A shark attack is one of the most frightening things that can happen to a person in the ocean and when they occur they are widely reported in the media. Shark attacks usually cause severe injuries and approximately 15% of people attacked will die as a direct cause of the attack. However shark attacks are rare and only about 100 occur worldwide each year. Despite this fact the fear of shark attack is very common. Let’s find out why sharks attack people.
Why do sharks attack people?
There are many reasons for shark attacks, but the most common is thought to be related to the shark mistaking a person for their prey. For example, a surfer looks similar to a seal or turtle from the underwater view. In these attacks the sharks are thought to be making exploratory bites. After this type of attack they will then either decide to move on or wait for their prey to bleed to death and then eat it. Humans are usually rescued or able to swim to safety from this type of attack, but may still have serious injuries.
Other types of shark attacks are thought to occur because many large species of sharks are very territorial and they will defend their territory from perceived threats. Sharks will also attack if they are provoked or threatened by a person and you should never tease or feed sharks. Another cause is thought to be splashing and/or blood in the water, which can be sensed by the electrical sensors/sense of smell within the shark.
Preventing a shark attack
The best ways to prevent an attack is to avoid swimming in low light conditions (dawn and dusk), avoid swimming alone, avoid splashing and similar movements, keep pets away from the water, and ensuring you don’t enter the water if you are bleeding or near areas where fish are being cleaned. It is also thought that wearing bright colors and shiny jewelry can attract sharks.
Did you know?
Despite rumors and myths about these animals, sharks will very rarely choose to feed on humans because we do not have the right fat ratio that these animals prefer.
There are more than 360 species of sharks and only 4 have ever been involved in unprovoked and fatal attacks on humans. These species are the great white, tiger, bull and oceanic whitetip.
The highest number of shark attacks occur in the United States, South Africa and Australia. Australia also holds the record for the most shark related deaths of any country in the world.
It is estimated that the chance of being attacked by a shark on a U.S. beach is 1 in 11.5 million and the chance of being killed by a shark is 1 in 264.1 million. This means that drowning and being struck by lightning are more common than shark attack!