'Shark Week' on TV is fun; real shark attacks, not so much

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Credit: Elias Levy via Flickr

When it comes to dealing with a shark threat, officials say beach goers should use common sense and remember two things:

  1. Pay attention to the lifeguard who can warn of potential shark danger.
  2. You are entering the ocean wilderness, not a backyard pool.

The advice comes following four shark attacks at North Carolina beaches in a two-week period. The severity of injuries to the victims, all under 17 years old, varied widely: two had minor cuts while two others each had an arm amputated following the attacks.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told ABC News the attacks were likely by bull sharks who were hunting nesting sea turtles.

“A sea turtle is like a potato chip for a bull shark. They love them, and they follow them,” Burgess said. 

Shark attacks are relatively rare: according to the International Shark Attack File, an ocean swimmer has a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark.

Why do sharks attack? According to National Geographic:

The majority of incidents are “provoked” attacks, in which someone is bitten while spearfishing or while trying to catch a shark or release it from a line or net. Among unprovoked attacks, the fish are most often confusing people with their normal prey, often due to poor visibility. Surfers are most often attacked, most likely because they spend long periods of time in the water and often splash around like prey.

Actually, surfers are prey to sharks; they're just not part of the normal shark diet.

"Many people do not think of going into the ocean as a wilderness experience. They think going into the ocean is like jumping in the backyard pool," Burgess told ABC News. "The ocean is the wilderness, and we are not guaranteed 100 percent safety when we enter. It is up to us to modify our behavior and avoid having a negative encounter."

Any encounter with a shark in the ocean is negative, if you ask us. Here's hoping the best for the recent shark attack victims.

This story, "'Shark Week' on TV is fun; real shark attacks, not so much" was originally published by Fritterati.