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What are the odds of being attacked by a shark?

Updated on March 14, 2017

It is many peoples fear. It is a fear that people subject themselves to all the time, usually because they just want to have some fun. SHARK ATTACK!

From television bombardments of gruesome attacks on those “Most Nasty, Extreme, Bloody, Wild, blah, blah, blah…Caught on Tape” shows to movies like “Jaws” and “Deep Blue Sea”, it seems that popular entertainment would have us believe that we are taking our lives in our hands every time we go for a swim or get near water in any way.

But are we really? According to statistics from the International Shark Attack File, it would seem that the chances are pretty slim. The ISAF is a record database provided by the Florida Museum of Natural History that includes a near comprehensive record of shark attack activity for the last 50 years.

In 2009, according to the ISAF, there were 61 recorded attacks, 5 of which were fatal. Given the approximate number of 6 billion people who inhabit this planet, the odds then are about 98 million to 1 of getting attacked and 1,200 million to 1 of dying from it.

The chance of being attacked, however, varies directly with one’s relative location as compared to where sharks are found. Obviously, if one spends their entire life in the city, their chances are drastically smaller than one who spends their time primarily in open-ocean based activities.

The ISAF has created a list of the top 10 most shark attack prone areas in the last 10 years. Their findings for total shark attack numbers around the world reaches 700 total attacks over those 10 years.

The state of Florida is at the top of the list, recording 294 total attacks, 19 of those in 2009. Given 18.5 million people as an approximate population of Florida, if you reside in the Sunshine State your odds of attack become 973,684 to 1.

The next on the list is the vast continent of Australia which recorded 99 total attacks for the years on file and whose residents have 1.1 million to 1 odds of being attacked.

The list is rounded out with Hawaii, South Africa, California, Brazil, Mexico, Reunion Island, and, finally, New Zealand, the last attack occurring there in 2007, the only one of that year, giving New Zealand residents 2007 odds of 4 million to 1.

Although the threat of a shark attack is present, the odds of it actually happening seem to pale in comparison with the joy that one can find from taking a nice, relaxing swim to escape the heat of the day or seeing a beautifully bright colored fish as you snorkel in turquoise colored water near a coral reef.

Leave the worries to the people getting sunburns on the beach.


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    • bac2basics profile image


      5 years ago from Spain

      Hi bigm. I have family living in Australia near the coast, my brother in law swears that all you have to do to get rid of a pesky shark is thump it on the nose, not sure if I would want to go swimming where sharks visit, and even where they don´t it still crosses my mind when swimming in the sea, but as you so rightly say, probably better to be worried about the damaging effects of solar rays. Thanks for the follow, I´m going to do the same :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      My husband was a surfer for years down here in Australia. Until the time a shark passed under his surfboard. We've since moved inland, lol. He still has his board but it's a long time since he used it.

      Voted up!


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