Monday, September 15, 2014

Harmless Basking Shark Off the Coast of Cornwall Becomes Media "Man-Eater"

Basking shark identified as Great White off Cornwall England
Basking shark of Cornwall England
From all indications, it would appear that a 12-14 foot shark captured on video 20 miles off the coast of Cornwall, England is indeed a basking shark.  But that didn't stop many, particularly in the news media, from suggesting that it was a "man eating" great white.

The Daily Mail posted the video with the title, "Is this a great white off the coast of Cornwall? Fisherman films 14ft shark swimming alongside his boat sparking claims man-eater has reached Britain."

Man-eater off the British coast??  Oh oh, time to let the craziness begin via social media as the story gets re-posted and fear mongering kicks into high gear.

The funny thing though, is that in the first half of the Daily Mail article it was geared towards convincing readers that it was indeed a great white shark.  But when the reader reaches the half way point of the article, the writer actually admits that it is a basking shark.

"Experts said it was a basking shark because of its shape and its fins, and also ruled out other species such as mako, porbeagle, bull shark or thresher," writes Harriet Arkell.

As for one of our favorite marine biologists on social media, shark expert David Shiffman took a brief look at the video and he weighted in via his Facebook page, " I believe basking but I'm not following closely."

So the "experts" say it is a basking shark?  Then let's just forget everything else written and just call it what it is...a basking shark.  That wasn't too hard.  Oh, and while your at it Daily Mail, you may want to change the title because I'm pretty sure filter eaters don't fall into the category of man-eaters.

So rest quietly my British friends, the so called "man-eating" threat turns out to be just a "plankton-eating" threat.