Does fear of them affect how we protect them?
The larger sharks are ragged tooth or sand tiger sharks,” Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall says, pointing at the 2m-long creatures swimming in lazy circles in front of us. Fine, needle-like teeth sprout from the front of their mouths like a bony pin-cushion. “Those teeth work by trapping fish as if in a cage, and they would never be able to eat a marine mammal such as a seal. The smaller ones are blacktip reef sharks. They’re obligate fish-eaters, too. And then, on the bottom, there are nurse sharks.”
We’re at the London Aquarium, and Backshall is trying to put my mind at rest because in a few minutes we’re going to be putting on masks and wetsuits uits and getting into the tank with the sharks. But hey – these sharks only eat fish, sh, so I’ve got nothing to o worry about.
Backshall all is here representing ing the shark conservation charity Bite-Back, which in a public opinion survey carried out towards the end of 2017 found out that more people are terrified of sharks than of spiders, snakes and rodents combined. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of those poll polled said they would ra rather sharks didn’t exi exist. Bite-Back’s fou founder and only paid mem member of staff, Graham Buckingham, believ believes this fear and loathing is one reason why human humans, as
a species, continue to slaughter sharks in almost unimaginable numbers – an estimated 100 million a year, according to research published in 2013. Sharks are long-lived and slow maturing and reproducing animals, and such a level of exploitation is unsustainable.
THE JAWS EFFECT
Attempting to get most people in the western world to start feeling sympathy for sharks generally screeches to a halt with the mention of a single word
Trump has Tweeted his fear of sharks.
Steve Backshall is raising awareness of shark conservation. Inset above left: a Jaws film poster.