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Oct 23, 2012


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Wonderful pictures and a wonderful opportunity to draw some reasonable inferences, given the litany of erroneous inferences cited by Mr. Botelho. As a threshold matter, these images tend to prove that properly fed White sharks in similar circumstances could arguably be the safest time to interact with a White shark. While some might argue a whale carrion with a single White shark would be preferable, I would submit that White sharks (e.g., Cal Ripfin) understand that the cage dive is a free handout and to "not bite the hand that feeds it." The sharks understand the arrangement and are not typically in “predation mode”. Of course, Mr. Botelho erroneously implies that interaction with a very hungry migrating White shark (see, e.g., "shark takes woman's leg" youtube search) would not, in fact, constitute "bloodthirsty man-killers". The witnesses to the aforementioned Boswell attack very much prove otherwise. Moreover, the Groh attack was likely a migratory Tiger that was drawn to the stimuli and needed a much more substantial meal. But applying Mr. Botelho’s logic, couldn’t some other diver in Groh’s group point to their pictures and say, “gee, sharks are our friends.” Not in the end. They are literally Nature’s official executioner, just as an Orca off Patagonia might treat a seal, killing with a zeal that defies this kind of “sharks are just misunderstood” party line dispensed by Mr. Botelho.

Now then.

One cannot credibly contend that interacting with sharks in conditioned response settings with a reasonable food reward (i.e., in contrast to Ritter attack) has any sociobiological relevance to, say, understanding the recent Santa Barbara attack. I would suggest an “Open Ocean” theory to explain such White shark attacks. Namely, the vast majority of attacks on humans are the result of highly migratory pelagic sharks adjusting to the contrasting ecosystems, i.e., in the open ocean, where resources are scarce, anything edible is prey. Conspicuously, Mr. Botelho erroneously states that White sharks are "highly specialized" predators. This is simply untrue and quite the opposite; the scientific data unequivocally proves that mature White sharks are generalist feeders. They literally occupy the same niche as the Tiger shark but in more temperate waters. So one can't be "the garbage can of the sea" that is a documented man-eater and claim the other (White shark) is a “highly specialized pinniped-only” predator, say, like that finicky cat Morris seen on TV. Most inapt is Mr. Botelho's suggestion that "we are not prey." If humans were not prey, White sharks would not eat them. But as recently as this week, another person in So Cal fell prey to a White shark.

Most of these fatal attacks by White sharks presumably result from the shark returning from migrations. This “Open Ocean” theory may explain the spate of human fatalities in Western Australia; notably, many of the victims were consumed completely, indicating that the White shark has depleted metabolic resources. It is not unfounded speculation to surmise that the mature White sharks migrating from South Africa see fewer and fewer fish as a result of commercial fishing depleting and disrupting the White shark’s open ocean habitat. When pelagic sharks endeavor upon their open ocean migrations, their behaviors instinctually shift to reflect the reality of very limited food resources. Coupled with the shark’s innate opportunistic nature (see, e.g., maritime disaster shark fatalities), I would surmise that global warming and depleted fish stocks have created a much bleaker marine ecosystem (I do not like this term, since it is naturally occurring) that has “caused” Western Australia’s increased shark attacks. And until regulation and proactive measures of sustainable fishery are implemented on a global scale, there will be even more attacks in the future. The migrating White shark’s metabolic needs, coupled with returning from a more ruthless and indiscriminate open ocean ecosystem results in these "hit and run" attacks we see in coastal CA areas. That is, unlike the total consumption in South Africa and Western Australia, “hit and run” attacks (e.g., Von Emster attack in Pt. Loma, CA) serve as a bridge meal in White shark’s endless search for more suitable, higher caloric prey items. But suggesting we aren't prey because White sharks are docile at cage dives?

Try to be serious.

“The map is not the territory.” – Alfred Korzbybski


oh my god. so brave. I could never do that!!!!!!!!!!

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