“Take That, Mr. Shark!”

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Sharks
Courtesy of Mtsrs (Flickr CC0)

On Thursday, a teenage girl was attacked by a nine-foot shark in Florida. She and her family were “scalloping” on Keaton Beach, standing in water that was about five feet deep when the attack occurred.

Addison Bethea was airlifted to a Tallahassee hospital just after three in the afternoon. Surgery began on her thigh at about six p.m.

She attempted to punch the shark in the head as her brother, Rhett, jumped in the water and fought the shark off. He then put a tourniquet above the missing chunk of skin and muscle to eliminate additional blood loss.

Although the 1975 movie, “Jaws,” helped to increase the fear of shark attacks, they are extremely rare. The chances of getting bitten by a shark are one in 3,748,067. Since 2018, the number of shark attacks has declined worldwide.

The United States has the largest recorded number of shark attacks, and one-half of those happened in Florida.

A somewhat funny, and surprising fact is that more people die while taking a selfie than from being eaten by sharks.

The appetite for “shark fin soup,” shark steaks, and other reasons for shark fishing is placing sharks in danger of extinction.

If you love the ocean, here are a few other statistics that should ease your fears.

The use of personal and probably illegal fireworks is more likely to result in death than a shark attack; one in 340,733.

The odds of death by drowning are one in 1,134.

Sharks
Courtesy of DASkleingedruckte (Flickr CC0)

You might have reason to fear sharks if you paddle board, surf, or boogie board. These sports occur in areas favored by sharks. Sixty-one percent of all shark attacks happen while participating in sports-related boards.

If you remain fearful of being bitten, avoid the ocean in the month of September, which records the largest number of shark attacks.

Yes, Karen, climate change is one of the factors which result in shark attacks. Normal feeding grounds have shifted due to the warming of our oceans, and sharks follow their food source. It is also interesting that sharks’ mouths are sensory detectors, and sometimes they are simply curious. The more popular beaches are understandably the most prone to shark attacks.

There are over 500 species of sharks, but only five percent have been involved in attacks on humans.

As you might have guessed, Great White’s have been involved in the largest number of attacks on humans. Tiger Sharks are number two.

Over 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year: the popularity of shark fin soup is the primary reason.

Certain species of sharks date back to the era of dinosaurs. They remain critical to the biological and ecological balance of our oceans.

As for Addison, her family calls her a “tough cookie,” and expects a full recovery. Her bite was critical, but the surgery was a complete success. She will undergo months of rehabilitation related to muscle damage, and severed blood vessels.

I grew up in Los Angeles and spent every summer’s day at the beach. I would advise anyone who loves the ocean as much as I do to rid yourself of fear and enjoy one of the most beautiful and exhilarating natural wonders available to all mankind.

By James Turnage, Novelist

Sources:

Petpedia: 42 Shark Attack Statistics to Ease Your Mind (2022 UPDATE); by Ljubica Cvetkovska
New York Times: Florida teen who lost part of leg in shark attack tried to fight off predator, dad says; by Selim Algar
Tallahassee Democrat: Teen girl airlifted to TMH with ‘serious injuries’ after shark attack in Taylor County; by Christopher Cann

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Mtsrs’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of DASkleingedruckte’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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