What do wedgetail eagles and sharks have in common?
When I hear the words “shark cull” slathered across the media, I feel sick. Memories of wedge-tail eagle culls fast-forward through my brain, depressing me.And when I hear of a shark attack and the death or disfigurement of a fellow human being, I also feel sick and saddened and shocked for those who have been hurt.I love the ocean. My family and my friends love the ocean. We swim, surf and boogie-board as often as we can and in the past, I haven’t really thought much about sharks. I suppose we had adopted the attitude of “’it would never happen to me”. But in my geographical area alone, there have been fatal shark attacks and attacks that have left people permanently injured. So we do need to think twice about entering the water and the domain of this apex predator.When calls are made for the killing of sharks, I do feel outraged. Aren’t sharks under enough pressure already? Aren’t sharks confronting immense threat for their very existence on a daily basis?Perhaps we should be asking the question of why sharks appear to be more prevalent in swimming areas than before, if this is actually the case?Could it be that shark finning is causing sharks to move out of the deeper oceans toward shore in order to survive? Why aren’t we doing more to stop this horrendous practice?It is because global warming is affecting shark territories?Are sharks following bait fish into shallower waters because their usual food sources are being decimated by human over-fishing etc.?Could it be that sharks are being lured into surf beaches by chumming or outfall nutrients?Are humans not taking enough care to actually avoid sharks? – are we listening to the messages of not swimming at dawn or dusk, not swimming in murky water, reducing splashing and excessive movement as much as possible, avoiding wearing bright clothing, not swimming if bleeding, avoiding areas where sharks may be hunting prey? – this list goes on.Should humans be doing more to make themselves completely unappealing to sharks, for example, not wearing black wetsuits and looking like penguins, covering themselves in some kind of cream or lotion that is distasteful to sharks, wearing some sort of device that emits a sound or pulse that repels sharks?Some of these ideas might make you laugh and I am not a scientist or a shark expert, but perhaps it’s time to think outside the square so that lives, both human and animal, might be saved.Culling sharks seems to me to be like cracking open a walnut with a sledgehammer – complete overkill, if you will excuse the pun. And, as I said before, this whole debate reminds me of the hatred directed toward the wedge-tail eagle not so many years ago. A hatred that was generally unfounded and which led to the decimation of another apex predator.In an age where much research is being done into animals and habitats and the environment in general etc., why can’t we harness some of this insight and use it to protect both ourselves and this incredible apex predator?Let’s do something positive, before it’s too late for sharks.