By Sonia Van der Linde
6 February 2022, a tragic Wednesday afternoon that left Sydney shocked, as a 35-year-old swimmer was mauled to death by a Great White Shark. This was the first fatal shark attack seen in Sydney since 1963. After the attack, chaos ensued as beaches along the coast were shut down and a hunt for the shark was launched. Drones and drumlines were reportedly deployed to capture the Great White.
The theory as to why the shark was present in that area on the afternoon of the incident, despite the presence of shark-repellent within the inshore waters, is the uncommonly high levels of bait content within the waters. This, coupled with ever-changing sea temperatures altering the movement of Great Whites along the Australian coast, could have led to the shark wandering into the area. As sharks have been known to mistake humans for their usual prey, e.g., sealions and seals, the British swimmer’s death, tragically, could have been due to the shark’s evolutionary inability to distinguish between the colours and morphologies that separate humans from their prey.
This hunt has created a lot of controversy within an array of communities as many are aware of the presence of sharks within those waters. The debate was sparked when officials announced that the hunt was necessary for the protection of locals, however, others still believe that killing one shark will not avoid another incident and that the community should focus on bettering their shark-repellent and urging swimmers to stay within designated areas.
Hunting predators to ensure human safety has resulted in the eradication of many keystone species, which has and will continue to lead to the downfall of many ecosystems, in such cases educating the community seems to be a better way to solve the problem.
Photo credit: www.pexels.com (Ekrulila).