Shark Attacks

Shark Attacks

2005, Nature  -   17 Comments
Ratings: 7.69/10 from 81 users.

We're often confronted by reports of vicious shark attacks, deepening a long-held fear of one of the most tenacious species in the history of our planet. But to what degree are sharks truly a danger to humans? The Naked Science documentary series goes fishing for answers in Shark Attacks. While definitive conclusions remain somewhat elusive, viewers are treated to a fascinating overview of the eating habits and predatory practices of these misunderstood creatures of the deep.

"There are more than 400 living kinds of sharks in the world," reports California Academy of Sciences ichthyologist John McCosker early in the film. "Thirty of those have been involved in unprovoked attacks on human beings. Actually, only about 7% of attacks result in fatalities." The standard mode of attack for sharks is to cripple prey once with a single bite, and then wait until their victim bleeds out and dies before consuming them. Except on rare occasions, this routine does not seem to apply to humans. Sharks don't typically regard humans as a source of food, and don't appear to have any interest in eating us.

The film explores the three types of sharks who are most commonly associated with attacks on humans: tiger sharks, bull sharks and, the most prominent and fearsome of all, the Great White.

One of the most famous examples of a shark attack involved professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, whose story is featured in the documentary. She lost her left arm to a tiger shark in 2003, but her attacker seemed to have little interest in returning to her once this wound was inflicted. As communicated in the film, tiger sharks are known as the garbage disposal of the ocean, as they will consume nearly any object they come in contact with. This indiscriminate feeding frenzy may help to explain what instigated Hamilton's attack, but investigators cannot be certain.

Why are incidents of shark attacks on humans increasing with every passing decade? At this point, researchers can only speculate as to the reasons. The most likely explanation may be a simple matter of odds; more people are swimming in waters that are populated by the predatory beasts. There is still much we have to learn about sharks, and their mysteries are as vast and as deep as the oceans that shelter them.

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17 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Malinee

    If someone breaks into a house, we understand if the owner use a gun in self defense. If someone breaks into a house where there is a guard dog, we understand if the dog attacks the intruder. If poachers gets attacked/killed by the animal they are trying to kill, we understand and say it's karma. So why is the thought of sharks defending or attacking intruders in their territory so hard to understand? The oceans are the shark's home. Respect it!

  2. Bruce Donoaldson

    There is a scientific study that was conducted by Marine biologist Conan Doyle proving that some species of sharks including the great white have a type of testosterone in their system making them prone to attack humans because of their vulnerability. although one could argue that this is the humans fault, it is also just as much the sharks for mistaking the humans for their typical prey.

  3. toms

    whats with the rope at 41:31 on the right and 41:33 on the left ?

    1. DM

      whatever it was the shark attacked, was baited up and those were the lines

  4. student

    Can anyone tell me who is the director please?

  5. OceanDweller

    oops! Not a smart as i used to be.

  6. OceanDweller

    it's tough out there and we should except that because we are part of the same world. Nothing more to it!

    1. LostHearts

      Accept not except ;) but the biggest part of the problem is that humans have this sense of arrogance and entitlement to this planet. You are right. Realization of this simple fact would go a long way towards saving what is left from the mess that humans have made of this planet.

  7. LostHearts

    Once again, Shark Week is here and will no doubt commence to spread terror and hatred of sharks. Already the comments on Facebook are calling for the extermination of these remarkable creatures. When will humans understand that when they enter the water they are now in the sharks' world? Sensationalism over reality once again.

    The increase of attacks is no mystery. Humans have only to look to themselves for the reasons.

    1. Faded Joke

      Ya the message is stay out of the water... reality is misunderstood these days. Its a shame.

    2. Maxine Godfrey

      i wouldn't even call them attacks. i'd call them shopping for groceries. and why shouldn't they be? meat's meat, and sharks gotta eat, to paraphrase Farmer Vincent ;-)

    3. LostHearts

      Maxine, you are right. When sharks don't recognize something moving in the water (like humans, whom they don't really encounter close up all that much) they will take a nip at it to see if it is good food. Unfortunately, what is a nip to a shark is a big bite to a human.

      They aren't doing it maliciously, although a rogue shark will very rarely appear. In plain language, they don't care for the taste of human and prefer their normal fare.

      Once again, instead of giving us interesting scientific stories on sharks the bulk of Shark Week will continue to instill fear and hatred of these ace predators. I hope I'm wrong this year, but probably not.

    4. Maxine Godfrey

      first, we anthropomorphize; then, we exterminate ... with real zeal. imagine attributing malevolence to a shark -- or one of those poor caged orcas -- as though they have emotional triggers. humans truly are the most dangerous animals -- we venture into their waters to rub them out. there should be "Human Week".

    5. LostHearts

      If only more people thought like you this world would be better for every creature.

    6. Maxine Godfrey

      thanks, i'm sure it goes for you, too. empathy is for real, unlike heaven.

    7. LostHearts

      A kindred soul. Now how to convince all these people who are being scared out of their wits and want to do away with sharks because they DARE to bit humans. I don't think humans will ever understand that they are not rulers of the planet and are subject to the same natural laws as every other living thing.

    8. penfoldini

      After reading this conversation I won't be watching the documentary as I think I'll be as peeved as you two. I'm fed up with humans blaming animals for behaviour they don't like, it's their world too, learn to share.... whilst we have a planet left worth sharing that is! Thanks for helping me avoid a rage fest folks! :)