HealthWhen Euphemisms (but Never Sharks) Attack

When Euphemisms (but Never Sharks) Attack



Shark scientists have been exhorting the public to call human-shark interactions something other than shark attacks, preferring less pejorative terms like “shark encounters.” The scientists emphasize that humans tend to be to blame for shark injuries — stepping accidentally on small sharks, which snap back; swimming in murky water, venturing too close.

“A ‘shark attack’ is a story of intent,” Christopher Pepin-Neff of the University of Sydney, told the Times reporter Alan Yuhas. “But sharks don’t know what people are. They don’t know when you’re in the boat. They don’t know what a propeller is. It’s not an attack.”

But the terms being offered as replacements, while more accurate and less inflammatory, have a ring of gentility to them, evoking the top hats and evening gloves of centuries past.

To wit, a shark incident:

Meanwhile, scientists elsewhere this week published one of the most detailed views yet of shark guts, using a CT scanner to reveal “the complex inner geographies of more than 20 species of sharks,” Veronique Greenwood writes. The results, in stunning 3-D video, indicate that the spiraling intestine of some sharks behaves like a Tesla valve, drawing fluid forward without moving parts.

The study also appears to confirm the long-held notion that such intricacy helps to slow down digestion and extract the most calories from its prey. Chew on that while you do your part to avoid shark, uh, euphemisms.

“On Tuesday, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks imposed “hoot owl” restrictions on the Missouri River, one of the most popular trout fishing sites in the state, between Helena and Great Falls because of warm water temperatures. The rule bans fishing after 2 p.m. (The term “hoot owl restrictions” stems from the early days of the timber industry. Loggers work early in the mornings of late summer, when it’s cooler, because the forests are dry and that increases the risk of chain saws or other equipment sparking a fire. Loggers often heard owls during their early morning shifts.)”


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