DEC 12, 2017 10:13 AM PST

Understanding Sharks Reduces Fear of Them, Study Finds

Most people have watched, or at least heard of, the movie Jaws. While it’s a classic fan-favorite film, it also paints an evil picture of sharks and invokes people’s fear of being anywhere near them.

Most sharks aren't trying to do what you see in this image. On the other hand, many people think they are "killer fish."

Image Credit: Pixabay

The results of a new study published in the journal Marine Policy this week reveal that shark fears are all in your head. Furthermore, people who’ve been adequately educated about shark behavior aren’t as likely to fear the creatures or to blame them for randomized bite incidents.

The University of Sydney-based researchers reached this conclusion after surveying a group of 500 people in Shark Valley at the Australian-based SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium both before and after experiencing the sharks first-hand.

The results underscored how most of the test subjects weren’t as likely to blame or punish sharks for accidental bites after observing them up-close for themselves.

Related: Florida man faces charges after punching hammerhead shark to death

The most prominent fallacy is that sharks are “killer fish,” and that they’re out to get you whenever you step foot in the ocean, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sharks don’t purposely target humans as food because they prefer the things from their regular diet.

Sharks have notoriously poor eyesight, so when you move and behave similarly to a shark’s natural prey in the ocean, the giant fish become confused and sometimes mistake you for their prey. Many ways to avoid becoming a shark’s meal on your next beach visit are common sense.

As the study shows, anyone who’s been around sharks or understands their behavior would be more supportive of conservation efforts than those who believe everything they see in the Hollywood films. Consequently, spreading awareness about shark behavior could influence how people interact with the creatures in the wild and reflect positively on ocean biology.

Source: University of Sydney

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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