By Nick Thompson and Forrest Brown | CNN
First things first: Despite some truly terrifying tales of survival, you are incredibly unlikely to be duking it out with a shark any time soon.
But sharks do occasionally attack humans. Florida teen Addison Bethea was severely injured recently when a shark attacked her in the waters off Keaton Beach along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
And while this kind of encounter understandably strikes fear into would-be ocean swimmers, there’s no need to panic about your upcoming beach vacation. The chances of being attacked by a shark are extremely low.
The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File found only 73 confirmed, unprovoked shark bites on people and 39 confirmed, provoked bites in 2021 worldwide.
Think about it a minute — the world population is nearing 8 billion people. Many of those live near or vacation at the coast. And only 112 bites were logged. Your chances of drowning are much, much higher.
In 2021, the United States led the way in unprovoked attacks at 47; Florida had the highest state total at 28.
That said, you can take steps to increase your chances of survival during a highly improbable attack, according to shark experts interviewed by CNN Travel.
Before you get in the water
Know your environment
Sharks are salt-water creatures. The ocean is their home; we are the visitors.
“If you’re going to the ocean, you have to assume you could encounter a shark regardless of when or where that is,” said Neil Hammerschlag, director of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School.
“Fortunately, humans aren’t on the menu, and also fortunately, sharks tend to avoid people.”
Still, there are places