shark facts & fiction
"Falling coconuts kill 150 people worldwide each year, 15 times the number of fatalities attributable to sharks. The reality is that, on the list of potential dangers encountered in aquatic recreation, sharks are right at the bottom of the list."
-- George Burgess, Director of the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File and a noted shark researcher
"In the 20th century, there were 108 authenticated, unprovoked shark attacks along the Pacific Coast of the United States. Of those, eight attacks were fatal. When you consider the number of people in the water during that hundred year period, you realize deadly strikes are very rare. What we need to remember is that if great whites really liked to eat people, there would be a lot more fatalities, and I wouldn't interview so many survivors."
-- Ralph Collier, president of the Shark Research Committee in Canoga Park, California, and author of Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century
"We've got to be logical. One thousand people die of bee stings in a year, 100 die of dog maulings and five people die from shark bites. We have to think, 'Which would be safer? Being in the water, at a park with dogs, or near a bunch of hibiscus flowers?' These accidental bites are so rare that you really, truly, don't have anything to be concerned about."
-- Terry Lilley, marine biologist, former professional surfer, and shark specialist for Save Our Seas (SOS)
Shark species most commonly found in the surf zone East Coast and Gulf of Mexico
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Sand Tiger - often encountered by divers in deeper waters
Finetooth Shark (below North Carolina)
Lemon and Nurse Sharks (Florida Keys)
Bonnethead (Gulf of Mexico)
Caribbean Reef Shark
Shark species most commonly found in the surf zone West Coast, around islands, and California north
Juvenile Thresher Shark
Angel Shark (occasionally)
Great White Shark (rare in surf except near seal or sea lion colonies)
Shark species most commonly found in the surf zone, Hawaii
Gray Reef Shark
Whitetip Reef Shark
Source: Burgess, International Shark Attack File and NOAA Fisheries. For further information contact: 301-713-2370.