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Kylie Shimada

Prichard
Passion Project
May 13, 2016
Shark Net Alternatives
When one thinks of the ocean and its dangers, the famously feared animal that is the
shark usually comes to mind. After the 1975 major motion film JAWS, the fear of sharks was
instilled into everyone. This contributed to the overwhelming amount of negative thoughts and
emotions caused by sharks. However, as we are currently trying to protect ourselves from
these vicious man eaters, their population is rapidly declining and the effects of this are not
beneficial contrary to popular belief. A tool used in the oceans around the world to divide
human beach goers and sharks is known as the shark net. These mesh nets are installed to
create a barrier between sharks and humans but the fact they are made of mesh that is easily
bit through seems to go over peoples heads. Whether they are bit through or simply swam
around, sharks are still able to have access to the beach, so if the point is to create a strong
wall for safety, it definitely isnt working. Trying to control how these animals live in their own
home is inhumane and ridiculous. Stripping their rights, all endangered species of sharks are
being caught and tangled in these nets, while some havent made a single attack to a human
before. And the cruelty doesnt stop at the sharks, these nets make innocent marine life such
as dolphins, rays, turtles, and whales also pay the price of being in the wrong place at the
wrong time. These beautiful and endangered creatures are being tangled, strangled, and
drowned while caught in the nets, killing thousands of them in waters all over the globe. We
need these essential animals, especially the sharks, in order to keep our oceans and

ecosystem regulated. There are many more ways we as humans can regain our morals in this
field by pursuing less violent advances in technology. We need to learn how to coexist with
these species, and I firmly believe there is a way to do so.
Innocent: adj; not guilty of crime or defense. To put this word into perspective, we hear
about thousands of innocent humans being murdered in public mass shootings every year.
Naming a few, are Sandy Hook Elementary School, where twenty students and six adults were
shot and killed by shooter Adam Lanza in 2012. In the same year another shooter James
Holmes murdered twelve and wounded seventy at a movie theatre in Colorado. Devastating
and heartbreaking, we mourn the fact they were so innocent. Faultless, these people did
nothing wrong. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Identical to this
scenario, are the numerous sharks who have not attacked a single human, and yet get trapped
in this net and die. Of course we feel more empathy and sadness for the humans who are
killed in a shooting, and though sharks are a different species than us it is important to share
the same morals and awareness towards them. From the article titled, Shark nets used at
most beaches do not protect swimmers writer Michael Slezak found that in a three-month
period in 2014, drumlines in Western Australia caught 172 sharks, of which 163 were tiger
sharks and none were great whites. However Four Corners reported that tiger sharks had not
killed anyone in Western Australia for more than 20 years. Drumlines are another lethal tactic
to catch sharks. In both situations, shootings and protection mechanisms, there is a way to
prevent the violence. Gun control, though a whole different topic, can solve the mass shootings
by preventing those who are not responsible enough, to possess a firearm. In the same way,
removing the nets and drumlines can free the harmless sharks and other marine life from
innocently getting killed. Obviously, not all sharks have a clean record of no attacks. However,

understanding that this is their home that we intrude on, it doesnt make sense to barge in and
hurt them. As humans there is a sense of entitlement, that we are above all other species.
They are voiceless and equals to us, and the sooner this is understood, the sooner our ocean
can find peace again.
Now for those who believe theyre better off without sharks existing, this will make them
think again. Turns out, we need sharks in the ocean. They play quite the role underwater and
without them, life would evolve into something pretty different. Starting with the food chain,
sharks stay at the top of it as the apex predators. Apex meaning the alpha predator, the top
dog of the ocean. Sharks go after the weak, old, and sick fish. Getting rid of these eliminates
the spread of sickness throughout the fish, creating a healthier population throughout the
ocean. This is good for us humans, since we eat fish and the healthier and stronger they are,
the happier we are as fish consumers. Sharks also keep fish numbers in check so that one
species doesnt get over populous than the others. Declining numbers in sharks cause
predators below them such as rays, which to some sharks are prey, to start feeding on all of
the clams and scallops. This results in major fisheries to go out of business because of the
absence of the clams and scallops they usually catch and sell, and a decline in business is not
ideal or beneficial to anyone. Now for something as simple as breathing, sharks affect this too.
Without sharks in the ocean eating their normal prey, other marine life will start chowing down
on things such as phytoplankton. Phytoplankton contribute to the production of oxygen
throughout photosynthesis, in turn lowering our oxygen levels on land. Though the amount of
oxygen these phytoplankton actually bring to the table is unknown, it still is a factor needed to
be considered, since it is yet another way the presence of sharks involves us. It is upsetting
that for sharks have survived for 450 million years, but may be gone within the next decades

based on an article titled Sharks Role in the Ocean on sharksavers.org. The fact we can
control and put an end to the decline of sharks and yet we arent is pathetic. Theyve been
around for millions of years and to lose them intentionally in the near future seems ridiculous.
After educating yourself on the impact these sharks have on us, maybe now they will be
considered and protected.
It is 2016, and some people seem to forget this. The first shark nets were installed in
1935, but only as a two-year experiment. However, by 1937 there had been no shark bites,
and no Government funding. The reason the state financed netting that year was NSWs
imminent 150th Anniversary: state politicians were worried there would be a shark attack
during the celebration based on the article Shark Nets from the Save Our Sharks foundation
website. In New South Wales, shark nets are still practiced even though there are new
possible alternatives to lessening attacks through technology. Sonars, tracking, electrical
currents, and drones are all examples of doable tactics to protect both the humans and the
humans. Sonars have the ability to detect when a shark is near, allowing beach workers to
notify the swimmers and a team to safely herd the shark away from the shore. When tracking a
shark, scientists tag them with a device that allows them to trace the location of it. Shark gets
too close, it simply gets lead in a different direction by other scientists and researchers. As for
electrical currents placed in the water, this method slightly hurts the sharks just enough for
them to feel uncomfortable and swim elsewhere. The current is picked up by the sharks snout
and as soon as the shark swims out of the waves distance, there is no pain felt anymore.
Although this specific alternative does cause some pain to the shark, at least it doesnt kill it
and it is only temporary! Lastly, there are the aerial views of the ocean using a drone. These
popular cameras have become a hot commodity recently and are used for filmmaking usually.

If they are put to use for protecting beach goers, the government would surely approve them,
therefore creating an official and safe way to monitor the sharks. It makes no sense to drag on
the shark nets when they were originally used to make sure a holiday in Australia wasnt
disturbed by the slim chance of a shark attacking. As time presses on and technology
advances every day, new alternatives that do not kill or harm the sharks seem extremely
doable.

Despite these gruesome facts of reality, nobody wants to be bit by a shark, I get it.
Understanding the fear people may have, I see that those who are in favor of the nets are only
scared. The major motion film, JAWS set a pretty clear picture in peoples heads to be afraid
of this man eating monster, even though sharks never eat a whole human, its typically a
single bite then they swim away. However the nets seem to contribute to the cause of this
scare. From the article Shark Nets: A Tangled Web of Destruction, it is the mere existence of
the nets that is the most damaging due to their impact on our collective psyches. Their
installation reinforces our misguided and irrational fears of sharks, providing a very real
example that our concerns are valid. So although it is normal to be afraid of a shark, using the
nets as a practice of protection only worsens the fear of them. This distress needs to be
soothed by knowing the actual chances of getting attacked by a shark. Based on the statistics
from the International Wildlife Museum, the odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are
1 in 3,748,067. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks (1 in 340,733), lightning
(1 in 79,746), drowning (1 in 1,134), and a car accident (1 in 84). These numbers speak for
themselves, it is very unlikely people are going to get bit a by a shark, and if they do, chances
are a mesh net didnt stop it from happening.

After educating myself on the controversy that is shark nets, I am more interested in
making these alternatives be put into play. Getting the nets removed would not only benefit the
ocean but us humans on dryland. Looking out for these animals will pay off in the long run and
make both species happier. Learning to coexist and let these sharks be at peace, but also
protect ourselves is a goal I have for the world.
Research
"Shark Nets: A Tangled Web of Destruction." Shark Angels. Shark Angels, n.d. Web.
24 Apr. 2016
"Sharks' Role in the Oceans." Shark Savers. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.
"Why We Need Sharks - Operation Requiem." Operation Requiem. N.p., n.d. Web.
12 May 2016.
"Shark Nets at NSW Beaches 'do Nothing' to Reduce Attacks." ABC News. N.p., 07
Feb. 2016. Web. 12 May 2016.
"About Shark Nets in NSW." Sea Life Trust. N.p., 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 May 2016.