Letter to the Editor - August 26: Primal instincts on sharks

AN ARTICLE from Australasian Science, "How to prevent shark attacks", in December, 2013, talks about the debate Western Australia had on shark culling during increased shark attacks at the time.

The author posed the question, "Does culling work?" and unfortunately the answer was no.

They used this example: "When shark culling was carried out in Hawaii between 1959 to 1976, more than 4500 sharks were killed and yet there was no significant decrease in the number of shark bites recorded ... Pre-emptively killing sharks is a response based on emotion rather than of scientific data".

It then mentions ways to reduce personal risk, with one being to avoid swimming if there are seals, dolphins, whales or baitfish nearby.

I spoke to a marine biologist who had been in Western Australia at the time, and he said a whale had been buried in one of the sand dunes near the beaches that had the most attacks.

Now with a whale being buried at Sapphire Beach recently, is that posing more risk for the Coffs Coast?

How do you manage water flow around a decomposing whale with all the rain we get? Water follows gravity and seeps anywhere it can, carrying all that washes into it.

Are whales being injured or killed due to more ships on the path during migration, bringing sharks in their wake?

Stephen fry did a documentary on BBC about deadly squid that will hunt humans in packs. Suppression of sharks has increased the number of deadly squid, so maybe we should re-think the elimination of sharks after all.

Karina Williams,
Emerald Beach



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