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Safety Official: Media Frenzy Exaggerates Actual Threat Of Sharks

Elias Levy

Summer brings crowds to the coast to swim and surf.  And inevitably, fears of shark attacks surface, buoyed by media reports and events like “Shark Week” on cable TV.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, despite recent sightings like those at Cannon Beach last week, most of the fear is overhyped.  

More than 40 years after the movie, “Jaws”, people still step warily into the ocean. But home security company SafeWise reports that from 2007 to 2016, there were just 474 shark attacks reported in coastal states.  Six were fatal.  

Credit Safewise.com
A map from Safewise showing Oregon's reported shark attacks between 2007-2016. Six are confirmed, two are not.

Oregon is in the top 9 states with the highest reported attacks. But Safewise’s Sage Singleton says of the six confirmed reports…

“All of those were non-fatal, and all of them, people were surfing.”

Florida ranked first if you were curious, with 244 attacks.

Credit Nick Stenning / Flickr.com

Singleton says you’re more apt to die from the flu or being in a car crash than being munched by a shark.  To better your chances…

“…don’t provoke a shark if you see one," adds Singleton.  

"If you see a school of fish or water plants, don’t go into those areas because that’s what sharks are going to look for, for food.

"Don’t swim individually, sharks will mistake humans for other ocean creatures if they’re alone.  If it’s a group of people in the ocean, you’re much less likely to be attacked.” 

Credit Elias Levy, OSU, and Daniel Kwok / Flickr.com
From left to right: A Great White, tiger, and bull shark.

Of the hundreds of species of sharks, three - the Great White, tiger, and bull shark - are responsible for the most attacks on humans.  

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

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