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Chances of Being Attacked by a Shark

Submitted by admin on 2010-07-27

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A topic asked by many before starting scuba diving is 'what are the odds of being killed by a shark', but thankfully the answer is actually extremely comforting. While sharks have gotten a bad reputation, mostly because of the movie Jaws, as well as their natural intimidating appearance of course- these marine predators account of a tiny percent of human fatalities. In fact it is actually more likely that you will be killed by slipping on a wet floor. To many these statistics may not mean much, especially when you keep seeing images of Great White Sharks breaching the waters off Southern Africa on television and the scenes of chumming.

Let us look at the numbers a bit more though and see just how logical it is to fear being attacked by a shark. During a 423 year period, extending from 1580 to 2003 there were a reported 1 909 shark attacks, that gives the calculated odds of any particular person being attacked by a shark at 1 in 11.5 million! Now if we want to look at the chances of being killed by one of these shark attacks the numbers slim down even more, believe it or not during the same 423 year period there were only 38 reported deaths caused by shark attacks in the United States, putting the odds of being killed by a shark at lower than 1 in 260 million.

Looking at the statistics on what activity was being performed when a shark attack took place scuba diving is the lowest percentage when comparing the main activities of swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Trends seem to suggest that shark attacks are in fact more likely to occur in more shallow waters of under 30 feet and that there is increased chance of attack when floating on the waters surface rather than being below it, there are also more snorkelling and free-diving attacks than there are scuba diving attacks.

Overall though, there is a near to nothing chance of being attacked by a shark, and all worrying is completed unfounded. Let's compare the amount of shark attack fatalities to that of other incidents.

Chances of dying from:

Falling - 1 in 229

Aircraft Crash - 1 in 6 137

Lightning Strikes - 1 in 56 439

Gun Fire - 1 in 315

Fireworks - 1 in 744 997

Car Crash - 1 in 228

Shark - 1 in 11 500 000

When in the water nothing can compare to the feeling of diving with sharks, they are definitely intimidating but if you treat them with respect and keep your cool there should be nothing but an excellent memory for you.

As with all statistics there has been some talk about the accuracy of the results with shark attacks, but there is only one bottom line which won't be changed- the risk of a shark attack is extremely slim. If you are afraid of diving with sharks, it is always a good idea to talk to some of your buddies who do it in the hopes they can amp you up to try.

For more detailed information on shark attacks statistics visit:


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We were in a pack of several dozen caribbean reef sharks, they were actively feeding. They were swarming all over us like a bunch of cats trying to get at the food. It was terrifying ... NOT! It was a fun experience, calming too. Video and stills at: There are attacks at times, in lots of other instances just interesting interactions.
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I too was in a pack of several dozen caribbean reef sharks who were actively feeding. What an AWESOME experience. Did that dive twice on that trip. A year later I went diving for a week in the Bahamas "hunting" - cameras only please - for Great Hammerhead sharks. While none were seen on that trip there were many many caribbean reef sharks and lemon sharks. Some were inquisitive but not were aggressive. Always remember, we are visitors in their home and treat them with respect. Doing so will give you a great experience that will not be forgotten.

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