Scientists: Don't call them shark "attacks" anymore. They are "encounters" that sometimes result in "bites."

Australian scientists and government agencies are officially discouraging the use of the phrase of "shark attack." Rather, they are "negative encounters" that might result in "bites." The Queensland government and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is updating the language in its reports to reflect the new preferences. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Researchers such as Christopher Pepin-Neff from the University of Sydney, who has studied the language used, say such encounters were dubbed locally as "shark accidents" before the 1930s when a prominent surgeon, Victor Coppleson, began to describe them as attacks[…]

A change in language matters "because it helps dispel inherent assumptions that sharks are ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters", [Australian Marine Conservation Society scientist Leonardo] Guida said […]

The terminology can also be important especially if words such as "attacks" prompt people to demand culls of what are already often protected animals. Shark numbers are globally in decline because of over-fishing, pollution and the increasing impacts of climate change, including around Australia.

image: Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N (CC BY 2.5)