So, I recently read an article on the Great Whites swimming around Cape Cod while we were there by a reporter for the LA Times named Amy Hubbard. In it, she cited stats about 'unprovoked shark attacks' - and that bugs me, so I sent her the below.
From: Squid Boy [mailto:my real email]
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 3:42 AM
To: Hubbard, Amy
Subject: Q: What is a "provoked" shark attack?
Dear Ms. Hubbard,
Thanks for your article about Shark encounters. In it you cite that "from 1876 to 2008 there were 346 unprovoked white shark attacks around the world."
What constitutes human provocation to a shark? Why, as a reader, is this distinction important to me? For example, if the total was 3000 attacks including provoked white shark attacks, I know Id love to know how NOT to provoke an attack. Why just white shark attack totals? Isn't it relevant to know how many attacks in total across all breeds of shark there are if you're talking about 'more people in the water, more interactions.'
My wife and I are very curious!
Also, much of the coverage I read misses the relatively recent protection of the seal population on the Cape and its resultant rebound as the obvious reason that the sharks come for the abundant food that abounds around Chatham.
I am very interested in the answer on the 'provocation' thing.
My Town, MA
To which she responded:
From: Hubbard, Amy Amy.Hubbard@latimes.com
Date: Jul 11 (1 day ago)
Hi mr. squid, that's a good point in this case, I was citing research and wanted to be careful to phrase it the way that it was phrased by the researchers. Here from the book "Global Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Shark," which came out (I think) in Feb. of this year
Definition of Shark Attack
A shark attack for the purpose of this chapter follows the definitions of Cliff (1991, 2006), West (1996), and Burgess and Callahan (1996) as any unprovoked, physical contact between shark and victim or the victims diving equipment, if worn on the body, or the victims personal craft, even if the rider was uninjured. Such craft include a surfboard, body-board, sailboard, kiteboard, or surfski (resembles a long, narrow kayak) but exclude motorized or larger sailing craft. We have included attacks on spearfishers as unprovoked, although some researchers argue that the act of spearing fish may elicit an attack and thus should be regarded as provocation to do so.
Notice all the typos in her email to me! Not captializing 'Mr.' or "Squid"!! And the abrupt ending! Not answering all of my questions or even the main question really! But still, nice that she responded at all. So I replied:
Thanks Ms. Hubbard -
I guess I could have googled myself too - I found this on Wikipedia:
Provoked attacks occur when the human touches the shark, pokes it, teases it, spears, hooks, or nets it, or otherwise aggravates/provokes it in some way. Incidents that occur outside of a shark's natural habitat, e.g., aquariums and research holding-pens, are considered provoked, as are all incidents involving captured sharks. Sometimes humans inadvertently "provoke" an attack, such as when a surfer hits a shark with a surf board.
Unprovoked attacks are initiated by the sharkthey occur in a shark's natural habitat on a live human and without human provocation. There are three subcategories of unprovoked attack:
Hit-and-run attack Usually non-fatal, the shark bites and then leaves; most victims do not see the shark. This is the most common type of attack and typically occurs in the surf zone or in murky water. Most hit-and-run attacks are believed to be the result of mistaken identity.
Sneak attack The victim will not usually see the shark, and may sustain multiple deep bites. This is the most fatal kind of attack and is not believed to be the result of mistaken identity.
Bump-and-bite attack The shark circles and bumps the victim before biting. Repeated bites are not uncommon and can be severe or fatal. Bump-and-bite attacks are not believed to be the result of mistaken identity.
An incident occurred in 2011 when a 3-metre long great white shark jumped onto a 7-person research vessel off Seal Island, South Africa. The crew were undertaking a population study using sardines as bait, and the incident was judged to be an accident."
I also found out on that same page that "According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), between 1580 and 2011 there were 2,463 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks around the word." So when you add in those other breeds and up the time frame a little, a lot more people have been bitten by sharks!
Thanks for responding!
So there you go. HA!
This message has been edited by SquiddyBoy on Jul 12, 2012 2:23 PM