The term “shark-infested waters” is an inaccurate cliche, the Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott argued in a May 5 column.
Readers took the paper to task after reporting on two American tourists who swam for 12 hours through what the Guardian described as “shark-infested waters”. The tourists, Dan and Kate Suski, had to swim to get to shore after the boat they were on sank near St. Lucia.
As Elliott explained, readers complained because the pair never saw any sharks and because as one reader argued:
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“Infestation implies the presence of something that shouldn’t be there. In this instance then, the waters of the Caribbean were, if anything, human-infested.”
According to Elliott, the Guardian‘s reporter, Sam Jones, wrote the report based on an agency wire story. Jones actually used the word “shark-teeming,” but an editor changed it to “shark-infested.”