So what is it that relatively speaking makes Australia more prone to deadly shark attacks?
Read more: Not just nets: how to stop shark attacks without killing sharks. My new book Shark Attacks: Myths, Misunderstandings and Human Fear addresses this and other questions about sharks, with the aim of dispelling common myths and providing the knowledge needed for decisions made on science rather than fear and emotion.
The first reason is that Australians and visitors to Australia love the ocean. Next, the sharks themselves. But neither of these factors, even taken together, is enough to explain why deaths are more prevalent in Australia. What we really need to look at is dangerous sharks. Only 26 shark species have been definitively identified as biting humans without provocation , although the true number is likely to be somewhat higher.
All 11 of the species known to have caused fatal unprovoked bites on humans can be found in Australian waters.technodecision.ru/wp-includes/map19.php
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These species account for all but three of the fatal shark attacks worldwide from All of the big three species are inquisitive, regularly frequent coastal environments, and are formidably big and strong. They also have complex, unpredictable behaviour. But despite this difficulty, we can identify factors that make them more likely to swim in areas routinely used by humans. White sharks have a physiological adaptation that allows them to maintain a vast global distribution, and hence are responsible for the northernmost and southernmost recorded shark bites on humans.
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Most fish are ectothermic, or cold-blooded, with body temperatures very close to that of the surrounding water. This restricts their range to places where the water temperature is optimal. In contrast, white sharks and a few other related species can retain the heat generated by their muscles predominantly during swimming, enabling them to be swift and agile predators even in cold water.
White sharks are so good at retaining heat that their core body temperature can be up to Bull sharks, meanwhile, are the only sharks known to withstand wide variations in water salinity. This means they can easily move from salty oceans to brackish estuaries and even travel thousands of kilometres up river systems.
As a result they can overlap with human use areas such as canals, estuaries, rivers and even some lakes. One female bull shark was observed making a 4,km round-trip to give birth in a secluded Madagascan estuary rather than the open ocean. As a result, most bull sharks found in river systems are juveniles, but these areas may also be home to large, pregnant females who need to eat more prey to sustain themselves.
As rivers are often clouded by sediment, there is an increased risk that a human may be mistaken for prey in this low-visibility environment. Their investment in monitoring and research has been a very positive step towards reducing shark bite incidents in the region, but the use of lethal control measures and the threats of a major cull of sharks is not the answer.
Instead, we need to better understand exactly what causes sharks to bite people, what factors are responsible for them venturing closer to shore and more about their biology and life history. More of the same could help us develop strategies to coexist with these important apex predators and continue to enjoy the ocean safely. The WA Government should also consider placing more emphasis on educating people about the risks, such as the times of day and conditions under which attacks are most likely to occur.
We are unaware of a single beach in WA that has information boards related to the risks associated with encountering potentially dangerous sharks.
This strategy is common practice in California and other places frequented by large sharks. We will never completely prevent shark attacks, however, with better education and improved investment in monitoring and research we can reduce the risk and frequency of these tragic events. A contemporary Robinsonade — York, York. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.
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A combination of government policy and personal responsibility will keep us safer from sharks than culls will. Are shark bites increasing? Does culling work?
Pre-emptively killing sharks is a response based on emotion rather than of scientific data. How to reduce personal risk We take a calculated risk whenever we enter the ocean, but the risk is quite small when compared to other daily activities.
Australia shark attack victim 'saved by off-duty medics'
Stay out of the water if sharks have been sighted in the area. Avoid water temperatures lower than 22C. Avoid water depths of greater than 5m when swimming or surfing. Avoid swimming after heavy storms, or in low light conditions dusk and dawn. Avoid swimming if there are seals, dolphins, whales or baitfish nearby. What the government can do The WA Government are in a difficult situation. Western Australia Sharks. Scott Martin. Corals at Scott Reef in , and at the same site during the mass bleaching.
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