How To Avoid A Shark Attack This Weekend

Photo: Reinhard Dirscherl/Getty Images.
The Fourth of July holiday weekend is always a big one for beaches, swimming, and inevitably, sharks. It's not just the memories of Jaws; there have already been 24 shark attacks in the US this year, and seven off the coast of North Carolina. We might be in the midst of a slightly scarier than average shark season — two teenagers lost limbs in attacks in June, and a 68-year old man was attacked in waist-deep water on Wednesday — but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some time in the surf. Here are a few things to help ease your mind about the real danger of these aquatic predators.

1. We're a bigger threat to sharks than they are to us
The Shark Research Institute says that humans killed approximately 73 million sharks last year. In 2014, there were only 130 shark attacks worldwide, and only 3 were fatal. The odds are in our favor, and despite what Hollywood says, sharks aren't naturally antagonistic or out for revenge. Only about two dozen shark species are even a potential threat, according to the SRI.

2. What's happening North Carolina isn't normal
George Burgess, the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, told NBC News that recent weeks have created a "perfect storm of conditions" near North Carolina for bringing more dangerous sharks close to shore. Warmer water, a drought that has left water saltier than is normal this time of year, and the presence of more food sources nearby have brought the creatures near more populated areas.

3. If you're really worried, avoid surfing
Statistically, surfers and other boarders are most likely to get attacked by sharks, thanks to where they go in the water and the amount of activity they do in the water. That hasn't helped most of the North Carolina victims, who were in fairly shallow water and weren't doing any extreme sports, but it can help reduce risk. And if you don't want to stop riding waves, surfing websites have a ton of tips on ways to be as safe as possible.

4. Don't go in the water in Florida
Florida consistenly sees the most shark attacks of any US state, according to the Global Shark Attack File. But, the vast majority of attacks are not fatal — the last time a shark killed a person off the coast of Floriday was in 2010.

5. Humans aren't exactly making it easy for marine life
No discussion about changes in animal behavior would be complete without an acknowledment of the impact man-made climage change has on every living thing. We already know that ocean temperatures are rising, the great plastic island is growing, and dead zones are spreading. Every sea creature, from algae to whales, will be affected, and most predictions are grim. It's hard not to feel a little bit bad for the sharks that attack humans — we've already drastically changed their habitat, and it's going to get worse.


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