Exploring the underwater, like when scuba diving, is a great experience, but what if you encounter a shark during the activity? Sharks are one of the most-feared underwater marine creatures. There’s even a film series about them titled “Jaws”. The film’s story revolves around the capturing of a shark that killed a woman while she was skinny dipping. There is also a television event each year called Shark Week. The Discovery Channel airs programs that are all about sharks for a whole week every summer. They feature different shark stories, conservation efforts, and facts about some shark species. They also correct misconceptions about sharks. It started in 1998 and is considered the longest-running TV event. Since many are afraid of sharks and there are TV shows and films about them, have you wondered how much danger there really is in a shark attack?
Based on Statistics, 689 shark attacks were recorded from 2004 to 2013. This means that there was an average of 69 attacks per year. In all of these shark attacks, 10 ended up being fatal. That is quite a small number for us to say that a shark attack is really dangerous. As stated by the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there is about a 1 in 1.5 million chance that you will have a close encounter with a shark.
The National Safety Council states that there are other causes of deaths which are more likely to occur compared to death from a shark attack. For example, there is a 1 of 63 chance you will die from flu, a 1 in 7,229 chance you would die from an air travel accident, and a 1 in 11 million chance of being killed by a shark. Some divers also claim that driving and boating can be more dangerous compared to swimming with a shark. Since they are saying that shark attacks are not as fatal as other kinds of accident, it lets us also know who are attacked by sharks and the reason why.
According to ISAF, the most common type of shark attack in their records is provoked an attack. The provoked attack only happens when sharks are disturbed. This would be like when drivers try to go near where they are or if they try to grab them. So if you go diving, remember the rule of wild animals, don’t bother them so they won’t bother you. However, there are also some records of unprovoked shark attacks. According to scientists, it is possible that sharks mistake human as their prey, especially scuba divers because of their movements and appearance underwater.
There are also three kinds of shark attacks according to the ISAF which are the hit-and-run, bump-and-bite, and sneak attacks.
- Hit-and-run attacks: This is the most common kind because it’s usually a case of mistaken identity. As stated previously, some sharks mistake human as their prey. Once they attack the human, they run because it does not taste the same as their usual prey. Causing the victim to be left wounded.
- Bump-and-bite attacks: These attacks usually occur in deeper parts of the ocean. This happens when sharks think of a human as intruders upon seeing them. Because they are in deeper parts, they seldom see a different creature that is why they swim around them first, then bump the victim before they attack. Injuries from this kind of attack are more serious compared to hit-and-run injuries.
- Sneak attacks: This attack is the one you see in the Jaws movie. It is when sharks attack out of the blue, and it is not a case of mistaken identity. After one attack, there is a tendency that the shark will come back and attack again. This can lead to more severe injuries.
Now that we know the different kinds of shark attacks, another question is, do all kinds of shark attack humans? There are over 500 species of sharks which are known but it’s difficult to specify which of those species attack human. Based on the records of fatal attacks, three species of sharks are identified. They are the great white shark, the bull shark, and the tiger shark.
Bull sharks became dangerous because they normally live in shallow waters where humans are mostly swimming around. The tiger shark, on the other hand, is the kind that has a really large appetite. It can eat anything. In fact, even cats and horses are found inside its body. The last on the list is the great white shark, which is known to be the world’s deadliest shark because it is responsible for a third of all the shark attacks that have been recorded, and 78 of those were fatal.
If you’re going to the beach for a swim but are worried that there might be sharks around, safety will always be the key. One of the safety tips is to avoid swimming when you have open wounds. This is because sharks are attracted to blood. Aside from blood, shiny objects also catch their attention. Also, avoid swimming alone and going far from the shore especially when you’re not that familiar with the beach where you’re swimming.
Shark attacks can still be considered dangerous, though, it is not something we should worry about every day.