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
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
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)