Yet again, sharks are being demonised in the mainstream press, this time in the wake of an eight-year-old British boy being bitten by three nurse sharks in the Bahamas, with many failing to mention him and his family were in the water while food was being thrown to the animals.
Nurse sharks are renowned for being placid, docile creatures, and in the past bites have only occurred where people have interacted with them – ie. grabbing them or, in one case, attempting to kiss the animal – and in this Bahamas instance, the obvious aggravating factor was the food being in the water among the people.
However, that has not stopped headlines with ‘ravaged', ‘savaged', ‘mauled', ‘it was like a scene from Jaws', etc, being spread far and wide in the tabloids.
Finley Downer, from Kettering, Northampshire, apparently suffered some deep cuts to his legs from the incident on Compass Cay in the Bahamas, and was pulled from the water by his 12-year-old sister. They were on an organised trip with tour operator Exuma Escapes to see pigs, iguanas and nurse sharks. The boy was taken to a local health clinic on a golf buggy, before undergoing a three-hour operation in Nassau.
The bite incident apparently occurred when the children went off into another lagoon when they saw sharks swimming around people, and this is where the food was being distributed into the water. Exuma Escapes explained that the family went without a guide into a lagoon that was not used on its tour. Finley's mother Kerry, who is divorced from father Michael and was not on the trip, said it was ‘a freak accident'.
Photo credit: Family photo / Michael Downer