Sharks are the alleged bad boys of the ocean – supposedly they just keep chomping down on humans! But, here we take a closer look at the facts, and explore some more everyday things that turn out to be much more dangerous than sharks!
Sharks definitely get a bad rap, with a totally undeserved reputation as mindless people killers. Lots of people, heavily influenced by popular culture and media coverage, would be deathly afraid of getting into the water if there’s even a chance that sharks will be around. Is this at all justified? Let’s take a look at the facts. According to the International Shark Attack File, sharks only accounted for 5 human deaths in 2019, which is in line with the annual global average of 4 fatalities per year. Hmm… maybe not such a fearsome people killer after all? For some lighthearted comparisons, let’s take a look at some things that are more dangerous than sharks!
Coconuts falling from trees and hitting people can cause injuries to the back, neck, head, and yes, they can be fatal. Stories of deaths by coconuts date back to the 1770s – so this is not an urban legend that was just invented! In fact, falling coconuts cause 150 deaths worldwide a year – waaay more than sharks. But, we’re still very attracted to the image of gently swaying coconut trees by the beach – definitely associated with the perfect holiday getaway, and seemingly forgiven for being a mindless people killer!
2019 was a literally killer year for cows, with 8 fatalities in the UK alone. Docilely grazing cows are part of the idealised view of the Great British Countryside. But cattle can get aggressive, particularly when they feel that they or their calves are threatened. Globally, cows cause 20 deaths per year – 5 times more than sharks! It’s something to think about – a domesticated herbivore kills more people than the ocean’s most terrifying predator.
Ah, the mobile phone camera has a lot to answer for! The ubiquitous selfie, for that perfect Instagram or Facebook post – hides a people killer with a much higher hit rate than sharks! Globally, about 40 people a year die from selfie related incidents. I think I would be happy to support a selfie cull in the interest of public safety! Interestingly, the mean age of death by selfie is 23 years old, with male deaths outnumbering females about three to one.
Yes, rather than a somewhere super comfy to snuggle up and snooze, or build a pillow ford, beds can be accused of evilly plotting our demise! On average, 450 Americans are killed by falling out of bed every year. They definitely got out of the wrong side of bed! Beds are hundreds of times more dangerous than sharks, but I still think I’d quite happily snuggle up to both a bed and a shark!
And the award for most dangerous people killer goes to…. definitely not sharks! Up front and centre for all of us right now is the scarily huge death toll from Covid-19 – 440,000 to date, and still rising. And yet, people who wouldn’t dream of getting into the water with a little white tip reef shark will happily insist on their rights to go out to socialise and work with a pandemic raging. If only all the time, energy and money going into “shark attack prevention” could be diverted to disease research, I think the world would be a safer and happier place.