Shark Attack Survivors Spread Conservation Message

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Summer of the Shark’ May Not End.

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. That’s the message a loose network of shark attack survivors organized six years ago through the Pew Charitable Trusts to advocate for shark conservation efforts. — Forty years ago, “Jaws” thrilled Al Brenneka like any other moviegoer, but he figured his chances of encountering a shark in the ocean were slim to none.

Over a year after the summer 1975 debut of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster thriller, Brenneka was 19 and rode one of the best waves of his life into shore at Daytona Beach. So, I tried to do whatever I could immediately from placing blame on the shark and immediately place blame not just on me but on the culture of shark feeding for the purpose of recreation or tourism,” Beach said. MYTHBUSTING: The myth that sharks were bloodthirsty man-eaters flashed through Kent Bonde’s mind when a bull shark ripped off his left calf muscle while he was spearfishing in the Bahamas in 2001.

To do so, they are tagging the sharks and installing underwater cameras for an unprecedented look at their behavior and migration patterns. “I am really excited, and the reason is because here is a population of animals that has been negatively impacted by people either due to fishing, loss of food or habitat for over hundred years,” Lowe told Al Jazeera. “I look at white sharks, the recovery of white sharks, as a sign that we have done some amazing things in bringing our ocean health back.” It’s hard to miss the signs of their resurgence as well as their impact. As he frantically tried to get back to his boat, he remembered stories about sharks being attracted to human blood. “The whole time I was thinking, where are the other sharks?” Bonde said.

Seal Beach, bordering LA County has been forced to post shark warnings throughout the summer season due to more than a dozen juvenile great whites lingering just past the shoreline in Surfside. He was in a coma for over three days, and doctors feared he would have brain damage, if he woke up at all. “To be hunted and stalked, and then have something try to consume a part of your body, it sends a trigger in your brain that changes everything,” he said. Dumping the carcass back into the water triggered a change of heart: the shark had been far from shore and wasn’t bothering anyone, so he had had no reason to kill it if he wasn’t going to eat it. “That’s hard to just throw away 150, 200 pounds of meat. It was an easy transformation — to go from wanting to kill sharks to wanting to help them — because killing them was wasting valuable resources, he said. “I felt it was best to not kill them out of revenge or anything like that anymore. Fewer than 100 unprovoked shark attacks are confirmed worldwide each year, and very few are fatal, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

He cautions other swimmers that he didn’t see the shark’s fin until after it first bit him. “I would tell them that no place is safe,” he said. “It’s just not safe right now. It’s just been a very awkward year and you can get attacked at any minute.” That’s not the message Brenneka and other attack survivors who’ve become shark advocates want sticking.

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