Jun
22
2009

Sharks and human serial killers share similar M.O.

Rogues Gallery: The Great White Shark (center) joins the ranks of infamous serial killers. Clockwise from upper left: Richard Speck, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Whitman, John Wayne Gacy, Charlie Manson, Dennis Radar (BTK Killer), Ed Gein (technically not a serial killer but one weird dude), Ted Bundy, David (Son of Sam) Berkowitz, and Henry Lee Lucas.
Rogues Gallery: The Great White Shark (center) joins the ranks of infamous serial killers. Clockwise from upper left: Richard Speck, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Whitman, John Wayne Gacy, Charlie Manson, Dennis Radar (BTK Killer), Ed Gein (technically not a serial killer but one weird dude), Ted Bundy, David (Son of Sam) Berkowitz, and Henry Lee Lucas.Courtesy Public Domain image composite by Mark Ryan
A new study published in the Journal of Zoology likens the predatory behavior of great white sharks to that of human serial killers.

Both the sharks and their human serial-killing counterparts use geographic profiling to hunt their prey. Co-author Neil Hammerschlag, a University of Miami researcher in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences says the predators “must get close enough to check out prey and figure out their movements, but they also must be far enough way so that they themselves won't be easily tracked. They must use known traveling routes. For human killers, these would be things like subways, buses and freeways. For great whites, these would include channels, reef edges and other topographical features."

In the waters off Seal Island in South Africa's False Bay, the research team (which included a criminal-profiling retired police officer) observed adult sharks launching their attacks from very focused anchor points just like serial killers lurk about familiar territory as they cruise for hapless victims. They found the sharks positioned themselves about 100 yards from the island in 80 feet of water, close enough for attack but far enough away to remain undetected. The depth and distance also allowed the predators to build up enough speed to start the attack.

Whether this behavior applies to all human serial killers, I’m not sure. For example, I don’t know that the Manson family stalked any of their victims, and Richard Hitchcock and Perry Smith (of In Cold Blood notoriety) originally selected the Clutter family in Kansas for robbery purposes, but in general the comparisons are interesting.

LINKS
LiveScience story
Discover.com story
ScienceDaily story

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options