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Scientists Want Term ‘Shark Attack’ Banned And Replaced With ‘Shark Incident Or Bite'

Isobel Pankhurst

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Scientists Want Term ‘Shark Attack’ Banned And Replaced With ‘Shark Incident Or Bite'

Some shark experts are pushing for the term 'shark attack' to be swapped for 'shark incident' or 'shark bite' arguing that calling the term 'attack' will lead people to think sharks are 'mindless man-eating monsters' and incite fear.

This debate comes in the wake of the death of Simon Nellist, who was killed by a 4.5m great white shark while practicing for a charity swim at Little Bay Beach.

The incident was the first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963.

Simon Nellist, 35, was killed by a 4.5m great white shark. Credit: Facebook
Simon Nellist, 35, was killed by a 4.5m great white shark. Credit: Facebook

Surf Life Saving (SLS) NSW say that they have 'moved away from the term attack as it doesn't ­accurately reflect the behaviour of sharks in their natural habitat'.

Talking to the Australian Telegraph, filmmaker and shark specialist Andy Casagrande agreed that the terms used in regards to sharks needs to change.

He said: "Bottom line, sharks are ocean based apex predators, and if they wanted to, they would hunt and kill humans every day of the year, but they don't.

"Humans on the other hand, do hunt and kill sharks every single day of the year."

The debate over the wording came to a head when Greens Deputy Mayor at Randwick Council, Kym Chapple posted about the attack on Twitter.

Kym Chapple. Credit: Facebook
Kym Chapple. Credit: Facebook

Chapple tweeted: "Awful news from Little Bay tonight with a person killed following a shark bite – beach is currently closed"

People were quick to respond, arguing that this term minimised the tragedy of what occurred.

One user wrote: "I've unfortunately seen the footage and it wasn't a 'bite' It was a full blown, ongoing attack."

Chapple responded that she was using the terminology advised by scientists, arguing that the term 'attack' could lead to 'vigilante action or more nets which would both be really bad outcomes'.

While some attacked Chapple, others agreed with her.

One wrote: "Very horrific and sad, but thank you for calling it a 'shark bite' rather than a 'shark attack'."

In regards to the controversy sparked by her tweet, Chapple wrote: "A young man has died in awful circumstances and these ghouls want to make it about a culture war."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Facebook

Isobel Pankhurst
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