Many shark experts will tell you that shark attacks on humans are exceedingly rare and that sharks hardly want to interfere with humans because we aren’t their natural prey. But a particularly alarming uptick in the number of shark attacks off the coast of Western Australia may have you thinking otherwise.
As it would seem, the past decade has seen nearly a three-fold increase in the number of reported shark attacks off the coast of Western Australia. Startlingly, at least 17 of those resulted in fatalities, and there are no signs that these shark attacks will let up anytime soon.
Based on observations of a tooth sample collected from a bite victim, experts were able to identify the attacker as a great white shark. Many of the region’s shark attacks are thought to be caused by great white sharks, and with that in mind, it raises the question about whether these giant fish are undergoing some behavioral change that we hadn’t expected.
While we still don’t know what may have caused this behavioral shift, experts do think that cage diving could have something to do with it. Western Australia’s shark attacks rose after 2010, which is about when cage diving became a lot more popular. One theory is that the chum thrown overboard during cage diving has ‘taught’ sharks to associate humans with food and that this could have exacerbated the number of shark-on-human attacks.
More research is needed to validate this hypothesis, but it certainly seems like it could be a solid idea. With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to change our tourist-centric behaviorisms to prevent future shark attacks.