Experts say sharks, and by sharks they mean Great Whites, have been “unfairly demonised” and the word attack “triggered negative concerns".
Six month after Australian authorities moved to rebrand shark attacks as “incidents” and “negative encounters”, the “Australian Shark Attack File” is to be renamed the “Australian Shark Incident Database.”
Experts say sharks, and by sharks they mean Great Whites, pretty much the only man-eater in Australian waters, have been “unfairly demonised” and that the word attack “triggered negative concerns”, as if Whites were teenage girls hiding under the covers after a cruel Snapchat message.
The Australian Shark Attack File used to be a dusty ol’ thing found at the Taronga Conservation Society, the offshoot of Taronga Zoo, an animal prison located on Sydney Harbour and famous for locking up the bounty of the African savannah.
Rarely did the fatal side of the ledger have to be updated, the dust blown off the journal every ten years or so after a diver was be hit by a White somewhere offshore.
Then, in 1999, the White was protected and the game changed.
The name change comes off the back of Australia’s deadliest year (2020) of Great White attacks in ninety years, and with the ink barely dry on the death certificate of a swimmer disappeared by a “massive” Great White fifty feet from shore at a Perth beach in November, 2021.
As in the case in these sorts of stories run by the mainstream press, an “expert” is wheeled out to reassure the public that despite record numbers of fatal attacks, well, you’ve got more chance of being hit by a falling piano or poisoned by the barb of an angry arthropod.
The exhibits manager at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, Tereza Todd, told the radio station 3AW, “You’d be surprised how often they do approach people and don’t do anything… Shark attacks are quite rare and they don’t happen very often.”
Tell that to the families of the following surfers, all killed by Great Whites within the last two years,
Timothy Thompson, a newly married thirty one year old who was about to become a father for the first time, hit at Coffs Harbour in September. (“I heard screaming,” said one witness. “I saw a man without an arm, there was lots of blood. He was shouting ‘help me’ — people were trying to get him out to the shore.”)
Mark Sanguinetti, killed by a Great White fifty feet from the shore at Tuncurry by a fifteen-foot Great White in May, 2021.
(“The shark came out of the water, just smashed him, five seconds later he came round and hit him again… Just the whole bone exposed, no meat on him at all.”)
Andrew Sharpe, 52, hit by a Great White at Kelpies in Esperance, October 9, 2020. Never seen again.
(A local surfer said he was taken “almost whole. The body is just fucking gone.” An Esperance local, Jess Anne, was swimming with her kid a kilometre away and said the water turned red.)
Nick Slater, 46, hit, killed by a Great White at the Supabank, Queensland, September 8, 2020.
(“One of the guys who dragged the lifeless body to shore, Jade Parker, said “the whole idea that the shark was trying to single him out is not realistic” despite the footage showing unequivocally the shark doing exactly that. It hit him then hit him again.”)
Mani Hart-Deville, 15, hit, killed by a Great White, Wooli Beach, NSW, July 11, 2020.
(“A really big Great White shark came up and took a bite, and he was screaming out. Then the surfer said the shark came again for another attack … and another surfer actually bravely went and tried to get the shark off him and then they pulled him out of the water.”)
Rob Pedretti, 60, hit, killed, by a Great white, Salt Beach, NSW, June 7, 2020.