The death of a California college student who was killed in a shark attack while snorkeling in the Bahamas has sparked renewed fear of these underwater predators.
But in reality, shark attacks are extremely rare.
There were just 66 confirmed cases of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide with only four fatalities in 2018, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.
That number is a significant decrease from the past five years, which the Shark Attack File reports was an average of 84 incidents annually.
Even more rare is a shark attack on a snorkeler, which accounts for 6% of the shark attacks worldwide. Surfers and other board sports account for more than half, according to the Shark Attack File.
However rare, their occurrences are no less frightening. Jordan Lindsey, 21, of Torrance, California, was snorkeling with her family Wednesday afternoon near Rose Island in the Bahamas when she was attacked by three sharks. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Even though Steven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster hit “Jaws” came out 44 years ago, public fear of sharks remains despite the low chances of an attack.
In fact, these aquatic predators don’t present as much of a threat as most other animals that humans interact with every day. Bites, kicks and stings from farm animals, bees, wasps, hornets and dogs still represent the most danger to humans, a 2018 study in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine reports.
While the number of shark attacks is small compared to the millions of people that enter the water each year, but there are a few tips from the Florida Museum of Natural History on how to avoid them:
Always swim in a group: Sharks mostly attack when alone.
Don’t wander too far from shores: The farther away you are from the beach, the farther away you are from help if a shark does attack.
Avoid the water at night, dawn or dusk: These are prime feeding times for sharks, and they can see you in dark waters more easily than you can see them.
Don’t enter the water if bleeding: Sharks can smell and taste blood, and often track it to their prey.
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Don’t wear shiny jewelry: Sharks can confuse shiny jewelry for fish scales.
Don’t enter the water if sharks are present: This may seem like a no-brainer, but the Shark Attack File reported 34 provoked shark attacks in 2018.
Don’t splash a lot: Sharks are attracted to erratic movements as they signal a potential prey in distress. This also means keeping pets out of the water.
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If attacked by a shark, “Do whatever it takes to get away.” Some victims have successfully done this by being both passive and aggressive. A father saved his 17-year-old daughter’s life earlier this year by punching a shark in the face when she was attacked in North Carolina.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: A shark attack while snorkeling is extremely rare. Tips on how to avoid it