Mark A. Asks: Is it true that the factor sharks don’t eat civilization is due to the fact that we taste bad to them?

*
The idea of sharks no liking the taste of humans has actually been around for at the very least a fifty percent a century, with the very first account that this concept (that we can find) appearing in a Sep. 2, 1968 edition of The night Independent in an short article titled “Expert states Sharks Dislike human being Taste”. In it, the associate curator that vertebrate paleontology in ~ the Los Angeles ar Museum of herbal History, Dr Shelton Applegate, noted that it was his opinion that swimmers normally survived shark strikes because “Most of castle after ~ they take the very first bite, uncover they don’t like the taste and also spit the out.”

(In another article in this same edition that this newspaper, the notes that one Dr john Tracy had actually recently come up with a revolutionary treatment for any disease that can’t it is in cured by classic means- beating it the end of the patient, in a procedure he called “impact therapy”- accurate striking the patient repetitively with a twenty pound sandbag till they feel better…)

But do sharks yes, really not choose the taste of humans? First, a pair caveats- there are numerous different species of sharks, only a grasp of which have ever been well-known to bite a human. On top of that, accurately determining why a details shark, or any kind of animal, walk something deserve to at time be incredibly an overwhelming and the general view from professionals on the subject can adjust over time, as has actually happened worrying this an extremely question.

You are watching: Do sharks like the taste of humans

That said, why details sharks attack humans has been really closely looked at over the last century and, as a an outcome of this accumulation of data, scientists today who research the creatures think they have a fairly an excellent handle ~ above why sharks don’t normally eat people, at the very least in the basic case.


With those caveats out of the way- as soon as talking about the common sharks world think that when pointing out shark attacks (e.g. Great White’s and Tiger sharks), in a sense, yes, sharks perform not favor the method humans “taste”, but you’ll acquire a false impression if you stop reading here, because we’re not talking about the flavour of people per se and also sharks likewise seem to be weighing the risk vs. Price on this one.

You see, sharks space perfectly happy come eat red meat and in a pinch have no qualms about chowing under on you. But they are also seemingly well conscious of the truth that the ingredient of the human being body isn’t perfect food resource for castle and also aren’t crawl on the truth that, as soon as bitten, humans have actually a propensity to fight ago around a really sensitive and vulnerable region of stated shark’s body. Therefore why execute sharks bite humans in the very first place then?

First, to dispel one of many shark myths out there, sharks perform not bite humans because they mistake us for pinnipeds (sea lions or seals) or any of your other wanted food sources. We understand this since a shark’s behaviour when it is attacking, because that instance, a seal, is really different 보다 the typical behavior seen as soon as they bite humans. As the manager of ReefQuest facility for Shark Research, R. Aidan Martin, notes,

I spent five years in south Africa and also observed end 1,000 predatory attacks on sea lions by great whites. The sharks would rocket come the surface and pulverize your prey with incredible force.

In contrast, he note that when sharks bite humans, they generally strategy with “leisurely or undramatic behavior.”

Further, sharks are an extremely intelligent and also have incredibly acute senses, including incredibly sharp vision and also sense of odor (Lemon sharks can also detect tuna oil in ~ a concentration of just one component per 25 million), also as an excellent hearing; castle can additionally detect bioelectrical fields and also minute alters in water pressure. Past that humans don’t yes, really look prefer pinnipeds, no visually nor most likely from a bioelectrical standpoint, the is detailed that sharks respond really strongly to the smell of things prefer pinnipeds and also fish, but not at every to the general smell the humans. Include it all up, and also it is normally thought an extremely unlikely the a shark would mistake a person for a seal together is the typical trope, and also the evidence of exactly how they method us lends credence come this notion.

This brings us to the genuine reason sharks bite humans- curiosity. As soon as sharks encounter an unfamiliar creature that can be a potential food source, they’ll occasionally be inclined to investigate an ext closely. However as shark biologist Dr Erich Ritter notes, “The unknown is constantly potentially dangerous and – even for the shark – harbors a details risk. Approaching or biting the unknown thing is thus an exception and also not the rule!”

When sharks perform feel curious enough to approach and bite, the abovementioned shark expert R. Aidan martin adds: “When great whites bite other unfamiliar to them, even if it is a human or a crab pot, they’re searching for tactile evidence about what that is. A great white offers its this the method humans use their hands. In a living shark, every tooth has ten to fifteen levels of flex,” which, past taste and the odor of succeeding blood, is another method the sharks can study a biology by biting it.


So once investigating a human, it’s usually the instance that the shark will approach cautiously, rather than the means they strike prey they’re acquainted with. If friend seem choose you’re trying to flee indigenous them, they may be inclined to approach an ext aggressively. Otherwise, if you simply sit over there or don’t seem prefer you’re going to assault them together they approach, for circumstances if friend don’t watch them coming (which might well it is in what they’re going for), they could go in because that a nibble to obtain a much better sense of your body and if it could be a great food resource for them, as well as see what you’ll carry out in solution to the bite. (Unfortunately, also a fast nibble indigenous a large shark have the right to be life threatening, accounting for most of the deaths we humans suffer at the hands of sharks, quite than lock purposefully chowing down.)

Back come the idea that sharks don’t like the taste the humans. Together mentioned, this idea has actually been about since at least the mid-20th century, but as specialists such as Dr Daniel Bucher of southerly Cross university note, over there is really very little evidence that the factor sharks don’t eat people is because of our taste, in regards to flavour, in ~ least. To quote him, “Normally eat fish, but they don’t mind red meat if they can acquire it. Seals have really red meat (like humans) indigenous oxygen binding proteins in the blood and sharks eat seals”.

While sharks do have actually taste sprout that tell them a lot around the composition of the point it’s tasting, distinct “flavour” does no seem to it is in a significant factor that effects whether a shark will eat miscellaneous or not. Because that many types of sharks, the evidence available seems to show that your taste buds an ext function together a sort of binary “eat”, which normally is a “yes” as much as the taste sprout are concerned if the thing is established to be made from meat, or “no” if it’s not, explaining why sharks have the right to happily eat carrion and rotting meat if they’re an especially hungry.

In fact, “the rubbish cans of the sea” much better known as Tiger sharks go even further and really don’t it seems ~ to have much in the method of any type of sort of taste filter once it concerns eating things. For instance, Tiger sharks have been uncovered with things prefer suits the armor, hair coats and live hand grenades in their stomachs.

But we stated at the start of every this the “in a sense” sharks don’t favor the taste the humans, so what sense were us referring if lock aren’t too certain on the flavour that something?

As alluded to, sharks don’t prefer the means many humans are built and also it frequently requires a nibble because that them to determine this fact. Plenty of of the points sharks generally eat are extremely high in fat; fat contains a little much more than double the calories every gram 보다 muscle. Humans are (often) reasonably bony, particularly in the legs and arms. This isn’t appropriate for the shark as they have actually a quite slow cradle system, which is additional slowed by the visibility of all our many thick bones. Because sharks require a most calories to maintain suitable body function, spending a few days digesting a human being instead of eating something much more calorie thick isn’t ideal.


That said, sans having other high fat food resources available, humans, particularly those of us who determined to eat the entire six pack box of ice cream sandwiches critical night (don’t judge me), still make an OK meal for certain varieties of sharks, and also in the extreme situation some the us even make an excellent meal, though perhaps not the people you’d generally uncover bobbing up and also down on a surfboard in the ocean. However given options, and if they’re not as well hungry in ~ the time, the sharks the are capable of chowing down on something the dimension of a person prefer a pretty tasty high fat meal favor a seal or tuna.

This brings us to the 2nd factor in why sharks don’t it seems ~ to choose to eat humans; this one having nothing to carry out with nutrition- they’re afraid.

Despite your fearsome reputation and status together apex predators, sharks don’t generally like eating things that placed up a fight. Particularly when talking about creatures the shark isn’t terribly familiar with and also that are determined to have sub-optimal nutritional value, when said pets fight back, there is a an excellent chance the shark will certainly be scared away if it’s not as well hungry.

From there, it’s amazing to note that where you space in the human being actually may impact what the shark does next. Great White sharks in California have actually been it was observed to strike potentially dangerous prey and then, if the shark determines stated creature is still an ok food resource and it controlled to wound it prior to fleeing, it may watch in ~ a safe distance to see if the animal will dice from the wounds, making the an easier snack. This same habits has no been commonly observed in numerous other regions, like South Africa, whereby if a an excellent White has determined to in reality eat something, the will merely ferociously chow under on that is prey, as previously noted.

See more: 7 Fascinating Facts About Dr Quinn Medicine Woman Cast Colleen Cooper

So to sum up, a human’s (generally) low fat content and also the truth that we room an unknown, potentially dangerous, biology that is placing up a fight, including being completely capable of gouging the end the shark’s perceptible eyes together we to win on their faces (which is the recommended way to fend turn off an attacking shark, despite if feasible using one object, fairly than hands and also feet), renders sharks doubtful to do an ext than just investigate us as a potential food source, rather than actually deciding come make united state one. We’re simply not precious the risk provided the negative reward.

So while it’s not true that the species of sharks that sometimes nibble on people don’t like the taste of us, in regards to flavour, the is in a feeling true the they don’t like the taste of us in terms of composition. And also as fear of sharks as humans often are, all evidence indicates the emotion is mutual. (Perhaps for an excellent reason: only about a dozen human being per year are eliminated by sharks vs. Roughly 20-30 million sharks every year eliminated by people according come the Florida Museum of herbal History’s room of Ichthyology. Who’s the apex predator currently sharky?)

If you favored this article, friend might likewise enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood present (iTunes, Spotify, Google beat Music, Feed), also as:


Bonus Facts:

Another shark related myth is the they don’t get cancer. In fact, current studies investigating this idea have presented that sharks do gain cancer ~ above occasion, though how frequently isn’t however clear. Follow to studies to date, they carry out have fairly low susceptibility come cancer compared to countless other animals, however at this suggest the variety of studies done and cases looked at room so low that this might well just be an artifact that not having actually a vast enough sample size to work-related with.The mechanically shark used in the film Jaws was nicknamed Bruce by Spielberg after ~ his lawyer. The shark rarely worked and also often damaged down throughout takes and most hilariously that all, sank to the bottom of the ocean the very first time they placed it in water because nobody had actually bothered to examine if that floated, this brought about the crew comes up v an alternative name for the prop, “The great white turd”.Expand for References