative public relations campaign, along with provocative and badly worded headlines, has made many of us fearful of shark attacks when, in truth, you are almost as likely to die at a gender reveal party as you are in the jaws of these apex predators.
Sharks anticipate coming across other aquatic species that are staples on their menu when they are on the prowl. It is understandable that when they see an oblong form with apparent flippers on either side, they would mistake a surfer for a delectable pinniped — but are they truly the bloodthirsty human hunters that the media portrays them to be.
A recent study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface took a shark’s-eye perspective of the undersea world to see if shark attacks are just a case of mistaken identification. Scientists from a consortium of colleges across the world collaborated to develop a virtual white shark vision system that allows them to perceive the world through the eyes of a shark. They used film from the Taronga Zoo to test the system, which included views of seals and humans swimming, as well as individuals paddling on surfboards.
In a statement, lead scientist Dr. Laura Ryan stated, “Until now, the possible resemblance between people and seals has been appraised primarily on human eyesight.” “White sharks, on the other hand, have far poorer visual acuity than humans, which means they can’t perceive small details and don’t have color vision. We were able to see the world through the eyes of a white shark in our trials.”
Their findings indicated that sharks are unlikely to be able to identify the difference between a human and a seal, albeit this does not imply that this is the case in every assault. Furthermore, the mistaken identification theory appears to be especially applicable to young sharks, which are estimated to implicate a significant number of human attacks. This is likely because their jaws are hardening at this age, allowing them to take on bigger prey such as seals. Due to their lack of seal hunting expertise, they may make a mistake and bite the incorrect item in their first efforts.
The findings are of tremendous concern to both scientists and the general public because, while shark bites are rare, the authors report that they are becoming more common as the human population grows and more of us spend time in sharks’ hunting regions. The answer to this problem necessitates complex techniques that will not hurt the shark population — because not only sharks are gorgeous creatures, but also because many of them are keystone species in the marine ecosystem, without which the ecology may become unstable.
“Better knowledge will hopefully lead to new solutions that not only reduce shark attacks but also don’t put other marine creatures in jeopardy,” Ryan added. “In fact, the results of this research have influenced the development of non-invasive vision-based shark mitigation devices, which are now being evaluated.” The oldest known example of a person chomped by a shark considered 3,000 years old bones discovered in Japan earlier this year. He had no clue he looked like a seal I am sure.
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