August, Shark Week takes over our lives. Unfortunately, the message of Shark
Week doesn't do much to remedy the poorly deserved reputation of sharks. When
my co-author John McCosker and I first published our book Great White Sharkin 1991, we hoped to dispel the untruths that
have beleaguered the shark. Yet, despite massive evidence to the contrary, sharks
continue to be portrayed as mindless killers lurking off shore—or
in the surf, or in the wake of boats—awaiting the hapless human who enters
their territory, intentionally or accidentally.
course, very few of these misconceptions have any real basis in science and are
mostly propagated by popular culture. In
my book Shark Attack, I point out
that the great white
shark was not even at the forefront of our collective nightmares until the
release of Jaws in 1975. Yet, nearly
40 years later, this fear persists. We have even been warned about the threat
posed by the giant Megalodon—a species of shark
that has been missing from our oceans for millions of years!
Sensational novels and movies, though entertaining, have unfortunately also
contributed to our collective misunderstanding of sharks, producing a culture
of fearful viewers who are ignorant of the true nature of sharks.
are dangerous. But those of us who have studied them realize that they are also
beautiful, mysterious, fascinating creatures.
are bioluminescent sharks; sharks that hunt with their tails; sharks that live five
thousand feet down in perpetual darkness. They come in all shapes and sizes,
from minute to monstrous. There are angel sharks, Atlantic sharpnose
sharks, basking sharks, blue sharks, bramble sharks, bronze whaler sharks, bull
sharks, carpet sharks, catsharks, cow sharks, crocodile sharks, dogfish, epaulette
sharks, frilled sharks, goblin sharks, gray sharks, great white sharks, horn
sharks, kitefin sharks, lemon sharks, leopard sharks, mako sharks, nurse
sharks, reef sharks, salmon sharks, saw sharks, silky sharks, sleeper sharks,
soupfin sharks, swell sharks, thresher sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, zebra
sharks, bonnetheads, hammerheads, porbeagles, and wobbegongs.
Butfor many, there is only one type of
shark: the vicious, violent maneater shark. We are all familiar with Shark
Week. Perhaps it is time for Shark Appreciation Week instead.
Interested in learning more about sharks from Richard Ellis? Watch the below video.