I've only watched "Jaws" a few times in my life, but as supernatural and evil as that shark is, the fact remains that people have been eaten by sharks that swim in for a nice buffet at the public beach, facing not a lake but rather the ocean/sea.

With the exception of areas where there simply aren't any sharks, how can anyone dare to swim in a tropical location or where there can be sharks?

I don't get it. The thought of getting those horrible jaws into your flesh and being dragged under water and away and killed in the most gruesome manner possible while desperately gasping for air at the same time makes my skin crawl.

It's such a frightening thought to me that I just could never swim in such a beach, or surf, or even walk out in the water beyond a certain point of deepness.

Yet people seem to do just that. How can they possibly be sure that no sharks will go there today? A life guard spotting a fin isn't going to have time to evacuate the entire beach from people -- and that's if they do spot it!

  • I'm sure swimming at a tropical beach is much safer than getting on the airplane to fly there. Which in turn, is much safer than driving to the airport. May 5, 2020 at 1:32
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    OK, so I get how this is, tangentially anyway, travel-related, in as much as you'd have to travel to go to a beach, unless you live in Hawaii, on a beach, but this is really more about, I dunno, fear? biology? psychology?
    – CGCampbell
    May 5, 2020 at 1:40
  • I agree with @CGCampbell This is a psychology question, better at psychology.stackexchange.com, or even a rant, but it's absolutely not about travel. The issue can appear for anyone, not just those who travel. I voted to close. May 5, 2020 at 2:46
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    This doesn't appear to be about travel. You can try asking at our sister site, Psychology & Neuroscience. May 5, 2020 at 3:25
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    Sharks aren't evil, and they for sure are not supernatural. The is a textbook example of a leading question... May 5, 2020 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


There are around 82 reported unprovoked shark attacks anywhere in the world in a typical year, and last year it was a low of 64. Of those 64, only two were fatal. The chances of encountering a shark at the beach are quite low, and the vast vast majority of shark encounters are harmless. Compare this to the uncountable number of people who swim in the ocean every year over the entire world. Compare this to the risks of drowning or driving to the beach or any number of activities people undertake all the time. The actual risk is so minuscule that it's not ordinarily significant in many people's minds.

But fear is not always rational, and it's clear that the risk plays an outsized role in your mind no matter what it may be mathematically. There are a variety of methods of shark attack prevention and tips you can follow to reduce your risk (I will note that with 30 seconds of research, some of the advice given here doesn't not appear to have scientific evidence in support. One part of this site says "In fact, there is no positive evidence that menstruation is a factor in shark attacks" while another says "enter with caution if menstruating"). Therapists can assist in providing strategies to help overcome phobias.

There's also nothing that says that anyone has to swim in the ocean. If the thought of doing so stresses you out greatly for any reason, you can have a great time staying on the beach or stick to wading near the shore.


Chance to die of heart disease? 1 in 6
Chance to die of cancer? 1 in 7
Chance to die of suicide? 1 in 86
Chance to die of an opioid overdose? 1 in 98
Chance to die in a vehicle crash? 1 in 103
Chance to die of a gun assault? 1 in 298
Chance to die as a motorcyclist? 1 in 890
Chance to die of drowning? 1 in 1,121
Chance to die of a dog attack? 1 in 118,776
Chance to die in a plane crash? 1 in 11 million
Chance to be bitten by a shark? 1 in 11.5 million
Chance to be killed by a shark? 1 in 264.1 million

This won't help with your fear, especially if it is really a full-blown phobia, but as you can see, you are more likely to die of many other things than a shark. Taking a car to the airport is way more likely to kill you than flying in the plane to take you to a tropical island, which is way more likely than being bitten by a shark, let alone killed.

It's all perspective. Just be careful and only swim at beaches with trained lifeguards.

(As a motorcyclist I found that statistic interesting, especially compared to cars.)

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    You don't offer a source, but it seems that the denominator is all humans or all Americans or something, not just people who undertake the activity in question. More people die in cars than on motorcycles because more people get in cars than on motorcycles, not because the latter is safer than the former once you've chosen to do it. So, if you fly to a beach where sharks go and then go swimming, you're probably slightly more likely to be bit by a shark (though maybe not to die from it) than to die in a plane crash, as most flights are to other places. But this doesn't change the larger point.
    – mlc
    May 5, 2020 at 3:19
  • Chance of dying of an opiod suicide whilst crashing your motorcycle into a stationary airplane full of sharks, one of which bites you as you're dying: 1 in 10**21 (not really, I just found myself wondering how many of those boxes one could tick in a singe demise. Sorry.)
    – MadHatter
    May 5, 2020 at 6:03

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