Perhaps we have the impression that sharks are nasty predators that attack people at any opportunity. Sharks are certainly persecuted by humans. They are endangered actually mainly because of the insatiable appetite in Asia for shark find soup. It is wiping the species out. But that is another topic.
The Aussie authorities have deemed a recent shark attack a provoked incident. The attack concerns a Brit in Australia, Simon Nellist, 35, an experienced diving instructor. He was killed by a great white shark off Sydney in February of 2022. He was Sydney’s first shark victim in 60 years.
Nellist was training for a charity swim at the time of the attack. The 15-foot shark struck from below at Buchan Point, near Little Bay southeast of Sydney.
He was a former RAF engineer who had grown up in Penzance, Cornwall, UK. At the time he was wearing a black wetsuit and had been swimming in that area where people had also been fishing.
The International Shark Attack File has classified his death as a “provoked incident”. Such a description occurs when a human initiates an interaction with a shark. It can be deliberate or as occurred with this man, accidental.
Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research remarked that Nellist in no way intended to provoke the shark but he had been swimming in an area where people were fishing.
We find that a large fraction of bites that are reported to us occur where people are fishing and there is chum/bait in the water. Fishing brings baitfish closer to shore than they might otherwise be and sharks often follow.”
He believed that the classification of a provoked incident in this case was because “circumstances might have excited [the shark or induced] atypical behaviour”.
A video of the attack showed the shark in a frenzied state. An alternative assessment was made by the Australian Shark Incident Database. They assessed the attack as an “unprovoked incident”. This organisation works closely with the International Shark Attack File.
See link below to article on climate change increasing shark attacks. Source of story: The Times April 27, 2023.