Shark Myths

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by: Jennifer Viegas
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Human Prey
DCI | Tim Davis/CORBIS

"There is no evidence that sharks preferentially go after humans," Gruber said. He mentioned that of the 80 some million water-activity participants each year, only a handful succumb to shark attacks. He cited reports issued by the National Safety Council that track the odds of dying from certain injuries. While you have a 1 in 4,473 chance of dying from falling out of a bed, chair or other furniture, sharks did not even make the list. Contact by hornets, wasps, bees and dogs, however, were significant enough to warrant mentions.

Gruber suggested that in the rare instances when sharks do attack humans, usually it is a case of mistaken identity. During World War II, for example, the USS Indianapolis sunk in shark-infested waters. Many men wound up injured or killed by the sharks. "In massive air/sea accidents, there can be a lot of blood, noise and unprotected people in the water," he said. "To a shark, this strange abundance of food must appear like a bunch of damaged turtles."

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