Australia, Sharks and Death

Perhaps you thought you were going to get away without hearing about any of Australia’s Bad Things this week, after all, I have never posted about bad things on a Friday before.

Until today.

It’s difficult to know what scares people the most about coming to Australia, but I imagine the top three are snakes, spiders and sharks.

There’s something like 350 to 400 different species of shark worldwide and around half of those surround the Australian shores. Not all of them will attack a human though, but of those who do, these three are top of the list:

  • The Great White Shark.
  • The Tiger Shark
  • The Bull Shark

Trouble is, they all look like this…….

They all look the same to me.

They all look the same to me.

During our Australian road trip, I became aware of three shark attacks in a 24-hour period. Not that I am particularly sharp or observant, the news was plastered all over the papers and on the TV.

Three attacks….. and three survivors. Who would have thought it!

I read about each of those stories at the time.

Jonathan Beard was attacked by what he described as a 4m Great White shark as he surfed over at Dreamtime Beach, Fingal, in New South Wales. He suffered a 42 cm bite to his leg but survived after swimming the 70m back to shore as the shark followed him. Quick thinking friends wrapped a tourniquet around his leg and the rest was taken care of by some intensive surgery.

At Binalong Bay, near St Helens, in Tasmania, 13 year old Hannah Mighall was dragged under the water twice by another Great White shark before her cousin, Syb Mundy, paddled over to the scene on his surfboard to give the shark a slap. They both swam back successfully to the shore, again with the shark following.

And then Stephen Foggarty was attacked by a bull shark whilst snorkelling at the mouth of Lake Illawarra in Windang, south of Wollongong, which is about 75 km below Sydney. He felt a nibble on his leg and instinctively turned around and started swinging. As he says in the video, “I think I got one on him”. It wasn’t long before Stephen was walking out of hospital on crutches.

Two top shark attack tips you should know

I watched a TV programme here in Australia about survivors of shark attacks. There are two things you should know. Sharks are quite particular about the foods they eat and if they are not sure what it is, which is often the case with humans, they will have a little taste test. So you’ll probably feel a little nibble first. As a human, we should take that as a warning we are about to be attacked.

Secondly, they hate it when you fight back. They are used to easy pickings, so why should they bother to fight for lunch? Punch a shark in the eye, or anywhere, and they are likely to back off.

Australian shark attacks have been documented since 1791 and in the 218 years since, at the time of writing, there have been 728 attacks that resulted in 190 fatalities. That means over 70% of shark attack victims survive the ordeal.

But the most important statistic of course, is that less than one person dies as a result of a shark attack each year here in Australia.

Less than one per year!

To put that into some kind of perspective, you are 300 times more likely to drown than to be eaten by a shark. In fact, you are more likely to die from eating shark by getting food poisoning or choking on a bone, than you are from a shark eating you!

And the really cool thing is, if you are still scared of sharks after all this, then just don’t go in to the sea.

Update: Since writing this article shark attacks in Australia have been on the rise, for more up-to-date information please visit:

Jaws 4 – The Revenge…. Stupidest film of ALL time.

The “Jaws” franchise of movies has a lot to answer for when it comes to the humans’ fear of sharks. But the Jaws films were stupid! Nobody explained that better than the late Richard Jeni.

I saw his performance on TV back in the UK many years ago, and I am absolutely chuffed to bits to have found it on LiveLeak, because YouTube took it down. I didn’t even know the comedian’s name, but a quick search in Google for “stand up comedian jaws stupid film” took me straight to it.

Please take the time to listen to and appreciate the humour of Richard Jeni, whilst at the same time picking up some essential tips on how not to get eaten by a shark.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Robo October 29, 2012, 9:42 am | Link

    Its crazy how we are all so scared of sharks. The chance of being attacked is so minimal. I think it is just the fear of the unknown.

    • BobinOz October 29, 2012, 8:03 pm | Link

      For me, it’s more a fear of being bitten in half! Seriously though, I do know what you mean, the chances of being attacked are extremely rare.

  • Col B September 4, 2012, 2:02 am | Link

    Hi Bob. I’ve just read on Bigpond News about an article on Sharks.
    A paragraph reads: “WA’s southwest is officially the world’s deadliest place for shark attacks, with five fatalities in the past 12 months.”

    Source: Bigpond News, ‘No way to stop shark attacks – WA govt.’ 4th sept 2012.

    Now that’s saying something, don’t you think? cheers.

    • BobinOz September 4, 2012, 6:11 pm | Link

      Hi Col

      Yes, I remember reading about this earlier in the year. WA had suffered its fifth attack in 10 months back then, July that was. The state was declared the deadliest in the world for shark attacks at that time and it seems those attacks continue.

      Most of the fatalities are divers or surfers, us splashers and paddlers close to the shore are usually pretty safe, but I still prefer to stick to the pool.

      Sharks and me have an agreement, they stay out of my back garden, I stay out of theirs.

      It is a worry though, isn’t it?

      Bob

  • BobinOz October 19, 2009, 12:24 pm | Link

    Those pesky sharks seem to swim where ever they feel like it. The nets obviously help, but they can’t be everywhere. I have read somewhere though, that nobody has yet been killed by a shark whilst swimming between the flags (where the lifeguards are). So there’s a thought.
    I wonder if those sharks might just start swimming up Fingal Creek!

  • Steve Povey October 17, 2009, 12:33 am | Link

    Wow, cant beleive they had an attack at Fingal Heads, that was one of my favourite beaches when we were there back in 2005. Used to see dolphins all the time there but never any sharks! No shark nets down there either, thats probably why!

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