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Sharks are not mindless killing machines, marine biologists argue.

If you thought politically correct speech and sensitivity training was only related to other humans, think again: Australian maritime experts and MPs have launched a movement to relabel violent shark attacks into ‘shark interactions’.

According to the movement, the use of the word ‘attack’ contributes to the unworthy stigmatization of sharks as intentional killers that have nothing to do with the reality, so alternative terms such as ‘negative encounter’, ‘case’ or ‘bite’ are suggested instead of attack.

University of Sydney researcher Christopher Pepin-Neff argued that cases called shark attacks by humans are mostly just injuries and scratches caused by smaller sharks. According to Pepin-Neff, the term shark attack has only been used since the 1930s. Before it was called an ‘accident’, and it would be important to put this term back into the vernacular of the English language.

The Bite Club, for example, is a group of people who have survived a shark attack and are working to sensitize people to such incidents.

Leonardo Guida, a shark researcher at the Australian Maritime Society, said changing the term in common parlance would help dispel assumptions that sharks are mindless, human-eating monsters.

‘It’s just that sharks have no hands, so if they want to discover something, they take it in their mouths. But in fact, people are very rarely consumed,’ the researcher said. Whether this will be of any comfort to the victims of such ‘interactions’ was not addressed by the scientists.

Title image: Shark attack. (source: Youtube)

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