A new report by the International Shark Attack File said that there were fewer shark bites across the globe in 2018. Last year saw 66 unprovoked bites, markedly fewer than the most recent five-year average of 84 unprovoked bites. But, even just one shark bite is too many.
What caused this decrease in shark bites? Researchers have pointed to a few different causes, but public awareness and education likely played an important role.
Education is the best way for us to continue reducing the number of shark-human interactions every year. Stay safe by following these tips every time you’re heading to the beach:
- Avoid swimming at dawn, dusk, or at night as this is when sharks are most likely to feed.
- Never, ever swim alone.
- Leave the shiny jewelry at home. Sharks may mistake it for the flash of a fish’s scales.
- Keep your distance from seals. Always stay at least 150 feet away from seals, or better yet, leave the water as they swim by.
- Steer clear of schools of fish and fishermen. Fish attract seals and seals attract sharks, so it’s best to avoid them.
- Stick to the sand if you have an open wound. Great whites can detect a single drop of blood in 25 gallons of water and when you’re bleeding, you may inadvertently attract one that is swimming nearby.
- Limit the horseplay since lots of splashing may signal prey to a nearby shark.
- If you see a fin, immediately leave the water and do not re-enter it until the proper authority has given the all-clear.
- Heed the warnings of lifeguards and beach staff, including signs and flags indicating a recent siting. If they say the water is unsafe, stay out.
Unfortunately, there are persistent myths surrounding sharks. For example, it’s not true that sharks actively seek out humans for their next meal - most incidents of sharks biting humans are due to mistaken identity.
Any shark-human incident that results in an injury or fatality is a tragedy. But, the 2018 report is a promising sign that we can both peacefully coexist.
Support shark research by purchasing one of our shark designs, like the Great White Clasp, Shark Fin Necklace, or Hammerhead Ring. 15% of profits from every sale are donated to our non-profit partners like the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and UMiami’s Shark Research & Conservation program.