Long-believed ‘myth’ about sharks mistakenly biting humans is TRUE – with new evidence the marine species believe we are seals in the water
- Researchers from Macquarie University confirmed sharks can attack ‘by mistake’
- Many are also colour blind, with humans often bitten instead of sea lions or seals
- Research study discovered some sharks can barely distinguish shapes in ocean
- Juvenile sharks are also prone to attacking surfers due to their poor eyesight
A long standing myth about sharks attacking humans as a case of a mistaken identity has proven to be true.
A team of researchers from Sydney’s Macquarie University concluded in the eyes of many juvenile white sharks, surfers and swimmers are similar in appearance to seals and sea lions in the ocean.
Significantly many of the feared ocean creatures are colour blind, meaning images above the water surface such as wetsuits don’t look any different.
The research team also concluded that great white sharks, along with bull sharks and tiger sharks, account for the most bites on humans, according to 7 News.
Ominously, great whites, the world’s largest predatory fish, rip chunks out of their prey, which is then swallowed whole.
A team of researchers from Sydney’s Macquarie University concluded in the eyes of many juvenile great white sharks, surfers and swimmers are similar in appearance to seals and sea lions in the ocean
But despite their fearsome reputation the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has revealed the famed species is in rapid decline, with their numbers decreasing significantly each year.
The ocean creature made infamous by the Jaws movies have a reputation for picking up sound and smell from great distances – but at close range it was previously widely thought they relied on their eyesight to catch prey.
But the researchers instead discovered sharks can barely distinguish shapes and their short-term vision is up to six times weaker than a human.
When it comes to young white sharks, their vision is even worse – which isn’t good news for surfers, who are the ‘highest risk’ of fatal shark bites, particularly from juveniles.
‘Our study looked at mistaken identity from the visual perspective of a (great) white shark,’ Laura Ryan, the lead author of Macquarie University’s department of biological sciences, said in a statement.
‘Video footage of sea mammals, swimming humans and paddling surfboards was compared from the white shark’s perspective, viewing the potential prey from below.’
Based on the findings, Ms Ryan added the future research focus will be ‘developing a greater understanding of why shark bites sometimes happen’.
In turn, she hopes this ‘could lead to improved solutions that not only prevent shark bites, but also don’t endanger other marine wildlife’.
Many of the feared ocean creatures are colour blind, meaning images above the water surface such as wetsuits don’t look any different for great white sharks (pictured)
Great whites, tiger and bull sharks are the three species types which many humans fear