Review: The Anti-Shark Exhibit at the Australian Museum

Dr. Chris Pepin-Neff
5 min readDec 23, 2022

Never before have I seen a shark exhibit do so much damage to so many sharks in so casual a manner. The public is misinformed by this show, which is wrapped in pseudo-science from actual scientists. The flaws are many, but the fact is that the Australian Museum has put together one of the scariest exhibits on sharks in the past 20 years.

Let me start here: When I was leaving the exhibit, a mother who was walking behind me turned to her six-year-old and said, “If you are bitten by a shark, you want it to be a shark with no teeth.” This was her takeaway from the Australian Museum’s “Shark” exhibit, and that was my takeaway as well. More fear of sharks.

To be clear, I have my own biases to note as we begin the exhibit review. I conducted the world’s first PhD in the politics of shark “attacks,” gave a TED X talk on the myths around sharks (below), and wrote the book: “Flaws: Shark Bites and Emotional Public Policymaking” (Routledge, 2019). I have lectured on the need for better, clearer, and more scientific language to describe human-shark interactions. This is particularly important because about 40% of reported shark “attacks” have no injury at all. So many times, this language misrepresents the actual events.

I’ve also appeared on Shark Week on the Discovery Channel for their 2012 documentary “How Jaws Changed the World” (below) and wrote the authoritative study on the concept of the Jaws Effect in the Australian Journal of Political Science.

I say this not to brag but to establish that I did not receive any communication from the Australian Museum during its exhibit development or curation. This is important because, in my 16 years of educating the public about sharks, I have watched things get better each year until today when I…

Dr. Chris Pepin-Neff

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, with a focus on LGBTQ politics, agenda setting, and policy advocacy. Pronouns (they/them). Opinions are mine.