Some real math on the real risk of shark attacks


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But, but… there’s no horror film about a bunch of people on a beach making bad surfing decisions and getting swallowed by the undertow. What would we call it? “Bad Day At the Beach?” Sorry, this just won’t sell.

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The real question is: are more people killed by sharks, or by terrorists, in the USA each year?

For all the hype about sharks, the ratio of expenditure to real risk on sharks is probably not nearly as egregious as the ratio of expenditure to real risk on terrorists. (And we aren’t turning over our freedom wholesale because of fear of sharks.)


We humans tend to have this annoying habit, we actually think we are the only intelligent ones on this planet. Think we are starting to learn otherwise.

In my opinion the human race has compounded these issues by being addicted to this strange fantasy called religion. It teaches many in this overcrowded world that we are somehow special and therefore absolved of responsibility.

What humans do to sharks, whether by “accident” (such as catching them in fishing nets), for food (full disclosure: I have eaten shark, even if it was long before I understood their ecological value), or for “sport” is appalling to me. What really interests me, though, is that Peter Benchley, who really helped stoke the fires of anti-shark hysteria, became a defender of sharks. Late in life he said, “[W]orldwide, sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressors.”

I know I’m kidding myself but every time Jaws runs on TV I like to think a little of the revenue is helping the environment.

Every other week is Human Week.


200 Million people go to the beach a year… I’m going to WAG that of those 200 Million 0.1% of them make it in past their knees So… of the 200,000 people who make it deep enough for a shark to nip at them the ratio is now 18 per 100,000 for swimmers as apposed to beach goers…

How many of the 200 Million buy lottery tickets? :slight_smile:

The 0.1% figure seems pretty low to me (1 out of every 1,000 people gets their swimsuit wet?) but I’m not a beach bunny. Every time I go to the beach I’m looking to do some body surfing.

Most shark “attacks” are mistaken identity anyway. The shark takes a bite at someone who dressed up as their favorite food, discovers that it’s not right, and swims away.

Thinking about it, it seems kind of strange that wetsuits are almost always black. If they were brightly colored with patterns and whatnot it would tell predators that you’re dangerous. Brightly colored fish are generally poisonous or venomous and predators stay away from them.

Confirmation bias, combined with the fact that the media are designed to deliver News (which is by definition when something out of the ordinary happens), combined with the fact that people are less concerned about hazards which they believe they are already guarding against and have some control over (even if they don’t and don’t).

Thus risk of drowning is discounted because “I won’t let that happen to me”, and risk of shark is exaggerated because “it could happen to anyone without warning.” Both of which are misstatements, but that’s the way our reflexes run.

At this level, we’re just apes. We’re a lot more scared of the tiger than of falling out of the tree.

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And many of those humans each year die, or must be rescued, from
drowning incidents in which no other creature is to blame.

Next week on ‘When water attacks!’. .


I’m not likely to be murdered by a serial killer either, but it’s still frightening. And no, that doesn’t mean I advocate killing millions of sharks, because I don’t. However, having irrational fears is a pretty normal thing and skarks are killed for sport and for money, not because people are scared of them.

We humans are kicking some shark ass. We should probably take a handicap to make it more sporting - how 'bout every beachgoer wears some raw meat around their ankles? That would even up the odds a little I bet.
The national cancer institute proposed $6Busd budget. {The NYtimes cancer-funding-does-it-add-up}. According to the-war-on-terror-is-a-6-trillion-racket-exceeding-the-total-cost-of-world-war-ii/25531 We are or will spend $6Tusd on the war on terror. Bend it any way you like, we give up freedoms, and cower in fear throwing money and lives and resources at something that has a minuscule chance of hurting us while we spend 1000 times less fighting something that killed 1 in 7 of us last year more than 500,000 of us in 2011…

Read Devra Davis’s The Secret History of the War on Cancer and you’ll understand.

Try to keep this perspective while swimming… and you see the fin. Go on, try.

Actually, as a frequent beachgoer when I was younger, they never elicited much of a response.

Most of them are really small, actually, and I was always was more worried about what I was about to step on, especially after I had a stingray slice through my leg (luckily it was JUST on the edge, so I literally ended up with a slice because it tore my skin on the way out and I didn’t get much venom. )

Super freaky though! The beach bit me!

“The beach came alive and took him.”

No kidding! People say sharks are scary. No, when a huge (and I DO mean huge! Freaky big) chunk of what you thought was ground bites you, lifts up and tips you into the drink. . . well, there’s just no context for that!

I was just very much in pain and completely perplexed.

Seriously, bring on the sharks, they do things that I can wrap my mind around at least.

I’m curious. How many folks here have actually seen and swam with a shark in the water???

During my scuba adventures (minimal at best) I’ve been near: Black Tip Reef, White Tip Reef, Lemon Sharks, and plain 'ol reef sharks. Never once was scared of them, and every time they basically ignored us.

Just sand sharks. That I knew of.

I find Portugese Men-O-War much more frightening, though.

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