Mass media aside, are sharks really that dangerous to humans, and specifically, surfers? Let’s look at the statistics. Roughly 65 people are attacked by sharks each year worldwide. In 2000, there were a record 79 attacks worldwide, 16 of them fatal. In 2002, there was only one reported death. Because of the relative infrequency of shark attacks on surfers, statistics aren’t readily available, but along the west coast of North America (an area home to the great white shark), there were only 41 confirmed shark attacks on surfers during the entire twentieth century. Shark attacks are rare and fatal attacks are even less frequent. In fact, more people die annually from falling coconuts (150) and being struck by lightning (47) than from being attacked by a shark. Of course, if you’re constantly swimming in shark infested waters and rarely near a coconut tree, those statistics aren’t very telling. The United States records the largest number of attacks each year, followed by Australia and South Africa. The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) reports that most attacks in the U.S. have occurred in Florida, Hawaii, California, South Carolina and North Carolina. In 2009, the ISAF recorded a total of 2,251 attacks worldwide since 1580, 464 of which were fatal.