Sharks attacks events are extremely rare, but when they occur, they always make the news and generate a serious social alarm.Despite the flashy headlines, the truth is that humans are not part of the shark's diet and, in most cases, it privileges the less dangerous hit-and-run attacks.
And, in many cases, the injuries and wounds caused by the predator's teeth are not lethal. Yes, surviving a shark attack is not impossible.
So what are the odds of being bitten to death by a shark? Is it safe to surf and swim in our coastlines? What do statistics tell us about shark attacks on humans?
Florida Museum's International Shark Attack File (ISAF) documents all known shark attacks since 1958. Simultaneously, it gathers data from several sources covering the period from the mid-1500s to the present day.
They perform geographical analysis, reveal trends, and publish statistics regarding the evolution of shark attacks on a global scale.
ISAF made an effort to fine-tune the comparisons and calculate more accurate odds of being attacked and/or dying by a shark.
They used beach attendance data supplied by the US Lifesaving Association for a large number of West and East Coast States beaches in the year 2000.
The results are surprising - or maybe not. ISAF compared shark attack data with all accidental death information published by the National Safety Council and reached an interesting conclusion.
The odds of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067 (0,000026 percent), which means that there are 18 diseases and accidental causes of death more likely to kill you during your lifetime than the ocean's predator.
Take a look at 18 major causes of death in the United States:
Heart Disease: 1 in 5
Cancer: 1 in 7
Stroke: 1 in 24
Hospital Infections: 1 in 38
Flu: 1 in 63
Car Accidents: 1 in 84
Suicide: 1 in 119
Accidental Poisoning: 1 in 193
MRSA Infection (resistant bacteria): 1 in 197
Falls: 1 in 218
Drowning: 1 in 1,134
Bike Accident: 1 in 4,919
Air/Space Accident: 1 in 5,051
Excessive Cold: 1 in 6,045
Sun/heat Exposure: 1 in 13,729
Lightning: 1 in 79,746
Train Crash: 1 in 156,169
Fireworks: 1 in 340,733
Shark Attack: 1 in 3,748,067
You'll notice that getting killed by a shark attack is more than ten times less probable to occur than losing your life due to fireworks.
For example, death by lightning strike, a risk we surfers take every time they're catching waves under cloudy and stormy skies, is 47 times more likely to happen than death by shark attack.
The figures speak for themselves. If you're moderately precautious, it is highly unlikely that you'll die from a shark attack.
Living is taking risks all the time. When you're eating, sleeping, walking down the street, studying, exercising, and having fun, you're always putting your life on the line.
Surfing takes place in a natural environment, surrounded by the elements, and marine life. It is vital that you feel comfortable with what you're doing and assess the risks before paddling out.
Just learn more about why, when and how do sharks attack and make sure you don't go surfing or swimming in shark-infested regions, or beaches closed by authorities.