This Summer’s Beach Forecast Calls For Shark Attacks

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Beachgoers, beware. Shark attacks may hit a record high this summer, Reuters reports. "We should have more bites this year than last," George Burgess, director of the Florida Natural History Museum's International Shark Attack File, told Reuters. If the forecast is correct, that would mean back-to-back, record-breaking shark attack years. In 2015, Burgess tallied 98 shark attacks, resulting in six related deaths, beating the previous record of 88 attacks in 2000. This summer might cross into triple digits, since Burgess says more people than ever before are beating the heat at beaches and more sharks are swimming around offshore. But regardless of what Jaws fans might insist, more sharks are a good thing ecologically. As one of the ocean's primary predators, their fearsome appetites help manage the ecosystem's prey populations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration underscores. Nonetheless, anti-shark sentiment has built in the U.S. since four people died in a Jersey Shore attack in 1916, peaking in 1975 thanks to Steven Spielberg's Jaws. As America's Most Wanted Fish, sharks suffered from rampant overfishing through the late 1980s. With shark populations at risk of drowning, conservation efforts began in the 1990s. In 2000, federal law banned "finning," the act of killing sharks for their fins. The Shark Conservation Act passed in 2010 and 10 states have enacted laws protecting sharks from finning and excessive fishing. If environmental conservation isn't a good enough cause to ease our shark worries, statistics actually are on our side. According to the Florida Natural History Museum, more people died from sand-hole collapses than shark encounters between 1990 and 2006. Beach lovers also are 132 times likelier to perish drowning and 290 times likelier to be killed in a boating accident, not to mention the sun's lethal potential. So, really, sharks should be the least of our worries on summer getaways.

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