The Beacon

Sharks as Serial Killers? Try Again

Another summer, another season of shark hysteria in the media.

The Monday morning news cycle is all abuzz with a new study that likens great white sharks to serial killers.

"Great white sharks hunt just like Hannibal Lector," proclaims the Associated Press.

"STUDY SHOWS SHARKS LEARN FROM PREVIOUS KILLS AND DEVELOP AN M.O.," shrieks the New York Post.

"Great whites aren't just floating around there in the water waiting for some nature documentarians to come around and record them snapping up stray seals that happen to wander by. They are sitting in dank basements, chain-smoking, watching snuff films, and making creepy, obsessive collages of pretty seal co-eds while sharpening their incisors," reports Gawker.

Sure, the tone may be tongue-in-cheek. But while the framing of the research this way may garner some press, it also disguises the fact that the scientists only unearthed basic predator behavior. They demonstrated that sharks improve their hunting skills with experience, and select better prey over time - just like many other predators. My dog Lucy spent at least five years failing to catch squirrels before she perfected the technique of bolting for the squirrel only after it had wandered from the base of the tree.

And unlike serial killers, sharks hunt for sustenance, not for thrills. And I'm pretty sure they don't even like fava beans.

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