Many people believe that shark nets protect swimmers by blocking sharks from entering the swimming area. However, these nets are not designed to act as a barricade, but as fishing net to catch and kill the sharks, among other species. Shark nets should not be used for protecting swimmers from shark attacks. They protect swimmers, not by deterring or blocking sharks from entering the area, but by killing them and reducing the area’s shark population. Therefore, there are fewer attacks on humans, but at a high cost to the already struggling shark population. There has been some success with shark spotting programs for preventing shark attacks, without harming the animals and it is a humane alternative.
The shark population in South Africa has declined since the 1960’s. The increase in human population, and therefore recreational swimming, brought an about an increase in sharks attacking humans in places like South Africa. In 1957, a series of attacks set off hysteria in South Africa, much like in the movie, “Jaws”. Over a 107-day stretch, known as “Black December”, sharks killed five people in the resort beaches off the coast of KwaZulu Natal. To calm the fears of vacationers and residents, the newly formed Natal Sharks Board installed over 200 miles of nets along the KwaZulu Natal province coast. The nets were extremely effective.
The nets reduced shark attacks by 90 percent, catching an average of 1,245 sharks per year. (Marshall)
Shark nets are adding to the growing problem of shark population decline, especially for certain species of sharks. The Great White is particularly vulnerable, due to the species’ low birth rate, compared to other types of fish, which generally produce hundreds of eggs, yearly. Great W...
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... eliminating them from our recreational swimming areas because of our fear. Though the use of shark nets has reduced attacks, it is also destroying an important animal in our oceans.
Leatherman, Stephen P. “Dr. Beach's Survival Guide: What You Need to Know about Sharks, Rip Currents, and More before Going in the Water”. New Haven: Yale UP, 2003. Print.
Marshall, Leon. “South Africa Rethinks Use of Shark Nets”. National Geographic News. 4 June 2002. Web. 9 March 2011
Peatling, Stephanie. “Sharks Kill Surfer, Reigniting Net Debate in Australia”. National Geographic News. 28 January 2005. Web. 14 March 2011.
Peschak, Thomas P, Scholl, Michael C. “South Africa's Great White Shark”. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 2007. Print.
Pike, Steve. “Surfing South Africa: Swells, Spots and Surf African Culture”. Cape Town: Double Storey Books, 2007. Print.
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