For many years, now, scientists have wondered why Great White Sharks so viciously and savagely attack surfers in the water when surfer meat is widely known to be “gross” and “yucky” filled with many vaccines and/or theories about vaccines. No species on earth enjoys surfer so why, then, do sharks bite?
New research, just out, may provide the answer, suggesting that Great Whites, particularly baby Great Whites, are boorish clods with unrefined eyes that simply can’t tell the difference between seals, surfers or even swimmers.
Recent investigations into shark vision have expanded scientists’ understanding of how the cartilaginous predators see their environment: probably in grayscale and with a minimal ability to see detail. To try to see the world as a shark, Ryan said to imagine taking your eye examination underwater without goggles; things are a little less sharp. As such, the visual cues a hunting shark most relies on are probably motion and brightness contrast.
Spurred by this knowledge, the researchers did an experiment. From the bottom of aquariums at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, the researchers attached a GoPro to an underwater scooter traveling at the speed of a cruising shark. They recorded videos of two sea lions, one fur seal, swimming people and people paddling on three different types of surfboards (the boards came from the personal collection of Ryan, who surfs).
Ryan and colleagues edited the GoPro footage in a computer program to translate the lens of a video camera to the retinas of a young white shark. They stripped the video of some color and rotated them all so the overhead objects moved from the bottom to the top of the screen. Then the researchers ran the videos through a series of statistical analyses at a range of resolutions to glean whether a juvenile white shark might be able to discern between the objects.
In the shark’s-eye view, the researchers found no significant difference between a swimming person, a paddling surfer or a meandering seal or sea lion. Ryan said she was surprised that sharks might confuse even a swimming person without a surfboard with a seal.
Quite basically, sharks are like tourists from Australia’s Gold Coast who prefer to eat at the Circus Circus buffet, when visiting Las Vegas, instead of the Michelin-starred Restaurant Guy Savoy.