When Sharks “Interact”: Professors Call for Ending the Use of the “A-Word”

As many on this blog know, I am a huge advocate for animal rights and environmental protections. Indeed, I was recently thrilled to go to the Gulf Shores to watch sharks. However, I am afraid that I do not see the value of the call for researchers out of the University of Sydney to get people to stop calling human-shark biting incidents “attacks.” The University of Sydney’s Christopher Pepin-Neff has called for dropping the “A-word” in favor of shark “interactions” or “negative encounter.” It is not likely to take hold: I do not see people running down a beach screaming “shark negative encounter, shark negative encounter.” To paraphrase the movie “Jaws,” we are going to need a bigger [dictionary.]”

Sydney Morning Herald reports that University researchers are concerned that the term “unfairly stigmatized as a deliberate killer.” There is truth to this objection. Most shark encounters do not result in injuries. However, those are indeed encounters and few people would say that they were “attacked” by a shark that swam by them in the ocean. Indeed, on our recent trip to the Gulf Shore, we swam within a 100 yards of shark feeding areas within an incident.

The move Jaws did impact shark protection efforts and prompted many to stay on land — the same way that The Exorcist sent many to church.


It is also true that shark attacks were matters of popular and artistic expression (and exaggeration) for centuries as shown in J.S. Copley’s Watson and the Shark (shown above).  That painting was an artistic rendering of a shark attacking 14-year-old Brook Watson in the Havana Harbor. Watson was an orphan who jumped out of a skiff for a swim and was attacked repeatedly by a shark. He was eventually dragged under by the shark.  The painting caused a stir in London in 1778 — much in the same way as the movie Jaws did.  The London Evening Post wrote

“The beautiful Boy, just disentangled from the ravenous bloody Monster, which had tore away one of his Legs, cries for that Assistance, which every one of the honest Tars hurries to give without Loss of Time.”

[“Jack Tar” was a common expression for sailors — a reference to Watson’s mate who were part of a crew with him on a ship anchored in the harbor.]

The valid concerns however raised by these researchers do not translate into a valid response in attempting to stop people from using an obvious descriptive term. For example, we refer to “dog attacks” as well as dog bites — much like we do shark attacks and shark bites.  We also refer to “bear attacks” despite such incidents remaining very rare.

This type of article does not improve efforts to educate people on sharks. Rather, it undermines such efforts by portraying such debates as another woke campaign.

The fact is that Hollywood exaggerates many natural threats from Piranha to Bees to Birds. It is the task for the rest of us to educate the public. For example, it turns out that sharks do not often attack from the air in Sharknados. Accordingly, there is no need to refer to any such incident as a “Shark airborne encounter.”

31 thoughts on “When Sharks “Interact”: Professors Call for Ending the Use of the “A-Word””

  1. Sharks don’t scare me. It’s the attacks on Turley by eb and Natacha that curl the blood.

    1. Ah your blood is curdled on its own. It explains much about you.


  2. “The lunatics have taken over the asylum.”

    – Richard A. Rowland

    The hysterical, incoherent, irrational, power-hungry, egoistical, elitist, communists (liberals, progressives, socialist, democrats, RINOs) have taken over America, in fact, the Five Eyes plus Europe (who allowed that?).

    “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

    Peter Marshall

    Sharks attack.

    Sharks disarticulate.

    Sharks eat.


    attack noun
    plural attacks

    Definition of attack (Entry 2 of 3)
    1 : the act of attacking with physical force or unfriendly words : assault the victim of a knife attack a verbal attack
    2 : a belligerent or antagonistic action launched an attack against his political opponents
    3a : a fit of sickness especially : an active episode of a chronic or recurrent disease an attack of bronchitis
    b : a period of being strongly affected by something (such as a desire or mood) an attack of the jitters
    c : an aggressive attempt to take or extend a lead over others in a race (such as a bicycle race) … he crushed his rivals in the first mountain stages by going on relatively long solo attacks.— Samuel Abt
    4a : an offensive or scoring action won the game with an 8-hit attack
    b : offensive players or the positions taken up by them
    5 : the setting to work on some undertaking made a new attack on the problem a new plan of attack
    6 : the beginning of destructive action (as by a chemical agent)
    7 music : the act or manner of beginning a musical tone or phrase

  3. Trolls have negative encounters with me. Sharks, not so much. I have yet to be bitten by a troll, but I guess the day is still young.

    1. What’s this? It’s almost nightfall and still no Bug bites? Turley must have drained the swamp.

  4. Too late. There is the inane, urbane dictionary, where words are conceived with a liberal arc. A fetus, a technical term of art, to socially distance technicians and abortionists. A nominally “secular” religion that denies women and men’s dignity and agency, and reduces human life to a property. The climate is changing in baby steps, following a progressive path and grade. #HateLovesAbortion

  5. Semantic games. A novel, nominally “secular ” religion. A pride parade with [unPlanned] cubs playing in gay revelry. Can they abort the baby, cannibalize her profitable parts, sequester her carbon pollutants, and have her, too? That said, in this house, we take a knee, beg, and respect predators.

  6. “The Delta Variant” denigrates Delta Airlines. No one can prove that some infected person came to America on a Delta Air flight.

  7. So, if you are attacked for an expressed opinion here in this blog, is it called a Snarky Encounter, or a Snarky Attack?

  8. Some people don’t intend to use cuss words when they speak. But a person with a Brooklyn accent can be asked:. “Where is 33rd street and 3rd Avenue?”. And a guy like Bernie Sanders will reply: “Oh. Turdy turd and a Turd!”

    They sort of know they are cussing.

  9. When I was in college fifty four years ago freshman year I joined a fraternity. They gave every new member “a Frat name”. Our frat chose words describing your ethnicity. A guy with a Polish last name was named “Polock”. A guy from Italy was “Wop”. An African American was “Spade”. A Bohemian was Bohunk”. A french ethnicity guy was “Frog”.

    1. Anonymous

      This comment may win the prize for “Most banal of the month”.

      1. Ha. Yet another of my responses censored. I even rhymed it. I love how often I get censored in free speech land.


        1. Anonymous

          Be honest.

          Your comments are censored when they use profanity.

          Your personal attacks are ugly; worse, they are uninteresting.

          Please don’t try to pretend that you are the victim.

          When you speak, you speak as a Lefty; profanity, pretend victimhood, and being boring debases your cause.

          1. Track back up this thread and see who responded to whom first and it gives an accurate impression of how this blog rolls.


  10. This blog censors speech.
    I sometimes use piglatin to post a word to accurately describe some item or person.
    ItShayhead describes someone perhaps with accuracy. One can also adapt a humans last name to a word like itShayhead. He’s a Trump!

    You can alter some letters in a person’s name to be humourous. Like saying President Ronald Raygun.

    One can add a word to a last name to be funny but not really mean. Like Turleydog

  11. It is a question of using language precisely, something that politicians, journalists, social justice warriors, BLM activists, and postmodern academics like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Henry Rogers have done their best to sabotage.
    If I encounter a shark, a dog, or a bear and we exchange pleasantries, we would have had an encounter; if the shark tries to eat him, the dog bites me, or the bear mauls me, I would consider each of those actions an attack.

  12. I agree with the professors. Next on the list: poison ivy. Hey, it’s just doing it’s thing. It didn’t ask human beings to touch it.

  13. Dr Death is going to scare people of neurosurgeons and spinal surgery. It’s a good series and eye opening.

  14. Academics desperately need publicity in order to differentiate themselves from other mediocrities; these people succeeded (temporarily).

    Most academics deserve their obscurity; a few like Turley get famous through brilliance and hard work.

    In spite of his whines from the peanut gallery, even pathetic posters like Anonymous bask in Turley’s reflected glory (sad when your greatest achievement in life is criticizing your better).

  15. Easy: If you see a shark, shark swims near you, shark bumps into you, that’s a “shark encounter. Shark bites you, that is an attack

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