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National Geographic film-makers blamed for South African shark attack.

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posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 08:08 PM
The debate around "chumming" is not new to South Africa, and the word basically refers to throwing bait into the water to attract sharks for tourism and research.
The "chum" usually has ingredients like fish off-cuts, meat and blood, and along SA's Western Cape coast it is usually done to attract great white sharks, often for shark-cage diving and tourism, but also for scientific tagging.

An anti-chumming faction has long felt that chumming attracts sharks to coastal waters, and increases the risk of shark attacks on swimmers, surfers and body boarders. However, the scientific data was unclear, and the odd shark attack did little to inflame opinions either way, as operators used small amounts in limited areas.

Recently vocal concern grew as documentary film-makers from the National Geographic program Shark Men began filming, and I recall allegations of them using massive amounts of chum (up to 5 tons, including pig's blood, which, at least to sharks, appears to be awfully similar to human blood).

This is an article about the concern raised by the Shark Men's activities about a week before the attack, and seems eerily prophetic. The number crunching by authorities to justify the vast amounts of chum from one vessel is rather astounding:

The attack happened this Thursday when a champion body-boarder was attacked and killed by a 4-meter great white shark at Kogel Bay (wider Gordon's Bay), and the license for the filming was immediately revoked.

Angry South Africans lashed out at the film-makers across the web, sometimes with anti-Western undertones.

To many it seemed obvious that if you attract a wild animal with food it will come and linger, i.e. "You chum; they come". Furthermore, currents can carry that chum far and wide.
A few sided with the film-crew, and claimed that they were not close enough to the area of the attack to make a difference. Besides, a shark attack happens every year, and there's no evidence for a direct link.

Is anybody to blame?
Surfers are often quite philosophical about the minimal risk, and usually don't resent sharks, because once they enter the water, humans must know they are not at the top of the food-chain anymore.

Clearly sharks are an important resource for tourism along the Cape's coastline, and an attraction.
I wonder how people feel about this issue.
Was it hysteria mixed with anti-Western sentiments, or were the film-makers just wrong?
edit on 22-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 08:13 PM
Seems like a logical conclusion if it is true. Kinda like leaving bearbait near a park isn't it?

Last time I checked they didn't lure Grizzlies to the local hangouts.

posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 08:18 PM
I've never heard about or thought about this, but after being made aware it seems obvious that there is a risk involved when you lure sharks near heavily populated recreational beaches.

Five tons sure does seem like a lot of innards to be floating around with. I hope at the very least this leads to a good study to identify a link if one exists. Maybe National Geographic can start to make amends by making this their first priority.

I love Shark Week as much as the next guy but if watching it means someone might die I can do without.

posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 08:34 PM
reply to post by TinkerHaus

Good points.

However, I'm not sure I would describe False Bay as very polluted.

There are concerns about pollution along the urban coastal centers, but I think by international standards it's actually a fairly pristine stretch of coastline.

posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 08:40 PM

posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 08:47 PM
Here's a brief news clip on the attack.

It's really such a tragedy, foremostly for the friends and family of David Lilienfeld, and also for the long-term image and fate of the sharks.
I'm sure it hasn't been pleasant for the film-crew either, although we haven't really heard them comment.

edit on 22-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 22 2012 @ 10:58 PM
Great Whites are VERY common in those waters, which is likely why the film the series there.

The argument that they 'attracted' sharks to the area seems possible, but difficult to prove, especially if there are other attacks in the area annually.

I suspect at least part of it is just a way to vent anger at the West, which a lot of people probably have some damn good reasons for doing, even if this wasnt actually their fault.

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 06:38 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

(up to 5 tons, including pig's blood, which, at least to sharks, appears to be awfully similar to human blood).
Sharks do not have a taste for human or pig blood yet, they have been around for millions of years while we have been around for thousands. They do not purposely target humans and blood is blood to a shark.

Also I don't know if you mean 5 tonnes at once but this would not be needed and a huge waste of money.

Sharks are creatures of habit they hang around the shore if there is abundant levels of sea life. If they had learnt to target humans we would see huge numbers of shark attacks, I mean look how easily they catch a super fast seal.

I think its actually easier to argue chumming can reduce the risk of attack.
Chumming not only attracts sharks but their pray, in fact it attracts almost every level of the food chain. This means the sharks would probably be more interested in that stuff.
The sharks have to be relatively close anyway for chumming to work, so if they have something to feed on their is less chance of them biting Mr surfer.

Respect sharks, care for them and sustain their numbers because they are a key part to ocean ecology and sustainability.

edit on 23-4-2012 by Gaddafi because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 07:43 AM
What the hell was this guy doing in South African waters if he didn't accept the risk of running into a Great White?

This is just grieving people not thinking clearly and looking for someone to blame.

I dive alone here where we have Great Whites too, but none of my friends would be so stupid as to blame someone else if I got munched.

What if these people didn't chum the water days before? Who would these idiots blame then?

This incident could have been completely prevented if the guy had never gone in the water.

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 07:46 AM

Originally posted by halfoldman
An anti-chumming faction has long felt that chumming attracts sharks to coastal waters,

What about the sharks already at the coastal waters? They don't just live out in the deep ocean.

These people are acting like if they never chummed the water, this could not have possibly happened.

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 07:58 AM
reply to post by Gaddafi

Sharks most certainly are attracted by human blood and anyone with an open wound should get out of the water immediately (urinating in the water while swimming is also not advised).
The fear about the pig's blood was most likely that the heightened senses of the shark were being habituated by having something human-like mixed with their normal food, like fish chunks.
Attacks on humans would then no longer be opportunistic or even accidental, but habituated and targeted.
More on the chumming can be read in the links in the opening post.

It's inconsequential if chumming attracts other marine life. It attracts sharks to people if the chumming is done in certain areas, or the slick moves inshore. The only other creatures it really attracts are birds, and the seals which form the main prey of the sharks along the Cape coast congregate on rocky islets.
Suffice to say that anyone who goes swimming in a chum slick because they think the sharks will rather eat something else is not going to live for very long.

Great effort is put into avoiding contact between humans and sharks. Historically the main shark area was actually the eastern coast of SA, which also has other species like the Zambezi shark (the bull shark). Shark nets have long prevented attacks on humans, but they can have detrimental side-effects for marine life.

Along the Cape the form of prevention is shark spotting, and putting out warnings in areas where sharks have been sighted.
Last year a tourist had his leg bitten off after he was warned to stay out of the water by a shark-spotter.
That attack elicited less public sympathy.

I like your last paragraph, and yes we should respect sharks, study the effects of chumming more, and consult the people who use the water everyday.
Perhaps that could be something to look at for National Geographic, instead of their "perils of nature" programs.

edit on 23-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 08:20 AM

Originally posted by Gaddafi
Sharks are creatures of habit they hang around the shore if there is abundant levels of sea life. If they had learnt to target humans we would see huge numbers of shark attacks, I mean look how easily they catch a super fast seal.


There is a huge difference in the way a Great White attacks a known food source such as a seal or large fish compared to how they "attack" humans.

They charge in at a million miles an hour when they identify normal prey. With humans, they know we are helpless in the water and can't outrun them, so they take their time and circle us to observe us first (whether you realise it or not). Then if they are interested, they will casually swim up and take a bite, which often ends up being fatal.

I know a guy who was spearfishing at Whyalla years ago targetting a school of snapper. The snapper all bolted and a few seconds later, a white came charging past him at full speed, close enough to spin him around in the water. It didn't care about him, it wanted the snapper.

The only attack I know of where a human was genuinely mistaken for prey way the attack on Rodney Fox off Aldinga Beach. I've spoken to Rodney personally, and he said it just felt like he was hit by a train.

That's what happens if you have a catch bag of bleeding fish attached to you. Once it had him in it's jaws though, it never shook him which is the only reason he survived. The shark was suprised that he wasn't what it thought he was.
edit on 23/4/12 by NuclearPaul because: typo

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 08:29 AM
reply to post by NuclearPaul

That's fair enough, and I'm not sure if the family specifically blames anyone.
The incident has rather inflamed factions that have long been unhappy with how sharks are used for entertainment, and that feel this has altered their behavior over two decades. Then there are industries with clashing interests: one wanting to attract sharks, and the other preferring them unhabituated and low in numbers.

There's always a risk of a shark attack, but it goes up during certain seasons (usually around August).

The movements and migrations of the sharks is still being studied, which was one of the reasons to justify the spectacle of the program.
However a petition against the tagging (started in California) preceded the program and the attack:

I suppose it figures that if you have two bears living in an area, and you put out food for them you're soon going to have dozens of bears. Same with sharks.

Not only that, but some locals feel the aggressive behavior of sharks has been heightened and encouraged, and that Cape shark behavior has been altered:

Perhaps the film-makers were just unlucky to be blamed for something that would have happened regardless of their presence. However, considering all the warnings and the petition before the time, it's not surprising that the film is blamed in the public mind.

Oh well, it sounds like the film could move to Adelaide, since you don't seem to mind their activities.
I'm not sure everyone there would agree either, although both the human and shark activities are probably different from SA.

edit on 23-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

edit on 23-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 07:21 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Sorry what I meant was while they are attracted to human blood, its not because its humans blood but because it is blood.

Like I said, the sharks are already there, they are already in hunting mode and chumming is not going to change them or make them more likely to attack.
If they are not feeding on chum or large groups of sea life which can be rarely created by floating logs, floating dead whales and stuff like that they are feeding on seals on the coastline.

Birds are only attracted if thousands of small bait fish are.

Shark nets are not actually very effective in fact they often trap sharks inside the net which can lead to them starving and needing to attack a human.
Also as you mention the huge environmental impact all but leaves the method unusable.

Plane spotting is one of the best methods, but still is a little pointless.

Rather then the constant fear mongering we receive on sharks from the media, people should be educated. Its not hard to avoid shark attack by swimming in the day, wearing bright clothes/wetsuits, watching out for birds feeding and bait balls, obviously not swimming with an open cut like you said or urinating etc..

edit on 23-4-2012 by Gaddafi because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 08:35 PM
reply to post by NuclearPaul

Fairly clear that a majority of shark attacks are due to investigation by the shark.

Apparently in most shark attacks its the hit that kills you, or at least knocks you out and causes you to drown.

I remember reading a statistic, cant find it now that a huge majority of shark attacks are just an initial bite and then the shark just leaves.
If it were a seal, it would be a lot more then just one bite.

There are so many people who are happy to swim free with great whites, goes to show that education is the biggest key.

That is one hell of a bite, I swear I have heard his name before.

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 08:40 PM
I think the idea that chumming reduces the risk of an attack is silly.

Great whites travel thousands and thousands of miles.

Great whites have an amazing sense of smell. Some sources say 1 mile, some sources say 6 miles. Great whites have one of the greatest senses of smell of all the sharks.

It seems reasonable to me that if they did use 5000 tons (uneducated, funny-spelling American here) of chum over a period of days or weeks, it would drift out and eventually lure sharks closer to the shore, in a kind of chain reaction. This is a pretty isolated and shallow bay..I think a shark thought he was going to get a treat and had to look a lot harder than he was expecting. This is all just opinion though.

Another thing to consider - while I was checking on sharks I saw a lot of tourism sites in SA for shark diving, shark viewing, etc. There probably is some anti-western(american) bias behind this story because I don't think the South Africa government would be happy to lose those tourism dollars if a chumming ban went into effect.

edit on 23-4-2012 by TinkerHaus because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 08:50 PM
reply to post by TinkerHaus

If sharks are in a 6 mile radius this would mean they are already there to hunt on the shoreline for seals.

All chumming does is give them something else to feed on.

Saying it reduces the chance of attack may be silly, but it does not increase the risk. They have been going to these places for millions of years to hunt.

If there was a chumming ban it would probably just be within a certain radius of the shore or populated areas. Tour operators would just have to go further out, which most if not all already do.

posted on Apr, 23 2012 @ 09:08 PM
reply to post by Gaddafi

That's why I mentioned the chain reaction. If they were chumming over a period of weeks that chum will spread out, over the course of days it could get hundreds of miles out to sea. This is obviously going to lure sharks from further out and concentrate them in shallow, coastal water.

Sharks go into a feeding frenzy when there is a lot of food to be had. They go crazy and even attack one another when normally they just steer clear. It really makes a lot of sense that dumping 5000 tons of pig guts is going to work the sharks up and excite them, make them take a stab at anything that's moving. It also draws them closer to shore than they would normally go because they are certain there's a tasty snack somewhere.

You can track great whites here, if you watch the past movements you can see it's really, really rare that they enter shallow bays or even come within 20 miles of the shore. This shark attack happened within probably 50 meters of the shore.

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