Generally it is a mistake, the shark thinks the person is a large fish or a seal, and attacks. Other times humans wander into the shark’s territory and it attacks out of defense.
Despite what shark week promotes, sharks aren’t manhunting killing machines. They may attack a person, accidently mistaking it for a seal. Sharks use their jaws to investigate their surroundings, since they don’t have hands. Many shark attacks are out of self defense- either they are provoked by people or their mistake a person’s ungraceful swimming as an attack. Sharks are less violent as aggressive as many animals including humans.
Humans are not a natural part of a shark’s diet; sharks do not look specifically for humans to prey on. Sharks have no hands that they can use to “feel” an object to see if it is a part of their diet, they use their mouth, which happens to be full of sharp teeth. From under the water a human swimming on a surf board looks very similar to a seal or sea turtle, which is a part of some shark’s natural diets. Sharks can easily mistake the silhouette of a surfer for a seal and can mistakenly attack.
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