Worldwide deaths from shark attacks hit a two-decade high in 2011. An unnerving statistic like this seemingly vindicates our worst fears about sharks. So exactly how many humans did these "monsters of the deep" kill last year? A hundred? Two hundred?
Nope. Only a dozen. And none of these deaths occurred in the United States. In reality, humans need not fear a gruesome death by shark attack. We actually have a higher chance of being struck by lighting or being done in by a falling coconut.
On the flip side, sharks have every reason to fear humans. Anywhere from 30 million to 100 million sharks are slain by man each year. Many of these sharks die as a result of bycatch, while others are mutilated for their fins.
"We knew so little back then, and have learned so much since, that IFascinating is almost an understatement. A cholesterol-type compound in dogfish sharks called squalamine has recently been shown to be effective at combating several human viruses, including dengue fever and hepatitis. The substance is currently in human trials for treating cancer and eye disorders. In addition, researchers are finding more and more that sharks are capable of forming complex social groups and utilizing cooperative hunting techniques. This is a far cry from the shark's common misconception as a mindless machine.
couldn't possibly write the same story today. I know now that the mythic
monster I created was largely a fiction. I also know now, however, that
the genuine animal is just as--if not even more--fascinating."