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A piece from the Guardian:

 

 

I'm a surfer, but oppose culling sharks

 

Great whites are capable of eating us. Wreaking environmental havoc won't change that fundamental fact

 

Jock Serong

 

 

 

A-great-white-shark-recen-010.jpg

 

 

 

In conversation with non-surfers, surfers will generally deny dwelling on the spectre of shark attack. They’ll blithely point out that there are plenty of other ways to die surfing, including drowning, impacts, hypothermia or, most commonly of all, driving to the beach. Most of these dangers, they’ll argue, can be minimised – if not eradicated – by taking some care. Shark attacks on the other hand are random in nature and extremely rare. So why worry about it, is the standard closing flourish.

 

But among other surfers, the same people will mutter uneasily about sightings, about “spooky” water, about bad feelings that seem to emanate from deep instinct. We’re all scared to some degree, no matter how irrational that fear might be. A long way from shore and all alone, it can be an unsettling thing to look at your own feet, dangling above the abyss.

 

Where I live and surf, in western Victoria, the sharks fall into two categories. There are all the ones doing their biological thing without posing any risk to anybody: gummies, Port Jacksons, wobbegongs,blues, school sharks and many more besides; all of them at far greater risk from us than we are from them. In the other category, there are great whites. This year I went cage diving to look at great whites in the wild. I learned several things that day. I learned that they are very cunning when stalking prey; that their movements alternate between extreme languor and equally extreme speed; and most of all I learned that the force they exert is massive. Catastrophic. Unstoppable.

 

Despite that very humbling experience, and the awful tragedy of this week’s news from Gracetown, Western Australia, where surfer Chris Boyd was killed by a shark, I remain opposed to any cull of great whites,which some are calling for. Why? Well, the reasons are many and they have scientific backing. But for a lot of people, the science is nothing but background noise. When I wrote on the topic for Coastalwatch.com last year, my original article was dwarfed by a torrent of angry and emotional comments, arguing both for and against culling. This is the most emotive of all conservation issues.

 

There are three main justifications for culling in response to a fatal attack. First, the culling is an act of vengeance against the specific animal. Here, the problems are self-evident: how do you identify the culprit in open ocean without killing it pre-emptively? And is there anybody who really believes in the logic of punishing a wild animal? Second, it is sometimes put that a shark which has attacked a human has become a “maneater” and is more likely to attack again. Killing all similar sharks in the area ensures the recidivist is denied the chance. But there is no evidence for this occurring anywhere. It made Peter Benchley rich, but it’s nonsense, propagated by the authors of penny dreadfuls in the 1800s and passed on unquestioningly ever since. A shark confined in an enclosed space may bite repeatedly, especially if sick or starving, but that’s an entirely different proposition.

 

Third, a cluster of attacks (such as occurred along the Western Australian coast last year) is taken as evidence that great white numbers must be climbing, and should therefore be pruned. The mathematical fallacy built into this notion is obvious: there is no demonstrated statistical link between attacks and great white numbers, because nobody knows how many great whites are out there. But the "pruning" argument has political appeal: politicians want to be seen to be doingsomething, and complex, scientifically-based responses like tagging take much too long for the media cycle.

 

Our civilising ambition brings with it a certain arrogance: we refuse to believe we are any longer a part of the food chain. But it remains a fact that in some natural environments, there are large carnivores capable of eating us. A more effective means of combating that prospect is bytagging and genetic coding the predator. The risk of shark attack could be dramatically lowered through such scientific interventions: already, instances have occurred where local authorities have been warned of the presence of a large shark when its tag has “pinged” on acoustic posts underwater.

 

On average, 87 people drown at Australian beaches every year. These are preventable deaths. On average one person will die by shark attack in the same period. And it probably won’t be preventable. I pondered those numbers when I wrote for Coastalwatch last year: “For the cost of a national shark cull, for the environmental damage it would do, how many sharks could we tag? How many kids could we teach to swim? How many more beaches could we patrol? This is the delicate dance of numbers, so easily skewed by fear."

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Yep, if you break life down into it's simplest parts, it's all about passing on your DNA.

I'm interested in this "as a species we are favouring those who have a strong urge to have kids"?   What does that mean? Who is favouring those, and in what way? You mean things like tax breaks an

One other thing to consider: If Australia still wants to assert the position that whales should not be killed for scientific research, and expect any other country or international body to take their

The neoprene is black - any other colours on a wetsuit are nylon over the neoprene. So to get lighter colours you need thicker nylon.

 

And black is slimming.

 

Can't they just colour the neoprene?

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In light of the most recent shark bite fatality in Western Australia last week, there have been renewed calls for a cull of large sharks to protect ocean users. Environment minister Greg Hunt has said he wants to reduce the risk of attacks. So what is the best way to reduce that risk?

800px-white_shark.jpgAre shark bites increasing?

There is no denying that each of these events is a tragedy and our sympathy is, of course, with the family and friends of the victims. However, based on statistical data, the number of shark related fatalities is negligible when you consider the vast and increasing number of swimmers entering our coastal waters every year.

Research has shown the number of shark bite incidents occurring each year appears to be directly related to the amount of time people spend in the sea. Given that Western Australia has the fastest population growth of any Australian state, there is likely to be an increasing number of people venturing out into our coastal waters every year. Thus, the likelihood of someone encountering a shark increases and with it a corresponding increase in shark bite incidents.

Politicians and the public are often quoted in the media saying shark numbers in WA have increased. But most experts would agree that there is no evidence to support such a statement.

Data gathered by Surf Life Savers WA has been used to suggest an increase in the number of sharks in WA, by stating that more sharks were sighted in 2012/13 (285 sharks) than in 2011/12 (247 sharks).

However, when you account for the number of hours that the helicopter patrols were out looking for sharks (2012/13: 751 hrs; 2011/12: 620 hrs) we find that they sighted the same number of sharks per hour of patrolling (approximately 1 shark every 2.5 hrs).

In fact, research shows that the number of attacks per million people in Australia almost halved from approximately 60 per million people between 1930/1939 to approximately 30 per million people between 2000/2009.

Does culling work?2420579965_ut_hkthath4eww8x4xmdoxojbro-i4w8_648x365_2420579339-hero.jpg

So often the argument in favour of a cull comes down to the emotional question of who is more important: a human or a shark. Rather, we need to ask the question, will culling sharks actually reduce the risk of an attack?

The answer is no. In fact, when shark culling was carried out in Hawaii, between 1959 to 1976, over 4,500 sharks were killed and yet there was no significant decrease in the number of shark bites recorded.

Culling has been the primary shark mitigation policy of the New South Wales Government for over 60 years, through the use of “shark” nets. But a report by the Department of Primary Industries showed that 24 of the 38 (63%) attacks in the state, between 1937 and 2008, occurred at netted beaches.

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. For example, new research shows that rip currents are the cause of an average 21 confirmed human fatalities per year in Australia, compared with 7.5 for cyclones, 5.9 for bushfires, 4.3 for floods, and 1 for sharks.

With the correct information, we can make an objective judgement as to whether or not we accept the risk to enter the oceans.

The WA Department of Fisheries recently released a report on how to reduce your personal risk of being bitten by a shark (and you can find more information at the International Shark Attack File).

  • Stay out of the water if sharks have been sighted in the area.
  • Stay close to shore (within 30m of the water’s edge).
  • Don’t go in the water alone (stay in groups).
  • 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. They genuinely want to protect ocean users, but at the same time they are well aware there is no “magic bullet” to prevent shark attacks across the large expanse of the WA coastline.

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. Recent research has found, for example, that sharks'diving behaviour is affected by temperature and the moon, that female white sharks have different movement patternsto males, and that Australian white sharks have home territories they always return to.

This kind of research helps us better understand where sharks will be and how they’re likely to behave. 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.

They could also put warning signs at beaches known to be frequented by “dangerous” sharks. 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.//RYAN KEMPSTER & SHAUN COLLIN

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I think I would suport a very well controlled and researched shark cull.

Millions of sharks are killed every year for no other reason than to make a tasty soup and help some poor old Chinaman keep his pecka up. Culling a few rougue sharks to save human lives doesn't seem so radical in comparison

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Nah. Nothing to do with some old chinky pecker.

 

Sharks fin is tasteless and translucent. The crunch on the cartilage is all the sensation you get. Making artificial fin using toughened rice noodles gives the same effect. The essence of the soup is from the Yunnan hams used in the stock, that is all you can taste.

 

There is no need to kill sharks for fins, alternatives are just as good. But sharks will always be killed for their fins. That's just the vulgar way of ignorant mainland chinks who think money will buy them class.

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Rather than hunting for killing the GW sharks, why not hunt, capture, tag, release and then study.

 

Killing them is little more than revenge without knowing their habits and behaviour.

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Montreal: A wild black bear attacked a man relaxing in a hot tub at the Whistler ski resort in western Canada, with a swift whack to the head, police said on Monday.

 

The 55-year-old man from Coquitlam, British Columbia, "felt a heavy blow to the back of his head which propelled him forward in the hot tub" on Saturday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair said in a statement.

 

The man then "turned around and found himself face to face with a black bear. He yelled at the bear and retreated inside," the statement added.

 

Injured during the attack, the man, who was not identified, suffered lacerations to the back of his head and was taken to Whistler Health Care Center for treatment.

 

Police responded to the incident, locating the bear about 100 meters (yards) away as it headed for a wooded area.

 

"The bear was destroyed," the police statement said. According to local media, police shot and killed the bear.

 

Just a slap to the back of the head of a skier is all it takes to warrant putting a bullet through the head of a bear.

 

Different story when skiers are involved eh..eh?? ;)

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Montreal: A wild black bear attacked a man relaxing in a hot tub at the Whistler ski resort in western Canada, with a swift whack to the head, police said on Monday.

 

The 55-year-old man from Coquitlam, British Columbia, "felt a heavy blow to the back of his head which propelled him forward in the hot tub" on Saturday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair said in a statement.

 

The man then "turned around and found himself face to face with a black bear. He yelled at the bear and retreated inside," the statement added.

 

Injured during the attack, the man, who was not identified, suffered lacerations to the back of his head and was taken to Whistler Health Care Center for treatment.

 

Police responded to the incident, locating the bear about 100 meters (yards) away as it headed for a wooded area.

 

"The bear was destroyed," the police statement said. According to local media, police shot and killed the bear.

 

Just a slap to the back of the head of a skier is all it takes to warrant putting a bullet through the head of a bear.

 

Different story when skiers are involved eh..eh?? ;)

 

Without knowing the specifics, I think that that bear could probably have been tranquilized and relocated rather than destroyed. Another factor is that the black bear is not an endangered species, in fact there are hunting seasons for them in most of Canada and 28 US states.

 

I also don't take issue with wanting to kill a specific shark when it has attacked a human. Unfortunately that seems to be a very hard thing to do in reality.

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Poor guy. Only 18 years old.

 

Japan's response after 4 fatal bear attacks this year.

 

'Some 400 bears were shot dead near human-populated areas by authorised hunters on Japan's far-northern island of Hokkaido alone, where two people were mauled to death by bears earlier this year, a local official said.

In the mountainous central prefecture of Fukushima, northeast of Tokyo, more than 150 bears were shot dead after they encroached on residential areas.'

 

Some bears are already extinct in some parts of Japan and needless to say 'endangered' in most other areas.

I'm not suggesting that this is the correct cause of action, it's just an interesting observation. Drawing a line between 'their habitat' and 'our habitat' is nearly impossible. I enter the ocean most days of my life. I consider it my habitat too.

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the image of bears being all lovey teddy-like needs to be killed before children go up to wild bears and start stroking them, then have their heads bitten off.

 

Failing that, kill every last one of them bears. Even those poxy polar variety.

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So because we humans are encroaching their (sharks, bears, snakes, insert thing that can harm humans) habitat, that it makes it ok to kill them off because we will "feel" safe?

 

If you want to feel safe, stay in the city and get hit by a car which is more likely to happen than getting eaten by a shark or mauled by a bear.

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So because we humans are encroaching their (sharks, bears, snakes, insert thing that can harm humans) habitat, that it makes it ok to kill them off because we will "feel" safe?

 

 

yip, on the button.

 

Survival of the fittest and since they can't hold a gun, they are weaker than us......bye-bye dangerous animals :wave:

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Tubby is being a bit silly but he does have a point. WE are the dominant species here. WE decide which is or isn't 'their' habitat.

I'm not for eradicating any species off the planet but I think we should at least try and control things that are a threat to us.

 

It's been that way since day one.

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Years of culling sharks in Hawaii suggests that a cull won't work. At best it won't have a significant impact, at worst it will cause people to believe that they are safer than they are.

 

One thing that I think needs to be stopped is the use of berley in cage diving operations - I don't think its too far fetched to suggest that this practice is teaching sharks to associate humans with an easy food source. While there is currently no commercial cage diving operations in WA, in SA there are a few, and many tagged sharks have been recorded travelling from SA to the SW coast of WA (and further afield). Lobbying the SA government and the federal government to stop this practice seems like a more constructive thing to do than to lobby the WA government to cull a few sharks.

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One other thing to consider: If Australia still wants to assert the position that whales should not be killed for scientific research, and expect any other country or international body to take their views seriously, then culling another animal on the endangered species list would not be very helpful.

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