Shark Attack Facts

Experts say that shark attacks are a danger that must be acknowledged by anyone who frequents marine waters but the danger should be kept in perspective. Here's some information to help you learn a little bit more about the subject.

Quick Facts

Bees, wasps and snakes are responsible for more fatalities than sharks every year.

Among all known species of sharks, 27 have been authoritatively linked to attacks on people or boats.

The odds of getting killed by a shark are extremely minimal. For people living in the U.S., the risk of getting struck and killed by a bolt of lightning is 30 times greater than that of getting killed by a shark. Worldwide, experts estimate that there are about 70 to 100 hundred attacks annually with about five to 15 of those resulting in fatalities.

The death rate for shark attacks is decreasing due to improved emergency medical treatment, but the rate of shark attacks overall is increasing -- probably because more people are entering the water than ever before.

Where Sharks Attack

Most shark attacks take place in areas close to shore where people are most likely to be swimming or surfing. Some likely locations for these attacks are areas between a sandbar and shore, where sharks feed and sometimes become trapped during low tides.

Underwater geography can play a role in shark attacks as well. Areas with steep drop-offs are likely attack spots, since sharks often patrol here waiting for natural prey that congregate nearby.

Types Of Attacks

There are three major types of unprovoked shark attacks.

Hit And Run: This is by far the most common form of attack. A shark will usually attack in an area close to shore where swimmers and surfers are the most likely targets. The victim of the attack usually doesn't even see the shark and the shark usually just inflicts a single bite and leaves. Some believe that these attacks are most likely cases of mistaken identity, where a shark is unable to identify its normal prey either because of water clarity or harsh conditions. It is thought that once the shark takes a bite and realizes that the prey is quite large or unfamiliar, the animal releases its grip and leaves. These types of attacks are rarely life threatening.

Bump And Bite: This type of attack is less common but usually results in the most fatalities. The victims in these cases are usually divers or swimmers in deeper waters. Bump and bite attacks are typified by a circling shark that bumps into a person before it attacks. Repeat attacks are common and injuries are usually very serious.

Sneak Attack: The sneak attack is very similar to the bump and bite, the only difference between the two is that in a sneak attack there is no bump – the shark attacks without warning. Most shark attacks that occur during sea disasters are either a bump and bite or hit and run attack.

Common Culprits

Three species of shark have been repeatedly associated with attacks on people. They are the Great White Shark, Tiger Shark and the Bull Shark. Each animal is capable of consuming large prey and each can reach considerable size.

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