I don’t often cover shark attacks here at Southern Fried Science. They get plenty of news coverage on their own, they’re usually not that relevant from a science and conservation perspective, and they are outside of my expertise and interests. However, some shark attack stories, such as this one, transcend “if it bleeds, it leads” fearmongering journalism and are interesting in their own right.
I’d like to preface this story by saying that shark attacks are extremely rare to begin with (you have a 1 in 5 chance of dying from heart disease and a 1 in 3.8 million chance of being killed by a shark in the United States). If you want to further minimize your chance of being attacked by a shark, most of the few attacks that occur can be prevented by simply swimming close to shore with lots of other people nearby during the day. Even though shark attacks are rare, I still don’t want to minimize the suffering of the few attack victims and their families. With these caveats out of the way, presented below is the fascinating story of what is probably the most preventable shark attack of all time.