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Sep 22, 2010

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drudown

*** Disclaimer: From my vantage point at least, reduced to its essence, Science is placing the facts of the world in their proper place. This is true whether or not your area of expertise is sharks, whales, primates or snakes.

Accordingly, as a scientist, I find it to be an egregious subversion of Science to misrepresent known facts (i.e., White/Tiger/Bull/Oceanic Whitetip sharks are documented man-eaters), promote unfounded theories (e.g., sharks most often attack due to "Mistaken Identity"), particularly when the unfounded theory has little scientific value under the totality of the circumstances, e.g., even if the White shark in the documented Boswell attack (drudown, I can write this) "mistakenly thought" the human swimmer was a...pinniped...no, wait, a Sunfish...er, whatever you want to fill-in-the-blank with to feel better about going back into the ocean (or, as is most often the case, to help sell your "sharks are misunderstood because of Jaws" conservation agenda), the facts unequivocally prove here that the White shark (literally) "tasted" the human leg before biting it off. The water was crystal clear and there were no other marine prey in the area that would have "attracted" the shark. The White shark was attracted by the edible human, plain and simple. I make these inferences dispassionately.

Even if the White shark (which I do not believe at all) could not "identify" the human being until it bumped and then tasted her (i.e., by placing the foot in its mouth), it proceeded to dine on her leg in any event. Poor shark was migrating and probably hungry. Not many resources in the open ocean, as we in the know all know- but this kind of underscores how silly the prevailing "mistaken idenity" scholastic/conservation dogma really is.

Namely, it is the White shark's bloody (no pun intended) ecological niche to exploit helpless prey in the open ocean when migrating. There is no need to indulge silly "mistaken idenity" theories to explain something that (1) has been documented so many times before and (2) could be reproduced by scientific experiments, were they ethical. Or necessary. But they aren't. The jury came back with the only verdict imaginable: White sharks eat people. Notably, the only people that seem to get up-in-arms are the ones trying to condition the public to see White sharks as anything but man-eaters. I understand the noble aim of the agenda. But if someone- and I mean anyone- wants to "back up" their claims that White sharks aren't man-eaters with Science...it simply cannot be done. But don't feel bad. The founder of Motts apple sauce can't convince me that a jar isn't a jar either. Res ipsa loquitur.

This one fact "experts" hate. Statistical infrequency of human predation does not disprove the documented behavior. By analogy, White sharks don't normally prey on Petrel birds off Northern California. But when hungry and migrating they do. Taken to its illogical conclusion, humans and Petrel birds "aren't on the White sharks menu" due to the statistical infrequency of the predation events. But that is not Science, that is a fiction. Pure, unbiased Science of White sharks tends to show that White sharks fill the same ecological niche as the Tiger sharks but in more temperate waters. The known Science shows they are opportunistic, GENERALIST feeders- particularly here, when hungry.

If anything, the known Science of evolution should shape our inferences: evolution favors the retention of favorable characteristics over those that are injurious. Why would any competent scientist uncritically adopt the "mistaken identity" when it obviously would be an injurious trait? Like all other apex predators, White sharks do not need to expend energy hunting down prey and biting into it in order to determine its identity and relative nutritional value. The theory doesn't even make sense. I understand most people don't have the proper concept of time that humans have been harvesting the ocean's resources (much less Homo erectus rafting around the globe), thereby coming into direct contact with pelagic sharks, but the incorrigible obstinace to even dispassionately evaluate the "mistaken identity" theory says more about how marine biologists can't go against the grain, even when the teachings are flat out wrong, and the theory renders the White shark's other perceptive faculties a practical nullity.

By way of additional example, McCosker once had a theory that the "bite and wait" method touches and concerns the White shark's means to minimize the risk of injury, despite the fact this behavior isn't often observed in places with less mature sharks but high pinniped populations (e.g., Dyer island). Yet everyone and their mother takes it as true, just like "mistaken identity" theory. So, Scott, I may not have a degree in marine biology, but you can give me credit for being the first to theorize the "bite and wait" is actually a mating strategy. Think about the theory; who I am, what I studied in graduate school or do professionally, is unimportant. What is most likely true, is usually true. Maybe you don't like me, maybe others secretly do for being truthful with the actual data. But people didn't like Darwin either, especially Wallace, who actually coined the theory of survival of the fittest himself. Who cares where truth comes from? Only those that need unreality.

"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep." - Saul Bellow

drudown

I meant to write: "Given that H. sapiens and H. erectus have been a naturally occurring part of the coastal marine ecosystem for over 2mm years, I fail to see there being any scientific evidence that [White sharks] are not 'familiar' with humans."

Gee, I wonder if Hominids and Bull sharks ever ran into each other along the Zambezi before Dr. Ritter got into the water with them?

drudown

“Most "Great White" attacks do happen in murky waters as in Califonia and South Africa.”

You incorrectly presuppose that White sharks do not have the perceptive faculties to differentiate between prey in murky water without biting into it. Where is the scientific support for such a silly proposition? That’s right. It is your own human, faulty inference.

“ I don't see how you can say there is zero scientific evidence for this (a mistake)? Animals tend to eat what they are familar with, we should agree upon that.”

Given that H. sapiens and H. erectus have been a naturally occurring part of the coastal marine ecosystem for over 2mm years, I fail to see there being any scientific evidence that humans are not “familiar” with humans. Do you have an undergraduate degree in physical anthropology or do I? Thought so. You may proceed.

“A hurt or sick animal will take what they can or strike in defense (explains clear water if that is what you want)”

What are you suggesting? That your speculative, unfounded nexus between clear water attacks and a “hurt or sick” shark has any basis in reality? That nomadic White sharks attack humans out of some unproven, “territorial” response? White sharks attack and completely/partially eat humans solely out of predatory drive (see, e.g., South Africa this week).

“This evidence is clear as a perminate scar on my hand from my female cat who was having a baby and I did not know it. She screamed in pain, I went to touch her to see what was wrong and an infection that lasted for 2 months is what happened (defensive strike).”

You are too much. Surely you cannot credibly contend that you are comparing the predatory drive of the White shark that totally consumed Lloyd Skinner to your pregnant household cat biting you? Conspicuously, you are always assuming facts not in evidence (e.g., the shark that attacks and partially/completely eats a human was “sick”, “injured” or “pregnant”). That is just asinine and turns the law of parsimony on its head. Not to mention it is shoddy, unscientific sociobiology.

“You do state some facts, but in the wrong way. Most of the time, they understand we are not prey.”

Again, you keep “testifying” to what a shark thinks or understands. Even more inapt is your ridiculous assertion that “we are not prey.” A white shark just ate someone this week. Youtube search “shark takes woman’s leg.” It is dispositive evidence that we are, in fact, prey. It is a scientific fact that your speculative drivel does not “disprove.” I don’t care if you’re Dr. John McCosker. We are prey to White sharks. White sharks are man-eaters. It is scientifically known and was proven this week. Get your facts straight.

“ So do the tigers in India (been there first hand in the jungles), so do bears and so do bees.”

Does the fact you’ve been to India give your misstatements more credence? Uh, no. I’ve been to India, have hiked on all habitable continents, been on White shark cage dives, been charged by bears and even a lion. White sharks still eat people and know what humans are- just as bears and tigers do. So there we are.

“Point is, in the wrong place at the wrong time, we are attacked (for many reasons).”

Do you know anything about kin selection? Unlike Tigers and Bears, White sharks invest no paternal care and they do not ever attack humans to defend their young. However, both Tigers and Bears are man-eaters as well. Hmm. Tell me, why is it nobody ever applies the unscientific theory of “mistaken identity” to human predation by Tigers, Bears, Hyenas, Leopards or Crocodiles? You are just grasping at straws.

“So, if you don't think a diver in murky water (I am certified), wearing a black wetsuit, near an area known to have a seal/sealion population (pinnipeds as you state them correctly), is not a possible recipe for disaster, then you my friend are an idiot. Plain and simple.”

What you think is immaterial to me. It is a recipe for disaster because White sharks are opportunistic, generalist feeders and may realize a feeding event at your expense. There is no need to reach your silly, unscientific “explanation.”

“Also, go to your Tiger Shark gathering area and enter the water, you are not that brave (well known fact of that place they gather and sure you only knew it from the Discovery channel). Also it is the East Island, French Frigate Shoals, NW Hawaiian Islands to be very clear, proof again you watch TV.”

Why would I go in the water off French Frigate Shoals when the Tiger sharks are there? Perhaps, you my friend, are the idiot, and “prove” your children’s book shark theories by taking a swim without a wetsuit. After all, we don’t want any mistakes. Er, so to speak.

“True they are only conditioned to feeding on the birds, but again I would not get in the water without armor. Ask Erich Ritter, Google the name if you don't know who that is.”

The sharks arrive by instinct. Sharks do not learn by trial and error. As an aside, sharks are “curious” only in the sense there might be meal. They do not have the cognitive capacity for such mammalian emotional extravagances. If you knew as much about science as you did TV, maybe it would be self-evident like it is to me. As for "Dr." Ritter, poor little underwater pilgrim got scalped by the Bull sharks trying to "prove" your psuedo-scientific regurgitations. Yes or No.

“I hate people who don't study the subject they are talking about. I work at the Mote Marine Laboratory and have a Ph.D - from Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science - Marine Biology FisheriesMaster Scuba Diver (SSI), Medic First Aid (Red Cross), Motor Boat Operation Crew Chief (MOCC) on and on....”

Good for you. Class is dismissed.

Scott

Well to Drudown, you are mistaken in so many ways. Most "Great White" attacks do happen in murky waters as in Califonia and South Africa. I don't see how you can say there is zero scientific evidence for this (a mistake)? Animals tend to eat what they are familar with, we should agree upon that. A hurt or sick animal will take what they can or strike in defense (explains clear water if that is what you want). This evidence is clear as a perminate scar on my hand from my female cat who was having a baby and I did not know it. She screamed in pain, I went to touch her to see what was wrong and an infection that lasted for 2 months is what happened (defensive strike). You do state some facts, but in the wrong way. Most of the time, they understand we are not prey. So do the tigers in India (been there first hand in the jungles), so do bears and so do bees. Point is, in the wrong place at the wrong time, we are attacked (for many reasons). So, if you don't think a diver in murky water (I am certified), wearing a black wetsuit, near an area known to have a seal/sealion population (pinnipeds as you state them correctly), is not a possible recipe for disaster, then you my friend are an idiot. Plain and simple.
Also, go to your Tiger Shark gathering area and enter the water, you are not that brave (well known fact of that place they gather and sure you only knew it from the Discovery channel). Also it is the East Island, French Frigate Shoals, NW Hawaiian Islands to be very clear, proof again you watch TV. True they are only conditioned to feeding on the birds, but again I would not get in the water without armor. Ask Erich Ritter, Google the name if you don't know who that is.
I hate people who don't study the subject they are talking about. I work at the Mote Marine Laboratory and have a Ph.D - from Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science - Marine Biology Fisheries
Master Scuba Diver (SSI), Medic First Aid (Red Cross), Motor Boat Operation Crew Chief (MOCC) on and on....
Also, feel free to contact me at Buminbeer2@yahoo.com and I'll be happy to answer any questions any of you have from an expert, good day.

JJ Biggs

I believe she said most and not all.
Climb down from your high horse Dru.

drudown

"Most attacks on humans are likely because the sharks mistake them for seals or sea lions, some of the white shark's favorite foods."

There is zero scientific evidence for such an absurd proposition. It is disingenuous to speculate that White sharks "mistake" one known prey item (pinnipeds) for another, tertiary prey item (Homo sapiens). Conspicuously, the only White shark attack on a human (Boswell attack off Chile) categorically dispelled several "mistaken identity" myths. First, the attack was in clear water. Second, the shark bumped and tasted the victim before its attack. Third, there were no other marine animals in the vicinity. The subject shark was migrating and realized a feeding opportunity after being attracted to the commotion caused by the human swimmers. But the same perceptive faculties that attracted the shark enable it to quickly identify the prospective prey item. Just this: humans and their progenitors have been in the ocean for over 2 million years. Are we to believe that Tiger sharks know to instinctively arrive at Frigate Freight shoals to feed on the albatross chicks, year after year, but they can differentiate between a human and sea turtle? The theory is so absurd, it turns the scientific method on its head.

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