Thursday, July 30, 2009

MYTH BUSTED: Shark Style

Sharks have long been seen as predators of the sea and enemy to any animal or person that gets in their way. This is largely due to myths. Shark myths have caused countless people to fear these creatures, and in more drastic cases, the water itself. Myths range from falsehoods about shark attacks to the notion that sharks are considered “eating machines”. In celebration of Shark Week, July 26-31, lets bust a few shark myths!

One big myth that scares people from ever stepping foot in the open ocean is that sharks intentionally seek out human prey. There is no research that shows that sharks intentionally go after humans. Most scientists believe that the rare attacks that do occur are a result of mistaken identity. Humans may appear to be a seal, fish, or sea turtle in the water, which can cause a shark to bite. One fact to bust this myth is that out of an estimated 80 million water-activity participants each year, only a handful are victims of shark attacks. MYTH BUSTED

Surfing is a favorite pastime in the coastal area, yet some surfers live in fear every time they paddle out due to the myth that sharks go after surfboards. Although there is some truth to this myth, it is only for certain shark species. Great white sharks look at silhouettes from below, and surfboards appear to resemble a seal, walrus, or sea lion, which could cause an attack. Surfers are more likely to be injured from their own boards. MYTH BUSTED

Have you heard the myth that sharks do not have enemies? We heard this myth and immediately knew we had to bust it! Orca can occasionally kill sharks, along with parasites that take the lives of countless sharks every year. Public enemy number one goes to humans, who kill an estimated 73 million sharks a year. The shark-finning trade has placed several species of sharks in grave danger of extinction. Thanks to humans, this myth is totally BUSTED

So the next time you feel trepidation rising when entering the open sea, remember that most of your thoughts are myths that we have BUSTED.

*Picture thanks to Aquarium photo contest submission
*Shark myths thanks to The Discovery Channel

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