New research from the University of South Australia has highlighted the positive change in the relationship between surfers and sharks.
The findings are great news for shark conservation since the less people fear sharks, the more likely they will be protected and left to live in peace.
Key findings in the survey include that while more than half of surfers have encountered sharks, over 60% have no fear of them. Findings include:
- 52% of surfers have seen a shark when surfing.
- 60% of surfers do not fear sharks when surfing.
- 44% of surfers stated that a shark sighting would not prevent them from going in the water.
- 17% of surfers know another person who was bitten or were bitten themselves.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Brianna Le Busque from the University of South Australia said:
“People have long feared sharks – not surprisingly given the hype generated from modern shark movies. But exaggerated depictions of sharks have unfairly influenced people and as a result, have damaged shark conservation efforts. Surfers are frequent ocean users, so they’re in a unique position to change these perceptions. Anecdotally, we know that surfers understand the role sharks play in ocean health and, for the most part, believe that shark conservation is good…But the relationship between surfers and sharks is complex and has not been widely researched, so understanding their interactions is an important step in shark conservation and management policies.”
“Surfers encounter sharks more than any other people in the community; they should be part of the consultation process when it comes to management or mitigation strategies…When we step into the ocean, we step into their environment. We all need to be appropriately informed to ensure a logical balance between safety and conservation.”
You can find the original study here.