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The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Shark Attacks: A Concerning Trend or Mass Hysteria?

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The year of 2023 saw an uptick in the number of shark attacks, with 91 confirmed reported attacks, 14 of those attacks being fatal. An additional 16 attacks were unconfirmed. The vast majority of these bites were unprovoked making up for 69 of total bites and 10 of the fatalities. 

Statistics of Shark Attacks

Most attacks occur while victims are surfing or participating in other board sports like paddleboarding or boogie boarding, accounting for 42% of attacks. Swimming/wading is closely behind accounting for 39% and snorkeling/diving with 13% of attacks. 

Australia had the most deaths, accounting for 4 of the 10 unprovoked fatalities, and 15 of all unprovoked attacks. However, ultimately the United States accounted for most attacks with 36 of all unprovoked occurring in the nation, and 2 unprovoked fatalities. Florida had the highest rate of attacks with 16, followed by Hawaii with 8 attacks and 1 fatality, New York had 4 attacks which is extremely atypical for the state, and finally 2 attacks occurred in California where the 2nd fatality for the nation occurred. 

The remaining 4 of the 10 unprovoked fatalities that happened were in New Caledonia, Egypt, Mexico, and the Bahamas, Bahamas and New Caledonia are notable and frequent for shark attacks, ranking 9th and 13th for attacks. In fact, just weeks ago, while vacationing, a 10 year old Maryland boy was bitten on Paradise Island, Bahamas, while on a “Shark Tank” excursion.

Other notable attacks for this year included a very rare New Jersey shark attack, in which a 15-year old surfer was bitten ahead of Memorial Day weekend in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. 

In December, a 22-year old Scallop Diver died from a Great White shark in the Mexican state of Sonora, which is also a rare occurrence for the nation. 

Additional Statistics

The last fatal attack in the state of Massachusetts happened in 2018; A great white shark attacked   a swimmer who was boogie boarding 30 yards offshore from Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. Which was the first confirmed fatality from a shark attack in the state since 1936. This fatal attack occurred less than a month after a 61-year old was bitten 300 miles south of Longnook Beach in Truro. 

The odds of becoming the victim of shark attack remain incredibly low, with a 1 in 3.75 million chance of occuring. In fact, several coastal states, like Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Washington have yet to document a shark fatality. Beyond fatalities, New Hampshire in the entire state’s history has never had a confirmed shark attack at all. Maine also was a part of that list of states without a fatality until 2020, when a swimmer died off the coast of Bailey Island by a Great White. 

Surprisingly, for getting such a terrible reputation, only about 30 of the more than 500 species of sharks have had at least 1 confirmed unprovoked attack. The species implicated the most frequently are: Great White, Bull, Tiger, Requiem, Blacktip, and Wobbegongs. 

Scarred Reputation 

Sharks have long held a notable reputation in the animal kingdom, being perceived by much of the general public as “bloodthirsty devils” since the release of the first summer blockbuster, “Jaws”, back in 1975. This film was adapted from Peter Benchley’s novel also by the same name.

It’s believed but never confirmed that the story was inspired by the 1916 series of shark attacks that occurred off the Jersey Shore. This spree of shark attacks claimed 4 lives and critically injured another from July 1st to July 12th. 

The film franchise was wildly successful, spawning many sequels and poorly produced spin-offs of the original idea. Which further contributed to the negative reputation of the creature for most, but ultimately ignited my deep interest in the creatures as a young child. 

The launch and downfall of Shark week from information to dramatization did not help clean up the man-eating reputation of these majestic, prehistoric beasts either. 

How to Keep Yourself Safe in The Water

Although you are significantly more likely to find yourself getting struck by lightning, in the unlikely event you do find yourself getting attacked by a shark or you just want to be safe, here are some survival tips to employ. 

Refrain from entering waters during twilight hours, while wearing jewelry, or if you are actively bleeding. Also remember to avoid excessive splashing in the waters as this can draw the attention of a shark.

If a shark is nearby do not harass it or swim away. Stand your ground, as fleeing will trigger the predatory instincts of the shark, and will make it perceive you as prey. Remaining calm and standing your ground is key to prevent a close encounter from become a victim of an attack.

If a shark is to attack you need to be aggressive and defend yourself, playing dead will not work in your favor. Utilize your hands or tools at disposal, if you possible, and target the eyes, nose, and gills. Also try to make sudden movements, this will scare the shark.

The attacking shark may circle back if they release you, so remember to apply pressure to the wound while still in the water to minimize bleeding. Always remember to remain calm and slow your breathing, doing so will allow you to make the best and most rational decisions.

Are Sharks Something To Worry About?

Since shark attacks have been so sensationalized because of the release of the Jaws franchise within the media, the frequency at which they occur is overestimated, so it’s important to remember that sharks also do not want to eat you, as humans are not a typical part of their diets. 

It’s also important to put irrational fears like sharks into perspective, as you are more likely to become the victim of a lightning strike or lawn mower accident.   

Citations – Additional Sources

2023 Shark Bite Report Summary

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/yearly-worldwide-summary/

Interactive World Map of Confirmed Fatal and Non-fatal Attacks

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/maps/world-interactive/

Survival Tips for Shark Encounters

https://vfa.vic.gov.au/education/shark-smart/first-aid-and-treatment

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About the Contributor
Jacob Moquin, Opinion Editor
Jacob Moquin is a part of the Class of 2024 at Ludlow High School. This is his first year as a writer for the Cub. He is also a part of Leading Lions and LHS cares, and was the former Vice President of the French Club. Outside of school and sleeping he enjoys partaking in painting and looking through his telescope on a clear night. After graduating, Jacob plans on pursuing a doctorate in veterinary medicine and aspires to have a practice of his own. However for the time being he plans on sharing his many opinions for readers to enjoy.

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