ACROSS AMERICA — Galeophobia — the fear of sharks — is real. But the chances you’ll be attacked by a shark are almost nil.

Shark attacks do happen. They’re among the calculated risks of taking a dip in the ocean, which is synonymous with summer in coastal states. Shark attacks don’t happen often, and when they do, they are hardly ever fatal. used news reports to develop its interactive shark attack map. To be clear, the company is in the business of booking vacation rentals in the Florida Panhandle and by, extension, chasing away travelers’ fears about being attacked by sharks while kayaking, snorkeling or just enjoying the surf — whether his company or a rival business arranged the experience, founder David Angotti told Patch.

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Worldwide, there have been about 1,300 shark attacks since 1962 — more than half of them off U.S. coasts. In the United States, there have been 720 attacks with a fatality rate of 6 percent. Australia had the second-highest rate with far fewer attacks at 261, but the fatality rate is much higher at 23 percent.

Florida has the most shark attacks in the United States, according to the data, and more occur at New Smyrna Beach than at any other location in the Sunshine State. The vacation rental company doesn’t theorize about the reason, but Mendez rattled off a string of possible reasons, including the state’s popularity as a vacation destination, legal spearfishing or purposely swimming with aggressive sharks.

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“People like to mess around with animals,” she said.

Mapping the history of shark attacks underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy respect for sharks but also recognizing the ocean is, after all, sharks’ home, and not ours, Brittany Mendez, a marketing specialist for, told Patch.

“It’s super important for people to know it doesn’t happen often,” she said. “It’s just a stigma.”

Shark Bites In The News

Sharks gained a nasty reputation in box office blockbusters such as “Jaws” and others casting the apex predators as villains. With their serrated, dagger-like teeth, they do look menacing — and that image alone can fuel galeophobia.

Because of that, shark attacks make headlines when they happen.

So far this year, at least three people have been bitten by sharks, according to Patch’s reporting. All recent incidents may not be reflected in the data, which has been refined since the original map in 2021 to exclude reports later determined to be unsubstantiated, Mendez said.

In separate incidents earlier this month two people were injured in Florida when they were bitten while spearfishing. In the first incident, a 22-year-old man was airlifted to a Miami hospital after a shark bit his leg in early May.

In the second incident on May 18, 20-year-old Kevin Blanco recalled to South Florida NBC affiliate WTVJ the “pressure and force” with which the shark hit his thigh. He felt as if he’d been slammed by a pickup truck as he “felt the pressure slowly closing on my leg.”

The third known attack occurred May 21 off the New Jersey shore at Stone Harbor, when a Pennsylvania teen surfing for the first time was bitten by a shark. Maggie Drozdowski told NBC affiliate she “felt something pressing.”

“It’s like his teeth were around my foot,” she told Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU.

“I got out as fast as I could,” Drozdowski, whose wound was closed with six stitches, told the TV station. “I thought it was crab. I was shaking my foot as hard as I could.”

Humans Aren’t That Tasty

As phobias go, the likelihood of this one playing out is fairly unreasonable. In most instances, when a shark attacks a human, it is either confused or curious, and slowly approaches before nibbling, according to research about shark behavior.

When sharks are hunting for a meal, they display why they’re the apex predators of the seas and approach from below at speeds up to 30 miles an hour, knocking the hunted animal into the air.

In most cases, shark attacks are provoked, according to the data. Worldwide, only about 100 unprovoked shark attacks are reported in an average year.

Sharks aren’t eyeing swimmers and divers as their next meal. If they were, they’d swim upward and scoop up the intruder in a single bite, rather than nibble to see if they taste good. And, for the record, there literally are far tastier fish in the ocean.

But don’t rely on hyperbole. Statistically speaking, the chances humans will be attacked by sharks are practically nonexistent. In fact, according to National Geographic, the chances of dying in a fall are about 1 in 218, but 1 in 3.7 million of being killed by a shark. And worldwide, there are about 10 deaths a year attributed to shark attacks, compared to 150 deaths caused by falling coconuts.

And even in the rare instances when a shark does bite, survival rates are about 90 percent.

The vacation rental company’s interactive global map visually depicts when and where each of the approximately 1,300 attacks occurred, along with other interesting facts.

The white fins on the map represent attacks that were survived, and the red fins represent fatal attacks. Each fin can be clicked to view detailed information about the attack and shark species.

Finally, the interactive data section allows users to quickly select custom or pre-filled date ranges and surface interesting data including the most dangerous sharks, where the attacks occurred, and the worst time of day for the attacks.

You’d Rather Do What?

The project also included a YouGov survey of people’s thoughts about sharks and shark attacks. Among the more surprising results: 15 percent of respondents said that if they knew they would survive, they’d volunteer to be attacked by a shark just to live to tell the story.

It also showed people would rather go through three other horrendous experiences as opposed to being attacked by a shark:

Human Vs. Sharks: An Unequal Equation

The human fatality rate is astronomically low when compared with a more troubling statistic: More than 100 million sharks are killed every year, a startlingly high number that is greater than the recovery rate of these populations.

In large part, the sharks are dying due to a practice called “shark finning,” or the removal of the fins for fin soup, considered a delicacy, The profusely bleeding, is thrown back into the ocean, where it is unable to properly swim and either suffocates or dies of blood loss, according to the Smithsonian Institution.

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The issue goes beyond cruelty.

Shark populations are down 71 percent since the 1970s, putting three-fourths of shark species at risk of extinction, according to a study that looked at 31 species of sharks and rays that live in the open ocean and was published earlier this year in the journal Nature.

Nuno Queiroz, a marine ecologist from the Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, told Science the study, which he wasn’t involved in, offers “the first big picture” of the rate of declines of sharp population and “gives you an idea how pervasive the fishing as been.”

In fact, more than three-fourths of oceanic shark and ray species are now threatened with extinction under the Red List criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The study and the IUCN’s grave predictions about shark survival underscore that humans are greater predators of sharks than sharks are of humans.

“Our bottom line about sharks: They’re not going to hurt you if you don’t hurt them,” Mendez said. “We just have to learn to appreciate them and learn about them. They’re wonderful, wonderful creatures.”

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