One of the best things we learned, we learned from all the shark bite media mayhem. We learned that the media regularly blows shark attacks out of proportion, thereby resulting in mass panic.
Recently, a California girl was standing in shallow water offshore at one of Hawaii’s beaches, and a small, 4-foot reef shark swam up and bit her calf (it was like a 4-inch bite mark). After the incident, one of the news stations reported this blurb:
Reef sharks are normally timid, but are known to mistake human legs for food.
Then, they featured a photo like this to go with their story:
We can imagine that it was a very traumatic and scary experience for that poor girl, but it’s even more scary how the media comes up with this stuff.
How is a 20-foot great white synonymous with an itty bitty reef shark? And, how does the media know enough about a shark’s behaviors and choices to make generalizations?
Did an anchorman actually go out into the deep blue ocean to interview this elusive creature for information on its food preferences and personal life?
Anchorman: Um, yes Mr. Shark. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Shark: I swim around all day. I scare people. I eat a bunch of crap. I swim around some more. I scare more people. I eat some more crap.
Anchorman: That’s fascinating. What type of crap do you like to eat?
Shark: Personally, I love old license plates and car tires. When I can’t find any of those, I go after whatever I can get. Sometimes I mistake human legs for food. My bad.
Anchorman (biting his fingernails): Are you serious? You mistake human legs for food? How is that even possible?
Shark: It’s murky out there. Gimme a break. Sometimes I think it’s a seal, and it just ends up being some unappetizing, gristly human leg. By the way, quit biting your nails. Watching you chew on your fingers like that is making me hungry.
Anchorman (nervously): Okay, I think this interview is over. Camera crew, let’s wrap up here. I said let’s go, people! Chop, chop!