Shark Attack Map: Man Bitten in Cape Cod, Where Is An Attack Most Likely?

Every time a person dives into the ocean or paddles out to catch a wave, they're entering a shark's habitat, and at times unknowingly swimming alongside one of the top predators in the water.

For many swimmers, the fear of sharks has been prevalent ever since Jaws hit the big screen in 1975 and there have been multiple attacks this summer, including on Wednesday afternoon in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

So, what are the actual risks of swimming in the ocean and where are swimmers more likely to encounter the ocean predator?

A person has a one in 3,748,067 chance of being attacked by a shark, according to the Florida Museum's international shark attack file. You actually have a higher chance of winning $10,000 in the Mega Millions lottery than you do of being attacked by a shark.

You know that awesome photo you're trying to capture for your Instagram followers? It's possibly more dangerous than swimming in a shark's home. In 2016, the MIT Technology Review found that 73 people died while taking a selfie and only four people died from a shark attack, according to Earth Sky.

New York City is often cited as being a dangerous place, but the concrete jungle has got to be safer than getting into the water where sharks could be lurking, right? Well, in 1987 there were only 13 injuries caused by a shark bite throughout the United States. In New York City, there were 1,587 injuries caused by a human biting another human, according to the Florida Museum.

Staying out of the water because of your fear of sharks? Well, you may actually be safer taking a dip. From 1990 to 2006, the Florida Museum discovered that there were 16 fatalities because of sand hole collapses and only 11 fatalities from shark attacks. You're also far more likely to die from a fall – a one in 218 chance – than you are to die from a shark attack.

Sharks aren't even the biggest danger to humans in the ocean. In 2014, there were eight shark attack fatalities compared to 361 fatalities that were caused by rip currents.

While the risk is extremely low, there are some areas where an attack is more likely to occur than others. Casino.org found that swimmers in Florida have the greatest chance of being attacked, but the odds are still only one in 2,534,300.

Massachusetts' attack on Wednesday was rare and Casino.org's data shows the likelihood of an attack is only a one in 98,000,000 chance.

The organization's research found that the 10 states, including Florida, where attacks are most likely are: Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Oregon, California, Rhode Island, Georgia, New Jersey, and Alabama.

Of the coast states included in Casino.org's research, swimmers in Washinton state are least likely to be attacked and have only a one in 740,600,000 chance.

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A map of where shark attacks have occurred in the United States. Florida Museum

In 2017, the Florida Museum reported that shark attacks only occurred in eight of America's 50 states, including:

  • Florida: 31 attacks
  • South Carolina: 10 attacks
  • Hawaii: six attacks
  • California: two attacks
  • Massachusetts: one attack
  • North Carolina: one attack
  • Texas: one attack
  • Virginia: one attack

The frequency of shark attacks is on the rise, but that's doesn't mean sharks are becoming more aggressive or are suddenly targeting humans. As the population grows and more people enter the water, the Florida Museum has found that the number of attacks increases as well. In Florida, which often leads the country with regards to attacks, National Geographic found that the most attacks occur in September.

A swimmer also increases their chances of being attacked by swimming at dawn or dusk when sharks are often feeding, and when they're swimming alone because sharks are more likely to attack an individual than a group. Shiny jewelry can also increase the possibility of an attack, perhaps because light reflecting from metal can remind a shark of fish scales.

Several mobile phone applications including Dorsal and Sharktivity are also hoping to curb attacks by keeping swimmers informed of where sharks have recently been spotted.

Despite a public fear of being attacked, the risk of it happening is actually quite slim and National Geographic even noted that anyone who has been in the water at New Smyrna Beach in Florida, has likely been within 10 feet of a shark without ever knowing.

Given the statistics of how deadly the world can be, it seems a quote attributed to Gertrude Stein may categorize our daily existence best, "Nothing is really so very frightening when everything is so very dangerous."