Why You’re More Likely To Encounter A Shark Attack Than Ever Before

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No matter how comfortable we are in the water, no matter how many times we have swum at the same beach or surfed the same waves, a flicker of dread runs through our tender minds when we paddle out into open water and wonder: Is there something lurking below?

I missed being a part of the Jaws generation by about 20 years. When I finally saw the movie in the ’90s, I sheepishly admit that it seemed somewhat fake — paltry compared to the sophisticated Jurassic Park animation of the current Spielberg film playing at that time.

Jaws aside, a recent article in Forbes outlining the world’s most shark-infested beaches shows that deadly shark attacks have actually been increasing over the years, marking a high last year. Forbes notes that 2010 was the deadliest year in a decade for shark attacks, with 74 officially reported encounters. Florida led the way with 13, with surf-crazy Hawaii, Australia and South Africa predictably close behind.

But while the numbers of shark attacks have been climbing, the uptick has less to do with an increasing shark population, but rather attributable to human encroachment of their territory. After all, we humans kill 75 million sharks per year worldwide, and have been spending more time frolicking in their territory than ever before. Sharks hardly remain a viable threat, and we should be losing sleep over ways to protect them rather than spending time dreading them.

But do these stark facts about the relatively small amount of shark attacks ease the mind when heading out into the open ocean? Not at all. The piece of kelp that brushes the leg, the dark shadow ten yards out — either could very well be a prehistoric cartilaginous carnivore. So, happy swimming!

[Ferocious Great White Shark by Jaysonlinereviews/Flickr]

By Jenna Blumenfeld


About the Author

Jenna Blumenfeld, (Jenna Ogden Blumenfeld when she’s in really big trouble) hails from the wee state of Connecticut. Although her childhood dream of becoming a bug doctor — with a specialization in ladybugs — has gone unfulfilled, she is content writing about travel, cuisine and culture. A vegetarian, she currently resides in the food hub of Boulder, Colorado. Read more of her food-centric writing at NewHope360.com.

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