Sharks have a pretty bad reputation as mindless man-eaters, but when you cut through the Hollywood hype and media sensationalism, you will find that sharks really aren't that scary after all. Most people that spend any time in the water with sharks realise that they are actually more afraid of us than we are lead to believe. In fact, most sharks will leave an area when people are present.
According to the International Shark Attack File, globally, an average of 10 people are killed by sharks annually. This may seem like a lot, but it's actually a very small number, particularly when you compare this to other causes of death.
According to research by Lozano et al 2012, globally, 52.8 million people die every year, which equates to 0.76% of the world's population (based on 2010 figures). Therefore, sharks are the cause of just 0.00002% of annual deaths.
To put this into context, 47 million deaths each year (90% of total deaths recorded annually) are caused by infectious and non-infectious diseases/disorders. Therefore, if you were to die this year, you have a 90% chance that this will be the cause of your death, and NOT a shark.
You could say that this statistic has no relevance to shark related deaths, and you may be right. So, what about traffic accidents instead? After all, you are likely to drive to the beach before you have a chance get in the water and see a shark, right? Well, cars and other vehicles cause 1.4 million deaths each year (2.7%). Therefore, you're much more likely to die on your way to the beach.
If you're luckily enough to be in good health, and arrive safely at the beach, then you should probably avoid trip hazards and also stay away from other people, as these are collectively the cause of 1.1 million deaths per year (2%).
Now, you've made it to the beach and you're about to go in the water, but can you actually swim? Because 349,100 deaths every year (0.7%) are caused by drowning. So, before you even see a shark, the ocean is much more likely to take your life. Then there is always the weather to consider as well, as 196,000 deaths each year (0.4) are caused by adverse weather events.
If you manage to survive all of that, then consider yourself lucky, as you have defied the odds. Well, not really, given that less than 1 in 100 people will actually die each year (0.76% of the world's population). Nevertheless, go ahead and swim with sharks, because, after all, what are the chances that anything bad will happen???
For those of you that are still worried about sharks, check out our Shark Safe Tips to reduce your risk even further.