Which Bites More People: Sharks or New Yorkers?

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The next time you’re walking down Broadway, consider this: you are ten times more likely to be bitten by a human in New York City than by a shark off the coast of Florida. Surprising as that may seem, statistics have consistently shown that sharks aren’t a major threat to humans. While sharks certainly aren’t harmless, their danger to humans is exaggerated by news stories, B movies like Sharknado and other unfavorable pop culture references.

The risk of being attacked by a shark in the United States is about 1 in 11.5 million, which means you are more likely to become a billionaire or be elected President. Unprovoked shark attacks have increased since 1900, according to the International Shark Attack File, but this can be attributed to population growth and higher human activity in the ocean.

In 2014, there were 74 reported shark attacks. By contrast, 2011 report estimated that about 100 New Yorkers each year are bitten by their subterranean neighbors: rats.

Having said that, sharks are deadly animals at the top of the food chain. They eat almost everything in the ocean. Despite this, the chances of dying in a shark attack are microscopic: 1 in 264 million. In the United States, you are more likely to be killed by pigs.

Humans kill roughly 100 million sharks per year, mostly because of fishing and accidents, while just three humans were killed by shark attacks in 2014.