Don’t let the title throw you. While there has been a recent study published in the Journal of Zoology about applying geographic profiling to great white shark hunting behavior, the point of this post is to illustrate how the media sensationalizes headlines whenever sharks (and great white sharks, in particular) are involved in a news story.
The AP story which focuses on this study appeared on June 21 with the title Great white sharks hunt just like Hannibal Lecter. The story goes on to compare the hunting tactics of great white sharks to that of human serial killers. One of the researchers involved in the study, Neil Hammerschlag, makes a point of differentiating between sharks and serial killers by noting that the motive of the sharks is to “eat and survive.” However, Hammerschlag’s statement don’t deter the article from perpetuating the idea that sharks and depraved serial killers share preferences for attacking victims who are “young and alone” and “attacking when the lights were low.” The whole point of the study seems lost in the AP article due to the author’s attempts to turn the white shark into Hannibal Lecter. The AP article also showed up in media outlets throughout the world with alternate headlines, as did similar stories about the Journal of Zoology article. Below are some of the more over-the-top ones…
- From Jack the Ripper to Great Whites…
- The Great White Shark’s Criminal Mind
- Great white sharks aren’t just killers; they’re stalkers
- Ways of a Serial Killer: Great white sharks have M.O. in common with cold-blooded human counterparts
- Great white serial killers: Terror of the seas target victims in the same way as psychopaths
- Great white shark the ‘psycho killer’ of the seas
- Just Give Up: Sharks Are Serial Killers
Headlines like this do nothing but perpetuate negative stereotypes against the great white shark. Comparing sharks to Jeffrey Dahmer, Hannibal Lecter, and Jack the Ripper due to the fact that they follow specific hunting patterns is nothing short of absurd. The sad part is that Hammerschlagel comes across as conservationist-minded in the article, but his statements are overshadowed with all the serial killer, psychopath, terror, criminal, and stalker references.
By the way, kittens eat food and go to bathroom, as do serial killers. I wonder how long until we see the headline…Fluffy is Ted Bundy with fur!