If you’re like us, Shark Week is a cherished tradition of ecological fascination and summer-drenched nostalgia. Shark Week first premiered in 1988 - 13 years after the theatrical release of JAWS. Heralded today as a cinema classic, Steven Spielberg’s film invented the “blockbuster.” While devouring the box office, the marketing campaign for JAWS instilled a widespread hysteria that led to countless deaths of an apex predator whose ancestors have been swimming the seas for over 400 million years.
The truth is sharks pose very little threat to humans. According to the Florida Museum, there have only been 3,100 unprovoked shark attacks since 1580. The International Shark Attack File investigated 120 incidents of alleged shark-human interactions in 2018 - 66 unprovoked, 34 provoked, and 15 labeled as doubtful or unconfirmed. To put that in perspective, you have a 1 in 3,748,067 chance of being attacked by a shark. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks, lightning, drowning, a car accident, stroke, or heart disease.
Meanwhile, people are responsible for the deaths of about 100 million sharks a year. Let’s put an end to the stereotype and respect these majestic creatures while we still can. Shark Week is an excellent place to start.