Ever since the release of Jaws back in 1975, sharks have been near the top of most of lists of fears. But is this phobia unfounded? Do we really have to worry about them?
Thanks to Spielberg's classic 70s horror film Jaws, many people have developed a fear of the sea and what dwells below. The main culprit: sharks. Sharks are considered by everyone to be dangerous animals... just take a look at all of the shark attack videos and compilations on the Internet.
However, according to the Florida Museum, last year had just 140 shark attack cases, over half of which were provoked. Of the 140 shark attacks, the amount of attacks that resulted in deaths is in the single digits. So why are we so scared? Should we be? Let's dive into it.
Several species of shark
It is not uncommon to see blue sharks 'roaming' near our coasts. The species is even relatively common in temperate waters, like the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans, and tropical seas. It is said to be pelagic, meaning that it lives in waters close to the surface, at up to 1,200 feet.
Recognisable thanks to its 'blue skin' and long tail, it regularly approaches seaside areas as a result of overfishing. Not finding any more fish, it is obliged to go closer the shore to find something to eat... at the same time frightening swimmers surprised by its presence. Yet these sharks are not considered dangerous to humans.
Evidence of this is the fact that those who took care of helping the animal in France escaped unharmed. However, it is not advisable to get too close and touch a blue shark, said Robert Calcagno, director of the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco:
It is a carnivore with beautiful teeth: if you approach and tempt it, it could defend itself and bite you but you risk mainly cuts.
About a hundred other species of sharks also roam the waters surrounding Europe. They are not threatening, with the exception of the rare great white sharks (see video at the top of the article) in the Mediterranean. But the only areas where we really need to be wary are overseas, especially towards Reunion Island, where the majority of attacks are carried out by tiger sharks.