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Shark Attacks

The actual risk of being attacked by a shark is extremely low.

- More people are killed each year by lightning than by shark attack.

- Soda machines killed more people in one year than sharks did.

- For the US, including Hawaii, the chance of drowning is more than 1000 times greater than that of dying from a shark attack.

- Jellyfish kill more people than sharks.

Humans kill about 100 million shark per year !

Most sharks are shy creatures and will leave the area when humans enter the water.
The larger species that are usually indicated in human attacks are the bull shark, tiger shark and great white shark.
Bull sharks tend to hang out in the same areas that humans use. Shallow, near coastal areas and river mouths. So they are more likely to encounter humans than other species.
Bull sharks also have a high level of testosterone, which may make them more territorial. A bite is most likely preceded by threatening behavior, but cannot be seen if the person is wading or swimming.

Reef sharks can have similar poses to warn the intruder to leave their territory. If divers respect these signs and move on there usually is no danger of an attack.

Sharks have keen instincts for hunting. A bleeding fish is naturally irresistible as a potential easy meal. Spear fishermen have been bitten because they may tie their catch to their belts while continuing the hunt. The shark tries to get to the fish and ends up biting the person that is attached to the bleeding fish. If the fish is instead attached to a trailing line, the fish may still be lost to the shark, but at least the diver will not be harmed.

Surfers are some of the most frequent victims of shark attacks. Most often the attack consists of a single bite. The sharks generally don’t want to consume the victim, but the blood loss can be significant.

The attacks can usually be classified as an “investigative” bite.  Sharks unfortunately investigate with their mouth. Once they find out what this object floating on the surface is, they will release it and loose interest. That’s why some shark bites are only puncture wounds where the shark bit down once and then let go.

Tiger sharks and
great white sharks hunt by using techniques of stealth and surprise, much like lions do on land. In turbid, low visibility water such as breaking waves, they may look at the silhouette of a surfer and assume it is a seal or turtle. Additionally the splashing and paddling gives the same appearance as an injured animal, which is easy prey.

To hunt seals, the sharks have to rush in fast and injure the animal before they can swim away. In an actual pursuit, a seal will be much too agile and fast for a shark to follow. If the surfer is mistaken as a seal, they can be attacked in a rush attack, but after the initial bite the victims are often left alone. Surely that doesn’t make it any less frightening and horrible, but the knowledge can help you in choosing where and when to surf.

In the end there is nothing that will absolutely protect you from an attack, except staying out of the ocean.
When we enter the water, we have to accept it as a wilderness experience. And there will always be dangers present.

As mentioned above, the danger of drowning is by far greater. It just doesn’t bear the same imagery and fear as an attack by an animal.

Reducing the risk:

- There is safety in numbers.
- Avoid swimming near deep channels, in murky water or where shallow water suddenly becomes deeper.
- Do not swim alone, or at dusk or after dark, when sharks are feeding actively and likely to be closer to the shore.

You can check out these website for more detailed information:

Avoiding Shark Attack

A concise information page from the National Parks Conservation Association.

The International Shark Attack File

The ISAF is a compilation of known shark attacks, plus stats, trends, analysis, and more info on risks and attack locations.