The media has conditioned us to perceive the white shark as a malevolent, vicious, aggressive mindless killing machine. Many of us are happy to keep it as just that – a monster of the deep to patrol the dark waters of our subconscious.
We would like to attempt to show you the reality of this beautiful and totally maligned animal in the hope that you leave our web site enlightened and with a different opinion of the white shark.
Type “white shark” into your web search engine and then select images and you will be inundated with images of the shark with mouth agape, bristling with teeth and usually with its head out of the water…
Ever wondered how this was achieved? The reality of these photos is that the white shark does not spend its time doing such actions. These images have been induced by human action and encouragement for the camera to capture. That is not to say the white shark never does similar actions without human interaction. You only need to view the photos and footage of white sharks hunting off South Africa to know aerial attacks are common for this animal, however, that is a hunting instinct – don’t confuse that with aggression.
Calm, serene, inquisitive, cautious… all these adjectives form a far better analogy of the white shark.
Here is a clip of video taken by one of the White Shark Conservation Trust Trustee’s on a white shark expedition in 2008 in the Neptune Islands, South Australia. This clip filmed from a cage on the sea bed shows genuine white shark aggression – but it is not towards a human in the cage. This genuine behavior is between two white sharks – no human interaction… Watch the film. You may need to watch it a few times before you can actually see the aggressive action…
E:\My Pictures\Rodney Fox White Shark Expedition Jan 22-24th 2008\New Folder\CIMG2459.AVI
The actual aggressive motion is the ‘gulping’ (and subsequent gill flap motion). This is a sutlbe threat display to another shark.
Now compare this to the ‘aggressive’ behavior we have been conditioned to believe is the way the shark really is… Strikingly different isn’t it!
We exist with images of good and evil in our mind. For some reason we find it necessary to have a ‘monster’ we can manifest fear towards and sadly, many people choose the shark to take that form. Sadder still, this fear more often than not is not based on any real facts, bit built from fictional books, films and media reporting. The white shark fits the bill as the monster in our lives for a number of reasons – it lives in an world that is really alien to our own, it survives in its environment as an apex predator, human/white shark incidents are well recorded, and of course the sheer size and strength of the animal.