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‘Shark Week’ Reminds Vacationers of Cautionary Tales

We love watching sharks on TV, but we'd rather not encounter them in real life. Here are some facts to help you stay safe on your next beach getaway.

Jul 26, 2017, 16:16 PM

Millions of people every year tune in to the Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week” programming, catching hours of footage of the sometimes-deadly ocean predators.

Now in its 29th year, the network’s “Shark Week” continues to deliver fascinating stories and never-before-seen-footage in the name of shark science.

But no “Shark Week” is complete without a tribute to “Jaws” in which victims recount horrific shark bite incidents that can easily put a viewer’s stomach in knots. These stories of harrowing first-hand experiences are enough to put any vacationer on edge.

With a shark attack no doubt topping the list of many beachgoing travelers’ concerns, a few key facts can help boost their defenses.


  1. The U.S. and Australia have the deadliest waters. 
  2. Between 2007 and 2016, there were 766 shark attacks, 61 of which were fatal, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the longest running database on shark attacks. Nearly one-third of these attacks occurred in the waters off the United States’ Florida, while about one-fifth occurred in Australia’s waters.

    For decades, Florida has claimed the largest portion of the world’s total number of shark attacks. Other U.S. states also are among the locations with the highest shark attack activity, including Hawaii, South Carolina, California and North Carolina.

    South Africa, Réunion Island, Brazil and the Bahamas join these U.S. states in the top 10 shark attack locations.


  3. Some activities make you more prone to a shark attack than others.
  4. The ISAF identifies four types of victim activities: those on top of, in, under, or entering and exiting the water.

    Surfers, water skiers, boogie boarders and the like have fallen victim to shark attacks far more times in the last 30 years than people enjoying the ocean in other ways.

    Swimmers, snorkelers and other beachgoers who immerse themselves in water are the second most likely to fall victim of a shark attack.

    Divers come next, while those entering or exiting the water (for instance, climbing a ladder onto a boat) have recorded the fewest number of shark attacks of the four ISAF victim activity categories. 


  5. Practical advice can help reduce your risk of a shark encounter.
  6. As they say, knowledge is power, and for vacationers hoping to avoid an encounter with a 2,000-pound predator, these tips from the ISAF might be just what they need.

    • Stay in groups; sharks are more likely to attack solitary individuals.
    • Don’t wander too far from shore, and avoid swimming during darkness or twilight or when the water is murky.
    • Remove any shiny jewelry, which could be mistaken for a fish scale.
    • Avoid waters being used by commercial fishermen, especially if they are using bait.
    • Remain cautious when in an area between sandbars or steep drop-offs, which are favorite hangouts for sharks.

    More tips from the ISAF can be found here.


  7. International travel medical insurance and travel insurance plans can provide coverage for shark attacks.
  8. Both types of insurance plans provide emergency medical benefits, including coverage for an emergency medical evacuation.

    International travel medical insurance is specially designed to provide emergency medical benefits to travelers visiting another country. Whether swimming in the ocean or going on a business trip, travel medical insurance can provide the coverage they need while they’re away from home.

    Those beachgoing vacationers who plan to do more than just swim in the ocean – perhaps surf, scuba dive beyond a certain depth or snorkel — should consider adding the optional “adventure sports” coverage to their travel medical insurance plan.

    For U.S. residents traveling domestically and internationally, travel insurance provides emergency medical benefits, while protecting their trip investments.

    If a shark attack were to occur, the victim could receive coverage for not only the associated medical expenses, but also for the financial losses incurred as a result of the trip interruption.

    All plans are different, so it’s essential to carefully review the benefits and exclusions, but purchasing the right insurance plan can protect vacationers from the unknown.

Armed with these facts, vacationers can enjoy their time in the ocean — and worry less about the “Shark Week” tales. 

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