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Snorkeler Killed by Sharks in the Bahamas

Discussion in 'Snorkeling / Freediving' started by CuzzA, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. muzikbiz22

    muzikbiz22 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
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    Every time the ol' "shark behaviour" topic comes up, I refer to this video and the good doctor Neil Hammreschlag,
     
    AfterDark likes this.
  2. AfterDark

    AfterDark Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Rhode Island, USA
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    Maybe one never knows, but that would have been the problem, sounds to me like she needed more than one tourniquet, more than a few bandages. I'm not a corpsmen or and EMT the bag is for someone with A gunshot wound, heart attack, breathing issues, A deep cut maybe two, not what I read happen that day.
     
  3. Joneill

    Joneill Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
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    But that says nothing about feeding not changing behavior towards divers - just that it does not appear to change how far and where they range...
     
    Fastmarc and chillyinCanada like this.
  4. Fastmarc

    Fastmarc Just drifting along... ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
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    Exactly what I thought when I watched it, so not sure why it's the go to video for refuting the possibility.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  5. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami
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    Animal behavior in general and wild animal behavior in particular are hard subjects. You have to design a study where you can collect quantifiable data under a controlled set of parameters repeatedly and then have a means to analyze it for statistical significance. That's one thing with a lab rat in a controlled maze and quite another thing in the great outdoors.

    How exactly would one quantify if behavior towards divers changes? We seem to have some posters on here who are convinced that if you are spearfishing and have a stringer full of fish on you, that is insufficient incentive for a shark (even a large one that regularly takes prey the size of a human like a tiger or bull) to approach. A look through shark encounters going back through the decades, long before baited shark dives were a thing, shows that no, spearfishing has always been a pretty good way to get sharks interested in you. Likewise, sharks have bitten people who weren't spearfishing down through the ages; there's a rather famous painting in the National Gallery of Art of a 1749 attack by what was believed to be a tiger shark on a British cabin boy swimming in Havana harbor (said cabin boy survived minus a leg and eventually became Lord Mayor of London).

    Reading and evaluating scientific papers is quite frankly a beast, and even for someone who used to dabble in it a bit it's not particularly fun or intuitive. There's also the matter of getting your hands on the things; academic publishing is possibly one of the more exploitative rackets on the planet both for scientists publishing research and those trying to read it (see here: Open Access Explained!).

    There's also the aforementioned difficulties in designing a study to actually quantify effects on behavior. Therefore there's not a huge number of studies out there (and with advances in technical methods the more dated ones may be of limited utility), not all of them are easy to find, and the raw publication is not easy for the layperson to interpret. So the ones that are openly available get brought up repeatedly (the Clua et al. publication referenced earlier also comes up a lot), and if you can boil it down to a four-minute YouTube synopsis that makes it go even farther. For reference, this is the full text of the paper discussed in that video: https://sharkresearch.rsmas.miami.e...her_Wester_Luo_Ault.-2012_Functional-Ecol.pdf

    Movement patterns get used because you can look at a number of sharks in both control and experimental groups, and it's logical to assume that a shark which has become accustomed to exploiting a regular, easily obtained food source will alter its movement patterns to minimize its energy expenditure. If a shark encounters divers bearing gifts at a particular spot and behaving in a particular manner while doing so, it has no reason to assume it will find the same food source somewhere else. This is actually a pretty good interview here that covers the topic in part; I've always found the bit about predation on albatross fledglings particularly interesting: What We've Learned About Tiger Sharks in Hawaii

    My personal take? At present I don't think it's an absolute, yes-or-no issue where either these sharks are like goldfish and forget about being fed 30 minutes later or they're going to roll every human they come across for a handout whether there's food or not. I do think there are behavioral effects (mostly increased tolerance for being handled), but that they don't present a hazard to divers not participating in a feeding event (and that's just par for the course being in proximity to sharks and bait). I will be very interested to see what comes out of this work currently being done with great hammerheads in Bimini: Dive tourism dynamics | Save Our Seas Magazine
     
    chillyinCanada and tarponchik like this.
  6. Joneill

    Joneill Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New Jersey, USA
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    In my opinion, there is no benefit to shark feeding. It is only done to lure sharks in so divers can see them and is motivated by selfish interests of divers/dive ops. It is unnatural behavior and nothing good can really come come from it. I prefer to see my sharks by chance in their natural, un-lured environment!
     
  7. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami
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    Every time I hear that line, my first reaction is "and how many sharks and shark species have you seen that way?" My count of unbaited versus baited shark sightings is pretty lopsided in favor of the latter and even more lopsided if you remove fairly common species such as nurse, Caribbean reef, and lemon sharks. I've seen one tiger without bait (and that was from a boat in Florida Bay), zero great whites, zero bulls (if I count spearfishing as a baited dive), one dusky, zero silkys, two sandbars, zero smooth hammerheads, and zero scalloped hammerheads. I had a great hammerhead come up behind me on an unbaited dive; my buddy saw it but it vanished before I turned around. The only shark species I've seen exclusively in unbaited conditions have been sandtigers, reef whitetip sharks, leopard sharks, and horn sharks, all of which are fairly sedentary.

    One of the examples I recall before I got into baited dives in Jupiter was one I did on the Governor's Riverwalk wreck trail off Palm Beach back in 2013; as soon as we got to the Shasha Boekanier the first thing I saw was the bow of the wreck practically enveloped in blood from a speared cobia. I went about my business and popped a lionfish or two; about 2/3 of the way through the dive I saw the DM giving me the shark fin signal, which made me look around. Still seeing nothing, I finished the dive and came up to find that the boat collectively spotted about seven lemon sharks, several bulls, and a tiger, with one of the spearfishers losing a cobia to the tiger. An hour later we jumped back in on the same spot and got zilch.

    As far as no benefit, there's this: humans have a gut fear of sharks that doesn't seem matched by anything else. I live in Florida, where someone taking a photo of a gator in their swimming pool or on their doorstep is treated with more humor than alarm by the media. By contrast, someone getting nipped on the foot by a three-foot blacktip while surfing is treated as if there was an ax murderer on the loose and the victim barely escaped with his life. I don't see the folks yelling about "unnatural baiting of wildlife" storming Robbie's in Islamorada to shut down the tourists feeding tarpon off the dock. I can't put my finger on why, but I'm willing to guess that it's in part because most people never actually see a shark other than behind aquarium glass or as a shadow under the surface. Seeing them up close underwater removes a lot of the unknowns about their behavior and that translates to reduced fear and a willingness to stick up for them. The shark conservation movement would not be anywhere near where it is without advocacy from shark divers who feel they have a stake in the matter.

    Now, because as I've stated earlier I think all this talk about baited versus unbaited dives is irrelevant to the case in question, Undercurrent had this piece. It's the usual collection of hearsay (some of it probably collected from trolling this thread); again I would totally discount the Ritter quote as well as the assertion he is "investigating" the attack (the proper people to talk to about that would be the International Shark Attack File researchers). However, it does possibly provide some useful insight into whether the "attacked by three sharks" detail was a game of "Telephone" or not: Killed by Sharks While Snorkeling with Pigs: Undercurrent 07/2019

    There was also this interview with Stuart Cove in Nassau, which I mostly agree with and I'm not the least bit surprised at the assertion the Bahamian government is making knee-jerk statements without talking to anyone who actually knows about sharks: Cove: Banning chumming won’t stop shark attacks - The Nassau Guardian
     
    drrich2 likes this.
  8. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    The decision to use or not use an operator who does baited and/or fed shark dives is a personal one. I encourage everyone to vote with your fins and your money.
     
  9. Joneill

    Joneill Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New Jersey, USA
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    Just confirms my opinion - selfish motivations by those involved! Not seeing any real benefits for sharks or people in what you’ve posted beyond that.
     
    caydiver likes this.
  10. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami
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    If what I have described is a "selfish motivation," please describe what about any aspect of recreational diving is unselfish.
     
    Steelyeyes and drrich2 like this.

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