Sharks - The name itself strikes terror, even in the bravest of souls. What if I said that they are not the mindless man hunters we were all led to believe. For many years people have portrayed them as mindless killers; and that they want nothing more than to find us as a food source. In fact, humans have never been on their menu. To a shark, we are crunchy and full of undesirable bones. Sharks prefer to feed off of fish and other marine life. Humans have always only been a case of mistaken identity.
To a shark, humans on a surfboard look almost identical to a seal; considering a shark’s eyesight isn't its best attribute, we have fins and a belly (our flippers and surfboard). Its main sensory organs are the Ampullae of Lorenzini; which are small jelly-filled sacks along the shark's snout, which detects electromagnetic frequencies, and its ‘sense of smell’ are its main tools a shark uses to hunt with. Virtually unchanged for millions of years, sharks can smell a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. But given that information, it doesn't mean the shark will attack the source. It also relies on vibrations, sound, and electromagnetic pulses. Just because it smells blood doesn't mean it will attack. It needs a variety of stimuli before initiating an attack, and even then the shark will most often do what is called an ‘exploratory bite.’
Seeing as sharks don't have hands to feel with, they use the receptors in their mouths to judge if something new is edible or not. Granted, their sharp teeth and the slightest bit of pressure will cause us to bleed, which does not end well for us!
There are over 450 species of sharks in the world. Among all these species, only about 10 or so are even considered fatal to humans. Tiger, Bull, and Great White are the usual suspects that come to mind when hearing of a shark attack. This means that only 2.2 percent are dangerous. The rest have simply inherited a bad reputation. On average only three people die from shark attacks each year.
The main reasons humans are even attacked is because we are in their environment. Sharks have lived, virtually unchanged, for millions of years as Apex predators. Encounters are bound to happen when humans enter their habitat.
Author: Damyian Cook
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