When you're Scuba diving, there are some kinds of shark that you actually like to see around, like the black tip reef shark. Humans have a natural fear of these predators, and this is probably because we all know a few things about sharks that are frankly terrifying.
As an example, if a shark smells blood, it can go into a feeding frenzy, attacking everything around it to the point where it may even take a chunk out of its own tail.
Also, some sharks never sleep. If they stop moving, air stops passing over their gills and they suffocate, so they look like they are always awake, but they are in deep rest.
Still, while a shark attack is undoubtedly a very scary thing, it is incredibly rare, and certainly shouldn't put you off diving. Sharks kill on average five people a year. Here are five things that you should be far more worried about:
While the thought of a Coke machine probably doesn't fill anyone normal with the same sense of dread as a Great White, vending machines are responsible for an average of 13 deaths a year. That's more than two and a half times as many as Jaws, though I wouldn't have thought a movie about killer vending machine related accidents would be very exciting.
While sharks grab the headlines if they attack someone, jellyfish actually kill eight times as many people every year. While they look harmless, they can be highly poisonous, and are also often hard to see and avoid. As well as causing 40 deaths a year, jellyfish also cause a vastly larger number of injuries than sharks.
There's also that whole thing of having someone pee on your jellyfish stings. There is no scenario I can think of where an encounter with a shark could lead to you having to get your buddy to pee on you.
When it comes to terrifying animals, the shark may top many people's list, yet in terms of kills, they are far, far behind Bambi's mom, who kills 130 of us a year. Deer can attack people, and also cause road accidents, though as herbivores they will at least spare you the indignity of being eaten once you're dead.
Nowhere in the world could possibly be safer than your own bed, right? Well, actually, you're safer in open water risking the sharks, and even the jellyfish – 450 people every year die falling out of bed in the US alone. This isn't the number of people who die in their beds, that is much higher, this is the number of people who actually die because of their beds. Or their floors, depending on how you look at it.
If you're heading to tropical waters on your diving trip, it may or may not reassure you (probably not) to know that you are much more likely to be killed by one of the coconuts on those idyllic trees by the beach falling and dashing your brains out than by a shark biting your torso in half. Falling coconuts cause 150 human deaths every year on average, that's 30 times more than sharks.
There are very few things in fact, that are less statistically likely to be the cause of your death than a shark attack.
Whether this information should make you less scared of sharks or more scared of everything else in the world is hard to say. Other things that cause more annual human deaths than the sharks do include hotdogs, rollercoasters, dogs, lightning, hippos, wasps, airplanes, bathtubs, volcanoes and your hot water tap.
Sharks are our friends, and no man eaters. We have a responsibility to conserve this apex predator. A lot of shark species are on the brink of extension due to human interference. What would happen if this creature would not be roaming the seas any more? What would happen to the eco system as we know it? Do we realize we are depend on this same eco system?
Blog written by: Rutger Thole who founded bookyourdive early 2012 because he saw that there was no simple and easy to use platform where divers could go to, to read scuba blogs, browse dive centers within locations and where they could read reviews from other scuba divers. Now working full time with a small dedicated team to ensure the best user experience a scuba diver gets on the web.