30 November 2004

Great Whites have a lot to fear from humans

The fascination with shark attacks has for decades caught the public imagination. It has reached a crecendo once again. From Peter Benchley's 1974 novel Jaws to this summer's block-buster movie, Open Water, based on a true story of two divers stranded in a shark-infested ocean, the Great White has fascinated and terrified us.

With more and more people taking beach-side holidays, it is easy to get the impression that shark attacks are on the increase.

With no natural enemies, apart from killer whales, Great Whites are nicely tuned for a life at the top of the food chain - which entails a slow rate of reproduction. But with fishing and trophy hunting, this biological trait has turned into a serious disadvantage. One consequence is that their numbers have taken a nosedive.

In October, concerns over the survival of the Great White shark led to the World Conservation Union imposing strict controls on the international trade in its teeth and jaws - a measure opposed by Norway, China and Japan.

Read the full article at www.iol.co.za


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