Australia renames shark attacks ‘negative encounters’ to dispel ‘man-eating monster’ perception
Officials in Australia are describing shark attacks as “interactions” or “negative encounters” as part of a new strategy for helping the animals to be more understood.
The change in language is part of an effort to overhaul public perception of the threatened species, with authorities and scientists keen to change their long-standing image as deadly, man-eating animals.
Multiple scientists have argued that terms like “attack” and “bite” have created a culture of fear surrounding the animals, which is harming efforts to help protect them.
Leonardo Guida, a shark researcher at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told The Sydney Morning Herald that ending the use of such terms “help dispel inherent assumptions that sharks are ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters”.
In New South Wales, officials have changed the way they describe human encounters with sharks that result in injuries.
A government spokeswoman said its formal shark reports now generally refer to “incidents” or “interactions” with the animals, meanwhile in Queensland the state government’s SharkSmart website now describes how to minimise risks “of a negative encounter with a shark”.
However, the change in terminology is yet to be adopted everywhere in Australia.
The Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries said there had “been no formal direction in this space” and in Victoria, fisheries describe the encounters on its Shark Smart advice only as “attacks”.
The more negative terms are a largely modern invention, according to researchers.
Christopher Pepin-Neff, from the University of Sydney, told the paper that encounters with sharks were called “shark accidents” before the 1930s when a prominent surgeon, Victor Coppleson, began to describe them as attacks. Shark nets were also introduced.
He added that the change in wording “has been coming for a while” as the notion of a shark attack is unrealistic because more than a third of encounters leave no injury at all.
Experts have noted that while sharks are predatory, very rarely are humans killed and consumed by them.
Eight people were killed in shark-related incidents in Australia last year.
Dr Guida said moving away from the term “attack”, “helps improve the public’s understanding of sharks and how they behave”.
This is important in getting people to support the conservation of these animals – many species of which are killed by humans across the world.
According to the WWF, shark species are in rapid decline. The latest research suggests that around 100 million sharks may be killed annually, often targeted for their fins.
However, over-fishing, pollution and the increasing impacts of climate change are also to blame.
Somalia truck bombing kills 15 people and wounds 40 others
A bombing at a checkpoint in Somalia has killed at least 15 people and wounded 40 others, authorities have said.
Images on social media showed a damaged truck cab on fire and black smoke billowing from the scene in the central city of Beledweyne.
No one has immediately claimed responsibility, including Al Shabaab, which often carries out attacks and controls parts of Somalia.
Police officer Ahmed Aden said the dead included five police officers who fired on the truck in a failed attempt to stop it from ramming into the nearby checkpoint.
Shops nearby were reduced to rubble, with reports of people missing beneath the debris.
It was a truck loaded with explosive devices that forcefully passed through the government-manned checkpoint, and a pick-up vehicle belonging to security personnel was chasing it when it exploded,” said witness Abdikadir Arba, who said he was about 200 metres away and was one of the first responders.
Abdifatah Mohamed Yusuf, director-general of the Hirshabelle Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, confirmed the deaths.
“Twenty of the wounded have been admitted to Beledweyne hospitals, while another 20 are in critical condition, prompting a request for their airlift to Mogadishu for advanced medical treatment,” he said.
Hirshabelle is a state that includes Beledweyne. It has been the centre of the Somali government’s latest military offensive against extremists from Al Shabaab.
Al Shabaab has been battling Somalia’s central government for more than a decade, aiming to establish its rule based on strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
Fugitive on run for more than 30 years laughs as he’s finally caught
A fugitive convicted of attempted murder who evaded police for more than 30 years has been caught.
Greg Lawson, who had been on the run for 32 years, laughed and asked officers “how are you doing?” as he was handcuffed in Huatulco, Mexico.
Lawson, 63, fled Louisiana, in the US, just before a jury found him guilty of shooting a man called Seth Garlington in 1991 – sparking an FBI manhunt in May that year.
In a video shared by FBI News Orelans on X, formerly known as Twitter, Lawson is seen wearing a short-sleeve shirt and camouflage cap.
With police officers in escort, he patted someone on the shoulder while laughing, before another officer turned to handcuff him.
Douglas Williams Jr, the agent in charge of FBI New Orleans, said the capture would not have been possible without the help of authorities in Mexico.
“We want to thank our partners and the public in this case, who never gave up hope that justice could be served for Mr Lawson’s victim,” he said.
“There is no doubt that Mr Lawson might still be in the wind if our partners in Mexico had not been willing to deal with this so swiftly.”
The FBI said they had always suspected Lawson was hiding out in Mexico, but a “tip” they received earlier this month appeared to confirm their theory.
He was arrested on Tuesday, 19 September, and was taken into custody back in Louisiana.
According to a local Louisiana news channel, KTBS, Lawson had a “fistfight” with Mr Garlington in a car park at a petrol station.
Court documents, they added, claim Lawson forced Mr Garlington’s vehicle off the motorway, with Lawson then firing shots.
When the jury came back from deliberation to confirm the guilty verdict, Lawson had already run away.
The FBI had offered a $10,000 (£8,200) reward for his capture.
Sweden: Chunk of motorway collapses in landslide – leaving three in hospital
Three people have been taken to hospital after a large chunk of a motorway in Sweden collapsed in a landslide early on Saturday morning.
Several buildings were also damaged, including a Burger King restaurant.
The landslide has affected a total area of around 700 x 200 metres, which is roughly equivalent of 21 football pitches.
“The hardest hit parts of the landslide area measure around 150 x 100 metres,” the Gothenburg Rescue Services added in a statement.
“A number of people have been helped out of vehicles in the slide area with the help of fire personnel and a helicopter.”
Rescue services say further landslides cannot be ruled out.
Police say nobody is suspected of a crime, but an investigation has been launched into whether a construction site nearby caused the landslide.
There has also been heavy rainfall in the area over the past few days.
Swedish news agency TT reported several cars and one truck had fallen into cracks caused by the landslide, while rescue services told public broadcaster SVT all people have been helped out.
Specially trained dogs were on the scene to ensure no people had been overlooked among the debris.
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