Vietnam had unusually high numbers of shark attacks?

VietNamNet Bridge 14 Feb 11;

A Wednesday article by Live Science magazine reporting that Vietnam recorded unusually high numbers of shark attacks in 2010 is unreliable, said a local expert.

The magazine said that Vietnam suffered from one of the most recorded attacks in the world last year.

It said that unprovoked assaults by sharks last year include six in Vietnam, 14 in Australia, eight in South Africa and six in Egypt.

It also quoted George Burgess at the University of Florida in Gainesville, curator of the International Shark Attack File as saying Vietnam and Egypt had “unusually high numbers of attacks in 2010”.

However, he did not explain why Vietnam had such a sudden increase in attacks.

According to Deputy Professor Nguyen Tac An, former director of the Vietnamese National Institute of Oceanography (VNIO), this information needs to be verified.

Dr. An noted that the magazine’s article could negatively impact Vietnam’s marine tourism.

According to him, the statistics of shark attacks released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) itself is reliable but it has yet to release its statistics for last year.

An said there are only around 10 – 20 cases of shark attacks in the world on average each year.

“Vietnam is not the center point of shark attacks on humans. On the contrary, sharks are an essential element of oceanic ecosystems, so they need to be protected here,” he said.

Some subtropical and tropical beaches in Australia, South Africa, and Panama - home to many kinds of sharks - are yet famous tourism destinations.

There around 50 out of 250 kinds of sharks able to attack humans.

In Vietnam, sharks are often sighted in coastal areas in Con Dao, Phu Quy, Cu Lao Xanh, Hon Me islands, among others, said An.

41 kinds of sharks including whale shark, small dwarf lantern shark, tiger shark, and the hammerhead need to be protected to cope with the fact that there are around 2 million tons of sharks hunted every year worldwide, he added.

Last June, Thanh Nien reported 17 year-old Huynh Nhu Hoang, a local tourist, was attacked by a shark when he was swimming a few dozen meters off the central province of Binh Dinh’s Quy Nhon Town.

Hoang is the latest of several victims of shark attacks at Quy Nhon beaches since July 2009.

To prevent and protect sharks

Local scientists have called for more research into preventing similar attacks in the future.

VNIO has conducted a research on 70 chemical substances used in driving sharks away. However, the most effective method in Vietnam now is planting a large net to surround a swimming area at beaches to shield sharks out in case they come.

A “shark task force” should be also set up to alert and rescue tourists.

According to Live Science, scientists last year investigated 115 alleged incidents of struggles between humans and sharks worldwide and confirmed that 79 of these were unprovoked shark attacks on live humans.

Sharks (superorder Selachimorpha) are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body.

The earliest known sharks are dated to more than 420 million years ago.

Since that time, sharks have diversified into 440 species, ranging in size from the small dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi) to the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which feeds only on plankton, squid, and small fish by filter feeding.

Well-known species such as the great white shark, tiger shark, and the hammerhead are apex predators, at the top of the underwater food chain.

Their extraordinary skills as predators fascinate and frighten humans, even as their survival is under serious threat from fishing and other human activities.

As cited by Telegraph, the first recorded victim of a shark attack is British merchant sailor Brook Watson who was swimming in the harbor of Havana in 1749 when a shark attacked him.]

Source: Dat Viet/Tuoi Tre

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