In 1975, a movie named Jaws racked up over 250 million dollars in domestic grosses. Along the way, it warned America: “Don’t go in the water.” Thirty-five years later, does Jaws‘ eerie warning still hold water? This answer uses data from the Florida Museum of National History (“Museum”) to explore the question: “How dangerous are sharks right now?”
A Historical Sweep: Shark Attacks Over The Past 400+ Years
From 1580 to 2008, the Museum has recorded a total of 2,251 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks. Over two thousand – that seems like a whopping number. But remember, this is a time period of 428 years. That’s under six attacks per year. Not “zero”. But not worthy of Jaws-esque hysteria, either.
921 – that is, about 40 percent – of these confirmations came from the continental United States. An additional 358 (almost 16 percent) came from Australia, and another 278 (a little over 12 percent) came from Africa. This means that over the past four hundred years or so, a little over two-thirds of all recorded shark attacks occurred in one of those three geographical areas. So, you’re an Asian? A European, perhaps? You have much less to worry about!
Where SHOULD I Worry?
Since 1990, the top nine locations with the most shark attacks were, in order:
Again, the 48 contiguous United States dominate. Of the 1,076 attacks in these nine locations, 473 came from Florida or California. That’s almost 44 percent.
And again, that’s 1,076 attacks during a period of 18 years, making for just under sixty attacks every year.
Looking Closer at the U.S.
The Museum has more detailed data about shark attacks within the U.S.; as the U.S. has by far the most shark attacks of any country in the world, it seems worthy of further examination.
Again, working within an eighteen-year time period (1990-2008), let’s look at the top nine locations with the most shark attacks. Here, the attack total is 658. And Florida, as before, really stands out.
Concluding: Jaws’ Time Has Passed
It seems fair to say from this data that it is indeed safe to go in the water – especially if you reside outside of the United States. It’s not that sharks aren’t worthy of fear. They’re creatures with the capacity to kill. But the hype over shark attacks – their frequency and overall number – seems largely a media creation.
Photo credit: rosevita from morguefile.com
Photo credit: purelyblu from morguefile.com
This is a tough question. obviously sharks are very deadly. They have evolved over the years into pure killing machines. They have practically perfected their methods. But As far as humans go; sharks are not out to kill us. Many times it is a mistake (which is why they never actually eat us). However, with increased degradation to the ocean and food sources being depleted, there are many people who say that shark attacks will increase in number simply because the sharks will become desperate for food.
Below is a link for you to look at the shark attack database
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