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Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior towards Sharks and Shark Conservation

By Jason O'Bryhim

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Many species of shark are in danger of overexploitation and could possibly be facing  extinction. Sharks have been around for over 400 million years but recent declines that  threaten their existence can be traced back to the current consumptive uses brought on by  humans. If sharks are to be protected, legislation that better regulates their use must be  developed. In order to create this legislation support will first be needed from the general  public. Currently this could prove difficult because many individuals have negative  preconceived notions about sharks, in many cases from the way they are portrayed in the  media. It has been stated that the attitudes and behavior of the public have been shown to  be able to cause changes in environmental policy. So the variables that can cause both  positive attitudes and behaviors towards sharks are important if policies that support their  conservation are to be put into place. Previous studies have found that a person’s  knowledge about a group of species can directly affect their attitude towards them. In this  study it was discovered that knowledge could not only significantly predict a person’s  attitude but also their behavior towards the conservation if sharks. The higher a person’s  knowledge the more positive their attitude was and the more likely they were to behave  in a way that would support conservation measures. However, it was also shown that in  general respondents in the study had a low level of knowledge about sharks. Increasing  knowledge about sharks is therefore very important if legislation protecting sharks is to  be developed. This study showed that variables significantly effecting knowledge  included a person’s gender, where they received their information about sharks, whether  or not they had viewed programs on “Shark Week” on the Discovery channel, if they  were a member of an environmental group, and if they would fear an encounter with  sharks. Understanding of how these variables can increase knowledge about sharks and  subsequently produce more positive attitudes and behaviors could provide policy makers  with the support needed to conserve sharks into the future.


Katie Carroll

Date 2009
Pages 136
Publisher George Mason University
Department Environmental Science and Policy
Degree Bachelor of Science
URL http://hdl.handle.net/1920/4571
Language English
University George Mason University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Aquatic organisms
  5. Conservation
  6. Fish
  7. Human-animal studies
  8. Knowledge
  9. Marine animals
  10. Nature
  11. oceans
  12. sharks
  13. Wild animals
  14. wildlife