Sharks are considered one of the most dangerous sea predators. Are these sharks really that dangerous to humans? Or Are they rather more friendly than we think?
Only about a dozen of over 500 species of sharks have been involved in human attacks. According to CNN travels, there are 72 shark attacks last year and only 3 were fatal. Irrespective of these facts, humans are not a natural food for sharks. Most sharks primarily feed on small fishes and invertebrates. Some of the larger sharks prey on marine mammals like Sea lions, Seals, and so on.
Sharks have been in existence for between 400 and 450 million years ago. Since then, these creatures have been known to attack humans probably when they are curious or confused.
There is more to sharks attacking humans or being friendly. Let’s find out!
What Would Make Sharks Attack a Human Being?
Sharks get curious when humans are splashing water. Also, when they see shiny objects or high contrast clothes, they can mistake those as fish scales. They try to investigate out of curiosity and that might lead to an accidental attack.
So, when you decide to go swimming or surfing in areas with sharks, learn how to avoid shark attacks.
Sharks have more to fear against humans than humans do against sharks. Humans hunt sharks for meat. Their skin and fine for making products such as shark fin soup and lubricants.
Which Sharks are Harmless?
There is a cultural myth that most sharks pose threats to humans. Certainly, some sharks tend to be more aggressive towards humans, although, this could be out of curiosity or confusion.
In the same way, some sharks pose the least threat to humans considering the same factors. Or better still, they do not pose threat at all to humans.
These are usually filter feeders and others that feed on Zooplankton. Even predator sharks feed on smaller fish. Just as it’s been said; humans are not sharks’ diet!
Meanwhile the types of sharks considered harmless are as follows;
Whale Sharks are one of the largest shark species in the ocean. Despite its size, it poses no threat to humans.
This species of shark feed on Zooplankton. They don’t hunt and kill prey the same way other predator shark species do.
Whale sharks are tolerant of divers and some even interact with humans. These harmless beautiful creatures are docile.
The nurse shark is an elasmobranch fish within the family of Ginglymostomatidae. Though they are violent predators, they prefer to hang out on the bottom of the ocean close to the shallow waters and wait for prey.
The only time they have confronted a human is when they have been stepped on mistakenly or protecting themselves.
None of the attacks by nurse sharks have been fatal. Nurse sharks would usually swim away when they see humans approaching.
The Basking shark is a greyish-brown fish with mottled skin. It is the second-largest living shark, after the whale shark.
They are another incredibly large filter feeders and they feed on plankton too. Sometimes they are mistaken to be the great white sharks.
However, there’s never been an account of a Basking shark attack on humans. They make great swimming partners for divers.
The leopard shark is a species of hound shark, the family of Triakidae. They are common in the same shallow waters that humans often swim.
There has not been a case of a Leopard Shark attack on a human on record. They prefer to swim along with the ocean floor hunting crabs and small fish.
Whenever they encounter humans they usually swim away. Leopard sharks pose zero threats to humans.
Angel Sharks are a group of rays in the genus Squatina. They commonly inhabit sandy sea beds in ocean depths of every continent in the world.
These sharks hunt underneath and remain camouflaged until when attacking prey. As a result, swimmers don’t notice them along the ocean floor most of the time.
Note that they only attack humans when disturbed or stepped on. They are incredibly prolific but not aggressive.
The Bamboo shark has other common names as long tail carpet sharks. They are common in the coastal waters along with southeast Asia and the Australian continent.
These sharks are impressive hunters, however, there has been no case of attacks on humans. They have a docile and non-aggressive temperament. Yet, they do not let divers pet them.
The bamboo sharks’ largest specimen measures no more than 121 cm.
Goblin sharks is a rare species of deep-sea sharks. They are one of the scariest looking sharks in the ocean.
These sharks have powerful retractable jaws and they feed on both small and large fishes. They are not an extremely aggressive shark.
They hunt in very deep ocean waters at a minimum of 330 ft. So, very few persons encounter them who are mostly divers.
There is no record of a goblin shark ever attacking a human.
The Greenland shark is one of the longest living vertebrates known to science. Also interesting is that these sharks are one of the largest predatory sharks in the ocean measuring up to a whopping 24 ft.
They swim at a very slow pace and prefer extremely cold and deep waters. As a result, humans rarely encounter them.
Greenland sharks are also a variety of sleeper sharks.
Sand Tiger Sharks
The Sand tiger shark is a species of shark that inhabits sub-tropical and temperature waters worldwide.
Sand tiger sharks are of 3 types and even with their diversity, they have not been known to attack humans.
They inhabit the continental shelf, from the sandy shorelines and the submerged reef to a depth of around 6.26 ft.
When observed, these shark species proved to be protective and show dominance displays. But these have not led to any attack on humans.
These sharks are impressive hunters. However, divers who closely approached them noted that they did not act aggressively.
The Thresher shark while considered harmless to humans are large species. Therefore, one must exercise caution when close to them.
There have been only 5 Thresher Shark attacks on humans and they are all provoked attacks. 4 times out of the 5 involves the divers taking the shark aboard a boat.
Thresher Sharks are shy around humans and difficult to approach.
Which Shark Is the Nicest of all Sharks?
The Nurse shark is regarded as the friendliest shark because of their docile and stealth mode. Nurse sharks are docile and don’t even approach humans.
Meanwhile, these sharks are not aggressive and pay no attention to humans.
On the other hand, the Lemon Shark known as “Blondie” is the nicest shark ever witnessed. This shark allows divers to pet it alongside her friends.
Do Sharks Love To Be Petted?
Not just the Lemon shark. Melissa Lawrence (BS Marine Biology) stated – There are a few sharks that the caretakers have deemed cuddlers. They will lay in your lap or next to you and rest on you while you pet them.
There are also a few sharks that like belly rubs from certain caretakers, actually moving on to their side to expose more belly. Though they will swim away from other caretakers every time.
In all, you can pet some shark species and they would appreciate it. The Lemon shark named “Blondie” currently holds the title as the most petted shark in the sea.
Blondie is popular among divers near Jupiter, Florida due to its playful nature. Locally based divers head into the water almost every day and every time Blondie and her company are present to interact with them.
The Blondie has a bond with the dive team and often makes a beeline to attract them whenever they dive into the water. They are not after food, just affection. Blondie loves to be petted!
Her numerous nerve endings in the snout area are likely the reason for her yearning human contact. Blondie clearly likes attention
Lemon sharks are a non-aggressive species. They are not prone to instigate attacks on humans except when provoked. There are reportedly 22 incidents of a lemon shark biting and zero fatal attacks.
Of course, it’s not advisable to try to make contact with a shark. Petting any random shark is really not the best idea for anyone.
ARE SHARKS REALLY DANGEROUS?
Out of all 500 species of sharks, only a few instigate attacks on humans. The panic of a shark attack is mostly not necessary.
Sharks really have different personalities. Some sharks just want to interact while others don’t. Most would rather stay on their own. Of course, that is interaction for them.
From Melissa Lawrence’s experience in the wild many species want nothing to do with us unless we condition them to human presence. It usually takes food for them to want to interact regularly.
Although sharks don’t have the mental capacity to be friends with humans. They don’t actually regard humans as threat or prey. There are only about 72 shark attacks in 2019 and only 3 were fatal. Some sharks actually love human contact.
Note: While we pointed out that most shark species are unlikely to attack any human, we strongly advise against trying to pet any random shark. Always learn to protect yourself when in any water with records of sharks.