The general public is at once fascinated and horrified by the idea of being attacked by a shark. News of an attack is often reported at least nation-wide, if not internationally. This dissemination by the media, compounded with the powerful image of the shark and the irresponsible journalism involved in the production of such "documentaries" as SHARK ATTACK!! lead people to fear swimming in the ocean. In fact, many vacationers will refuse to swim in the ocean for fear of being attacked by a shark. This fear is unfounded, as the risk of being attacked by a shark is infinitessimally small.

Worldwide, there are roughly 70-100 attacks by sharks upon humans annually and of these attacks, between 5-15 deaths will occur. This may seem like a large number, but in comparison with the number of people using the ocean recreatively, the risk of attack is extremely small.

It is difficult to determine exactly what the relative risk of attack by a shark is for any one bather, given that the number of bathers worldwide is uncertain. However, for a more restricted region some estimates may be made. We can make the following comparisons based on data available within the United States:

It could be mentioned that such risk comparisons are fallacious given that they do not involve recreational use of the water. It is also known, however, from Australian data, that the risks of drowning, being killed surfing, fishing or scuba-diving are far greater than being attacked by a shark.

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