Shark scientists urge less sensational language when discussing bites

There’s a new deep sea debate over what to call shark bites in the water as experts explain it’s not always an attack, while others argue that downplays the danger.
3:52 | 07/22/21

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Transcript for Shark scientists urge less sensational language when discussing bites
We turn to the deep sea debate over what to call shark encounters in the water. Wildlife experts say they're not always attacks. Critics are saying that could downplay the danger and will reeve is on the Jersey shore with more. Hey, will. Reporter: Hey, Cecilia, good morning. I guess sharks need a rebrand. Scientists are trying to change public perception of sharks whose population has shrunk 70% in the last 50 years and they say they're trying to be as precise as possible with their language because sometimes what we think of as an attack isn't an attack. This morning, a deep sea debate is brewing. As beachgoers witness scenes like these of survivors getting rushed to hospital and caught on camera incidents rise including this viral video posted just this weekend showing a hammerhead shark in Panama City beach getting a little too close to swimmers. Some wildlife experts are pushing to rebrand interactions with the ocean's apex predator calling them bite, negative encounters or incidents instead of attacks. Any time we're painting any wildlife as interested in harming humans, we're reducing people's positive feelings about them, people's desire to see them conserved and protected and increasing the likelihood that people see them as villains or antagonits. Reporter: For years they've been the bad guys in movies like "Jaws". You're gonna need a bigger Reporter: And "The meg" about a large shark. But experts say in reality shark bites are rare. And that using language like attack gives a false impression of intent. Paige winter bitten by a shark in 2019 told our robin Roberts she didn't see her encounter as the shark's fault. But this situation has urged me to learn more about sharks. I didn't do something directly to the shark, but I was in his water, you know. That's his house. Reporter: But Dave Pearson who survived a shark attack in Australia and runs bite club says avoiding the word bite avoids the real danger. We can't keep sanitizing things to the point where when you're the person involved it feels like someone is dismissing your trauma. You need to be aware of the element of danger and call them apex predators for a reason. Reporter: Even stovein' Colbert weighing in. I'm sorry, ma'am, a shark interacted with your husband's torso. He's experiencing a not being alive incident. Reporter: Whatever they're called officials are taking these encounters seriously. In cape cod where at least 50 confirmed great white shark sightings have been reported, researchers deployed acoustic receivers to track them to keep people safe. It's a valuable way to find out more about the movement of great white sharks, that's important information for the public to know when they're going to the beach, you know, where they might be more likely to encounter a white shark. Reporter: When you're at the beach look for signs of sharks. If there are seals in the water, there might be sharks nearby because they eat seals, if there are birds flying in the air that means they're looking for fish that sharks are also probably looking for so if you do go swimming try to go in pair, in group, just be smart generally and also remember that unprovoked shark bites are exceedingly rare. There were fewer than 100 globally just last year. Guys. Good point, will. Thank you so much. Up next before you book your

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