There is nothing like a shark attach for grabbing the headlines in the world press. This only helps to reaffirm people’s fears regarding sharks by giving them a bad name. I am not saying that the attacks shouldn’t be reported, but maybe they should be put into context. Shark attacks undoubtedly sell newspapers, as do scuba diving accidents, while fatal car accidents rarely get national coverage, let alone global. So, I have done a bit of research and have found some figures that will amaze you and hopefully quash any fear of going into the ocean.
A 423 year long survey took place between 1580 and 2003 citing 1,909 fatal shark attacks in total. That gives us a 1 in 11.5 million chance of making the headlines. In the US, over the same period, 38 fatal shark attacks occurred, giving you a 1 in 260 million chance of 5 minutes of fame! If I told you 150 people worldwide per year (on average) die from a coconut falling on their heads, then that kind of makes sharks the good guys.
Shark attacks have increased over the past few decades. Why? Well, 50 years ago, people didn’t fly off to far flung places in search of golden beaches and crystal clear waters to go snorkelling, diving, surfing etc in, but it’s something people seek to do on a regular basis now.
The decline in sharks is saddening to see as they are amazing to see in their natural habitat. I once jumped into a whirlpool of barracuda to see what would happen, and within minutes, a 2 metres + white tip oceanic reef shark came right through the middle and took off with a nice tasty snack. This all happened right in front of my nose and was a real thriller. Sharks don’t want to eat us, they don’t even like the way we taste. More often than not, if a shark bites a human, it will spit the bits out. Painful I should imagine, but it will leave a great scar! They only attack us because they think we are sea lions or seals.
Sharks are very important for the survival of the ocean environment as they are at the top of the food chain. As a predator to most animals, they provide an ecological balance and biological control of other species.
My advice would be to not wear tuna smelling deodorant, don’t cut yourself and go for a swim and definitely don’t swim like a seal. However, if you take those precautions and still get attacked, curl up into a tight ball. That way it will take you whole and you won’t painfully bleed to death. Just a thought!!!! In reality, on the list of potential dangers that can be encountered during aquatic recreation, sharks are right at the bottom of the list.
Now that I have hopefully allayed your fear of sharks, I will let you in on this little secret! We have sharks in the bay! Albeit not very many, but the numbers are increasing as this bay is so healthy. My friends at the Vallarta Yacht Club brought to my attention a shark they caught inside the bay this week. This is the actual photo, and yes, it is a Great White shark pup!!! These very responsible fishermen released it as soon as they had photographed it, and I am very excited about the prospect of seeing it one day.