Sharks deserve respect and understanding

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 1995, 12:00am

THE two recent shark attacks, noted for their brevity and obeyance of trend, have caused numerous knee-jerk theories to abound and many so-called specialists to hold court.

Ultimately of course, the public will have to stand back and watch the uncensored reaction from the Government which undoubtedly will take the course of least resistance and smallest budget.

Ethically, the Recreation Department should kickstart the legal machine, allowing the police free range to arrest those who swim when the shark flag flies.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Department should immediately license all fishing activities in an effort to reverse acute overfishing of local fish stocks and therefore redress the balance of sustainability. For the cycle of attacks is closely linked to this shortage of fish.

Whereas the Chinese white dolphin simply succumbs to the effects of malnutrition and the very rare green turtle is encouraged to take to distant waters, the shortage of marine prey has literally forced migrating shark groups to seek alternative food sources.

However, the fact that both the unfortunate victims had severe limb injuries and no bite wounds on the upper body, clearly shows that the Vic Hislop theory of the dedicated maneater is false. If it were true, the whole body would have been consumed. Equally, the attacks illustrate that these particular sharks have not developed a taste for human flesh, since sharks following a depleted migrating food source, would be expected to show signs of feeding frenzy once a particular prey had been targeted.

Whether these animals are from the whaler species, (bull sharks and bronze whalers), or from the larger whaler sub species, (tiger sharks), is yet to be fully determined, but one thing is now known, they are creatures of habit and they deserve both our respect and understanding during the predictably short time they use our annexe of their environment.

STU PRYKE Happy Valley