A comprehensive new ‘shark attack map’ and investigation shed light on our thoughts on being attacked

Photo: Floridapanhandle.com


inertia

Here’s a fairly ubiquitous nugget thrown into nearly every shark conservation conversation: “In a typical year, less than 10 humans are killed by sharks. Compare that with the astronomical figure of 100 million sharks killed by humans.

While you’ve probably heard this comparison or any variation of the stat before, this particular quote is how FloridaPanhandle.com founder David Angotti puts it. And he credits the data point with inspiring a real deep dive into actual shark attack statistics, and how those statistics align with our general perception of shark attacks. Some of the findings are objectively stupid, like the fact that 15% of people in a national survey said they would accept being attacked by a shark “for the cool story”.

The offbeat reference and database behind it all have a purpose, though.

“We believe that these interactive shark attack educational statistics will help the general public realize that shark attacks are incredibly rare and that it is normally possible to survive,” says Angotti. “Based on the data, we shouldn’t fear sharks – we should rather protect them.”

Angotti’s research is compiled into a comprehensive guide that includes an interactive map, which details specific non-fatal and fatal shark attacks around the world, and decades of statistics that illuminate what is myth and what is real when it comes to our relationship with sharks. For example, “while commercial air travel is widely regarded as one of the safest modes of transportation, the risks of dying in a plane crash are exponentially higher than simply being attacked by a shark”, says Angotti. “To put these numbers into perspective, there have been 3,416 commercial airline fatalities worldwide between 2011 and 2020. Over the past thirty years, there have been fewer than 300 shark attack fatalities and 3,000 total attacks.”

Chart: Floridapanhandle.com

Other unique and quick data points and facts that stand out from the guide include:

-Over the past 20 years, more shark attacks have occurred on Saturdays than on other days of the week.
-Over the past 20 years, more shark attacks have occurred in July than in any other month.
– Mortality rates are higher for victims of shark attacks in Africa and France.
-You have an 89.4% chance of surviving a shark attack.
-According to Statista, dogs are the third deadliest animal for mankind, behind snakes and mosquitoes.
-Great white sharks are responsible for the highest number of attacks on humans as well as the highest attack fatality rate (42.5%).
-Over the past 20 years, the United States has had by far the highest number of reported attacks (291), but its 8.2% fatality rate is dwarfed by places like Australia (rate of mortality rate of 44%), Africa (66.7%) and France (73.3%).

And some interesting (or just weird) survey responses, showing the general population’s perception of shark attacks:

-Out of 1,000 people surveyed, more people would choose to be attacked by a bear (14%), fall out of a third story window (34%) or be involved in a car accident at 70 mph ( 42%), than being attacked by a shark (10%).
-15% of people would accept being attacked by a shark “for the cool story”, with the assurance that they will survive to tell it.
-Out of 1,000 people surveyed, about 2/3 of respondents assume that there is between zero and 60% chance of survival in the event of a shark attack. The true statistical probability of survival is 89.4%.

If you’re so inclined, dive deep into the interactive shark attack guide.