And Now, A Word about Sharks

Hi Folks! It is so rare that you see an article like this that I have to share it here. If you’re wondering about the relevance (and I bet you aren’t) just substitute “axe-murderer” for “shark.” – L

The number of shark attack deaths in Texas is staggering

by Eric Berger (“The Science Guy”)

Staggeringly low, that is. There have been two in the last century.

People simply have a ridiculously irrational fear of shark attacks.

In the last six years there have been a total of six shark attacks along Texas beaches, none fatal of course. How many millions of people have gone swimming in Galveston, at Corpus Christi and along South Padre Island during that time?

“There are very few shark attacks worldwide, and Texas’ beaches appear to be some of the safest anywhere,” said David Wells, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University at Galveston…

Read the rest here. And enjoy your time at the beach!

Come on in -- the water's fine!

Come on in — the water’s fine!

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21 Responses to And Now, A Word about Sharks

  1. Harrow July 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Expert: Shark Bite Maiming Three Times More Likely in Texas!
    Number of shark attacks “staggering”, says Science Guy Eric Berger.

  2. E July 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ve developed a little theory about this. We recently went on an overnight hike in the Smoky Mountains. For whatever reason, however UNLIKELY it is to encounter a bear and however REALLY UNLIKELY it is to have harm come to you from a black bear…it’s still a fear. I think it’s because the idea (or imagery) is so intense, that you realize that IF it were to happen….the outcome is just terrible.

    I think “irrational” fears just very from person to person. It’s not irrational to be fearful of bears, but it is irrational to not hike because they exist in the woods?

    We were talking about it last night in regard to a news story from ATL where 2 men who were legally carrying handguns, encountered each other in a store. One wanted the other to show him his ID and paperwork and the other refused. The man unholstered his gun (but didn’t point it). The other man paid for his items, left the store, and called the police. No one was hurt (the guy who too out his gun was charged with some charge). But had I been there (and uninvolved in the dispute) I would have been completely scared and freaked out. It’s because the OUTCOME when something goes wrong is horrific. If someone (unstable) decided to come up and punch me, I’d be hurt (perhaps seriously), but bystanders would likely intervene and I’d likely recover. A gunshot…different story.

    For other people, they welcome armed citizens. It’s all personal.

    I realize I’m not breaking new ground, and it is thinking about the worst case, but it’s just because the worst case is absolutely terrible.

    As humans, we all have to find that place where we can have and enjoy personal freedoms while keeping some semblance of “peace of mind”. I go in the ocean and I hike where there are bears. But I never left my kids in the car…because I just didn’t (and it was never an inconvenience for me personally). It wasn’t worth it to me to leave them there (not that I gave it a ton of thought). Someone else might not ever hike in the woods with bears nearby because it just doesn’t add up for them.

    I do think it’s great to continually talk about statistics because it gives you an accurate landscape as a starting point.

  3. J.T. Wenting July 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    There has NEVER been a shark attack in Europe as far as I can find, yet there’s the yearly slew of TV shows and newspaper articles about how sharks are getting ever closer and becoming a danger, all triggered by 2-3 sightings of great whites a hundred miles or so out to sea several decades ago.

    I think it’s natural, in an environment where people are conditioned to believe everything is dangerous, everything has to be elevated to a level where it’s perceived as dangerous even if it’s not.

  4. Tim July 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Who cares about sharks when there’s sharktopuses?

  5. Jenn July 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    I’m married to a surfer, and I get that question all the time. And, every time, I point out that the real danger is the 15 minute drive to and from the beach.

  6. CrazyCatLady July 3, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I had a friend when we lived in CA who was scared of sharks and wouldn’t let her son go in the water beyond his knees.

    I finally convinced her that the sharks were going to go for the easy prey – the guy on the surf board out where the water was deep 100 yards from shore, and wasn’t going to go after the kids in the shallower water near the shore. She did finally let her son go out and play in the waves with the other kids.

  7. E July 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    CrazyCatLady…I’m glad your friend allowed her kids to get in, but the depth of the water is not really relevant. People wading have been bitten. When our kids were little, we had a shark swim between us (standing in shallower water) and them who were playing in the waves.

  8. Stephanie July 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    E, I have to laugh about the bear thing because one of my husband’s favorite camping stories is about the time he went camping in Yosemite in early spring. There were maybe 20 campsites full, and one night he heard someone walking across his campsite as he sat reading a book. Looked up, and nearly close enough to touch was a bear. He always says he made noises then he has never made since, and ducked into his tent (like that would help!). Bear just looked at him and wandered off, as he hadn’t left any food or anything else out that it might like.

    Deer, on the other hand, are more dangerous, mostly because people think they’re so cute and harmless. My husband always adds to the bear story that he had a ranger show him and a group of others a picture of a guy who tried to ride a deer while his friend took pictures. The shots progressed from the guy trying to get onto the deer to the deer stomping him to death. Deer hurt far more people than bears do annually, but people aren’t scared of them. Leave either alone, and most often they’ll leave you alone.

  9. Matthew July 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    I visit the Smokies on a regular basis, and have had multiple encounters with aggressive bears.

    Just last spring I was unloading the Explorer, and a mother and two cubs charged down a hill, she was highly aggressive and kept me from closing the trunk.

    I’d guess I’ve had encounters where how we responded to a bear threat was important on 5% of my visits. That’s pretty significant.

    Notice we still go, but we are aware and exercise reasonable caution.

  10. E July 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    @Stephanie, LOL. Yes it’s all in perception. We were actually in Yosemite last year and they did say that they had more injuries from deer than bears. They don’t even allow you to have bear spray (they don’t have grizzlies either) because they have had so few issues with the bears.

    But the idea of being attacked by bear…well your odds are not good IF that happened. It sounds like an awful thing to experience or way to go! A deer, well the imagery (however incorrect) is just not the same.

  11. E July 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    @Matthew, I’m glad I read your story AFTER our trip. :) They’d actually closed one of the nearby trails because of aggressive bears when we were there and several hikers saw bears on the trails…we did not however.

  12. Nicole July 3, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    People do get taken or attacked by sharks in Australia on a semi-regular basis (mostly surfers), but it doesn’t stop most of us from swimming in the ocean with our children. We even have swimming lessons in the ocean.

  13. Ann in L.A. July 3, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

    Our 12 year old is massively scared of sharks, to the point where a teacher asked me about it when the subject came up in class, and he skipped out on a day-camp field trip to an aquarium yesterday because of it. He’s now extended that fear to most marine animals. We’re not beach people, so he doesn’t actually go near the water…of course, we can’t resist a “Land Shark” reference or two.

    I love watching shark movies and Shark Week, and have to turn them off when he comes by.

  14. Erica July 4, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    A few years ago, we visited a beach in NC, we were in a rented beach house with my family, my father in law, and brother/sister in law.

    On our second day there, we SAW a shark – barely 10 feet out from the shoreline, right on “our” beach.

    I have to admit, I felt a little freaked out going in the water after that – BUT – I tried not to let my kids see that (and we DID go in the water). My cousin lives in the area and in all her years there she has never even SEEN a shark, much less heard of any sort of attack. (My nieces/nephews on the other hand… were not allowed back in the water for the rest of the week.)

  15. Kel July 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Oh thank goodness for an article of reason on sharks!! I live near New Smyrna Beach, FL (the “shark bite capital of the world”- really!), and I hear people ALL the time say that they don’t go into the water because of their fear of sharks. There has never been a death by shark in Volusia County, and only 11 recorded in the whole state of Florida since 1882! Those are pretty good odds. :)

  16. no rest for the weary July 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Ann, if it ever arises that you ARE going to go to the beach, and your child’s fear of ocean creatures stands in the way and limits your activity, I suggest this program of CDs:

    http://www.turnaroundanxiety.com

    I used to think my kid’s fear of vomiting, and other people vomiting, was ridiculous, but over time, it meant we started to limit what we did as a family, as she refused to ride in cars, boats, planes, or buses.

    After getting the turnaround series, she took responsibility for her own irrational thinking and began to “expose” herself to situations she was avoiding, and noticing all of her crazy “what if” thoughts.

    If only this kind of anti-anxiety program was embraced by those who find themselves making laws in response to their hysterical “what if” thoughts.

    If only.

  17. AB July 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    My grandmother used to warn me “Don’t go out in the water honey as the sharks will get you!”, so for a long time I stayed on shore or on the boardwalk. My grandmother told me that when she was younger she saw many guys with severe gruesome bites on their ankles and legs from shark bites when she visited the beach.

    However, as I’m doing volunteer work by a beach area this summer, I’m noticing local homeless guys saying to tourists “A shark attacked me, can you spare some change so I can get a bus pass to the doctor’s office?”, and pulling up their pants and showing what appears to be bite marks. I’m thinking from looking at these “bites” that they are gashing their own legs and trying to gain sympathy while they panhandle, and that is perhaps what my grandmother was seeing when she visited the beach years ago. The “bites” do not look at all like shark attack wounds you see online, so I know there are way less shark attacks than perhaps these tourists think when they see these guys’ supposedly shark inflicted wounds.

  18. MichaelF July 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    It’s the same rationale as with protecting children, or what I like to call the “just one” scenario. It’s all hypothetical unless you are the one it happens to, then it’s all sad stories and media glory.

  19. Donna July 5, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Blacktip Reef Sharks are extremely common in A. Samoa. We saw them regularly at one beach. They’d come within a few feet of the shore on a quiet day. It is jarring at first, but you get used to it. It is actually pretty cool to see them that close in the wild. Nobody ever got out of the water and I’ve never heard of anyone being bitten. I wouldn’t want to be in nearby water when Candyman is feeding them, but otherwise they stay a reasonable distance away.

  20. SOA July 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    I never really like swimming in the ocean besides just barely going in a few feet in the surf part. I think I am pretty safe from sharks there and will take my chances.

  21. hineata July 7, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    My mum warned my sister, friend and I not to see Jaws the summer it opened – I must have been 9 at the time. Of course we went anyway, because “We aren’t scaredy cats!”

    Never went into the water at the beach that summer, LOL! Fortunately got over it, but that movie is still scary … :-).