The Real Reason Sharks Attack People is Not Because They Confuse Them for Animals

Great white sharks have a reputation for viciousness in modern times. In part, this is because of the trend started by Jaws, which has resulted in a demonization of the species that has had horrendous consequences for their numbers. However, it should also be noted that there are real cases of great white sharks attacking humans, though considering that there are less than 100 incidents on an annual basis counting not just said species but also all other shark species, it is clear that the animals’ viciousness is rather exaggerated. With that said, the reputation of the great white shark has contributed to what can be called its mystique, which in turn, means that there are plenty of people who are interested in the reasons that it might attack humans.

Why Do Sharks Attack Humans?

Often, people will explain attacks by great white sharks on humans as a case of mistaken identity. In short, the idea is that the great white sharks mistake humans in the water for either seals or sea lions, which prompt them to launch attacks for the purpose of securing their next meal. However, people who actually study great white sharks suggest that this is improbable.

Primarily, this is because the usual pattern of a great white shark attack on humans looks nothing like the usual pattern of a great white shark attack on seals, sea lions, and other prey animals. When it comes to hunting, great white sharks tend to be fast and brutal, which makes sense considering that their prey animals are more than capable of fleeing. In contrast, most great white shark attacks on humans happen at a much more relaxed pace. Generally speaking, the great white shark will wander up to the human, take a chomp out of them, and then wander off. This lack of interest in humans as prey animals is supported by the fact that most great white shark attacks don’t actually end with fatalities, as shown by the fact that the number of fatalities are low even when compared to the already low number of great white shark attacks.

Regardless, shark specialists believe that in most cases, great white sharks launch attacks on humans are caused by the animals’ sense of curiosity. Unfortunately, whereas humans have hands with which to provide them with tactile feedback, great white sharks are reliant on their mouths. As a result, while great white sharks are infamous for biting humans, they are also prone to going out of their way to bite a wide range of other objects that include but are not limited to buoys, boats, and swimming aides. Moreover, the idea that great white sharks mistake humans for their usual choice of prey is rendered ever more unlikely by the fact that they possess outstanding color vision. In fact, some shark specialists think that great white sharks see about as well underwater as we see on land, meaning that the chances of such an animal mistaking a human for either a seal, a sea lion, or some other prey animal are rather low.


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