The Shark Cull in Western Australia; Hunting an Endangered Species

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There is no doubt about it, I am scared of sharks. I think that is a pretty normal fear and growing up on the coast of Western Australia has shown me there is a reason to be so. The Great White Shark and Tiger sharks are fierce predators. They have sharp teeth and lots of them. They are huge. They are powerful. They kill.

In fact seven people have lost their lives on the shores of WA in the last three years. It must of been very scary for those people and horrific for the loved ones who lost them.

I am no longer swimming out too deep.

Despite all that I am passionately against the radical plan of the Western Australian government to cull the sharks for a few reasons, as are some of the family members of the victims of the shark attacks.

These majestic, fascinating creatures, that are one of the oldest animals on the planet, are already threatened species and have a low rate of reproduction. Killing high number of them will leave them a very vulnerable population. Ecosystems in the wild are fragile and we Australians unfortunately already have a bad track record of wiping out species, with the worst extinction rate on the planet! A study in San Diego showed that numbers of Great White Sharks have dropped by 90% in the last 20 years, with estimated less than 3500 left living. Any other creature with such low numbers would be protected, not hunted.

As well as the commercial hunting of the sharks, there will be 72 drum lines, which are baited hooks attached to drums monitored daily,  place about 1 km off shore along beaches. The issue is that a whole range of marine animals will lose their lives through these, including dolphins, turtles and smaller sharks. Once caught on a drum-line the marine life suffocate as they can not get enough water to pass through their gills, which is a horrible and slow way to die. If you look at the same method used in South Africa from 2011-2012 less than 18% of marine life caught was large sharks.

The other problem is that many shark scientists and previous studies show that culling the sharks actually doesn't reduce the amount of attacks. For example the Hawaii shark programs culled 4068 sharks but attack numbers did not decrease in the area of the culling. If the Government is spending millions of dollars, thousands of innocent beings are losing their lives and it is not effective, then that is a tragedy for even those who support the killing.

Last week saw over 4000 people take to Cottesloe beach in protest and over 100 shark scientists signed a letter to the WA Government calling for a non-lethal measures to be taken. It is still going ahead but the debate will continue.

My view is you are more likely to die in a car crash or from a heart attack. If you are nervous about dying, stop driving your car, smoking or eating bad food. Surfers, well your game just got a little hairier...Let the sharks have their ocean in peace.

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