Shark Culture
Blacktip Reef Sharks © James Lea.

The iconic shark fin gliding across the ocean’s surface epitomises the concept of impending doom in western culture. The shark itself is a symbol of danger and has many negative associations, including; an insatiable hunger, greed, hostility, deceit and a predatory nature.

Frequent use of language in western culture reinforces this low opinion of sharks. The word ‘Shark’ can be used as a derogatory reference to an individual to infer they have a lowly character and further examples of this can be seen in reference to loan sharks and shark lawyers. The metaphor ‘swimming with sharks’ also suggests that you should be prepared for an unpleasant encounter.

With media frenzies sensationalising rare shark attacks and films such as Jaws, it is easy to see why sharks have developed this fearsome reputation. For many people their only experiences with sharks are embellished headlines and horror movies. Although western attitudes are quickly shifting as we learn more about the reality of sharks.

In other cultures attitudes towards sharks are very different. In aboriginal societies the shark is deeply respected and tends to symbolise power, strength and nobility. To native Hawaiians it is also a symbol of all consuming love. Sharks are generally revered in aboriginal cultures; they are considered to be Godly and act as protectors.

Click on the links below to find out more:

Sharks in Art

Shark Films

Shark Photography

Polynesia Ancestors

Selachaphobia - the fear of sharks