Humans have been at war so to speak with sharks for centuries. These sea mammals have often been killed when they bite a human or attack a ship. Although these incidences seem to be few and far between, whenever a shark dares to harm a human being it’s usually taken care of in some way.
The thoughts about culling sharks have changed over the years. An ecologist said that we used to think ‘fewer sharks, fewer problems’ but that hasn’t proven to be quite accurate. This ideology has created a bunch of nets and baited shark traps that are in current use in Australia and some South African beaches that sharks tend to frequent.
The nets and baited traps to capture and cull sharks aren’t feasible because they’re getting rid of sharks that aren’t considered problem sharks. The key to making sure there are fewer problem sharks without disrupting this entire species is to have precision attacks on problem sharks.
There’s a technology that’s called biteprinting that helps people understand what solo shark attacked or bit a human. This technology can better help humans take care of the problem sharks without culling an entire species of sharks that perhaps didn’t do anything wrong!
This technology or concept is used in various ways with lions and tigers. Typically wildlife managers will place focus on tigers or lions that have a habit of attacking humans and cull them from the herd. This concept is easily transferred to problem sharks suing the biteprinting concept. This is when specialists use the DNA of a shark that bit someone, evaluating the bite marks, and connected these marks from each victim to one specified shark.
When you know which shark is the problem shark, you can cull the correct shark thus solving the problem with human attacking sharks without destroying the lives of every peaceful shark. Several colleagues at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris have started to create a DNA database of biteprinting.
The hope is that this DNA biteprinting database will help provide a more accurate solution to dealing with problem sharks. The problem sharks are defined as sharks that continuously attack humans at local beaches in the ocean. When you know the biteprint of the shark, you can better hone in on that one particular shark and cull it from the ocean, thus successfully reducing the risk of humans being bitten by a shark.
This theory is coming with some criticism as experts aren’t sure how they’ll take the biteprinting database and transfer that over to finding the exact shark with that exact bite DNA. Critics feel this is a neat idea in theory but not one that people can implement accurately. Time will only tell if the work of this team creating the biteprinting DNA database will lead to a legitimate way to handle problem sharks, or not.