More than half the world’s population lives within 60km of the ocean, and could rise to three-quarters by 2020 (or 40% of the world’s population lives within 100km of the coast). So, decide how many of those people have jobs that rely on fishing, pearl diving, boating, etc. and how many people even vacation and swim in the ocean, or even specifically vacation to dive with sharks… hundreds of millions. Although there are only about 65 shark attacks every year, and only 5 of them are fatal.
So, why are people so scared of sharks? Believe it or not, it’s because of Jaws. I have not only read a lot of articles referring to this, but have also heard it several times in university lectures. The image of sharks was so violent that people perceived sharks as slaughtering monsters on the prowl for human flesh.
Even according to National Geographic, cows are responsible for four times as many deaths per year as sharks, and most of the population sees cows on a daily basis. You are more likely to get struck by lightening, hit by a bus, drown in a bathtub, get crushed by a vending machine, according to The Guardian (UK)/University of Florida. Seriously your odds are extremely slim: more left-handed people die from using right-handed utensils than people dying from shark attacks.
Sharks should actually be more scared of humans than we are of them. In the past 50 years it is believed that shark populations have declined as much as 90%. Humans hunt them for traditional medicines, pleasure, “revenge/anger/ignorance” (take your pick). And even for shark fin soup, where sharks’ fins are cruelly amputated for market, and the body is thrown overboard to drown and sink.
There are over 350 species of sharks across the world’s oceans, and it is vital to keep their populations on the rise. This highly efficient predator that has not changed in over 100 million years, is an integral part of the marine, and therefore planet’s ecosystem. With education, protection, responsibility, volunteers, and donations of time or money humans can learn to protect sharks, as well as understanding what triggers the rare attacks on humans.