Season of the Shark
Thank you so much for your article on sharks [SCIENCE, July 30]. I am glad to see one of nature's most beautiful creatures finally portrayed in a scientific fashion, as opposed to the gruesome Hollywood film images. I am studying marine biology in college and, while diving in the Caribbean, have encountered several types of sharks. In every case in which I came upon a shark, it swam away. We humans are a much greater threat to sharks than they are to us. ANDREA C. LAMBERTSON Murfreesboro, Tenn.
I can't help thinking of attacks by sharks as their revenge for our overfishing some shark species to the point of near extinction and for entangling and slowly killing them with factory-fishing drift nets that sweep the seas. GILBERT SCHWARTZ Aventura, Fla.
As a scuba diver, I have had frequent and always exhilarating encounters with several species of sharks--sometimes as many as 30. As an astronomer, I have commonly and excitedly viewed dozens of beautiful shooting stars. Being bitten by a shark or struck by a meteorite would be extremely serious and possibly fatal. Yet given the probability, it appears that the greater danger for our anxiety-prone society is not in the seas or the stars but in ourselves. If we are overcome by the imagined risk of unlikely death, we may miss the elusive chance to live fully. (THE REV.) WILLIAM J. KEANE Branford, Conn.
The shark-feeding tours that you mentioned should be banned. Sharks are hardly demons of the sea, but it is dangerous for them to associate humans with the provision of food. Sharks now consider the sound of a boat engine a signal for getting food, and this is too risky to be allowed to continue. Ban shark-feeding excursions before it is too late. We don't need any more human or shark deaths. PAUL FUCITO Washington
While impressive, the pictures that accompanied your cover story contradicted the article's message that humans are most often inadvertent victims rather than targeted prey. In three photos, the shark appears as the aggressive killer the fearful public has always imagined. You should have chosen photographs that better depicted the misunderstood fish you wrote about. In this case, the pictures negated your thousand words. ADAM WYSE Delaware, Ohio
The media are to blame for the sudden fear that has resulted from recent shark attacks. As humans, supposedly being of high intelligence, we should know the ocean is the shark's territory, its home. We enter at our own risk. We know from common sense that sharks live in the ocean, that surfers resemble seals and that dusk is an inappropriate time to go swimming, especially alone. Sharks are fascinating creatures of the seas and should get some respect. KIM FRILEY Columbus, Ohio
--The ferocious-looking cover photo for our report on shark behavior elicited some rather, well, biting commentary from a few of you. "That TIME would demonize the majestic white shark to sell magazines shows true desperation," snapped a New Yorker. "You will only hasten its demise." A Seattle reader objected to "tabloid-news antics" and questioned why TIME "devoted a cover to shark attacks since, according to the article, dogs bite many thousands more people than sharks do." A tad more appreciative was a reader from Michigan who said he was "glad to see my lawyer made your cover."