What are the chances?

It’s time to talk facts – Your chances of being attacked by a shark are even lower than you thought.

You’re more likely to drown:

The Royal Life Saving Society notes that in Australia there is an average of 292 deaths per year from drowning, and an average of just 0.9 fatalities from shark attacks each year… this means you are over 262 times more likely to die from drowning than from a shark attack on an Australian beach. 

What are the real chances?

Conservatively, if 100,000 people went into the water at a beach, harbour or river once per week around Australia’s 35,000+ km of coast over 52 weeks, the risk of shark attack would be 5.2 million to 1. In reality there are many more people that go into the water each year (Surf Life saving Australia estimated 100 million beach visits in 2010), so the risk of dying from a shark attack is more likely rated at 50-60 million to one – Taronga

The media always state that the chances of being attacked are higher than ever… is this true?

According to Taronga, “The number of shark-human interactions occurring over the last few decades closely correlates with human population increases and the amount of time people spend in the sharks’ environment. As Australia’s population continues to increase and interest in aquatic recreation rises, it would realistically be expected that there will be an increase in the number of shark encounters.”

This is also confirmed by a recent study on the patterns of shark attacks in Australia conducted by the Taronga Conservation Society Australia for the Marine and Freshwater Research journal. The study revealed that there has been a slight increase in the amount of shark attacks per year when comparing incidents from the past decade. However, this coincides with an increase in human population, more visitors at beaches, and a rise in the popularity of water-based fitness and recreational activities than previously observed. The risk in relation to population numbers remains just as low as previously. 

What about the idea that Australia’s water is ‘cleaner than ever’, drawing more sharks into our harbours and beaches?

Improved water quality due to better management of sewage and rainwater run-off in Sydney Harbour and along the east coast may be attracting more fish, and therefore sharks. However, there is no evidence currently supporting an increase in shark populations, especially those that are considered dangerous to humans. 

Let’s see what’s more likely to kill you…

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