Sharks are considered to be incredibly dangerous animals by the general public, with many people being scared just to look at them. The majority of sharks do look scary, indeed, with sharp teeth, small eyes and a muscular and powerful body. Combine this appearance with the bad name given to sharks by horror movies, and you get the image that most of us have in our minds about sharks being the bad boys of the sea. While there are numerous shark species that are aggressive, attacking at the smallest sign they interpret as provocation, the majority of these beautiful animals are completely harmless. As a matter of fact, sharks are in far more danger of being attacked by humans than we are of being killed by them. Sharks bite roughly 70 people each year worldwide, while we kill somewhere between 20-100 million sharks every year, so it is worth having a closer look at how dangerous sharks really are.
Normally, sharks do not bite people or attack them in any way. When they do, they usually mistake the humans swimming in the shallow waters for the prey they were actually looking for. In most cases, the shark recognizes the mistake after the first bite – unfortunately, their jaws are so strong that even this first bite causes very severe damage.
There are over 500 species of sharks known to scientists today and more than 80% of them are small and completely harmless to humans. There are actually only three species of sharks that are dangerous for humans: bull sharks, tiger sharks and great white sharks. All three of them are quite widespread around the world; they are large and they all feed on large-sized prey, such as sea turtles and other mammals.
One of the best ways is to stay away from the areas that sharks use as feeding grounds and you should avoid swimming in areas with increased fishing activity, too. Sharks are active during the night, at dawn and around dusk, so make sure you stay away from dangerous waters during these periods of the day. If you are diving in an area frequented by sharks, avoid colorful swimsuits and don’t wear any shiny objects such a watch – colors and brightness attract the sharks. If a shark is already near you, try to move calmly and avoid splashing – erratic movements may draw the shark’s attention to you and might also make you appear wounded and weak, increasing the risk of getting attacked.
Sharks are extraordinary creatures. These top predators have remained genetically unchanged for millions of years and they have a crucial role in preserving the balance of marine biomes. The equilibrium of the ecosystems in the seas and oceans is very delicate, and that is why it is very important to limit the rate at which we, humans, kill sharks, regardless of the occasional dangers these beautiful animals pose for tourists.