Ryan Moran

Chumming the water is a technique used to lure marine animals to a specific area by throwing chum into the water. Chum is a mixture of various fish parts and blood that is primarily used as bait for sharks due to their incredible ability to detect blood in the water. Chumming is primarily used for fishing and marine research.Sharks are marine predators that tend to stay hidden and rise from the open water to the surface to ambush its prey. With this said, researchers usually spend hours trying to find just one shark to study. Chumming can bring in multiple sharks in a shorter amount of time which expedites the search and allows the researchers to begin their work immediately. However, it has been noted that the blood may cause the shark to act in an aggressive manner and may attack the divers because of this confusion. Today, people are concerned with how chumming affects shark behavior and if it actually increases the number of shark attacks. The major concern is whether chumming off the shores may bring the aggressive sharks closer to shore and increase the number of shark attacks.

I think chumming the water to bring in sharks should be legal in the case of research. From most of the articles that I read on chumming, it seems to me like most researchers, cage divers, and free divers seem to believe that chumming does not have an effect on human shark attacks. Numerous shark attacks go unnoticed every year and chumming is never blamed. However, when a sports champion is attacked and killed, the uninformed seem to blame it on the chumming that was performed by a research team a week ago. I think we are still unaware if chumming has a significant effect on shark behavior. Therefore, I think that locations regulations should be put in place so chumming can only occur at a safe enough distance from shore in order to be safe. I primarily believe that the attacks were simply caused by a shark’s natural instinct. South Africa is known for its large seal population and its enormous great whites. The shark was most likely moving in closer to the shore to find a seal and most likely confused the body boarder for a seal.

From the articles that I read, I noted that most of the negative comments on chumming came from the shark attack in Kogel Bay, South Africa which killed a body boarding champion. While this is unfortunate, I personally don’t believe that chumming was the cause of this instance, because the last reported chumming was three days before. Shark attacks happen all the time and in some of the most unusual places. A few months ago, I watched a video on how a bull shark swam up the Potomac River and was eventually caught. Bull sharks, which are capable of surviving in freshwater environments, also have a very high testosterone level that makes them very aggressive. But why would a bull shark suddenly decide to go upstream? I believe sharks are unpredictable predators that can turn from docile to hostile within a matter of seconds, as we saw with the female tiger shark in shark quest. With this said, I hold that chumming wasn’t the cause of the shark attack in South Africa. The body boarder was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is the case with most shark attacks.

Based on the articles I read, I believe chumming should be legal but should only be performed at a safe distance from shore in order to confirm that chumming does not increase the number of shark attacks.