I love the ocean. I enjoy sailing in it, surfing in it, and diving in it, but despite this, I just can’t bring myself to venture further than waist deep into the West Australian Indian Ocean. Why? Because I am petrified of sharks. I don’t mind diving with them – where I have at least a chance of seeing them come and can breathe under water, but what I don’t like, is sitting on the surface whilst a shark rears up from underneath and slices me in half.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate them, in fact I am fascinated by them. And I completely understand that they are merely taking a test bite. It’s just that the small nibble tends to be rather damaging.
My Australian friends find this hilarious, and take pleasure in reminding me that I am more likely to be killed by a cow/firework/stroke/car etc. That’s great, but how true are the statistics you see floating around online?
Although the stats vary wildly, it is commonly stated that your chances of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 17 million (some say 1 in 300 million!). This seems like a pretty remote chance! But how accurate is this? Well, not very. Why? Because it takes into account the billions of people who have never been to the ocean, or have frequented an area where there are no sharks. So yes, I imagine my chances of being attacked by a shark off the coast of Devon are fairly remote. But what about if you actually live in a known shark area?
Florida University performed a study that stated you have a 1 in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark in their state, which is a 1 in 110,447 chance of being attacked by a shark. Perth has as many, if not more, shark encounters annually than Florida, and one source has stated that as a diver, your chances of being attacked could be as high as 1 in 15,000 in WA.
Let’s put this into perspective… tens of millions of people play the lottery and genuinely think they might win. Well, you are 163 times more likely to be attacked by a shark.
So, I think I will take my chances with the cow.