Sunday, March 02, 2008

Finally, some good news amidst the 'shark attack' hysteria

Tiger Shark and Lemon Shark in perfect Harmony
Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click to enlarge

Julie Andersen, Director of the Shark Savers, sent me this "Miami Herald" article today:

We are all very glad to see that the Bahamian government officials have kept their cool despite the misinformation and plain distortion of facts in the press that was fueled by self-styled shark experts such as Neal Watson and George Burgess.

Both gentlemen do not appear to have ever dived with tiger sharks or other 'dangerous' species, and certainly do not know the exact circumstances that led to the lamentable incident. Yet, their statements talking to the press smack of a specialist expertise they do not have. They are the know-it-all types media pros usually resort to not knowing better. I will not waste more words on Watson.

As to Burgess, who believes, and wants to make others believe, to be a "shark attack" expert, let me just quote an internationally renowned shark scientist:

"....... The study of 'shark attack' is an unscientific endeavor. This is because it is impossible with our state of technical knowledge to set up an experiment to test an hypothesis. Any statement as to causality is just mere speculation. This is a plain fact. The scientific method is not available to those who 'study' shark attack."

As much as Burgess wants to be recognized as an authority on "shark attacks", he is not more than a mere statistician who collects data on shark incidents. The conclusions he draws from his data collection are nothing but speculations as he simply cannot claim to do his research as director of the International Shark Attack File in a scientific manner.

Here is what Maris Kazmers had to say on the subject of being a "shark attack" expert:

"Assuming that being a scientist means applying the scientific method to problems/questions, how does one resolve the fact that virtually all shark attack information is anecdotal, that most shark attack information comes from unreliable sources, that even the identity of the shark involved is often in question, etc, etc?"

Enough said?


the One called "Bitey"... said...

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say "good news" - the article is still pretty negative, overall. It's only the commentary you have here that's encouraging.

Wolfgang Leander said...


This is the part in the article I considered 'good news':

"When the dust settles, pro-cage-less divers may have little to worry about.

Michael Braynen, the Bahamas' director of marine resources, said none of his government's agencies restrict any form of diving, and as of Friday afternoon, he hadn't heard of any effort to change that.

''Shark diving has been going on for a considerable period of time in the Bahamas,'' Braynen said. ``Some believe it started here.''