Blame it on Jaws.
The national fear of shark attacks got its start 40 years ago this summer with the release of Jaws, the movie blockbuster that unleashed the primal fear of being eaten alive while swimming.
Over the years since then, shark attacks continue to get plenty of media coverage. On Sunday, two teens swimming in the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast lost arms in shark attacks.
How common are shark attack deaths? So far this year, worldwide six people have been killed by sharks; one of which was in the U.S. (in Hawaii), according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.
This is an unusually deadly start to the year: From 2005 to 2014, an average of six people per year died worldwide after being attacked by a shark. In the U.S., roughly one person per year is killed by a shark.
Some may say it’s not really a fair fight, however, as about 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans around the world, according to the Shark Research Institute.
One aspect of the North Carolina shark bites was unusual: George Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History told the Wilmington Star-News that he has seen only two other cases of successive shark attacks: One in Florida nearly 20 years ago and one in Egypt three or four years ago.
What’s not unusual is that the sharks were so close to the shore: The shallow water there is a good place for the sharks to find food, Burgess said, mainly fish, but also, rarely, people. Water temperatures have been warm there, he said, meaning more people are likely going in the water.
“We’ve had an early summer in the Southeast U.S. and Florida,” he said.
Of the 52 attacks in the U.S. last year, Burgess says only one or two resulted in serious injuries, WECT News in Wilmington reported.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Doyle Rice