According to Dr Stephen Wroe from the University of New South Wales, these are exploratory nibbles by the great white pointer, which uses its mouth to sense whether a prey is worth eating. Interviewed by The Generator last year, Dr Wroe said the great white has two rows of very sharp teeth and an exploratory nibble usually means a large tear, often down to the bone.
The great white is one of only three breeds that attack people in Australia. It is a cold water animal, more prevalent here during winter, that bites but does not eat people. The bull shark is a warm water dweller that breeds in estuaries where it is difficult to see. The tiger shark is a tropical animal that visits the local surf during summer. Bull sharks and tiger sharks do eat people.
The last fatal shark attacks in Northern NSW took place in 1992 and 1983. Swimmers have a much greater chance of dying in a car accident on the way to the beach, or of drowning than they do of being killed by marine life.
Drowning and car crashes, though, are our fault and seem relatively benign. Being eaten, in contrast, makes us seem small and vulnerable. It challenges our egotistical view that the world is our oyster. That’s why it is so important to hear the victims acknowledging the rights of the shark.
Our fear of predators, and our own predation, mean that we eliminate competition from other animals everywhere we go. It took humanity around 5,000 years to walk from the tip of Alaska to the tip of Chile as we migrated out of Asia. The fossil record reveals that around 2,000 years after humans arrive, large animals such as mammoths, giant bears, bison and anteaters vanish. The populations of mice, rats and indian mynahs, however, flourish.
The American fossil record reveals the damage done by stone age humans. Steel age Australians have eliminated thousands of species in two short centuries. If we continue the trend, we will find ourselves in a Blade Runner world where the only animals are animatronic and our only companions are the algae that feed us and the pests that live on our scraps.
In case you think this is fantastic, consider that that latest fad in biofuels is algae. These microscopic plants can absorb carbon dioxide and sunshine to produce fuel or food, faster than land plants.
We do not have to worry about oil depletion, shrinking water supplies and the consequent food shortages, we can simply live on synthetic food and energy with our pet rats, cockroaches and mynahs.
That’s something to look forward to.
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Rosy talks to Valerie Taylor
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