While deadly shark attacks make the headlines, the chance of being fatally mauled by a great white is actually reassuringly low, an incredible new study has revealed.
It spilled the beans on some shark facts that could be crucial in people staying alive.
On average, shark attacks tend to happen earlier in the day, Saturdays are statistically the most dangerous day and over the past 20 years, more shark attacks happened in July than in any other month.
The US tops the list of the highest number of shark attacks recorded, and over half of the US shark attacks happen in Florida
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So if you’re heading out to Florida on your holidays next July, stay out of the water on Saturday mornings, and you’re that bit less likely to become a shark attack statistic.
David Angotti. founder of travel company FloridaPanhandle.com, is keen to reassure would be tourists that the waters around the Sunshine State are safe. He told the Daily Star: “The odds of getting bitten by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067”
In fact, you’re at a greater risk from a coconut.
Figures provided by Florida Panhandle point out that each year, worldwide, there are on average around 10 deaths attributed to shark attacks. By comparison, every year some 150 deaths worldwide are caused by falling coconuts.
The key difference, of course, is that a coconut won’t chase you. While sharks don’t naturally hunt humans they can sometimes become confused by swimmers or surfers while they’re looking for seals or other prey.
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Typically, when a shark attacks a human, the shark is either confused or curious.
In those cases swimmers approached by inquisitive sharks report a cautious approach from the shark, and comparatively gentle bites.
By contrast a shark that is actively hunting will approach at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, attacking from below and knocking the victim into the air.
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Even if you are attacked, you have an 89.4% chance of survival as long as you can get to shore quickly.
In a survey, 15% of the 1,000 people asked would risk being attacked by a shark – as long as they were sure of surviving – just for the bragging rights in the pub afterwards.
Unsurprisingly that percentage of showoffs who would take the chance goes up to 20% if you just ask blokes.
In the US there have been four fatal shark attacks this year– and despite the overall statistics none of them have been in Florida. While one – the death of 56-year-old Robin Warren in Hawaii, was confirmed to have been an attack from a tiger shark, the other three were all from that feared predator of the deep, the great white shark.
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While great whites are not necessarily the most aggressive sharks out there, even a “curiosity” bite from the gigantic king of the sea can lead to massive and often fatal injuries.
In 2008, a team of scientists led by Stephen Wroe conducted an experiment to determine the probable bite force of the monster great white shark found in 1945 in Cuba. This specimen – 21ft long with a body mass of around 7,328lb – would exert a bite force of 18,216 newtons (4,095lb).
A great white shark, put simply, could quite possibly sever a limb without even trying.
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A shark of that size would be an imposing sight – a 20-footer would also be over six feet top to bottom, with jaws around eight feet across.
And they may not even be the biggest sharks out there.
Australian shark expert Vic Hislop says he has has seen many great whites of 20ft or more with the marks of other sharks’ bites on their bodies, suggesting that there could be even bigger great whites out there to be discovered.
He said that in Australian waters, many shark attack victims are never found.
"At least a hundred swimmers disappear every year here and their bodies are never found," Vic says.
"Many have been eaten. I’ve often caught sharks and removed human hands and feet from their stomachs. I even found a human foot still in its sandal."
Still. Watch out for those coconuts!
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