Shark attacks are rebranded as ‘negative encounters’ in Australia

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Shark attacks are rebranded as ‘negative encounters’ in Australia in a bid to improve the animals’ image

  • Shark incidents are to be rebranded as ‘negative encounters’ instead of ‘attacks’
  • Officials in Queensland and NSW are shifting away from using ‘attacks’
  • It is an attempt to change the animals’ image as a ‘man-eating monster’ 

Shark attacks in Australia are to be rebranded as ‘negative encounters’ to avoid scaring people away from public beaches. 

In parts of the country, officials will call the ‘attacks’ ‘bites’ instead in an attempt to change the animals’ image as a ‘man-eating monster’. 

Queensland and New South Wales are shifting away from using ‘attacks’, in a move which scientists say is welcome and overdue. 

The Department of Primary Industries in NSW describes an encounter as ‘incidents’ or ‘interactions’ in their official reports, the Sydney Morning Herald reported

Shark attacks in Australia are to be rebranded as ‘negative encounters’ to avoid scaring people away from public beaches and in an attempt to change the animals’ image as a ‘man-eating monster’ (file photo) 

Researchers say encounters were dubbed as ‘accidents’ before the 1930s when surgeon Victor Coppleson began to describe them as attacks. 

Leonardo Guida, a shark researcher at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said that the word choice can be ‘potent’ because public fears can be inflamed by language used by politicians and the media.  

Dr Guida said that changing language used around the incidents is important ‘because it helps dispel inherent assumptions that sharks are ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters.’ 

He added that changing the terminology would mean that the public better understand sharks and how they behave.  

Two spearfishers recorded the moment they were caught in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy while diving off the coast of Western Australia and the video was shared earlier this week

Two spearfishers recorded the moment they were caught in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy while diving off the coast of Western Australia and the video was shared earlier this week

Two spearfishers recorded the moment they were caught in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy while diving off the coast of Western Australia and the video was shared earlier this week

Christopher Pepin-Neff said that describing an incident as an ‘attack’ is a lie because more than a third of encounters between sharks and humans left no injury at all, with many being minor bites from small sharks. 

Shark experts note that they can be predatory when breaching the surface and snapping seals in their jaws. 

Associate professor at Macquarie University Nathan Hart notes that sharks use their mouths to explore something because they don’t have hands, adding that humans are ‘very rarely’ consumed by the fish. 

Drone footage shows that sharks, despite regularly swimming close to surfers for extended periods of time, only very rarely bite.   

Two spearfishers recorded the moment they were caught in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy while diving off the coast of Western Australia and the video was shared earlier this week. 

Diving for mackerel off the coast of Dirk Hartog Island, Chris Hodgkinson and Nick Hoad immediately attracted a hungry shark after shooting a fish with his speargun.   

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