Lots of good advice in this article that the vast majority of human beings will never need to know. In 2004 there were only seven shark related human fatalities and there has been a five year downward trend in reported shark attacks that may well correspond to declining numbers of sharks. Australia has about 15 a year, among the world's highest rates for shark attacks.
Back when I first started SCUBA diving, I had a bumper sticker on my tank that said "Be Kind to Animals: Kiss a Shark." Never had the opportunity to practice what I preached, but this Aussie abalone diver survived being bitten from the head down. The shark swallowed his head and he is now in serious but stable condition.
My grandfather, who (I'm embarrassed to say) family members swear once tried to harpoon a pilot whale, wrote this letter home to his children in 1945 serving as a Navy doctor with a Marine air wing in the South Pacific. He tells about a shark encounter he had while fishing from an LCM:
"We put feather lures on our lines and started to troll. After about an hour the fun started. One of the men suddenly had a hard strike at his line. His pole was almost pulled out of his hands and he began to fight a pretty big fish. After about 10 minutes he had the fish in to within 50 feet of the boat and we could see it swimming under water - about 4 feet long and probably a king fish. Just at this moment a great fin came out of the water 200 feet from the boat - it cut the surface like a knife and dashed toward the struggling king fish. We could not save the king fish and were helpless to save him from the shark. It was all over in a moment - for the 8 foot shark swallowed the king fish at one stroke - cutting off the body just behind the head and leaving the head dangling on the end of our line.
But the scene was not yet over - for the struggle, and probably the presence of blood in the water had attracted other sharks, and soon there were three of them around the boat, making made dashes at the dangling fish's head only 10 feet from the boat. Suddenly a shark grabbed the fish's head (though we were lifting it out of the water when they approached). the reel sang as the line played out. We expected to lose our tackle for with light line there was no chance of landing an 8 foot shark. But luckily the bait and hook became disengaged from the shark's mouth and we were able to get it back intact.
Now all three sharks were snapping at the head - they made regular "bombing runs" on it - going off about 50-75 feet, circling and dashing in as straight as a die. Finally, we got out the 45 pistol, waited for a big fellow to get his head out of the water right next to the boat, and fired. Blood spurted from him as her turned violently in the water and tried to get away. But the blood in the water was his undoing, for sharks are cannibals, and will attack even one of their own kind if he is hurt. Within a few seconds the other two great gray brown sharks were on him tearing him to ribbons only a hundred feet from the boat. It was a terrible sight. While the fight was on we were able to get our boat away, for there could be no fishing while these bloodthirsty giants were dashing about all sides of the boat."
Speaking after shark attack on the abalone diver, Rob Townsend, from Oceanworld in Sydney said:
"Generally, after these kinds of things there's a percentage of the population that's wanting to hunt it down and kill it because it's a man-eater... [Great whites] are not mindless killers," he told the BBC. "I think they're beautiful animals. Understandably, I'm in the minority."
"There are not too many people that see 4-, 5-, 6m sharks with massive serrated teeth as a thing of beauty," Townsend added.
What's not to love?