Sharks have long been feared by humans, thanks in part to popular culture and sensationalized news stories. But is this fear justified? Are shark attacks as common and deadly as we’ve been led to believe? In this article, we’ll examine the myth of shark attacks and separate fact from fiction.
First, let’s take a look at the statistics. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there were only 57 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide in 2020, with ten resulting in fatalities. While any loss of human life is tragic, these numbers are relatively low when you consider that millions of people swim, surf, and dive in the ocean every year.
In fact, your chances of being killed by a shark are incredibly slim. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), you’re more likely to die from a lightning strike, a dog attack, or a bee sting than you are to be killed by a shark. In the United States, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be attacked by a shark.
So why do we continue to fear sharks so much? One reason is the media. When a shark attack does occur, it often makes national headlines, leading many to believe that these incidents are more common than they actually are. The media also tends to focus on the most gruesome details of these attacks, further feeding our fears.
But it’s important to remember that the media is in the business of selling stories, and sensationalizing shark attacks is one way to do that. As a result, we often hear about the rare, extreme cases, rather than the more common, less severe incidents.
So what is the reality of shark attacks? The truth is that most sharks pose little to no threat to humans. Of the 400-plus species of sharks, only a handful have been known to attack people unprovoked. Even among these species, attacks are rare.
Most shark attacks occur when a human accidentally enters a shark’s territory or appears to be prey. In many cases, the shark will bite once and then swim away, realizing that its intended target is not food. Fatalities are even rarer, with most victims surviving their injuries.
Despite our fears, sharks play an
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