Are you more afraid of sharks or toilets? What about sand? Or fireworks?
Turns out, sharks are the least dangerous out of the bunch. Even this kayaker in Cape Cod last weekend came away unscathed. Of course, that didn’t quell the media attention. And now, according to Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries’ Dr. Greg Skomal, the fin most likely belonged to a basking shark – a plankton eater – not a great white, as people assumed.
“Despite their image, sharks are among the most valuable, vulnerable and under-protected creatures in the ocean,” says Sonja Fordham, founder and president of Shark Advocates International, who has two decades of experience in shark conservation. She oversaw shark projects at the Ocean Conservancy from 1991-2009, the latter part in Brussels as part of the Shark Alliance Coalition. She founded Shark Advocates International (SAI) as a project of The Ocean Foundation in 2010.
“Lack of limits on shark fishing and trade in the face of strong demand for shark products is resulting in serious declines in shark populations around the world,” she says.
In 2011, there were 12 fatalities from unprovoked shark attacks – and even that is the highest number in almost two decades, according to the International Shark Attack File. From 2001-2010, the yearly average was about – count them on one hand – four.
In reality, sharks have more to fear from us than the other way around. “People should be respectful of sharks, as they are of other wild animals, but they should worry more for sharks, as many populations are at great risk from overfishing,” Fordham says.
- Sand Hole Collapses
So the next time you think twice about stepping in the ocean for fear of Jaws, remember, your risk of dying from fireworks is 11 times higher than by shark attack (1 in 3,748,067).
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