Great white sharks have attacked humans before, but contrary to popular belief, great whites do not generally seek humans out to eat them. One theory is that great whites are curious enough to bite something unfamiliar to them to ‘look for tactile evidence about what it is.’ Out of the 108 recorded, unprovoked shark attacks in the 20th century, only eight were fatal, which scientists point to as proof that great whites are generally not interested in eating humans.
A short answer to this question is yes, great whites have been known to attack humans. However, their is a general misconception as to why this happens. To begin with, humans are not exactly the food of choice for great whites, in fact the sharks digestive system is ill equiped to handle a meal like a human. Some researchers believe that these attacks may simply be motivated by simple curiousity. Others even believe that environemtal factors spur it on. For instance sharks that may be injured or agitated in some way may be lead to such an panicked assault.
Great White Sharks have attacked humans – according to the International Shark Attack File, compiled by the Florida Museum of Natural History, globally, an annual average of 65 people are attacked by (all types of) sharks (2010 was a bit higher, at 79). However, according to this livesciene article, humans are not a natural food choice for Great Whites – our lack of high-calorie blubber makes us less than appetizing. In fact, those infamous rows of razor sharp teeth also function as nerve endings which can discern the blubber content of their food. Often surfers, in their black wet suits, resemble seals.
To put the risk of death by shark attack in perspective, “In the United States the annual risk of death from lightning is 30 times greater than that from shark attack”.
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