Shark Attacks: Could It Be Bad Luck or Something Else?

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Jacob Nguyen

Seven people have died this year due to shark attacks in Australia, could climate change be the cause? There were no deaths to shark attacks in Australia last year. In fact, the average rate of deaths from shark attacks have remained at one for the last 50 years. The fact that there is a spike of seven deaths this year alone is alarming. This is a spike that hasn’t been seen in 86 years. There are a number of possible reasons that range from simple bad luck, to the climate crisis. 

Australia is heavily impacted by climate change as it has led to heavy fires, extreme heatwaves and one of the worst droughts on record. Oceans have also been hit with rising temperatures and acidification that heavily damage entire ecosystems. This has led to a mass migration of sea life looking for suitable environments. Species like the Yellowtail Kingfish, the Common Sydney Octopus, plankton and plant life have been observed moving south. Due to the warmer waters in the winter, species of sea life are choosing to stay permanently in southern waters. With the mass migration of species, the sharks will respond to the prey. 

Changes to water temperature could also be a player in the movement of sharks. Surging currents such as the Eastern Australian Current provide currents of warm or cold areas of water. Over the decades, this current has been growing stronger, and has pushed more tropical water into the coasts. These shifts in water temperature could explain the movement of sharks into human areas. Some species like the Bull Shark enjoy warm water, and will spend more time in warm, southern waters. Species like the Great White shark prefer colder temperatures, and will be drawn closer to shores that also provide abundant prey. Tiger sharks are usually found north, but now have been seen to venture south because of the current. These three sharks are responsible for the most shark attack deaths.

Annie Do, a sophomore at Hamilton High sSchool, thinks that luck is the reason for the fatal shark attack deaths. When asked about the reasoning for the fatal shark attack deaths, Do states:“I think that it’s luck because people went out in the ocean thinking that they would be fine, but ended up dying by chance.” Putting climate change aside, luck is a major factor that plays a role in shark fatalities. There have been several close calls in recent years where a victim was saved because of a nearby medical worker. A shark bite to one bad place in your leg could leave you to die in seconds; However, the same bite a centimeter to the right could only leave you with just a scar. 

2020’s shark fatality rate is only based on a year of data. It is difficult to determine if climate change is the cause as these figures could fluctuate year by year. There won’t be a true answer until a few years pass to determine if there is an increasing trend to the shark attack deaths. With the climate changing as it is, experts can agree that the oceans will change alongside the sharks. Climate change has devastated the world’s ecosystems, and it has disrupted the flow of many animals. Only time will tell if this will have an impact on the interaction between humans and the ocean’s sealife.