According to Phys.org, researchers from Michigan State University revealed that Australian and U.S. media coverage regarding sharks primarily focused on shark attacks. Results from the study, which appears in Conservation Biology, indicated that over half of global shark-related media coverage focused on attacks on humans. Additionally, sharks were “portrayed negatively” in approximately 60% of media coverage, according to Phys.org. In comparison, only about 10% of media coverage focused on shark conservation and 7% focused on shark biology/ecology.
The researchers involved in the study suggested that the negative portrayal of sharks in the media could be having an impact on conservation efforts, due to sharks having a public “image” problem. Dr. Meredith Gore, a researcher involved in the study, suggested that balancing media coverage with “positive” articles focusing on that relative risk of attacks, measures to prevent attacks, and conservation issues could help improve the public view of sharks.
Tonight on Discovery’s Shark Week, “Great White Highway” follows a team of researchers who hope to learn more about where California’s great white shark populations travel throughout the year. Using tagging and tracking technologies scientist will hope to learn where the sharks go when they’re not in California waters and what the sharks do while they’re gone. One of the primary questions that the researchers hope to answer is where white sharks mate and give birth.
The L.A. Times is reporting that some environmental groups are seeking federal protection for great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). The groups have petitioned for the government to list California’s white shark population as an endangered species. The petition, filed last Friday, was prepared by Oceana in conjunction with Sea Stewards, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The biggest concern of those behind the petition is the threat of juvenile white shark being killed as a result of by-catch in gill nets off the coast of Southern California and Mexico, according to Oceana’s Geoff Shester. It’s unclear from the report how U.S. federal protection status would help to reduce by-catch of the species. White sharks are already a protected species in California and Mexico and cannot legally be targeted for harvest in either locales.
Tonight on Discovery’s Shark Week, “How Jaws Changed the World” will take a look at the impact that the “world’s first summer blockbuster” has had since it’s release in 1975. The documentary will not only look at how the horror movie affected the general public’s fears about sharks but also at how it helped piqued interest in sharks and even shark conservation efforts.