“Thank you very much, Steven Spielberg!” This is what many people are probably thinking after seeing “Jaws”, the adaptation that the great director made in 1975 of the work of the same name written by Peter Benchley a year earlier.
And it is that if we owe something to this film, it is the way it has had to induce us to fear getting into the water and being victims of a shark attack; although Spielberg’s vision of these animals is exaggeratedly out of place, since shark attacks on people in real life are rare
. Along the following lines we will learn what selachophobia is and what its symptoms and causes are. At the end of everything, we will give a series of notes that may be of interest to learn more about these splendid animals. What is selachophobia?
The fear of sharks is known as “selacophobia” and can be triggered by different causes : from a traumatic event resulting from a real encounter with sharks or any other marine creature; until having developed a phobia of sharks after seeing the aforementioned movie (or one of its innumerable imitators), perhaps some report on testimonies of victims of attacks and even after having read about the subject.
We say that selachophobia can be due not only to a traumatic experience with sharks, but also with any other sea animal. Consequently,fear would be generalized to all marine beings , including sharks. Thus, we would speak of “selacophobia”, but not exclusively, since there could also be fear of dolphins, whales, tuna or fish similar to sharks.
There would not be much difference in symptoms between those included for selachophobia with those of other types of phobias, for example: increased heart rate, anxiety accompanied by a feeling of shortness of breath; even uncontrollable tremors and irrational intrusive thoughts in the most severe cases.
This compendium of symptoms could appearif the person is exposed to images of sharks, real or fictional, either on a screen, in a book, in an aquarium or even if he imagines them ; and its intensity will vary according to the subject’s perception of imminent danger. Differences between selachophobia and thalassophobia
For those who are not familiar, there may be a confusion of terms and use “selacophobia” and “thalassophobia” interchangeably as if they were synonyms. The difference between the two words should be made clear.
We have said that selachophobia is the fear of sharks due to having been exposed to these animals in one way or another. On the other hand, thalassophobia is the fear of bathing in large bodies of water;elicited by thoughts linked to the immensity of the great blue, the feeling of being insignificant when we bathe in areas where it covers us or the ignorance of knowing what is under our feet.
Thus, thalassophobia could occur both in seas and oceans, as well as in rivers, lakes and swimming pools for very serious cases. The shark as a harmless animal
Without any pretension to despise people with selachophobia, in this section we intend to clean up a bit the image that the shark has undeservedly earned as a man-eater. The world of cinema and literature has not contributed either to popular opinionabout these fish has not improved one iota; Quite the contrary, it has worsened it and has surely triggered more cases of selachophobia. The representation that has been made of sharks is that of an animal that attacks at the first opportunity that presents itself and that feels special devotion for pounce on any unsuspecting person who enters its domain.
It is true that sharks are great predators, but if we analyze the number of attacks on human beings, the truth is that although these are a probability, their incidence is rather low . Not only that, but the cases of fatalities are reduced even more. You may be interested in the article: The 15 most dangerous animals in the world.
However, we must not forget that sharks are hunting animals and, when their prey is scarce, they are opportunistic, so they become less selective when it comes to choosing. So although the scientific community tries to improve the opinion of the inexperienced public on the subject, it is convenient not to lose sight of its great predatory potential, but without exaggerating too much. Useful information for selacophobes
Below we will provide a few data that will be useful for those who are suffering from selacophobia and that can also serve to normalize the figure of the shark as the majestic animal that it is and that deserves to be respected, but not feared : 1. A sharks don’t like the taste of human flesh
It’s true. Sharks do not have hands or limbs with which they can touch or manipulate objects in their environment. The only way they know if something is edible or not is through their mouths. Therefore, the first bite they emit is to confirm if they are facing potential prey . When this is not the case, after this bite they move away.
The majority of accidents in which people were involved did not go beyond trial and error; The problem is that depending on the size of the animal, the characteristics of the attack or the power of its bite, the injuries are sometimes extremely serious. 2. Confusion with usual prey
Many shark attacks are on surfers, divers or swimmers. It sounds like a cliche and it is something that does not stop repeating itself, but it is still true: sharks make the wrong target .
The attack strategy they adopt usually consists of surprise lunges from the bottom to the surface, where their targets swim. In addition to that, the shape that the silhouette of a human acquires (especially if he is on a surfboard or clad in a wetsuit) if we look towards the surface being at a certain depth, looks too much like that of the usual prey of the shark: small mammals, such as seals, sea lions, or other fish; such as tuna, among others. 3. More likely to be struck by lightning
This saying is intended to illustrate how unlikely it is to suffer a shark attack. Yes, there are areas of the planet where it is more likely to happen and that should be known if we go on a trip, but there are marked beaches that prohibit swimming or warn of shark sightings. Also keep in mind that a shark will rarely come close to shore, and if it does, it is usually due to disorientation. 4. Few attacks end in death
Most attacks on people are carried out by very voracious shark species, such as the white, tiger, bull or mako. In case of death, this occurs due to massive blood loss, since we have said that sharks launch a first bite, which can be fatal if an artery is severed (especially the femoral one).Rarely have these attacks ended in disappearances , since the shark usually releases its prey or fortune has wanted many to live to tell about it.
Now, let no one be scared: there are more species of sharks and not all of them represent a threat to people and even so, they do not always attack. 5. Shiny objects
A piece of advice for those who have a phobia not only of sharks, but of other fish or marine animals: do not wear any beads that shine. These objects reflect the sunlight and cause a flash that attracts these creatures, so no pendants, bracelets or rings , no matter how water resistant they are, if you don’t want to get a good scare. A final word about sharks
Sharks are endangered animals that are being depleted by humans. Either to make those damn soups that they cook in Japan with their fins (experts in going overboard the legislation on protected species; see dolphins, whales or sharks) or to use their oil for cosmetic products ; the proportion of sharks killed by humans continues to far exceed that of humans killed by sharks.
With articles like this we try to educate those who may be interested in wanting to change the fate of some of the animal species most threatened by human action on the planet. We would be sorry to lose the shark, whose ancestors date back to before the dinosaurs .