Why sharks attack people: a hypothesis of Australian scientists

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Why sharks attack people: a hypothesis of Australian scientists
Why sharks attack people: a hypothesis of Australian scientists
27 October, 15:59SciencePhoto: ВВС
Researchers believe that the reason is not in cannibalism of sharks, but because of color blindness and low vision, they mistake swimmers and surfers for their prey - seals and sea lions.

Sharks rarely attack people, but each such case arouses keen interest. Researchers at Macquarie University in Australia have speculated why these attacks could be explained, NewScientist reports.

Scientists have filmed a seal and a sea lion swimming in the aquarium of the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, as well as people swimming and rowing on a board. The filming was carried out with a camera mounted on the bottom of each tank and looking upwards, as well as with a camera mounted on an underwater scooter and imitating the movement of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) - one of three species that most often attack humans.

The scientists then analyzed the video from the shark's point of view, taking into account their color blindness and inability to see details, and evaluated the visual similarities between humans and animals. It turned out that sharks hardly notice the differences between swimmers and surfers and seals and sea lions with raised fins. That is, attacks on a person happen due to mistaken identification.

“Sharks have historically had a bad reputation and are considered brainless cannibals. We show that this is not the case, the scientists report. They listen to what their sight tells them, and it says that they have potential prey".

As the authors of the study note, the risk of an unprovoked shark bite cannot be completely eliminated, but it can really be reduced - for this, such studies are needed.

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