Students Come Face To Face With Sharks

Some youngsters aren't as afraid of sharks anymore, despite all the recent shark attacks. So far this year, there have been 54 shark attacks worldwide. Forty-three of them happened in the United States. Shark bites in Florida totaled 31.

On Thursday, some New Orleans students learned more about sharks during a Sea Camp at the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center in Biloxi. They got to touch a Spotted Horn Shark, examine real jaws, and dissect a species called Spiny Dog Fish. Experts encouraged the students to appreciate sharks and help protect them.

Marine Education Specialist Thomas Barrett says sharks have been at the mercy of humans, and they're being slaughtered for no good reason. He tries to stress conservation of these sharks, by teaching children that sharks are not man-eating creatures, or they're out there lurking in the waters, ready to devour you the second you put your foot in the water. Barrett says sharks need to be treated with respect.

Seventh grader Melissa Steckler says she appreciates sharks more now. She says usually, when you hear stories, you think sharks are always vicious. But, they're not really as bad as people think, because there are very few types of sharks that will attack humans.

Teachers who are interested in a class on sharks, or any other program on Ocean and Coastal Sciences, can contact the Marine Education Center at 374-5550.