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Great white sharks can’t see the difference between their typical prey and humans when swimming or on a surfboard, suggesting some shark attacks are by mistake, according to a new study. mixed.
The researchers filmed seals and humans in the water and edited the footage to fit the view of juvenile great white sharks, which pose the greatest danger to surfers. The researchers found that the human form and movements look like seals from the shark’s perspective.
The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the Royal Society, is the first to test the theory that sharks attack humans because they mistake humans for prey.
“White sharks are often portrayed as ‘callous killers’ and ‘cannibals’, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case, we just look like their food.”, said lead author of the study Laura Ryan, a neurobiologist at Macquarie University in Australia.
The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is responsible for more human deaths than any other shark species and kills six by 2020, though the risk of humans being bitten by a shark remains extreme. period is low, according to the University of Florida International Shark Attack Profile.
These sharks start hunting seals when they are about 2.5 meters long. They develop an image of looking for prey and combine that with other sensory information, such as smell, to know what to eat. According to Ryan, it’s a learning process that can be prone to mistakes.
Great white sharks often attack seals from the bottom up
Great white sharks lack color vision and cannot see details as fine as the way the human eye can. The researchers processed the videos they captured to reflect how the shark’s retinas detect the seal’s movement and shape, and compared that movement to humans when swimming and swimming on surfboards. Includes a long surfboard; 2.83 m x 0.58 m, and a short surf board; 1.77 m x 0.5 m. They concluded that there was no visual difference to a great white shark swimming below.
Pictures show great white sharks can’t distinguish between humans and seals
Ryan says: “I knew there would be some similarities but didn’t think to this extent. Specifically, I think swimmers probably won’t look as much like a seal as a surfer, since they’re not usually the victims of many shark bites. However, the truth is that it is also difficult to distinguish between a seal and a swimmer.”
Longboard surfers are less like seals, suggesting there are some slight differences in how great whites perceive the shape of longboards compared to shortboards and swimmers. However, researchers don’t know how that is reflected in the shark’s behavior because it also bites humans on longboards, Ryan said.
The new study only applies to great white sharks, and there are other sharks, such as bull sharks and tiger sharks, that sometimes bite people as well. What’s more, adult great whites sometimes bite humans, and as they get older and become more experienced hunters, they can make fewer mistakes, according to Ryan. In other words, not all shark bites are by mistake.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), great white sharks are extremely vulnerable to extinction and humans intentionally kill them as part of a program to protect beaches in Australia and South Africa, although sometimes fish Sharks are also captured and released alive, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
According to Ryan, not knowing exactly why sharks attack humans has caused public concern and led to people taking measures to reduce the number of sharks, which also has a negative impact on humans. other sea creatures.
As predators, sharks play an important role in a wide range of marine habitats. Sharks maintain healthy fish populations by eliminating sick and sick individuals; they help preserve the balance of species diversity in their habitat; and they balance oxygen production by eating fish that consume oxygen-producing plankton.
Ryan hopes that a greater understanding of why sharks bite humans will lead to improved solutions to prevent shark attacks without harming marine life.
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