Sharks & Rays
Myth 1: Sharks Must Swim Constantly or They Die!
Myth 2: Sharks are the Number One Cause of Animal-Related Deaths!
Myth 3: All Rays Have Poisonous Stingers!
Myth 4: All Sharks are Like the Great White!
Myth 5: Sharks Can Detect a Single Drop of Blood in the Ocean!
Myth 6: Sharks Do Not Get Cancer!

Blue Shark
In the open ocean, the blue shark...

Myth 2:

Sharks are the Number One Cause of Animal-Related Deaths!

Sharks are generally perceived as vicious predators. Well known movies such as Jaws have popularized this perception, making sharks some of the most feared creatures in the animal kingdom. However, this perception is based largely on myth. The reality is that only a handful of the more than 350 species of shark in the world's oceans are considered dangerous to humans. In fact, more people are killed each year by deer, dogs, and domestic pigs than by sharks. And, get this: in the United States, the annual risk of dying from a lightning strike is 30 times greater than that of dying from a shark attack!

Although most sharks are predators, the two largest species (the basking shark and whale shark) have no obvious teeth and eat only plankton. The majority of sharks eat fish and invertebrates, while some feed upon marine mammals such as seals and sea lions. Remains of other animals have been found in shark stomachs as well, including crustaceans, cows, reindeer, chickens, dogs, penguins and other birds, not to mention a number of more intriguing items, like tin cans, a wristwatch, an engine block, a partial suit of armor, parts of a rocking chair, bottles, buttons, shoes, belts, and a handbag.

Conspicuously absent from the list of a shark's preferred dietary choices are human beings. As a matter of fact, over 75% of all shark species rarely encounter human beings and/or they are incapable of consuming a human being. Of the shark attacks that do occur, most are in the waters off the coasts of South Africa and Australia. According to the Reader's Digest book Sharks, it is estimated that in the United States, for every 1,000 people who drown, there is one shark attack. In South Africa, for every 600 drownings there is one shark attack, and in Australia, for every 50 drownings there is one shark attack. Nearly all shark attacks are the result of feeding stimulation (chumming) by fishermen, mistaken identity (e.g., from a shark's point of view, a person paddling on a surfboard may resemble a sea lion), or justified self-defense against aggressive humans.

So, the next time you're afraid to swim for fear of a shark attack, remember this: you are more justified in fearing a pig attack while slopping the hogs!

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