How to Exterminate a Great White Shark


Image: Flickr, hermanusbackpackers

How do you kill a shark? Well, you don't. Sure, sharks are responsible for the deaths of six humans swimming off of Western Australia. But WA law prohibits killing sharks. They are protected species. Even the widow and son of one shark victim, Brian Guest, have stated publicly that they believe sharks belong in the marine environment and should not be killed.

That may not stop the WA Government's Shark Hazard Committee, which -- according to the Perth Now Sunday edition -- has "put down in policy" a method for killing great whites that have attacked a human and hung around to get caught red-handed (red-toothed in this case, I guess).Not since Ahab and Chief Brody has so much wrath been focused on denizens of the sea. You wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy.

The WA committee's determination on the best way to exterminate a shark starts with setting out bait and "attractant", luring the shark to be hauled aboard a ship. This avoids the complication of refraction of bullets by the water; the shark should be shot in the head by a large weapon in the atmosphere humans prefer to inhabit. Then, just to make certain the job is finished, fisheries delegates must proceed with "severing the spinal cord and bleeding it out." In all fairness to the committee, this last step may be considered a merciful measure. Because sharks have an extremely small brain, they may survive the shot to the head.

One Shark Hazard Committee member emphasized that a special exemption from the law is required by Fisheries Minister Norman Moore to pursue the recommended shark murdering method. The policy also requires that any shark subject to the death penalty must have attacked a human, continue to pose a significant threat to the public, and be positively identified as the attacking shark before it is killed.

These requirements make the measure largely theoretical, or perhaps intended more to assuage pubic fear than manage shark population, because only one of the last six sharks involved in an attack stuck around the scene of the crime. And that was the shark which attacked Mr. Guest, subject of the request for pardon by the family of his victim. We wonder if the committee considered a "beach closed due to sharks" option as the lesser evil.

More on Sharks:
9 Shark Attack Survivors Lobby Congress to Protect the Predators
Shark Bites Pregnant Shark in Stomach, Saves Eight Shark Pups
Take Action: Help End Unsustainable Shark Finning
What do Sharks Have to do With Sustainable Seafood?
Biomimicry: Shark-Inspired "Skin" for Cars Claims to Improve MPG

Tags: Australia | Conservation | Endangered Species | Oceans

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