People Told To Rename Shark Attacks As ‘Interactions’
Australian citizens have been advised to rename shark attacks as ‘shark interactions’.
The change comes in a bid to remove the negative stigma surrounding sharks, who, despite their presentation in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, don’t actually harm humans that often.
While there were 13 shark-related deaths in Australia last year, this number is relatively low compared to the millions of people who will enter the country’s waters each year.
Now, in the hope of shining a more positive light on sharks, some authorities in Australia have told people to refer to encounters with sharks as ‘interactions’ or, if something bad happens between the large fish and a person, to label it as a ‘negative encounter’.
An official from New South Wales’ Department of Primary Industries said in a statement, ‘NSW DPI is respectful that each incident is best described by the individual involved. DPI generally refers to ‘incidents’ or ‘interactions’ in our formal shark reporting.’
The advice comes after scientists have expressed concerns that the words ‘shark attack‘ and ‘bite’ misrepresent the animals, and therefore deters people from wanting to protect them.
Leonardo Guida, a shark researcher at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told The Sydney Morning Herald that this change is important because ‘it helps dispel inherent assumptions that sharks are ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters’.
Nathan Hart, associate professor at Macquarie University, echoed similar sentiments saying, ‘Sharks don’t have hands so, if they want to explore something, they mouth it. Very rarely are humans consumed by sharks.’
Shark experts explained that sharks have ‘little familiarity’ with humans since the animals date back more than 450 million years.
The DPI has been working alongside shark incident survivors and members of Bite Club to help get the language right, The Independent reports.
As per Bite Club’s Facebook, the group’s description reads:
This group has been started by Australian Shark Attack Survivors AKA “Bite Club”. We are trying to spread the word that we are available to speak, message email etc other survivors and the families of victims of shark attacks. We have found in our own experiences that we can help each other through the hard times.
It continued, ‘We are also willing to share information with all people who are interested in the devastating effect an attack can create and the inspiring stories of survivors who have overcome the adversary of an attack and have become inspirational to those who know them. The core purpose of Bite Club is to assist those affected by shark attacks in returning to a ‘new normal’ life, and to support and assist them throughout the journey.’
While some parts of Australia have welcomed the new terminology, others are yet to implement the advised changes.
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CreditsThe Sydney Morning Herald and 1 other
The Sydney Morning Herald