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A historical overview of the origins of anti-shark measures in Natal, 1940-1980.

This thesis studies the origins of anti-shark measures in Natal, highlighting the
relationship between beach recreation, anti-shark measures and the important
influence of human perceptions of sharks. It focuses on key events such as the "Black
December" when seven shark attacks occurred off the South Coast of Natal between
December 1957 and April 1958; the rise of beach recreation in Natal; the role of the
press (and later the electronic media) in the dissemination of the 'man-eating' shark
myth; and the deployment of anti-shark measures off the Natal coast. The increased
popularity of the beach in Natal during the 1940s and 1950s meant that the beach was
frequently being used for recreational activities. However, with this increase there was
an increase in shark attacks off the Natal coast. The relationship between beach
recreation and shark attacks is key to this study. The first nets were deployed off the
Durban beachfront in 1952. The influence of the press, the increase of popular beach
recreational activities in the 1950s and the unfortunate events of "Black December"
led to the deployment of the nets off the South Coast in the 1960s, and these are
currently still in use. Alongside the deployment of the nets was a rise in scientific
research into shark biology and anti-shark measures in the 1960s. This thesis traces
shifting trends in shark research from the 1960s to the 1970s. For instance, in the
1960s, shark research focused primarily on shark biology and the ways in which the
study of the behaviour of sharks could prevent shark attacks. In. the 1970s, shark
research shifted towards the study of anti-shark measures. Both beach recreation and
shark research have influenced human perceptions of sharks. This thesis covers a
period when the human perception of sharks was more hostile than it would become
after the rise of marine conservation and the commercial regard for the preservation of
sharks from the 1980s. It also analyses the human fear of sharks and how this fear has
developed over time. / Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2006.
Date January 2006
CreatorsVan Oordt, Melissa Joyce.
ContributorsParle, Julie.
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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