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Examples and Samples

Are Sharks as Dangerous, as People Consider Them to Be?

Among the richness of the animal world and the exciting images it offers fishes have never arrested too great an attention of human beings. Though, there are a lot of books, films and other media on virtually any kind of mammals, birds or lizards. There is hardly anything to be found being dedicated to fishes. With one exception, nevertheless.

The exception is sharks, especially – the great white shark or Carcharodon Carcharias. It is hard to imagine some other predator that inspires so much terror and disgust in humans, along with a kind of morbid fascination. The very image of its triangular fin gliding above the water imposes a kind of primeval terror upon people, being the embodiment of the ancient fear of being devoured alive by something alien and unfamiliar, coming from the uncharted depths of the sea.

However, most of this fear may easily be tracked down to much more contemporary times, than some kind of genetic memory. We speak, of course, about a bestselling Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws and its many film adaptations, spin-offs and imitations. The book about white sharks attacking, maiming and eating humans turned out to be a great success and actually created the image of a shark as a man-eater in the mass culture.

The facts, however, testify rather differently. Although there was a number of documented shark attacks on people, their number is far less than one could have supposed taking their reputation into account, with only a small percentage of them being fatal. It seems that white sharks don’t like the taste of human flesh, or at least find it unfamiliar. As their only way of interacting with the outer world is biting, they often test-bite unfamiliar objects, including humans, but generally leave them alone afterwards, discovering that they are very unlike their usual food.

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