On sharks and "Jaws" - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • Ben Alofs
    • 07.12.10 | 05:35 (IST)

    It was not the Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), that was the subject of the film "Jaws". It was the Great White (Carcharodon carcharias). Both sharks occur in the Mediterranean. The Shortfin Mako is also quite common throughout the Red Sea. The Great White has been spotted in the northern part of the Red Sea (could it have come in from the Mediterranean by way of the Suez Canal? It does swim in very shallow water inshore), but the Red Sea is propably a bit too warm for the Great White. Although it has the greatest habitat and geographic range of any fish, it prefers temperate and colder waters. I agree very much with Avi Baranes, that there is nothing more beautiful and streamlined than a shark swimming in the sea. Although I did enjoy watching the film "Jaws" I feel sad that it gave sharks such a bad name. "Jaws" may very well have played a substantial role in causing the decline of many species of shark, of which there are over 440. I am afraid that there is one very naughty shark in the Read Sea off Sharm al-Sheikh, an Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), which is causing a lot of panic. It has not only badly maimed 4 people, but now killed a German woman. This after several sharks were caught, at least one of them being an Oceanic Whitetip, and the all clear had been given by the authorities. Just like in the film. And just like in the film, when people thought it was safe to go back into the water the shark attacked again and this time killed the unfortunate German lady. It seems that this is a rare example of a shark which has developed a taste for humans, or prefers humans because they are easier to catch. The Oceanic Whitetip shark is very inquisitive, aggressive and persistent. When the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in July 1945, more than 300 sailors went down with the ship, and 880 others faced exposure, dehydration and shark attacks. Many sailors were killed or after they died of exposure eaten by sharks. Oceanic Whitetip sharks were responsible. There is also the disturbing film "Open Water" about a young couple scuba diving and left out in the open sea by mistake by the dive master on the dive boat. They float around for ages only to be confronted and attacked by Oceanic Whitetips culminating in their tragic deaths. Still, in spite of these disturbing stories sharks are fascinating and beautiful creatures. They are defending their territory and can mistake swimming humans for seals. After all it is we who invade their territory and not vice versa! Go for a cage dive and enjoy!

    from the article: 'Many more people are eaten by dogs than by sharks'
    First published 01:44 07.12.10 | Last updated 01:44 07.12.10
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