Four species of sharks are responsible for shark attacks on humans. These are the White, Tiger, Bull and Whaler sharks.
These large sharks are hyper-carnivorous apex predators and have little fear of other creatures, including humans. They are large, fast and deadly killing machines.
Do Sharks Like Eating Humans? Sharks Don’t Find Humans Tasty
Contrary to popular belief, sharks aren't particularly fond of eating humans. We are not part of its natural diet. Man-eating sharks prefer blubbery fatty meat, and we don’t have much of that. They usually spit us out once they have tasted us and swim away. Unfortunately, humans venture into their territory and are often mistaken for prey. Sharks are naturally curious about any unusual animal in their environment. Most people are bitten only once and released. This suggests that the shark releases the person as soon as it realises it doesn't taste like its usual prey. But this could still cost you an arm or leg or death from bleeding.
Why Do Sharks Attack Humans Reasons Sharks Attack Humans
There are several theories to explain shark attacks on humans. These include mistaken identity, curiosity, humans invading the shark’s personal space and a potential meal.
Most shark attacks appear to be a case of mistaken identity. A shark’s eyesight is designed to pick up variations in light. They identify an object by the contrast it makes to its background. From below, silhouetted against the sky, the outline of a surfer or swimmer looks very similar to that of a seal or turtle on which some sharks feed.
Types of Shark Attacks Provoked and Unprovoked Shark Attacks
A provoked attack is where humans intentionally or unintentionally aggravate the animal by touching it, hitting it with a boat or surfboard, or attempting to trap or hurt it. This elicits an aggressive self-defence response from the shark.
An unprovoked attack is initiated by the shark and occurs without any human provocation.
Hit-and-run attack – Most hit and run attacks are believed to result from mistaken identity in poor visibility. The shark bits its victim and then leaves. These sorts of attacks are rarely fatal.
Sneak attack – The shark sneaks up on its victim and bites with the intention of eating its prey. The shark may bite several times. This sort of attack on humans is very rare.
Bump-and-bite attack – This type of attack is intentional. First, the shark circles around its target and bumps it to determine if the object is inanimate or not. It may also take a bite to determine if the thing is a living creature. If the victim responds with thrashing or attempts to flee, the shark will bite several times to kill its prey
Shark Attack Statistics How Many People are Killed by Sharks?
Though shark attacks on humans are hyped up by the media and movies such as Jaws, sharks kill only about 6-7 humans globally each year. Sharks only rank number 25 among the deadliest animals in the world (FYI: The mosquito kills the most people each year.)
Between 1958 and 2016, there were 2,786 reported shark attacks; of these 400 were fatal and resulted in human death. If we break these statistics down, there were 47 unprovoked shark attacks resulting in around 7 deaths per year.
The most number of shark bites take place in Florida, USA. The risk of being bitten by a shark is very, very small.
Shark Attacks In Australia Australian Statistics
In 2012-22 there were an average of 23 shark attacks per year in Australia. Of these, 2 each year resulted in death, 15 resulted in injuries, and 6 were injury-free. 90% of shark attacks result from mistaken identity, where the shark mistakes a human for its usual prey. Most shark attacks occur less than 35 meters from the shore, mainly around popular beaches.
Bull sharks have a higher attack rate because they live in shallow saltwater and freshwater, which increases their chances of coming into human contact.
The tiger shark is responsible for the highest number of total unprovoked attacks. This is because it has a voracious appetite and does not always swim away after one bite of a human but stays to finish its meal.
The great white shark is responsible for the least number of attacks but is the most fearsome. It usually retreats after a "sample bite" of a human.
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