Shark bite risk down dramatically

Washington, July 12 (IANS) The risk of being bitten by a shark has declined significantly in the last 65 years, shows a study.

For beachgoers along the California coast, the chance of being bitten by a shark has dropped a staggering 91 percent since 1950.

The study ascribes the drop in bites to declining great white numbers and a shift in great white distribution as seals’ numbers have grown and travelled.

Culling sharks is an ineffective way to protect humans.

Biologists point to effective marine management strategies as a way to re-direct sharks away from human activity.

The effective management of elephant seal colonies has concentrated sharks near their prey of choice – not humans.

“The more we understand about shark ecology, behaviour and distribution, the better able we are to create effective guidelines and help people make informed decisions,” said lead author Francesco Ferretti, post-doctoral scholar in biology at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station.

“Analysing global shark bite statistics has no ecological cost and virtually no financial burden when compared to shark control programs. By contrast, ineffective cull programs can cost millions of dollars and deplete already endangered populations.”

The study is forthcoming in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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