Misrepresentation of Sharks in Mainstream Media
Ashley Haas and Sierra Adams
Hollywood and the media today portray
sharks as being deadly killers and monsters.
This image of sharks has created a fear of
sharks among many. But in reality, there
are plenty of reasons not to be afraid of sharks!
These fish are simply just misunderstood.
Why shouldn't Humans Fear Sharks?
First of all, humans are not on a shark's diet. Sharks have evolved to prey on
many different animals, large and small, but humans are not one of those
animals. A study conducted by Michigan State University showed that more than 52
percent of global coverage focused on shark attacks, and sharks were portrayed
negatively in almost 60 percent of the coverage. However, sharks are very sensitive to
their environment around them, they aren't mindless killing machines. They utilize
electricity to sense the area around them through tiny holes called ampullae of Lorenzini.
Additionally, just as humans use our hands to investigate, sharks use their mouths.
If a human does happen to get bit,
it's likely by accident. A surfer on
his or her surfboard can look a lot
like the silhouette of a seal, one of
a shark's favorite meals, from
under the surface of the water.
Most times, the shark will realize
the person is definitely NOT a seal,
and will let go. The fear that sharks
are out there wanting to kill swimmers
is a common misconception that is worsened
by the media.
¨But shark attacks DO
happen... why should I
not be afriad?¨
While attacks do happen on rare occasions, your
chances of death from an attack are extremely low.
Studies show that a person is more likely to die from a vending machine collapse,
or from being struck by lightening, than from a shark attack. During a trip to the
beach, you are 132x more likely to drown, and 290x more likely to die in a boating
accident, than to die from a shark attack.
So what is it that causes such a great fear of
sharks in people? And why does the media
portray them as monsters?
The fear factor for most
people are the rows of
razor sharp teeth that
sharks have. The larger
the shark, the larger the
The truth is, most sharks
dangerous enough to kill
you spend most of their
time in deeper water where
people usually don't go
Some solutions to consider...
The ultimate route to changing the
way sharks are portrayed in the media, is to educate people on the
truth behind them and eliminate fears. A widespread education on
sharks would lead to a greater push for their conservation, and
increase emphasis on Marine Protected Areas and
shark finning laws.
Doing research on sharks through books and
valid educational websites can help
spread awareness about the truth of sharks,
and contribute to resolving the issue of
a false representation of sharks in the
Additionally, visiting an aquarium to learn about
sharks, their natural habitats, behaviors,
and food preferences, can ease fears on
these misunderstood creatures.
-Baker, H. (2020, March 07). Friends or foes? The media's portrayal of sharks & the influence on human perspectives. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from
-Cameron, L. (2012, November 07).
Sharks: Bad creatures or bad image? Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2012/sharks-bad-creatures-or-bad-image/
-Hettermann, K. (2017, July 25).
Are You Afraid of Sharks? Don't Be. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/are-you-afraid-of-sharks-dont-be/
-Zachos, E. (2019, June 27).
Why are we afraid of sharks? There's a scientific explanation. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from
Thanks for watching! We hope you
learned something new about
sharks in the media, and
how we can prevent the
misinterpretation of them. :)