This Is How Likely It Is a Shark Attack Will Really Happen to You

Great white shark

Great white shark | Peter_Nile/iStock

A recent shark attack at Long Bay Beach off the New York coast scared swimmers, surfers, and naturally, parents (two teenagers were harmed). Investigators weren’t able to identify the type of shark based on the bites either sustained, but officials confirmed that the attacking animals were indeed sharks.

We broke down exactly how likely it is you’ll be harmed by a shark in your lifetime … as well as the beaches to steer clear of if you’re afraid.

Your chance of getting attacked in the U.S. is 1 in 11.5 million

And that’s considering just the average amount of people who frequent beaches. Your chances of getting killed are even less: 1 in 264.1 million.

By comparison, the likelihood of dying in a plane crash is 1 in 11 million. You’re more likely to die from a lightning strike or fireworks than you are a shark attack, The Wildlife Museum organization found.

It’s over 100 times more likely that a shark is killed by a human than the other way around. Over 100 million sharks are taken from their habitats each year by humans and approximately 11,000 sharks are killed every hour.

Still, if you’re afraid, pick your beach wisely

Florida beaches are the site of the most shark attacks worldwide. Statistics from The International Shark Attack File show that Florida’s coast has seen over 812 unprovoked, confirmed shark attacks since 1837.

The reason? Most sharks prefer warmer waters.”The waters near the East Coast, in the northern states like New York, are cool for most months of the year, and so it’s only in the summertime when a few sharks arrive,” George Burgess, director emeritus of the International Shark Attack File maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History, told ABC News.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, holds the record for the most shark attacks at 238 of Florida’s recorded 812. Despite the high count of attacks, there has yet to be a fatality at New Smyrna Beach, since most bites come from young bull sharks who think they’re nibbling on food.

One of the riskiest international beaches is Coffin Bay, Australia. The year 2010 saw 14 shark attacks in Australia.

The safest beaches in the U.S.

ABC News map of confirmed shark attacks

ABC News released a map showing which states had the most confirmed shark attacks between 1837 and 2018 | ABC News via

Where warm, long coastlines like California and Florida saw attacks in the hundreds, cooler coasts like Maine and Washington state only saw one to two attacks.

So while shark attacks aren’t extremely frequent or fatal, they are something to remain aware of. Watch young children at all times, abide by your beach’s lifeguards’ instructions and regulations, and stay aware of the risks of the ocean.

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