Shark attacks are super scary, but how common are they really?

On average sharks kill fewer than six people worldwide per year. In the United States, we average less than one death from an average of 30-40 actual shark attacks around the world per year. More people win the lottery each year than get mauled by sharks.

Another way to think about it? Animals like deer, dogs, and even cows are more likely to kill us than sharks are.


Certainly puts things in perspective, especially given sensationalized media coverage of the attacks that do unfortunately occur. At the same time, all these stats don't change the fact that shark attacks, although rare, are still scary as !@$%.

Here's the thing that doesn't get enough attention, though: Humans are killing tons of sharks.

No, scratch that. We're killing millions of tons of sharks.

Over 100 million sharks are killed every year for a variety of reasons, like finning and bycatch (getting caught in nets and other commercial fishing gear meant for fish like tuna). In the last 15 years, the populations of certain shark species have decreased by 60%-90%. In addition, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported last year that a quarter of the world's shark and ray population is currently threatened by extinction.

If we assume a global population of 7 billion, that makes humans almost 17 million times more likely to kill a shark than to be killed by a shark each year. Yikes!

But why is this a problem? Because oceans need sharks. And we need oceans.

Killing sharks might sound good to some. No more sharks means my near-zero chance of being eaten by one becomes actual-zero, right?

Let me put it this way, sharks and the ocean have a pretty long history. In fact, sharks have been around for over 400 million years — "keystone" species, meaning that the overall health of marine ecosystems are dependent on them. They not only keep other species' populations stable and healthy, but they also contribute to the vitality of seabeds and other underwater habitats like coral reefs.

You probably have your own reasons for loving the ocean (and wanting it to stay in tip-top shape), but here's a few more to consider:

  • It provides oxygen.
  • It provides food.
  • It helps with greenhouse gas reduction.
  • It helps temperature regulation.
  • We can use it for recreational activities.
  • It's home to cute animals like sea otters...

Clearly, there's a lot more to know about sharks than their rare attacks on humans.

This great infographic from healtheo360 (by way of Visually) lays out some interesting things to keep in mind next time a shark attack makes headlines. Check it out:

Fact check time! There are two clarifications needed for the infographic above. Firstly, as you might guess, a great white shark doesn't weigh 0.5 ounces ... more like 2.5 tons, on average. And as we referenced above, the populations of certain shark species have decreased by 60% to 90%, not all sharks.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less

Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

Keep Reading Show less

Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

Keep Reading Show less