George Burgess, Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and curator of the International Shark Attack File

You hear more about shark attacks because there’s better media coverage and because there are more people entering the sea each year. Aquatic recreation has developed beyond sticking your toes in the water or going for a quick swim into surfing, diving, sail boarding—and many of these activities are provocative to sharks. We investigate shark attacks worldwide and maintain a compilation called the International Shark Attack File, which was founded in 1958. Actual investigations go back to the 1500s. Part of the reason I decided to accept responsibility for the file was that it offers an opportunity to talk to the press about issues other than shark attacks; the need for conservation and understanding that these animals and other sea creatures are declining is the core of the conversation. In many ways, sharks and their relatives are poster children of sorts for the overall decline of the sea.

Story by Susan Cosier. This article originally appeared in Plenty in August 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008