How do you see the Great White Shark??
When most people hear the word SHARK, a shiver (funnily enough the term for a group of sharks!) runs down their spine. I believe this is because since children we have all been fed one thing when it comes to sharks and that is FEAR. From the earliest paintings, to movies and even photos, sharks are portrayed as the man-eating villain, hunting down the heroic humans with jaws extended, eyes rolled back in merciless pursuit. Unfortunately fear sells. I have seen this first hand with the photos I put on social media. Put a calm, relaxed shark photograph (the large majority of the photos that I get during a day spent with these amazing animals) on Instagram and I get 100 ‘likes’. Put that famous open mouth, jaw extended, ‘demonic’ looking shark photo on Instagram and I can expect to see up to 10,000 ‘likes’ along with multiple shares! This is what the majority of people WANT to see and we wonder WHY most people think the way they do about sharks.
*The typical Great White Shark photos that graces the page of many a newspaper or movie cover:
*How we usually see these beautiful sharks interacting during a trip:
Poor sharks are on the back foot from the get-go. They live in the ocean which a large proportion of people already have a fear of. We have an innate fear of the unknown and what we can’t see. Going for a swim in the ocean and not being able to see below us is enough to scare many people. Then add the image of a shark and BOOM you have the recipe for a horror movie!
This is where a first hand experience viewing and/or interacting with sharks is the best way of changing peoples perceptions. I can talk about how different sharks are to the way they are portrayed by media all day long and most people will roll their eyes and my words will go in one ear and out the other. However take someone to see them with their own eyes and the sharks do the job for me! It is amazing to see people with phobias and very negative views of sharks have their minds changes after just a few hours viewing these misunderstood animals.
I hope that those of you who are reading this and have made it this far in to the article (well done!) either know from experience what I’m talking about or for those of you that haven’t had the life changing experience of seeing this wonder of nature in the wild, I sincerely hope that it has given you that urge to get out and see just what I’m talking about!
See you on the water!!
Marine Biologist at White Shark Projects