(NewsNation Now) — Within the past few weeks, a 38-year-old surfer was attacked by a great white shark off the coast of California and a seven-year-old girl was bitten by a shark off the North Carolina coast.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, shark attacks stayed low in 2020, but the number of deaths actually spiked. Experts say the low numbers might have been due to a lot of people being in quarantine and self-isolating because of COVID-19.
The good news, according to Louisiana State ichthyology professor Prosanta Chakrabarty, is humans are not targets.
“They are really not attracted to humans,” he told NewsNationNow.com “They mistake us for the other prey that they are accustomed to. They’re generally trying to avoid us.”
Chakrabarty said that confusion usually comes around feeding time, which for sharks is typically early in the daylight.
“They might think you’re a seal if it’s you know, just daylight or daybreak and they see your shadow and you look like a seal because you’re on a surfboard,” he said. “They’re drawn to noises, like lots of splashing from an animal that might be wounded, a bleeding animal. But they’re generally much more attracted to the kinds of prey that they’re used to eating — seals and fish and, and whatever typically is in the waters.”
He added that humans don’t taste great to sharks, but by the time they’ve decided they don’t want another bite you could still have a life-threatening wound.
If you do see a shark, Chakrabarty says stay calm.
“Leave it alone and they should leave you alone,” he said. “So don’t go up to him. Don’t pat him down. Don’t patronize.”