In 1975, JAWS premiered in theaters across the United States. The film was a fear-fueled drama that started a trickle down effect that stems all the way to present day when it comes to sharks. The common theme? Sharks are scary creatures that will attack you any chance they get. This bad reputation from the film has influenced how people see and think about sharks every day. In reality, sharks are misunderstood creatures. Here are a few reasons why you should not think of them as the terrifying animal that your most recent visit to the movie theater made them out to be, but instead, as an animal that should be respected.

Your likelihood of having an encounter with a shark is 1 in 11.5 million.

  • Essentially, you are more likely to be severely injured or killed by a number of things that we are surrounded by in our everyday life. Such as, fireworks, drowning, a car accident, stroke or heart disease.

Often times, if a shark comes in contact with a beachgoer or a surfer, they are confused or curious about what the object is.

  • Sharks do not have the same sensory abilities that we have, like our hands. In order to investigate something, they often times feel it with their mouth. This is what National Geographic defines as “sample biting.”
  • Sharks main sources of food are smaller fish, seals or turtles. When a beachgoer has something shiny on their person, this can resemble the scales of a fish to a shark.

In the rare instance a shark attacks a surfer, they most likely assume it is a seal or a turtle.

  • Think about the image that a shark would have of a surfer, below the water. The resemblance is close to that of a seal or a turtle, swimming along the top of the ocean, which is an animal they would normally attack.

The ocean is their home.

  • It is understandable to want to investigate something that comes into your home.

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans.

  • Humans are a larger threat to sharks than sharks are to humans.
  • The difference in the rates of shark deaths and human deaths due to encounters are staggering.

Here are a few things you can do to avoid a shark attack on your next trip to the beach:

Be aware of the condition of the beach you are visiting.

  • Sharks migrate throughout the year, causing shark sightings to rise during certain periods. Research the areas certain sharks will go through during their migration and attempt to avoid those.

Be cautious of what you wear into the water.

  • Avoid shiny objects, as they can attract the attention of a shark.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors that resemble the tropical colors of other fish that live within the ocean.

Do not enter the water if you have an open wound.

  • Shark’s noses have the powerful ability to detect a chemical change from great distances.

Realistically, sharks do not pose the greatest threat to mankind. They are misunderstood animals that have been given a bad reputation due to an extreme portrayal in the film industry. Understanding sharks and the way they operate will be beneficial for you and your loved ones next time you take a vacation to the beach.