Demonized in the cinema by films like “JAWS” and decimated because of some popular beliefs, sharks are endangered. And yet, only 5 of the 500 species that include all sharks, are likely to present a danger to humans given their diet and their size often greater than 2 meters long. These include bulldog sharks, great white sharks, tiger sharks, shortfin mako sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks. There are almost ten lethal attacks of sharks per year. It’s less than the hippopotamus or mosquitoes that cause millions of deaths every year.
An endangered species
Sharks represent a species generally threatened by industrial overfishing of pelagic fish (nets, seines). They end up caught in the nets, and are thrown into the sea, dead. They are also hunted for their fins, consumed in soups endowed by the popular beliefs of aphrodisiac properties. They are then returned to the water but eventually die, losing a lot of blood. Moreover, after each attack, the hatred of men increases towards them and they seek revenge.
Why are they attacking?
The countries with the highest number of attacks are the meeting island, America, South Africa and the South American coasts. No exact scientific reason has been found but there are several assumptions about the behavior of sharks. Given the destruction of their environment, sharks are getting closer to the coast to find food. But the coast is becoming more and more frequent. He can confuse surfers and swimmers with a turtle or with the sea lions that are his favorites because of the shape of the surfboard which only surpasses the legs and arms of the swimmer. This can remind him of the silhouette of these animals. He will, however, quickly turn away from this prey whose taste does not suit him. The shark can also attack if he feels that it or its territory is under threat.
How can we avoid a shark attack?
How can we protect bathing areas?
The installation of safety nets around bathing areas seems to be the best protection measure for bathers while preserving the different species of sharks. Vigils to warn of the presence of sharks along the coast can also be put in place on the beaches of Reunion. Moreover, such devices are already installed near recreational areas in Reunion, Australia or South Africa.
The radiating cable
It is mostly used against tiger sharks, bulldog sharks and great white sharks. This radiating branch repellent branched cable emits low frequency electrical impulses that repel sharks from areas frequented by bathers. The cable will usually be placed in front of the beach or a sector to be protected.
The shark barrier
It gives the illusion of a forest of large laminar algae where great white sharks avoid entering. It is composed of several columns, made of tubes attached to each other, dotted with magnets that float vertically in the water. The goal is to create ecological separation between sharks and sea users by placing these barriers around busy beaches.
It is necessary to target the risk areas and to follow the sharks in order to know their habits and places of predilection in particular their places of reproduction and thus to be able to determine the seasons and areas at risk. Thanks to these observations, the inhabitants will benefit from a map and will be able to avoid shark attacks.
Essentially used against white sharks, Shark Spotters is a visual shark detection and warning program. It has already been implemented to protect bathers and surfers in Cape Town, South Africa. A flag system effectively warns sea users of the presence of sharks and triggers a procedure to call them out of the water and help them when needed.
The shark lookouts
This concept was developed in Reunion. These are apnea watchers (deployed in pairs) who accompany the surfer to secure a site punctually during training or competitions. A boat provides communication relay and intervenes in case of presence of tiger sharks and bulldog sharks.
The detection buoys installation project
Detection buoys are placed along the Australian coast to identify the presence of a shark in a specific area. A sonar detection system, placed on the buoy or attached to the seabed, recognizes the shape of a shark swimming nearby. The information is then transmitted instantly to emergency services and directly to the public via mobile applications (SMS, application, social networks, etc.).
Repellents to protect themselves from sharks
Sharks are sensitive to electric fields and, therefore, Lorenzini’s bulbs: specialized electro-receivers located at their jaws. These are elements that emit an electric field to repel sharks. Of course, they are not 100% sure but they reduce the risk of meeting a shark.
You should also avoid going to sea early in the morning and late at night because these are the times when sharks hunt. After a rainy day, it is better not to venture into the sea. The mud makes the water cloudy, prevents the shark from recognizing a swimmer that he confuses with a prey.
Any scratches or bleeding should also be treated and taken into account before bathing. This also concerns women during periods of menstruation. You must, of course, focus on group activities, avoid going to sea alone or with your pet. If you meet a shark, do not play dead or try to make it go away.
Finally, we must not forget that the sea is their territory and not ours. It is therefore necessary to know how to adapt to achieve a harmonious sharing of marine territories.