Sharks/Fish with teeth: Are they actually a threat?
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Just came back from a trip where I was in the water with reef sharks, a bull shark, several barracuda and even saw one hammerhead. None of them were interested. In fact if I made any sudden movements they were long gone. The hammerhead fled as soon as I blew bubbles. One barracuda I got close enough to cut a fishing line from right by his gills. Probably risky but he was tangled and stuck on a reef. Small fish are more fierce it seems. Little black angelfish looking things attacked me often :p
When I was young I got spooked by a school if big cudas that came real close and wouldn't leave me alone...swam back to the boat as fast as I could haha but nothing happened, I'm sure nothing would've happened but I was 13 and on my own :/
I've encountered several sharks while diving. I only have 25 dives. One was several reef sharks. It was shark dive so that really doesn't count because they were attracted by the other dive op that feeds them.
All the others have been nurse sharks hiding under reefs off fort lauderdale and the keys
Time and place- I recommend Peter Benchley's (author of Jaws) book Shark Trouble as an entertaining read with some good information on sharks as well as other 'dangerous' animals.
Great Whites are often fished in NZ (tagged and released)- in fact some of the big females give birth in Auckland harbour but nobody has had troubles there. The same sharks will swim back to Australia and chew on a few Ozzies- but that's God's plan...and who is to argue with God?
Tigers in Hawaii have a fearsome and deserved reputation and yet kids snorkel with them in Polynesia. Are they the same sharks? Potentially- they can swim huge distances.
Bull sharks are hand-fed in Cuba and they're (probably) the same sharks that give some Florida beaches infamy over shallow water attacks.
If we knew more about them, we'd be able to understand better the reasons that shark attacks occur in certain places at certain times of year. It's understood that big sharks are not eating all the time and may go for months without feeding substantially, waiting until a seasonally reliable food supply such as seal pups.
Sharks used to grow to massive sizes- the GWs in particular. Just as humans sometimes grow 7ft tall or live to be 120yrs old, there are some sharks that exceed the norm. Sadly we've drastically cut the gene pool for these fish and such catches are almost unheard of. Saying that- some fish are more than big enough to take out a human. great white cuban 1940s.jpgCaught_in_Seven_Star_Lake_in_1997.jpg
I love sharks, awesome things.
Diving the navy pier a few months ago I was able to take a knee next to three big nurses under the structure.
I would have sat there for five minutes before they slowly disappeared into the darkness (night dive).
I have dived with cow sharks, gully sharks, reef sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, moray eels, rays of various types and sizes, seals, gigantic and very, VERY aggressive red Roman, potato bass and southern right whales. 95% of my diving has been in the Great White infested waters of False Bay and Hout Bay off Cape Point and a friend of mine, Dean, came within spitting distance of a Great White. All of the species that I mentioned are either dangerous predators, known to be aggressive, look scary and dangerous but aren't, are big enough to unintentionally hurt a diver or are prey species likely to attract predators. For my very first non-cert dive I dived about 50 metres away from a big Cape Fur Seal colony. Dean dived with a Great White in the area of his final OW cert dive and found out later that they had been hunting earlier that day with wounded seals in the water.
You want to know the most scared I have ever been in the water? Well, most scared due to an animal. It was a dive with a reef shark about half a metre long. That little bugger scared me SILLY and the only reason it was so aggressive was because Dean and I had a bunch of inexperienced newbies doing their night dive for AOW that were scaring it SILLY. They were unintentionally herding it and preventing it from going where it wanted to go so it did what most predators do when threatened and acted aggressively. I have similarly been scared by Red Roman guarding their territory. That is right, I've been more scared by fish no larger than my fins than by sharks bigger than I am!
My point? Getting attacked by a sea creature unprovoked is virtually unheard of. Granted, my experiences are only anecdotal, comprise a tiny portion of all of the data points available and this board is littered with men and women whose experience dwarfs my own, but if you do your research you will struggle to find any reports at all that were not instigated by human behaviour. This thread is littered with statistics and relative levels of danger but my favourite, because it is so evocative and downright silly, is that more people are killed falling off chairs than by sharks each year. You want to stand up for the rest of your life?
On the other hand, even the smallest sea creatures can turn into a 'Finning Ball O' Death' when cornered, provoked, teased or irritated.
Edit: there have been a handful of people attacked by Great Whites in False Bay over the last decade or so that I have been diving. One of the attacks was even [erroneously] reported as an attack on a diver. Needless to say that these attacks have garnered a lot of media attention and probably even more attention from the diving community. Every single one of those attacks was either on a swimmer, surfer/body-boarder or spear fisherman. NONE that I have been made aware of have been on divers.