Shark Attack
A tourist takes a photograph of a shark swimming behind a glass window at the Sydney Aquarium, Australia, September 29, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

Sharon Burden, who lost her to son Kyle in a 2011 shark attack near Dunsborough in Western Australia while bodyboarding with friends, expressed anger at a popular newspaper’s front page showing children frolicking in the ocean with a superimposed shark fin in the background.

The story pointed to a debate over shark culling in the wake of two fatal attacks in WA waters within a week. Sharon found the photo disgusting and disturbing and she felt that the photo will in no way add to the debate over shark culling. She was angry at the use of such a photo.

“Would we similarly sit down at a desk and say it's alright to put a photograph like that of two children and, you know, someone chasing after them with a knife? Photoshopped in? Or chasing after them in a speeding vehicle or a drunk-driver, I would find that abhorrent and I suspect if that sort of image appeared on the front page of any newspaper it would be similarly viewed,” Sharon told the ABC.

Sharon, a PhD in psychology, added that focusing on children was counter-productive and would never add value to the effort to find solutions. She found the idea of measuring grief of loss based on age group very insensitive. Sharon felt that the image on the front page implied people value children more or less depending on their age group. Hence, people “act on that as a result.”

However, despite the death of her son, Sharon spoke out against killing sharks. She, along with the Sea Shepherd organisation lodged an application in 2014 speaking out against use of drum lines. Sharon wants experts to explore other options like providing detailed information on what people can do to avoid sharks. She extended her sympathies to the friends and family of Ben Gerring and Dorren Collyer who recently lost their lives to shark attacks.